When studying a foreign language, I find the following exercise salutary:
Find a side by side translation of a short story – in the original language and then translated into English (or whatever your native language is).
Sentence by sentence, read the translation and then read the original. It is best to read each original-language sentence a couple times: once silently to yourself contemplating the grammar and meaning and then out loud. It is very best to look away from the original while you recall it and say it out loud, picturing the letters, feeling the sounds, and considering the grammar (for example the verb conjugations used).
This, my friends, is what you should do.
Because by simultaneously using your understanding, your memory and your speaking/listening, you’ll feel the sense and rules and flow and sound of the language come alive in you.
Read a page or so in this whole-mind fashion and you will progress steadily: Or my supposition back!
And, come to think of it, this system can also improve your writing. Little by little, quickly memorize lines and then close your eyes and picture and feel them as you say them out loud. In this way you improve your sense for literary Beauty while simultaneously gathering up little snippets, little tiny formulations that you, as you write in madcap brainstorm daydream seek-through will automatically mix and match, break apart, sample from, riff off, learn from.
A most salutary exercise! Much to recommend it! And basically free!
Below we link to a few resources to get you started (at least with Spanish).
- If you already have a pretty good grasp on the language, you could try these side by side translations we’ve put together for Spanish, French, and German
- We found this free, public-domain Easy Intro to Spanish Conversation at Project Gutenberg. Penned in 1849 by M. Velazquez De La Cadena, the book begins with an overview of pronunciation and grammar, and then proceeds to vocab and dialogues. You can read it as a web page, or download it as an ebook.
- If you’ve got a gist of the grammar, but still need help with nuances like when to use estar vs ser, “por” vs “para”, “tener” vs “haber”, and etc, Spanish Composition by Edith J Broomhall in 1921 might help. The author says she’s there to teach Spanish idiom, and does so by discussing the different ways you can translate various English words (“to be”, “to have”, “for”, “ask”, “since”, etc etc) into Spanish.
- Finally, it’s not super related, but we are selling a book of stories about manufacturing, marketing, selling and buying Pure Love called Love at a Reasonable Price Vol 1: First Loves
- And, again, not necessarily about language learning, but Pure Love T-Shirts! are both fashionable and heartening.