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Psychology-Based Tips to Increase Motivation to Learn Foreign Languages

August 15th, 2019

The more foreign languages people know, the more culturally enriched they’ll be. Not to mention different business opportunities that arise when someone is bilingual, trilingual, etc. However, learning a foreign language isn’t an easy task. Both adults and children can struggle with mastering a foreign language.

One of the main factors that hold people down is motivation. Without motivation, every effort to learn a new language will be in vain. Motivation is something that needs to be worked on and psychology has covered this topic numerous times. With the following psychology-based tips, anyone can improve their motivation for learning a foreign language.

How learning a foreign language can benefit the brain

One of the ways to motivate yourself is to understand the overall benefits of learning a new language.

Commonly, we are more eager to engage in a specific action if we know the purpose.

There must be some reasons that encouraged you to consider learning a foreign language. Besides those reasons, you should also understand how it can positively affect your brain.

Bilinguals have shown to have a much better memory than monolinguals. Memorizing new vocabulary, grammatical rules, and usage of a new language improves your memory capacity.

Another helpful trait of learning a foreign language is being better at inhibiting distractions and multitasking.

Types of motivation

No one can argue that motivation is a necessity for accomplishing any goal. The thing is that motivation comes in different forms.

Depending on what motivates you, there are two types of motivation:

  1. Intrinsic (internal) – Comes from a personal interest. For example, making a card to give it to your loved one.
  2. Extrinsic (external) – Comes from the desire to achieve something. For example, studying to get a good grade.

In order to increase your chances and boost your level of motivation, you should find reasons that will bring out both types of motivation.

Increase intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation needs to come from within. It means that you need to be driven by a personal wish to learn a new language.

For some, intrinsic motivation comes from the desire to speak the language of their loved ones. Others want to learn a foreign language because they are fascinated by that culture.

It is proven that intrinsic motivation has more power comparing to extrinsic motivation. If you devote yourself to a cause because you are genuinely interested, the process will be much easier.

Even if your current motivation is strictly extrinsic, there is a way to change that.

Think deeply about what will make you happy once you learn that language. Imagine all the places where you can go and speak freely with native speakers.

Do some research about countries and cultures where that language is used. Learning new facts and interesting customs can help you with your intrinsic motivation.

Increase extrinsic motivation

While experts mostly emphasize intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation can be equally important.

Extrinsic motivation is easier to pinpoint. Your external motivation can already be established if you need to learn a foreign language because of a new job. Just keep reminding yourself of the rewards that will come once that job is yours.

Another extrinsic motivation can be to have more job opportunities in the future. Or to start a new career.

There are so many external factors that can motivate you to learn a new language.

Set goals

According to the American Psychological Association, people who set goals that are both specific and challenging, are 90% more likely to achieve what they’ve set their mind to.

Setting goals is directly linked with self-confidence, motivation, and autonomy. Therefore, establishing clear goals in the process will help you stay motivated.

Start by finding different sources with inspirational language learning goals. Academic writing websites can be a great source for tips and inspiration in the learning process.

The important part is to write down your goals. Don’t allow yourself to forget about your plans. Put it all down on paper and keep it is a reminder.

Whenever your motivation starts to fade away, just pull out your list of specific goals and remind yourself of why you need to do this.

Reward yourself

People respond to rewards as positively as children. We may think that we have surpassed the time when candy made us sit still, but that is not the case.

Bob Nelson, a motivation expert, and the best-selling author claims that “you get what you reward.”

Apply this technique to your learning habits.

Motivate yourself to stay consistent in learning by giving yourself small rewards. Nobody knows best what will keep you motivated but you.

For example, you can make a pact with yourself if you don’t skip any class for a month you’ll have a spa day.

Be proud of your little wins

Negative thinking and self-depreciation lower the motivation level. Many teachers and parents think that criticism and dissatisfaction will make the children more motivated. This approach is wrong.

Positive thinking and celebrating little wins will encourage you to keep moving forward. Once you experience that rewarding feeling of being proud of yourself, you’ll keep coming back for more.

It is important that you recognize small accomplishments and not just the final goal. If you wait until you completely master the language to feel proud, you might lose your fire along the way.

Acknowledge when you manage to learn the whole list of new vocabulary. Be proud when you excel in the next test. Give yourself a tap on the back when you pronounce every word correctly. Moments such as these will give you that dose of motivation you need.

If you make learning a foreign language a pleasant experience you will be more motivated to go through it.

Some final thoughts

Motivation is one of the most prominent predictors of success. If you know how to motivate yourself and maintain that motivation during the language learning process, you’ll have a great chance of achieving your goal.

Instead of relying on some speculations, trust these psychology-based tips. Practicing these methods and staying consistent will help you add another language to your resume.

July 2019: The First ILL Glamping in Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi, near Mt.Fuji

July 30th, 2019

Breakfast timeBreakfast time

On July 6th, 6 people (Laura, Yafa, Lya, Maryssa, Erik and Kyejin) and 2 guests (Maryssa’s friend and Yafa’s friend) headed to Kawaguchiko in Yamanashi near Mt.Fuji.

Although it’s known as one of the best places for the view of Mt.Fuji in Japan, we couldn’t see Mt.Fuji because of the rain but the city near lake Kawaguchi was already so beautiful itself and we had an amazing time together.

Keep reading the post and check out pictures from our fun trip below!

1. How was the activity? Score from level 1 (bad) to level 5 (good). Why?

Our Home from June 6 to 7Our home from June 6 to 7

Laura: (5) I was great! Really fun and even if it was raining we walked around and were very active ☺ The time in the cabin was amazing too. We all worked together and had a great time.

Lya: 6/5; It was really fun, I had a blast with everyone ☺

KitchenKitchen

Maryssa: 4; Everything was really fun and everyone there made every activity better! The rain was unfortunate, but we made the best out of the situation and could still do a lot!

Barbequing OutsideBarbecuing Outside

Erik: 5! Glamping was really fun! It was my first time doing it here in Japan. We even had a sauna in the cabin!

Yafa: 2/3; It was raining all the time.

In the SupermarketIn the Supermarket

Kyejin: 5! We had to walk 45 minutes from our cabin to get groceries (and of course, another 45-minutes walking on the way back to our place). That was a great exercise xD We enjoyed walking around the city. BBQ was so good, UNO game was so fun, and all the people were amazing… It was just a perfect activity!

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from1 (bad) to level 5 (good). Why?

Lake KawaguchiLake Kawaguchi

Laura: (5) It was a beautiful place! The fog in the forest and lake made it look mysterious.

Arakura Fuji Sengen Jinja (新倉富士浅間神社)Arakura Fuji Sengen Jinja (新倉富士浅間神社)

Lya: 2; Sorry, we couldn’t see Mt Fuji because of the rain. We saw some good temples and nature tho. I’m sure it’s beautiful when there is sun/sakura/momiji.

Chureito Pagoda (忠霊塔)Chureito Pagoda (忠霊塔)

Maryssa: 4; Everything was green and beautiful. The lake was stunning and the forest around it was so pretty! I wish we could’ve seen Mt. Fuji, but everything else was still gorgeous.

The View from Our CabinThe View from Our Cabin

Erik: 4! The house we rented was exactly in front of a beautiful lake, so we had a really nice view. With the rain and the fog, the ambiance was really chill, for cooking and sleeping. Afterward, we went hiking to Chureito pagoda, it’s a short hike and about 200 steps, but you get the view from the whole city which makes it totally worth it, even in the rain!

Yafa: 2/5; I didn’t have time to enjoy the scenery.

The Misty CityThe Misty City

Kyejin: 4! Although I couldn’t see Mt.Fuji, the misty city was beautiful. I liked the smell of the misty mountain too : D The lake near our place was very nice.

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Playing UNOPlaying UNO

Laura: There were many! I will choose a couple, 1) The restaurant we went at the beginning of the trip (recommended by Stan), the place was very cozy and we had a good time talking and planning. 2) We all sitting at the breakfast table.

Making S’moreMaking S’more

Lya: Cooking and playing together! Good job everyone ♡

We Made S’more!We Made S’more!

Maryssa: There were so many great, hilarious moments. I loved teaching everyone how to make s’mores and seeing each person’s reaction for the first time! But I think even this moment ties with the epic game of UNO we all played.

Lya Catching a BugLya Catching a Bug

Erik: If I have to say, I think playing Uno til late in the night, and doing BBQ! (I used to bbq every week back home, so it brought back many memories T_T) After that hiking in the rain was super fun as well!! Also, everyone screaming at the presence of bugs lol

Yafa: The BBQ was amazing and the team made great effort for having a great and memorable moment.

Hairdressers and a CustomerHairdressers and a Customer

Kyejin: Walking to the supermarket in the rain, having a wonderful barbeque and pasta (prepared by Eri and Lya) with wonderful people, learning how to make s’more from Maryssa, playing UNO until 3 am, having a huge and amazing breakfast prepared by Lya, changing hairstyle for Lya, Maryssa and Laura on the train, hiking to the pagoda, sleeping really well on the bus on the way back home… ^_^

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Barbequing in an Argentinian WayBarbecuing in an Argentinian Way(?)

Laura: (5) Incredible. Everything was really good thanks to Erik and Lya. My favorite was the pasta that Lya made ☺ and of course, the s’mores that Maryssa taught us how to make.

Happy Dinner TimeHappy Dinner Time

Lya: Food was awesome. I loved the meat (≧▽≦) many thanks to our BBQ expert (๑•̀ㅂ•́)و✧

Cooking PastaCooking Pasta

Maryssa: The food was so delicious!! The pasta and bbq at the cabin were really really tasty and it was basically all you could eat! The local udon was also great and fun to try.

Team BBQTeam BBQ

Erik: Food was awesome!! Laura brought goat milk caramel, which was absolutely delicious. I tried S’mores for the first time in my life (thanks, Maryssa!), it was a memorable experience ☺ Breakfast was amazing (Lya!) And… BBQ… well…^^

Best BreakfastBest Breakfast

Yafa: The food was really good. We had a huge nice breakfast. The steak was my favorite.

Kyejin: 100 out of 5 : D Lya’s pasta and breakfast, Erik’s BBQ, Maryssa’s s’more and Laura’s caramel were all fantastic!

5. Will you recommend this place to others? Score from 1 (No way) to level 5 (Absolutely). Why?

Hiking SeriouslyHiking Seriously

Laura: (5) It is a beautiful place to explore, and glamping was perfect (you have it all, the right amount of nature and civilization).

Lya: 5/5; recommend with no rain and friends. 3/5 with rain and alone. The sights are still enjoyable but traveling together made it way better.

Hydrangea Near Lake KawaguchiHydrangea Near Lake Kawaguchi

Maryssa: 5 Absolutely! It was so beautiful and charming. The scenery was wonderful and despite being a tourist attraction, it felt like a quiet, small town.

Walking in the RainWalking in the Rain

Erik: 5! Yes, why not? Going to fuji is a nice getaway from the city any given day! It’s only 2 hours away, and you get amazing views, pure air, and the possibility of BBQ things.

Yafa: 3/5; I recommend it moderately. It’s better to go during spring and when not raining. Also, I thought that the expenses compared to the place are a little high.

Kyejin: 5! Yes! I’m sure it’ll be even better if we can see Mt.Fuji : D It’s not far from Tokyo but it was a completely different place.

6. Any comment?

Fun Shopping TimeFun Shopping Time

Laura: Thank you, everyone! Especially Kyejin, for all the time and energy she put in organizing and making sure everyone made it to the place and had a great time.

Lya: So fun~ 12/10, would do again with sun ☀

Maryssa: Everyone who joined the trip made it as fun as it was. Thanks to everyone for making this trip so fun a memorable! My friend who joined felt welcome and comfortable thanks to everyone. I’m excited for more adventures together!

Erik: Let’s do it again someday!!! ☺

Results of UNOResults of UNO

Kyejin: It was amazing teamwork. Thank you, everyone!

Thank you for finding a great place and being our human navigator, Laura.
Thank you for shopping a day before our camping day and bringing all the heavy ingredients, Maryssa. And please say thank you to Yukiko for all Japanese language help!
Although it was a late time, thank you for making efforts to join the activity with a good friend, Yafa!
Thank you for amazing cooking (pasta, BBQ, and breakfast), and hunting all bugs to save our lives, Lya.
Thank you for photographing, barbequing meat perfectly and guiding us to the pagoda and the lake near the station, Erik!

But please remember I was the first legendary winner of the great ILL UNO history ever… : P keke
- Note: Laura was the most frequent winner by the record, Erik was the most frequent winner as he remembers(!?), and Lya was the last winner of the great ILL UNO history so far.

On the BusOn the Bus

~ Laura, Yafa, Lya, Maryssa, Erik, Kyejin

P.S. Our next activity is hiking at Mt.Kentoku (2,031m) on August 18th so join us if you’re interested in this challenge!

P.P.S. Making fire wasn’t easy… Everyone was so moved at the moment when Maryssa and Lya succeded!!

Trying hard

Success

June 2019: Fun Kayaking in Okutama

July 19th, 2019

Before Kayaking

On June 16, the 3rd Sunday of the month as usual, 7 people (Anna, Meg, Laura, Yafa, Alicia, Motoko, and Kyejin) and 2 guests (Alicia’s friend and Motoko’s friend) headed to Okutama.

Okutama (奥多摩) is a town located in the west side of Tokyo. It’s just 1.5 hour away from the city but there are lots of different river and mountain activities available. It’s a perfect place for Tokyoites who want to enjoy nature.

Training for Kayaking

We decided to do kayaking as it’s easy even for beginners and most of us don’t have any experience.

By the way, did you know the difference between kayak and canoe? There are many differences but one of them is, kayaking paddles have two blades while canoeing paddles have one.

1. How was the activity? Score from level 1 (bad) to level 5 (good). Why?

Kayaking

Yafa: 5/5 The activity wasn’t very difficult and it was a well-balanced exercise between sports and enjoyment.

Alicia: I would score this activity a LEVEL 5! Not only was it fun, I really appreciate the fact that I was able to partake in an activity I’ve never tried before in Japan. Being outdoors surrounded by nature, water, and sunlight really made my mood feel great and as a part of a wellness program, this activity really marked all the boxes! I was able to have fun, relieve stress, clear my mind, work on my fitness, bond with everyone, get a tan, and work on my kayaking skills! It was really a great choice for an activity!

Anna: 4! Not 5 because I would have loved to stay more in the water, but it was great!

Fun Kayaking

Laura: 5, it was fun and the place was beautiful : )

Meg: 4. It was awesome!! I wish we got to do it longer!

Motoko: 4.5: Kayaking was amazing and its score was 5+, but the unexpected car ride almost made me sick. *I get motion sickness easily.

Kyejin: 5. It was so fun and I didn’t want to finish kayaking ;_; so I was almost crying when it was time to go back. It wasn’t so difficult nor dangerous. Also, the staffs were kind and friendly, and the owner was a kayak representative of Japan! Amazing!

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from1 (bad) to level 5 (good). Why?

Kayaking Okutama

Yafa: 5/5 the scenery was just amazing!

Alicia: I would say the scenery was a LEVEL 5! I’ve only been kayaking in my hometown, Miami, where we would kayak in the ocean and see things like boats, islands, rough ocean waves, etc. But this kayaking experience was a whole different experience! The mountains, the amount of greenery, the refreshing water, the sunlight, the security and untouched feeling of nature, was really breathtaking and I feel really lucky I was able to see such a scene and experience the natural side of Japan more!

Anna: 5 being able to see the views from the kayaks was so new and different. Maybe it was a bit bright at some points but the weather was so good it made it perfect.

Perfect Weather for Kayaking

Laura: 5, lots of green and nature. Plus the weather was great.

Meg: 4. It was really nice and so much nature.

Motoko: 5: It’s not too far from the city, but has a lot of green and mountain view. The lake was also surrounded by good scenery to get relaxed.

Kyejin: 5. It was really beautiful. The weather was perfect - it was sunny, hot enough but not too hot. We were so lucky to go kayaking on such a wonderful day during the rainy season.

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Kayak Time

Yafa: The moment to get into the boat and where I tried to keep my balance.

Alicia: I would say the most memorable moment from the trip was taking a picture near the waterfall while everyone was kayaking! I think it was the only time everyone was actually able to get together while we were in the kayaks, so it was funny to see everyone working together to stay near the waterfall and hold on to each other for the picture!

Anna: Seeing a man fishing on a floatable donut (?) in the middle of the river. It really made me think about my lifestyle and how much I wanted to be him.

Laura: Being able to explore around the river after getting full control of the kayak.

Okutama Kayaking

Meg: Kayaking in the water and just relaxing.

Motoko: Everyone’s smile while kayaking. Some were good at paddling, and some were not really, but everyone was smiling and I could see his different aspects I cannot see at work. The sky from the lake was also beautiful. When I looked up while I stopped paddling, looked up, I felt as if I was floating in the sky.

Kyejin: Can’t pick just one. When I first sit down on the kayak and got scared a little bit, when I was enjoying the view of the river surrounded by mountain under the blue sky, sitting down on the kayak without paddling, when we were trying to take pictures together on the kayak and it was difficult to do so we had to grab each other’s kayak, when I had to leave so I was almost crying : D

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Soba Restaurant

Yafa: The best soba I have ever had served by two amazing grandma and grandpa xD The best was the cake that they gave us as a welcoming gift.

Alicia: The first thing I had was the beef croquette from the nearby local meat shop that was recommended to us by our guide from the rafting place. I really liked that it was a local business with a unique authentic taste owned by an elderly couple. The croquette really felt special because I knew I wouldn’t be able to get it anywhere else! My favorite meal was definitely the udon I had at the local soba shop. The portion was good, the flavors were good, the owners of the shop were also really friendly, and again I got the feeling of uniqueness because it was a local shop and I appreciated it more because I knew I wouldn’t be back often to be able to taste that specific udon so I’m glad I got the chance to! There weren’t many options of restaurants but everywhere we did go had friendly staff and the food was great!

Udon

Anna: The omiyage food we brought was quite good, it was from a shop close to the kayak place.

Laura: Good! The soba place was cozy, the soba was good but the best was the Oden service. Delicious homemade oden.

Meg: I really liked the menchikatsu. So good.

Ice Cream

Motoko: Ume soft served ice cream. The green ume plum flavoured sauce was a little bit sour but refreshing after the exercise.

Soba

Kyejin: Food after an activity is always so good : D The menchikatsu from grandma and grandpa who will retire this year was very tasty, the ume soft ice cream sold on “Snack Day” on June 16 was delicious, the soba served by sweet and kind grandma and grandpa who gave us cake as a gift was also great too! If I have to choose one, maybe I would choose soba. I was full so I thought I couldn’t finish it but once I tasted it, I just couldn’t stop eating lol

5. Will you recommend this place to others? Score from 1 (No way) to level 5 (Absolutely). Why?

Kayak Paddles

Yafa: 5/5 Not very far from Tokyo it allows an emergence into beautiful and almost untouched nature. And for people stressed by the noisy city it gives a moment of beatitude.

Alicia: I would definitely recommend this place to others, LEVEL 5! Not only is there kayaking, but there were also many other services available such as canoeing, rafting, paddle boarding. I think there’s something for everyone to enjoy, it’s a great group activity, and it’s a great chance to enjoy the outdoors in Japan while having fun!

Anna: 4, if you like to do different activities I think this is very different to do an activity around Tokyo.

Laura: 5, this activity is good for anyone. The level of challenge was good, something new but with a bit of practice (and with great instructors, like the people Meg found for this trip) anyone can enjoy it. Pretty safe too.

Meg: 4. Yes, I totally recommend for a nice chill day to relax and enjoy.

Motoko: 4: I recommend this place for those who want something special for holidays. If you don’t like water activities, maybe not. This activity would be tough in winter.

Kyejin: 5. Yes! It’s not far from Tokyo but the atmosphere is completely different. There are many activities to enjoy in the beautiful nature and I think it’s a good place for a day trip for those who live in Tokyo.

6. Any comment?

Kayak Shop Kayak Shop Funny Face

Yafa: The ome ice cream was also very oishi.

Alicia: I think we got so lucky being able to kayak on such a beautiful day, I couldn’t have asked for better weather! If I were to say something I would change for next time, it would probably be that the actual kayaking portion felt a bit short so it would be nice if we can enjoy it a bit more next time! But everything was so fun! I want to say thank you so much to everyone who organized this activity! I think it was a great choice, and I’m really happy I was able to go and participate with everyone! I had a great time and would definitely do it again!

Anna: Kayak people were super nice and took lots of pictures of us in the water. And recommended us what to eat and where!

Polaroid

Laura: Thank you Kyejin for organizing! It’s great we can try new experiences with the people we see every day at the office. We get to know each other better : )

Meg: Come join us!!

Motoko: If the company plans a kayaking event, I definitely join! Once is not enough to fully enjoy it.

Kyejin: Thank you for coming, everyone! I’m so happy I got even more awesome memories with these awesome ILL friends. I’m already so excited about our next activity, camping, in a few weeks!

In Front of Restaurant

~ Anna, Meg, Laura, Yafa, Alicia, Motoko, and Kyejin

P.S. Our next activity is camping (or glamping) from July 6 to 7 in Yamanashi near Mt.Fuji!

May 2019: Mt.Mitumine and Mitsumine Shrine

May 30th, 2019

Our May activity had 4 brave hikers - Anna, Meg, Laura and Kyejin! It was May 19th, the 3rd Sunday of the month as usual.

We met at Ikebukuro Station at 10 am and went to Seibu-Chichibu Station. It took about an hour and a half, and we had to take a bus to the Owa (大輪) bus stop for 35 minutes. It was a steep 3-hour hike and since the last bus back home was at 4:30 pm from the top of the mountain, we tried not to take a lot of breaks and kept hiking.

When we reached the summit, we could breathe in the fresh air and had some time to walk around the famous Mitsumine Shrine (三峯神社; Mitsumine jinja). It is surrounded by tall and old trees and somewhat has some mysterious atmosphere.

We haven’t been to this much high mountain for the last few months so it wasn’t an easy hike but it was definitely worth!

1. Was this hiking easy or hard? Score from level 1 (easy) to level 5 (hard).

Laura: Objectively: 3. Nice trail. Nothing dangerous. For me, the highest mountain I have ever climbed by foot: 5.

Meg: 3.5

Anna: I’d say this one was a 3 for me. Compared to others it was quite challenging since the whole route was quite steep.

Kyejin: 3. The route was steep but not very difficult. We haven’t done any long hike recently so we felt it was much harder than usual.

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing).

Laura: 5, beautiful mountains and green all around.

Meg: 3

Anna: I loved this route since the route is very natural as if made by the mountain and there are almost no stairs.

Kyejin: The Mitsumine Shrine was stunning! It was crowded with visitors but I could see why. And it was more rewarding to see it after a long hike. The scenery on the way to the top was also beautiful.

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Laura: The three abandoned houses almost at the top of the mountain. (How were those people able to live there? Grocery shopping? Maybe are haunted!)

Meg: Flying the drone, eating Laura’s nature valley, planning all the next events on the way back!

Anna: Finding Meg’s PASMO which got lost in the middle of the trail >_< Also watching Kyejin and Laura eat as in a food competition was something to be remembered.

Kyejin: Listening to a kind obaachan talking about the history of her restaurant, sharing snacks with ILL hikers, reaching the shrine after a long hike, etc. So many!! :D

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Laura: Most of what we ate was snacks we brought from around home. But the local snack, miso potato, was very tasty.

Meg: I had niku udon this time and it was really good.

Anna: Again miso potato was awesome!!

Kyejin: Laura’s Nature Valley was good, Chichibu miso potato was so tasty and my butadon was so amazing that I could eat up in 5 minutes!

5. Will you recommend this mountain to others? Score from 1 (No) to level 5 (Absolutely).

Laura: 5. Yes, a beautiful place. If someone is not up for a 3-hour hike climbing up, going by bus or car to the top of the mountain is also good! I want to bring my dog and kid.

Meg: 3, It’s hard to say because I didn’t make it up to the top haha.

Anna: Hmm probably 3. Nice mountain, a few spots to take pictures in the middle of the trail so why not : )

Kyejin: 3.5. There was a beautiful dam, and Laura said a baby bear was running there o_O Recommend it for those who want to see a bear! In general, it was really good too!

6. Any comment?

Laura: Need to practice hiking uphill. I could barely make it : D

Anna: Join us next month!

Kyejin: It’s a heads up but we’re going kayaking in June and camping in July xD Let me know if you’re interested!

~ Anna, Meg, Laura, Kyejin

P.S. The 3rd Sunday of the month is our Activity Day so the next event will be on June 16th and we’ll go kayaking! Please join this fun event, dear ILL people!

April 2019: Beautiful Hanami at Hitsujiyama and Kinchakuda

May 2nd, 2019

Our April activity had 7 brave hikers - Anna, Lya, Meg, Laura, Maryssa, Stan and Kyejin! Since it’s a perfect season for hanami, we decided to go to 2 different places to enjoy beautiful flowers, 1) Shibazakura Hill (芝桜の丘; Shibazakura no oka) at Chichibu Hitsujiyama Park (秩父羊山公園; Chichibu Hitsujiyama Kōen) and 2) Kinchakuda (巾着田; Kinchakuda).

1) Chichibu Hitsujiyama Park (秩父羊山公園; Chichibu Hitsujiyama Kōen)

Hitsujiyama Park is a 20 minutes walk from Seibu Chichibu station. The name of the park, Hitsujiyama, literally means Sheep Mountain as hitsuji (羊) means sheep and yama (山) means a mountain. As the name shows, you can see some sheep in the park.

Our destination was Shibazakura Hill (芝桜の丘; Shibazakura no oka) on that day. It is located in the south of Hitsujiyama Park (羊山公園) and has an area of about 17,600m².

We could enjoy cherry blossoms in full bloom on the way to the hill. There are different kinds of cherry blossoms, which made the place even more colorful and stunning.

Shibazakura Hill is planted in more than 400,000 pink phlox mosses of 9 different colors. In the blooming season, it becomes a flowering carpet shape is designed from Floats and costume patterns of the Chichibu Night Festival and night festival’s excitement.

2) Kinchakuda (巾着田; Kinchakuda)

Kinchakuda Plateau is a 15 walk from Koma station. We just needed to follow a red sign with 巾着田 (kinchakuda) so it wasn’t difficult to find it.

When we arrived at the place, the Spring Festival was already over but instead, we could enjoy the 菜花 (nanohana; rapeseed flowers) in full bloom ourselves. There was no crowd and we were the only people there! The purse-shaped field filled with rapeseed flowers is surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom too, and when the wind blows, it rained cherry blossom petals. It was such a beautiful place.

1. Was this hiking easy or hard? Score from level 1 (easy) to level 5 (hard).

Laura: level 1

Stan: The hike was VERY easy, grade 1. And why? Well, we did not really do any climb except few stairs : )

Anna: Easy, easy 1! I think it’s the first time we didn’t encounter stairs!

Lya: It was so easy! No big slopes, barely any stairs, really chill : D

Meg: 1. It was easy. XD We didn’t really hike up any mountains this time.

Maryssa: 1 Easy. There were few hills.

Kyejin: Level 1. It was easy!

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing).

Laura: level 5. Luckily we went when the Sakura trees were fully bloomed. Plus, the park surrounded by mountains was beautiful.

Stan: The scenery was much better than I expected in both cases - firstly, I had known Chichibu a bit from the past and I did not expect so many sakuras (including the pink, leaning ones) over there in a full bloom, plus the shibazakura flowers were great and I finally managed to see them. So 5, of course. And why? Flowers. I just like them.

Anna: 10! The cherry blossom trees in Chichibu were stunning! There weren’t as many people as in Tokyo famous spots which made it even more beautiful than any other big Sakura park I’ve seen before.

Lya: 7/5. Sakura and flowers were in full bloom! All the colors! So pretty♥

Meg: 5. It was soo beautiful. One of the best hanami spots and not a lot of people. I highly recommend this place to do hanami and enjoy sakura.

Maryssa: 5 The flowers were blooming beautifully.

Kyejin: It was the most beautiful and not crowded hanami I’ve ever experienced. I would love to visit there again next spring!

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Laura: There was a spot full of Shidarezakura in full bloom. Since it was a bit windy the rain of sakura petals was very pretty.

Stan: Probably the sakura petal falls in the wind.

Anna: I discovered a punishment for Korean kids. Ah and of course Sakura rain ✿

Lya: When the wind blew softly and it rained Sakura petals. Stan took a good video of it!

Meg: Enjoying the sakura fall down with the wind and eating yummy food.

Maryssa: Walking down the path lined with sakura trees.

Kyejin: Showing Anna how to write her own name as a Korean punishment o_O and dancing with everyone in the rapeseed flower field. Also, the sakura rain whenever the wind blows…♡

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Laura: I didn’t eat much since I had a cold. But the snack shared by Kyejin was good (good)

Stan: I only had one food and that was yakiniku, grilled one, one the stick. So I cannot compare, but then again, no matter how I look like, I am not a “big eater”…

Anna: New things I tried were miso potatoes and buta miso don. Both worth it.

Lya: SNACKS FTW. My favorite was wild boar skewers (๑•̀ㅂ•́)و✧

Meg: Maryssa and I had a butadon and it was really good. The homemade gelato was awesome too!

Maryssa: The food was great. The butadon was so delicious.

Kyejin: Miso butadon (the one on the right side in the picture) was so gooood! The one on the left side is hiroshima okonomiyaki and it was good too : ) Anna and I shared these two dishes and we were very satisfied! And we had late dinner after hiking at the Mexican restaurant where Maryssa introduced and it was great too. Everything was perfect on that day : D

5. Will you recommend this mountain to others? Score from 1 (No) to level 5 (Absolutely).

Laura: level 4. If people go during the time either the sakura trees or the gardens have lots of flowers, the park is very pretty. Otherwise, I think it is too far away and there are no trails around there to venture into the forest or mountains nearby. But the station and town are pretty and the people friendly so it is a nice place to hang out.

Stan: I can recommend both places with 5. I am not sure if Chichibu is worth 5 out of the sakura/pink moss blooming season, but in this case yes.

Anna: Yes! It wasn’t crowded at all and it was beautiful. The second location we went to also looked like a perfect place to have a barbecue.

Lya: 5! Absolutely, it was gorgeous!

Meg: 5. It’s just so beautiful and food is good too! : D

Maryssa: 5 Would definitely recommend. The scenery was stunning, food was delicious, and staff were nice.

Kyejin: Of course. It’s now my secret(?) place for hanami!

6. Any comment?

Stan: Thanks for the great trip, socializing was also outstanding, I personally need more stuff like this, it made me switch off, even though I was working occasionally.

Anna: Looking forward to the next hiking with everyone. There are always nice sceneries around no matter the season.

Lya: A really fun and pretty day (≧▽≦) Special mention for Sushi Go!

Meg: Big thanks to the company! : D

Maryssa: I would call it more of a walking tour than a hike, but it was gorgeous and a nice place people could spend the whole day having a picnic at.

Kyejin: Yes, big big big thanks to the company! : D It was really fun and I can’t wait for our next hiking already. Let’s hike, people!

~ Anna, Lya, Meg, Laura, Maryssa, Stan, Kyejin

P.S. The 3rd Sunday of the month is the Hiking Day so the next hiking will be on May 19th! Please join this fun hiking, dear ILL people : D

The Consequences of Medical Mistranslations

April 13th, 2019

The Consequences of Medical Mistranslations 

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

Section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in health programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.

In 1974, in the case of Lau v. Nicols, the Supreme Court ruled that language can be used as a proxy for national origin.

While these laws are in place, there is still mistranslation within healthcare facilities to this day. The consequences are severe, and in some cases, lethal.

Cases

Willie Ramirez

One of the most famous cases of medical mistranslation is the case of Willie Ramirez.Ramirez, an 18-year-old athlete, was hanging out with a friend when he started complaining of a splitting headache. He began to lose consciousness and was rushed to the hospital.At the hospital, Ramirez’ mother told doctors that he was ‘intoxicado,” a Cuban word meaning, not feeling well due to something one ate or drank. However, doctors misinterpreted this as “intoxicated,” so they treated Ramirez for a drug overdose. It wasn’t until a few days after he was hospitalized that doctors noticed Ramirez actually had a brain bleed.

The brain bleed, which could have been treated very quickly, instead was neglected for days. As a result, Ramirez became a quadriplegic, and the hospital became liable for $71 million.

Francisco Torres

Francisco Torres was scheduled for kidney surgery. For weeks leading up to the surgery, all medical records referred to the Torres’ left kidney. At some point there was a change in documentation, and the records began to reflect that it was the right kidney that needed attention. The documents were never translated from English to Spanish, so Torres did not see the mistake.

While in surgery, doctors removed the right kidney. When they realized their mistake, the doctors removed the left kidney as well.

As a result, Francisco will spend his life on dialysis. The Health Department cited the hospital “for errors leading up to the surgery, including failing to follow safety protocol and failing to communicate accurately with the Spanish-speaking patient.”

Teresa Tarry

Shortly before Teresa Tarry moved to Spain from the Britain, she discovered a small lump in her breast. She visited her doctor in the UK, who told her she had nothing to worry about.

But after a few months in Spain, the tumor grew to the size of a golf ball. Tarry visited a Spanish hospital, where she claims her medical records were mistranslated. Tarry says that the Spanish doctors believed her mother and sister had suffered from breast cancer, when in fact she has no family history of cancer.

While she had a challenging time explaining her situation to the Spanish doctors, Tarry eventually trusted their diagnosis and underwent a double mastectomy. Weeks later she discovered that the tumor was benign.

Tarry sued the hospital for €600,000 in compensation.

The Tran Family

The Tran’s 9-year-old daughter had a severe infection with a rapid onset. When they brought her in, the girl’s Vietnamese parents were unable to properly communicate with the doctors. So the young girl was asked to interpret for herself. When the girl lost consciousness, her 16-year-old brother took over interpreting.

The girl was treated for gastroenteritis. However, she was actually suffering from a reaction to the drug Reglan. The lack of proper treatment resulted in an extreme blood level drop.

The 9-year-old girl suffered a heart attack and died. The patient’s family sued the hospital and was given a mere $200,000 for their loss.

An expert witness at the hearing testified, “In my opinion, the failure of the doctor and the facility to provide a professional medical interpreter was a substantial factor in causing [the patient]’s death. The reasons for not using family members, friends, and particularly minor children as interpreters are widely recognized.”

Doctors

Machine Translations

This day in age, if we need a simple word translated, we can just ask Google. However, when it comes to healthcare, machine translations are not an option. The risk of error is too great.

For example, if you ask Google to translate, “me siento intoxicado” it will tell you the translation is: “I feel intoxicated.” For the case of Willie Ramirez, he would have ended up in the exact same situation with Google translate.

Needless to say, a computer cannot be trusted in the realm of human healthcare translations. It takes a human to understand a human. The best case scenario is to use a professional human translator.

The Consequences of Ad Hoc Interpreters

An ad hoc interpreter is someone who facilitates doctor/patient communication in lieu of a professional interpreter, usually a bilingual staff member or a member of the patient’s family. Many studies have evaluated the effect of ad hoc interpreters on the results of medical cases, and all results point to the same answer.

Let’s take a look at the most detailed study to give you the clearest understanding.

In 2012, the Annals of Emergency Medicine published a study that evaluated audiotaped medical encounters to measure the potential consequences of cases where limited English proficient patients were provided professional vs. ad hoc vs. no interpreters.

Out of 57 encounters, 20 received professional interpreting, 27 were provided ad hoc interpreters, and 10 cases had no interpreter at all.

In total, 1,884 interpreter errors were noted, 18% of which had potential clinical consequence.

The risk of potential consequence broke down among each group like this:

  • Ad Hoc Interpreters - 22% risk of error
  • No Interpreter - 20% risk of error
  • Professional Interpreters - 12% risk of error

The study found that in regards to professional interpreters, those with 100+ hours of interpreter training significantly reduced the proportions of errors of potential consequence, from 12% to 2%, in every error category.

This study, along with many like it, concludes that less errors occur when no interpreter is provided vs. an ad hoc interpreter stepping in. However, ultimately the best scenario is to have a professional interpreter, with extensive training in the field, facilitate communication between a doctor and patient.

Know Your Rights

If you, or someone you know is dealing with a medical issue and cannot accurately communicate with the doctor, request a professional medical interpreter. It is the responsibility of the hospital to provide a professional, certified interpreter to assure that the patient’s needs are met.

If you are put in a position where you’ve been asked to serve as the interpreter, reflect on your abilities, and remember you have the right to decline.

Keep in mind, if you step in as a medical interpreter, your interpretations will become legally binding. Any interpretation conducted for a patient is added to the patient’s medical records, which is a legal document, and will be presented in a court of law, should something unfortunate happen. If you are not sure how your interpretations will hold up in court, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I understand the medical terminology being used, and do I know how to translate it in both languages?
  2. Do I understand humor and sarcasm in both languages?
  3. Can I accurately interpret non verbal communication in both languages?
  4. Do I have a relationship with the patient that could make my interpretations biased?

If you decline to serve as an ad hoc interpreter, this is not a failure to your family or civic duty. In fact, ad hoc interpreting often causes more hard than good. You declining to serve as an intermediate interpreter might actually give the patient a greater chance at receiving proper medical care.

To Err or Not to Err

In conclusion, professional interpreters create an environment for the best standard of care. When you, or anyone you know, are presented with difficult communication in a medical encounter, ask for a professional.
To err is human. But in this case, the best way to secure the least amount of errors is to trust a professional. You trust a medical expert for your critical health needs. Trust a language expert for your critical communication needs.

Author Bio:
Ciara Boyce is a content writer at Day Translations, Inc.. Ciara has a passion for uniting cultures across the world. She loves to encourage people through both the spoken and written word, and starts every morning motivating others with daily affirmations via @inrawlife on Instagram.


Related Course

Communicate with Spanish speaking patients with MedSpanishPod101!
Learn essential conversations, phrases, vocabulary, and earn 50 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™

With MedSpanishPod101, you learn Spanish with 3-15 minute Audio/Video Lessons by real teachers. You’ll learn the must-know phrases and questions to use with patients. Plus, you’ll learn a ton of medical vocab along the way. By the end, you’re ready to speak and use the phrases with patients.

March 2019: Hiking Mt. Gongen, Mt. Koubou, and Mt. Azuma in One Day!

March 25th, 2019

Anna, Lya, Meg, and Kyejin went hiking 

On March 17th, on a beautiful Sunday, Anna, Lya, Meg, and Kyejin went hiking to 3 different mountains, Mt. Gongen (権現山), Mt. Koubou (弘法山), and Mt. Azuma (吾妻山).

Those mountains are located between the Hadano and Tsurumakionsen stations on the Odakyu Odawara line and the stations are easily accessible from Shinjuku station directly without any transferring. It takes about an hour only so it’s a perfect day trip from Tokyo!

Since each mountain is about 250m tall only, it was a relatively easy hike. There are plenty of picnic tables and benches so we could rest enough and play fun card games whenever we arrived at the summit of each mountain. It’s said you can enjoy an amazing view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day but unfortunately it suddenly got cloudy when we were at the observatory. It’s also a popular place, especially during the cherry blossom season.

1. Was this hiking easy or hard? Score from level 1 (easy) to level 5 (hard).

Meg: 2.5 or 3 because of the uphills.

Lya: The hike was 2 hard. The beginning was pretty straining but it got easier after a while ^^

Anna: Mount Koubo was an easy relaxing hike although as usual, it started with stairs but we did our best and got easily to the first stop!

Kyejin: 2. If it was just one mountain, I would give 1 but since we hiked to 3 mountains in one day, I give 2!

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing).

Meg: 3 The view was nice and you could see a nice view of the area we were in.

Lya: I would give a 4 to the scenery. It was beautiful and we could see far, but we missed the Sakura blooming. That would have been a 5.

Anna: We had perfect weather for hiking not too hot not too cold so we enjoyed the day a lot. There were nice stops in the way like a sightseeing mini tower, statues of the demons of the woods and lots of Sakura trees that unfortunately hadn’t bloomed when we went. So if you have the chance to get there when they bloom I’m sure the views will be even more rewarding!

Kyejin: 3. Too bad we weren’t able to see Mt. Fuji or cherry blossoms but still there were a small temple, a big bell, an old well, an observatory, interesting trees, pretty flowers, weird bugs(?) and lots of sheep ᏊˊꈊˋᏊ so I enjoyed it a lot! Also, we had to walk along the river from the station to the park for about 15-20 minutes and I liked that too.

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Meg: Sushi Go haha

Lya: Playing Sushi Go (≧▽≦)

Anna: This time we enjoyed the breaks playing cards and eating!

Kyejin: Of course playing Sushi Go! It’s a “Spanish(?)” card game Anna brought.

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Meg: Eating fried chicken from the fried chicken shop was awesome! The omiyage shop was really good too with lots of testers.

Lya: If we don’t count dinner, we mostly had snacks, so nuts and cheese FTW. And that chocolate thing that Anna and Ruben brought. (• ε •) If we count dinner, the fried chicken was amazing. And the fried cheese. I like all the foods. ALL OF THEM!

Anna: This mount didn’t have any food stalls so make sure to bring your bento/onigiri when hiking! After that, we also walked around the area and tried karaage from a からげ専門店 it was very good!

Kyejin: We found a karaage shop that won lots of awards from international competitions. We had to wait in a line but it was totally worth! The Nagoya restaurant we went to after hiking was pretty good!

5. Will you recommend this mountain to others? Score from 1 (No) to level 5 (Absolutely).

Meg: 3 I recommend this mountain but maybe less than our previous ones because there wasn’t so much to see or attractions on the actual route of the hike but we did see sheep which was fun!!! There was also a sign for possible monkeys!!

Lya: 4 because it was pretty but there can always be a prettier mountain, somewhere. Also, lack of sakuras. But please go see it fit yourself

Kyejin: 3. Yes, it was easy enough and fun enough at the same time.

6. Any comment?

Meg: The hike was really fun and relatively chill this time compared to previous hikes. We ate lots of snacks, played lots of games, and ate some yummy fried chicken that has apparently won an award. Then, we went to Izakaya for more food. Yay! We love food! Haha. I really enjoyed my time with everyone and it was only one train ride away from Shinjuku. The weather was good too! Thanks, everyone!

Lya: I want to play more Sushi Go. The hike concept should be to play it in more and more extravagant places. I want to win once at least, everyone was so good!! (≧▽≦)

Kyejin: It was super fun! It’s always so pleasant to have a great time with great people! I’m already looking forward to our April hike.

~ Anna, Lya, Meg, Kyejin

P.S. Please join this healthy and fun hiking in April, dear ILL people!

How to Transform Your Daily Commute Into Learning a Language

March 19th, 2019

Daily Commute Into Learning a Language

Today, classrooms are no longer the only or even best place to learn a new language. More and more people are finding that they can easily learn a language just about anywhere they have a few minutes of spare time, including their daily commute to work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spends over 50 minutes a day commuting to and from work, or over 300 hours a year.

Rethinking Your Daily Commute to Work

But rather than simply sitting in traffic and wasting the time, you can instead use your daily commute to literally learn a language in just a few short months! Innovative Language Learning has developed specialized learning tools that you can use on your commute to work (and home again) to master the language in your spare time. Keep reading to learn how to get your free audiobook to use on your next commute so you can see for yourself how easy it is to transform “dead time” into realizing your dream of learning a new language!

But before we look at how to transform your commute home into a mini-classroom, let’s take a closer look at 4 reasons why traditional classroom settings just aren’t the best option for most people in today’s fast-paced world.

  • Difficulty Getting to and From Class
  • Learning on Someone Else’s Schedule
  • Very Expensive and May Cost $1,000’s to Complete
  • Can Take Years to Finally Complete Classes and Learn the Language

The simple truth is that traditional classroom instruction is simply not a viable option for most people in today’s very fast-paced, time-starved world. Now let’s examine how you can learn a language faster, more easily, and at far less expense than traditional classes—all during your commute to work and back home again!

Bus

3 Reasons Your Daily Commute Can Help You Master a Language

1. The Average Commute Time is More than 300 Hours Per Year

Between the commute to work and getting back home again, over 6 hours a week is completely wasted and not helping you reach any goals or objectives. But thanks to online language learning platforms with audiobooks and other resources that you can access during your commute, you can easily transform wasted time into tangible progress towards learning a new language. With over 300 hours available annually, your daily commute could provide you with enough time to literally master a new language each and every year!

2. Increase Your Earning Potential While Commuting to Work

How would you like to transform all those spare commuting hours each week into more money for a new car, house, or even a dream vacation? According to research, someone making $30,000 per year can boost their annual income by $600 or more per year by learning a second language. Added up over the course of a lifetime, you can boost your total earnings by $70,000 or more while achieving your dream of learning a new language during your daily commute!

How? From work-at-home translation jobs to working overseas, there are many ways to leverage your second language into more money in your bank account! So instead of wasting your precious time, you can make your commute more productive and profitable and the more languages you learn, the higher your income potential.
3. Repetition is Key to Mastering a New Language

Not sure if it’s practical to learn another language while commuting to and from work each day? Well not only is it possible—learning in your car on the way to and from work each day can actually help you learn and master any language much faster! The simple truth is that repetition is absolutely vital to truly internalizing and mastering any language. So, if you listen to audiobooks or even audio lessons on your commute to work and then repeat the same lesson on your commute home, the information is more likely to be “locked-in” to your long-term memory!

Listening

5 Ways Innovative Language Learning Makes It Easy to Learn a Language On Your Commute

First, click here and pick a language you want to learn with us!

Whichever language you choose, you’ll be able to access the world’s largest collection of audio and video lessons and advanced learning tools.
Innovative Language Learning has been helping people just like yourself learn and master a language in the comfort of their home, during their daily commute, or any place they have a few minutes of spare time. Here are five features provided by Innovative Language Learning that make it easy to learn a new language while commuting to and from work:

1. The Largest Collection of Audio Lessons on Planet by Native Speaking Instructors
Every single week, Innovative Language Learning creates new audio lessons by native speaking instructors. All lessons are short, to the point, and guaranteed to improve your mastery of the language you’re learning.

2. Word of the Day
Simply exposing yourself to new information and vocabulary terms helps increase your fluency and mastery of the language you’re learning. So every single day, Innovative Language Learning adds a new Word of the Day for you to learn and memorize during your commute.

3. Daily Dose Mini-Lessons
Have a short commute to work but still want to make progress towards learning and mastering a language? Not a problem! Our Daily Dose Mini-Lessons are 1-minute or less and designed to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

4. All Content Available on a Convenient Mobile App

You don’t need a PC or tablet to learn a language during your daily commute. At Innovative Language Learning, all of our lessons, tools, and resources are available 24/7 via our Mobile App. That means you can access all of our audio lessons and other tools during your commute to work or any time you have a few spare moments!

5. Audiobooks and Other Supplemental Resources
In addition to the world’s largest online collection of HD audio lessons, Innovative Language Learning has also created several audiobooks to enhance your understanding and make it more convenient than ever to learn a language during your commute!

Conclusion

The average commute time of most Americans is over 300 hours each year and it’s the perfect opportunity to learn and master a new language. In fact, you can use the “dead time” during your daily commute to learn a new language and potentially boost your lifetime earnings by up to $70,000 or more! Whatever your motivation, Innovative Language Learning has the tools and resources necessary to help you learn a new language each year during your commute to and from work. Act now and we’ll even provide you with a free audiobook to try out on your next commute!

How to Supercharge Your Vocabulary With Bilingual Reading

March 11th, 2019

Supercharge Your Vocabulary!
Reading in a foreign language is great. But if there’s one big fat problem, it’s that you need a high level of fluency before it gets fun. And if a book isn’t fun, then you’re not going to want to read it.

The entire point of sitting down with a book is to enjoy it and have a good time being absorbed in the story.

And that’s just not going to happen if you need to look up every second word with Google Translate or a real-life dictionary. It will take you out of the story and it will feel like a chore as if you’re back in high school and need to read the book to pass your curriculum.

I was literally shocked when my girlfriend brought me a collection of Chekhov’s stories that had Russian on the left page - and English on the right.

 


It’s such a simple and elegant solution that will make reading (especially at the beginner levels) so much easier and more fun.

I’m in the process of uploading Chekhov’s stories online, including an audio version, so that you can listen and read at the same time. You’ll find more resources down below (also for other languages).

So, what is bilingual reading?

It’s all in the name. You read a book in 2 languages. The language that you’re learning + the language that you’re fluent in.

There are several variants and the most common one is the picture below. You have a book that has your foreign language on the left, and English on the right. This is the more traditional form.

 

Now, online you can also find stories where the story is translated paragraph by paragraph. The same principle, just in more bite-sized chunks, so your eyes need to travel less to read both texts.

The great thing about bilingual reading is that you can quickly switch between languages. And that the translation already has been done correctly, so you won’t need to distinguish between the 10 variants of a translated word that your dictionary offers.

Which brings us to the main advantage…

It’s great for your initial vocabulary building

Look, the best way to improve your vocabulary is to learn words in context. Let’s say you’re reading a book in Spanish, and you read the following phrase:

El sol es caliente - the sun is warm.

Now your mind is making the connection between sun and warm. And it’ll be easier to remember that the word for “warm” is “caliente”.

The only problem with reading a book in another language is, like we said in the introduction, that you need a relatively high level of fluency before you can make this connection between words.

It’s great if you already know 80% of words, as you can deduct the meaning of another 10-15%, and only look up the remaining couple of words you do not understand.

But if you’re starting out, you might only know 10% of all words! That’s when bilingual reading can help a lot.

You’ll read the sentence first in another language. See if you get it and if you can puzzle what the meaning of some words is. Then you quickly glance on the other side of the page and see the translation.

This way you’ll be able to have fun reading AND learn contextual vocabulary at the same time

Why it works well if you’re learning a language at home

If you’re taking language classes, then your teacher basically takes on the role of the translated page. When you’re reading a text with your teacher, you can ask them questions whenever you do not get something. They’ll give you the correct translation quickly with another context on how the word functions in the sentence.

But if you’re learning from home you don’t have that advantage. Bilingual reading offers the same benefits, as you can quickly look up the translation of a sentence and see what each word means.

Stages how you can use bilingual books

The main goal of bilingual books is to breach the gap between the beginner and intermediate to advanced stages. They can help set you up to read real books, without any translation.

Some language purists might recommend you only read stories that were originally written in non-English, but I’d say that any book you enjoy goes well.

Here are the steps I recommend you go through:

  • Stage 1 - simple bilingual stories (such as kids stories or fairy tales)
  • Stage 2 - the same stories, but now only in another language
  • Stage 3 - bilingual real books
  • Stage 4 - real books

You can use bilingual reading to improve your vocabulary and reading understanding. Until you become so good that you don’t need it anymore.

Does it work for every language?

It doesn’t matter if you’re learning French, Dutch, Russian, Chinese or Indian, bilingual reading works for every language.

After all, the principles of language learning don’t change. Only the implementation does.

You also don’t really need too much knowledge at the start. If you like puzzling, then you could even start reading some simple bilingual stories without any prior experience in a language! (the only exception would be Russian, or any other language with different characters - in that case, you’d need to learn the alphabet first)

However, just as with other language programs and courses, the more people speak a specific language (and the more people want to learn it), the easier it will be to find bilingual books.

If you’re learning any of the big languages (Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Italian), then it’ll be easier to find translated stories that have been put into a bilingual format.

Which brings us to the final section…

Where do I find bilingual books?

There are many places to find them - and the internet has been a real game changer here. I’ve tried finding them in libraries, but you need a large library and quite some luck to find good (and more than just 1) bilingual books.

Here’s a list of resources:

  • Language Lizard (all languages, physical books)
  • Amazon also has a great selection
  • The Fable Cottage (Children’s stories in Italian, French, German and Spanish)

I’m sure there are more places to find them. A quick google search with “dual language books + [language that you’re learning]” or “bilingual books + [language that you’re learning]” should be enough to show up some gems.

It’s really remarkable how easy and fun it can be to read a book in 2 languages. It will make learning a new language more of a fun activity, as opposed to a traditional lesson.

Here’s a final recap of the benefits:

  • Learn new vocabulary quickly
  • Make this vocabulary stick because you remember it in context
  • Easier to put in more time into learning, as you enjoy the process
  • Shortcut the path to reading real books
  • A simple and fun way to learn at home without a teacher

Have you used bilingual books before in your language learning? Let it know in the comments!

Author: Arie Helderman started learning Russian in 2014. You can find which strategies worked best for him at Learn the Russian Language.

February 2019: Plum Festival at Soga Bairin, Odawara

March 7th, 2019

Plum Festival in Japan

Odawara Plum Festival is held in Soga from early February to early March every year in Japan.

 

February 23rd was the perfect day for our February hiking, and Anna, Lya and Kyejin went to Soga to enjoy the beautiful plum blossoms and “mini” hiking.


 

This was what’s written on the board in the view point:

Soga Plum Orchard

The Soga Plum Forest, located about 4 miles northeast to the central district of the city of Odawara. The forest is made up of three areas: Bessho, Hara, and Nakagawara, approximately 35,000 trees of white plum.

The views of Mt.Fuji, the Hakone and the Tanzawa mountain range and the Sagami Bay are also wonderful, and it has been selected as Kanto Fujimi 100 view (One of the best places to enjoy viewing Mt.Fuji).

 

Message from Anna:

“Wonderful Saturday surrounded by plum trees.

This last Saturday due the start of the hay fever season (with the fear of sugi trees) and knowing it was time for ume to bloom Kyejin-san proposed a nice adventure in Soga. I think that’s the first time I see so many ume trees in their fields with lots of space for walking and zero crowds!

We had an enviable picnic (that goes for you who hasn’t joined yet ;-) )and we finished with a mini hike to a viewing point of the city.”

 

Message from Lya:

“The weather was grand, and so were the Ume trees!

We had tasty food (thanks Anna!), a nice walk and a lot of fun. One of the highlights was to find wild kiwis and pet Shiba inu. Much love! (๑♡3♡๑)”

 

Message from Kyejin:

“I haven’t seen so many plum trees before (there are over 35,000 trees!) and haven’t realized how colorful they are. We did a “mini hike” and could see the whole village filled with colorful plum trees. That’s why we could smell plum flowers anywhere in the village.

The picnic was awesome too. We bought Japanese festival foods including umeshu Lya treated and one of my favorite parts was Anna’s Spanish omelette. That was just perfect for the ume picnic!

It’s alway so pleasure to travel with good people. The plum trees were beautiful but our trip was even more beautiful :D It was full of stories and fun moments! I already look forward to our next adventure.“

 

The next hike is going to take place on March 17th! Are you joining us? Let us know!

- Anna, Lya and Kyejin