Make It More Interesting

The local grocery stores have free newspapers that one can pick up after one’s shopping. The most popular one is this newspaper “El Españolito”, which one can only get on Saturdays. On Sundays, it’s all gone. Sigh. Language learning is a marathon and it is too slow. After a year of learning Spanish for 30 minutes a day, I have progressed to the point that I can understand a portion of each sentence. However, often there will always be several words that are unrecognizable, which throw the meaning of the whole sentence off. Still, it is a progress. “Chismes” in one of the newspapers is new to me, and the online dictionary tells me it means “gossip”. Haha. I should have guessed it. And “reguetón” means reggaeton, a Latin dance. I should have guessed this too since I used to have a DVD of reggaeton fitness, which I exercised with every week.

The thing is half of the Spanish words are cognates of English words. This lulls one into a false sense of comprehension. When one encounters “arena”, one thinks it should be like an open air theater or stadium, but it actually means “sand” in Spanish. How could you? You trick me.

The problem of learning a language is that it is very boring and repetitive. So the reduction of boredom is really an important task. I have the following strategies to boost the spirit, at least for the time being:

Interesting Little Posts

Instagram has many interesting photos and videos about a foreign language. Just search “learn Spanish”, or “learn Thai”, a big bunch of Instagram posts and stories will come up. It is good for learning words and phrases. It is more interesting to scroll through these posts than to follow a language app. It is said there are more interesting stuff on Tiktok, but I don’t have Tiktok installed for fear of getting myself addicted to it.

Small Is Good

I found that a small dictionary can boost one’s spirit. I mean a small Spanish-English dictionary with less than 10,000 words will make you feel really good since you know more than half of the words in it. In contrast, a big dictionary will make one depressed.

Songs And Lyrics

There are a lot of songs with bilingual subtitles on YouTube, which is a great way to make one relax while learning a little bit of language.


I subscribed to several YouTube language learning channels and I now receive email from them at least once a week. I feel that reading the email gives me a good feeling. I know it is an email sent to many people, but still it feels like a Spanish message especially for me.

Easy Blogs

I am still searching for an easy blog, but so far I haven’t found any. Most of the blogs in Spanish or in Thai are too difficult for me at this point. Right now I am at the awkward stage of considering the beginning level writing boring, but not understanding more interesting stuff. It is said this awkward stage will last for a very long time. Usually one can get over this stage by reading 3 million words, which is equivalent of about 30 books. The problem is where to find 30 books that is suitable for one to read and not boring one to death.


It is said one should get a notebook and write down all the words and the associated words down, but I haven’t been able to do this yet.

21 thoughts on “Make It More Interesting

  1. It’s never easy to learn a new language. But repetition and practical application definitely helps. Also, learning common phrases that are used almost daily can boost one’s confidence a lot. Keep going, Haoyan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think your “small dictionary” point is very good. Even in one’s mother tongue a large dictionary contains many words that one would never use informally.

    One little-mentioned benefit of knowing a foreign language is that it is a good way of distancing yourself emotionally from (for example) political events on your own country. If you read about them in the foreign press and in a foreign language they somehow don’t seem quite so painful!

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    1. You remind me of a screaming headline in a Korean newspaper article when Trump became the president. I don’t read Korean, but a Korean American translated for us on social media. And it is pretty humorous. And you are right, politics can be very painful. Last week, my friend and I talked about that democrats are going to lose in the mid term election and in 2024 presidential election. It is almost for sure and we were quite devastated. It is very painful.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes exactly. We in the UK shared your pain over Trump because of the common language. We saw how truly awful he was (and is). In contrast, my wife’s relatives in Finland often saw him as merely “funny”. They were mercifully protected by the language barrier (even though their English is generally very good).

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        1. So true. I watched several videos shot by people from Finland, Denmark etc. It seems everybody can speak English there. I wonder if English is one of the official languages there.


  3. It’s great that you find the time and energy to learn other languages. I always intend on improving my Italian and French … have several mysteries in those languages at home … just to ignore them and keep reading my beloved English ones 🙈🤣. Great tips, though. Especially magazines and newspapers are a great medium to learn or improve a language. Wishing you lots of motivation to keep going!

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    1. I wish I started Spanish earlier so that now I can read some interesting stuff. However I am stuck in a very low level right now and have to deal with all the boring texts. LOL. Wish I can do magazines or newspapers–they are too advanced for me.

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  4. These are great tips. I had no idea about Instagram being so great for learning a new language. I’m learning German at the moment and I’ll check if I can find anything helpful on IG. I’m pretty sure I will.

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    1. I haven’t checked out German, but I bet people post on IG of their German words and phrases. For Spanish, there are so many and I haven’t figured out how to navigate in a better way yet.

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      1. So true. I’ve never thought about German. Isn’t that interesting? I thought about Spanish, Thai, Japanese, Sanskrit, Korean. And even French. Well, it is said French put a lot of emphasis on accent. That has driven me away. I listen to the cashiers speaking Spanish all the time in different stores, or even in queues behind customers who chat in Spanish in grocery stores. Wish I can understand it. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know it can sound “harsh” but I’m a historian and I’ve always wanted to visit Germany at some point and do some traveling and I assumed knowing the language would help. I also think it’s a beautiful language when you understand the words (which are so crazy specific sometimes!)

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        1. I watched a movie in German once with English subtitles–I can’t remember the name anymore–and I could actually make out a couple of words sounding a little like English. Probably just my imagination.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Hmm… I wonder if German invented beer.. Or is it Dutch? I know a person who drinks beer so much that he develops a big beer stomach and he continues to drink. There’s no stopping him.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. I think it must be German’s because beer is so big there. Oktoberfest is all about beer. I think many people who drink too much beer develop a beer belly. It’s sad he doesn’t stop though. That much beer isn’t good for you.

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