Monday, April 07, 2014

Phrase Books are God-sent

Some of the earliest materials I bought when I started studying Italian were phrase books and mini dictionaries. That was before I added books on grammar, vocabulary, verbs and other reading materials to my personal library as I continue to build the foundation of my study.

Some of the phrase books in my collection

The main motivation during the start of my self-study was the intention to visit Italy, and I had wanted to be able to speak the language by the time I landed there. Italian is my very first successful foreign language mission or project.

At that time, my logic was to be able to start the ball rolling in basic conversation. Phrase books came into mind. The beauty about these little guys is that they provide you with the guide to pronunciation, divided into sections by theme, and usually come with mini dictionaries.

The Berlitz Shortcut to Italian was my first phrasebook. I even took it with me on the plane and was revising with it right up to the last minute when I traveled to Italy! (It's part of my study strategy.)

I also know that phrase books alone will not be sufficient to have meaningful exchanges with the locals, because what if they don't answer as scripted in these books? How on earth will I be able to understand what is being said, let alone reply? But they're definitely a great start, and then I aimed higher. How I Learn Italian and Virtual Immersion are the posts where I describe the stuff I do for my Italian.

The Lonely Planet Western Europe Phrasebook & Dictionary (see pic above) is my latest addition and the 455-page small book carries a collection of 11 languages that include Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Greek, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish. I picked this book because of its standard format (same questions, same phrases) across all languages and that makes it a lot easier for me to compare notes.

For my second language mission, I still have yet to decide which one to go forFrench or Germanbut I have a feeling it would be French...


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