With instant messaging and internet chat rooms, it should be quite easy to pick up another language just by typing in chat rooms. English is the most widely used language, and therefore, most people who want to do business internationally would be well advised to learn some English, even if you don't become totally fluent. As an English speaker, I was able to pick up a good working knowledge of Swedish simply by communicating in Swedish-language chat rooms. The same can be done to learn English.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Chat program such as mIRC, Yahoo or MSN
- Dictionary of the target language
Open the chat program and find a room that is speaking exclusively English. This should be fairly easy as most chat rooms have English as their default language. In mIRC, chat rooms are named for the countries, and these may be all right to use, but often it is best to find a chat room named after a popular city from an English-speaking country. For instance, 'Sydney' or 'Brisbane' would be better rooms than #Australia, as these latter programs are populated by bots, which are a waste of time as far as chatting goes. Bots (an abbreviation for "robots") are automated programs resembling people, designed to gather information.
Observe the conversations that are ongoing in the chat rooms. Don’t worry about trying to understand everything at first; just watch the interactions, and copy and paste some of the frequently used words into a prepared vocabulary page. Anticipate some of the questions you might be asked if you start a chat with someone, such as how to say your name, your age, your nationality or your job title. Look these up in the dictionary, and write them on the same page you copied the frequently used words to, along with their English equivalent. Now use the dictionary to translate the frequently used words as well.
Learn the words as they are used in common phrases. Copy the phrases onto your vocabulary page. This way you are learning the language by a "speech first" method and concentrating on fluency. Don’t worry about correct grammar at this stage, because you will work out the grammar through contact with native speakers. As you see a new phrase, ask the native speakers you are chatting with to explain to you the idiomatic meaning. As you learn new vocabulary or phrases, copy and paste them into your vocabulary file. You will always remember words that you use for a specific purpose. These are words that have communicative meaning for you.
Once you have acquired some words in English, start trying to use those words in conversation. Most native English speakers will enjoy speaking to a foreigner and helping them along with the understanding of the language. The key here is not to make a nuisance of yourself. Remember, these people have come to the internet to amuse themselves and relax, not to be unpaid teachers, so don’t overtly expect corrections and instruction from chatters.
Just as a baby observes before speaking, it is best to first observe and then offer some conversation after you become confident with some of the language. Chatters may offer to instruct you, and then you can feel free to ask questions. Good luck with your learning.
Tips and warnings
- Don't be pushy
- Be wary of predators online
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