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Begin By Listening and Speaking to Movies

Think about a baby. When he is learning language, first he listens. Then he babbles, or practices the sounds he has heard in the language. Then, he begins to understand actual words. Finally, he begins to speak. In teaching ESOL, we notice a similar phenomenon in which receptive vocabulary precedes expressive. Even in our own mother tongue, we notice this effect. We recognize and understand in hearing and reading many more words than we use in writing and speaking. What is more, your productive vocabulary never grows past your receptive. In other words, you will never speak more words than you can listen to or write more words than you read. In short, in order to be able to use more words, you must receive and understand more words!

Tower of Babelfish says start with pronunciation because it will help you listen and remember better as you develop your vocabulary. In fact, the writer says that you cannot have proper pronunciation without a certain amount of ear training. This site offers a wealth of information for learning several languages. Additionally, How to Be a Polyglot offers tips on speaking and listening. So get to listening and mocking! Do a little babbling to practice phonemes.

As you begin to develop more vocabulary,
How to Use Movies to Improve French suggests choosing a movie that has clearly enunciated dialogue, subtitles, and vocabulary you would like to learn. The exercise is as follows: you simply watch about two sentences, try to write them down, and go and check using subtitles. Then you analyze what you got wrong. This can be adapted to lower proficiencies by using invented spellings or the IPA, focusing solely on the sounds and less on the vocabulary.

Now, for the movies. I will focus mostly on French because that is the language that I am learning, but there are a few educational films in other language listed as well.
Top 10 Easy to Understand French Movies
10 Great Contemporary French Films to Watch
5 Must See French Films to Learn French
Available on Netflix
Available on Hulu
Available on YouTube
Extr@ French
Muzzy French

Spanish
Extr@ EspaƱol
Ten Excellent Spanish Language Films for Learning Spanish
10 Great Contemporary Spanish Films to Watch

German
Extr@ Deutcsh
Muzzy Deutcsh

Esposito
Muzzy Esposito

Italian
Muzzy Italian
Learn Italian Through Movies
5 Must See Italian Films to Learn Italian
10 Good Contemporary Italian Films to Watch

And never forget that many English films have various language dubs in the DVD menu! So let's get to listening and mocking, then writing and checking! And let's enjoy some tv while we do it!

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