Learning a new language has become a very digital endeavor. There are a lot of great apps and programs around, which are very user-friendly and even fun to use.
3 good reasons for using the Kindle for Language Learning
This tip is not meant to replace any language learning method you have used or are planning to use in the future. But the Amazon Kindle can be a great tool for learning a language for the following reasons:
- You can choose your own reading material according to your level of skill and according to your interests. In case you visit a language school or a class at college you might have prescribed literature – which isn’t always too exciting. If you want to learn French and you are still at an early stage, you can get some French children’s books or easy-to-read novels, whether it might be fantasy, a thriller, science fiction, romance, or a newspaper or magazine from the Kindle Newsstand.
- Any word you don’t know you can look up using the translation function of the Kindle. Thus, you don’t need the Oxford Advanced Dictionary next to your bed. That’s quite a brick. You can actually apply it digitally on your Kindle.
- All the words you looked up will be available within the so-called Vocabulary Builder, where you can then study them.
What are the steps to start learning a language?
Go to the Kindle Store or some other source for e-books and pick your favorite book, magazine, or newspaper from the Kindle Newsstand. You will learn more about alternative sources for reading material in the chapter “Save lots of Money”.
Get the right dictionary installed
The standard dictionary on your Paperwhite is a monolingual one – English explanations for English words (or wherever in the world you bought your device). Depending on the language you want to learn, get a bilingual dictionary like French-English from the Kindle Store. There are many products available. After you bought and downloaded the dictionary you need to make it your Kindle’s “default dictionary”, in order to use it while you are reading.
To do that go to Settings / All Settings / Dictionaries and now choose a different one as the standard dictionary (In my case I have three different English dictionaries installed). Here you find out how to set a default dictionary.
Now you are ready to start reading. As soon as the first word shows up you don’t know, I would recommend you try to figure out first from the context what it could mean. Then double-check it or in case you have no clue long tap the word and look it up in the dictionary. As you know the meaning of the word now, read the whole sentence again – maybe even speak it out loud to practice speaking the word.
The Vocabulary Builder
Now comes the Kindle’s killer feature: All the words you looked up are collected in the Vocabulary Builder. You can find it from your Home-Screen in the context menu with the three dots.
The Vocabulary Builder offers two views: Either all the words from all books or the words from selected books. You can use this table now as a quiz. Try to remember the meaning of a word, then tap the word to confirm – if you were right you can delete it from the list or check it as “mastered” to keep it in the list for a later review.
In case you want to keep practicing the word just leave the dialogue and try it again next time you are practicing your vocabulary. You can also use the “Flashcard” function and swipe through the list with translations to memorize the vocabulary. (Unfortunately, the feature isn’t available yet for Android or iOS, that way you could practice with the Vocabulary Builder even if you don’t have the Kindle with you.)
Ready for a language challenge?
And now a little challenge at the end of this tip: What about changing your Kindle’s device language to the language you want to learn? That could be quite an experience – to navigate the device in a foreign language plus the default dictionary for that language will automatically be downloaded! Could that be an option?
But no complaints if you don’t find your way around anymore. 😉