How to make the most of your Easter holidays
Creme Eggs, How do you eat yours? by charliebubbles
So holidays are about to begin, and amidst the essay deadlines, sorting out what you're planning on taking back home and saying your goodbyes, the one thing on your mind is how to eat your creme egg. Exams, for the majority of you, are only a month or so away, and let's face it, you could do with a language booster of some sort. Take a look at our top tips on how to make the most of the Easter break, without too much effort on your part...
1. Book a cheap flight somewhere usefulYes, it might seem like an obvious suggestion, and yes, flights tend to be expensive at this time of year. But who's talking of booking something for the Easter weekend? You've probably got a couple of weeks on your hands, so you should have a look at SkyScanner (in the box on the right) and see where your money could take you! You might even be able to wriggle a little bit of cashflow out of the rentals, rightfully claiming the few days away will do you some good. The point is to go it alone (or if you really must, with one other person) and meet the locals, travel somewhere unknown, or check out where you might be thinking of going on your year abroad. A few days spent speaking the lingo will really make a huge difference to your language, and your confidence, which can only be a good thing come your oral exam!
2. Meet some locals where you are Find out where they live... But not as a potential stalker, that might scare them. Your university is bound to have Erasmus students who are really keen to learn about the town's hot spots, or practise their English, and you'll get some practice too! It's a win-win situation, and you'd be a fool to miss out on some foreign fun. Another good place to start your search for a local is on the net - try Facebook groups, meetups, or Couchsurfing. You don't have to kip on the sofa to meet and greet people in your town or city, you can meet up for a coffee or something a little more alcoholic and make a friend out of it in the process!
3. Join forces with friends and rent out a villa What may seem like an expensive option doesn't have to be. Whether you're up for a pretty chateau, or your idea of bliss is a white-washed abode, you can make your dreams a reality by getting some friends round, collecting your coppers and renting somewhere out relatively cheaply. Most students wouldn't contemplate it, but if you've got a posse of, say, 9 or so, it really doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get a nice place to stay in. You just need to make sure you explore the town and make a rule of speaking the lingo morning, noon and night.
4. Join a language institute If you're lucky enough to live in the Big Smoke, or you don't live that far, you really should take a look at the various language centres about. Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London all have a French Institute, although the library and cinema in the London branch are known to be some of the best francophile resources out of l'Héxagone. Italian linguists can go to the Italian Cultural Institute, with its many events on offer, Italian buffet lunches and a fantastic library (where we met someone researching for a new Spielburg film set in Italy!). The Instituto Cervantes in both London and Manchester, is also replete with books, films, events and talks for Spanish aficionados and language learners alike. The Instituto Camoes has links in Newcastle, Manchester and Oxford for Portuguese learners - have a look at their site to see what's on. German linguists can head along to the Goethe Institute to meet some locals, join groups, get some language courses or just immerse themselves in German culture. Just make sure you regularly check out their calendars to see what's on when, and what the opening hours are like.
5. Order some treats off Amazon
We've all come by the artsy fartsy friend, who's got that amazing foreign film collection they're always ranting and raving about. Why not make your own? You can easily pick up a bargain or two on Amazon, check out what the hottest new film releases are, get singing along to cheesy pop music, or read a great book, all in the name of improving your language! Check out our shop for some ideas, see what our recommendations are and take a stroll through users' lists to see what's gets a definite thumbs up, and what doesn't! Earplugs not included. Although they do sell them - your parents might want to invest in some, after you're Ricky Martin cover of 'Livin' la vida loca'...
6. Read at least one foreign news article a day (or go down the lazy route, and listen to the radio...) Either option is a good starting point. Yes, lecturers are always banging on about it, but it really does help. If you spot or hear a word you don't know, make a point of researching it and try and use it during the day. Your friends might think you're weird, but you're more likely to remember it if used in an odd situation, anyway.
7. Watch your favourite show dubbed in your language of choice Have you ever heard Ross' voice in French before? Or maybe Jack Bauer's stressy antics in Español? House in Italian? We couldn't recommend this language purist's nightmare more; watching the Lost season finale in a foreign tongue might bring a tear to your eye, for better or for worse, but you're guaranteed to pick up some useful expressions watching something you're genuinely interested in. And we hear Glee's available in Russian. Wow. Can't get much better than that.
8. Have a Skype date with one of the millions of users out there So you don't need to add them as a friend, you don't need to see them on a webcam if you don't want to, but take advantage of the hundreds of thousands of millions out there who are dying to talk to someone, quite randomly. You can make it brief, you can make it long, you don't need to get your hair done, you just need to write and chat. Practice for free? Yes please.
So there you have it, some ideas to get you back in touch with languages, practising your vocab and all of this whilst having some fun as well. Comment mangez-vous votre Creme Egg? Con trabalenguas, signori.
Read our article on Affordable French: How to learn without breaking the bank.