DIY phrasebooks

At the moment I’m reading Bill Handley’s Fast Easy Way to Learn a Language, which, as the title suggests, has lots of useful tips about learning languages.

One suggestion I particularly like is to compile a list of words and phrases you want to say and think will be useful to you, then to get translations of them in the language(s) you’re learning, and audio recordings as well, if possible. This will give you a personalised phrasebook that you can continue to expand and improve as you learn more of the language.

I suppose the phrases section on Omniglot could be thought of as my personalised phrasebooks for various languages. It’s something that started as a small collection of ‘useful’ phrases and has grown quite a bit since. I’ve just added a new page with Italian phrases, by the way.

Another good suggestion is that you use several textbooks: one textbook might not explain all the grammar or pronunciation very well, while another one might explain some of it more clearly. Each textbook will also contain different vocabulary and cultural information.

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This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

4 Responses to DIY phrasebooks

  1. Polly says:

    I’ve learned a lot from your sight and use it as a quick reference for many languages and writing systems.

    I like the notebook of personal phrases idea. I’ve become wary of grammar books more and more, though they are a necessity.

    More often I find out how people REALLY talk by writing down actual phrases. So, the notebook idea makes all the more sense.
    Also, grammar books tend to focus on only one dialect or region. In real life it’s a crap shoot whether you’re going to run into those particular speakers.

    BTW – I purchased J.C. Catford’s, “Intro. to Phonetics” from the bookstore link to Amazon. Though not specifically for the purpose of “learning any language fast” I do hope, and halfway expect, that it will help.

    I recently got a PDA. I think this may be a good place to keep such a language notebook. It offers the advantage of being compact and easy to organize. I can add my notes anytime and anywhere. The drawback is that everything has to be romanized.

  2. Jeksi says:

    Yeah, I think that is a pretty good idea. The Omniglot phrasebook is good but it really has a lot more than one needs (it’s still a good one though).
    I like the new design, but the photo seems to need less opacity in order for one to be able to see the text better. When it says “By Simon on (Date)” the font isn’t that great, but overall it works out.

  3. renato says:

    I used the second suggestion, “use several textbooks” to study Italian, French, Esperanto and Swedish, but as I already mentioned before, I failed on German and Russian. Anyway, I Think is the best way, for people who study alone.

  4. Maybe this is a bit off-topic…
    Do any of you know whether the pocket books “[Name-of-Language] Through Pictures” are still published? They were excellent, at least if you wanted to learn the grammatical structure of a given language. I have seen several, but own only “Hebrew Through Pictures” (“Ivrit biTmunot”).
    I do not have one such book at hand, but do remember they start with the phrase “I am here”, then “You are there”, “We are here” and so on, all the way to complex sentences such as (say, e.g.) “John’s house is not larger than mine” and “I wrote a letter yesterday, when it was cold”… all without a single word of English, only (very clear and univocal) pictures and text in the language to be learned.
    Hints welcome! ;-)