If you've been doing the LiveMocha, it's likely that you've finished by now. And if you haven't been doing it — either because your language isn't offered, or because you just don't like LiveMocha — you're even more likely to need some new materials. And if you're not already done with LiveMocha at this point, it's probably time to be done anyway. It's an excellent free resource for getting you started in a language, but it's not good enough to get you to the next level.
Already more than one-quarter done
Since this is Fluent Every Year, you probably haven't moved to the new country and immersed yourself in native speakers and music and culture to shock yourself into speaking right away, because here at Fluent Every Year, we take things a little slower. But still, we're already more than one quarter of the way into this year, and we haven't talked about anything measurable other than learning a few songs. It's time to start accomplishing more.
What you need is your first book. And I'm not talking about one of those side-by-side readers, I'm talking about a legitimate book. Come on, if you've been with me for the past three months studying a language of your own, you're probably anxious to have some kind of results, right?
I know, I know, you're probably not feeling very confident right now. You're probably thinking, "hey, I know a bunch of words, but not enough to understand a book!" Well, you're probably right. But you're going to understand it soon enough.
So what kind of book?
That's the magical question, isn't it? What kind of book are you looking for? The answer is about to surprise you. Are you sitting down? Okay, good. Because you're going to get a book about Feng Shui.
Yup. You read that right.
Why Feng Shui? Well, because it is, quite simply, the perfect subject for building your vocabulary. There are going to be a lot of words you don't know, no matter what book you get. And there are also going to be several words that you've learned, but which you need to practice in order to commit them to memory.
What you need is lots of repetition, and lots of simple, useful topics. And that's what Feng Shui is! Reading a Feng Shui book means repeated exposure to words like: north, south, east, west, money, success, happiness, love, dirt, clean, wall, water, air, etc.
Sure, when you start, you might have to look up the majority of words on the first page. It might even take you an hour. And if so, stop there! Start by reading one page per night if you have to. More if you're able. But don't burn yourself out.
Each night, it will get easier, as you remember more words from seeing them before. You won't have to look up as many words, or try as hard to remember the ones that sound familiar. Eventually, maybe after a few weeks or a month, you'll be able to read a chapter every night. You'll look up less words each time, and you'll really build some solid reading skill, while getting more accustomed to grammar and sentence structure.
Learning (or re-learning) about Feng-Shui will not only drill lots of everyday words into your head, but it will also give you a popular subject to discuss with other people. And whether you believe in it or you think it's a silly superstition, there's no downside to reading about keeping your home clean and your environment pleasant.
Where do you get such a book?
So the only question remaining is where to get this book. Well, that's likely to be a different answer for everyone, depending on their language of study, so I can't tell you where. But finding out for yourself will also be a great learning experience!
Start by searching Google with the word for "buy" and the word for "books" in your language of choice. For instance, comprare i libri in Italian. If that doesn't work, try looking up "bookstore" on WordReference and searching for that term. Maybe you can try getting more specific, such as by translating the phrase "book about feng shui". (Eg: libro del feng-shui).
And don't forget to look at the paid results on the right, because those are people who want their ad to show up when specific search words are used. You can count on book sellers to buy a spot on the word "book"!
Finally, let's all help each other out. In the comments, please post links the web sites of foreign language book sellers, so everyone can benefit!
Want to see my favorite language resources and courses?
I listed them here.