June 26, 2012 | Review Period


More Mac products to aid in language learning.

Two days ago I bought an iPad. Since then I have used it to read newspapers in four languages. I’m talking about the ones I am currently reviewing: Spanish, French, German, and Italian.

It has been fabulous, and fun.

Before buying the iPad I considered the Nook and the Kindle as well, but I didn’t really want a device to read books. I write so heavily in my books that I don’t see those devices as being practical for me, yet.

Instead, I wanted to read papers from around the world, so mostly I needed portability, and browsing capabilities, and I wanted it to look pretty, and I didn’t want the screen to feel too small.

My iPad Can Stand!

My iPad Can Stand!

I Got It a Leather Jacket to Wear Around Town

I Got It a Leather Jacket to Wear Around Town

I used the previously mentioned MIT list of foreign-language news websites to help me find news sources.

Instantly I saw how helpful this would be for reinforcing vocabulary and grammar. I do love grammar books, but I really need to do more advanced reading in these languages.

By the way, I picked newspaper reading for the moment over book reading, because I can do short blocks of text and jump around more from language to language as opposed to committing to a full book in a single language. Also, as I have mentioned, one thing that has definitely suffered during this project—something had to give to accommodate all the studying—has been my New York Times reading.

I thought, why not replace it with global newspaper reading? I’d advance my current events knowledge and my language skills simultaneously, and I would have a broader perspective on the news anyway than what my local (albeit excellent) newspaper tells me.

The first two days I was reading mostly from European news sites. Then today I suddenly started thinking about how many countries are covered by Spanish, French, German, and Italian globally. I remembered I could read papers from other continents, too, and also, who said I had to stick only to newspapers I had heard of?

I ended up reading a bunch of articles on obscure news sites from small towns and tiny countries around the world. There was an article about a local drowning in one place. Another about a local political scandal somewhere else. Under normal circumstances I would never have known about most of the events I read about today.

It was fascinating to get a window into small communities that before the days of the Internet I would never have had access to!

And the vocabulary benefits—for current, practical vocabulary—are amazing.

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