This Day In History: A quick, expandable source of language and culture

Yesterday’s #indwelli was about using a Today in History list in your target language to get bite-sized pieces of both language and culture. In this post we want to expand on the value and uses of Today in History for acquiring a language.

As a language learner, you should always be on the lookout for input that (a) is interesting or potentially interesting, (b) is not too difficult, and (c) can be part of a language-learning habit. A decent Today in History list fulfills all three:

Screenshot 2014-10-30a) A list such as Wikipedia’s (just type a date, e.g., “March 3,” into a search engine or your target language’s Wikipedia) contains dozens to hundreds of items for each day. You are bound to find a few interesting things among them!

b) Today in History tends to include common phrases: was born, invented, fought, became the first, etc.  This makes both for not-too-difficult reading and for repeated input of important words and structures.

c) It’s hard to imagine a more straightforward daily habit than checking a Today in History list at lunch, during coffee, while brushing your teeth, while waiting in line, . . . .

A bonus is that you will be picking up real-world information at the same time as building your fluency in the language. I have found that Today in History tidbits are great for conversation in any language throughout the day.

There are several ways to extend the uses of Today in History:

1. Follow up by choosing one or two of the items and actually reading the pertinent article. This is especially easy in Wikipedia, where you can almost always click on a name or event on the day’s page and be taken to the associated article.

2. As an opportunity to produce the language, reverse the process by reading Today in History in your native language and seeing how you might express certain items in your target language, seeing how many you can express in five minutes, or trying to talk or write in an extended way about an item that you already know something about.

3. Find a partner learning the same language and agree each to share a Today in History item with the other in the target language sometime during the day.


Happy indwelling!

For more #indwelli–tweeted tips helping you live in the language and the language live in you–Follow @IndwellingLang on Twitter.

Still coming: this article’s alter-ego, “Not This Day In History,” with an easy-to-prepare, fun-to-play game of non-targeted Comprehensible Input.

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