© Gaye Wilson 2008
I drove to the shops yesterday to do the grocery shopping. Yesterday’s Russian lesson was about numbers – we were introduced to how to say the numbers zero to ten in Russian. I know those numbers in Polish, and can rattle them off without thinking about them in that language. I discovered that this was helpful to learning the Russian numbers, because there are similarities.

Anyway, as I was driving along, I started trying to translate the number plates into Russian. Since I’m currently learning numbers, I didn’t look at the letters on the number plates, but I did concentrate on the numbers. Every time I saw a new number plate, I said the individual numbers in Russian.

For instance, for the number plate ASM 372, I would say tre, sem, dva.

Every time I saw a phone number, I would say the numbers in Russian. So 024367985 became noll dva chetery tre shest sem devyat vosem pryat  (that’s not a real phone number, by the way).

Then, as I was driving or shopping, whenever I saw a written sign, I would rack my memory for the Russian word. Since I’ve only been learning the language for a couple of months, I don’t have a huge vocabulary yet, so there were only a few words that I actually had been introduced to. However, this technique did a couple of things:

  1. It kept Russian firmly in my brain – if I’m thinking about Russian and words in Russian, I’m actively reinforcing my learning.
  2. It told me which words I have been introduced to but have not yet mastered. When I saw a word in English that I knew had been on a vocabulary list, but I couldn’t remember the Russian word, I wrote it down in a notebook to look up and memorise when I got home.

Of course, there are a couple of potential problems with doing this while you’re driving, not the least of which is that your attention can be diverted from the traffic. Please, if you use this technique, do it safely.

In a future post, I will talk about how else to use car number plates to help with your language learning.

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One Response to “Learn a language while shopping”

  1. Using car number plates to learn a language : All Paths to Victory on May 23rd, 2008 11:45 am

    [...] Learn a language while shopping [...]

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