Try to expose yourself to plenty of media in your target language as this is twere you see the words and grammar in action, rather than lying dead on the page of a textbook. If you’re reading a book, choose something with plenty of dialogue and preferably a story you’re familiar with so you don’t get bogged down in the difficult bits.
Comics are an excellent medium for language students as they’re pure dialogue and the pictures help you understand what’s going on. They’re also a fountain of slang and of the most underrated art forms on the planet.
As with books, choose movies to watch that are relatively modern so that you don’t get confused by a load of archaic expressions that would make you sound like someone’s grandfather. DVD’s are best as the subtitles give you instant understanding and the spongy part of your brain does the rest.
TV is, of course, the great educator these days and if you can stand the cheesy soap operas then you can learn a language just by following those. The plots are so paper thin that you can understand most of what’s going on with no more than a handful of words. The villains, the heroes, the lovers, the betrayed – it’s all in a storyline as 2 dimensional as the screen itself.
A catchy song can get foreign words into your head like nothing else and it’s usually easy to find the lyrics to most songs on the internet someplace. You’ll get a good ear for the pronunciation and have a good time while you learn. The only catch is that they lyrics might be a little too poetic at times so don’t repeat whole lines until you’re sure of the context and tone. After all, can you imagine walking up to someone hot in a bar and saying:
‘Hey good-looking! What you got cooking? How’s about cooking something up for me?’