Reading – The Power of Advertisements

This blog post will discuss a reading strategy and the usefulness of reading advertisements in your target language.

Why are advertisements so useful?

Advertisements in the target language (the language that you’re learning) are quite helpful to pick up on good vocabulary and grammar. Advertisements are useful because they often contain all of the following:

  • Strong visual support
  • Contextualized and colorful (interesting) vocabulary
  • Interjections (Oh! Yeah! Woo! Hey! Ouch!)
  • Useful verb forms (plural command, informal you command, polite command, “let’s” command)
  • Economic terminology (money, number, prices…)

Additionally, advertisements are generally short, sweet, and to the point. Short advertisements are easier for novices to read because it’s not a lot of text input and it’s very focused.

How do I find advertisements in my language?

Another advantage to advertisements is that they are pretty easy to find on the Internet. Just use Google Images!

I try the following things to find these useful pictures:

  • just type “[Finnish] advertisements for [McDonald’s]”
  • Look up how to say “Finnish advertisements” in Finnish (suomen mainokset) and search with those words.
  • Look up how to say words like “food,” “car,” “mall,” and look for those terms as well with your searches.

How do I read and learn from advertisements?

Let’s take this advertisement in Finnish:

juustohampurilainen

Here’s what I do with a picture like this:

  1. Read it out loud, to myself, slowly and in my best accent.
  2. Guess on what it could mean. Looking at the visuals, my guess is it will have something to do with a cheeseburger and eating it. I do see the word “ham” at the beginning of the second word – possibly alluding to a hamburger.
  3. What do I know already? I happen to know that “juusto” means “cheese” in Finnish.
  4. Look up the meaning using Google Translate or another useful dictionary. I look up “juustohampurilainen” and GT tells me it means: “cheeseburger.” I also see 1 Euro in the picture. How do you say “one” in the language that you’re learning? (yksi in Finnish)
  5. Now take apart the words/phrases. I take out “juusto,” and “hampurilainen” means “burger.” I happen to know that the ending “-lainen” means to come from somewhere, so I take off the “-lainen” ending and look up just “hampuri.” “Hampuri” means “Hamburg,” the supposed birthplace of the hamburger (although I don’t think this is true).

So from this ad, we’ve learned that “juusto” means cheese, “hampuri” is Hamburg, and “-lainen” we know already to come from somewhere.

Say the whole word again, out loud, in your best accent, with this new context and meaning in mind.

Repeat!

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