Email has far surpassed regular mail as the primary means of communication in today’s digital universe. It is so fast that traditional post is now referred to as snail-mail (because of how slow a snail moves)! You can send emails from anywhere in the world to enquire about information, confirm your intentions, set appointments, or simply say hello to pals who live abroad (or even next door!). It’s free, easy to use and available on both mobile and desktop devices. The only hitch is that emails come with a set of writing conventions that English as a second or foreign language students will need to learn.
There are so many benefits to learning languages that it’s a wonder the whole world isn’t bilingual by choice (actually, bilinguals outnumber monolinguals on a global scale). That’s because you have nothing to lose when you take on a new language and almost everything to gain. From monetary benefits to enhanced cognitive function, memory and social skills, language learning is worth its weight in gold no matter what age you are when you start, which language you chose to learn or how successful you are at achieving fluency. Read more
Everyone who has decided to learn Spanish is told roughly the same thing: study vocabulary, learn grammar, practice listening skills and make bilingual friends to speak with. But while these may be simple enough tasks, they’re not always that fun or easy to put into practice, particularly if you’re just starting out. Sometimes it takes a little imagination and unorthodox study tactics to get excited about a language. Read more
If you study English and are fairly confident in your ability to hold a conversation with native speakers, don’t be surprised if you arrive in the UK and find yourself somewhat perplexed. That’s because the Brits have a very unique way of talking about the world and depending on which city you happen to be visiting, you’re likely to encounter a number of British words you have never heard used before –and some pretty strong regional accents to boot. Read more
Teaching listening strategies is one of the most important things a language teacher can do for his or her students. Without the ability to hear sounds, parse speech, and make sense of spoken language, students won’t be able to extract new words from their environment. What’s the point of maintaining a target language rich lesson if your students can’t learn from the input you are providing? Listening is also crucial in the communicative classroom. Teaching a student to be a good listener reduces anxiety and can help them improve pronunciation, enhance comprehension, learn new words and perform better on exams.
Teaching reading strategies enables your students to deconstruct texts, keep up their language skills outside of class and make the most of the content to which they are exposed. Reading is also the best way for students to enhance their vocabulary in a new language– and what’s more important for language learners than learning new words?
I remember the first time I taught ESL. I had a group of students from different first language backgrounds– not to mention ages. And while they were all thought to be beginner level, abilities were just as scattered across the spectrum. The class was about as diverse as it could get, yet everyone was there because they truly needed to learn English. And that’s what made it work in the end. Together with my students, we figured out how to study as a group, where to sit so the stronger students could help the weaker ones, which questions to focus on, when to open our books and when it was just better to take a walk to the local grocery store and wander the aisles discussing our favorite foods. Read more
The most important languages to learn are often tied to the economic, political and immigration trends of a particular day and age. However, it all depends on how you define important. Some might see a language’s ability to open up international business opportunities as key, in which case Mandarin and Japanese top the list. Others view importance in more cultural terms– consider the amount of cocktail party references to French. Alternatively, you might take an approach grounded in anthropology and learn an endangered language to add to its speakers.
Whether you are making resolutions for the year ahead, starting off learning a new language or simply trying out a more structured approach to your ongoing studies, it’s important to set clear, specific and realistic targets when it comes to language learning. Everyone has their own reasons for studying a foreign tongue. The best place to start is to consider yours and then make a list of things you would like to achieve and the areas which are important for you to learn, in order to reach your personal fluency goals. Once you have this structure in place, it’s easy to fill in the to-do’s with the right activities and create a plan to take you where you want to go.
Whether you are inspired by a love of travel, are interested in foreign cultures, work in different countries or maybe even have family from abroad, learning a new language is always a good idea. And while there are countless world languages to learn, there are just as many reasons why you might decide to pursue fluency in another tongue! That’s because becoming bilingual brings with it more than just communicative ability, it also increases memory function, teaches you to be more strategic, enhances problem solving skills and makes you a more rational and empathetic individual.