Language learning tip: No fear

Often people think they have “failed” if they haven't mastered the language they are learning. There is no such thing as failure in language learning. After all, what is the purpose of language?

Language is a tool to get a message across. Don't get caught up with being absolutely perfect. You're not in school anymore. The locals in Mexico or China don't care if you make a few mistakes. By any yardstick, you've succeeded if you can order dinner in the target language. Be proud.

If all you're interested in doing is scoring an “A “, then by all means go do a technical language course at university.

If however you're keen to just chat with locals and don't mind laughing at yourself once in a while, just embrace the language learning journey. You'll discover far more than a new language along the way.

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Language learning tip: Know what you want and practice, practice, practice

People learn languages for a variety of reasons. Some wish to read poetry in another language, others wish to conduct business, and yet others simply want to talk to natives in their travels. Different language learning strategies apply, depending on your motivation and goals.

Most people who come to Euroasia wish to converse with native speakers when travelling or doing business. Most seasoned businesspeople will understand “doing business” is largely about developing relationships so there's a large degree of overlap between those learning a language for business and social reasons.

business language

If your priority is to learn the written word, then you should focus on reading from Day 1. In some instances this may not be possible (think Chinese/Japanese/Korean), but for most European languages this is very do-able. You may need a dictionary but start with a few sentences a day, and with kids' books.

If you wish to speak with natives, then do so from Day 1. Aim to spend an hour or two every week with native speaker(s) in addition to your usual Euroasia language course. Don't worry about making mistakes. The idea is to expose yourself to the language frequently, and to practice what you've learnt.

If you live in Auckland, Wellington, or for that matter any New Zealand city, chances are you will find native speakers of the language you're learning. Where? Try community groups. By this I mean joining groups where the majority of members are from the culture you wish to immerse yourself in. If you wish to learn French, join the French group learning about Kiwi culture, NOT the local group of Kiwis appreciating French wine. There are plenty of French travellers coming to NZ on working holidays and they are very keen to meet Kiwis. And all these French people congregate at Frogs in NZ.

Plenty of South American groups (ok usually by country eg Argentinian, Chilean, Colombian etc) exist, as well as Russian, Dutch, Japanese etc. Korean groups usually meet on Sundays (seeing most are Christians), and countless Chinese groups are dotted across the country along cultural, religious and provincial lines.  These migrants always welcome interactions with Kiwis and you will be treated very well. Don't be put off if their website is in Chinese – similarly don't be surprised if some of them speak better English than you!

If you live in Invercargill, you may need to resort to skype for virtual penpals. Distance and isolation is no excuse.

And most important of all – Have Fun!

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Language learning trends at Euroasia

Traditionally, the greatest interest has been in the ‘big four’ European languages (French, German, Spanish and Italian). Euroasia has offered course in six levels in all these languages, together with higher level classes when there has been sufficient demand. In recent years, there has possibly some movement away from European towards Asian languages. In contrast, though, there has been growing interest in the three other European languages which we offer, namely, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch.

There's clearly growing interest in Asian languages, especially Mandarin.
When we started offering Mandarin about 6 years ago, it was very much a minority interest, and students seldom continued beyond level one. Now it’s the most popular language (surpassing Spanish), and we have students returning for a whole series of courses. We offer six levels, plus we have an advanced class for those who wish to continue beyond that point. Some of our students have been coming along for years, and are very happy to do so.

Interest in Japanese is fairly stable overall. We have a dedicated group of people who keep returning to study in our highest level class.  We also regularly have new beginners starting.

Korean is fairly popular. Perhaps this is because of Korean drama, K-Pop etc.

This year, Euroasia is also offering Cantonese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Arabic, in response to requests from clients.

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Our clients are predominantly young to middle-aged European professionals, although there's a small but growing number of Asian clients. We also find that people originally from Asian countries are interested in learning another Asian language. Sometimes the reasons are surprising: for example, Chinese and Japanese people may express an interest in Korean soap operas!

Kiwis learn foreign languages for the following reasons:

– Personal travel

– Business

– Partner speaks that particular language

– Descended from speakers of that particular language

– General interest

Reasons vary from language to language: with Mandarin, often business; with Italian, usually personal travel; with Dutch, generally family connections.

We are often asked what can people realistically achieve by attending our courses.

To achieve near-native speaker competence takes years of study, together with a substantial amount of time in the country in question. Realistically, there are not that many people who achieve this level of competence. But there are many other levels of competence, and achieving these can be immensely rewarding as well as of practical benefit. Even a short, introductory course gives insights into the way the language works and the way people think, as well as providing a useful range of vocabulary for everyday situations. The more you study, the wider the range of experience you’re able to discuss in the foreign language. Language learning is an ongoing process, much like keeping fit. Just because you've managed to develop a summer beach body doesn't mean you can stop working at it.

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Language learning tip: Use words in context

You're far better off remembering fewer words but practicing “in context”. Than to memorise a long list of unrelated words. Our brain pieces words together so you have a far higher chance of remembering words if you learn them in context. It's useful to repeat words you hear out loud. But's it's far more useful to use the words you learnt in different situations, forming different sentences.

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How to encourage students to pursue language learning – tips from teachers

Interesting article in Guardian where modern foreign language teachers share their expertise and tips on how to inspire students to continue with language learning beyond beginner level.

Eurovision 2012

Jane Driver, Head of Languages at Hinchingbrooke School.

It's no good putting on a languages day at the end of year 9 if we want our students to study languages post 14. We've got to get our students excited and interested in languages right from the moment they arrive at secondary school (or, even better, before they come). The first place to start is raising the profile of languages in your school – as we can get a little hidden. We run a Eurovision song competition in year 7 which kick starts some great phonics work.

David Ceirog-Hughes teaches general studies and languages atWinchester College

I find introducing the students to poetry and short stories as soon as possible provides a real context for learning. I'm a particular fan of Philippe Delerm “La première gorgée de bière” who writes these little essays on French life, and the poems of Jacques Prévert. It makes the language learning process

more meaningful. In France there's a tradition of learning through poetry and we have a poetry recitation competition in the target language which pupils take seriously.

If you can stop language learning being remote that's the key to unlocking so much interest.

Check out more tips from other language teachers at the Guardian site.

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Unborn babies can learn languages

We all know that kids can learn languages quicker than adults. But did you know that even unborn babies can learn languages? Talk about starting young…

Check out the latest discovery from a Swedish-American team of researchers.

“We showed that the foetus during the last ten weeks of the pregnancy not only listens to but

remembers and learns languages,” Patricia Kuhl at the Washington University Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences told the BBC.

It was already known that babies during their last weeks in the womb could recognize their mother's voice and vocal melody. After studying newborns, however, a Swedish-American team of scientists proved that the babies had learned a lot more than that.

The scientists studied forty infants who were just 30 hours old. The baby boys and girls were then made to listen to vocal sounds in Swedish and English.

The American babies would start sucking their pacifiers more intently when they heard Swedish vowels, which researchers interpreted as a sign of curiosity upon hearing a foreign tongue. The Swedish babies reacted similarly when they heard English sounds.

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How babies learn language

Fascinating research on how words are “born”. Deb Roy studies how his own son acquires language and use new words. In an effort to understand how children learn words, he wired his home with bird’s-eye view cameras and microphones for three years to collect data on his son. The home videos begin with his son’s arrival home from the hospital and end at the age of 3 years, offering Roy and his team unprecedented access to real-life moments in the language learning process.

As my students and I immersed ourselves in over 200,000 hours of home audio and video recordings, we began thinking of language acquisition as a series of “word births.” With a near-complete record of life at home over the first two years of my son’s life, we were able to pinpoint each time he learned to say a new word. We could then trace back in time to find each occasion where he heard that word from caregivers — the “gestation” period leading to the word’s birth.

It’s amazing to see 2 year olds use new words,  somehow managing to make sense of it all.

To visualize the gestation period of words, another of my students, Philip DeCamp developed “wordscapes,” a collage of human movement traces extracted from all the video moments when my son heard a particular word. I showed examples of wordscapes in my TED talk, but we had yet to analyze their relationship to word births. Recently, my student Matt Miller found that wordscapes are surprisingly predictive of the timing of word births. Words with unique wordscapes tend to be learned earlier and more easily, at least for my son. This finding suggests ways that we can help children learn language more effectively by manipulating the non-linguistic contexts in which they experience language.

The results of this research could transform the way language is taught to adults. Teaching a foreign language effectively in as short a period as possible is the holy grail for language educators.  Euroasia will certainly be keeping an eye on developments in this

area.

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How to learn a language fast – maximising return on investment

Today I would like to share a little known fact from the world of languages. In day-to-day interactions, we often use no more than 100 words. To maximise return on investment, you have to focus on acquiring the basic vocabulary ie it’s probably not going to matter if you don’t know the Chinese word for aardvark (土豚or “tu tun” for those who must know).

The key to language mastery is knowing how to string different words together (we call these ‘rules’ grammar). Here are 4 key tips on how to learn a language fast.

The 80/20 rule. In the English language, the most common 25 words make up about one-third of all printed material, and the top 100 most common words make up about one-half of all written material.

At the bottom of this article, I have reproduced a list of the top 100 most commonly used English words (thanks Wikipedia). The key words may vary depending on language, but most likely you will find that it’s only the relative ranking of the key words that change, and the top 100 most commonly used words would be pretty similar across languages. Focus on what matters.

Don’t get too stressed over mistakes. The point to remember is no native speaker expects you as a non-native speaker to speak their language perfectly so don’t get too worked up over whether you have the word order 100% right. Remember: the aim of communication is to get the message across. Unless you’re planning to be a United Nations interpreter, the locals will most likely not care if you make a few mistakes here and there. Memorise the key vocabulary first. The rules matter, but without the vocabulary, you have no ammo.

Know what to talk about. This is related to point 1. It takes a lifetime to master a language, so as you can imagine it’s not

easy to work out the order in which we learn topics. We asked our clients what they needed to know when travelling overseas and came up with a long list. Unsurprisingly, knowing how to order a beer and telling a good-loooking girl she’s beautiful ranks pretty highly. At Euroasia, we teach language learners the important stuff that you can use everyday. Here is a sample outline of what we expect to cover at the most basic beginners level.

Unit 1 – Greet people, give your name and ask how people are.

Unit 2 – Ask and answer questions about your job; you will also be able to ask about and give your phone

number.

Unit 3 – Say where you come from and give the language you speak.

Unit 4 – Talk about the people in your family and say how old they are.

Unit 5 – Tell the time and give days and months; you will also be able to ask for a ticket on public transport.

Unit 6 – Say what you like or don’t like, and also talk about your freetime activities; you will also be able to say what the weather is like at the moment or at particular times of the year.

Unit 7 – Ask about something in a shop, understand and talk about prices, and also describe clothes.

Unit 8 – Talk about different meals, also food and drink; you will know what to say to buy these things from a shop.

Unit 9 – Order a meal in a restaurant, book accommodation and check in, also know how to talk about simple problems.

Unit 10 – Talk about where places are in a town, ask for directions and understand simple instructions for getting somewhere.

Constant practice. Learning a language is all about persistence. Much like going to the gym. No pain, no gain. Attending a class on a regular basis makes a huge difference (which is why language schools still exist despite language software and internet courses having been around for the past two decades). Ultimately, to improve you would need to practice speaking the language.

p/s: Check out thelanguage courses at Euroasia.We offersummer school programmes starting 5 Jan and 18 Jan, with regular courses starting 31 Jan.

Top 100 Most Commonly Used Words

  1. the
  2. of
  3. and
  4. a
  5. to
  6. in
  7. is
  8. you
  9. that
  10. it
  11. he
  12. was
  13. for
  14. on
  15. are
  16. as
  17. with
  18. his
  19. they
  20. I
  1. at
  2. be
  3. this
  4. have
  5. from
  6. or
  7. one
  8. had
  9. by
  10. word
  11. but
  12. not
  13. what
  14. all
  15. were
  16. we
  17. when
  18. your
  19. can
  20. said
  1. there
  2. use
  3. an
  4. each
  5. which
  6. she
  7. do
  8. how
  9. their
  10. if
  11. will
  12. up
  13. other
  14. about
  15. out
  16. many
  17. then
  18. them
  19. these
  20. so
  1. some
  2. her
  3. would
  4. make
  5. like
  6. him
  7. into
  8. time
  9. has
  10. look
  11. two
  12. more
  13. write
  14. go
  15. see
  16. number
  17. no
  18. way
  19. could
  20. people
  1. my
  2. than
  3. first
  4. water
  5. been
  6. call
  7. who
  8. oil
  9. its
  10. now
  11. find
  12. long
  13. down
  14. day
  15. did
  16. get
  17. come
  18. made
  19. may
  20. part

Source:The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, Third Edition; by Edward Bernard Fry, Ph.D, Jacqueline E. Kress, Ed.D & Dona Lee Fountoukidis, Ed.D.

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Summer school – Learn a language in January 2012

Language learning is an aspirational goal that ranks highly on many New Year resolution lists. It’s an especially worthy endeavour for avid travellers wanting to maximise their travel experience. You've probably heard stories from Kiwis who have returned from their “Overseas Experience” lamenting the fact that they would’ve enjoyed themselves more if they could speak the local lingo.

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These days travel is not the only driver of foreign language learning. Increasingly Kiwis realise that knowing a foreign language gives them a distinct edge in dealing with clients and suppliers from other cultures. Job seekers also realise that employers value people who speak more than one language. Language learners also demonstrate to potential employers that they are proactive enough to make the effort to learn a foreign language.

In expectation of a surge in interest from people wanting to learn a language to kick off 2012, we are offering a range of summer intensives.

Courses for beginners are available in Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean and Russian. 

No previous knowledge of the language is

required. By the end of this course, you will already know enough to “get by”: you will be able to cope with the most common everyday situations by asking and answering simple questions. and you will be able to understand people when they speak to you about the situations covered.

Kickstart 2012 with a language boost. Sign up online now.

January 2012 language intensive – 10 sessions over 4 weeks

5-26 Jan 2012

Duration: 4 weeks, 10 sessions; Tue & Thu 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Sat 9:30 AM-12:30 PM

Session 1, Thu 5-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 2, Sat 7-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session 3, Tue 10-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 4, Thu 12-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 5, Sat 14-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session 6, Tue 17-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 7, Thu 19-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 8, Sat 21-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session 9, Tue 24-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 10, Thu 26-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Cost is $649 (inclusive of all materials, no hidden costs).

Beginners language course (2 weeks)

5-14 Jan-2012 OR 18-28 Jan 2012

Duration 2 weeks, 5 sessions (Tue & Thurs 6:00-9:00pm, Sat 9:30am-12:30pm)

Session 1, Thu 5-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 2, Sat 7-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30

PM

Session 3, Tue 10-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 4, Thu 12-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 5, Sat 14-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Cost is $368 (inclusive of all materials, no hidden costs).

Posted via email from Euroasia

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