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.

Posted via email from Euroasia

Share this:

How to achieve your new year resolution: learn a foreign language

So you’ve decided your New Year resolution in 2011 is to learn a new language. You’re not alone. So what do you do next? There are myriad options available for intending language learners, and we’ll outline a few here. I know first and foremost you’re interested in knowing the cost, time and

effort involved in learning a language.

Cost: This can range from FREE (lesson downloads/youtube) to thousands of dollars. How much you spend would depend on your budget and how committed you are to learning a language. Generally there are 3 options (also check out the detailed comparison between Euroasia and other providers/options).

1) Going to a school: You may choose to go down the academic route and enrol at university, especially if you want to dedicate yourself to mastering the language. Some even decide to spend some time at a language school overseas in full-immersion ($5000+). There are also private providers like Euroasia who offer part-time courses (cost: $368).

2) Private tutor: Proceed at your own pace. Supply of private tutors is plentiful. You can even hire a teacher off the supermarket notice board. Quality is highly variable, and so are costs ($20-$60 per hour). You can also hire a teacher from a recognised language school. You will definitely pay more, but at least you have some assurance of the quality of the teacher and the backing of the school.

3) Online/Independent learning: There are plenty of CD or online packages available as a search on google would confirm. This option gives you some flexibility. And is not that expensive (FREE to a few hundred dollars, depending on package you choose). In fact you can get started right away. But do you have the discipline to do everything by yourself? What if you need to ask a native speaker how to pronounce certain words? Or if you get stuck with a certain problem with grammar?

Time/Effort: What do you mean by “learn a language”? To get by in everyday situations, to speak it like a native, or to reach one of many different stages in between? There’s a huge range of possible levels of competence, and a huge range in the amount of time needed. Which one do you hope to achieve? People are also different; some pick up a language faster than others. The ads which say you will be speaking your target language by studying ten minutes a day, watching a video clip or simply listening to your Ipod while you exercise overlook this fact.

In my experience, most Kiwis want to learn enough to “get by”, ie. to introduce yourself, ask for directions, engage in small talk, some bargaining, order food. This is why we’ve designed our course to be as practical as possible, so that you leave us with practical know-how you can immediately use in real life. Our basic beginners course involves 10 lessons delivered over 2, 5 or 10 weeks. Even in this short space of time you can make really significant progress. If you can find time in between lessons to go over material, expand your vocabulary, listen to CDs, then you will undoubtedly make faster progress.

New Year resolution: Learn a language

Language learning is an aspirational goal that ranks highly on many 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.

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.

Every January, we see a surge in interest from people wanting to learn a language, and I’m sure 2011 will be no different. It’s worth checking out my blog entry from last year, on how to make a SMART plan to ensure you meet your language learning goals.

For a zero-risk evaluation of whether language learning is for you, check out the Euroasia FREE language taster lesson that is taking place on Wednesday, 19 January 2011.

6pm-7pm: French,

German, Portuguese, Mandarin.

7.30pm-8.30pm: Spanish, Italian, Japanese.

Venue: Euroasia, 10 Titoki Street, Parnell (next to Birthcare) – plenty of parking at Auckland Domain or along Titoki Street.

Please register for the free class as we have a limited number of spaces.

Posted via email from Euroasia

Share this:

2010 New Year Resolution: Learn a language

In recessionary times, it’s even more important to keep improving and to consider learning a second language. Now is the time to be upskilling to future proof yourself. The ability to speak

a second language puts your business or your job prospects one step ahead of the competition. You are also demonstrating to future employers that you have what it takes to stick to something. Employers realise that people who embark on language learning have some key characteristics that are highly valued in such times: commitment and dedication being some key ones. Part of what makes knowing a language a great skill to have is simply because it’s not that easy for someone to acquire fluency. If it was, it would quickly lose it’s value and won’t be treasured as much. Some of you would already have mastering a second language set as a 2010 New Year resolution.

How do you ensure you achieve your 2010 New Year resolution? Your goals have to be SMART. The reasons people give for not learning a language include lack of time, the cost involved and the difficulty of the subject area. The good news is you can craft a SMART plan to overcome the obstacles mentioned, to achieve your goal of speaking a foreign language by the end of 2010.

1) Specific

What does “speaking a foreign language” mean? Should your goal be to know enough French in order to survive in a remote town in France without relying on interpreters?

We have a specific learning outcomes for people who enrol for courses at Euroasia. For example, at the end of the Level 1 French course with Euroasia, you should know enough to “get by” in French: 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.

2) Measurable

How do you know you’re on track with your goal? You need some objective measure of your progress. This is the main reason why self-help language courses don’t work. This is because learning a language is not like studying history. You need constant feedback from experienced teachers who know how to provide constructive suggestions and correct you when you make mistakes. CDs and software programs can’t do that as well as humans. You need to be regularly “tested” either formally or informally so that you know you’re making progress. Language schools follow lesson plans that introduce progression over time. As long as you keep on top of the coursework, you will keep improving.

3) Attainable

Your goals have to be realistic. Sometimes we get calls from people who need to master a language within a matter of weeks because of an impending transfer offshore, or because they have to meet the future-in-laws who don’t speak any English. Learning a language, like everything else, takes time. There are certainly people out there who promise the world, and will tell you that you do not have to put in the hard yards and yet will emerge fluent within a short timeframe, simply by spending an hour a week listening to CDs or playing some games on your laptop or iphone. This is obviously appealing, in the same way that expensive infomercial weight-loss programmes are. The real secret to learning a language (and weight loss, saving money etc) is having a realistic plan and keeping to it. At Euroasia, we follow a language learning programme that allows people to realistically gain fluency over time. If we did have magic pills that make clients instantly fluent in Spanish, we would be selling them at a thousand-a-pop and not bother investing so much money in establishing and running a school.

4) Relevant

Why are you wanting to learn a foreign language? If you’re just wanting to learn Italian for fun so that you can order a beer and have a simple chat with hot locals as you roam around Rome, then your goal should be to complete Level 1 or Level 2 with Euroasia. A Level 1 course can be completed within 2 weeks, 5 weeks or 10 weeks, depending on how intense you want it to be. If on the other hand, you wish to conduct business negotiations with your suppliers in China, then a Level 1 course is not sufficient, and realistically it would take a year or two to get a point where you can engage in everyday conversation, comparing your life in New Zealand with other people’s lives overseas; discussing matters of interest, including politics and economics. The more solid your reason for learning a language, the longer the staying power. Visualise your end-goal. When the going gets tough, keep reminding yourself of how it feels to be able to ultimately converse freely with locals. What would also help is if you have career-oriented language goals such as planning to gain a foreign language qualification. If your goal is to pass a formal certification exam like DELE (Spanish), DELF (French) or HSK (Chinese), then you are also more likely to have stronger motivation.

5) Time-bound

What’s your plan in order to achieve your goal? Where do you want to be in 3 months? 6 months? An ineffective resolution is “I will be rich someday”. An effective resolution is “I will save $20K

by December 2010″. You then break this down further into quarterly and monthly targets. In the same way, you would set targets for yourself in learning a language. You may wish to complete the Euroasia Gold Package (4 courses) by the end of 2010.

We wish you all the best in setting SMART goals for 2010!

Share this:

November / December Euroasia update

OK This is going to be a long-ish post, to update you with all the goss over the past month. I have been very busy with various projects, travelling, attending all sorts of forums and events, and trying to keep up with everything else. It’s Christmas eve, and I finally get to do some blogging. I dread to think what it must be like in the shopping malls right now, so this is a welcome reprieve.

We had the annual Euroasia Christmas party late this year (11 Dec 09). We had a decent turnout of around 80 clients and friends of Euroasia, which is OK seeing we clashed with many other corporate parties. File note: next year we definitely have to do this the first week of Dec, perhaps even late-Nov. As you can see, those who managed to make it had a great time.

We didn’t

do any Christmas carols in Spanish, French, German, Chinese and Japanese like we did last year… but our team did organise some cool games. It was also a great opportunity for me to thank all our clients for their unwavering support to us over the past year. Dr John Reynolds spoke eloquently in 3 languages about his language learning experience at Euroasia.

Ken with Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and fellow businessmen from Australia..

A few months ago, I accepted an invitation to speak at the World Chinese Economic Forum in November and held in Kuala Lumpur (which happens to be my hometown). I’m really glad I went, as I managed to meet a number of very interesting people. At my session, I talked about how overseas Chinese can assist businesspeople from Western nations, including New Zealand, to access new markets in Asia generally and China specifically. I provided examples of enterprising Chinese businesspeople facilitating trade opportunities. In the past, New Zealand chicken producers had to spend money to dispose of chicken parts like chicken feet (that Westerners don’t eat, but Chinese love). Through the intervention of Chinese traders, NZ chicken producers have not only saved money from having to dispose of these chicken parts, but are now profiting from the sales of these parts. There are plenty of business opportunities in China that New Zealanders are missing out on because of the DIY mindset. A far superior approach is to collaborate with Asians who live in NZ and have an entrenched knowledge of the language and culture in the target market. I’m hoping to devote more time and energy to work on these Asia Bridge initiatives in 2010.

At the Forum, I managed to have a chat with the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng. When he found out that I lived in NZ, he said “you Kiwis qualified for the world cup”, referring to news that New Zealand qualified for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa and demonstrating his knowledge of New Zealand. I had to break it to him that NZ also qualified for the Hockey World Cup, beating Malaysia the day before the forum.

Ken with PM John Key

Earlier this month, I attended the annual APEC Advisory Business Council (ABAC) dinner, where the PM briefs members of the business community on what happened at APEC. This year, there’s lots to say about the economy and the PM has just arrived back from the East Asia Summit, Malaysia-NZ FTA, CHOGM, and about to go to Copenhagen.

I have previously blogged about this but one funny anecdote worth sharing is from the Q%A where a guy asked a serious question “If we want to catch Australia why not just merge with them?” The PM’s response: I just got back from CHOGM where Australian PM Kevin Rudd asked me the same question. My response was I’m too busy running New Zealand to run Australia as well. This guy can be very funny. I do think John Key is more in touch with the masses than Helen Clark; and has a way with both CEOs as well as joe public. Perhaps this explains his 80% favourability rating throughout a very difficult year.

Mock up of Euroasia’s new website to be launched in 2010

In the new year, you will see the launch of Euroasia’s new website and enrolment system, which we have spent the last 2 months working on. Some people have asked us why we want to spend money on this, especially seeing this is a particularly difficult time. My response is that in order to maintain Euroasia’s position as a leading provider of foreign language courses and cross-cultural services, we have to keep investing in the business, and to keep improving our service offering, especially when times are bad. Recessions don’t last forever, and I’m optimistic that 2010 will be a spectacular year for Euroasia. As it stands, our forward bookings for 2010 are already way ahead of this time last year.

Over the next two weeks, I will spend some time hopefully relaxing and reflecting on the past year. If you’re like me, and need some help with the reflection process, I’ve found this guide pretty helpful. Ask yourself 20 questions that cover all facets of life, not just material prosperity.

Last Christmas, we produced a video compilation of Euroasia staff bringing Christmas and New Year greetings in their native languages. I hope you don’t mind me recycling (seeing it’s in vogue now) this message. Once again we wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Share this:

New Year resolutions in times of recession

Many of you would be spending the first few weeks of January thinking about your new year resolutions. According to the United States government website USA.gov, the most popular new year resolutions are:
* Lose Weight
* Managing Debt
* Save Money
* Get a Better Job
* Get Fit
* Eat Right
* Get a Better Education
* Drink Less Alcohol
* Quit Smoking Now
* Reduce Stress Overall
* Reduce Stress at Work
* Take a Trip
* Volunteer to Help Others

I can't help but notice that “finding a husband/wife” is not on the list.

Another worthwhile resolution that should be on the list is “to learn a language”. In recessionary times, it's even more important to keep improving and to consider learning a second language. Now is the time to be upskilling to future proof yourself. The ability to speak a second language puts your business or your job prospects one step ahead of the competition. You are also demonstrating to future employers that you have what it takes

to stick to something. Employers realise that people who embark on language learning have some key characteristics that are highly valued in such times: commitment and dedication being some key ones.

The reasons people give for not learning a language include lack of time, the cost involved and the difficulty of the subject area. Part of what makes knowing a language a great skill to have is simply because it's not that easy for someone to acquire fluency. If it

was, it would quickly lose it's value and won't be treasured as much.

Let's think about it this way. What if you manage to land a big business deal in Asia or Europe, or secure a great job, because you speak a second language? What if you get yourself out of a sticky situation in a foreign country because you speak the local language? What if you find the love of your life as a result of your language learning journey? I've certainly seen these things happen in my time at Euroasia.

I would suggest that a worthwhile New Year resolution in 2009 is to learn a second language.

zp8497586rq
Share this:

Euroasia Christmas message – Joyeux Noël

The team at Euroasia has put together a short video message, wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. You'll have to guess who's saying what. If you're playing this at the office, try not to laugh too hard ok. We don't want to get you in trouble.

p/s:If you can

9;t see the video here, check out the youtube clip at http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=tzGqluc0kNs – Don't miss the outtakes ok

Our office closes on 19 December, and will reopen on 5 January for the 2-week intensive programme (2 weeknights + Sat half day).

At the start of next year you have 3 intakes to choose from:
5 Jan and 19 Jan for Fasttrack programmes
2 Feb for the standard courses.

Enrol online now, or talk to us about buying a gift voucher for a loved one. Looking forward to having you back next year. online canadian pharmacy

zp8497586rq
Share this: