Simple Reading Strategies For Language Learners

Reading in another language is a wonderfully rewarding experience. Developing your second language literacy skills involves time and persistence, however, as you work through piecing together vocabulary, grammar, and meaning.

Here are some tips to help you navigate foreign language texts.

1. Pick material that’s at or just above your level. Reading texts that are too advanced will soon frustrate you. A good rule of thumb is to quickly scan the first few paragraphs for new and unknown vocabulary. If you count 5 or more unknown words, then it’s above your level. Skip it and move on.

2. Get out a pen or pencil and take notes in the margins while you read. When you finish reading a complex sentence or when you arrive at the end of a paragraph, take a moment to summarize what you have just read. Often times learners will go through a passage reading word-for-word. By the time they reach the end of the page, they’ve no idea what the text was actually about. Use this easy summary strategy to force yourself to make sense of the text as you read.

3. Connect to the text on a personal level to make it more memorable. When you’re learning a language, you’re learning to read, not necessarily reading to learn. As such, when you’re done with a passage or chapter, try to connect the ideas and concepts back to your life, personalizing the story as much as possible. Here are some great questions to connect to reading:

  • Have I read this story or something like it in my first language?
  • What would I have done in this situation?
  • How is this story similar to what happens in my own country/culture?

Again, when you take a moment at the end of a reading session to connect the story to your own life, it makes it easier to remember the vocabulary later on. This is as much a memory strategy as it is a reading strategy.

4. Read when you’re feeling alert. When you are struggling through a text in your second language, you’re giving your brain a massive workout. I always find that even after a single page of a difficult text in Spanish that I’m ready for a siesta. Choose a time when you have extra brain cells alert and ready to focus all of your attention on the task of reading. If you find yourself yawning and rubbing your eyes, then it’s time to get up and take a break.

In summary, these are easy strategies all language learners can incorporate to read strategically. Try them the next time you read. When you go back to review the article or vocabulary, you’ll be amazed at how much you’re able to remember!

The Inner Game of Language Learning

Traveling around the world for profit or pleasure has become commonplace in our modern world and it is most likely that you will tackle learning at least one foreign language in your lifetime. Your needs for communicating may range from ordering a meal while on holiday to managing all aspects of life after emigrating to another country. As well as the obvious advantages of understanding and being understood, there are also the possible hidden benefits of improving your own first language and gaining a unique insight into a different culture. Learning a foreign language has also been identified as one of the best ways to keep Alzheimer’s at bay and exercises the brain and keeps it healthy, no matter what your age. Here are some tips that have helped me speak English better than my mother tongue, cope with holiday lingo in France and start all over with Portuguese in preparation of my retirement in the sun.

How do you learn best?
Knowing and applying all your learning preferences can make all the difference between having fun and succeeding or finding it a chore and giving up. If you’re not sure how you learn best, I’d encourage you to experiment around until you find what feels best and fits in with your lifestyle.

Do you prefer learning by reading, hearing or writing? Do you like studying with others or by yourself? What about structured lessons versus post-it notes on the wall? Maybe you don’t want to bother with theory at all and just get going with talking with people. Do you or don’t you like using technology? Is ‘grammar’ a loaded word or can you, as do I, devour a good grammar book like other people a spy novel?

Finding the time

Fitting yet another thing into our crowded lives can certainly be a challenge, so maybe setting a small amount of time aside every day works best for you. Ten minutes a day is better than waiting for that three hour slot that never arrives. Signing up and paying for evening classes is also a good motivator to keep going. Being a very busy person, I always look for ‘idle’ time. I usually listen to an audio lesson while driving or doing housework and yes, I keep a phrase book next to my ‘throne’. Things really come to life though when I combine socializing with my foreign friends and bravely practice my new sentences.

How good is good enough?

Most people, including myself, only learn what they really need or what they’re passionate about. Since there really is no end to mastering a language, only you can decide how far you want to take it. The answer will most likely depend on a few factors. Do you need this new skill only occasionally or on a daily basis? Are you preparing for a future that is immediate or still a long way off? Do you actually need to talk to others a lot or not?

You will also find that your personality and values determine your decision. Do you enjoy striving for excellence? Is being ‘correct’ important to you? Are you ambitious and enjoy a good challenge? Last but not least, do you actually enjoy having conversations or are you more of an introvert?

If you have never attempted to speak another language, here’s one last tip: try not to take yourself too seriously. By talking like a toddler, you will be instantly stripped of your eloquence and any obvious signs of intelligence.You will make mistakes and you will be laughed at and it’s so much more fun, when you can join in the laughter and don’t mind making a fool of yourself. As always I wish you ‘einen guten Tag’,’ bon jour’,’ bom dia’ and a good day!

Educator Advocacy Letter for English Language Learners

[Date]

[Your State’s Name] State Department of Education

[Your Superintendent’s Name] State Superintendent of Schools

[DOE Address]

[DOE City and State]

To Whom It May Concern:

As an educator in the field of early childhood education I have a concern regarding English Language Learners (ELL) reaching linguistic proficiency. My authentic learning experience as an educator within the classroom revealed the harm that takes place academically when an ELL is pulled from the classroom two to three times a week for 30-45 minutes a day. This action creates a disconnect between the ELL and his/her classroom social interaction and normal daily classroom routines. In society today, schools have experienced a dramatic increase in enrollment of ELL’s; this is due to the immigration and migration of families to the United States from different parts of the world. There is a need to bring into existence a strategy that will increase the English language proficiency ability among ELL’s. The state of [Your State’s Name] public elementary schools have experienced linguistic and dialect differences within the classroom, which proves many ELL’s are challenged to perform at literacy proficiency levels, meet state standards and state assessments. Enrollment within the schools in society will continue to increase each year with ELL’s and it is imperative to ensure the school systems accommodate all ELL’s and help them reach their linguistic potential.

Although there are methods already in place within the [your state’s name] school systems to prevent isolation and low linguistic proficiency, such as the pull out method, an improved strategy is needed. There is an alternate system that is designed to improve the linguistic deficiency among ELL’s. The Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol is a program that trains teachers to integrate academic language development into their lessons, through this method students are not pulled out of class, but they remain and are afforded the opportunity to learn and practice English as it is used in the textbooks and lectures in each academic discipline.

This program allows teachers to modify their instruction so they can meet the ELL where they are linguistically and build upon what they already know.

As an advocate and future educator, I strongly recommend this program for all teachers and schools. Our goal is to ensure that every ELL reaches their linguistic potential. The critical urgency to develop a strategy that will accommodate incoming ELL’s requires the support of students as learners, parents as support, teachers as instructors and the state as a resource.

Thank you for your consideration of the SIOP program in advance.

Sincerely,

[Educator’s Name]

Tips and Techniques on How to Learn the French Language

Knowing various tips and techniques on how you can easily learn the French language can increase your ability to absorb and really understand the language. There are many basic learning techniques taught in classrooms and from independent programs that can help you memorize and retain the information. One way to effectively retain the information you have acquired from a French language lesson is to apply it into your daily life.

There is no such thing as a “magic formula” when trying or wanting to learn language or any other foreign languages. What it really requires is time, patience and willingness to learn. Incorporating it with the right training and simple techniques, you will be able to learn French language or any other language more efficiently and quickly.

Having a language journal upon starting your language lessons can be very helpful. You can even blog about the things you have learned by trying to compose mini sentences using the new words or phrases that you have acquired from your lessons. Aside from your classroom lessons on French language, you can also use an online French lesson or manual that can be found on the internet. There are various websites who are giving out manuals or audio downloads that can definitely help you learn French language.

When learning French language or any other languages, it is natural for your brain to get tired of studying. When such situation occurs, it is recommended for you to take a break by engaging in various games such as vocabulary games and mind-benders which are available on the internet as this can help you relax your mind. If you force yourself to learn French language even if you are already too tired to do so, you might end up quitting even before you knew how to speak longer phrases in French. So it is essential to learn it one step at a time. If you have already learned a lot or you are already an advanced student, you can try finding games on the internet that uses the French language. This way, you can improve your skills in speaking French in a fun way.

Unlike learning math, history or other subjects where memory is important, learning language requires practice so that you can improve your diction and pronunciation, and to be more familiar with the use of the terms. Knowing and memorizing the entire language vocabulary is useless if you are unable to use it. You can also try recording your voice while speaking in French to see if there is an improvement on your pronunciation, accent and diction.

If you want to learn language on your free time, there are various websites that can provide you online tutorials or lessons. Some of them might require you to pay for a certain amount, so if you are learning French just for fun, find a website that provides a free tutorial instead of wasting money on paid classes that you cannot really attend to. You should also check if the online language tutor you are to pay for is legit to avoid getting scammed. Try to look for feedback or reviews from previous students to know more about the online tutor you are to enroll for.

Want to Learn The Chinese Language? The Top 3 Tips To Look For In A Course

Let’s face it, learning Chinese is not the easiest thing to do in the world, that’s why selecting a good course is very important for saving you both time and money. While an average course can get you to spend up to a few thousand dollars and 5 years dedication just to learn to speak and write the very basics, a good course can assist you to gain a certain level of speaking skills in 1 year’s time, and the cost is relatively less in comparison.

For those who haven’t been learning Chinese language before, here are 3 tips of choosing a good course versus an average one:

1. Choose the course based on your needs. If you don’t need writing skills, join a course that teaches you only the speaking skills. The reason for this is obvious: writing the Chinese characters is much harder and takes much longer dedication compare to speaking Chinese. Most westerners need to learn Chinese in order to communicate vocally when they are in China, while the skill of writing Chinese is not needed. It simply saves you a lot of time while practically you are still gaining a lot of benefits speaking Chinese language. In Chinese, each character has its own meaning, tone and pronunciation. As long as you can remember the pronunciations of the characters, writing Chinese is a separate ability that you can pick up later.

2. Can you get along with the teaching method and style? There are courses that require hours of dedication each week to handle the assignments and studies. For these courses, your results depend on how much time you can put into it, and how effective it works with you. There are courses that simply work better and allow you to spend less time in it, depend on the teaching method, the teacher’s style, and your time dedication. If you can’t decide which course to get into, then it is the best if you can try a few lessons with the course or the teacher as a trial, and decide whether the course is for you or not to learn Chinese language.

3. Are the words and sentences they teach practical? For many courses to learn Chinese language, normally you can read the text books or the teaching scripts before you join the course. So it is important to decide whether what you are going to learn worth your time and efforts. It depends on what you need to learn Chinese language for. For example, if you are taking a short trip to China for 2 weeks, then what you need is a course that can teach you some easy everyday live sentences, so that you can use to reduce the hassles while travelling. If you are going to work in China for some time period, then the course needs to focus on words and sentences that can help you to social with your employers and customers.

So these are the 3 tips to assist in you to choose a helpful course to learn Chinese language. Learning another language is normally a huge task, and it is worthy to take your time to search for the best course you can hold onto. Have a great adventure learning Chinese language!

Teaching English As A Foreign Language – 7 Tips For Using Popular Movies

Movies and Videos in the EFL Classroom

If you’re looking to expand the role of movies and videos in your EFL classroom, what better way to expand the learners’ communicative skills, grammar and vocabulary than by using clips from popular movies? Try using these seven tips for stimulating learner motivation while enjoying a favored pastime of children and adults alike, watching short scenes or clips from popular movies.

1. Use pre-viewing activities

Before the video, warm up your learners to the theme and grammar using pre-viewing activities. A variety of these might include puzzles, photos and images, short games like “concentration” or TPR activities, a story or anecdote, or activating the schema of the learners’ in a number of other ways.

2. Have learners complete a chart while viewing

While they are watching a short video or movie segment you might have the learners fill in key information in a chart. Items like names of characters, occupations, family relationships, clothing and settings can be easily recorded this way. This allows the learners to focus more on the communicative aspects and less on actually writing.

3. Select a grammar point repeatedly demonstrated in the movie clip

There’s no need to leave grammar out of a video-based lesson or stage. If a useable grammar point or structure is repeated or prominent during the movie clip you plan to use, all the better. Just remember to pre-teach that grammar or structural element, even a class or two before the video, so that it will be recognizable in context.

4. Have a list of six to eight lexis

Select a list of from six to eight or ten vocabulary words, idioms and expressions from the movie clip or video you plan to use. Pre-teach these during the pre-viewing stage of the lesson. When the learners then hear them used in context during the video viewing session, the lexis will have added impact.

5. Make use of visual input

A popular movie clip is an audio-visual experience, so use it as such. While learners are watching and listening for general and detailed spoken information, include visual aspects for them to skim and scan for as well. How many? How much? When? Where? Who? How and why are good starters for capturing visually-presented information from the movie clip or video segment.

6. Allow learners to select their preferred movie clip

It can be quite a dilemma. There you have perhaps two or three or more movies from which to choose, but you’re not sure which your learners would prefer. So I have an idea, do you choose, let them do it. Take three movies for example, show the learners only the first five minutes of each, and then let them choose which they’d like to work with. If you have a clip in mind from each of the movies, show each clip and give them a choice. You can work up your activities and lesson stage plans confident in having your learners’ interest and motivation.

7. For post-viewing discussion:

If not addressed during pre-viewing activities, now is the time to talk about favorite actors, actresses, similar plots and stories from other movies, and what might be different or better outcomes for what as seen. Stage re-enactments, altered dialogues and plot twists your learners might come up with. Be imaginative, be creative, be bold or even funny, but get them communicating about their experience.

Prepare a Worksheet

You can prepare a one or two page worksheet to be photocopied and used by the learners for the video session. Alternatively, learners can copy the format into their notebooks. Just be sure to plan your pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing activities well and your English language video clip-based lesson is sure to be an award-winner.

English Tuition – Tips For Learning English As a Second Language

If English is your second language, there are many factors that may stop you from mastering it but similarly, there are many ways to help you improve English. Here are a few tips that might help you to learn English.

Just do it and speak out without anxiety

The major problem many people encounter in mastering a new language is their own worry. They always concentrate on negative things. They worry too much that they will not say things appropriately, or that they will look silly, so they do not talk at all. The most effective way to master anything is to do it repeatedly until you obtain it right. Practice makes perfect! Similar to anything mastering, English involves practice. You should not allow fear cease you from acquiring what you want. Set a goal and go for it. You are bigger than yourself.

Learn English through Movies

I enjoy learning English by watching movie or television. This is not only a fun approach to learn, but it is also very powerful. By watching English videos you can broaden your vocabulary and hear the flow of conversation from the stars. Pick your favorite film, memories the dialogues and study how the way the actor converse, rehearsing it repeatedly. If you like to listen to news, you may give yourself chance to listen to English news, note down useful phrases that you wish to learn, you can also hear various accents. You can also improve your listening skill by watching news.

Learning English by Listening to English Music

Music is another very helpful way of learning English. Truthfully, it is usually utilized as a way of strengthening comprehension and vocabulary. The best way to learn though is to get the lyrics (words) to the songs you are listening to. Read the lyrics first and try to understand them. There are quite a number good websites where one can obtain the words for most songs. This way you can practice your listening and reading at the same time. And if you like to sing, fine.

Record Your Voice

No one like to listen to their own tone of voice on recording but like tests, it is excellent to compare your recording from time to time. You may be so amazed with the improvement you are creating that you may not mind the sound of your voice as much.

Learning Korean: 3 Hot Tips for Mastering the Korean Language

Because it uses an alphabet much different than our own, called Hangul, the Korean language can be challenging to learn. Like all languages, however, if you learn how to learn, and then make a good learning strategy, prior to hitting the books, you can pick up the language quickly and easily. This article is going to give you three very important tips that you should follow when learning the Korean language.

Tip 1: Define Your Korean Fluency Goals

One does not sit down and learn a language. One sits down and learns pieces of a language. For example, most language textbooks are divided into sections, such as shopping, eating, family, and transportation. Before you sit down and start studying, decide which part of the language is most important to you. If you are going to Korea to be an English teacher, your first goal could be to learn “classroom Korean.” If you are going to Korea on business, start with basic business Korean. If you’re traveling, learn travel phrases. Set small but important fluency goals and your learning will move along swiftly and smoothly.

Tip 2: Have Structure From the Beginning

When learning the Korean language it is important to have structure. You must first learn how to pronounce the letters of a new and unfamiliar alphabet. Then you must gain an understanding of Korean sentence structure and grammar, which is very different than it is in English. Then you can start to memorize vocabulary words, phrases, and, eventually, complete sentences. Failure to follow this structured approach will cause frustration and poor learning progress. Get it right from the beginning, on the other hand, and you’ll progress nicely.

Tip 3: Be Consistent With Your Studying

Consistency is an important part of learning any language; studying for five hours one day and then skipping the next four days is not nearly as effective as studying for one hour each day for five days in a row. This you probably already know. It is worth noting again, however, because this consistency is particularly important when studying a language that has an alphabet that is unfamiliar to you.

The reason is because you have to not only learn new words and phrases, but you also have to remember how to pronounce a whole new set of characters, characters that you cannot sound out, as you could if learning, for example, Spanish.

Final Thoughts

Learning Korean can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Define your Korean language fluency goals, create a structured learning plan, and be consistent with your studies, and you’ll pick up the Korean language quickly and easily.

Tips On How To Easily Learn A Foreign Language

Learning a foreign language not only opens many job doors for you and makes you feel good about yourself, but it also makes you look sophisticated. While many people find it hard to learn a second language, there are some that fluently speak up to 10 different languages. If you would be interested in learning an additional language, here are tips you should follow:

Have a reason

Just like in any other sphere of your life, you can’t put a lot of effort into something if you don’t have a good reason as to why you are doing it. If you don’t have a good reason why you are learning a different language, you will most likely fall off within a short time.

To stay motivated, have the end in your mind. For example, you can start learning a language if you are confident that it will give you a new and exciting job. You can also learn the language if you are interested in knowing another person better in the native language.

Have someone you are liable to

This is someone who acts as a mentor. While he/she might be at the same level as you, you will be reporting to him/her of your progress. This has been shown to be highly effective as you are less likely to fall off. In addition to the partner encouraging you, he/she ensures that you stick to the classes.

Have fun

You will agree with me that you are less likely to stick to something that you don’t enjoy. When you attend class, have a good time by composing interesting songs. If learning it at home, you can make a radio play. You can also draw a comic strip, write a poem, or just choose interesting words that are easy and you can throw them in your sentences.

Be like a child

Studies show that there isn’t a direct link between age and ability to learn. The studies show that the ease at which you learn something is all dependent on your attitude. To learn the new language, you should behave like a child. This is where you lose your self-consciousness and play with the new style. As rule of thumb don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Conclusion

These are tips that will help you in easily learning a new language. Have a good reason why you are doing it, act like a child, and you will definitely learn the language.

Japanese Language Learning Tips – Proper Use of "-San"

In this Japanese language learning tips article, I will explain the proper use of “-San” in Japanese. “-San” is frequently misused by beginning learners of Japanese, but there is a simple rule you can follow that will ensure you get it right every time.

When to Use the “-San” Form of Address in Japanese

“-San,” as in Tanaka-san or Smith-san, is a form of Japanese address that just about everyone is familiar with, whether or not they are a learner of the language. “-San” is used to address someone in a polite, somewhat formal manner. 

Just as in English we would address someone we don’t know that well or someone with a somewhat higher status than us as “Mr.” or Ms.,” in Japanese we would use “-San” in much the same way, with one important difference: in Japan, there is a much greater emphasis on formality and politeness, so unless the person you are communicating with is a very close friend or intimate, you should ALWAYS use the “-San” form of address.

In the West, where we tend to be much more informal, we may initially address a person we have just met as “Mr.” or “Ms.” and then after a few minutes take the liberty of addressing that person by their first name. In Japan, this is a big no-no. Never eliminate the “-san” form of address when speaking to a Japanese person unless specifically invited to do so by that person. 

The Most Important Rule on Using “-San” in Japanese

In addition to the above advice, there is one essential rule you must follow regarding the use of “-San” in Japanese. When introducing or referring to yourself, NEVER call yourself “XX-San.” So if your name is Mary and you’re introducing yourself in Japanese, or even to a Japanese person speaking English, you must never say “I’m Mary-San.” In Japanese, you simply never refer to yourself using “-San.” 

Similarly, and this becomes a bit more complicated, you never address members of your own group using “-San” when speaking to persons outside of your own group. For example, when interacting with a business client or counterpart from another company using “-San,” you would never address yourself or someone from your own company as “XXX-San!” 

Forms of address in Japanese are actually quite complex and there is much more to the story, so I’ll go into more depth in another article. For now, just remember this basic advice on the use of “-San” and you’ll be assured of impressing your Japanese counterparts as a well-informed and well-mannered gaijin!