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Take Time to Talk

Posted on September 22nd, 2013by Melanie
In Education, Language acquisition, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Too much to doBusy, busy, busy! There’s always something to do, somewhere to go and never enough time to do everything you need to. Only the essentials get prioritized and hobbies or extras get left behind.

With language tuition nowadays, there’s no need to worry about how to fit it all in as the classes are designed to take away the stress and add flexibility and ease of use to your lessons. Whilst some of us might be grateful for an excuse not to have to learn something in our free time, for those of us that do want to, these pupil friendly courses will blend in seamlessly with our otherwise hectic schedules. Instead of attending an educational establishment, tutors will now happily conduct the classes at their pupils’ homes, workplaces or other convenient locations, and can fit the lessons in around their timetables, including weekends.

For those who travel regularly, online lessons are a great advantage. Pre-recorded lessons can be downloaded and emailed back to tutors from any location at any time with the use of a portable device such as an iPad or Android tablet. You can still speak directly to your tutor using the built in webcam and microphone. Conversations, messages, document sharing and the viewing of websites or videos can be conducted over free software, such as Skype or Google+. In fact, with this type of technology, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to learn a new language!

Do you struggle to fit everything into your daily routine? What timesaving tips have you got for others who are learning a new language? Make some space in your schedule where you can and enjoy the satisfaction of being able to speak in another language!

Getting to Grips with Global Languages

Posted on September 20th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Global languagesHow many different nationalities of people are you friends with? Not even friends, but acquainted with. Just browse through your Facebook account alone for a quick count, I think you´ll be surprised.

The world is getting smaller thanks to mediums such as the Internet, and it’s commonplace to have a diverse group of acquaintances who’ve originated from all over the world. Sixteen. That´s the number of nationalities amongst my Facebook friends, including Spanish, Danish, German, South African, Dutch, Chilean and Venezuelan, among others. Living in Spain, I used to work for a travel company which is how most of us became friends. Years later, we’re all still in touch and dotted around the world, as are many of my old school friends.

No longer held back by restrictions between countries and with the ease of travelling, we are able to explore new horizons and fulfil our dreams. We can travel abroad to discover new countries and experience their cultures, we are able to relocate in order to work abroad, retiring abroad is now a popular choice, and there are opportunities to study abroad. With so many options open to us, it’s hardly surprising that our friends and colleagues are a diverse bunch! And this diversity has led to an increase in language studies, as the need to communicate across the globe has become so commonplace and so necessary. Language courses have sprung up everywhere and are catered towards ease of accessibility and modern approaches to learning.

Have you studied another language in order to further your career or to live abroad? Has the need arisen for you to learn a new language for the sake of a partner or friend? Take a look around you and take note of all the nationalities that have become a part of your life.

Virtual Vocabulary

Posted on September 13th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Invented languages, Slang | Leave a Comment »

Virtual vocabulary 3Have you ever wondered what kids spend so much time doing on the Internet? Well it seems that they´ve been creating, learning and speaking a whole new language!

Born into the virtual world that´s still so ‘new’ to most of us, kids have grown up online with a fearless approach to the Internet and related technology. These tech savvy little people have even created their own form of online communication which is completely baffling to the rest of us.

So how are parents (or anyone else for that matter) supposed to understand what their kids are saying? Luckily, the ‘Digital Dictionary’ has been compiled to help solve the problem.

The Lingo Low-down

Savage means good

Sick means cool

Ill means amazing

Fetch means awesome

Derp means stupid

Jank means gross

Owned means embarrassed

Neg means annoying

The Digital Dictionary

Disney´s Club Penguin, an online virtual world for kids, compiled this dictionary after conducting research about parents´ holds over their children´s online activities. Of the 1,000 parents of 6-14 year olds who were surveyed, nearly two thirds confessed to not understanding their kids´ online language. In a bid to aid these bemused parents, the Digital Dictionary lists the 50 most popular words used by children online. 25 of these have positive meanings, although you wouldn´t know it at first glance, while the other 25 have negative meanings.

Are you struggling to make sense of this online vocabulary? Have you got a beef with this virtual language? The newly published dictionary will give you the tools you need to understand it, so be reem and learn the legit lingo.

 

 

Reserving Trips to Remember

Posted on September 12th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Italian, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Reservations agent 3As a reservations agent, Julie was used to speaking to people every day from different nationalities, from customers to hotels, to travel companies and tour operators. She had worked for an English-run company in Italy which operated a holiday club, offering discounted holidays and special offers to their customers. As the company wasn´t tied to specific travel agencies or resorts, this meant that Julie was able to act independently as a reservations agent and source the best travel deals that she could in an unbiased manner for her clients. She enjoyed putting together great travel packages for her customers that they wouldn´t be able to find anywhere else, especially at such a good price. She handled bookings for both Italian and English speaking clients which involved regular telephone calls and emails in both languages.

Due to the economy, however, the Italian office had closed down and Julie had relocated to the UK office. Back in the UK, almost seamlessly it seemed, she was able to continue dealing with the same customers as before, with no difference other than her own location. No longer living in Italy, Julie didn’t want to become unfamiliar with the language seeing as she wasn’t hearing it and speaking it fully on a daily basis, so invested in some local language courses to keep things fresh in her mind. She signed up for some advanced classes as she was fairly fluent but still wanted to be pushed as far as she could be.

With her Italian in check and her customers happy, Julie set about finding unbeatable travel deals that would provide the best holidays her clients could hope for!

 

Reading Into It

Posted on September 7th, 2013by Melanie
In Spelling, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

French directionsWhen we think of learning languages, we tend to mean speaking them, getting to know the basics first so that we can ‘get by’ with the little that we know, then gradually increasing our knowledge until we eventually reach a point of fluency. When people look enviously at others and say that they wished they could speak another language like that, or have the ability to switch effortlessly between two languages, they are ultimately referring to the ability to speak the language.

However, learning languages doesn´t just involve speech. It goes without saying that you also have to be able to listen to and understand it when it´s being spoken to you, but the ability to read and write it mustn´t be forgotten or dismissed.

When travelling abroad, a basic knowledge of the language is helpful for simple tasks, such as reading shop signs, understanding menus when you´re ordering food in restaurants,  being able to follow road signs and directions, and understanding how to buy and validate a ticket for the correct route at a train station. These are just some of the everyday things we deal with without thinking, but being able to read and understand the basics can go a long way in a foreign country.

Students often find the reading and writing aspects of learning languages daunting, but with the right teacher and the correct tuition, there really is no need to be worried. Once you´ve grasped the basics, you´ll find that the words will just logically fall into place. So take the plunge and enrol in some language classes; you´ll be word perfect before you know it!

Viva La Vuelta!

Posted on September 5th, 2013by Melanie
In Events, Historic, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

The VueltaSteve was a huge fan of the Vuelta. When he used to live in Spain, he would join hundreds of Spaniards and fellow Brits in lining the streets along the cyclists’ route each year. Every year, the race took a different route, so sometimes he´d find himself down on the coast while other times he´d be inland and occasionally in the mountainous regions.

He was a keen cyclist himself and loved the adrenalin of competitive cycling although he was far from the riding standards of the Vuelta cyclists. The strength and discipline that those cyclists possessed was incredible, and he admired their stamina and level of fitness which carried them through the three week long race.

Steve and his friends would usually make a day of it, grabbing a bite to eat in a chiringuito before finding a good vantage point from which to see the riders approaching. The crowds would gradually increase in size as the local police strung security tape between the gated sections. The cars and trucks advertising their wares with loud music would let everyone know that there wasn´t much longer to wait. The Guardias on their motorbikes would lead the sponsors’ and teams’ cars, while the helicopters circled above. Then, the distant cheering would signal the cyclists’ approach and the crowds would push forward to get a good look and take some action shots with their cameras. The rush of speed and force of power as the cyclists passed them was immense…and then, just as quickly as they´d appeared, they were gone, vying for their positions within the Vuelta a España.

Despite no longer living in Spain, this annual event wasn´t something that Steve was prepared to miss; it just wasn´t the same on TV! He´d kept up with his Spanish lessons and every year he looked forward to his summer holiday when he could go back to Spain and catch up with his friends, chat with the locals and get caught up in the excitement of the awe-inspiring Vuelta!

Using Innovative Cues to Converse

Posted on September 1st, 2013by Melanie
In French, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Innovative learningEveryone´s different. People have different tastes in food, in music, in what they enjoy doing during their free time; everyone has their own preferences and their own way of doing things. The same goes with how we study and learn. Some people are more academic and studious whilst others need more inspiration to learn and absorb their studies.

An innovative approach to learning swept through Canada some years ago promoting unique ways of learning which combined traditional theories of language acquisition with brain related research. The concept encouraged students to learn foreign languages by incorporating their learning with music, singing, dance, gestures and drama. Its methods helped students to quickly and effectively grasp both verbal and written skills. Pupils learned to associate words and phrases with particular songs and gestures. That´s in Canada, but anyone can incorporate these methods into their learning techniques.

So, when you think that learning a new language is too hard for you, then think again. Apply what you´ve learned in your lessons to a song, a dance or a gesture and you´ll be surprised at how quickly you start to recall sentences. If you´ve ever fancied learning French or Spanish as a second language but never thought you could apply yourself fully, then be inspired and sign up for some foreign language classes and prove yourself wrong!

With the help of a native speaking teacher, you´ll be singing in Spanish or chewing the fat in French in no time!

A Fond Farewell

Posted on August 29th, 2013by Melanie
In French, Language acquisition, Speech | Leave a Comment »

French bistroSheila had spent five lovely years in the south of France. Lovely for her, but not quite so enjoyable for her husband and kids. She’d settled in straight away, having always wanted to live there and being able to speak the language fluently. Her husband, however, had a very limited knowledge of French and found it harder to make friends and find work, and the children still missed their friends from back home. When they´d moved to France in the first place, they´d all agreed that if anyone was unhappy, they´d all go back to the UK together rather than anyone being miserable living in a foreign country. So, being completely outvoted, Sheila had to concede and they had all moved back to the UK. At least she´d had those five lovely years and the memories of the experiences that went with them.

One thing didn´t change on her return to the UK, however, and that was what she´d been doing for a living in the south of France. Before they´d emigrated, Sheila had qualified so that she could teach the expats living in France how to speak French from the most basic of phrases to complete fluency. She´d built up regular clients over the years and always felt a sense of pride and satisfaction when her students no longer had a look of panic or embarrassment when speaking, and actually initiated the conversations themselves instead.

The location was different but the job was the same, and Sheila had quickly set up her own language course for people wishing to learn French in the local towns surrounding her hometown. One of the things she liked to do was to meet her students in a local French bistro. It gave the lessons a more relaxed and authentic feel and she always found that she got better results from her students in this type of atmosphere rather than in formal surroundings. Besides, she couldn´t give up all of her favourite French pastimes!

Modern Languages Make a Difference

Posted on August 25th, 2013by Melanie
In French, German, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

GCSE 2This week has seen the release of GCSE results all over the UK. It´s been a mixed time for students with feelings of nerves, excitement, disappointment, relief and happiness. The subject of the GCSE grading this year has been under controversy due to the new tougher grading system put in place mixed with an increasing re-sit culture and more pupils being entered for their GCSEs a year early.

Teachers, parents and employers disagree with this new system as, instead of promoting higher grades, the new system caters for a certain percentage of passes (40% of students must achieve 5 GCSEs including English and Maths in grades C or above), without fairly grading all students across the board in comparison with previous years. Students this year are not necessarily getting the grade they deserve or expect as lower grades are being handed out in contrast. Teachers feel that accurate comparisons cannot be made with the levels of students´ capabilities from year to year, employers believe that pupils´ employment prospects are being damaged, and parents are now encouraging their children to do resits in order to obtain the grade they need.

This year’s results have seen a 1.3% decline in A*-C grades since last year, the biggest decline in grades in the 25 years that the GSCE system has been in place. Many students have been left feeling disappointed with their results and believe, as do their teachers, that their grades would have been higher had the new system not taken affect.

It´s not all bad news, however. Reports show that in this new system of learning, and possibly due to the introduction of the English Baccalaureate, the level of candidate entries for modern languages has increased significantly. The increase of students taking French rose by 15.5% and German increased by 9.4%. The entry levels for Spanish, however, had a whopping rise with 25.8%. So, despite other dips in the GCSE debate, languages are proving to be increasingly popular with pupils, and that will open numerous doors in their futures!

Reap the Rewards of a Good Investment

Posted on August 22nd, 2013by Melanie
In Accents, Jargon, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

Investment bankAndy had applied for a transfer at work. Having worked in the finance department for over five years, he knew the job inside out, but felt it was time to move on and utilise his talents. The foreign investment department had an opening, and he intended to fill it!

Having been brought up in Spain during most of his childhood, Andy had attained a high level of fluency in the language. His new job role would involve handling the accounts for the Spanish clients which meant he would be speaking to them on the phone as well as with written communication. He’d moved back to the UK some years ago but his knowledge of Spanish was still firmly in his head. He just needed to polish up his linguistic skills in the business sector and he´d be all set for the new position.

He’d got the job! Now he just needed to prove he could do it. Andy signed up for a refresher course in Spanish both to train his hearing to become accustomed to the Spanish accent again with the help of his native Spanish teacher, and to learn some financial terms that he would surely come across within his new job. Armed with his new financial jargon and tuned in to the speed and tone that Spaniards are noted for speaking with, Andy was ready to liaise with the Spanish investors and was ready to show his new bosses that they’d made the right investment in him!