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  • Mastering Languages: Unveiling the Top Language Learning Study Techniques

    Introduction: Embarking on a journey to learn a new language is both exciting and challenging. Whether you're aiming to communicate with people from different cultures, enhance your career prospects, or simply broaden your horizons, effective language learning study techniques can significantly accelerate your progress. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the top language learning study techniques to help you become a proficient polyglot. Immerse Yourself in the Language: One of the most effective ways to learn a language is to surround yourself with it. Immerse yourself in the language by watching movies, listening to music, and tuning into podcasts. This exposure helps you develop a natural understanding of pronunciation, intonation, and colloquial expressions. Additionally, consider changing the language settings on your devices and social media platforms to create a constant language-learning environment. Flashcards and Vocabulary Building: Building a strong vocabulary is a key aspect of language learning. Utilize flashcards to memorize words and their meanings. Apps like Anki, Quizlet, or physical flashcards can help you reinforce your memory through spaced repetition, making it easier to recall words when needed. Early in the language learning journey you may rely a lot on translation devices but I recommend using them as minimally as possible. We tend to say things in complicated ways and if we use a device, we will often just use it, not understand how and what we are saying and then go on. Whatever exchange we just negotiated in our target language is then forgotten. A far better tactic is to simplify what we say and intentionally practice 5 to 10 new words a day. Put away that translator as soon as you can and start trying to create language without the crutch, even if it isn’t as complex an idea as you would have liked to have said. Regular Practice with Language Exchange Partners: Practicing with native speakers is invaluable when learning a new language. Join language exchange programs or find language partners online to engage in regular conversations. Our Conversations in theXarden provide you will opportunities to prepare for a topic of conversation and give you a native-speak to talk with. Conversation. Taking advantage of this opportunity can connect you with speakers of the language you're learning as well as a social group to explore your language learning with. This hands-on practice improves your speaking and listening skills while offering cultural insights. Grammar in Context: Rather than memorizing grammar rules in isolation, learn them in context. Read books, articles, or even children's stories in the target language. This approach not only makes grammar more engaging but also helps you understand how native speakers naturally use grammar in their daily communication. Create a Study Routine: Consistency is key in language learning. Establish a study routine that fits into your daily schedule. Set specific goals, such as learning a certain number of new words each day or practicing grammar for a set amount of time. Regular, focused practice will yield better results than sporadic, intensive sessions. Music in the target language: Singing along to music in the target language can open your understanding to culture, vocabulary, and proper pronunciation. It is one of the most immersive experiences in a language you can have. Imitate Native Pronunciation: Perfecting pronunciation is a common challenge for language learners. To overcome this, listen to native speakers and try to mimic their pronunciation, intonation, and accent. Speech shadowing, where you repeat sentences spoken by native speakers, can be an effective technique to improve your spoken language skills. Conclusion: Learning a new language requires dedication, patience, and the right study techniques. By immersing yourself in the language, utilizing technology, practicing with native speakers, and maintaining a consistent study routine, you can overcome language barriers and become a confident communicator. Embrace the journey, celebrate small victories, and watch as your language skills flourish. Happy learning!

  • Language Learning With Music

    Language learning can be a challenging but rewarding journey. While traditional methods such as textbooks and language apps are valuable, there's a delightful and unconventional tool that can enhance your language skills: music. Music has a universal appeal and the power to captivate, making it an enjoyable and effective aid in the language learning process. In this article, we'll explore how you can use music as a dynamic tool to accelerate your language learning journey. Listening and singing along helps with pronunciation, grammar assimilation, acquiring a natural cadence to the new language, comprehension, vocabulary development, cultural understanding, and it’s fun. Pronunciation: English is not really a phonetic language, nor is it syllabic. This means that we can’t really learn how to pronounce it unless we hear it in context. Music will give us the natural cadence to the language and inspire us to sing along for practice. Grammar understanding: While getting the right verb tense or grammar formation in a language is about understanding the structure and the formula for each grammar structure, I hear most frustration among my students when it comes to understanding when to use this or that tense or construct. This is really hard because depending on our emphasis, we might change verb tenses even in the same sentence. Sing Along to acquire a natural cadence: Singing along to the music is an engaging way to practice pronunciation and intonation. Mimic the artist's delivery, paying attention to the rhythm and melody. This not only improves your accent but also helps you internalize the language's natural cadence. Comprehension without translation Language learners often get stuck at the survival stage. They start learning and try to translate everything and while that’s fine in the beginning, it is really tough to do that all the time. Too many words, not enough anchors to the language to support those words. Music is repetitive and fast…too fast to translate. So even if you don’t understand, you can allow the language to seep in as you sing along. This will allow for a more natural acquisition and boost your ability to understand a new word in a future because things will “click” you’ve heard, and even sung the word before. Build Your Vocabulary: Songs are a treasure trove of vocabulary. While making a list of unfamiliar words and phrases, and then exploring their meanings is one way to use music to increase your vocabulary, I recommend instead, just trying to keep up with the song and noticing the words you know. Each time you hear the word, it becomes more and more familiar to you. Research shows that we need to be exposed to a new thing multiple times before it sinks into our long-term memory. Contextual learning through music can make vocabulary acquisition more memorable and enjoyable. Cultural Insights: Music often reflects the culture from which it originates. Use songs as a window into the customs, traditions, and societal themes of the language you're learning. This cultural context enhances your understanding of the language in a broader sense. It’s fun! When we have negative feelings, anger, anxiety, fear, we reduce our ability to learn. When we listen to music, we can let go of those feelings and just enjoy the moment. As we learn each song and start to sing along, even if we don’t understand the words at first, we enjoy ourselves and the language starts to flow around us. We lower our filters and the language can get more traction in our brains. Some Tips Use the official video and find the lyrics on a simple google search. I have found that many youtubers who put music with lyrics karaoke style get the lyrics wrong. Also, Listen to music you like. Don’t just look for music you can understand. I used I Want You To Have It All by Jason Mraz with low level learners and we had so much fun because the song is fun. So don’t pick slow boring songs just because they are easier to understand. I’m not picking on the Beatles when I say, they really didn’t speak to my students in the way that Jason Mraz and Bob Marley did. And if you are a teacher, don’t assume that what is relaxing to you is the same for your students. I love indie folk and Taylor Swift but my students are uninspired by her and like to relax with the Black Eyed Peas. Conclusion: Incorporating music into your language learning journey adds a vibrant and enjoyable dimension to the process. From vocabulary building to improving pronunciation and cultural understanding, music is a versatile and powerful tool. So, tune in, sing along, and let the rhythm of language guide you toward fluency. Here are some of my students’ favorite songs to practice English to:

  • 10 English Idioms you simply MUST know.

    Learning a new language can be a challenging yet rewarding journey. One of the exciting aspects of mastering a foreign language is delving into its rich tapestry of idioms and expressions. Idioms are those quirky and often colorful phrases that don't always make literal sense but are an essential part of everyday language. In the world of English, idioms are like hidden gems, waiting to be discovered and understood. In this blog post, we'll explore 10 essential English idioms that every learner should know. 1. "Break a Leg" Meaning: Wishing someone good luck or success. Origin: This idiom comes from the theater world, where saying "good luck" is considered bad luck, so actors started saying "break a leg" instead. 2. "Piece of Cake" Meaning: Refers to something that is very easy to do. Usage: "The English grammar test was a piece of cake for him." 3. "Bite the Bullet" Meaning: Facing a difficult or unpleasant situation with courage and determination. Origin: This idiom dates back to the days before anesthesia when soldiers would bite on a bullet during surgery to endure the pain. 4. "The Ball Is in Your Court" Meaning: The next move or decision is up to someone. Usage: "I've given you all the information you need; now the ball is in your court." 5. "Cost an Arm and a Leg" Meaning: Something is very expensive. Usage: "The new smartphone costs an arm and a leg, but it's worth it." 6. "Hit the Nail on the Head" Meaning: To describe something perfectly or to be absolutely correct. Usage: "You've hit the nail on the head with your analysis of the situation." 7. "A Piece of the Pie" Meaning: A share or part of something, usually referring to profits or benefits. Usage: "Everyone deserves a piece of the pie when the project is successful." 8. "Walking on Eggshells" Meaning: Being very cautious and delicate in a situation to avoid upsetting someone or making a mistake. Usage: "After their argument, he's been walking on eggshells around her." 9. "Don't Cry Over Spilled Milk" Meaning: Don't waste time worrying about something that has already happened and can't be changed. Usage: "I made a mistake, but there's no use crying over spilled milk." 10. "A Drop in the Bucket" Meaning: A small or insignificant amount in comparison to the whole. Usage: "The money we raised so far is just a drop in the bucket compared to what we need for the project." Learning and using idioms like these can greatly enhance your English language skills and help you connect more naturally with native speakers. Idioms are a fascinating aspect of language that adds depth and nuance to your communication. They're also a window into the culture and history of the language, often with interesting origins and stories behind them. So, as you continue your journey in learning English, remember that mastering idioms is like discovering the hidden treasures of the language, allowing you to express yourself with more flair and authenticity. Keep these 10 essential idioms in your toolbox, and soon you'll be speaking English like a pro!

  • Overcoming Anxiety in English Language Learning: Find the Joy

    Crashen called it the Affective Filter. We all know Anxiety messes with our brain. This is how it messes things up when it comes to learning languages. I want to introduce you to a student of mine. Her name is Xiali. She is 45 years old and she is from Asia. Xia reminds me of the students I used to have when I was a ski instructor at Park City Mountain Resort. I specialized in the women who came to learn to ski because their husbands and boyfriends wanted them to learn so they could ski together. These women were scared. Some of them wouldn’t have admitted it, but they were not there with a mindset of “this is fun.” They were there because they were doing it for someone else. Their fear kept them from loving it. Or maybe the fact that they were not doing it for themselves kept them from loving it and because they didn’t love it, they feared it. Xia is very much like this executive’s wife.. She is here to support her child who is studying in the states. Her husband and younger child are back home. She is not here for herself and she misses more than she enjoys. My job, as her teacher, is to help her find the joy. Love it! This is a key to learning and retention of anything. When we LOVE IT and we choose it for ourselves, we are more likely to embrace it rather than fight against it. Xia is fighting against it. She is holding on so tightly to needing the control of a language experience that she blocks her own brain from the language coming in. She wants to translate and understand every word. Just like that executive’s wife in the early nineties on the ski-hill wanted to understand each muscle and edge. The theory got in the way. They used the theory to block themselves from the joy. Xia is not unusual. I have met many English language learners who struggle because they fight against the unknown and want control that they can’t have right now. Xia wants to do it perfectly. She wants to understand everything. She gets in her own way. How do I help Xia? I try to gently take the translator away during class. I try to gently listen as she speaks. I really listen and try to understand all she means behind the two or three words she is able to remember through her anxiety. I praise her. And, I do two more things. They may seem like opposites at first, but they are not. I listen to music with her. I give her the lyrics to read and I tell her to sing along. She wants to translate every word. I sit with her and sing and point so she can’t translate. I do this so she can start to get the rhythm of the language. I encourage her to underline the words she knows and I tell her not to worry about what she doesn’t know. I want her to feel the music, enjoy it and have an enjoyable English experience. I want the pressure off of her. I help her focus on the known. When she listens, I want her to recognize what she knows and not what she doesn’t know. I ask her to underline what she knows. I help her see that she knows a lot I praise her for knowing so much. I stay away from what she doesn’t know. I trust that these gentle tactics well help her overcome her anxiety. Learning anything is impossible if our anxiety is too high. I learned this while ski instructing but it is true for all learning. Finally, I speak slower. Crashen called it I+1. What is understandable is real. What is not, might as well have not been said. If they don’t understand it…I didn’t say it. I remember that and I help Xia focus on what she understood. I want her to Build confidence in what she knows Trust her own listening. I’m not completely sure of all Xia is coming to class with. I know she is coming with a full life. I want to help her unlock it in English. I have to get her out of her head first.

  • Welcome to Language in theXarden

    Hi all, I am an English teacher. I’d like to tell you my story and what I’ve learned from 14 years of teaching ESL to adults, all the PD I’ve attended, and what I gained from a TESOL Master’s degree about how we learn languages. The topics for this blog are taken from that experience and what I learn about language learning from the students I currently teach. Most ESL professionals in the adult world cobble together a full-time career out of several part-time gigs. 80% of our field in the US is part time. I work at one private ESL school for 18 contact-hours a week (that’s time in front of students, not prepping) four mornings a week. I also work for a state-funded program for immigrants for 6 contact-hours two evenings a week, and I work for another private ESL school for 14 contact-hours a week two nights a week. Some of those positions pay for prep and others do not. None are benefitted positions. This is the nature of the career. All of those jobs together give me 94 students that I see and teach per week. This doesn’t include the students I work with for free in exchange for their media releases so I can film them as part of our English in theXarden content. So, let’s round up. 100 students a week to learn from. So what am I learning? This Blog will tell you. Reading Writing Speaking Listening Neuroscience in the Adult Language Learner Anxiety

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