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11 05, 2014

The Best Resources for Self-Study Language Learning

Give your motivation an outlet You're really keen to start speaking your new language and after your language classes each week you review what you've learned and do your homework. But you'd love to be doing more - and more you should! The best, quickest way to learn to speak a new language is to practice it everyday. A little everyday gets your brain used the way this new language works, AND it means you have no time to forget what you've already learned, meaning you can progress faster. So what can you do to keep progressing? There are many ways to practice and improve your language skills, one of which is through buying a text book and studying at home. Have you been burned before? If you've decided that a text book is a way forward for you, the next step is choosing and buying the book. And here's where things get dangerous. The quality of textbooks varies widely, and has very little to do with the price. If you're buying a language book for the first time, its difficult to know if you are making the right purchase. The wrong purchase, as well as costing you money, is also very demotivating and a killer for your language progress, as you have on your hands a text book that you can't use and don't want to use, and that is completely unsuited to your learning needs. What to avoid in a textbook So how to choose an appropriate textbook? Firstly, stay clear of anything that promises outrageous results. Any "learn to speak in 3 months" or "10-minutes a day" book is not a book for you. So is a book that only provides explanations [...]

14 04, 2014

Your fascination with Russian

Russia is a hot topic Russia is all over the news lately. From the Sochi Olympics to the Ukraine uprising, from civil rights protests to the Syrian civil war, not a single day passes without the dominant and firm figure of Vladimir Poutin showing up on the media, smile-less as ever. This might be a subtle reminder of the somehow forgotten power of the Russian Federation, but there is more to Russia than its politics. There is its Language. Russian is spoken by more people than you think Needless to say that with over 140 million native speakers, Russian is one of the most spoken languages in the world. In fact, it is one of the official languages of the United Nations, and is adopted by 6 countries as their official language. But aside those boring facts, its History hides some interesting twists. Russian has a fascinating history Up to the 14th century, the main cultural and political center in eastern Europe was not Moscow, rather Kiev, a city that is clearly stating its independences from the growing Moscovite influence. At that time, people in Kiev and Moscow were speaking two dialects of the same language: Eastern Slavic and Old Russian language. Today, these dialects, along with Bielorussian, have become different languages. Russian is an international language with international roots The political and cultural power shifting to Moscow contributed further to the evolution of the Russian Language. This was marked by the appearance of Polish and German words into the language, modifying it from the official state language, which was still old Russian. This era was then followed by an important wave of reforms initiated by Peter the great to standardise the alphabet and modernise [...]

26 02, 2014

Word of the day

Abklatschen Batti il cinque دق عليها Chócala Jīzhǎng Tape-là How to get the most out of a Language? Watching a movie, listening to songs or reading a book in your target language are some of the best ways to improve your language skills. But have you ever thought of learning just ONE new word every day? Let us look at the advantages: • An average human’s common day to day vocabulary is roughly 2000 words. So if you learn a new word every day, just by this technique alone, over a year’s time you will have not only mastered 353 words (not taking into consideration the Sundays), but you will be able to effectively use 50% of the words learnt in a normal conversation. (Keep reading to find out more) • Pondering, recollecting and retaining the word learnt each day is sure to boost your memory skills. • You will sound really cool and feel like you belong when you learn and use some hip, trendy and colloquial words. • It will take hardly 5 minutes to learn a word. How time consuming would that be? How to choose: • There are many “Word of the day” internet sites and apps available, but if you are looking for a more consistent set of vocabulary, you can start by looking up words that you are most likely to use in your conversations. Here is a pretty awesome online multilingual dictionary: www.wordreference.com How to remember: • Once you are quite happy with the chosen word, the best way to retain it in your memory is to make a simple sentence, through which you will have [...]

27 01, 2014

Free tools for language learning

The best way to learn a language is to be exposed to it regularly - the quickest way you can learn is by reviewing and extending your language skills every single day. The longer you have between classes, the more time your knowledge has to slide away from the active part of your brain, and to wedge itself somewhere that requires a lot of effort to bring back to the surface so you can use it in everyday conversation. Your aim when learning a language is to be able to speak without having to think about the words and structures you are using. You want to be able to speak naturally, fluently and confidently, so that communicating is less about the language and more about the message. If you forget half of what you learn in between classes, then achieving this goal is going to take a long time. So what can you do between classes to make sure your classes are spent learning new material, and not revising old material that you know you know but can't quite recall just now? Speed up your language learning Whatever it is you do, make sure you do it regularly. No matter how busy you are, you can always fit in 10 minutes of language learning - at least 6 days out of 7. As well as revising your notes, reading books and newspapers and watching television (and a million other options) there are also a number of free tools out there that you can use for a short time everyday to make sure you are getting the most out of your language learning, and are progressing at a nice measurable speed. Using these tools can help [...]

27 12, 2013

The Benefits of Language Learning

As 2014 approaches people are considering and deciding on all sorts of painful New Year's Resolutions. Losing weight, getting fit and saving money are all noble goals, but the reason we aren't doing these things already is because they are hard work and not much fun. The world continues to shrink and we become closer to our neighbours through ever improving means of transport and communication. Now more than ever speaking a foreign language is an essential skill for both improving our career and business options, and for improving our personal lives through increased opportunities when travelling and for making friends and interacting with our local and global community. Learning and speaking a foreign language keeps your mind active and opens your mind to a whole new culture and way of living and thinking. As Charlemagne said, to speak a second language is to possess a second soul. The best thing about learning a new language is how much fun it can be. Learning a language is social, full of laughs, and a thoroughly enjoyable experience. You have classmates who are also learning this language and who are experiencing the same joys and frustrations as you, who support you and share their experiences with you. You have teachers who are there because they love teaching this language to the point that they have made it their career. You can see yourself improving week on week and starting to speak with more fluency and more confidence. And you know that this experience is giving you a valuable skill that is fun and world-enlarging to use and experience. Speaking a foreign language is an invaluable skill. Acquiring this skill is fun, social and rewarding.

11 12, 2013

Speaking French in the Arab world

Colonisation, occupation, trade and globalisation have left their mark on every language in the world. All languages have adopted a large range of vocabulary from their neighbours, occupiers, and "occupees". Although English may have deja vu, laissez faire and RSVP, this is next-to-nothing compared to the extent that French has became part of the language of many Arabic speaking countries, particularly in North Africa and the "West" of the Middle-East. If you want to learn the dialects of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia or Lebanon, an ability to speak French is almost a prerequisite. The below commentaries are written by individuals remarking on the unique situation in these countries. They help to better understand the extent of French influence on these languages. You can click on these commentaries to read the full documents. Turn on the radio and you will hear Tunisians speak sentences in which Arabic nouns follow French adjectives followed by Arabic verbs and French adverbs. Officially in Morocco, the French language is considered a foreign language, but once you go to a Moroccan government agency you will notice that, in fact, you are the one who is the foreigner. Everything is written in French, from documents to the door mount nameplates on the gates of offices and pavements. Diplomats coming to Algeria after serving elsewhere in the region are amazed that Algerians rarely finish a sentence in the same language they started it in. When Randa Makhoul, an art teacher at a school in Beirut, asks her students a question in Arabic, she often gets a reply in English or French. So, if you've been studying Arabic with plans of travelling to or living in one of these countries, don't forget to pack a [...]

26 11, 2013

Keeping Motivated

One of the most essential aspects of language learning is motivation. However, maintaining motivation, especially if you are learning outside the country where the language is spoken, can be difficult. The problem with losing motivation is that if you don't practice for a while, your language skills start going backwards. If you are motivated, you will find all sorts of opportunities to practice and progress in your language, so that even after a few months you can be significantly ahead of your classmates who don't have this motivation. Here are some ideas for keeping your motivation high: Set a measurable goal and write it down. Look at it often Imagine what it will be like once you achieve your goal. Picture yourself speaking your language with confidence, laughing at jokes and watching movies in this language that you will master Be realistic in your expectations. Don't expect too much of yourself, but make sure you push yourself Find enjoyable ways to study that don't require too much brainpower. Study that is too difficult is study that you can't maintain longterm Practice a lot. If you practice, you will progress, and noticing yourself progress is a great way of keeping yourself motivated Keep your goal in mind, and keep it fun. Centre your learning around practical activities and real communication. Learn with others. Learn in an enjoyable environment. Buy textbooks that are too easy rather than too hard, and that progress in slow, achievable, step by step chunks. Stay away from methods that promise fluency in a week/3 months, etc. These will give you unrealistic expectations and go too fast to be enjoyable. It is almost impossible for even the most motivated learner to progress through [...]

11 11, 2013

Learning the Arabic Alphabet

The Arabic Alphabet is so attractive it looks like art - and is often used as art to decorate buildings, castles and mosques. A trip to the south of Spain or any Arab city in the world will let you see this alphabet used to decorate a large number of historic and modern buildings. Knowing the Arabic Alphabet is a crucial step in learning how to communicate in Arabic. Although Arabic only has 29 letters, things a a bit complicated because some of these letters change shape depending on where they are placed in the word (if they are at the start, middle or end of the word, or if they are sitting on their own with no letters either side of them). In addition, Arabic vowels are indicated by writing small signs above and below the main letters. A great first step in learning to read and write Arabic is learning the names of letters. A song such as the one above is a great memory aid. In addition to learning the names of the letters, you need to get down and dirty and learn how to write and read the letters based in all their forms. Some information on the Arabic Alphabet: The Arabic Alphabet: Has 29 letters: ا ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن و هـ ي ء Is written from right to left: كتبت ثلاثة كتب اليوم قبل الفطور Has short vowels written above and below the letters: أّدْرُس الْلُغَة الْعَرَبِيَة مُنْذُ سَنَة Has letters that look different depending on where they are placed in the word: تتكلم البنت كثيراً Has some letters [...]

4 11, 2013

Reading for Fluency

The ability to read another language is a key component of fluency. Reading is also a great way to improve your overall language skills. In today's information rich world, written media is very intermingled with daily life. If you are a person who likes to read, then reading also comes with the added benefit of being an enjoyable pastime rather than a difficult study session. If you are learning a language, get reading today! Ignore the words you don't know, unless you need need need them to understand the meaning of the paragraph. Try guessing the meaning of the word before you look it up in the dictionary. The aim of the exercise is to expand your vocabulary in a natural way, without sweating over the meaning of individual words. If the approximate meaning of a word is not clear from the context, then forget about it - you may read it later on in a way that makes the meaning more clear. If you read that a man held a schniquerpuff in his hand, is it not important to the story to know exactly what a schniquerpuff is? Don't memorise the new vocabulary you come across when reading. In reading you come across a lot of useful vocabulary, but you also can come across archaic vocabulary and vocabulary that is rarely used, or only used in the written form of the language. As a learner you cannot tell what vocabulary is useful to you, and what vocabulary is a waste of time. Over time you will know which words are important, because these are the words you will come across again and again in reading speaking and listening to the language you are learning. [...]

21 10, 2013

Learning to read and write Korean

The Korean alphabet has to be the most logical alphabet in the world. Prior to 1443 the Korean language was written using Chinese characters. The Korean alphabet was created during the Joseon dynasty. As a relatively new alphabet, it has not been subject to changes in pronunciation and orthography and the introduction of new words from other languages to the same extent as more ancient alphabets. The Korean alphabet, called Hangeul, is therefore extremely logical, and very easy to learn. There are 14 consonants and 10 vowels, although some vowels can be used in combination to produce a new vowel sound. In Hangeul, each "block" of letters represents one syllable. For example: New Zealand in Korean is pronounced "nyu-jil-laen-deu". In Korean, you can see that each syllable is written as a separate "block": 뉴 질 랜 드. Are you interested to learn Korean? [ Click here for more information about our Korean classes ] Language hub has a wide variety of classes to learn your favourite language. An individual syllable can be made up two or more individual letters. This is the same as in English – for ex-am-ple each sy-lla-ble in this sen-tence is made up of a diff-er-ent num-ber of let-ters. A syllable block is read from left to right and from top to bottom. If we analyse the word New Zealand 뉴 질 랜 드 we will see the first syllable is made up of ㄴ+ㅠ, then ㅈ+ㅣ+ㄹ, then ㄹ+ㅐ+ㄴ then ㄷ+ㅡ. The Korean alphabet is much simpler and more logical than the English alphabet. Get started learning the alphabet today with the video below. Because the Korean alphabet is so simple, you will find classes at the [...]