quinta-feira, 27 de junho de 2013

Learn a language? Why? Which? How?

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Why learn a language?

Travel
Even a little knowledge of the language can make a difference in attitude when you meet people from other countries. Speaking another language helps to break down barriers.
Work and business
It can help you give an added advantage in your career if you work for an international firm or a company with international customers or contacts.
Music, film, arts and culture
If you like literature, fims or music from other countries, learning the language will help your appreciation and understanding.
For a challenge
You can learn a language in short, bite-sized sessions and you'll enjoy a sense of satisfaction from achieving short-term goals, such as learning how to say hello, introducing yourself or numbers 1-10.
Related Internet links

Which language to learn? Which is the easiest/hardest?

In general, the more similar a language is to your own in terms of sounds, grammar or vocabulary, the easier you’ll find it to learn.
Different languages pose different challenges for each individual.
For example, you may find vocabulary easier to learn in one language but its pronunciation harder. With another language you may find the opposite.
Have a taster of the 20 languages most widely spoken in the world to help you decide: A Guide to Languages

How to learn a language

There's no single universal foolproof method to learn a language. Try different ones and use the one that works for you, or a combination.
Little and often is best. Ten minutes every day tends to be more effective and manageable than a longer session once a week.
Mistakes are part of the learning process. Have a go and you'll learn much more quickly: most native speakers will already appreciate you making an effort.
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Listen to language learning CDs or podcasts during idle times, such as when travelling to work.
Watch TV and video online in the language you're learning. You may not understand much of it but it will help you get used to how the language sounds and, with the help of the visuals, you'll pick up odd words and phrases.
Write words on post-it notes and stick them around the house.
Say phone numbers out loud, make shopping and other lists or memorise orders in a bar or restaurant.
Repeat activities to consolidate what you've learnt.
Visit to a place where you can use the language you're learning - if anything, it will keep you motivated.
Find a learning partner.
Go back every now and again to something you did early on. You may be surprised at how much you've learnt.


Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/learn/index.shtml#why

segunda-feira, 24 de junho de 2013

The Great Pretender?



Fui visitar Alexandra em seu escritório na Vila Olímpia. Ela me ligou com urgência, dizendo que precisava de ajuda, pois receberia uma comitiva estrangeira no dia seguinte.  

- But...what is wrong? - eu perguntei, sem saber o que havia de errado, afinal, ela era uma aluna muito boa e uma grande speaker.  

- I am afraid of it - ela disse com a voz trêmula e quase sussurrando

- I don't think I am able to do it.  

- How come? 

Well,  ela estuda comigo há quatro meses e quando a ouvi falar pela primeira vez, confesso que cheguei a conclusão que não havia anything que eu pudesse fazer pelo inglês dela: pronúncia corretíssima, uso cuidadoso das estruturas gramaticais, intonação natural e um vasto vocabulário que fazia dela, na minha opinião, um aluno que só precisaria praticar e Go Further para não perder o que ela tinha conseguido, além de update seus conhecimentos. Será que ela tinha me trapaceado esse tempo todo? 

Sim, há pessoas que são grandes pretenders em suas empresas. Eles imitam sotaques, arranham frases here e there, mas na verdade, não conseguem sair do script que memorizaram. Há muitos pretenders fazendo entrevistas de emprego e passando na seleção, pois eles sabem by heart, todas as perguntas e respostas a serem dadas. Assim como um ator memoriza seu script, esses pretenders memorizam o que precisam dizer, mas na hora que surge uma reunião ou um telefonema, eles passam a bola para outro jogador. Alexandra não parecia ser uma Great Pretender desse tipo... Será que eu tinha me enganado?

Fui até o escritório dela - uma empresa de contadores muito conhecida no mercado -  e ela me recebeu no elevador falando baixinho.  

- How are you today? - perguntei no meu tom de voz usual. 

- I am fine, teacher. - ela disse - Come with me, I have a meeting room for us.  

- Where is your desk? - eu perguntei.

- It is over there! -  disse ela apontando para uma mesa típica de secretária, no meio de outras tantas em um espaço amplo que servia de ilha para um mar de salinhas, e em cada uma das salas, um diretor ou um gerente que elas tinham que atender - Why? 

- Can we chat over there? - eu perguntei - I am a little claustrophobic and I can't be inside a meeting room for more than five minutes.  

- No! - ela disse. Eu sabia que ela não toparia. Naquele ambiente opressor de escritório, eu tinha certeza que o medo dela vinha das mesas ao lado. Eu não precisava ser um Sherlock Holmes para adivinhar que naquele ambiente competitivo, quem falava melhor inglês deveria deixar isso bem claro ao corrigir as colegas ou competir para mostrar quem tinha mais fluência ou cosia parecida.   

- Do you really want my help? - perguntei.  

- Of course! - ela disse. 

- So, trust me. Let's have a chat over there.  Fomos até a mesa dela e assim que sentamos, ela começou a falar português.  

- Eu não consigo, teacher!  

- Claro que consegue. Breathe in and breathe out e let it flow.  

- Não é assim tão fácil - ela explicou - Desde que vim para esse escritório, não consigo mais falar inglês. Fico me comparando com as outras secretárias o tempo todo. Nem na aula que eu faço com você, eu consigo falar mais.  

- Mas eu te ouvi falando tantas vezes. - Porque eu tive que fazer isso. Cada palavra que eu falo lá ou aqui, é como se eu estivesse arrancando um dente da minha boca. Dói demais... 

- Alexandra, eu sou apenas um professor de línguas. Não posso te ajudar a lidar com medo ou fobias, acho que se você esta sofrendo assim, deveria procurar realmente outro tipo de ajuda. 

- Mas e se eu aprender mais vocabulário ou fazermos uma revisão gramatical? Não acha que eu preciso estudar mais? 

- Todos nós precisamos estudar more and further, mas honestamente, você acha que ter mais aulas teóricas é mesmo a melhor solução? Como eu te falei, eu sou apenas um professor de idiomas e se posso ajudar é apenas em compartilhar com você sobre a minha experiência nessa área. Eu já fui um aluno antes e sei o que é ter medo de se expor num meio tão competitivo, mas também sei que apesar desse problema existir, ter medo é uma escolha que fazemos. E entre ter medo e manter o meu emprego , eu escolho a segunda opção. Se for o caso, que eles demitam você por se comunicar e não pelo seu silêncio. 

Ela ficou pensativa e eu me perguntando se eu estava fazendo a coisa certa em bancar o psicólogo ou o terapeuta; then, eu me dei conta, que educar é um pouco de cada coisa. Nunca fora apenas passar informação, eu sempre soube que cuidar dos meus alunos era assegurar que eles continuassem motivados e que acreditassem em seus potenciais. Professores não podem ter medo de estarem sendo isso ou aquilo, acredito que o nosso dever é sempre visar a melhoria de nossos alunos no matter what. 

-  Well, that's what I think and believe me or not, you have one of the most beautiful voices in English that I have ever heard - eu disse, por fim

- So... - So... - ela disse, respirando profundamente -  This  is my desk. As you can see, I am not so organised , but I can find my way.- ela disse sorrindo e falando, voz trêmula e baixa, mas ela seguiu me apresentando seu escritório em inglês e treinando o que diria aos estrangeiros no dia seguinte. 

 E eu que achei que dar aula era apenas colocar o livro em cima da mesa...

quinta-feira, 20 de junho de 2013

Conquer Your Fear of Making Mistakes when Speaking English!

by ROBBY



If you’re a foreign English speaker – there’s a 90% chance you are because you’re reading my blog! – you’re most likely familiar with anxiety of making mistakes when speaking English.

You know – it’s the feeling when you’d gladly say something when chatting in English with someone, but you hold it inside because you’re not sure you’ll get it right.

In the most extreme cases you might even be avoiding communication only not to experience embarrassment and humiliation! That’s when it gets really serious because no matter how badly you fear making mistakes, you’re not going to improve your spoken English simply because you’re not speaking enough 

So how to deal with this anxiety and how to overcome your fear of making mistakes?


1. Fear of Making Mistakes Feeds on Itself!

I think that the majority of foreign English speakers have to admit that FEAR of making mistakes when speaking English is one of the main factors inhibiting our spoken English fluency.

We all can definitely remember situations when we’ve made a mistake when speaking or attempting to speak, and that has made us feel insecure, embarrassed and ashamed of our level of spoken English.

The more similar situations we encounter, the more conscious we become, and fear of making mistakes constantly feeds on itself. So what initially shows up only as moments of slight embarrassment can grow into a proper speech anxiety, and you can start avoiding contacting other English speaking people to avoid those embarrassing situations 

And this is where it gets serious. While being a bit confused and making an odd mistake here and there is absolutely normal, those foreign English speakers who are constantly worried about making mistakes have their English improvement seriously impeded; in other words – they find it hard to enjoy themselves when speaking English.

2. Where This Fear Comes From?

So where does this fear of making mistakes come from and why it’s so prevalent among foreign English speakers?

I think there are a couple of reasons for that, and the biggest of them goes back to your school days when you studied English sitting behind a desk.

Just think about this – at school you are aiming to achieve good grades, so every mistake you make downgrades your assessment in your English teacher’s eyes. While generally students are encouraged to speak and express themselves, at the same time your knowledge is constantly assessed and checked against the existing standards.

Such system works pretty well in exact subjects such as Math, and similar, where you are literally required to memorize formulas and to able to perform certain calculations whereby making a mistake would result in a wrong answer.

English speaking is a completely different matter altogether, I would rather put English is the same subject category with Arts and Music because when you learn a language it’s more about being able to improvise and express yourself in a unique way rather than cram something into your brain and then re-produce the very exact knowledge 

So in other words, I believe that the existing English teaching system at school is responsible for many foreign English speakers being way too conscious of mistakes they’re making. They feel as if they’re still sitting behind a desk in an English class and if they say something that isn’t 100% correct, they’ll get a bad grade.

Another reason for many foreign English speakers being too worried about making mistakes when speaking is their type of personality. If you aren’t very confident and you generally tend to be a bit on the shy side, you can find it very intimidating when speaking with an English speaker and making mistakes.

It’s basically down to feeling like a lesser person, and none of us like feeling that way, do we?

So if you’re one of those folks who are anxious about making mistakes, here’s what I’ll tell you.

You have to change your mindset regarding how you perceive mistakes made during a conversation!

A slip of a tongue when speaking isn’t the same as making a permanent mistake when performing some practical task. If you’re a shop assistant and you make a mistake when giving a change to your customer, it’s a real mistake.

If you make a small mistake when thanking your customer for making a purchase, it’s an entirely different matter. You can always go back and correct yourself, so you have to start looking at mistakes made during English speech in a similar way you’d regard mistakes during a musical performance.

When you sing despite not being a professional artist, it doesn’t really matter that much if you’re off tune on a couple of notes, or if your voice is a bit shaky because you’re nervous on stage. Once you’re hitting the main notes right and you carry yourself with a head held high, you’re 100% fine, and people will still be getting the song’s message, they’ll feel your heart and soul through the song.

And the same goes with speaking English. You’re not a professional English speaking artist which means that you’re not a native English speaker. But similar to what I just said about signing performance, as far as you’re smiling and being friendly and the small mistakes you make aren’t as big as to create a real communication barrier, you’re fine! 

You see, the thing is that nine out of ten native English speakers and also other English speaking people in general will see much more in your English speech than just words. It’s about how you look at people; it’s about your emotions when you speak, your facial expressions, your gestures and so on 

And it’s not a secret that the biggest part of the message you get across to the other person consists of those components than just words.

Of course, as I said previously, if your mistakes create a real communication barrier, it does become an issue indeed, so you need to make 100% sure you’re getting the basics right, there’s no doubt about that!

But the main point of today’s lesson is that if you constantly fear making mistakes when speaking English with people, you will avoid real communication and therefore you will find it very hard to improve your communication skills!

3. Speaking English Is Much More Than Just Words!

There’s much more to speaking English than just being able to speak. It’s actually more about facing other people, especially people you speak with for the first time, or important people, and the related stress you’re experiencing and how it affects your verbal performance.

You may even find yourself in a strange situation when you can speak with much fewer mistakes with certain people or when you practice your spoken English with yourself.

When you go out there and face real life communication, however, you might make a whole lot more mistakes because during real communication you get stressed out a bit, or you face non-standard questions so you’re required to improvise when speaking, and it all adds up creating a brand new dimension of English speaking.

So basically if you perceive mistakes during English speech as something terrifying, as something that you make and it stays there, and you can’t correct, or as something that will definitely make others laugh about you and you’ll end up being humiliated, then you definitely have to change the way you see mistakes.

You have to start seeing them as an integral part of being a foreign English speaker, you simply have to tell yourself: “Making mistakes is normal” whenever you feel onset of fear and anxiety if there’s a prospect of speaking with someone.

But don’t think I’m condoning speaking in bad, broken English without trying to improve it. That’s not what I’m saying at all, you definitely need to work on your spoken English skills to make sure you get English grammar right and also that you use proper words and phrases and so on.

Every time you feel onset of fear when there’s a prospect of a conversation with someone in English, don’t avoid the conversation, simply jump into it as if you’re jumping in a swimming pool from a jumping board!

Robby

Source: 

sexta-feira, 14 de junho de 2013

Enchantment



"Sem encantamento não há aprendizado" , eu repito e repito, mas será que essas aulas que ministro onde misturo arte e linguagem dão mesmo resultado? 

Se o aluno vive angustiado sem saber se um dia dominará seu objeto de estudo, o professor também vive em conflito, se perguntando se o aluno está realmente aprendendo ou se é preciso mudar algo que possa possibilitar um melhor resultado, mas o feedback de um aprendizado só aparece mesmo quando o professor nota o brilho do " learner" aparecer no olho de um aluno e em seu empenho em se melhorar. 

Bianca é uma aluna nova; e exatamente igual a tantos outros casos de alunos com bloqueio de comunicação, ela fala e compreende muito bem, porém acredita otherwise (o contrário). 

Temos trabalhado para que ela possa se dar conta disso; para alunos como ela, não adianta dizermos o quanto eles são bons, eles precisam perceber isso por conta própria. 

Nessas horas, livros, apostilas, mil gramáticas e milhões de vocabulários da língua estudada não possuem o poder de uma canção que toque em seus corações ou de uma palavra compreendida e trabalhada, que possa ser usada como brincadeira em aula, desenho de pintura, alvo de giz de cera ou poesia que possa ser flexibilizada.

- Otherwise é uma palavra que eu nunca aprenderia - disse ela. 

- Why not? - perguntei eu - ela pode ser " senão, do contrário, diferentemente, diferente, outro" and so on. Otherwise possui tantos significados. 

- Porque acho ela feia e muito formal e nunca perderia meu tempo para lembrá-la.

- E você gosta da palavra wisdom?

- Sim, ela evoca realmente o sentido de sabedoria. Wisdom é uma palavra bonita. 

- Ora, quem tem wisdom é um sábio, Bianca, e sábio em inglês é...

- Wise!

- E não existe apenas um wise nesse mundo, há sempre outro wise que possa nos ajudar a compreender melhor as palavras...

- Other...

- Precisamos de muitos others wises, senão ... senão... O mundo seria muito boring. Como se diria " senão" em inglês, se não houvesse otherwise? 

- Deve haver outras formas...

- Nenhuma tão wise quanto esta. - eu disse e ela sorriu; otherwise tinha encantado sua memória, por isso, ela decidiu escrevê-la em seu caderno em letras maiúsculas e pintou as letras como se pintasse desenhos. Naquele momento, Bianca era criança novamente e estava aprendendo sem pressa de reter tudo e com a paciência para artificar cada palavra. 

- Decidi algo, professor - ela disse com o brilho do learner no olhar - Vou colecionar as palavras, que na minha opinião, são as mais feias em inglês e torná-las bonitas. Posso enviá-las para o senhor ver como ficou? 

- It will be a pleasure! - respondi e nos despedimos. A vê-la sair, compreendi porque escolhi essa profissão e a importância da arte e da poesia nas aulas. Palavra por palavra, Bianca está sendo encantada e logo, essas palavras fluirão tão naturalmente em seu speech que trarão a confiança que mil aulas não conseguiram, isso não ocorreria otherwise. 

" Sem encantamento, não há aprendizado" - repeti baixinho para mim. 

- O que é isso, teacher? Falando sozinho? - era o You que acabava de chegar para a aula dele - Nossa, Teacher, duas semanas sem aula e quando volto, o teacher está falando sozinho. 

- Welcome back, You, but  how do You say...

quinta-feira, 13 de junho de 2013

Art-sy way to learn English

EXPLOPRING ENGLISH BY KEITH W.WRIGHT



It may be a creative craft to many but art can also be used to develop language skills.

ART-BASED activities are often mistakenly viewed by some teachers as a “recreation” or “leisure time” activity.

They see it as a much-needed “respite” period for themselves and their students.

In actuality, these activities are ideal teaching and learning tools, especially for developing English language skills.

In Early Childhood Education particularly, art should be seen as a vital, positive, learning and communication tool.

It should not serve only as an optional extra or something to do when a “diversion” or “time out” is needed from more mentally-challenging study.

Art can be used as a key medium for young learners to communicate and represent their own ideas, hidden feelings, inner emotions, past and present experiences as well as demonstrate their individual understanding of the world.

It is through art that learners are free to depict and express their personal interpretation, meaning and appreciation of people, places, things and events that are part of their immediate environment.

This can occur in a non-verbal form. Spelling skills are not required nor is a knowledge of correct grammatical structures.

Instead, the “picture” becomes the “message”, couched in a myriad of “pictorial words”.

Introducing terminology

While free artistic expression is important, art-related skills and techniques need to be taught and art-related knowledge imparted.

Over time, young learners should encounter art vocabulary such as medium, style, paint, pastel, clay, crayons, watercolour, lead pencil, charcoal, oil, acrylic, primary and secondary colours, line and texture.

Other terms that can be introduced include landscape, portrait, abstract, pop art, caricature, still life, cartoon, modern, contemporary, narrative, expressionism, classical, fine art, lithograph, sculpture, pottery and mosaic.

The advantages of the arts go well beyond appreciating the creativity of others or the personal enjoyment and satisfaction of having created something by yourself.

Artistic pursuits in a classroom can significantly add to the personal development of an individual — culturally, emotionally, cognitively, socially and even spiritually.

Art can be used to learn about the past, the present and what others think the future will bring.

It is a way of seeing the “magic” and “magnificence” of everyday things. Hidden lessons

It is through the personal encounter with works of art, such as art gallery visits, that students learn to “interpret”, to “critically analyse”, to “discern hidden and multiple meanings”, to “detect purpose” and to “respect alternative points of view”.

All these skills are “transferable” to the other art forms, ie. drama, dance, media and music. They can also be used to study an additional language such as English.

Throughout schooling, the learning of art involves students creating and reflecting on written, spoken, visual, kinaesthetic and auditory modes; either separately or in combination as multi-modal texts.

Through these experiences, students develop their abilities to listen and view attentively, and to work in metaphorical and symbolic ways.

They develop their oral skills, kinaesthetic memories and sensitivity to words.

They explore a variety of expressive forms as ways of creating content and learn to look for multiple meanings in texts.

Art is in fact a higher level or form of communication.

To this end, early childhood learners should be given the widest possible range of artistic-related encounters with examples of quality creative works.

From these experiences, children can discuss their feelings, emotions, imagination and use their communicative and interpretative skills to devise a more mature and committed approach to learning.

Skills at play

In the 4S Accelerated English Programme (4S-AEP) — six and not four Macro English Skills are taught and enhanced.

These skills are the receptive: reading, listening and viewing; and the productive: speaking, writing and interpreting.

Art is an excellent tool for teaching and enhancing the additional personal English language skills of viewing and interpreting.

Viewing a painting, be it a portrait, still life or a landscape, involves voluntary and involuntary personal discernment.

Interpretation comes into play as mental questions are asked: What am I seeing? What is it about? What does it mean?

When discussion ensues, speaking or writing is involved, thus putting in use four of the six Macro Skills.

The ability to “interpret” artistic images can be transferred to English “text” and “sounds”. Meanwhile, the quest for new information about English words and concepts that children need to express their feelings and ideas about particular art works can turn into a fulfilling lesson.

Comprehension talents are also enhanced while the opportunity to delve into a world of different visual experiences beyond the classroom and local community are maximised beyond measure.

In time, as the artistic encounters become more regular, varied and sophisticated, the personal development and social skills of the learners can reach new, higher and positive levels.

Self-confidence and self-esteem are clear visual results as is the positive attitudinal shift when learners are required to work cooperatively, sharing resources and acknowledging the contribution of others.

> Keith Wright is the author and creator of the 4S Approach To Literacy and Language (4S) — a modern, innovative and proven method of accelerating the learning of English.

The 4S methodology and the associated Accelerated English Programme (AEP) mentioned in this fortnightly column are now being used internationally to enhance the English proficiency of people with different competency levels.

E-mail
contact@4Sliteracy.com.au



Sources:http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2013/1/20/education/12322341&sec=education

quinta-feira, 6 de junho de 2013

How to learn a third language (while keeping your second one)



There’s a story you hear all the time from language learners. It goes something like this:

I took French in school, and I got pretty fluent at it by the end. But then I lived in Germany for a while and studied the language, and now when ever I try to speak French, it comes out in German.

And indeed, studies suggest that people’s brains may often only distinguish between two languages: “my language” and “other”, especially for languages learned later in life or that are less fluent.

But there are some people, and I’m one of them, who manage to maintain conversational fluency in multiple languages learned after childhood. It takes some initial investment, but the concept is quite simple. Here’s how.

You need to practise both languages simultaneously. I don’t mean at exactly the same time because obviously a word that leaves your mouth is only going to be in one language, but any day where you speak some of language X should also be a day where you speak some language Y. Or if you speak one language on Monday, speak the other one on Tuesday.

But don’t go for longer than a week without speaking all the languages you want to maintian separate from each other, especially when you’re at the early learning stages of a new language. It’s probably easiest to have certain people who you speak each language to, so that you can develop some associations, but basically this is it.

There are some intuitive-yet-counterintuitive reasons that this works. The counterintuitive part is that the total immersion model is generally considered the gold standard for language learning. But you only learn what you practise, and in immersion, you practise being a monolingual. If all you want is to be able to hold really fluent conversations in a single other language, then you should absolutely go for immersion.

But people who want to become translators don’t just practise speaking both languages, they practise translating between them, because this is a slightly different skill. And people who want to be fluent in multiple languages at the same time need to practise speaking multiple languages at the same time. If you want to go somewhere and surround yourself with a language, my suggestion is to spend an hour or two several nights a week doing sonething in the other language you want to maintain.

The brain is very plastic: it will do what you train it to do. But the brain is also very efficient, so if it rarely has to do something, then it won’t learn how to do it. Think about little kids learning another language: if they are exposed to people who speak to them in several languages, then they will learn several. But if they move to an area where a different language is spoken and have no more exposure to the other language, they will fairly quickly forget it entirely.

So what does this look like for adult learners in practise? A couple options: you can start two new languages at the same time (not for the faint of heart), or you can continue with a language you’ve been learning while starting a new one. The good news is that once you can hold a tolerable conversation in language 3, it’s probably pretty safely cordoned off from language 2. However if you start a language 4, you will need to be simultaneously active in both L2 and L3 in order to keep them separate. And for L5 you need to use all the previous ones.

Not the easiest thing in the world, but of the dozen or so languages that I’ve studied, it’s precisely those that I studied/spoke at the same time that never come out accidentally in place of each other, and it’s those that I studied separately that insist on lumping themselves in with another language. So that’s one testimonial. Anyone else have similar (or different) experiences?


Source: http://allthingslinguistic.tumblr.com/post/30755637624/how-to-learn-a-third-language-while-keeping-your

What do you think difficult?


segunda-feira, 3 de junho de 2013