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Assisting College Students with Foreign Language Learning Difficulties

Monday, July 2nd, 2018

Assisting College Students with Foreign Language Learning Difficulties

 

Students who have certain learning difficulties often struggle mightily to be successful. Add a foreign language, and that can be a formula for disaster. In some cases, a student may have no diagnosed learning difficulties, but may face significant struggles when learning a new language.

 

However, that doesn’t mean these students are doomed to fail. Whether it’s an ESL student attending an English speaking university, or simply a student attempting to meet a foreign language, graduation requirement, there are programs that can help.

 

1. Encourage Students with Emerging Difficulties to Get an Assessment

Sometimes, if a student has never faced a particular challenge, they may have a learning issue that has gone undiscovered. Any student who suddenly finds themselves struggling with learning a language should seek help and information.

 

For one thing, it is now believed that Foreign Language Learning Disability is real thing. In addition to this, a student may have found ways to compensate for another learning issue in the past. However, now that they are challenged to learn a new language, those methods may not work effectively.

 

Fortunately, there is help available. In order to comply with ADA regulations, colleges must provide assistance to students with learning difficulties. This includes conducting assessments for potential learning disabilities and providing students with accommodations.

 

Test

2. Students with Diagnosed Disabilities Should Review Their Accommodations and Use Them

Whether a student is newly diagnosed or has dealt with a language learning disability for some time, they are entitled to certain accommodations. Any student with a learning difficulty who is struggling to learn a new language, either as part of a class or to attend classes as a non-native speaker should know which accommodations they are entitled to.

 

Sadly, many students forego their accommodations, often for the following reasons:  

  • They aren’t aware they are entitled to them at the college level
  • They are unsure who to speak with about accommodations
  • They feel embarrassed to ask for the accommodations they are entitled to have.
  • They are new to the country and don’t understand their rights.

It’s important that students with foreign language difficulties have people to both educate and advocate for them.

 

3. Help Students Identify and Access the Help They Need

The good news is that there are many sources of help for students who struggle to learn a foreign language. First, the student must identify exactly what they are trying to accomplish, and what their specific struggles are. For example, one student may be struggling with a composition class because they aren’t used to writing in English. Another student may be graduation soon, but is having difficulty writing an entry level resume. A third student may be struggling to write up his personal statement for graduate school admission.

 

Once a student knows where they need help, it becomes easier to suggest resources for them. Sylvia Giltner from ResumesCentre says, “It’s common for students and others who aren’t native speakers to struggle with practical writing tasks. Fortunately, there is help for students to learn languages, and to cover any gaps in the meantime.”

 

Time Management

4. Tackle Other Roadblocks to Success Such as Time Management and Organization

When a student struggles with something academically, it is important to ensure that they stay on top of everything else. After all, adding on another difficulty or struggle just makes things worse. This is why it’s imperative that students work hard to drop any academic bad habits, and simply learn to stay on top of things.

 

The last thing a struggling student needs is to make things worse for themselves by falling behind. This is why it’s so important for students to identify other things that could stop them from being successful. These might include:  

  • Procrastination
  • Assignment Avoidance
  • Skipping Class
  • Disorganization
  • Pulling Too Many All-Nighters

Bad habits can distract from what the student really needs to work on, foreign language mastery. The good news is that there is a lot of help available for students who need to get focused. There are note taking apps that help students keep their work organized. There are also time management tools such as the Pomodoro system. There are even tools that can block certain websites so that students don’t get phased by distractions. Students can apply a few of these ‘fixes’ so that they can focus on their real goals.

 

Christopher Mercer, a founder of Citatior, notes: “I believe Pomodoro technique is the best way to stay focused and productive during language learning. It helped me not only learn Spanish and Chinese effectively but also coding languages.”

5. Explore All Language Learning Options

There is no single, best way to learn to speak a foreign language. This is a good thing, because in many instances, it isn’t that the student cannot learn a new language. Instead, the problem is that a particular teaching method just doesn’t work for them. To succeed, students should be encouraged to explore all of the options available to them.

 

For example, student who struggles to keep up in a large, lecture class may do well in a small classroom where students engage in conversation using the new language they are learning. Still another student may do best with an immersive experience. They might benefit from visiting neighborhoods, restaurants, and cultural centers or viewing TV shows and movies in a foreign language.

 

Many language apps and online language courses also offer multi-sensory learning experiences. Instead of simply listening to lectures, students also spend time viewing videos, listening to the language, and providing both typed and spoken feedback.

6. Wrapping Things Up

Student’s struggle with foreign languages for a variety of reasons. Some may have an organic learning disability. This may be directly related to learning a foreign language or not. These are students who need assistance ranging from getting an assessment to ensuring they have access to the accommodations they are qualified to receive. In addition, there are also students who simply need to find different pathways to language mastery. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools and apps available to them.

 

Learning a new language is something that everyone can accomplish. For some students, getting this done is just a bit more challenging. These are the students who just need a little help.


How to Learn a Language in Record Time: 13 Effective Ways

Monday, January 29th, 2018

How to Learn a Language in Record Time: 13 Effective Ways

Have you heard of the savant who learned to speak Icelandic in only one week?

Crazy, isn’t it?

Well, most polyglots—people who speak several languages—start speaking new languages quickly thanks to their previous experiences. In fact, the aforementioned polyglot and translator Daniel Tammet claims that he already spoke nine languages before learning Icelandic.

You should not expect to master a foreign language in just a few days or weeks if you don’t have previous experience learning other languages. This is especially true if you can’t devote ample time to learning a new language.

You might stumble upon many “how to learn a language in 7 days” guides on the internet, but the time you’ll spend learning to speak a language can still be relative and dependant on a lot of factors.

In this detailed blog post, I approach learning a new language fast by demonstrating proven, realistic steps that any beginner can follow.

I also made certain that all the resources I listed are both easily accessible and affordable, so you won’t need to invest too much money into your learning.

Without further ado, let’s dig in.

13 Ways to Learn a Language in Record Time:

1. Connect with language partners online.

One of the most common (and cheapest) language-learning life hacks is simply building a learning relationship with native speakers of your target language, perhaps one who is also interested in learning your mother tongue.

This method can make learning a new language more enjoyable, as it breathes life into your chosen language and shows you the practical side of it—unlike in textbooks and at language schools.

Personally, I have met language partners from over 30 nations and have had the chance to discover their countries, cultures, day-to-day lives and many other things that helped me dive deeper into the languages I’m learning.

To get you started, I recommend using apps such as HelloTalk, Speaky and HelloPal to have free access to thousands of language partners from all over the world.

 

2. Travel to a country where your target language is spoken.

In his best-selling book, Fluent in 3 Months: Tips and Techniques to Help You Learn Any Language, Benny Lewis shares a simple language learning system that is mainly focused on traveling abroad.

He advises interacting with locals in only their native language to force your brain to learn new vocabulary and get familiarized with the language you’re learning.

If you use this learning method, Lewis promises you a vast improvement in your language speaking and listening skills.

 

3. Work on your pronunciation.

A few years ago, I had an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher who knew English very well, but his ability was masked by his lack of clarity.

He never taught a single class without getting bullied for his ridiculous English pronunciation, and all his students learned little to no English during the entire school year.

Well, if you don’t pay attention to how you pronounce words in the language you are learning, you will probably fall into the same trap.

You will not be able to communicate properly and you will eventually lose motivation if you take the wrong direction from the beginning.

A great way to correctly pronounce words in your chosen language is to use a voice dictionary. This will allow you to listen to automatic audio pronunciations of all the new expressions you learn.

For this, you can use apps or websites like Google Translate or dict.cc.

You can also ask locals in the area you are travelling in to teach you the right pronunciation, or you can get your online language partner to record a voice memo.

Plus, you will want to learn how to read and listen to more foreign language content…

 

4. Carry a dictionary on the go.

Wanting to save some time and get help with language barriers more easily?

Use a dictionary… app, since it would be difficult to carry around a 1,000-page book and browse through it every time you have a conversation with a native speaker.

Not only will a dictionary help you become successful in your chosen language, but it will also lift the vocabulary weight right off your shoulders. You will start to contextualize every word you use and train your brain to use it in real-life situations.

To download a dictionary, simply open the App Store on your iOS or Google Play on your Android, and search both your native and target languages to find the dictionaries that will best fit you.

To get the most out of your language-learning dictionary searches, I highly recommend using a spaced repetition algorithm program.

 

5. Use the Spaced Repetition Algorithm 

The Spaced Repetition Algorithm is scientifically proven to be more effective than traditional memorization methods. According to research published in Psychology Today, using spaced repetition to learn new vocabulary words increases your ability to remember information in the long-term.

Most learners who use spaced repetition prefer Anki, a free, multi-featured software that allows you to create more advanced flashcards including images, texts, audio clips, and videos.

To get started with spaced repetition, start by adding words you’ve searched for in your dictionary, then upload audio clips of their pronunciations and attach photos to ease memorizing new expressions for your brain.

 

6. Listen to audio clips in your chosen language.

Listening is scientifically proven to be the best way to learn a language regardless of your preferred method or tool.

In fact, studies have shown that being aurally exposed to any language, even if you don’t understand what’s being said, can “make a huge difference” as it helps your brain adapt to new pronunciations and grammar structures.

Also, a huge advantage of listening is that you can learn in your sleep—without making any conscious effort. A research conducted by the Swiss National Science Foundation states that listening to newly-learned second language vocabulary while sleeping helps solidify and reactivate your memory

Now you might be wondering, “What are some resources I can use to practice listening?”

Good news! Take the leap and create a free account to access a wealth of over 750 million lessons in more than 34 languages with Innovative Language.

Innovative Language is THE place for language audio and video lessons. There you’ll find clips recorded by native-speaking language teachers, along with flashcards, grammar explanations, cultural insights and much more.

With Innovative Language, you will never have to spend hours searching through foreign language audiobooks on the internet. Sign up now, you’ll be glad you did!

 

7. Learn the alphabet of the language you are learning.

If you aim to learn a non-Latin alphabet language, learning the alphabet is crucial.

In fact, in Asian languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Persian, mastering the alphabet or characters is necessary to read and pronounce words correctly.

For example, in Modern Standard Arabic, you must learn the alphabet, diacritics and dotting to be able to pronounce and read expressions correctly.

Additionally, learning the alphabet will enable you to read original texts in your chosen language, which can push you to acquire new vocabulary and improve your language skills.

 

8. Study grammar, but only when necessary.

Grammar is arguably what makes most people quit learning a language before really even starting.

Most of us have studied at least one language at school, yet we are still unable to speak them. Why?  Because academic systems are not built to teach you fluency, they are built to teach you grammar.

Taking into account the poor results schools produce from teaching grammar, it seems wiser to focus on the practical side of languages: real-life conversations. Learning the necessary grammar will then come progressively.

For example, you can keep a daily journal using the foreign vocabulary words you learned throughout the day, then ask your tutor to correct your writing and spot the grammar rules you missed.

 

9. Take private language lessons online.

Worried about losing motivation while learning a foreign language?

If you answered “yes,” booking online language lessons is a must.

Let’s be honest: private language lessons are the only way someone will be truly disappointed when you do not finish your assignment. Your private tutor is focused on you and your language education, and not juggling at least a dozen students in multiple classes.

Without that central focus, you might not learn your target language as fast as you can.

Not sure where to find online language tutors?

You can use platforms such as Innovative Language (Premium PLUS My Teacher), italki, Verbling and Tandem to sort through a gold mine of experienced language teachers from all over the world.

Unlike speaking, writing forces you to evaluate your language level and bring grammar rules and structure into focus.

 

10. Keep a foreign language journal.

Rype CEO Sean Kim recommends taking five minutes every day when you wake up to answer the questions:

  • What will make today great?
  • What things am I grateful for today?
  • Who am I? (Positive affirmations such I am happy, strong, patient, etc.)

“The best part about following the five-minute journal format is that you will not only improve your language skills, but you will feel happier, more grateful and more excited to explore your feelings about language learning and beyond. This will help keep you in the right frame of mind to keep learning.”

– Sean Kim, CEO at Rype

Personally, I write essays in my journal about random topics to use the words I translated and learned throughout the day. This helps me stick new expressions into my brain and improve my communication, writing and language skills.

If you’d like to write your journal online, I highly recommend using ColorNote, Evernote or Google Keep. Alternatively, you can use ordinary, physical notebooks and diaries.

 

11. Change your language settings on your devices.

According to a recent Nielsen Company audience report published by CNN, adults in the United States spent 10 hours and 39 minutes each day staring at screens during the first quarter of 2016.

To make the most out of the time you devote to mobiles and laptops, a great idea is to switch your language settings to the language you’re learning.

At the beginning, you might need to translate a substantial amount of words into your native language to move on with almost everything you do, but since most of us know where certain apps and settings are located, you will slowly but surely start to memorize new vocabulary words.

Note: Before you change your devices’ languages, try to learn the necessary alphabet or characters to read it first.

 

12. Expand your vocabulary with mnemonics.

Among all the techniques we have covered, mnemonics might be the most effective when it comes to memorizing new vocabulary words.

Mnemonics is basically building a system in your brain that links previously learned information in any language you speak with the new information you want to remember. Especially for learning a new language, they can be used as cheat codes for those who struggle to memorize information they’re exposed to.

You can use mnemonics to memorize sentences, vocabulary lists, idioms and other words.

Here are some examples:

  • Vocab list: Divide, multiply, subtract, compare and bring down.
  • Mnemonic: Does McDonald’s Sell CheeseBurgers?
  • Sentence: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  • Mnemonic (abbreviation):  NASA.

If you cannot come up with a mnemonic yourself, a resource I highly recommend is Memrise. There you’ll have access to a wealth of creative mnemonic photos and expressions that will boost your motivation and make learning enjoyable.

 

13. Stop worrying about making mistakes.

One of the biggest errors that can significantly slow you down is worrying about making mistakes.

“A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.”

– Alexander Pope

To break this barrier, you might consider telling your language partners and teachers that you are open to any feedback or corrections on your grammar structure and pronunciation.

From my personal experience, asking my language partners to correct my mistakes has helped me learn hundreds of grammar rules, pronunciations and vocabulary words.

 

Now that you are all set to start your language journey, add some fuel to that fire and start applying these strategies to your educational process.

Take action now by listening to podcasts and audio clips to put your mind at ease about learning your foreign language.

Still not sure what language to learn? Check out our recent article [insert post title and link - best languages to learn in 2018]

 

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a content strategist, writer, polyglot and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. You can learn more about Yassir at YassirSahnoun.com.

5 Best Languages to Learn in 2018 for Native English Speakers

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

5 Best Languages to Learn in 2018 for Native English Speakers

Wondering what are the best languages to learn in 2018?

We’ve got you covered.

In fact, learning a new language is more than just a plus to your curriculum vitae (CV).

According to a study conducted by Pennsylvania State University, bilingualism helps learners build great multi-tasking skills by switching between different structures in a short amount of time when using more than one language.

Also, statistics have shown that students who speak several languages tend to score better on standardized tests than their unilingual peers.

The benefits mentioned above are just a drop in the ocean of what multilingualism can bring you. There are countless mental, health, and even financial perks that come with learning a second language.

Based on the level of difficulty and the political, economic and cultural significance of each language in today’s world, I have put together a list of the five best languages to learn in 2018, along with some great beginner’s resources.

Spanish

The well-known language company Duolingo recently shared an article on which countries study which languages. The article also contained data obtained from its 120 million users.

Below is a map that portrays the most popular language studied on Duolingo in each country. duolingo data

As you can see, Spanish is the second most-learned language in the world after English.

In fact, Duolingo’s analysis states that Spanish “is studied by 17% of all Duolingo users,” making it the second most-learned language in their app.

Now you might be thinking, “What makes Spanish so popular?”

Well, the answer is simple: with a population of around 440 million people, Spanish is the second most natively spoken language in the world. It is also the official language of 20 countries on the American and European continents.

The best part? For most English speakers, Spanish vocabulary is not rocket science. Both languages belong to the Indo-European language family, which led to the cross-fertilization of words and idioms between Spanish and English.

Therefore, if you’re looking for an easy, in-demand language to learn in 2018, Spanish is probably the best option for you.

German

Considering the fact that it is the official language of some of the most developed countries in the world, learning German can open up great opportunities for you.

Recently, German became the third working language of the European Union.

Following Brexit, many indicators show that English will have less importance in the European Union—which will leave more room for German to take over in Europe.

Also, the recent refugee crisis has drawn a lot of attention to Austria and Germany, making German a useful language for everyone interested in following new, related political events in Europe.

Moreover, learning German will allow you to access a huge database of intellectual and scientific content, improve your career, and discover the German culture and people.

Because German is also an Indo-European language, many of its vocabulary words match their English equivalents. Therefore, you will most likely be able to strike up intermediate conversations in German after a few months of learning it.

Japanese

Because Japan has the third largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of almost five trillion U.S. dollars, it is one of the most popular and arguably important countries in the world.

With a Japanese-speaking population of more than 127 million people, many prefer Japanese to other languages.

In fact, the number of Japanese learners has dramatically increased in the last few decades, as Japan is drastically developing.

In addition to economic growth, Japan is also a culturally rich country. Learning the language will allow you to watch new animes and movies, learn more about martial arts, keep up with technological developments, and find new travel gems in Japan.

Mandarin Chinese

With a Mandarin-speaking population of over 900 million people, China’s official language is set to be one of the most (if not the most) important languages in the world in the next few years.

China’s excellence in important fields including agriculture, academics, travel and business helps globalize its often misunderstood culture and language.

In 2010, the state press agency Xinhua estimates that 750,000 Chinese-as-second-language learners from all around the world have taken the HSK Chinese Proficiency Test. Only four years later, CNTV reported that over five million people took the same test throughout the year.

Considering these statistics, we can securely say that the demand for Mandarin speakers in the world is at its peak - and, as the data confirms, it’s not going down anytime soon.

According to the United States Foreign Service Institute, Chinese is one of the most time-consuming and difficult languages to learn for English native speakers. Bottom line? If you’re ready to invest hundreds of hours to learn one of the best languages, your time and effort will definitely pay off in any way you want it to.

Arabic

Due to the recent political instability in Arabic-speaking countries, and the huge growth Persian Gulf countries such as UAE and Qatar have recently had, Arabic is doubtlessly one of the best languages to learn in 2018.

Political and international organizations are continuously seeking new Arabic language experts and translators to build a bridge between the organizations and the Arab world.

An abundance of successful businesses are also breaking into the Arab market. In fact, many businesses are willing to hire Arabic speakers who are capable of helping them reach business goals and connect with target countries.

Also, if you’re a business owner, an intermediary in Arabic will help to expand your knowledge of the Arab market and expand your entrepreneurial opportunities.

Besides the business and political aspects, Arabic can also help you learn more about many culturally and naturally rich countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Syria, Morocco and Iraq.

Just like Chinese, Arabic is a difficult language that might require more time compared to some other popular languages.

To speed up the learning process, I recommend learning a dialect first—which should not be hard—then progressively switch to Modern Standard Arabic by learning the formal language that is used in writing and official documents.

Now that you’ve decided which language(s) to learn, what’s more important than taking action?

Not sure where to start?

Innovative Language is the go-to website for audio and visual language content. There you’ll have access to thousands of customized lessons made by real teachers in more than 34 languages, including the listed languages above.

Based on your language level, Innovative Language experts will correct your assignments, assist you with all the aspects of language fluency, and answer any questions you have.

Sign up now for free and start learning a new language today!

Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a writer, polyglot and co-founder of WriteWorldwide. You can learn more about Yassir at YassirSahnoun.com.

Can you guess these languages?

Friday, April 7th, 2017

10 Ways to study Russian for FREE

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10 Ways to Learn French for FREE

Friday, April 15th, 2016

10 Ways to study German for FREE

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10 Ways to study Spanish for FREE

Friday, April 15th, 2016

Top 10 Korean Dramas to Help You Learn Korean

Friday, April 15th, 2016

The best thing about learning Korean through dramas is that dramas are fun. And when you fall in love with a good story, you can use some of that obsession to power your learning. In addition to boosting your vocabulary, dramas allow you to learn better pronunciation and intonation and it helps you improve your listening comprehension skills. Much like Japanese Anime, Korean dramas have a variety of themes, which means that there’s something for every one. K-drama, after all, is not just about confessing one’s love, heart breaks and teenage crushes.

Here is how you can boost your Korean Skills with the Help of K-Drama:
1. Pick a show you can enjoy. Learning a language has to be fun, or else it just doesn’t work.
2. Re-watch and Shadow. Try watching every episode at least twice. During the re-watch, try shadowing the conversation: repeat what the characters are saying, even if you don’t understand it completely.
3. Couple your drama watching with fun Korean lessons. Sign up to KoreanClass101.com for FREE and start learning with our Absolute Beginner lessons!

The 10 FREE Russian Lessons You Can’t Miss

Friday, April 8th, 2016