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March 2019: Hiking Mt. Gongen, Mt. Koubou, and Mt. Azuma in One Day!

March 25th, 2019

Anna, Lya, Meg, and Kyejin went hiking 

On March 17th, on a beautiful Sunday, Anna, Lya, Meg, and Kyejin went hiking to 3 different mountains, Mt. Gongen (権現山), Mt. Koubou (弘法山), and Mt. Azuma (吾妻山).

Those mountains are located between the Hadano and Tsurumakionsen stations on the Odakyu Odawara line and the stations are easily accessible from Shinjuku station directly without any transferring. It takes about an hour only so it’s a perfect day trip from Tokyo!

Since each mountain is about 250m tall only, it was a relatively easy hike. There are plenty of picnic tables and benches so we could rest enough and play fun card games whenever we arrived at the summit of each mountain. It’s said you can enjoy an amazing view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day but unfortunately it suddenly got cloudy when we were at the observatory. It’s also a popular place, especially during the cherry blossom season.

1. Was this hiking easy or hard? Score from level 1 (easy) to level 5 (hard).

Meg: 2.5 or 3 because of the uphills.

Lya: The hike was 2 hard. The beginning was pretty straining but it got easier after a while ^^

Anna: Mount Koubo was an easy relaxing hike although as usual, it started with stairs but we did our best and got easily to the first stop!

Kyejin: 2. If it was just one mountain, I would give 1 but since we hiked to 3 mountains in one day, I give 2!

2. How was the scenery/sightseeing there? Score from 1 (bad) to 5 (amazing).

Meg: 3 The view was nice and you could see a nice view of the area we were in.

Lya: I would give a 4 to the scenery. It was beautiful and we could see far, but we missed the Sakura blooming. That would have been a 5.

Anna: We had perfect weather for hiking not too hot not too cold so we enjoyed the day a lot. There were nice stops in the way like a sightseeing mini tower, statues of the demons of the woods and lots of Sakura trees that unfortunately hadn’t bloomed when we went. So if you have the chance to get there when they bloom I’m sure the views will be even more rewarding!

Kyejin: 3. Too bad we weren’t able to see Mt. Fuji or cherry blossoms but still there were a small temple, a big bell, an old well, an observatory, interesting trees, pretty flowers, weird bugs(?) and lots of sheep ᏊˊꈊˋᏊ so I enjoyed it a lot! Also, we had to walk along the river from the station to the park for about 15-20 minutes and I liked that too.

3. What was the most memorable moment of this trip?

Meg: Sushi Go haha

Lya: Playing Sushi Go (≧▽≦)

Anna: This time we enjoyed the breaks playing cards and eating!

Kyejin: Of course playing Sushi Go! It’s a “Spanish(?)” card game Anna brought.

4. How was food? What was your favorite?

Meg: Eating fried chicken from the fried chicken shop was awesome! The omiyage shop was really good too with lots of testers.

Lya: If we don’t count dinner, we mostly had snacks, so nuts and cheese FTW. And that chocolate thing that Anna and Ruben brought. (• ε •) If we count dinner, the fried chicken was amazing. And the fried cheese. I like all the foods. ALL OF THEM!

Anna: This mount didn’t have any food stalls so make sure to bring your bento/onigiri when hiking! After that, we also walked around the area and tried karaage from a からげ専門店 it was very good!

Kyejin: We found a karaage shop that won lots of awards from international competitions. We had to wait in a line but it was totally worth! The Nagoya restaurant we went to after hiking was pretty good!

5. Will you recommend this mountain to others? Score from 1 (No) to level 5 (Absolutely).

Meg: 3 I recommend this mountain but maybe less than our previous ones because there wasn’t so much to see or attractions on the actual route of the hike but we did see sheep which was fun!!! There was also a sign for possible monkeys!!

Lya: 4 because it was pretty but there can always be a prettier mountain, somewhere. Also, lack of sakuras. But please go see it fit yourself

Kyejin: 3. Yes, it was easy enough and fun enough at the same time.

6. Any comment?

Meg: The hike was really fun and relatively chill this time compared to previous hikes. We ate lots of snacks, played lots of games, and ate some yummy fried chicken that has apparently won an award. Then, we went to Izakaya for more food. Yay! We love food! Haha. I really enjoyed my time with everyone and it was only one train ride away from Shinjuku. The weather was good too! Thanks, everyone!

Lya: I want to play more Sushi Go. The hike concept should be to play it in more and more extravagant places. I want to win once at least, everyone was so good!! (≧▽≦)

Kyejin: It was super fun! It’s always so pleasant to have a great time with great people! I’m already looking forward to our April hike.

~ Anna, Lya, Meg, Kyejin

P.S. Please join this healthy and fun hiking in April, dear ILL people!

How to Transform Your Daily Commute Into Learning a Language

March 19th, 2019

Daily Commute Into Learning a Language

Today, classrooms are no longer the only or even best place to learn a new language. More and more people are finding that they can easily learn a language just about anywhere they have a few minutes of spare time, including their daily commute to work. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average American spends over 50 minutes a day commuting to and from work, or over 300 hours a year.

Rethinking Your Daily Commute to Work

But rather than simply sitting in traffic and wasting the time, you can instead use your daily commute to literally learn a language in just a few short months! Innovative Language Learning has developed specialized learning tools that you can use on your commute to work (and home again) to master the language in your spare time. Keep reading to learn how to get your free audiobook to use on your next commute so you can see for yourself how easy it is to transform “dead time” into realizing your dream of learning a new language!

But before we look at how to transform your commute home into a mini-classroom, let’s take a closer look at 4 reasons why traditional classroom settings just aren’t the best option for most people in today’s fast-paced world.

  • Difficulty Getting to and From Class
  • Learning on Someone Else’s Schedule
  • Very Expensive and May Cost $1,000’s to Complete
  • Can Take Years to Finally Complete Classes and Learn the Language

The simple truth is that traditional classroom instruction is simply not a viable option for most people in today’s very fast-paced, time-starved world. Now let’s examine how you can learn a language faster, more easily, and at far less expense than traditional classes—all during your commute to work and back home again!

Bus

3 Reasons Your Daily Commute Can Help You Master a Language

1. The Average Commute Time is More than 300 Hours Per Year

Between the commute to work and getting back home again, over 6 hours a week is completely wasted and not helping you reach any goals or objectives. But thanks to online language learning platforms with audiobooks and other resources that you can access during your commute, you can easily transform wasted time into tangible progress towards learning a new language. With over 300 hours available annually, your daily commute could provide you with enough time to literally master a new language each and every year!

2. Increase Your Earning Potential While Commuting to Work

How would you like to transform all those spare commuting hours each week into more money for a new car, house, or even a dream vacation? According to research, someone making $30,000 per year can boost their annual income by $600 or more per year by learning a second language. Added up over the course of a lifetime, you can boost your total earnings by $70,000 or more while achieving your dream of learning a new language during your daily commute!

How? From work-at-home translation jobs to working overseas, there are many ways to leverage your second language into more money in your bank account! So instead of wasting your precious time, you can make your commute more productive and profitable and the more languages you learn, the higher your income potential.
3. Repetition is Key to Mastering a New Language

Not sure if it’s practical to learn another language while commuting to and from work each day? Well not only is it possible—learning in your car on the way to and from work each day can actually help you learn and master any language much faster! The simple truth is that repetition is absolutely vital to truly internalizing and mastering any language. So, if you listen to audiobooks or even audio lessons on your commute to work and then repeat the same lesson on your commute home, the information is more likely to be “locked-in” to your long-term memory!

Listening

5 Ways Innovative Language Learning Makes It Easy to Learn a Language On Your Commute

First, click here and pick a language you want to learn with us!

Whichever language you choose, you’ll be able to access the world’s largest collection of audio and video lessons and advanced learning tools.
Innovative Language Learning has been helping people just like yourself learn and master a language in the comfort of their home, during their daily commute, or any place they have a few minutes of spare time. Here are five features provided by Innovative Language Learning that make it easy to learn a new language while commuting to and from work:

1. The Largest Collection of Audio Lessons on Planet by Native Speaking Instructors
Every single week, Innovative Language Learning creates new audio lessons by native speaking instructors. All lessons are short, to the point, and guaranteed to improve your mastery of the language you’re learning.

2. Word of the Day
Simply exposing yourself to new information and vocabulary terms helps increase your fluency and mastery of the language you’re learning. So every single day, Innovative Language Learning adds a new Word of the Day for you to learn and memorize during your commute.

3. Daily Dose Mini-Lessons
Have a short commute to work but still want to make progress towards learning and mastering a language? Not a problem! Our Daily Dose Mini-Lessons are 1-minute or less and designed to improve your grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

4. All Content Available on a Convenient Mobile App

You don’t need a PC or tablet to learn a language during your daily commute. At Innovative Language Learning, all of our lessons, tools, and resources are available 24/7 via our Mobile App. That means you can access all of our audio lessons and other tools during your commute to work or any time you have a few spare moments!

5. Audiobooks and Other Supplemental Resources
In addition to the world’s largest online collection of HD audio lessons, Innovative Language Learning has also created several audiobooks to enhance your understanding and make it more convenient than ever to learn a language during your commute!

Conclusion

The average commute time of most Americans is over 300 hours each year and it’s the perfect opportunity to learn and master a new language. In fact, you can use the “dead time” during your daily commute to learn a new language and potentially boost your lifetime earnings by up to $70,000 or more! Whatever your motivation, Innovative Language Learning has the tools and resources necessary to help you learn a new language each year during your commute to and from work. Act now and we’ll even provide you with a free audiobook to try out on your next commute!

How to Supercharge Your Vocabulary With Bilingual Reading

March 11th, 2019

Supercharge Your Vocabulary!
Reading in a foreign language is great. But if there’s one big fat problem, it’s that you need a high level of fluency before it gets fun. And if a book isn’t fun, then you’re not going to want to read it.

The entire point of sitting down with a book is to enjoy it and have a good time being absorbed in the story.

And that’s just not going to happen if you need to look up every second word with Google Translate or a real-life dictionary. It will take you out of the story and it will feel like a chore as if you’re back in high school and need to read the book to pass your curriculum.

I was literally shocked when my girlfriend brought me a collection of Chekhov’s stories that had Russian on the left page - and English on the right.

 


It’s such a simple and elegant solution that will make reading (especially at the beginner levels) so much easier and more fun.

I’m in the process of uploading Chekhov’s stories online, including an audio version, so that you can listen and read at the same time. You’ll find more resources down below (also for other languages).

So, what is bilingual reading?

It’s all in the name. You read a book in 2 languages. The language that you’re learning + the language that you’re fluent in.

There are several variants and the most common one is the picture below. You have a book that has your foreign language on the left, and English on the right. This is the more traditional form.

 

Now, online you can also find stories where the story is translated paragraph by paragraph. The same principle, just in more bite-sized chunks, so your eyes need to travel less to read both texts.

The great thing about bilingual reading is that you can quickly switch between languages. And that the translation already has been done correctly, so you won’t need to distinguish between the 10 variants of a translated word that your dictionary offers.

Which brings us to the main advantage…

It’s great for your initial vocabulary building

Look, the best way to improve your vocabulary is to learn words in context. Let’s say you’re reading a book in Spanish, and you read the following phrase:

El sol es caliente - the sun is warm.

Now your mind is making the connection between sun and warm. And it’ll be easier to remember that the word for “warm” is “caliente”.

The only problem with reading a book in another language is, like we said in the introduction, that you need a relatively high level of fluency before you can make this connection between words.

It’s great if you already know 80% of words, as you can deduct the meaning of another 10-15%, and only look up the remaining couple of words you do not understand.

But if you’re starting out, you might only know 10% of all words! That’s when bilingual reading can help a lot.

You’ll read the sentence first in another language. See if you get it and if you can puzzle what the meaning of some words is. Then you quickly glance on the other side of the page and see the translation.

This way you’ll be able to have fun reading AND learn contextual vocabulary at the same time

Why it works well if you’re learning a language at home

If you’re taking language classes, then your teacher basically takes on the role of the translated page. When you’re reading a text with your teacher, you can ask them questions whenever you do not get something. They’ll give you the correct translation quickly with another context on how the word functions in the sentence.

But if you’re learning from home you don’t have that advantage. Bilingual reading offers the same benefits, as you can quickly look up the translation of a sentence and see what each word means.

Stages how you can use bilingual books

The main goal of bilingual books is to breach the gap between the beginner and intermediate to advanced stages. They can help set you up to read real books, without any translation.

Some language purists might recommend you only read stories that were originally written in non-English, but I’d say that any book you enjoy goes well.

Here are the steps I recommend you go through:

  • Stage 1 - simple bilingual stories (such as kids stories or fairy tales)
  • Stage 2 - the same stories, but now only in another language
  • Stage 3 - bilingual real books
  • Stage 4 - real books

You can use bilingual reading to improve your vocabulary and reading understanding. Until you become so good that you don’t need it anymore.

Does it work for every language?

It doesn’t matter if you’re learning French, Dutch, Russian, Chinese or Indian, bilingual reading works for every language.

After all, the principles of language learning don’t change. Only the implementation does.

You also don’t really need too much knowledge at the start. If you like puzzling, then you could even start reading some simple bilingual stories without any prior experience in a language! (the only exception would be Russian, or any other language with different characters - in that case, you’d need to learn the alphabet first)

However, just as with other language programs and courses, the more people speak a specific language (and the more people want to learn it), the easier it will be to find bilingual books.

If you’re learning any of the big languages (Spanish, French, Russian, Chinese, Italian), then it’ll be easier to find translated stories that have been put into a bilingual format.

Which brings us to the final section…

Where do I find bilingual books?

There are many places to find them - and the internet has been a real game changer here. I’ve tried finding them in libraries, but you need a large library and quite some luck to find good (and more than just 1) bilingual books.

Here’s a list of resources:

  • Language Lizard (all languages, physical books)
  • Amazon also has a great selection
  • The Fable Cottage (Children’s stories in Italian, French, German and Spanish)

I’m sure there are more places to find them. A quick google search with “dual language books + [language that you’re learning]” or “bilingual books + [language that you’re learning]” should be enough to show up some gems.

It’s really remarkable how easy and fun it can be to read a book in 2 languages. It will make learning a new language more of a fun activity, as opposed to a traditional lesson.

Here’s a final recap of the benefits:

  • Learn new vocabulary quickly
  • Make this vocabulary stick because you remember it in context
  • Easier to put in more time into learning, as you enjoy the process
  • Shortcut the path to reading real books
  • A simple and fun way to learn at home without a teacher

Have you used bilingual books before in your language learning? Let it know in the comments!

Author: Arie Helderman started learning Russian in 2014. You can find which strategies worked best for him at Learn the Russian Language.

February 2019: Plum Festival at Soga Bairin, Odawara

March 7th, 2019

Plum Festival in Japan

Odawara Plum Festival is held in Soga from early February to early March every year in Japan.

 

February 23rd was the perfect day for our February hiking, and Anna, Lya and Kyejin went to Soga to enjoy the beautiful plum blossoms and “mini” hiking.


 

This was what’s written on the board in the view point:

Soga Plum Orchard

The Soga Plum Forest, located about 4 miles northeast to the central district of the city of Odawara. The forest is made up of three areas: Bessho, Hara, and Nakagawara, approximately 35,000 trees of white plum.

The views of Mt.Fuji, the Hakone and the Tanzawa mountain range and the Sagami Bay are also wonderful, and it has been selected as Kanto Fujimi 100 view (One of the best places to enjoy viewing Mt.Fuji).

 

Message from Anna:

“Wonderful Saturday surrounded by plum trees.

This last Saturday due the start of the hay fever season (with the fear of sugi trees) and knowing it was time for ume to bloom Kyejin-san proposed a nice adventure in Soga. I think that’s the first time I see so many ume trees in their fields with lots of space for walking and zero crowds!

We had an enviable picnic (that goes for you who hasn’t joined yet ;-) )and we finished with a mini hike to a viewing point of the city.”

 

Message from Lya:

“The weather was grand, and so were the Ume trees!

We had tasty food (thanks Anna!), a nice walk and a lot of fun. One of the highlights was to find wild kiwis and pet Shiba inu. Much love! (๑♡3♡๑)”

 

Message from Kyejin:

“I haven’t seen so many plum trees before (there are over 35,000 trees!) and haven’t realized how colorful they are. We did a “mini hike” and could see the whole village filled with colorful plum trees. That’s why we could smell plum flowers anywhere in the village.

The picnic was awesome too. We bought Japanese festival foods including umeshu Lya treated and one of my favorite parts was Anna’s Spanish omelette. That was just perfect for the ume picnic!

It’s alway so pleasure to travel with good people. The plum trees were beautiful but our trip was even more beautiful :D It was full of stories and fun moments! I already look forward to our next adventure.“

 

The next hike is going to take place on March 17th! Are you joining us? Let us know!

- Anna, Lya and Kyejin

Secret Revealed: The Best Way to Learn a Language on Your Own

February 25th, 2019

Secret Revealed 

Can You Really Learn A Language Alone?

Learning a language on your own or without traditional classroom instruction may seem quite daunting at first. What if you run into questions? How do you stay motivated and on track to achieving goals?

Don’t worry, not only is it possible to learn a language without traditional classroom instruction: Innovative Language Learning has created the world’s most advanced and extensive online language learning system. Not only is Innovative Language Learning specifically designed to help you with learning a language on your own, it’s actually faster, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom options!

Let’s look at some of the benefits of learning any language alone.

3 Reasons to Learn a Language Alone

Learn Language Alone

1. Learn at Your Own Pace and On Your Schedule

In today’s fast-paced world, there just isn’t time for traditional classroom instruction. Between getting to class and studying on some professor or teacher’s schedule, traditional classroom learning is simply impossible to fit in. But when you learn a language alone, you can study in bed if you like and whenever suits your schedule best, making it far easier to actually reach your goal of learning and mastering the language.

2. Learning a Language on Your Own Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Speaking in front of a class, pop quizzes, and tests are just a few of the stressors you will encounter when you learn a language in a traditional classroom setting. Specifically, these are external stressors that often derail most people’s dream of learning a new language. But when you learn a language alone, there are no external stressors. Without the external stress and anxiety, it becomes much easier and more exciting to study a language and reach your very own goals—all on your own!

3. Learning A Language Alone Helps Improve Cognitive Function and Overall Success

Learning a language on your own is indeed more challenging in some ways than being taught in a traditional classroom setting. In fact, while classroom instruction requires more rote memorization and following instructions, studying a language on your own requires more problem-solving and higher cognitive function to self-teach lessons and hit goals. So while it’s more challenging and requires higher levels of cognition, teaching yourself a language pays dividends throughout life by better preparing you for social/work opportunities that arise.

How to Learn a Language on Your Own with Innovative Language Learning

Learn Language

First, click here and pick a language you want to learn with us!

Whichever language you choose, you’ll be able to access the world’s largest collection of audio and video lessons and advanced learning tools.

1. Access to the World’s Largest Collection of Audio & Video Lessons

The best way to learn a language on your own is to study from native speaking instructors. Ideally, you want audio and/or video lessons that teach vocabulary, grammar, and provide actual conversations and dialogue to help you with pronunciation. Innovative Language Learning has hundreds of hours of HD audio and video lessons created by experienced instructors and every lesson is presented by professional voice actors for perfect pronunciation. Plus, all lessons can be accessed 24/7 via any mobile device with Internet access. And, if you download the PDF versions of each lesson, you can even study without Internet access once the lesson is stored on your device!

2. “Learning Paths” with Language Courses Based Upon Your Exact Needs & Goals

Although Innovative Language Learning has more than thousands of video and audio lessons, you need not review each and every one to learn the language. In fact, Innovative Language Learning has developed a feature called “Learning Paths”. You simply tell us your goals and we will identify the best courses and study plan to help you reach them in the shortest time possible. So even though you are technically learning a language on your own, our team is always here to help and make sure you reach your goals FAST!

3. Advanced Learning Tools Reduce Learning Time and Boost Retention

When you have the right tools and language learning resources, it’s actually easy to teach yourself a language! In the past 10+ years, Innovative Language Learning has developed, tested, and refined more than 20 advanced learning tools to boost retention and reduce learning time, including:

  • Spaced Repetition Flashcards
  • Line-by-Line Dialogue Breakdown
  • Review Quizzes
  • Voice Recording Tools to Help Perfect Pronunciation
  • Teacher Feedback and Comments for Each Lesson
  • Dictionary with Pronunciation
  • Free PDF Cheat Sheets
  • And Much More!

Armed with our growing collection of advanced learning tools, it’s truly a breeze to learn a language alone and reach your goals!

Conclusion

Learning a language on your own is not only possible, it’s actually easier and more beneficial for you than traditional classroom instruction. In fact, when you learn a language on your own you can study at your own pace, eliminate stress, and actually increase cognitive function.

Innovative Language Learning is the world’s most advanced online language learning system and a great resource to help you teach yourself a new language. With the world’s largest collection of HD audio and video lessons, more than 20 advanced learning tools, and customized “Learning Paths”, Innovative Language Learning makes learning a new language easier, more convenient, and less expensive than traditional classroom instruction.
And the best part is: With Innovative Language Learning, you can study in bed, your car, or wherever you have a few spare minutes of time. Create your Free Lifetime Account now!

Language Learning Tips: How to Avoid Awkward Silences

February 18th, 2019

How To Avoid Awkward Silences

Yes, even beginners can quickly learn conversational phrases in any language well enough to carry on real conversations with native speakers. Of course, beginners won’t be able to carry a conversation the same way they could in their native language. But, just knowing a few tips like which questions to ask to keep a conversation going are all you need to speak and interact with real native speakers! But before we get to specific suggestions, let’s first take a closer look at how having real conversations is so vital to your mastery of the language.

Learning to Carry a Conversation is Vital to Mastery of Any Language

Communicating with other people is the very point of language and conversation is almost second nature in our native tongue. For beginners or anyone learning a new language, conversations aren’t easy at all and even simple greetings can be intimidating and awkward.

However, there are 3 vital reasons why you should learn conversational phrases as quickly as possible:

  • Avoid Awkward Silences: Nothing kills a conversation faster than long periods of awkward silence, so you need practice and specific strategies to avoid them.
  • Improve the Flow of Conversation to Make a Better Impression: When you know what to say to keep a conversation going, communication becomes much easier and you make a better impression on your listener.
  • Master the Language Faster: Nothing will help you learn to speak faster and truly master the language than having real conversations with native speakers. Conversations quickly expose you to slang, cultural expressions, and vocabulary that force you to absorb and assimilate information faster than any educational setting—and that’s a great thing!

But how can you possibly have real conversations with native speakers if you are just starting out?

3 Conversation Strategies for Beginners

Conversation

1. Ask Questions to Keep a Conversation Going

For beginners and even more advanced speakers, the key is to learn to ask questions to keep a conversation going. Of course, they can’t be just random questions or else you may confuse the listener. But, by memorizing a few key questions and the appropriate time to use them, you can easily carry a conversation with minimal vocabulary or experience. And remember, the more conversations you have, the quicker you will learn and master the language!

2. Learn Core Vocabulary Terms as Quickly as Possible

You don’t need to memorize 10,000’s of words to learn conversational phrases. In fact, with just a couple hundred words you could have a very basic conversation. And by learning maybe 1,000-2,000 words, you could carry a conversation with a native speaker about current events, ordering in restaurants, and even getting directions.

3. Study Videos or Audio Lessons that You Can Play and Replay Again and Again
If you want to know how to carry a conversation in the language you’re learning, then you need exposure to native speakers—and the more the better. Ideally, studying video or audio lessons is ideal because they provide contextualized learning in your native language and you can play them again and again until mastery.

Innovative Language Learning Makes it Easier and More Convenient Than Ever to Learn Conversational Phrases

Learning Language

First, click here and pick a language you want to learn with us!

Whichever language you choose, you’ll be able to access the world’s largest collection of audio and video lessons and advanced learning tools.

For more than 10 years, Innovative Language Learning has been helping students learn to speak by creating the world’s most advanced online language learning system. Here are just a few of the specific features that will help you learn conversational phrases fast using our proven system:

  • The Largest Collection of HD Video & Audio Lessons from Real Instructors: Innovative Language Learning instructors have created hundreds of video and audio lessons that you can play again and again. And the best part is: They don’t just teach you vocabulary and grammar, they are designed to help you learn to speak and teach you practical everyday topics like shopping, ordering, etc!
  • Pronunciation Tools: Use this feature to record and compare yourself with native speakers to quickly improve your pronunciation and fluency!
  • 2000 Common Words: Also known as our Core List, these 2,000 words are all you need to learn to speak fluently and carry a conversation with a native speaker!

In all, more than 20 advanced learning tools help you quickly build vocabulary and learn how to carry a conversation with native speakers—starting with your very first lesson.

Conclusion

Although it may seem intimidating for a beginner, the truth is that it is very easy to learn conversational phrases. By learning a few core vocabulary terms and which questions to ask to keep a conversation going, just a little practice and exposure to real conversations or lessons is all it really takes. Innovative Language Learning has created the world’s largest online collection of video and audio lessons by real instructors plus loads of advanced tools to help you learn to speak and carry a conversation quickly.

Act now and we’ll also include a list of the most commonly used questions to keep a conversation going so you can literally get started immediately!

January 2019:The Mt. Nokogiri Hike

February 4th, 2019

 

Four brave hikers challenged the cold winds to see some breathtaking views on top of Mt. Nokogiri. Alice, Anna, Ernst and Kyejin went to Chiba Prefecture, Tokyo’s neighbouring prefecture on a crispy clear Sunday in late January.

 

 

January is a tough month for hikers. The cold makes hiking a challenge, even with the right equipment. We wanted to go to Mt. Takao, but a last minute change proposed by Anna led us to Mt. Nokogiri.

 

 

It is about 329m tall and there are an astonishing 1,500+ Buddha’s on the mountain. Small ones, huge ones, laughing ones, smirking ones, studying ones, sleeping ones, etc. There was no end to them! Sadly, not all were intact. During the Meji-era a lot of Buddha’s were destroyed in an anti-Buddhist movement. Even now, there are CCTV cameras watching over the statues.

 

 

Alice has visited Chiba before, but that was for Disney and Narita airport (who of us cannot relate to the last one?). Alice said it was wonderful to spend some meaningful time in Chiba, because we definitely did some exercise there! We had to walk up so many stairs, that the stairs still haunt my dreams. Or rather nightmares…

 

 

Happy to report that from Mount Nokogiri, we had excellent, unobstructed view of Muira and Izu Peninsula, Tokyo Bay, as well as Mount Fuji most of the time. That we could see Mt. Fuji from almost every stop was awesome, as Anna tells us. With some extra training, some of us want to conquer Mt. Fuji one day!

 

 

We also got to admire the 31-meter-tall carved Buddha and unusual rock faces. Unusual in the sense that Mt. Nokogiri was a former quarry and the rock was cut out and shipped off. There was another very large Buddha carved out on the wall of an abandoned quarry site.

 

 

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see the temple that was built on Mt. Nokogiri, as it was under renovation and construction. Hopefully the next visitors will be able to see the temple. In any case it was a nice day trip out of the busy city!

 

The next hike is going to take place on February 23rd! Are you joining us? Let us know!

 

 

~Alice, Anna, Ernst and Kyejin

Assisting College Students with Foreign Language Learning Difficulties

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 Dating in a Foreign Language Can Help You Learn the Language

June 21st, 2018

How Dating in a Foreign Language Can Help You Learn the Language 

Being able to speak freely with native speakers is an awesome ability in itself, but add to the fantasy an attractive native speaker who happens to also be your significant other and it’s a whole different ball game.

Most people don’t realize that dating in a foreign language can actually help you improve your language skills dramatically. In this post we look at some of the biggest benefits of dating in a foreign language, as well as some of the drawbacks.

Enjoy!

Dating Foreign Language 

1. Benefits of dating in a foreign language

1- It’s motivational

One of the greatest struggles for anyone learning a second language is motivation. Nine times out of ten learners start out their language learning journey with loads of enthusiasm; only to see it gradually wane over time. Try as they may it’s difficult to maintain the spark they once shared with their new language.

So why not borrow energy from a different spark? When you date someone in your target language all the adventure and excitement of a new relationship carries directly over into your learning. Suddenly you have a very rewarding reason to improve your skills and keep practicing.

As your partner gets involved you will also have the advantage of a constant source of emotional support and encouragement. You can even set up a series of cute incentives with them so that every time you use the language correctly or see marked improve you get a peck on the cheek, or maybe even a special night out!

2- It makes language learning practical

Studying vocabulary and grammar is a vital part of language learning whether you use a podcast, textbook, app, or find yourself in a classroom. However, as great as studying is, a language really only starts to come alive once you start using it in everyday life.

There’s a huge difference between a scripted conversation in a lesson plan and a real life conversation with a native speaker. Dating in your target language affords you a near perfect opportunity to flex your language muscles. You will be able to talk with a native speaker and do it often. Furthermore it will be in a way that feels natural. You’ll learn words in the context, which is hugely important. Even though if the words you learn are in the context of your dating life, you’ll see this practice and experience in the language carry over into all your language skills.

3- It’s fun

One of the greatest benefits of dating in a foreign language is that it allows you practice without having it feel like practice. Often times you’ll find yourself so wrapped up in the other person that you forget you’re using a foreign language. This takes a lot of the pressure off, and helps you focus on communication over trying to speak absolutely perfectly.

While dating can help your language learning, language learning can also add some spice to your romantic life. You’re a lot less likely to have boring or predictable dates if just communicating with the other person is an event in itself. This of course will vary based on your level in your significant other’s native language. If your level is low in your partner’s language and theirs is low in your’s, then unless there’s great chemistry between the two of you, it’s going to be harder to make a connection.

Striking a connection with your date may also depend on your target language. If you’re a native English speaker, a list of Spanish dating phrases is likely to be easier to learn than a list of Japanese ones.

 Miscommunicate

2. The risks of dating in a foreign language

1- It’s easy to miscommunicate

When it comes to relationships, human beings have an innate inclination toward misunderstanding. One glaring down side of dating in your target language is that you or your partner’s lack of ability in each other’s respective native tongue can lead to miscommunications that would otherwise be avoidable.

Depending on the language if you’re speaking in a simple mistranslation or mispronounced word can drastically change the meaning of a sentence. I learned this the hard way when I accidentally told a Ukrainian girl I loved her while trying to complement her new haircut in Russian (that’s a story for a different day!).

As long as you and your date afford each other some extra patience and the benefit of a doubt, then you should be able to overcome this pitfall.

2- Your language skills could suffer if it doesn’t work out

If all your language practice is wrapped in one person, and your relationship with that person doesn’t work out, then your language learning could take a huge hit after a break up. There’s even the added possibility that a forlorn heart might wince at the idea of using the language that your learned with your ex.

 Dating Foreign Language

3. Some ideas for dating in a foreign language

1- Make a “getting to know you” game

This can make for a fun and entertaining dating experience, no matter your age group. Make a simple list of questions with three different categories in your target language, For beginners this could include categories like “Do you like…?” (ex. Hockey, chocolate, riding a train, etc) “What is your favorite?”, or perhaps “What makes a good/…?” (ex. President, friend, vocation).

Get a die and assign each category a pair of numbers between one and six). Each person takes turn rolling the dice and answering the appropriate question. With the right person this activity can turn into a fun yet productive way of getting to know one another.

2- For more advanced learners

If your language skills are more advance you can substitute the basic questions listed above for more difficult ones. You try translating some funny would you rather questions or maybe use questions such as “When is the last time you…did such and such” (laughed so hard you cried, did something that scared you, etc.).

4. Final thoughts

Dating, with or without learning a language, is risky. The more serious a relationship is the greater potential for reward and for loss. Still for the most part, dating in a foreign language has a lot more benefits to offer than it does drawbacks. If you get the opportunity to go out with a native speaker in your target language you ought to jump at the chance (insomuch as you feel comfortable with the other person of course!).

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

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.