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French resources -- Duolingo App

One of my favorite French resources is an app called Duolingo. Duolingo is free and it provides an easy way to track your progress and set goals for yourself. It's set up like a game and you win points for correct answers, and you can 'compete' with your friends at different levels. It also requires that you "strengthen your skills", which keeps your memory fresh and up to date by having you repeat certain parts of a lesson that you haven't encountered within a certain period of time. Duolingo is a great supplementary resource to go alongside formal classes, tutoring, or self-instructed study, and it's really fun and even addicting! Even as a fairly fluent French-speaker, I enjoy the vocabulary and grammar games because they help keep me engaged in learning and remind me of vocabulary words that I don't often use. I've also used it to start developing a basic vocabulary in German, Spanish, and Italian. Duolingo is available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and... read more

Online Resources for studying Russian (Part 1)

On this website you can find books and texts in different languages with their literal translations into English and brief linguistic comments, These texts are structured on the basis of a special method, by Ilya Frank. Its main principle is that a text is divided into excerpts that you can read twice: the first time – with the English translation inserted into it in brackets and afterward – with no translation.  It's a great source. I've tried it for other languages and it really works. Here is a link for Russian language: http://english.franklang.ru (List of languages is on the left side).    BBC Languages ~~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/russian Basics. A Guide to Russian: Facts, key phrases and the alphabet in Russian. No grammar.    BBC Russian.com Russian service provided by the BBC   http://www.gramota.ru Website in Russian. Great website. Explanation of Russian grammar, Forum -... read more

Making Your Education Count!

The Importance of Learning Critical Languages   Make yourself unique in whatever subject matter you pursue. Today, we will talk about languages that will land you a job much faster than you think.   The Problem: Americans need to clearly recognize that there is a deficiency of critical spoken languages in the U.S. The United States government has acknowledged that it seeks efforts to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering critical need foreign languages. Solution: In order to considerably diminish this debilitating problem, Americans need a strong network of critical language communicators that can quickly and efficiently bring defined segments of the nation up to speed in speaking critical languages. Approach: Americans should take the initiative to study, learn and master such languages using educational institutions, live human-interactive and intensive critical language instruction via the internet... read more

Integrated Instruction: Rigor & Relevance

When addressing general learning - especially in K-6 - we must keep in mind that subjects cannot be separated from one another. An obvious example is science, which requires mathematics, writing, and usually reading. Mathematics word problems, of course, require skill in reading and logic. If we consider social studies, we quickly realize that reading, writing, science, and math concepts are usually necessary for appropriate learning experiences. The common element in all our learning is, of course, language, which we began learning before we were even born. As we grew and learned, we imitated our parents' oral language and learned to associate words with things we observed in our environment. Eventually, we began learning to read, which is simply associating written symbols with oral language. Reading opened us up to a variety of learning, but we had to practice reading on its own, for its own sake, as well as in the other subject areas. This is why schools nowadays often... read more

How I became passionate about the Spanish language

I discovered my passion for the Spanish language on a church trip to the Dominican Republic ten years ago while serving a group of amazing people there. At the time I was a junior at Western Michigan University and was majoring in Creative Writing. I had only taken a few years of Spanish in high school and was very shaky with speaking. However, something amazing happened while I was there! I found myself being able to communicate and slowly understand. A little boy named Jorge was sitting with my friend and I one night and slowly repeating  "estrella" when it suddenly clicked. I have little Jorge to thank for igniting that passion in me. I went on to double major in Spanish and Creative Writing, then continue to get my Master's degree in Spanish literature. Through the years I have lived in Santander, Spain; Queretaro, Mexico, and finally Barcelona, Spain for the past five years. My husband (who is Spanish) and I just moved back to Michigan and are starting... read more

Learn to love making mistakes!

I used to be a quiet person who didn't like to talk in front of a group of people for fear of making a mistake and having them laugh at me.  Luckily, I learned from my high school basketball coach that making mistakes is a good thing, and nothing to be ashamed about.  "How can it be a good thing?" I wondered.     She told me that my fear of making mistakes was paralyzing me, so much so that I was not allowing myself to try new things and new approaches.     Many of my international students come to me with the same fears.  They are too ashamed of their limited spoken English, preferring to sit and listen, rather than try new situations and challenge themselves.  My goal with any new student is to help them understand, the same way my basketball coach helped me to understand, that they are free to make as many mistakes as they can when they are with me. Together, with my guidance, they will learn from their mistakes... read more

Step 1. Find something that excites you!

It can be tasking and tedious trying to learn a foreign language.   Students often ask the question, "Why do I need to learn a second language?"  "What purpose does this serve in my life in a primarily English speaking world?"  For those that are motivated to learn a second language, the answer to these questions seem obvious.  For those that are not, this is harder to grasp.   I believe that we need to stop focusing so much on what the PURPOSE of second language is, and what productive function it will have in our lives.  Rather, if we focus on what excites us about that culture, and seek information about the language for the sake of learning, the purpose and function of second language skills will become more apparent.   We live in a world with a wealth of information at our fingertips.  Even if you don't have the privilege of going to a country where the target language is spoken, I encourage you... read more

Favorite Language Learning Websites

Just to share some great resources!   www.byki.com - flashcards (with pictures and audio) available through a downloadable program (or online through "List Central" - user-created content) www.livemocha.com - a language-learning community, language courses www.internetpolyglot.com - flashcards with audio and pictures, user-created content www.lingq.com - a language-learning community, podcasts, tutors, built-in dictionary www.omniglot.com - language information, useful phrases (often with audio), links to other resources www.digitaldialects.com - basics of several languages, flashcards, learning games www.italki.com - a language-learning community www.duolingo.com - language courses and translation practice www.linguisticsgirl.com - a great blog! www.busuu.com - a language-learning community, language courses with audio/pictures/examples of vocabulary usage    

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