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Flashcards have been used for a long time by students that want to broaden their vocabulary, whether for learning a second language or increasing one's vocabulary of your primary language. Before computers, students often used index cards and wrote a word on one side, and the meaning of the word, or the equivalent word in another language on the other side. Now there are all sorts of flashcard websites and flashcard software programs available that basically do the same thing electronically. But regardless of the medium you use, there are some ways to use flashcards that are better than others. I'm going to recommend one way that I find very helpful. Instead of just randomly selecting 20 or 50 or 100 words, and trying to memorize them via flashcards, select vocabulary words that are in context. What this means is that it's better to create flashcards based on a reading passage or book or essay you've read, and then selecting words from what you've read and creating flashcards... read more

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin described a technique he frequently used to improve his writing and language skills: Whenever Franklin came across a piece of writing that he felt was extremely well-crafted, he would read the passage repeatedly until he could write down word-for-word—from memory—what he read on a separate piece of paper. He then would compare what he wrote to the original passage he read, would make whatever corrections he needed to, and would repeat the whole exercise several days later. If there’s some aspect of your language skills you’d like to improve (writing, speaking, or listening, etc.), give Benjamin Franklin’s exercise a try: Improve your listening skills by writing down the words you hear in a foreign language movie or song. Watch your favorite foreign-language TV show, and try to imitate your favorite character’s accent or vocabulary. Or, if you want to work on you foreign-language writing and expression skills, buy a translated... read more

When I teach languages I basically work on the student’s grammar and pronunciation. Vocabulary is also important, and I encourage my students to use the language as much as they can. This can take the passive form of reading, watching TV, or listening to the radio; or it can take the active form of speaking to others in the language they want to learn and writing in the language. This can take the form of a journal. Languages are like the piano. If you do not practice, you will not be able to speak well. Grammar is the building block of a language. It tells you how to put the words that you know into sentences. Perhaps children can learn a language without knowing grammar, but most adults need grammar to learn a new language. Pronunciation is important. Sometimes it can determine whether the speaker is understood. For some, communication is the chief goal, and having a really good pronunciation is not that important. For others it is important to speak a language well, and... read more

One thing I found helpful when I was initially getting the hang of Russian was to keep a language diary for a few weeks. My diary started when, in an effort not to get rusty at Russian during the summer between semesters, I started reading some Russian poetry and parts of short stories in the original. The diary wasn’t anything fancy. I simply wanted some more Russian-language practice and to practice expressing my thoughts in writing (no matter how simple the thoughts were). I did this by typing my entries in Russian into a Word document. I usually wrote about 2 things: 1) what I remembered about the poem/story’s plot 2) what I thought about the poem/story I’d also bold and put into red coloring new phrases and vocabulary that I’d learned, found useful, and wanted to remember. Your diary can serve whatever function you’d like. You can write about your day, or some little event that happened one day. Or you can keep track of useful phrases or words you learned... read more

For the past five years, I have worked in multiple online areas: social media, graphic design, web development, etc. I discovered that online collaboration tools are a very unique and diverse way to keep up with and practice different activities. I would like to motivate students to participate in online tutoring sessions. I am not saying this should be a substitute to face to face sessions, but it a nice little way for students to get their online "fix" during the week and be reminded about what they are learning. If you are interested in adding an online session to your student's weekly tutoring, let me know. There are many ways to have video chats and also interactive tools for completing different tasks.

I remember that there was once a time when I underestimated the power of flashcards as a learning tool, and now I they’re all I use to memorize new language vocabulary and sometimes grammar concepts. Though they can be tedious and boring to write out for a large vocabulary list, flashcards have been worth the extra effort that I’ve put into making them. Here are some of the pros (listed in no particular order) that I’ve found in using flashcards: - You can easily make them—and on your own time. I love printed lists, but I noticed that they take me more time and effort to make than flashcards. I find that I get too particular and too hung up over small details—the words need to be a certain font, I like for the English side to be a certain color, etc. Also by the time I’m even done making up a list to print, I usually have to wait for a computer at the library to print my vocab list, and then end up waiting behind someone who has 7 print jobs. Flashcards, one the... read more

When I am contacted by potential clients for my language tutoring services, I like to ask them what their current level is with the target language, and how fluent they would like to be. Everybody says, "As fluent as you can make me!" Well, the truth is, although I am pretty fabulous, :) our sessions together will be much enhanced if the student is willing to commit to doing some language review outside of our sessions, on his or her own time. I was gathering my WyzAnt information together for tax season this year, and I realized that one of my most successful students is approaching her three-year anniversary with me. She made a commitment to herself to learn to speak and read Spanish, and she has made incredible strides. The reason I mention her in particular is that she only sees me twice a month! Once every two weeks, for an hour each time. She has, however, bought CDs which she listens to on her daily walks with her dogs, she uses her grammar book as a bathroom... read more

I'm new to this site and can't wait to help you. Got questions? I got answers! Whether you need some simple study skills and techniques or if you have very specific problems in a subject, I can help. Let me show you how all these subjects work together and are not isolated disciplines that you're never going to use. I'll show you the relevance of each subject and how they're all integrated. Learning is so much fun when you understand why you need to know.

When asked for a guarantee of outcome, a surgical colleague of mine tells his patients, "I guarantee my work but not your parts." Before illness disabled me from practicing, patients whose traumatic injuries were substantial, for whom a perfect outcome was impossible, would hear, "You can't make chicken soup from chicken poop, but sometimes, you can make pretty good fertilizer." The same goes for education. Children need structure for security, but too much stifles growth and backs up within, disturbing their ability to focus, concentrate, study and learn. So, while children in poverty might have unhealthy home environments, poor diets, and even danger on a day to day basis, even children at the opposite end of the spectrum can suffer. If their schedules are overbooked, to make them into over-achievers, a breaking point can be reached, hurting their grades and backfiring on their chances of entering the best colleges. Add the stress of impending SAT... read more

Charlie está aburrido = Charlie is bored (right now) Charlie es aburrido = Charlie is a boring person (in general)   So when do you use está and when do you use es? Good question...   Lately I've been working with a beginner student who has been having trouble with ser vs. estar. It really brings back memories from my early days in Spanish! A lot of people learn the basic idea of permanent vs. temporary when talking about ser vs. estar (as in the Charlie example above), and that can be helpful at times, but there are important exceptions to remember. With that in mind, I thought I'd post a little refresher here with some basic "rules" about when to use SER and when to use ESTAR.    When to use SER Origin & Nationality Where a person is from (capitalize places, but not nationalities!) Ella es de Chile Soy estadounidense... read more

I am ready to help any students out there who likes a well-qualified teacher who teaches with a sense of humor and who believes in the respects and rights of students. I teach writing to all grades, even the SAT prep in writing and reading, but mainly I focus on elementary school and middle grade subjects. Hope to hear from you.

I've been re-reading an old copy of Barry Farber's book How to Learn Any Language. The copy I have is more than a little out-of-date, as the author talks about the "innovation" of portable audio-cassette players as a language-learning tool. The internet has opened up countless new tools for learners of foreign languages. If I were to update Farber's book myself, here are the online tools I would add to his list of advice. If you would like the details of any language-specific sites or need help navigating the overwhelming amount of available online resources, feel free to contact me through WyzAnt by email to set up a tutoring session. (I specialize in tutoring Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and English, but I have also "dabbled" in other languages). Online dictionaries that provide two-way look-up are usually much easier than looking up words in a paper dictionary, especially for character-based languages like Chinese and Japanese. Podcasts online are... read more

Spanish is an easy language to learn because it's very consistent. It's a beautiful language. Just listen to other people's conversations, sometimes. Place yourself in a variety of situations where you will hear different kinds of conversations. I still do this exercise after twenty-five years, and always feel edified. Listen to small children speaking Spanish. They will often be speaking a bit slower, so it's easier to follow.

La lectura es una parte integral de la aprendiza en cualquier idioma, si fuera tu materna o una segunda lengua. Cuando lees nueva material, casi siempre encuentras palabras nuevas o unas que ya sabes, pero no has visto utilizado en tal manera. El leer es una vehículo para vocabulario y entendimiento del mundo en nuevas vistas. Hoy, acabo de leer The Bean Trees (Los Arboles de Frijoles) de Barbara Kingsolver. Es una novela forjada con temas culturales e históricos de los años 80 en E.E.U.U. Mañana, voy a empezar su siguiente novela titulado Pigs in Heaven (Cerdos en el Cielo). Ahora te pregunto... ¿Qué has leido tú recientemente? Prueba visitar tu biblioteca local o descargar e-libros gratices en el internet. Reading is an integral part of learning in any language, whether it be your maternal or second language. When you read new material, you almost always find new words or some that you already know, but haven't seen used in such a way. Reading is a vehicle for vocabulary... read more

I had a Spanish student who said "Spanish is difficult" but my advise is: the longer you practice the habit of working toward your dreams, the easier the journey will become. You are meant for great things. Learn as much as possible. Always follow your dreams. You are a student in the school of life and in many ways your own teacher. Appreciate the lessons you've learned, and enjoy life, others, and yourself. Kisses Rosario

On June 2, 1989, my life changed forever. A brand new world was brought to my attention. I moved into the main land of the United States. I am Puerto Rican, meaning natural born American, but was raised on the island of Puerto Rico. Don't get me wrong, I have always been more fourtunate than most people with my condition. You see, I have a condition called Spina Bifida. I guess it would make more sense if I explain myself. Normally, during the first month of a pregnancy, the two sides of the spine (or backbone) join together to cover the spinal cord, spinal nerves and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord). Spina bifida refers to any birth defect involving incomplete closure of the spine. Myelomeningocele is the most common type of Spina Bifida. It is a neural tube defect in which the bones of the spine do not completely form, resulting in an incomplete spinal canal. This causes the spinal cord and meninges (the tissues covering the spinal cord) to stick out... read more

Having met many people who have tried to learn a second language, the one skill they always struggle with is gender designation. As native English speakers, gender designation is unheard of. Things are just that, things. They don't have a gender. (When I try to explain this to my 9-year-old, he bursts out in laughter.) But in many other languages, nouns have a specific gender. Of course, this then affects all other parts of grammar such as verb conjugation and pronouns, but that is a topic for a different blog. I remember starting college and wanting to learn a new language. I have to admit I went down the easy route. As a native Spanish speaker, I knew Italian would be relatively easy. They are both latin-based languages. They have similar words with only a few letters changing (for example, agua in Spanish and aqua in Italian.) After three years, I felt I could take on a third language and I gave myself a challenge: GERMAN! Needless to say, it was a big difference... read more

I just joined the WyzAnt community as a Spanish tutor in Washington County PA. I attended Bethany College and have a BA in Spanish and another one in Visual Art. Also, I have am a certified teacher in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania for Spanish and Art.

Dear Students and Parents, In my last trip to Colombia in May I had the opportunity to attend the International Book Fair in Bogotá. I found a book for young readers called "Colombia, mi abuelo y yo" (Colombia, my grandpa, and me) by Pilar Lozano. It is a captivating narration of a grandfather teaching his grandson about his country, Colombia. It tells interesting cultural aspects about Colombia in South America. I hope you, young students of Spanish, can benefit from reading it.

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