Search

Blogs Blogs

Language Blogs

Newest Most Active

On vacation in Mexico? Attempting to hold a conversation with a Spanish-speaking in-law? Have you already been living here for years? EVERY language has its "common mistakes foreigners make when trying to speak it". Avoid these 3 VERY embarrassing mistakes while speaking Spanish... 1. Number one on my list would have to be the very common mistake in translating the English word, "preservatives". In Spanish you should NOT say, "preservativos"!!! Unless of course you meant to say, "condoms"... CORRECT TRANSLATION: "conservantes" or "aditivos". 2. What would you guess is the Spanish word for, "embarrassed"? "Embarazado"? Not quite, because this word means, "pregnant male"! CORRECT TRANSLATION: "apenado/a" or "avergonzado/a". 3. "Estoy caliente" said Julie, as she took her jacket off at her fiancé's family reunion in Guadalajara, Mexico... read more

I know this can be confusing for more advanced students, here is a simple tip to differentiate both:   We say : -"se rappeler quelque chose" and - "se souvenir DE quelque chose ou DE quelqu'un".   There is no such thing as "se rappeler de" in French...   Examples:  - je me rappelle mon voyage en France - je me souviens de ce village   I hope this can be useful to some of you in their practice!

Look for the Latin roots in Spanish and French words that may also be found English. This helps one remember vocabulary and appreciate the connection between languages!     Here are some examples!   1. Aprender is 'to learn' in Spanish (apprendre in French), which corresponds to the English word 'apprentice.'   2. Escribir is to write in Spanish (écrire in French), which corresponds to the English word 'scribe' (escribe = he writes).   3. Dormir means 'to sleep' in Spanish (dormir in French as well), which corresponds to the English words 'dormitory' and 'dormant'.   4. Abrazar is 'to hug/embrace' in Spanish (embrasser in French), which corresponds to the English word 'embrace'. Keep in mind that in French it means a "kissing embrace" versus a "hugging embrace".   And there are many more! Please add to the list!   It is important to note that the Latin... read more

Structure is necessary, it keeps things organized but unplanned topics can also present great learning opportunities. If the student is excited about something, we talk about it! There are always chances to learn new vocabulary words and even hit up some practice with grammar. After all, conversation is just that, going with the flow and seeing where things go. Be spontaneous amidst the structure.    Another aspect that is helpful and fun is to center lessons around my students. It's their life and their experience they'll want to share, so we work around that.    Kids games are fun even for adults! It's okay to play "Ispy" (Yo veo) when we are learning colors or talking about specific vocabulary. We even play scrabble for those who really want a challenge. It's a wonderful opportunity to see how many words you already know and learn new ones when I play words you don't recognize. Jeopardy is also another great game I like to include. If... read more

Most language learning resources focus on the process of what YOU can do to learn a language. But what I'm interested in is how a language is an organic, living, naturally occurring phenomenon, like rivers, trees, and humans, and what that has to do with efficient language learning, as well as what it has to do with the nature of life/God/the universe (as a bonus). The mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci used a set of numbers (Fibonacci numbers) to describe how rabbit populations expand. The numbers are 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, ... (each number is the sum of the previous two numbers). This "golden" ratio also describes flowers, trees, rivers, seashells, galaxies, and the human face. Language also grows this way in your mind -- particularly if you're a child. My goal is that it grow that way also in the mind of the adult. The way it looks is that for every language you grew up speaking there are a number of situations you've experienced in... read more

Every one of us was taught grammar in grade school. We learned the rules of writing, how to construct sentences properly, when to use commas, how to avoid run-on sentences, proper diction and word choice and tons of other rules regarding how the English language "properly" works. But there's one thing we weren't really taught. In fact, most of us unquestioningly accepted these rules, rules like you should use "fewer" for countable items and "less" for things you can't count. We know how to use these rules, and by virtue of being able to speak the language, we also know how to use the grammar. But these two concepts of grammar are not the same. This raises so many questions. Where did these rules come from? What is grammar, really, and how do we define it from a linguistic point of view? Is there some kind of supreme authority on the English language that imposes these rules on all its speakers?    In a Tarantino-esque fashion, we'll... read more

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 a new... read more

My emerging tutoring passion is assisting ESL college students with their coursework. Most of them must also hold full-time jobs to support themselves and often their families as well. Many require online courses to get college educations. They could not earn a college degree any other way. Do textbook publishing companies realize how much cultural bias is written into their online ancillary (supplemental) materials? Do teachers of online college courses realize how hopeless these students feel about merely passing a class when their grades depend on online multiple-choice exams consisting of 60 items to be completed in 60 minutes (60 in 60), for example? This may be a subtle form of cultural bias, but bias it is. Frankly, as a native speaker of American English with a master’s degree in journalism from University of Wisconsin—Madison, I’m not sure I could pass a 60 in 60 exam. I would like to challenge the instructors who teach these online courses and college administrators... read more

Recently, as I've been working with students on reading, I noticed something interesting. Students tend to want to read the material quickly, whether or not the word is being read correctly.This presents in two different ways that I have noticed so far: If it is a new word, the letters and syllables might get read out of order. If it is a root word, verb or noun, they are already familiar with, the prefixes or suffixes may be read incorrectly. This made me wonder where the drive for speed was coming from. Was it a desire to sound natural? Was it the students' way of getting through the daunting task as quickly as possible? Whatever the reason, it was not helping the students become better readers or spellers. Spellers?! How does that apply to reading, you may ask? My answer is this: For visual learners, reading is a big part of spelling. When they see words, repeatedly, they can recall the images later on when they are trying to spell them. Therefore, when students are rushing... read more

This afternoon, I found myself writing to one of my ESL students: ______________________ Hello, XXXXXX--- I am imagining you and your dog having a fine time at the cabin as I write this. I bet you are in the cabin as well. In the first sentence at the cabin is correct, just as you would say "I am at home" rather than in home. It would also be correct to say "I'm in the house" rather than outside in the yard. When you are at home, the yard is included. When you are in the house, the yard is excluded. With cabin, the same word is used both ways. When you are at the cabin, the exterior property is included, but when you are in the cabin, it is excluded. By the way, while you might be in your yard, you would be on your property. ______________________ Preposition problems are common to all but the most advanced English language learners, including many native speakers. After sending my student this email, I realized the word office... read more

Wow! I can't believe I'm opening a tutoring business. Well, it's to serve the community but it's also to empower me as an independent contractor. Hopefully I'll be working from home, but if there's a need out there, requiring my assistance, I'll be on my way to enlighten people at whatever the outpost it is - within 15 mile radius, though (let's not get carried away here) :)

I was asked once by a Japanese ELL (English Language Learner) how she could improve her speaking.  I told her that if you want to improve then you need to speak!  Talk to everyone.  Don't worry if you screw up or if your pronunciation isn't perfect.  The only way to become better at speaking a language, and to gain confidence, is to practice.   How does an ELL improve their speaking when they are living in a peripherary country?  A country where the language is not spoken as an official language?   That can be a bit more tricky, but immersion is not a guarantee that an ELL will gain proficiency in a language either.  I recommend finding an app or make an online friend that will give you opportunities to practice speaking.   I myself am a language learner.  I would like to go back to Japan and teach, but I would like to improve my speaking skills before I go.  I like using an app called Mango Languages. ... read more

IF I could go back in time and give my younger self some advice on how to be a better student, be more successful in school, life, etc, I would definitely tell myself that being involved in everything comes at a cost. It is better to find a few things that you like to do, do them well and often, than feeling stressed because there is so much on your plate at one time. Being a 'Jack of all Trades' it is natural for me to dip my toes in different waters- all at the same time, but that does not mean that I can give 100% to any of them at that time. While I was able to get good grades (A- average) while in school, I was impressed by how much better I did- and felt about my work- the few times that I scaled back on my activities. Another piece of advice that I wish that I could bestow upon my younger self would be to learn how to speak up in a group setting when someone is not fulfilling their part of an agreement. Now, this said, the best way to do this would be in a tactful manner-... read more

As you know, all teachers (and tutors!) were once students. So they know all the pitfalls that can cause a student to not get their homework done. The reason can be social - maybe the student wants to get his or her work done but the distraction of all the social media is too much to resist. The reason can also be academic - maybe the subject is difficult, such as challenging concepts or perhaps they're faced with an assignment that didn't get explained well enough to be done independently. Or sometimes it's the dreaded PROCRASTINATION. That can be the worst of all reasons to not get work done because the longer you procrastinate, the more the work piles up and then the student becomes "paralyzed", overwhelmed by the mountain of work that has accumulated. When procrastination has gotten the better of you, the important thing is to not let yourself be so overwhelmed that you don't do the work at all. Here's what you do: PRIORITIZE AND GET STARTED! It is a simple phrase... read more

There are a few teaching strategies I've come up with - not invented, but rather discovered - in my time as a tutor that seem to keep the student both interested and focused. Of course, these may not work for other subjects. I teach language, a beautiful art in and of itself! One strategy is to start with the building blocks of language- the atom, or proton, or electron, or quark (I suppose this is now the smallest accepted particle of matter): vocabulary, both nouns and verbs, with pictures. Then sentence structure, and finally grammar. With the student, I build the language with them as one would build a model airplane. The key is to keep them involved. Language instruction in any kind of lecture format simply does not work.   The other strategy is something I use with more advanced students, or even ones with some basic foundation of a language. Starting with a text in Spanish - be it Unamuno or Cervantes, we start reading together. Throughout, we stop at vocab... read more

Are you interested in learning Spanish but need a more structured course to help you get started? I have a great beginning Spanish curriculum that is ideal for the school-age or adult learner. The focus of the curriculum is to learn the basics to actually communicate in the language. Lessons are fun and are infused with language and culture. Contact me for more information on the classes I offer and how I can cater to your individual learning needs.

I suppose I should dedicate this space to an introduction, to give you an idea of what I offer, moreso than just the basic profile.   I am very passionate about education. I suppose I always have been--something my mother instilled in me--but in the last few years I have begun working in that realm. I have been an in home tutor, substitute teacher, and worked with non profits as a teacher and tutor. Maybe a bit off of the beaten path, but I feel that going a non traditional route has given me more hands on, real world, practical knowledge.   I am adept at working with limited English speakers, which I feel gives me an edge. I have worked with children and adults alike in this area, and am always looking to do more work with refugees, especially.   I also have a lot of customer service experience, which at first glance may not seem important. To me, it is a very important and influential part of how I handle teaching. Rather than "customers"... read more

Rosetta Stone Totale is a pretty cool program. I've been using it to learn some basics - Hebrew and Italian - and its actually been a lot of fun. How much you like Rosetta Stone Totale will depend on what type of learner you are. I was never an exemplary language learner, my talents are more mathematical and analytic, but Rosetta Stone Totale is very much changing that for me currently. It helps that I can have the computer repeat itself as much as I please.   Interestingly, I've skipped over spelling and voicing because these parts are not great to do with a computer. You basically find out if what you did is right or wrong, not what part of what you did is right or wrong and how you can improve. This means that my focus is almost entirely on vocabulary, which has its own sections in the Rosetta Stone Menu.   The program is unique in that you spend a lot of time looking at pictures and coming up with stories for them as if they were cards. Your short term... read more

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 treat social... read more

To make learning fun, I use tools that enable your memory to retain the learned information. I use the individuals most enjoyable activities, to teach with either flash cards, video, audio and personal favorits, such as hobbies and learn around those vocabularies. The interactive game comes in to play, when we use the verbs that go with this subjects, to fill in grammar, in self formed sentences.

1 2 3 4

Language Blogs RSS feed