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Speaking a foreign language is most frustrating when you know exactly what you want to say in your first language, but you either don't know how to say anything similar in the foreign language or anything that captures the exact nuance.   The process if less frustrating if you accept that you should not think in your first language and that you may never be able to capture the exact subtlety. It's absolutely okay that you cannot express yourself as eloquently and exactly at times. There are certain times when you need the exact word or exact phrase because of a nuance, but there are other situations where a generic phrase will do.   This post is focusing on idioms and phrases that are useful to know and that can be used in many situations: they will be adequate, even if you could have picked a more colorful phrase in your native language.   Think of learning Spanish phrases this way: every time you learn a phrase, you add it to your bank of knowledge... 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

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

There is a lot to be said for knowing vocabulary.  Just about any profession you enter will have its own "lingo", and being able to break sentences down word by word is incredibly helpful.  There are reasons why teachers push basic knowledge, like knowing how to alphabetize quickly, doing your multiplication tables in your head, and understanding how to break sentences apart.  Unfortunately, a lot of students come and go through school without learning the basics.  THIS is your opportunity to improve your communication skills; written and verbal.  If you know your vocabulary, you can discuss topics in a professional manner, and get your point across in a more understandable way.  It's harder to be misinterpreted when you use words appropriately.     If you're reading a textbook, look for underlined or highlighted and/or bolded words.  Read them out loud several times.  Make sure that you are pronouncing them correctly... read more

There are a few easy steps for gaining fluency:  1. Use a new word each day as much as possible. 2. Do your best to think in the target language. 3. Speak in that language with friends or strangers as much as possible. 4. Speak to yourself in that language with scenarios you feel you would be in. 5. Review the words that you learned in conversation or study each day before bed. 6. Study reading and writing as needed. 7. Keep a personal journal or diary in that language. 8. Speak with native speakers if possible. 9. Join communities that speak in the target language. 10. The best way to learn anything is to teach it to someone else. try teaching a family member or friend the language. 11. Watch television as much as possible in the target language. 12. As for music, listen to music in the target language only. (if possible) 13. Write down words that you do not understand that you have heard. 14. Don't be afraid to ask questions... read more

"SUMMER SLUMP SURVIVAL GUIDE" 1.  GEOGRAPHY...If you travel this summer, that too can be a learning experience.  For example, at some point during your journey, you likely look at a map.  To do this, you must understand north, south, east and west.  Mathematically, you should also experience the relationship between speed of travel (e.g., 65 miles-per-hour), distance and timing.  If you travel inter-state, then you study the geography of the United States.  If your journeys take you internationally, then this is more than a geographic experience. 2.  LANGUAGE...Traveling to another country may require developing the knowledge of how to say HELLO and GOODBYE, how to ask a cab driver for a quote for the cost of a trip, as well as many other details. 3.  TELEVISION...When you are at home, you may find yourself watching television.  Although it has been called the IDIOT BOX, it can be as intelligent... read more

For parents who are trying to do any of the following: 1. Engage your child in reading 2. Increase your child's reading skills (fluency, comprehension, rhythm, expression, tempo, etc.) 3. Increase your child's language acquisition, vocabulary, grammar skills, and spelling skills This blog post is for you!!! There are some really unique ways to help your child become a "reader." I myself wasn't a "reader" until about the age of 10. Up to that point, though I loved books and collected books and asked for books for birthdays/holidays, I was not a reading self-starter. However, I loved being read TO! At the age of 6, I took a great interest in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books. Not only, was I fascinated with the time period (late 1800's), I also found a kindred spirit of sorts in Laura. She stood up for things in which she believed strongly, she was stubborn, and she was short! I found a heroine that was very much like me! So... read more

Hello! Thank you for visiting my site! I have 8 years of language teaching experience. I taught for 7 years at Princeton University and 1 year at the University of Notre Dame. It is truly a joy for me to help people reach their academic and personal goals. Please contact me as soon as possible to inquire about scheduling a tutoring session with me. I specialize in language arts, particularly Spanish, French, and English. I also have experience tutoring people of all ages, and helping them prepare for standardized tests. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Best regards, Valerie

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

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

Have you always struggled with spelling words correctly? Would you be lost without the spell-check feature? There is one trick with spelling that I have taught students young and old: Find the word within the word that you know how to spell, then work on the parts you don't know. For example, the word reconfigure. You may not know how to spell configure or figure, but maybe you know how to spell fig. Start with that simple word and add onto it. Most know the spelling of "re-", and the word "con-". Now you have reconfig-. If you sound out the ending, you should be able to add the '-ure" without any trouble. Unfortunately for many, this "trick" isn't even considered until later in life and many have already become super reliant on the spell-check (our technological savvy generation, right?). Tackle those big words one little step at a time. Take those bigger words apart to make smaller pieces, and you'll be on your way to better spelling...

I remember a public service announcement about reading from my childhood. I don’t remember the images, but the message said, “Reading is fundamental.” Growing up in a book – filled home with a family of readers and frequent library trips, I naively thought everyone knew this. I was saddened to learn that not everyone loved to escape into fictional worlds of words as much as we did. This article gives parents five tips for helping their kids learn to enjoy reading and become lifelong readers. 1. Let kids make their own reading choices. Young children enjoy the bonding experience that comes from hearing their parents read stories aloud. Just about anything will do – as long as it’s read somewhat dramatically. They will sit and listen intently. However, pre – teens and teenagers want independence. Parents can use this to their advantage to help get their older children to enjoy reading. This does not mean parents should let their children read inappropriate material. Provide reasonable... read more

Massachusetts Specific Resources: · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/ · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/iep/proguide.pdf · http://www.doe.mass.edu/sped/prb/pnps.pdf · http://www.masspac.org/ · http://www.mcpap.com/pdf/NavigatingTheSpecialEducationSystemInMassachusetts.pdf Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: · http://idea.ed.gov/ · http://nichcy.org/laws/idea · http://www.help4adhd.org/education/rights/idea General Learning Disabilities Information: · http://www.ncld.org/ · http://www.ldonline.org/ · http://www.ldanatl.org/ · http://nichcy.org/disability/specific/ld · http://www.cldinternational.org/ · http://www.cec.sped.org/am/template.cfm?section=Home ADHD/ADD: · http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/default.htm · http://www.add.org/ · http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml · http://www.chadd.org/ Dyslexia: · www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov · www... read more

The start of a new school year is full of changes and new challenges. In my experience, depending on the student's age or academic level, he or she should set goals starting with the most difficult subjects or classes. These are the steps that I usually advise my students to follow: 1. Review the curriculum for the school year. This step is very important because it helps you plan in advance the volume of assignments, projects and exams. If the teacher does not provide this information to students, parents should contact the professor and get it (An outline or syllabus, at minimum). All school districts have this information assigned by grade and their specific curriculum. 2. Do not procrastinate about homework and projects. Manage your time wisely, so that you can fulfill your responsibilities and allow yourself leisure time in the end. Proper balancing of these two activities is crucial to academic success. Making a habit of prioritizing time for tasks and assignments... 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

Why is listening in a foreign language always easier than speaking? Why does reading in a foreign language seem so much easier than writing? That's because your brain is doing different work in each context. When you listen and when you read, you are taking in information. You are receiving information, a passive form of using your new language. However, when you speak or write, you are actively expressing your own unique ideas. Literally, you are creating and formatting new information! This is why I encourage my students to practice speaking and writing as much as possible, whether it be in English, Spanish, or whatever their new language is. For example, if you usually write your grocery list in English, try writing it in Spanish! Do you know someone who is bilingual? Try talking to them in your new language! They will appreciate you taking the time to converse with them in their native tongue, and your brain will appreciate that you are finally putting to good use... read more

Momentum, è un termine che non viene utilizzata molto, al di fuori del regno della fisica o sportiva professionistica squadre ' strisce vincenti. Perché? E ' magia? E ' la motivazione ? Possiamo addirittura creare, o che semplicemente accade ? Se uno è consapevole o no, le persone di maggior successo nella vita creare situazioni in cui si verifica lo slancio. Se si sta tentando di superare la montagna di apprendimento delle lingue, che sarebbe stato bello avere un paio di ascensori o passare iniziare a ottenere i bonus di 200 dollari, lungo la strada! Empiricamente parlando, quando un skateboarder professionista desidera elevare la sua altezza o accelerare lui / lei usa una rampa. In particolare unostrategically placed ramp. In essence we as language learners have the ability to place ramps along the way too! There are ways to do this,here a some ways I try to place ramps. 1. Avere amici di penna in varie lingue che vogliono imparare ; Il punto non è considerare questo "studio... read more

Well, students, here I am! I am fresh from Wichita, KS and awaiting tutoring opportunities in the Seattle, WA area. Just to get the ball rolling, I will create weekly blogs that include little snippets of knowledge relating to foreign languages. Here's this week's: a good quote in several languages... (Quote form brainyquote.com) "Make a habit of two things: to help; or at least to do no harm." ~ Hippocrates auf Deutsch: "Machen Sie eine Gewohnheit zu zwei Dingen: zu helfen; oder mindestens keinem Schaden zuzufügen." in Italiano: "Prendere l'abitudine di due cose: aiutare; o almeno di non nuocere." en Español: "Haga un hábito de dos cosas: ayudar; o al menos no hacer daño." en francés: "Faites une habitude de deux choses : aider; ou au moins ne faire aucun mal." Can you see some similarities in the different languages? Let me know and have a great week!

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