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 and...
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 to use...
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