Thursday, July 30, 2015

Social Media for English Learning

Traditional foreign language learning mainly includes repeating grammar rules and vocabulary writing exercises. Engagement with native speakers and conversations on real-world topics are not so common. Today, however, language learning is a much more dynamic and practical process. Thanks to social media, people seeking contact with native speakers of other languages have it easy. Instead of having to spend thousands of dollars in immersion programs in another country, you can simply sign on to your social media account of choice and start learning for free.

Sites like Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and others offer language learners entertaining and interactive experiences with native speakers. Im an absolutely social media dummy - but with my kids around, Im becoming better and better...the below tools may help you in one way or another :)

Facebook & Twitter
There are hundreds of Facebook pages and groups as well as Twitter accounts that are dedicated to foreign language learning. Some include videos, music, cartoons or daily grammar and vocabulary lessons. To join a page or follow an account, type in the language you want to learn. Ex: Learn Spanish. Several pages and accounts will pop up. Click 'Like' or 'Follow' button and you'll start receiving their posts in your Facebook or Twitter feed.

The benefit: Some of these pages are written by language teachers. You'll gain access to their lessons without having to pay fees, buy books or language software or schedule lessons.

You can also friend or follow people who speak the language you're trying to learn. You'll have an access to their posts and comments which will help enrich your vocabulary and grammar skills. You could also arrange a language exchange with them. Ex: your new Facebook friend or Twitter follower will help you learn to speak Portuguese if you help him to speak English.

The benefit: This is the practical side of language learning. You'll get exposure to real-world conversations and discussions. Here's where you'll also learn more about the culture, values and idiomatic phrases.

Another way to practice a foreign language is to change your Facebook and/or Twitter account to another language setting:

Click on Settings

Open the Account page

Click on the Language menu

Change it to the language you wish to learn

Click on Save changes

The benefit: Those who use these accounts frequently (and who doesn't?) will be constantly immersed in the new language.

Pinterest also provides a way to learn foreign languages. I typed in "Learn Russian” in their search box and a page with hundreds of pins popped up with vocabulary lessons and photos and pictures. Follow the pins that interest you.

The benefit: Those of you who've used Pinterest before know how addictive this site is. Which is exactly why it's a great tool for language learning. You won't want to stop!

YouTube is a goldmine for language learning. Get access to thousands of videos in different languages. From the serious to the hilarious, you'll find videos that match your learning style. You'll also have access to films and music in the language you want to learn, sometimes with subtitles.

The benefit: YouTube will provide you audio-visual language lessons which will help you listen and speak. These are very practical language skills that you won't get from reading and writing.

Blogs and Wikis
You can also check out sites like and Wikimedia, blogs & wikis dedicated to language learning. Many teachers and organizations collaborate to mount these sites to use in their classrooms.

The benefit: Though not as interactive as some other sites, you'll still be granted access to free and educational language sites. What more could you want?

Then there are sites that are specifically dedicated to language learning like Livemocha which links native speakers with those wishing to learn that language. You can sign up for free and interact with people who are there specifically for language exchange.

The benefit: Access to native speakers interested in teaching you. Live chat, audio lessons and grammar exercises.

Social media makes it easier than ever to learn a foreign language without having to leave home. These sites are free to anyone. Learning languages through social media is more dynamic and practical than traditional learning methods. Make good use of the social networks you already use and start learning a new language today.

Monday, July 27, 2015

5 Myths About Learning English

You know how I feel about languages, especially when it comes to being able to communicate with other cultures and connecting with others. 

As the world becomes ever more connected, learning a second language can be a wonderful way to gain academic and career advantages. For non-native speakers of English, the influence that English-speaking countries have on global markets can make it an easy and logical decision to learn the language.

So of course, when I found David White's 5 Myths About Learning English, I felt that it was necessary to share:

When it comes to learning a second tongue, the ease with which you become fluent depends on a number of different, often subjective factors. Nevertheless, because English is a fairly nuanced and idiomatic language, non-native speakers may feel intimidated. These feelings can easily become exacerbated when you start to consider all the myths about how difficult it is to learn English. If you are a non-native speaker, and if you are attempting to gain some mastery of the English language, debunking the following five myths should help you feel more comfortable and confident in your endeavor.

1. English is one of the most difficult languages to learn

Many people believe that English is an incredibly difficult language to learn. While it is true that English relies on elements that may be unfamiliar to some non-native speakers, it is not as challenging as it may at first appear to be.

When compared to certain other languages, English has relatively few inflections, which accordingly limits the ways that words can be used. For example, most nouns are used in the singular or plural, while verbs are generally used in the past, present, or future tense.

2. Pronunciation does not matter

Some people mistakenly believe that learning from a book is sufficient because what truly matters is learning the words and their meanings. This is incorrect. Whether you are mastering English, French, or Arabic, pronunciation always matters. There are many words in the English language that have similar spellings but different pronunciations and meanings – sometimes very different meanings. As with any language, in order to use it properly, you need to know how to pronounce its terms.

One of the best ways to learn pronunciation is to watch and listen to native speakers. When you do so, pay close attention to how they form sounds and words.

3. The only way to learn a language is through immersion and exclusive use

It is true that immersion programs and the exclusive use of a particular language are great ways to become comfortable with that tongue, but they are by no means the only ways.

Speaking in any language helps us to develop confidence and cognitive abilities, and to grow as critical thinkers. However, our first language is one of our strongest connections to our cultures, and it can help us bond with others. It is important to spend as much time as possible on studying and practicing your new language, but never at the expense of your first language. This can lead to frustration and feelings of isolation.

4. English is best learned when you are young

It is common for people to assume that English is best learned when the non-native speaker is young. This is not an unreasonable assumption, but it is untrue. Children do tend to master languages more quickly than adults, but adults can learn them too.

The expectations for young language learners tend to be much lower than those for adults, and the content being learned is usually more basic than for learners at a higher grade. In addition, children tend to have much more time to devote to learning than older students do.

5. Conversation leads to mastery

One of the many reasons that a student might want to learn a new language is so that he or she can use it in a conversational context. Perhaps because of this, many people assume that once one is able to engage in conversation with a native speaker, they have achieved a certain level of mastery. While conversational use of any second tongue is one of the more difficult tests, it does not necessarily indicate mastery.

Most languages, particularly American English, have certain quirks and idiosyncrasies that can make one conversation seem flawless and another messy and confusing. If you find that you are having trouble with conversational English, the problem might be that the native speaker is using regional phrases or sayings, or that their pronunciation might be heavily affected by an accent. Rather than despairing, persevere with your language studies.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

To10 iPhone Apps for Students

Just a couple months ago, I had posted something along the lines of different tools available on your phone - whether an app or otherwise, so when I came across the below article written by a Ms. Kate Funk on the newest iPhone apps, I thought I would include it in one of my posts here...

Now, although I do believe you can have too many apps, I thought this article added a couple nice new tools to our list of must haves :) Have a read and let me know what you think about the tools outlined below:

Original post from aussiewriter on July 1, 2015:

If you've just bought the newest iPhone, you've paid more than double what you would have paid for some leading smartphone competitors. So it's up to you to get the most out of it. You can do that with the aid of apps.

Students have more uses for apps than most regular folk because they have to deal with a number of issues in the academic world. Simply researching an essay can be aided with the use of quite a few apps, not to mention the apps that help a student plan his/her everyday life. Have a look online for a few apps for students, as they are often very inexpensive or free. Here are ten you may want to consider:

1) Evernote
This is a very popular app that is used by students and business persons around the world. It allows you to save and categorize your notes so that they are easy to store and easy to find. It also has a number of other functions such as allowing you to save voice messages, movies, images, and audio. You are able to create a mini library of all the things that you need to remember and store them in an easily accessible place. If you have stored notes of a detailed or important nature then you can move them over to your computer or the cloud.

2) CourseSmart eTextbooks
This app gives you access to over seven thousand textbooks from your iPhone. eTextbooks is a paid app with a licensing agreement for each book. It allows access for the duration of your subscription. This means that you do not have to fully invest in your books, you can just “rent” them until you do not need them any longer. For example, you could buy a license that gives you access to a book for as long as your course lasts, or just buy the license that lets you use it for a course term.

3) New York Times
Sure you can use this app to stay up to date with current events and that whole thing, but it is actually very good for creating references for your essay. You are often asked to quote from or to reference a number of different sources instead of just relying on journals and the New York Times is great for this. You can even use it to quote metrics and survey results as it is viewed as an academically respectable source for such things. You can also check to see where NYT got their figures and quote directly from the original source.

4) myHomework
This fun little app allows you to organize your homework assignments. That is putting it in fairly simple terms as you can use it to track when your next class is, what coursework is due and when it is due. You can schedule important matters regarding your education and qualifications and then set alerts for when you need them.

5) Wikipanion
Wikipanion allows you to look up pages on Wikipedia without having to access it via your browser. Wikipedia is not a standard academic resource and you will lose marks for referencing it in your essays, but it is still a good information resource. You just need to remember to check the information that you find on it. A good way of doing this is to check the references given by the website itself. They often lead you to some very valid resources that you are allowed to quote and reference in your essays. Plus, sometimes it is handy just to know a few things in order to round off your essays more thoroughly. You can check the facts that other sources have given you to see if they are on the level.

6) StudyBlue
This app allows you to create flashcards to help you study and memorize for your exams. Some exams rely more heavily on memorization of figures than others. For example, if you are doing an exam in humanities or history then you need to know certain principles, but if you are doing one in physics or chemistry then you are going to need to know actual equations and theories. This is where you will benefit from the StudyBlue app. You can create your own flashcards and then have them come up in a random order. It will help you to test your knowledge, or you can just have them present you with the facts in the hopes that you will memorize what is flashed on your screen. It is an old memorization trick but it still proves effective even today.

7) Study Buddy
This app allows you to be more productive when you study. It monitors how many breaks you take or how often you are distracted. If you are trying to come up with a study routine then this app may be used to increase your efficiency. After each study session, it will show you a graph of how efficient you were. This may help you choose more optimal intervals as you plan your study sessions.

8) WolframAlpha
WolframAlpha gives you answers to questions. It's programmed with hundreds of different answers for a multitude of subjects, and it can actually do the math on your algebra and calculus problems. If you have a mathematical problem within your chemistry or economics paper, then you can ask the app for the answer. It is a very nice little shortcut for students when they need to know the answer quickly.

9) iTunes U
Oddly enough this is not just an app for finding music, you can also find a lot of good audio information with it. iTunes U has lectures from esteemed professors and industry experts. You can learn a lot from the lectures, and you can even look up their sources with Google to find reference information. This will allow you to quote the lectures when you write your essays or dissertations.

10) Dropbox
This is a cloud service that allows you to store your files online. It makes synchronization between multiple devices and computers very easy. It allows a student to save very large files without having to use the hard drive of their device, and it allows the student the ability to see those files from anywhere that has Internet. It also saves the student from having to carry around paper versions of files.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Summer Spelling List Part 4

Week 7 
Sight words, “shun” words, and academic vocabulary

1. February 
2. entrance 
3. valley
4. freight
5. discard
6. president
7. aware
8. trouble
9. situation
10. station
11. description 
12. prescription 
13. subscription 
14. condition 
15. introduction 
16. technique 
17. divisible
18. array
19. composite 
20. factorization 
21. greatest

Week 8 
Sight words, “shun” words, and academic vocabulary

1. April
2. coward
3. symbols
4. loyal
5. application
6. beckon
7. saucer
8. admission
9. politician
10. drawing
11. recession
12. concession
13. deception
14. production
15. reduction
16. chlorophyll
17. chloroplast
18. activate
19. photosynthesis 
20. stomata
21. vascular 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Spelling List Part 3

Week 5 
Sight words, suffix -able, and academic vocabulary

1. beetle
2. jewelry
3. avenue
4. climbed 
5. wrote
6. youth
7. continued 
8. launch
9. debate
10. plains
11. adaptable
12. allowable
13. comfortable 
14. distinguishable 
15. preferable
16. membrane
17. transportation 
18. active
19. passive
20. inverse
21. regroup

Week 6 
Sight words, number-related, and academic vocabulary

1. January 
2. England 
3. route
4. design 
5. bruise
6. awkward 
7. billion
8. triple
9. bicycle
10. octave
11. pentameter 
12. quadruple 
13. unique
14. quadriceps 
15. uniform 
16. interact
17. specialize 
18. surplus
19. barter
20. economy 
21. cultural

Monday, July 13, 2015

Summer Spelling List Part 2

Week 3 
Sight words, suffix -able, and academic vocabulary

1. continent 2. Africa
3. killed
4. melody 5. bottom 6. register 7. sleeve
8. infant
9. eagle
10. layer
11. desirable 
12. excitable 
13. breakable 
14. notable 
15. tolerable 
16. religion 
17. tradition 
18. ceremony 
19. customary 
20. folklore 
21. organ 

Week 4 
Sight words, suffix -ible, and academic vocabulary

1. surprise
2. French 
3. hesitate 
4. sway 
5. exactly
6. remain
7. beige
8. breathe
9. succeed
10. horrible
11. tangible
12. gullible
13. possible
14. permissible
15. comprehensible 
16. invisible
17. tissue
18. function
19. specific
20. mitochondria 
21. glucose 

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Day at the Space Station

Dr. Tina is a scientist. She works in the space station. In the morning, she makes new medicines. There is no gravity so it is easier to make them. In the afternoon Dr. Tina walks in space. In the evening, Dr. Tina has a rest. She looks out of the window. There is a sunrise or sunset every fifty five minutes. Then at ten p.m. she goes to bed. She sleeps in a special sleeping bag, so she does not float away.


What does Dr. Tina do in the morning? _____________________________________

When does Dr. Tina go for a space walk? ____________________________________

How often is there a sunset or sunrise? _____________________________________

Why does Dr. Tina sleep in a special sleeping bag? _____________________________________

When is sunrise on Earth?
a) in the night b) in the morning c) in the evening