Senin, 14 Juli 2008

Speaking Spanish To Increase Mind Power

Our "mind power" is largely in the way we use our words, and limited by our vocabulary. Words, and the concepts they express, are different in each language, and there are differing common expressions. That's why when you learn a new language, you learn new ways to think.

Most Americans see money as something created, not as a static quantity to be divided up. This is no coincidence. English is one of the few languages that speaks of "making" money. In other languages, the verb used is "to gain," "take," or "get." The words used affect how people think about money. Personally, I think "making money" is a very healthy perspective.

Hablas EspaƱol?

Did you know that in Spanish, you're not thirsty, cold or afraid? You have to say "I have thirst (yo tengo sed)", "I have coldness (yo tengo frio)," or "I have fear (yo tengo miedo)." Could this change the way a person experiences things?

Definitely. Therapists are now telling people to stop saying or thinking things like "I am afraid." That way of expressing it creates too much identification with the feeling. It's healthier to say "I feel fear." You're not afraid, you're a human; fear, like all feelings, is just a temporary visitor.

In Spanish you "take" a decision (tomar un decision). Is it possible that "taking" a decision could be less stressful than "making" one? It might subconsciously limit you, too, since you generally "take" from what's available, while to "make" leaves your options wide open.

Other Advantages Of Learning A Language

You gain words when you learn a language, but also the ability to understand things better. Who can speak more precisely about snow; someone with three words for it (snow, sleet, powder), or an eskimo with 22 words for it? Which is more efficient, the German word "zeitgeist," meaning "the taste and outlook of a period or generation," or the nine words I just used to say the same thing?

According to the research, most people experience a general improvement in memory from studying a language. Research has also demonstrated that you can halt age-related decline in mental function by learning a new language. Tuck that little tip away for later in life, or better yet, why not start learning a new language today?

By Steve Gillman

Teaching English in Greece - What Do You Need to Know?

The employment situation can be quite uncertain for newcomers to Greece and therefore many people choose to try teaching English as a foreign language, on a full or part-time basis. It can bring in a good income whether it is your preferred career choice, or you wish to do it short-term until another career choice pans out.

Qualifications and Experience

There are many language schools or frontistiria in Athens and all over Greece, to which you could apply for work. In order to get a job in one of these schools, it is still not strictly necessary to have a formal teaching qualification such as TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language). Often all that is required is a university degree (in any subject) from a UK or US university. That said, if you are uncertain about your ability to teach English and want to ensure that you start off in this line of work with the necessary skills, a course would be useful. It would provide you with some teaching theory, knowledge of English grammar (let's face it, many of us have never formally studied English grammar in any great depth, even though we speak and write English everyday) and give you some valuable experience of teaching in a classroom, since this is included in most courses. When applying for jobs, you will find vacancies that specify that previous teaching experience is required and others for which no experience is necessary.

It does not matter if you do not speak a lot of Greek. Native English speakers are often valued for other reasons such as having what is seen as a "proper" accent. Many people also swear by the approach of not speaking your students' language, so that they hear only English being spoken for the duration of the lesson. You will find ways to make yourself understood. In my experience of language teaching, it can even be counter-productive if your students know that you speak their language well, because they may be too easily tempted to speak to you in Greek when they find it hard going.

Finding work

Teaching English as a foreign language jobs are widely advertised in newspapers and on the Internet all year round and most often from August to October. As well as applying before in Greece, you can also go to door-to-door around the frontistiria with your CV, again in the August to October period. If you are visiting them in person, it is not recommended that you spend time doing this any earlier than August because the schools often do not consider their recruitment needs much before the beginning of the academic year.

Pay and working conditions

Pay and conditions offered by language schools will vary enormously, so it is important to check these out in detail first before accepting a contract. If time is on your side, it may be worth speaking to several schools rather than taking the first job you are offered. Also, if you work in a frontistirio it is quite likely that you will be working mainly in the afternoons and evenings, since this is when children and adults are free to take their lessons.

Making some extra money

Many people who teach English as a foreign language in a school, also do private English on the side and this can become a lucrative activity in itself. Working in a language school for a few months is a good way to meet students and advertise the fact that you do private English lessons, on a one-to-one basis. It can be difficult to get the first few, but then through word of mouth, you'll get more if you do a good job - that great social network of mums and dads on the school run can work wonders! The University of Cambridge ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) exam system seems to be the most widely known and respected in Greece, many people who want to be taught privately are preparing to sit a Cambridge exam or some other type of test. It is worth familiarising yourself with the system - there is an enormous amount of free information on the Internet, including lesson plans, tips, exam practice etc. The exams which are most commonly sat by students are the "First Certificate in English" (which many people still refer to by its old name: "Lower"), "Certificate of Proficiency in English" (known as "Proficiency"), and "Certificate in Advanced English" (commonly referred to as "Advanced"). More information is available from the Cambridge ESOL web site (

What private students will want from you varies a great deal. Some may just want a conversation class, others may just be starting on the Cambridge examinations path and there will be some who are already at a very high level and may need detailed coaching on specific grammar points or on vocabulary for a particular purpose e.g. business English. And given these differences, the amount of preparation required on your part and the fee per hour you are able to charge will probably vary too. I will finish with a word on advertising. My experience has been that I have paid out money for two newspaper ads, which got back zero replies! What has worked well for me is local advertising - you need to use your imagination. I put a card in local shops and a small notice in the back window of my car and you can see people reading it at every traffic light! Just beware of getting calls on your mobile phone while you're driving - not good! As I said before, word of mouth should kick in too once you have your first couple of lessons.

By Emmanuel Mendonca

Learning a Foreign Language: Why Should you Learn Words You Never Use in Your Mother Tongue?

Imagine a child sitting in front of a desk, his head in his hands, and mumbling various lists of words over and over. Does this child remind you of your own experience? If yes, I bet that "list of words" does not sound appealing to you. You are almost ready to swear that they do not work. Before you mortgage your part of paradise, it may be wise to make sure you are right.

You can open a dictionary and begin to learn it by heart (a dictionary is no more than a list of words). There are many illustrated dictionaries that offer you the same resources as plenty of websites do by displaying colorful pictures with captions. You know that these tools exist because you have already tried to enrich your vocabulary that way. The scope of the task curbed your enthusiam.

Though, it is not a bad way to learn vocabulary, it is even the best way for one person: the author of the list.


You are unique. Your memory is unique, not only because your memories are yours, and only yours, but also because the way you store them is yours and only yours. For a large part, memory is about association of ideas and the associations you make depend on your experience.

Let's study an example to make it clear. Ask anyone to give you a word in relation with the common word "horse". You will get mare, race, chivalry or Trojan, etc, depending on the person who answers.

He who answered "mare" might go on with stable, foal and even cow and other farm animals; he who said "race" would probably go on with racecourse and tote. Obviously, their experiences of life are quite different. "Chivalry" would lead to King Arthur, coat of mail and tournament while "Trojan" would meet Homer, odyssey, god and goddess.

If you are a linguist, it is very likely that you associate horse to horseback, horsehair, horseman and horseplay and think that your list is easy to remember. On the contrary, if you are not interested in the Middle-Age History, the "chivalry" list will slip your mind.

The more personal the links between the words, the easier the way to learn them. That is why a list works at its best for its author. The connections between the words pre-exist in the author's head.

So, pave your way, prepare your own list!

It will fit in with your way of thinking

It will meet with your center of interests

It will meet with your requirements

It will be half-learnt just by looking for the words you want to know

In the third issue, we will see how to take advantage of scientific studies about human memory. There are many ways to learn a foreign language. Why would you choose the hardest one?

By Gabrielle Guichard

Don't Take The Romaji Short-Cut When Learning Japanese

This is an issue many Japanese learners come up against, particularly if they live outside Japan. After all, If you are not in the country, it seems difficult to justify the huge amount of time that learning Japanese characters seems to require.

So what are the problems in using Romaji (Roman letters, like the characters you are reading right now) for studying Japanese:

1. Mother-Tongue Conflict

The associations your brain will create between Japanese words written in Romaji and English words (or those of your mother tongue) greatly increases the risk of mispronunciation. Japanese symbols will have none of these associations for you. The very fact that they are completely alien helps you to start your language learning experience from a blank sheet. Your chances of being able to gain the correct pronunciation soar.

2. Show Me The Romaji

Your textbook may be in Romaji, but you will be very hard-pressed to find any real examples in Japan. Of course, you can see a fair amount of reasonably understandable English, but not Romaji. And watch what happens when write some Japanese in Romaji and show it to your native speaker friend: They have a really hard time deciphering it, because Japanese people just don't it.

3. Today's Crutch Becomes Tomorrow's Burden

If you decide to continue your studies in Japanese, you will eventually need to start to grapple with the characters themselves anyway. In my opinion, it is harder to leave the crutch of Romaji behind than it is to bite the character bullet at the beginning of your studies.

As you can see, there are serious problems with using Romaji when you start to learn Japanese. So what is my advice to learners? Well, it really depends on your motivation and needs:

1. The Serious Student

This could be a person who is going to be living in Japan for a period of time, whether as a teacher or a businessperson, or someone who travels regularly to Japan for meetings.

If you are in this group, you should first master hiragana and katakana before you even start with any other aspect of the language. Then, when you do begin, you can dive right into a "proper" Japanese textbook.

Hiragana and katakana are not at all difficult to learn. I learned them part-time in a couple of weeks. Even kanji can be learned fairly rapidly by a motivated and well-organized student with the right tools.

2. The Hobbyist

Perhaps you don't have a burning need to learn Japanese. You are doing it for pleasure, or because you are planning on visiting Japan.

If this is you, then your options are more varied. However, even in your situation, I would not suggest starting with a Romaji textbook. Instead, I would recommend you begin with the spoken language. If you are wondering how you can do this if you are not in Japan, check out the Pimsleur method. Sure, it is a little expensive even second-hand. The point is that you will be able to speak and understand enough for a short trip. Once you have completed the course, you can then decide whether you wish to stop there, or continue studying in a more serious manner - in which case you then follow the Serious Student method I mentioned before.

Learning to speak and listen will keep your language-learning fun, whilst not undermining any future serious study by getting you used to the Romaji crutch.

So whatever your motivations are and whatever your needs, if you can avoid the Romaji crutch, you will pick up the language better and be well-placed to make rapid progress in the future.

By Stephen Munday

Learning a Foreign Language: the Psychological Factor

When it comes about learning a foreign language, many people wonder if they will be able to memorize enough vocabulary. But this question never occurs about their mother tongue. And yet, it was a foreign language; nevertheless, among all the questions that new parents ask, no doctor has ever heard: "Will my baby be able to learn my language?" Be honest. Do you know all the words of your mother tongue? The answer is: "no". New words, and new ways of using old words, appear every day. Twenty years ago, who would have been able to understand such a sentence: "Click here to download your digital book"? Nobody. You never stop acquiring new vocabulary and you never know how long you will be needing it. Do you still use "tomagotchi"?

When you don't know the exact name of a thing, you don't hesitate to call it "whatsit". Why do you think foreigners do otherwise? (The French word for whatsit is machin. That's a good start! You already know the word that can virtually replace any other!)

Sometimes, you have the word on the tip of your tongue... and it sticks there! But you do know this phenomenon and don't think that it is due to a bad memory. You should not give this phenomenon more importance in the language you are learning than in your mother tongue. You need to learn only 2000 or so basic French words to be able to create any paraphrase you need. You can't avoid some work in order to learn these essential words and all the more if you want to learn quickly. Before you contemplate to buy a learn-in-a-breeze method, be sure it is right for you. It is not as wise as it is said to rely on a method based upon mnemotechnics. The first words seem very easy lo learn; so, you buy the method; and you discover quickly, though too late, that a dozen words later, it is all the more difficult to learn a new word that you have also to learn the trick to memorize it.

The next topic will be about lists of words: why they work and why they don't.

By Gabrielle Guichard

Bridging the Language Gap Using Bilingual Picture Books

There are more than 39 million Hispanics live in the United States making it the fifth largest Spanish-speaking nation in the world. It is estimated that within five years, only Mexico will have more Spanish-speakers than the U.S. Schools are offering bilingual courses and fully integrated bilingual curriculum. In some areas of the country , Spanish even exceeds English as the first language of the residents. Families are integrating languages into their neighborhoods regularly.

We propose bridging the language gap with bilingual picture books that both educate and entertain. The presence of both English and Spanish in the same book allows cross-cultural access and language development. Reading is a wonderful family experience which allows children to explore character development, expanding imagination and develop problem solving skills. The addition of another language educates and the illustrations in a picture book support the learning in an entertaining way.

Raven Tree Press offer bilingual books in a variety of styles and choices.

Full text translation-Full text translation means the text of the story is presented in English and then again in Spanish. Both texts are generally placed on the page with an icon separating the two for ease of reading. A different ink color is also generally used to further offset the two languages.

Embedded text-Take a story in English and sprinkle in a little Spanish. We call it embedded text. The word that will be embedded is usually first introduced in English and then reiterated in the sentence, or at least in the same paragraph in Spanish later. Once the word is introduced, it can be used again and again in context of the story. The context of the story and the illustrations are of utmost importance when using embedded text as they aid in making the leap from one language to another.

Wordless-Can a wordless book be effective in learning language? Definitely! Wordless picture books and picture books with limited words are both beautiful and educational. They help children develop language, creative thinking and enhance future reading and writing skills. Using wordless picture books, children learn that reading follows a left-to-right pattern. They learn that stories generally have a beginning, a middle section and an ending. They also learn to identify details, see cause and effect, make judgements and draw conclusions. We present an instruction page in both English and Spanish for creative uses of our books.

Concept Bilingual-In concept bilingual books, we take one concept of language and focus strictly on that. Counting, for example. The story is presented in English, but the concept (numbers in this case) are presented in both English and Spanish. Keywords are easily learned using this format.

Raven Tree Press includes an English/Spanish vocabulary page to help readers with keywords in either language.

Raven Tree Press children's bilingual picture books are available at favorite bookstores, online booksellers and at the publisher's web site

Publisher Note: Book excerpts and artwork can be imbedded in this article easily to clarify points if interested. Please contact me for further details.

By Dawn Jeffers

Teaching Reading to English Language Learners

There is an increasing amount of English language learners represented in our schools for whom a unique approach to developing literacy is necessary. The development of literacy by English language learners (ELLs) includes all of the challenges implicit for English speaking children literacy attainments, and is additionally compounded by a diversity of linguistic, cognitive and academic variables.

In general, the following are critical variables that need to be targeted in effective reading instruction:

Phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary development, reading fluency, including oral reading skills, and reading comprehension strategies. The National Research Council's Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children recently completed the most authoritative, comprehensive review of the research on normal reading development and instruction and on preventing reading difficulties in young children1. This study documented a number of important findings about teaching English reading to language-minority children. These include:

- English-speaking children making initial attempts at reading understand, if they are successful, the products of their efforts; they read words they know and sentences they understand, and?can self-correct efficiently. Non-English speakers have a more limited basis for knowing whether their reading is correct because the crucial meaning-making process is short circuited by lack of language knowledge.

- Giving a child initial reading instruction in a language that he or she does not yet speak can undermine the child's chance to see literacy as a powerful form of communication by knocking the support of meaning out from underneath the process of learning.

- Initial reading instruction in the first language does no harm. To the contrary, it seems likely both from research findings and from theories about literacy development that initial reading instruction in the second language can have negative consequences for immediate and long-term achievement. Primary language and reading literacy is critical and should be strongly encouraged.

It was highly recommended that "initial literacy instruction in a child's native language whenever possible" and suggested that "literacy instruction should not be introduced in any language before some reasonable level of oral proficiency in that language has been attained."

On the question of which language to use when teaching English language learners to read, the committee recommended the following guidelines:

- If language minority children arrive at school with no proficiency in English but speaking a language for which there are instructional guides, learning materials, and locally available proficient teachers, then these children should be taught how to read in their native language while acquiring proficiency in spoken English, and then subsequently taught to extend their skills to reading in English.

- If these second language children arrive at school with no proficiency in English but speak a language for which the above conditions cannot be met and for which there are insufficient numbers of children to justify the development of the local community to meet such conditions, the instructional priority should be to develop the children's proficiency in spoken English. Although print materials may be used to develop understanding of English speech sounds, vocabulary, and syntax, the postponement of formal reading instruction is appropriate until an adequate level of proficiency in spoken English has been achieved. In other words, the instructional priority need to be to develop spoken oral English prior to attempting to facilitate reading in English.

By Deborah Jill Chitester