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Top 5 Tips to Help Absorb a Foreign Language
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Sun, 11 Jul 2010 17:37:46 +0000
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Whether your school requires a foreign language as part of its curriculum, or whether you’ve decided to study a language on your own, the learning process can be difficult because it’s so unlike other subjects you’ve studied before. All of a sudden, you have to make room in your brain for a brand new alphabet, a different grammatical structure, and thousands of new words. However, there are several techniques available to help the new language sink in and be absorbed.
1. Try to familiarize yourself with the culture
Believe it or not, learning about the culture in which your new language is spoken can do a great deal to improve your comprehension of the language. You might find that the a different cultural mentality is reflected in its words and phrases. Learn about social roles, holidays, customs, and food where your language is spoken. At the very least, you’ll have more to discuss when you practice the language with a native speaker!
2. Expose yourself to media in that language
It can be extremely helpful to listen to music with lyrics in your new language if only to hear a perfect example of the accent. Furthermore, TV shows, radio programs, and movies are excellent resources that provide examples of all the lessons you’re learning in class. You may even find that tuning into the radio or playing an audiobook can help you pick up on new vocabulary, the subtleties of grammar, and the correct pronunciation of difficult words. Even if you don’t understand everything, or even any of it at all, you’ll be amazed at how much your brain can absorb subconsciously.
3. Look up exchange programs and clubs at home
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Teaching English As a Foreign Language Abroad – Rwanda
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Tue, 20 Apr 2010 17:37:51 +0000
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Rwanda hasn’t had the easiest of times over the last 20 years or so. Since the genocide in 1994 that attracted worldwide front-page coverage and international condemnation as well as much criticised governmental inertia, not a great deal has been heard from the country. But that’s not to say that Rwanda hasn’t been busy planning its future and looking at ways to offer its people a happier more prosperous future.
Part of that planning has involved the setting up of a new project that will radically overhaul the nation’s language teaching. It forms the basis of a far-reaching policy that will see the teaching of English as its second language in all Rwandan schools. Seen by many as an attempt to break away from its French colonial past, Rwanda is following in the footsteps of neighbouring countries Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania who already use English as a second language. The hope is that by using English, commercial and cultural ties with neighbouring countries will be strengthened and that Rwanda can also to give itself a competitive lift on the international stage.
The new initiative is a continuation of the ongoing efforts by the authorities to introduce English as an L2 across higher education and throughout Government. Already, entrance to the Institute of Science and Technology is in English and although more comfortable speaking French, increasing numbers of government officials are now starting to use English.
With the reforms due to begin in the very near future there are dangers however, that the lack of training available to Rwanda’s primary teachers may undermine its effectiveness. With less than 10% of primary school teachers having received English training and only 5% of secondary school teachers having had even basic training, the danger is that the scheme may collapse even before it can properly begin. All for the lack of teachers qualified to teach English in Rwanda.
What Rwanda needs is qualified ESL teachers – and it needs them fast.
Already neighbouring countries with spare English teaching capacity have stepped in to help by sending teachers and the British Council have also sent TEFL teachers to the region in order to try and help close the language teaching gap. Perhaps more than anything though the country would benefit from independent English language teachers choosing to take a closer look at what Rwanda has to offer and opt to take up teaching jobs in Rwanda.
Rwanda might not seem like an obvious choice and with the country’s well-documented difficulties still fresh in the minds of many, TEFL in Rwanda might not be top of many people’s EFL teaching plans. It would be a shame though to overlook the country on the grounds of its past and to not experience its positive and vibrant present or its ambitious future. Rwanda certainly has a great deal to offer, the chance to develop new skills, experience new and exciting environments as well as discovering and enjoying African and in particular Rwandan culture.
If you are thinking about teaching English abroad then think about teaching in Rwanda – it might be just what you’re looking for.
Chris Soames – Online TEFL courses with over 20,000 course graduates each year, international accreditation and certification recognised by schools worldwide.
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Why Choosing the Right Chinese Language School in China Is So Important
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Mon, 15 Feb 2010 17:37:44 +0000
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Have you ever thought of learning a new language? Most of us adults, by the time we get out of high school, have at least a rudimentary knowledge of some other language, and in this country it is usually Spanish, French, or German. But as the world we live in changes, and almost twenty percent of the people on this planet are speaking one of the dialects of China, now is the perfect time to go to Chinese language school in China to learn this popular language.
“Total immersion” has long been considered to be the most successful method of teaching a language. It involves you learning in a foreign country, from foreign language speakers, and being forced to learn as quickly as possible. In many ways, for your own survival, you will have to learn the language!
– You will be forced to learn to ensure that you get whatever it is that you want or need.- You will have to speak Chinese on a regular basis and will not be able to revert back to English.- You will get to experience the culture and lifestyle of China.- You will learn from people who are trained to teach the language.
Chinese language school in China is becoming more and more popular these days, and there are now more choices than ever before. That being said, you should make sure that the Chinese language school in China that you choose has a good track record, has been around for a while, and will also let you talk to past graduates.
Studies show that people who are bilingual will make up to 25% more during their lifetime than those of us who speak only one language, so take the opportunity while you can to learn a new language.
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Teaching English As A Foreign Language From The View Of One Experienced Expat
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Mon, 04 Jan 2010 17:37:54 +0000
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Putting on my school bag for the first time and waving goodbye to my parents or leaving my home to go to work for the first time did not mark the beginning of my life. The biggest change from what was formerly what I called my reality to what is now the actuality I have longed for, occurred when I went to a new country. And I don’t mean to visit or sight-see, but to actually get an apartment, a job and settle down – well kind of.
I was 23-years-old, a west coast girl living in New York City. It had taken me seven strenuous months to find a decent job somewhat related to my field – magazine journalism. So I found myself working long hours in a rustic building in Chelsea close to the empire state building. It was a start-up job as a traffic assistant for an ad agency. Don’t get me wrong, with clients like DKNY and Ralph Lauren to name a few, it all seemed quite glamorous. But, my life was whittling away with 60 hour work-weeks and it was becoming an industrial-era monotonous ritual of a job peppered with food and sleep. Nothing much else. After a few months of this, I wondered if my degree from a prestigious college had played a trick on me or was this the life I was supposed to accept for the next thirty-plus years.
Browsing frantically online one day at work, I found the TEFL program, short for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I quickly applied and received an even quicker response. I don’t know if being fired from this job a few weeks later was one of my biggest blessings ever, but it certainly made the decision to accept Spain’s allure a whole lot easier. I made a conscious decision before I stepped on to that flight – well the second one after I missed the first – that I would make this a four-year learning experience. I would be prancing around Europe and wherever else I happened to land, thus expanding my horizons like no university ever could.
Teaching English at language schools and being a private English tutor in Madrid for one year; followed by a second year in Ljubljana, Slovenia; and a third as a teaching assistant in France and later Thailand, provided both a fascinating experience with both its ups and down-sides and a challenging and respectable way to earn a living abroad. First of all, I present the benefits of teaching English as opposed to obtaining the typical nine-to-fiver in your own country:
1. It is not hard to find a job – if you are a native speaker with collage experience – the world is basically waiting for you to show up at their doorstep.
2. The TEFL program, though it is not free – I spent $1,000 for a one month course and certificate – is a great way of networking and making friends who are also in the same boat and helps prepare you before stepping in front of a class.
3. Teaching others English simultaneously exposes you to the foreign language and helps you pick up some of its similarities and nuances that you wouldn’t normally learn on the streets or with a book. It’s like a two-in-one class: the student learns the desired language and the teacher learns the student’s tongue.
4. It makes you more aware of other cultures and ways of doing things. You become a more flexible and open person because that’s what teaching is about and teaching foreign students provides a completely different perspective while challenging your previously-held norms.
5. Money, of course.Depending on the country, you can start with no experience and earn generally equal or more than the average resident.
6. Freedom to travel. Generally the schools are also flexible and hours are low (usually 12-24 hours teaching time per week is plenty to live on) you will find taking time off easier, more holidays in general and of course, the entire summer to exploit your savings to the fullest as I did after nine months in Madrid I could support myself for the entire summer of fun-filled traveling.
Now, for the down-sides of teaching English as opposed to getting a home-grown means of work:
1. It is not as stable. Usually companies simply expect you to stay for one school season and then search for other new candidates that they can pay less.
2. It can sometimes get very tedious. For example, many companies, particularly in Asia require you to sign on for a one year or more contract and you can find out that the company and the country is not for you. I personally advise signing any contracts before going to the school. If they offer free airfare, there may be a good reason for it.
3. The students can sometimes become very trying. If you are stuck with a large class of high-school students who didn’t choose to take the course in the first place, your job could become a living nightmare.
4. Sometimes it can feel very isolating. Everyone else has a different first language than you and jokes can become lost on both sides. Unless you are fluent in the other language, it can become a source of embarrassment and even ridicule as you get used to working with it.
5. Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed. It is a more interactive job and requires thinking on your toes and also preparing fresh lesson plans in advance. Of course, as you get used to it, the lesson plans get easier as you realize you can re-use the same ones, tweaking them in a matter of minutes.
6. Money, again. Sometimes classes end sooner than expected or the number of holidays was not properly calculated so you don’t end up with as much as you expected. Also, students don’t show up for tutor-sessions and a lot of cancellations occur, especially with business classes. It can be hard to fill up your schedule and you may have more down-time than expected.
7. The amount of traveling required. You came for the adventure of seeing new places, but end up spending much of the time transporting back and forth from corporations, houses and schools. Don’t expect to be paid for travel time and bring a sandwich with you for when you get caught in a stalled train or an over-crowded bus.
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