Monday, July 17, 2017

5 Brilliant Resources to Gamify Language Learning by Karen Dikson

Kids have a natural tendency to learn new languages quickly and effectively. As we grow up, we somehow lose that capacity. We become stuck with grammar rules, syntax structures, and other complex aspects of language learning. Each of us approaches a new language differently. The results depend on the way our brains were organized before we started learning the language.           

There are three main aspects of each language:

  • Vocabulary (the way concepts are expressed verbally)
  • Grammar (the way the words are organized in a sentence)
  • Phonology (the way the letters and words sound in speech)

Traditional language learning is based on mastering all these aspects through lessons and practice sessions. That approach is not inspiring. Whether it’s an adult or a kid we’re talking about, the language learner needs something to engage them and make them committed. Gamification may be the solution. 

Andrew Peters, an English language tutor at Best Essays, explains how games speed up the process of mastering a second language: “When we say that mastering a second language is always challenging, we don’t mean the process should be boring. On the contrary: it should be fun and engaging. It’s about time for teachers, tutors, and language learners themselves to step away from the boring learning techniques and explore gamification.”

Are you in? We’ll suggest 5 great resources that enable you to gamify the language learning process.

1. MindSnacks


MindSnacks gives you several mini games that help you learn Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, German, Chinese, and Japanese. In addition, the tool includes math, SAT vocab, and kids’ vocab games. Each of these games comes as a separate app, which you can install on your phone and play on a daily basis.

The games prompt you to recognize definitions, errors, and correct spelling. They include visual and audio elements, as well as lessons that cover all basic concepts of your target language.

2. GameZone


If English is your target language, it’s hard to choose a single game and suggest it as the best one. That’s why we’re suggesting GameZone - a website that gives you tons of educational games to choose from.

You’ll find simple games that help you master English vocabulary, spelling, and grammar at all levels. This is a UK site, so keep in mind that the linguistic rules are slightly different than the ones of American English.

3. Bravolol


This tool currently provides lessons and games for 18 languages, including French, Turkish, English, German, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Greek, and more. You’ll get phrasebooks that teach you how to handle any situation when you’re required to speak the target language. In addition, you get a wide selection of bilingual dictionaries.

When the game asks you to pronounce a word or phrase, you can compare it to the way it sounds when pronounced by a native speaker. That’s a great way to practice through repetition without getting bored.

4. Babbel


Babbel is a serious language learning tool. It gives you programs for learning 13 languages, including German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Italian, and more. The aspect that makes it different from all other language learning apps is personalization. You can choose to learn things that are relevant to your goals. If, for example, you plan to travel to France, you can avoid mastering the concepts of business communication.

Although Babbel focuses on learning and practice, there’s still a “game feel” to it. You’ll be challenged to make progress every day.

5. Duolingo


Duolingo is becoming a standard in self-paced language learning. You can choose from over 20 languages to learn from, and the list is constantly being updated. The lessons feel like games, but they still help you master spelling, speech, translation, syntax, and all other aspects of the language you choose.

Duolingo records how many days you learn and practice in a row, so the calendar will keep you motivated.

Did you know that people from all around the world spent 3 billion hours a week playing video games? It’s no secret that we’re attracted by games. The question is: how can we make them more useful? When you find a gamified language learning program and you turn it into a daily habit, it will be a positive addiction.

All it takes is less than 30 minutes a day. If you don’t have 30 minutes, you can practice/play for 10 minutes. The point is to keep going. If you stick with this habit, it won’t take too long before you notice a huge difference in the way you communicate in the language you chose.

Karen Dikson is a tech-savvy college instructor and blogger from New Jersey. Her work has been published on Huffington Post and other educational resources. She enjoys helping her students achieve their most ambitious goals. Follow Karen on Twitter.

Monday, July 10, 2017

8 Fun and Practical Activities for Learning a Language at Home by Lori Wade

Do you still think that learning a language is tricky? It's not! Today, the process of studying a language is a completely different experience. Of course, the basics remain the same: you need to study grammar, vocabulary and discover the secrets of proper pronunciation, but the approach to it is different.

Language learning is great on rainy days.
Gone are the days when you could learn a foreign language only in special classes. Now, you don't even need to buy books to study Swedish, Japanese or Hindi. The Internet is full of options and if you know how to use them, you can start speaking a new language just in a couple of months. 

In this article, we are going to look at 8 activities that will help you master any language from the comfort of your own home. You don't even need to go abroad to practice your skill and work on your pronunciation as it can be easily done with any voice messenger. What’s even better about these methods is that you can apply them to study any language you want. It means that once you master them, you can enjoy their benefits for years!

1) Surfing the Web


How much time do you spend surfing the web? We bet that you even can’t tell for sure how long you're browsing. Nevertheless, you probably spend a lot of time and it's better to use surfing as a tool to learn a foreign language. If you have already started learning, perhaps you know some words and can read simple texts. That's all you need to start searching and developing your understanding of the language.


2) Use Sticky Notes


There are multiple ways to improve your vocabulary. You can learn words and word combinations off by heart. However, this approach isn't the most effective as you only see the word once or twice and in a couple of days, you'll forget it. When you're at home, it's better to use sticky notes with words. Stick them around the house and label all your furniture with the new words you want to learn.

Another good idea is to change the language of all your gadgets to immerse yourself in the new language environment. 

3) Play Games with Your Friends


Have you ever played letter scramble? This is one of the most popular games and it would be a crime not to use it as a tool to help you learn a new language. All you have to do is create words in the foreign language. This will help you both remember the way these words are written and to increase your vocabulary.

4) Watch TV Series


This is perhaps one of the best ways to work on pronunciation and the way the words are used in everyday speech. You can watch series with subtitles if it’s too difficult to catch all the words. Of course, it’s better to write down the words you don’t know.

If your language knowledge is poor, it is better to choose movies and TV series that you've already seen. You won’t need to check every single word in the dictionary and you'll at least understand the basic plot and dialogue.

5) Play Computer Games


Although most of the people think that computer games are bad for personal development, they're a perfect tool for mastering your language knowledge. You can play the game in the foreign language, listening to the dialogues and reading the descriptions. If this is a multiplayer game, you can communicate with players who speak this language. Of course, it may be difficult first to understand each other at first but the more you practice, the better your language will be.  

6) Talk to Your Friends in a New Language


If you want to speak a foreign language, you need to speak it whenever you have the chance! Of course, it's better to talk to the people who know it and who can correct your mistakes and pronunciation. However, if you don't have such an opportunity, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't ever speak. 

When speaking, you can break down communication barrier, which is even a bigger problem than a lack of grammar knowledge. Therefore, speak as much as you can even if you make a lot of mistakes and don't know all the words.

7) Use Facebook to Practice Your Writing


Writing is difficult for most people, especially when we are talking about writing in a new language. If you want to improve your knowledge, you need to write a lot. If you aren't ready to create posts or write essays, it's be better to use Facebook as a tool to find native speakers and practice writing with them.


8) Use Apps


If you're busy, it doesn't matter if you can only spend 10 minutes learning new words with mobile apps. You can install them on your smartphone and use them even you have no access to the Internet. 

Of course, even the most enjoyable ways to learn a foreign language won't guarantee results. You have to practice every single day and even if you have no time to write to your friends or play games, you can always learn some new words while going to work or just having a lunch. 

These activities are what we like about learning language at home. To get better results, we recommend mixing and matching them as each of them is focuses on acquiring different sets of skills like speaking, writing, and listening.

We hope that this article has helped you some find some new approach to studying languages. We'd love to hear the ways that work for you. What activities do you use to learn languages at home? Tell us what in the comments below!

Lori Wade is a freelance content writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level. If you're interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

Monday, July 3, 2017

8 Ways Bilingualism Can Further Your Career and Boost Your Income by Charles Ebert

Speaking two languages fluently is great. You can read more books in the original language, you can easily communicate with more people of different nationalities, and you can use your bilingualism to find a better job. However, many people don't even understand how lucky they are when by knowing two or more languages.

There are multiple studies of bilingualism's effect on different aspects of human life and each of them proves that it's a huge advantage. Let’s have a closer look at how knowledge of two languages affects your career development.

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is thinking that bilingualism is important for translators only and this can never be applied in any other sphere. We are going to destroy this myth and prove you that your knowledge of two languages can become a moving power for your career no matter what position you take right now.


Your Resume Gets More Views


If you are currently looking for a new job never miss a chance to show on your resume that you know two languages. Firstly, this will definitely make you stand out among other applicants and job seekers, and secondly, it will help you to reach international companies who are always looking for candidates fluent in two or more languages. Also, consider getting a bilingual resume to attract more companies.


Work for International Companies


As we've already mentioned, international companies give preference to candidates who speak multiple languages. In some cases, they're ready to hire inexperienced rookies who speak Swedish fluently because they need someone to communicate with Swedish partners who may not speak English.


Move Abroad


If you can't find a job in your country, you can always try to find it in another country where you speak the language. In this case, you'll have the advantage of speaking another language fluently, and every company dreams to have bilingual staff on their team.

Get a Better Salary


Companies are ready to pay you more just because you know a second language. It makes you an extraordinary employee who can also help the business to conquer the international market.


You're a Better Multitasker and a Better Candidate


Multitasking is one of the advantages of being bilingual. Psychological studies have determined a close relation between speaking two and more languages and the ability to perform several tasks simultaneously without a loss in quality. HR managers who about this will definitely want to invite you to an interview.


Find a Common Language with More People


Being culturally aware and communicating well is hugely important for international businesses. Your boss will want to take you to events where your knowledge of the two languages can help to establish more contacts and find more clients.

You can find freelance jobs connected with languages


If you are good with words, you should consider freelance copywriting or translation. If you are good at problem-solving, why not become a international consultant? There are plenty of opportunities. Just find something that works good for you!

Get Promoted Quickly


Bilinguals are multitaskers. They can act as problem solvers for international companies and, in some cases, are responsible for translations or even representing the company. This can lead to quicker promotions. Of course, in addition to language knowledge, you also have to be good in your field. However, if we compare bilinguals to those who speak only one language, the tend to be promoted quicker.

If you are bilingual, don't waste your time thinking about where to apply your knowledge. Thousands of the companies from all over the world are already looking for you. You need to write a résumé in both languages and indicate in your LinkedIn profile that you speak two languages.

Draw attention to your CV and get in touch with different companies! We hope that these advantages have been helpful and you'll use this knowledge to move towards getting your perfect job.


Charles is a career mentor, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

Monday, June 26, 2017

7 Grammar Games Which Make Language Learning More Effective and Fun by Steven Wesley

Language learners usually seek for instant knowledge and hope to develop basic conversation skills quickly. In the meantime, they often get terrified by the grammar rules, stop their efforts and don’t approach new languages ever again. But it doesn’t have to be like this. Grammar is the core of any language, and if understood correctly, it becomes a powerful weapon in a learner's arsenal. How can you make grammar learning less scary and more fun? Here’s a suggestion - through grammar games!

But why games? Studies have shown that learning through gamification enhances the foreign language acquisition process. Just like Carol Tackett, an English tutor at BestDissertation.com, recently stated:

“Learning is the process which depends on participant’s emotions and self-belief. Persons who learn through games are more engaged and strongly believe that understanding the new language is but a few steps away.”

Best language learning games

In this post, we'll review the 7 best language learning games. These games are universal and available for many languages, while you can play most of them in pairs or groups. Let’s check them out.


Stand up if you’ve ever… 

Stand up if you’ve ever … is one of the most inspiring language games. It’s an excellent conversation booster as it encourages learners to describe their life events or feelings in front of the whole group. It’s a great way to make everybody engaged and practice grammar through discussions on personal experiences.

The person who talks about a specific experience is standing and invites other participants to stand up if they went through the same situation. For instance, you can invite them saying: Stand up if you’ve ever been to Paris. In case you are the only person standing, you get one point. In the end, the winner is the person who deserves the most points.


Would you rather?

This is a highly creative game which boosts imagination but also improves participants’ grammar skills. One learner asks a strange question and then the rest of the players provide answers along with explanations why they choose one thing over other. Here are some examples of common but very amusing questions:
Would you rather travel 100 years into the future or 100 years into the past?
Would you rather be bitten by a venomous snake or a venomous spider?
Would you rather have to shout or whisper all the time?
Probably best not to travel 150 years into the past...

Original Origins

Original Origins is another question-based grammar game but with a nice plot twist. Instead of a weird question, students are supposed to give extraordinary answers. It’s not the true or false thing even if you know the right answer. It’s rather about animating learners to be creative and original. This game encourages outside-the-box thinking, which leads to strange solutions and complex sentence structures. In such circumstances, students need to use grammar properly to express their opinions and answer questions.

Grammar police

Mobile devices are all around us these days. Therefore, smart phones make an inevitable learning tool even when it comes to discovering new languages. If you and your friends are studying the same language, Grammar Police is the perfect way to improve knowledge in the digital environment as well. It allows you to become a genuine grammar police officer and correct your peers while messaging using foreign languages. It’s a great game because all participants in the conversation will be careful not to make mistakes. On the other hand, they will also search through the text to warn you about the omissions that you have made.

Jeopardy

Jeopardy is a well-known TV show which used to attract millions of viewers. It also became a successful language-learning game as it forces students to think and come up with appropriate answers using foreign languages. It’s an outstanding way to improve vocabulary and grammar through well-structured questions and answers. All you need is a dashboard with vocabulary divisions that can bring different point bonuses. You can play in teams or individually by choosing your own category and the corresponding value. Jeopardy will test your knowledge, vocabulary, and grammar. What more can you ask from a simple language game?


Word chain

You know, like a chain, but with words.
Word chain is a classic language game. It’s very simple but still extremely clever and amusing. You and your peers can pick the topic or word classes such as nouns or adjectives - it all depends on what is your subject of interest at the moment. You start the game by saying one word from the given part of speech and a player after you has to continue the line by saying another word beginning with the last letter of the previous word. Though it sounds too simple, it soon becomes very difficult to come up with a new term and you’ll need an enormous knowledge to keep winning.


Grammar Ninja

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a true ninja master like Bruce Lee or Ip Man? Well, I admit I have. Unfortunately, it takes a gigantic set of skills and everyday training to become one. Fortunately enough, there is Grammar Ninja to help you achieve your dreams at least in the digital world. And all you need there is to learn grammar. This game tests your knowledge through a series of questions about the word classes. You start by taking basic challenges about nouns and verbs to earn the beginner ninja status. As you advance, you’ll clear your way towards becoming the mighty master ninja.

The traditional approach to language learning relies on reading and repetition. Though still in use, this concept lost much of its importance due to new trends like gamification. Both theoretical studies and empirical research proved that learning through games increase students’ knowledge faster and makes the whole process more fun and effective. There are dozens of interesting language games but we made a list of 7 most productive solutions for language learners. Each one of these has its own advantages, so don’t hesitate to try them out and have some fun in the process!

Steven Wesley is an ESL teacher, ed tech enthusiast and education blogger. He is interested in educational, technological and political issues and believes in the mighty power of the pen to change the modern world. Follow him on Twitter.


Monday, June 19, 2017

How to be an Interpreter: Advice for Newcomers by Tess Wilkinson

Interpreting as a career is competitive but rewarding and the demand for interpreters to bridge the language barrier between people and professionals is in high demand, all over the world.


If you are completely new to this and want to know what it takes to get into this field, our 5 steps on how to become an interpreter will send you on your way.


1) Self Evaluate


Is this career path really for you? You need to consider all factors within this job role. What does it entail exactly and how are you going to find work? Can you remain impartial throughout the assignments? Doing extensive research into the field is advised before you jump straight into it. Interpreting can be harder than it looks. 


2) Qualifications


You will need an interpreting qualification to become a professional interpreter. The qualifications include the Level 3 Certificate in Community Interpreting and the Level 6 Diploma in Community Interpreting. You may also need a certain level of experience and qualifications to work in certain sectors. Research the different interpreting qualifications on offer and how you can obtain these. Researching different education centres will be handy as well as not every centre will fit your wants and needs – for example, we provide mainly distance learning. Writing a development plan may help as you will create some realistic goals when you will be able to start working as an interpreter. 


3) Volunteering


Have you got a sufficient amount of experience in Interpreting? Volunteering for your local public services or charities such as the refugee council can be helpful for your community and it can also provide you with great experience. This experience can be applied and used when signing up to different agencies and it will increase your earning potential. If you are looking for organisations that are currently taking on volunteer interpreters, depending on your location, Nottingham University Hospital are accepting.


4) Freelance Business


 Do you want to work for yourself or through an agency? What do you need to do to be able to set up your own freelance company or to establish yourself as a sole trader? If you would rather work for yourself, as a freelancer, you need to know how to set this up and what makes a good freelance business. Our Introductory Business courses are packed with advice on how to run a successful freelance interpreting or translation business. Click here.


5) Finding Work


Which areas do you want to specialise in? How far are you prepared to travel to an assignment? What rates are you prepared to work for? You need to decide on the type of work you want to undertake as an interpreter for example: NHS work or Police work. You need to have realistic goals and expectations based on your experience and qualifications and what income you want to get from the job. You also need to consider the area you live in and the languages you speak. There may not be much demand for interpreting services for your language in the area you are currently based. It will be worth considering how far you are willing to travel for an assignment.

So if you want to start your career as an interpreter, what are you waiting for? Use this guide to help you make your first steps into this challenging and rewarding line of work. 

If you have any further questions about what qualification to take why not email the team at info@islinguists.com.

This blog is brought to you by Tess Wilkinson from the International School of Linguists.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Thank You!!!

Today we'd just like to take the opportunity to thank all our readers who took the time to vote for us in Bab.la's Top Language Lovers 2017 competition. Thanks to your support we managed to finish 13th in the Top Language Twitterers category. Just click the link below to check out the other great accounts:

Top 25 Language Twitter Accounts 2017 

Thanks to your support, we also made it into the Top 100 across all categories. If you'd like to check out those blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, or YouTube channels, click the link below:

Top 25 Language Twitter Accounts 2017

Once again, thank you for all your support!

Monday, June 5, 2017

10 Tips for Improving Your Writing in a Foreign Language by Julia Kyprienko

Ten Key Tips for Improving Your Foreign Language Writing Skills

As Federico Fellini put it, a different language is a different vision of life since any foreign language is a reflection of its speakers’ culture, traditions, and worldview. Writing in a foreign language can be much harder than doing so in your native language – you can't understand exactly how people speaking this language think which creates certain problems when it comes to expressing yourself clear.

Making errors in writing can be embarrassing and confusing so it's natural you'd want to improve your proficiency. Why should you worry about making mistakes in your writing? Here is just a couple of reasons:
  1. Mistakes can create a false impression that you have a very low level of education, even if you're very intelligent.
  2. Language tests traditionally grade your writing ability. If you keep making technical errors you'll receive low grades, even if the content is fabulous.
  3. Writing is a vital aspect of professional communication. Moreover, if you are planning to stay in the host country or work with the second language speakers, becoming proficient in written expression is imperative.
  4. Errors in writing can cause misunderstanding and confusion. We all want to be understood correctly, don’t we?

Nevertheless, with intensifying globalization, mastering a foreign language and using it in natural settings is not a problem or rarity any more. More and more foreign students are studying in countries where they can learn the local language and perform assignments in that language. Though self-expression in a foreign language is sometimes harder than it is in mother tongue, it's not impossible. Experts from a custom essay writing service have compiled a set of simple rules to follow to acquire strong writing skills in a second language. Enjoy!

1. Use Professional Writing Workshops

The best way of learning a foreign language is to communicate with people speaking it, or at least with other students learning it. Hence, active writer communities, workshops, and retreats specializing in that language learning may become a very strong boost to your writing skill. Meeting like-minded people with a similar goal, training and learning new things together – all this can become an effective starting stage for your expressive proficiency.

2. Deal with Your Own Clichés

As we have already noted, every language comples complete with its own world view. Writing to be understood is connected with avoiding the clichés inherent in your culture and language. An experienced reader knowing your mother tongue will always spot these clichés, which generally look unnatural in the second language and confuse the meaning of what you wanted to say. Learn the foreign language’s phrasal verbs and idioms to use them effectively for eloquence.

3. Read in the Second Language

Active and diverse reading is a sure way to develop natural literacy in any language. Similar to helping you acquire elegance of expression in your native language, reading is a powerful tool for learning interesting expressions in the target language. Make notes when you read, learn the phrases you like, and start using them in your writing and you will gradually grow to a natural-like style of writing even in a foreign language.

4. Use a Thesaurus

No matter how many words you learned by heart – there is still a strong likelihood that you only know a small percentage of the language’s lexicon. Never ignore the possibility of consulting a thesaurus; this useful tool will suggest numerous contextual variants and synonyms of the word or phrase you would like to use, and will add diversity and richness to your speech.

5. Ask Native Speakers for Feedback

Feedback from native speakers is vitally important, especially at the initial stages of the learning process. A person who speaks your foreign language natively will definitely have a better understanding and they may point out some unnatural-sounding phrases or confusing expressions. Use this feedback to improve and polish your writing and it'll look as if a native speaker wrote it.

6. Use Second Language in All Writing

Many students and learners make a common mistake – using a foreign language only in thematic writing for a purpose, that is, for academic assignments and tasks. However, learning a language well usually stretches far beyond only using it in essays and research papers. To make it a part of your life and to learn to think in that language, try to write down all your routine issues in it: make shopping notes, hold a personal diary, find friends online and communicate with them, make reminders in your phone in that language. You won't even notice how it will become a natural and easy way for your self-expression.

7. Learn More Grammar

Obviously, you cannot ignore grammar. Writing correctly in any language requires a knowledge of the grammar rules but you can start your learning process from learning the basics and then progressing through the language as your skills mature. Attention to grammar should be in every sentence you write, since bad grammar mistakes can create much confusion.

8. Collaborate with Fellow Students

If you are a foreign student studying in the country and learning its language as your second/foreign language, we strongly recommend finding other foreign students and working together in a collaborative ESL/EFL community. These students are certain to have the same problems with the foreign language as you do; some of them know the language better and can help others in a non-academic, friendly environment. Such a mode of studies has many advantages: on the one hand, you acquire many new friends in a new, unknown environment, and on the other hand, you receive knowledge outside a classroom.

9. Make Active Use of the Web

The Internet is a very powerful source of mostly-free language learning opportunities! There are numerous sites offering language classes and advice and you only pay with your free time and perseverance. Independent learning is surely harder than directed learning in a classroom but if your desire to learn writing in a foreign language is strong, you can surely handle it!

10. Keep Your Writing Simple

The final piece of advice is to keep things simple; be critical and objective regarding your real level of knowledge, and do not attempt to produce extensive, complicated pieces of writing right from the start. Beginning is always hard. Try to write simple sentences to and avoid complex grammar and syntax constructions. This is the surest method of making sure you will be understood by native speakers. Once your language skills become stronger and you learn more grammar rules, you can then try to compose longer and more sophisticated writing pieces. Good luck!