Monday, July 31, 2017

Top Online Tools to Improve Your Command of Writing in English by Sophia Anderson

It doesn’t matter why you decided to learn English. Maybe you need it for your work or studies. Maybe it’s just because you want to communicate with people online. Whatever the case is, you’ll find yourself in a situation when you’ll have to write something.

Good writing in English shows you’re an educated, smart person. Sometimes even the smallest mistake can ruin the impression you make.

If you’re wondering how you can improve your writing skills in English, everyone will tell you the same thing: practice! Practice is important, but you should always do it the right way. Fortunately, there are great tools that will help you learn and practice writing. Let’s list 12 of them.

1. Daily Writing Tips

Let’s be honest: you can’t become a masterful writer overnight. You need daily doses of tips on grammar, style, and vocabulary. If you read one of these Daily Writing Tips per day and you implement it in your practice, you’ll notice gradual progress in your skills. The posts on the site are brief, clear, and actionable.

This is an online program that offers an entire curriculum for people who want to become better at writing. The lessons and exercises are flexible and adaptive, according to your interests. It’s like getting your personal English language tutor, but you’re the one in charge of tailoring the lessons. No Red Ink is very good at keeping you engaged in the practice on a daily basis. It gives you challenges and triggers that make writing fun.

Here, you’ll find all grammar tips you could possibly need. You can learn how to use numbers, prepositions, adjectives and adverbs, verb tenses, and all other aspects of the language. When you master those concepts, you’ll be much more confident when expressing your message in written. Purdue OWL also gives you practice resources. 

You have trouble organizing your own practice patterns? You find yourself procrastinating, so you need real, traditional lessons to keep you committed? Why don’t you start learning according to an ESOL writing course? It’s free! You’ll find lessons on giving personal information, using adjectives, describing looks, and much more. Plus, the program engages you with different activities, so you’ll practice your writing and witness the progress you make.

5. Write & Improve by Cambridge English

The simple practice of writing is important, but it’s not enough. How do you know you’re getting good enough? You’re too attached to your own work, so you can’t judge it objectively. You absolutely need feedback, and you can get it at this site. All you need to do is choose a topic, write about it in English, and submit your work. You’ll get instant feedback that covers the vocabulary, grammar, and spelling.

6. EssaysOnTime

Sometimes you need something more than automated feedback. The previous tool will highlight the mistakes in grammar and spelling, so you can mechanically fix them. What about the style? In that aspect, a real writer or editor is superior to software. EssaysOnTime connects you with real writers and editors, who can take a look at your work and offer helpful suggestions. You can even hire a writer to start a project from scratch. You’ll collaborate with them, so you’ll see how the writing process works.

How about a quick daily test on writing? It will identify the gaps in your knowledge. Plus, tests can get addictive when they are brief, easy and useful. That’s exactly what this resource offers. Solve a test per day to get proof of your progress.

8. Common Errors

Are you making some of the most common errors in writing that ESL learners are guilty of? Go through this list. It’s huge, but it gives you something useful to explore. Pick a category you’re interested in, and you’ll see how people frequently mistake in their writing.

9. Writing Skills

This is a pretty basic site, but it proves that the visual appeal doesn’t determine the quality of the resource. You get detailed tips that help you master various aspects of the English language. For example, you can learn how to write narrative essays, descriptive papers, research papers, letters, biographies, and other types of content.

10. Definr

Everyone needs a dictionary. No, you don’t have to get a real dictionary and look through it while you’re writing. Definr is a simple online tool that gives you definitions of words. All you need to do is search the word you don’t understand, and you’ll get a clear explanation of its meaning. Much easier than using a huge dictionary.

11. Grammarly

This is an automated tool that checks your grammar. You can add it as Chrome extension, so it will warn you about grammar issues whenever you’re typing something online. It will save you from many embarrassing situations when you’re trying to compose an email.

12. The Ultimate Writing Productivity Resource from Lifehack

Finally, let’s conclude this list of tools with a suggestion for another list. In this post, you’ll find descriptions of 9 tools that make you a better, more productive writer.

All these tools are highly effective and very easy to use. Pick the ones that fit into your practice and use them every day. Stay patient and you will definitely reach your target!                                                   
Sophia Anderson is an associate educator, blogger and freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on learning, writing, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development. Talk to her on Facebook or LinkedIn.  

Monday, July 24, 2017

5 Top Tips for those Wanting to Become Freelance Interpreters by Tess Wilkinson

Registering as an interpreter can be a daunting task, especially if you have little or no experience in the sector. As with most jobs, a requirement is to have “At least 1 year experience in the field” but how are you supposed to gain experience when nobody will take you on, due to lack of experience? It’s a catch 22 situation.

As an Interpreter, I am sure you will have come across this situation when applying for jobs, especially now the industry standard is to have a Level 3 Qualification under your belt. Here are our 5 top tips for Interpreters before joining the workforce.

1. Research

Is this career path really for you? Are you fluent enough in 2 languages to interpret accurately? Do you mind working varied and flexible hours? Are you willing to travel? Can you take on last minute assignments? These are all areas for consideration before choosing Interpreting as your career path. You may be asked to interpret in a hospital one day where a member of someone’s family is being diagnosed with a serious or life threatening illness. This is a very emotional and distressing position to be in and you must remain impartial. A thorough research into the field is needed before jumping straight into it and deciding whether this is for you.

2. Agency or Freelance?

You need to decide whether you wish to work for an agency or work for yourself in your own freelance business.  Freelancers work independently and directly with clients. Agencies employ freelancers to work individually and together on projects for clients. An agency acts like a middle man; they will find the work for you to do rather then you finding it yourself.  Finding work through an agency is easier but can pay less. Another option is to start up your own agency and employ freelancers yourself but this will take more planning and you need to find the clients to keep your freelancers happy. Have a look at our Introductory Business Skills courses here. They are designed to help you to get your freelance business up and running.

3. Entry Requirements

What are the entry requirements to work professionally as an interpreter? Do you need any qualifications? Do you need a certain amount of experience? Do you have to be a specialist in the different sectors such as Health, Police or Education etc.? It is your responsibility to find out what you need to do and prepare before you apply with an agency or set your own business up. Have a look at our Interpreting Qualifications and Courses here.

4. Career Plan

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Having a realistic career plan is essential for personal growth and development. Once you have figured out if this industry is for you, whether you want to register with an agency or work freelance and whether you need to be qualified, map out a career plan and track your progress against it. How long does it take to be qualified? Which agencies do you want to register with? How many assignments do you wish to have undertaken in one years’ time? Will you increase your rates the more experienced you become? What do you need to in order to successfully run your own freelance business?

5. CV

A crucial part of applying for jobs is having a current, relevant and professional CV. If you don’t have a CV, write one! Here is a great site on how to write a CV. If your CV is out of date, update it! Be sure to add all of your skills, experience and job history. It is also ideal to have a portfolio or folder of all your qualifications and certificates. When I was searching for a job, I found it very useful to have all of my qualifications, certificates and CPD records to hand, in one place. It saved me from scrambling around my bag pulling out crumpled paper. It also makes you seem more organised.

Job searching can seem intimidating if you don’t prepare yourself for challenges along the way. If you follow our 5 simple top tips, the hunt for a job will seem less daunting and more rewarding.

To summarise:

  • Do your research
  • Do you want to be self-employed or work for an agency?
  • What do you need before you can become a professional interpreter?
  • Map out your career goals and objectives
  • Have an up to date CV

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

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+.