language learning

5 Ways to Learn A Language in Your Spare Time

Knowing a second language is a great asset. It can lead to better career opportunities and improve your brain function. However, learning to speak a new language can seem overwhelming. Most people do not have days or even hours to spend learning their target language.

 

The good news is that you can learn a new language without quitting your day job. By integrating some easy strategies into your spare time, you will become bilingual in no time. Do you have 20 minutes a day, or even just five? If the answer is yes, you have exactly what you need to reach you language learning goals.

 

1

Duolingo

There’s an app for everything today. Language learning is no different. While many promise results, few are as comprehensive and accessible as Duolingo.

 

Duolingo covers all the bases of language learning–reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This gamified platform keeps you motivated and engaged. Set a daily goal and track your progress.

 

This is microlearning at its finest and it really works!

 

2

Watch videos in target language

Watching your favorite television show may be the way you unwind at the end of a long day. Television and movies is an excellent way to learn a language because you will learn by immersion, the same way babies learn language.

 

Video streaming services such as Amazon offer a variety of movies and television series in many languages. (Listening to radio or a podcast is also a great way to learn, however having the visuals of a show really helps in the learning process) Find one you enjoy and start to learn without trying.

 

3

Join a Facebook group

Love it or hate it, Facebook is a resource for connecting people around the world. Aside from learning the latest news and marketing your business, Facebook can be a way to learn new skills, like a new language. Many groups exist for language learners to interact with each other and practice.

 

This method takes only minutes a day, but give you real world experience for free, without leaving your home. Simply search for a conversation group in your target language, for instance “French learners conversation group.”

 

4

Play a game

Learning should be fun! Playing a game, whether virtual or a good old fashioned board game is a perfect way to practice language skills and pick up new vocabulary. Try playing a classic, like Uno, but use your new color and number vocabulary. Or, find a game produced in the target language and play your way to your learning goal.

 

5

Read in the target language

It may seem that reading is something that comes late in language learning, however reading in the target language is the best way to learn vocabulary in context and also develop an understanding of grammar.

 

Start small, as in kids books, and work your way up from there. Reading for just a short time each day will really boost your learning efforts and give you greater confidence in conducting conversation. It will also teach you everyday language and cultural norms.

 

Do you have a goal of learning a new language in 2018? Have any tips to share?

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fun ways to learn phonics

5 Fun Strategies to Develop Phonics Skills

Phonics Skills are the backbone to all reading.  There are workbooks, DVDs, music CDs and videos all devoted to teaching phonics to young children.  Many of these are great, but for some children even the best of these isn’t enough.  Everyone has their particular learning style and for many young children the method that works best is a tactile, hands-on one.  We have been teaching subjects like science and mathematics like this for years.  But have you ever considered teaching reading hands-on?  Well, you can and here are five ways how.

 

  • There are two basic sets of rules for phonics, the long vowel rules and short vowel rules.  These rules are represented below by combinations of consonants ( c) and vowels (v)

Long vowels:

        • cv- Whenever a vowel comes at the end of a word or syllable it is long as in the word “he.”
        • cvce – This is the magic “e”  or silent “e” rule.  The “e” makes the preceding vowel long but is not pronounced, like in “cake.”
        • cvv—Two vowels went walking and the first one did the talking.  The first vowel is long and the second is silent.  Think “sea.”

Short vowels:

  • vc—With the vowel before the consonant, in words like “at,” the vowel becomes short.
  • cvc—Same as the rule above. The middle vowel is short as in “cat”

Now, here’s the hands-on part.   Create two signs on typing paper or index cards, one for each set of rules.  Then purchase or make flash cards with a variety of short words.  Explain the rules and then show how a sampling of words, one for each rule, follows the rules.  Then have your child sort the remaining cards according to rules.  Sound out the words together.  This turns rule memorization into a game instead of a chore.

 

  • Word families are another way to teach phonics and boost vocabulary.  Make a simple wheel game by using two circles cut from poster board.  On one circle cut out a small window and write the word family next to it (-at, -an, -ug, etc.).  Around the other write letters that when placed before the word family ending create a word.  For instance, for the –at family write b, c, f, h, m, p, r, s, and v.  Just make sure you are creating child friendly words.  Place the window circle on top of the other and push a brass fastener through the center.  Now you have a wheel.  Spin the wheel and create new words.

 

  • Have your child illustrate her first book.  Fold a sheet of typing or white construction paper in half forming a card.  Using short words that are easy to sound out and the child’s name create a little story with one sentence on each “page”.  (Example: Mary ate cake.) Have your child sound out the words, with your help as needed, and read the sentences. Then, have her draw a picture of what she just read on each page.  Kids love having their own books.

 

  • Plays Guess that Letter.  With your child facing away from you, trace a letter on his back.  Have him tell you which letter you just traced.  It may take a couple of tries but once kids get the hang of this game they love it.  Next, switch places (you may need to sit down to make it easier for your child to reach your back) and tell your child a letter sound, like “ah” for short “o.”  Have your child trace the letter that corresponds to the sound on your back.  This is a game that is sure to result in giggles and learning.

 

  • Find that letter!  Write each letter of the alphabet on an index card (to make this even more hands-on create tactile alphabet cards using items that begin with that letter, like cotton balls for “c” to create the letter) and place them in a large shoe box.  Shake the letters around to mix them up well.  Then say one of the letter sounds and have your child dig in the box to find the correct card.  You can advance this game by giving your child a short word to spell and having her find the correct letters and, using clothes pins, clip them to one side of the box in order.  Best of all, once the lid is replaced; everything is safe and sound for next time.

 

Phonics is a great tool and once the world of reading is unlocked for your child the potential for learning is endless.  With a little creativity and basic art supplies, you can create a learning experience that will last the rest of their lives.

Do you know fun ways to learn phonics?

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9 Reasons to Read with Your Ears

Have you ever read with you ears?  Yes, that’s right with your ears.  Just as the blind read with their fingers, your ears can read for you.  The function of reading is the transfer of information.  Regardless of how it is transferred, reading is a powerful skill and a gateway to lifelong learning.

Audio books and reading aloud provide a reading environment that is not only enjoyable but accessible to all students, regardless of age.  With advancing technology allowing downloads anywhere and easy portability of recordings, there are so many reasons to give audiobooks a try!

Here are nine ways that reading with you ears is beneficial–in some cases more so than reading with you eyes.

9 Benefits to Reading with Your Ears:

  1. Access to information: Anyone can listen to an audiobook.  Whether the “reader”is struggling with basic decoding or wants to read above his present ability, listening to a book–whether fiction or a textbook–opens the door to learn information that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  2. Development of key skills: Listening to books being read aloud, increases fluency and develops comprehension skills. Both of these are vital to successful reading
  3. Common ground: In the classroom or the home, a audiobook levels the playing field. Everyone can have a shared reading experience regardless of ability. This allows families to bond over a great piece of literature. It also afford student, who may otherwise struggle, to become part of the conversation around her and participate in the culture of learning.
  4. Higher self-esteem and confidence: Being able to listen to a text helps to build confidence.  Struggling readers can easily accomplish what may otherwise seem impossible. Being able to read and discuss a book boosts self-esteem.
  5. Fostering a love of reading and storytelling: Storytelling is a lost art that served as great entertainment in days gone by.  Listening to a story, helps to increase the love of reading by drawing the listener in to the magic of the written word.
  6. Richer vocabulary: Audiobooks develop vocabulary for all readers. A wider vocabulary allows for better comprehension of books read with the eyes, also.
  7. More time to read: Life is busy in the modern world.  People have little time to just sit and relax with a good book.  Audiobooks can easily be transported wherever you go.  In addition, they can be enjoyed while accomplishing mundane tasks, such are washing dishes or commuting to work.
  8. Increased listening skills: Listening is essential to reading.  Comprehension is reliant on the reader being able to listen to the story he is reading in his head and understanding.  Listening skills are important and needed in every facet life.
  9. Fueling imagination: Books have wings and time machines. A good book draws the reader into the story in a way that it becomes real.  Audiobooks and read alouds intensify this experience by freeing the readers mind to get lost in the text without having to think of the mechanics of reading.

What have you read with your ears lately?

For more information, check out:

Audiobooks help raise reading scores

5 Infographics that depict the importance of audiobooks

Audiobooks offer unexpected benefits

The Benefits of Audiobooks

 

 

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