Learning Grammar Effectively

You can’t learn how to replace direct and indirect objects with pronouns if you don’t clearly understand what a direct or indirect object is in English. The same will be true with relative pronouns or the passive voice or the subjunctive. Fewer English classes seem to really teach grammar so you may have a knowledge gap. Some language instructors teach the English grammar at the same time, but others assume you know it. If you don’t, then you need to either teach yourself or get your instructor to help. Grammar is the structure on which…
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Vocabulary Acquisition

If you can’t remember vocabulary words, try these strategies: Flashcards, word association, memory tricks (make up your own association), learning from the target language to English first and then from English to the target language, making up vocabulary sentences. Flashcards This is not a new trick but can be effective when used correctly. Get different colored flashcards. If your language has gender then use pink or red cards for feminine nouns and blue cards for masculine ones. Pick another color for neuter if needed. At the beginning of each chapter, put each new word or…
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What Does Bilingual Mean to You?

If we look up bilingual in a dictionary, it says that being bilingual is “the ability to speak two languages with the facility of a native speaker.” I don’t think anyone would argue much with that definition. But strangely enough, that is not always what businesses have in their minds when they ask for bilingual speakers on applications. I had a conversation the other day and was speaking to a member of the military, who was originally from Texas, but spent some time overseas in Russian speaking areas. During his time overseas he had the…
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Considering Learning a Language (Part 2)

Ear Training In your native language, you don’t have to listen very well. You only actually hear some of the words being said and your brain fills in the rest. You can’t do this when you are first learning a language. You may have to train yourself to listen. If you are musical, you probably already have. This is why your language class almost certainly asks you to listen to cds or watch videos. Do this in small amounts at a time not for an hour straight. Build up your listening time just like you…
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Considering Learning a Language (Part 1)

Repetition Although repetition in learning a foreign language can be boring, it is key to your success. Many studies on language acquisition show that very high numbers of repetition are necessary for a word to become truly owned and in your long term memory. This is why so many language classrooms require choral repetitions. Repetitions can be verbal, aural, read or written. So, when you study, hit the word or verb conjugation as many times as possible. Hit all our senses (except smell) You will retain new vocabulary better if the repetition includes as many…
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