Learning Another Language: An Investment Worth Making

When it comes to learning another language, there is a tired old joke that goes something like this: “What do you call a person who speaks three or more languages? A polyglot. What about someone who speaks two languages? Bilingual. And one language? An Englishman.”

Now, there are a few caveats to that joke. The first is that, on the whole, Americans, Australians and other speakers of English as a first language are just as bad (or worse) than the English, only 40% of whom could hold a decent conversation in a second language.

The second is that all of these Anglo-Saxon nations have relatively large – and growing – populations of immigrants and foreign residents, so people are often exposed to other languages even if they don’t speak them. We know that big cities are different from the country at large, but around a quarter of Londoners do not have English as their mother tongue, the same as Melbourne, while in New York it’s almost 50%!

Third and most importantly, native speakers of English do not need to speak another language. It may sound arrogant to say so, but being born a native speaker of English is a truly exceptional piece of good luck. Although there are fewer than 400 million native speakers of English in the world, placing it behind Mandarin and Spanish, over 1.5 billion people are actively studying it as a second language. Look at any multinational organisation and you will see that their internal correspondence, meetings, transactions and negotiations are carried out in English.

E2Language offers skill-building English lessons like this one on our E2 Core Skills YouTube channel. These lessons are perfect for individuals with functional English who need to master the complexities of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary.

Learning another Language Opens Doors For Everyone.

The lack of linguistic diversity of English speakers is to be lamented, but it does leave the non-native speaking professional at a serious disadvantage. It is therefore worth spelling out some positive reasons for investing your time, money and effort into language learning, even though your English-speaking colleagues are too comfortable/lazy/incompetent to do the same themselves! Keep in mind, these reasons are also geared toward native English speakers. English monolinguals should seriously consider investing the time to learn a language, both for personal and professional gains. Here are three positive reasons why you should start learning another language today:

Learning another language makes you a more interesting person.

The more foreign languages you know, the broader your personal horizons. Reading, speaking, writing and listening in other languages can help you gain different perspectives on international events, maintain meaningful correspondence with people across the globe and exchange ideas with people from other countries and cultures.

Learning another Language

Learning another language helps to exercise your memory and stimulates your powers of reasoning and concentration.

Many English speakers live in a homogenous language bubble, while those who speak multiple languages are able to bypass the slapdash simplifications offered up by translation software.

Recruiters actively prefer to take on polyglots.

Learning a language means you become a highly valued professional on the job market and enables you to apply for a wider range of jobs and achieve higher positions when you get there. Surprisingly, recent research by Google showed that the number of non-English speaking 18 to 34 year-olds enrolled in language schools is relatively low. This would suggest that there will soon be a spike in demand on the job market for polyglots.

There you have it, there are some real advantages that come with learning a language, no matter who you are! In the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” So get out there and start learning; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Do you want to improve your English language abilities for professional or personal purposes? We’re here to help!

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Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil

Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language

10 Tips to Make the Most of Online English Courses

Our in-house specialist gives his top tips for students taking distance-learning online English courses to avoid the most common pitfalls and achieve results faster by betting on the modality.

Year after year, the number of online courses offered by providers has been increasing exponentially, and established educational institutions are now muscling in on the market. The options are many: extension courses, undergraduate, MBAs, post-graduate specializations, corporate training and, of course, online English courses.

“It’s the future. Whoever’s not on board will be left behind,” says Ricardo Hilgenberg, Brazil’s National Director of E2Language, an online language school. He adds that, since it is a relatively new form of teaching and learning, the challenge is getting the students accustomed to this type of course. Students must adopt a new approach to online learning to achieve results, and Hilgenberg has identified ten important ways to do just that.

How to Optimize Your Learning With Online English Courses:

1. Remember, you will be in charge of your success

The profile of the average online course taker is very different from that of a traditional, classroom pupil. “In distance learning, it is easy to become a passive agent, so a change of mentality is needed,” Ricardo says.

When it comes to traditional, face-to-face corporate English courses, the student is used to receiving all of the content from the teacher. With the online version, a change of posture is required. All of the content is already there, so you need to be proactive and go out in search of the information you need.

One of the most important things for the online student is to understand that the person behind your success (or failure) and overall positive (or negative) outcomes is the learner himself. “The learner is the protagonist and has to take hold of the teaching reins,” says Hilgenberg.

2. Get to know the platform

A common mistake that hinders many distance learning students, leading to low rates of retention, is the lack of familiarity with the study platform. “Sometimes the person logs in and wants to start studying, but does not watch the video tutorial to understand how the tool works,” laments Ricardo.

Before you start your studies, invest some time and effort in exploring the platform. Understand all of the features it offers, watch the videos provided exactly for this purpose and learn how to navigate through all of its learning channels.

3. Organize an adequate study space

It is not worth lying in bed with a laptop to do you course just because you can. It would be equally inappropriate to think you could study well on the bus or in a busy café. Preparing a suitable learning environment to study for online English courses is absolutely key. This environment must be free of excessive noise and interruptions, including colleagues, spouses, children and pets. “Any kind of study deserves your full attention and concentration, so it’s important to set up a proper work space,” says Hilgenberg.

Online English Courses
Make sure you set aside time in a quiet environment with little or no distractions for your study!

4. Set achievable goals

As the central player in your distance learning course, you are responsible for dictating the pace of study. However, that does not mean you can speed things up to the point where you can finish six modules in a single month. Tempting though this may be, it is a trap to be avoided, especially in more automated online English courses.

“You end up associating the fact that you have the platform available at any time to the thought that the more you do, the faster it will end,” explains Hilgenberg.

Fair enough, you may finish the course early, but will you have absorbed all of the content? “Miracles rarely happen, and it is a mistake to assume they do. In the case of language learning, nobody achieves fluency in six months by gaming the system, “he says.

5. Maintain a routine

Organize your schedule to fit in a few hours of study per week. Make a schedule and stick to it. Time flexibility is a huge benefit of distance learning, but it can turn into a headache for the ill-disciplined student. “Just because it is online, that doesn’t mean you can leave it all to chance,” says Ricardo.

6. Keep in touch with the teacher / tutor

A human interface with the online platform is essential. Having ongoing, close contact with the teacher or tutor of the course means you will get the most appropriate guidance for your studies. Take advantage of this connection to ensure the best possible outcome from your online learning experience.

Online English Class
Just because it’s an online course, doesn’t mean you can’t have a great student-teacher relationship!

7. Clarify any doubts, ask any questions

Do not let the distance between you and the school make you shy. If you are in doubt about any aspect of your course, let the course provider know about it. “The mantra is that there is ‘no such thing as a stupid question’, so you have got nothing to lose by getting in touch,” says Ricardo. If the course provider seems less than happy to help, or makes it difficult to contact them, perhaps it is time to think about a new course provider.

8. Do not leave the side content aside

In addition to their main offerings, most online English courses allow you to access complementary activities and material. According to Ricardo, you should seize these opportunities and make time in your study routine to work on these resources. “This means that the student can maximize their results and increase their chance of achieving a positive outcome,” he says.

Speaking of complementary activities, E2Language provides free grammar, vocabulary & pronunciation videos like this one on our “Core English Skills” Youtube channel!

9. Avoid building a backlog

The unexpected can and will happen, and no student is immune from falling behind in their study schedule from time to time. Nevertheless, the quicker you deal with these ‘hiccups’ the better. “If the student keeps leaving work for later, he ends up with a mountain of work that either gets done in a desperate rush or never gets dealt with. Either way, these are not sound, pedagogical outcomes,” explains Ricardo.

Online English Courses
Don’t let the work pile up!

10. Do not limit yourself to the skills you favour

As much as you may want to, you cannot survive on meat alone: eventually you have to eat some fruit and veg. Your study schedule is a balanced diet for your learning skills, and you cannot leave anything aside. “There are four, equal strands to language learning: reading, writing, speaking and listening comprehension. All of them need to be developed properly or you risk the overall result,” warns Hilgenberg.

As is the case with any self-directed study, if you want to get the most out of your online English course, you have to be willing to put in the time and effort to see results!

Do you have any tips for making the most of online English courses? Feel free to comment and let us know!

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Ricardo Hilgenberg – National Director, E2Language Brazil

Colin David – Director of Business Development, E2Language

Why You Should Refresh Your Fundamental English Skills: Know Your Words!

Even if you speak English every single day, it’s never a bad idea to refresh your core English skills.

Fundamental English Skills: Going back to basics

When preparing for your IELTS, PTE, OET or TOEFL it’s important to know the strategies for success. This means understanding the structure of the test, understanding the skills you need to practice, and the methods you need to apply. However, it is just as important to go back and practice your fundamental English skills.

The building blocks of language

We all want to impress with complex sentences and fancy vocabulary, but we may fall short if our basic language skills aren’t there. This is why a review and practice of the building blocks of language – parts of speech – is so important.

Parts of speech are the groups of English words which fit into eight functional categories. These words make up sentences and are therefore the building blocks of language. Understanding how to use these building blocks will help you write better sentences and become a better speaker.

In this article, we are going to look at four parts of speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.

English Skills
Unlike this hilarious grammar joke, the English language isn’t all fun and games! Photo courtesy of Grammarly Cards.

Nouns:

Nouns are words for things, places, people, feelings or concepts. For example, flower (thing); outdoors (place); mother (person); happiness (feeling); freedom (concept).

Nouns can be singular or plural. Most plural nouns (more than one) take ‘s’. For example, flower (singular) becomes flowers (plural). BUT some plural nouns are irregular. For example, child (singular) becomes children (plural). It is important to know the irregular plural nouns so that you avoid making mistakes in your IELTS writing tasks.

Some nouns cannot be made plural. We call these uncountable nouns. There are many!

Here are five commonly mistaken uncountable nouns:

Advice

Evidence

Information

Knowledge

Research

Although in our minds we can count these things, their nouns cannot be made countable. They will always stay in singular form!

For example, we can never say “My father gave me many advices”, or “The scientists undertook many researches”.

However, we can make them plural by adding the word pieces of in front of them.

For example, “My father gave me many pieces of advice. But I can NEVER say “My father gave me many advices.”

There are many ways to form nouns. Let’s look at a few.

  1. Add -tion

Motivate -> motivation

Elevate -> elevation

Demonstrate -> demonstration

  1. Add -ence

Intelligent -> intelligence

Excellent -> excellence

Confident -> confidence

  1. Add -ness

Happy -> happiness

Weak -> weakness

Dark -> darkness

Check out our recent E2 English lesson about nouns:

Adjectives:

Adjectives are words that describe nouns. The tell us what kind of noun. For example, a beautiful flower; the great outdoors; a kind mother; overwhelming happiness; limited freedom.

There are many ways to form adjectives. Let’s look at two of them.

  1. Add -y

Salt -> salty

Sun -> sunny

Itch -> itchy

* if a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) comes before a consonant (every letter that’s not a vowel), then we add an extra consonant. For example sun becomes sunny.

  1. Add -ful

Beauty -> beautiful

Care -> careful

Peace -> peaceful

Here is our core skills lecture about adjectives:

Verbs:

Most verbs are doing words. They describe actions such as run, jump, eat, sleep, cry, laugh, etc. Verbs can be formed as one word, or more. For example, are running, or is laughing. Verbs can also be three words. For example, have been sleeping, or has been crying. This has to do with which tense the verb is in. Tense indicates when a verb happened – in the recent past, distant past, present, future, or is still continuing etc. This will change the form of the verb.

Verbs that relate to a singular noun, take ‘s’ at the end. For example:

My teacher sing­s well.

‘Teacher’ is singular and therefore has no ‘s’, so the verb must take ‘s’.

Verbs that that relate to a plural noun, do not take ‘s’ at the end. For example:

My teachers sing well.

‘Teachers’ is plural and takes ‘s’, so the verb does not take ‘s’.

Adverbs:

Adverbs describe verbs. They say how something is done. For example, run quickly, eat loudly, sleep softly.

Most adverbs end in -ly

Quick -> quickly

Slow -> slowly

Loud -> loudly

Quiet -> quietly

English Skills
The man ran quickly away from the scary English lesson! 😉

There are exceptions. For example, good does not become goodly. The adverb for good is well.

Understanding the different parts of speech will help you build better sentences. Fundamental English skills are just as important as test skills. To learn more, subscribe to our Core Skills channel on YouTube to watch live classes.

 

Jamal Abilmona is an expert IELTS teacher, curriculum designer and language buff. She has taught English for general and academic purposes in classrooms around the world and currently teaches for and writes e-learning material for E2Language.com.

 

 

 

One-on-One Teaching Trumps Classroom Learning Every Time

I’ve been a classroom teacher and I am guilty of neglecting most of my students’ needs. The time I spent in the classroom was by and large a waste for my students. Each class that I taught would have very little relevance for the bottom third, very little relevance for the top third, and only be generally of interest to the middle third. I had to aim for the middle so as to not completely bore everybody.

I’m not a bad teacher. Quite the contrary, I loved my classroom teaching days and I tried my very best. But no matter how good my preparation and delivery was, it was never relevant for all.

Scientists have long known that no two learners are the same because no two brains absorb information the same way, at the same time. Perception and things like what you ate for breakfast determine what you cognize. Language learning exemplifies this rule.

If you gave a class of “intermediate” language learners an identical IELTS, PTE, TOEFL or OET test, the questions they would get right and wrong would be almost completely random. The average level would be the same, but the specific errors would be individual. What one person understands, another doesn’t. What one person says, another can’t.

The only influence that may mitigate the randomness of the errors would be the first language background of our imagined class. Indonesian speakers would generally struggle using gender pronouns, Korean speakers would generally struggle to use articles, Telegu speakers would generally struggle distinguishing “v” and “w”.

In most language classrooms the language backgrounds are mixed. And even if they were the same, most teachers would not know how to direct lessons to improve “general” influences of first language.

If I were to take a language test like the IELTS, TOEFL, PTE or OET, there’s no way I would prepare in a busy classroom. My second language is individualised. It’s mine. I know a certain amount of vocabulary. I have a certain grasp of the grammar. I can only write so well, in a particular way. I would need one-on-one tutorials rather than a generalised, broadcast lecture.

One-on-one time with a teacher is undoubtedly the fastest way to improve your second language because the teacher can focus in on your errors. Your writing is visual evidence of your grammar and vocabulary skills. Your speaking is audible evidence of your speaking skills.

Let’s do some maths to make the comparison of classroom-based learning and one-on-one tuition more evident.

Let’s imagine 15 students in a language classroom. They are 15 students vying for the teacher’s attention. So, we have to divide the amount of time of a class by the number of students in that class. Let’s say the class is one hour long.

60 minutes / 15 students = 4 minutes each. So, for every one hour spent in a classroom you will receive just 4 minutes of one-to-one attention from the teacher – barely enough to correct a few sentences.

Put simply, what you can get in 40 minutes in a one-on-one tutorial would take you 10 hours in a classroom. Put another way, one-on-one tutoring is 15 times more efficient than classroom learning.

If you want to prepare efficiently, avoid busy classrooms and get focused, personalised attention from an expert.

http://www.e2language.com  offers live, private tutorials with a language expert to help you build the skills you’ll need to succeed on the IELTS, PTE, TOEFL or OET.  Sign up for free today and book an online consultation with one of our experts!

 

Written by Jay Merlo.