Tag: learn

How Kindle Helps You Learn a Second Language

I was skeptical about Kindles. I liked the feel of a book. The smell. I didn’t want to read on a small computer screen. No. Well, not until I discovered that my Kindle would help me improve my second language, Spanish. Now I would recommend ANYONE who is learning a language to get one. Here’s how a Kindle can help you improve your language. When you are reading a book you can click on any word that you don’t understand. A dictionary appears with the definition of the word. Cool, right? Even cooler: you can download bilingual dictionaries and...

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True or False? How much do you know about UK politics?

The UK is having its next general election next month but how much do you know about British politics and the general election? Are these sentences true or false? For help with vocabulary click here: 1) The UK does not have a constitution 2) All people aged 18 and over can vote in a general election 3) There are 500 Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK 4) British people who live abroad cannot vote in general elections 5) The Queen has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister to discuss politics 6) A general election must be held in May 7) People in prison can vote in elections 8) People can vote for who they want to be Prime Minister 9) Members of the European Union living in the UK have the right to vote in the general election 10) In the last general election (in 2010) 35% of the British population did not vote.  1) TRUE: The UK does not have a written constitution. 2) TRUE: all adults (aged 18+) in the UK can vote in elections. 3) FALSE: There are 650 Members of Parliament (not 500). 4) FALSE: British people living abroad can vote, but they must register to do so.  However, you cannot vote if you have lived abroad for more than 15 years. 5) TRUE: The Prime Minister and the Queen meet once a week to discuss politics....

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Why Students Need to Read More

Many students focus too much on speaking English. They become obsessed with speaking and often ignore reading. Maybe they find reading boring, or they think it’s not as useful. This is a huge mistake and actually slows down their learning. It also stops students reaching the highest levels. This is why: 1) You need to know words before you can speak them Reading in a foreign language is the best way to learn new words. In spoken language people use the same vocabulary again and again. You have no time to think, so you automatically use the simplest, most common expressions (I like James Bond films, I like you, I like penguins). People are often more adventurous with their vocabulary when they write  (I’m really keen on James Bond films, I adore you, I’ve got a penchant for penguins). Reading expands your vocabulary which you need for all parts of language learning. Speaking, listening and writing will only improve when you have the vocabulary. And reading is the easiest way to get it. 2) Your grammar improves People have more time to think and plan before they write than before they speak. You can also edit it. So you’ll find a wider variety of grammatical structures  in written English that you don’t usually get in spoken English. You also see words in their ‘natural habitat’; you can see how words fit together and...

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Finland Stops Teaching Subjects like Maths and History

Schools in Finland are some of the best in the world; according to the PISA rankings*, Finland’s education system is the 3rd best, beaten only by China and Singapore. This is why the dramatic changes are so surprising. The Finnish system is already so good; will the changes make it even better? Traditional school subjects such as Maths, Chemistry, History and English will be scrapped. These will be replaced by “topics” such as the European Union. Topic teaching means that students do lots of different subjects at the same time; so when students study the European Union they will learn history, geography and economics in the same class. The change has already started and all schools in Finland will be teaching topics by 2020. Marjo Kyllonen, Helsinki’s education manager says that teaching children traditional subjects, an hour of maths in the morning, then an hour of history does not benefit students. This system was useful in the 19th century but does not prepare students for working in the 21st century. Early data shows that students produce better results under this new system. PISA= Programme for International Student Assessment; an international evaluation of education in different countries Story: The Independent Vocabulary: according to, to beat (v), to scrap (v,) topic (n), to replace (v), to benefit (v). What do you think of this new system?  Would you like to learn ‘by...

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How I Became Fluent: 7 Tips on Learning languages

I was not brought up bilingual; I didn’t start learning a second language until High School.  But I have become fluent in 3. I studied French and Spanish academically and I have taught myself Portuguese without ever entering a classroom. I now teach English as a foreign language. I know from experience that classes only get you so far. Less than 50%. If you want to be truly fluent, most of the effort needs to come from you, not from books or teachers. This is how I did it: 1) Keep a small vocabulary book. A small notebook you can carry with you everywhere. Write all the new vocabulary in the book that you learn. Physically  copying the words down on paper makes you twice as likely to remember them. Also write the type of word and an example of how to use it in a sentence. The more information you have about a word, the more you will remember it. Reading the book for five minutes before you go to sleep is ideal. The book is guaranteed to be extremely boring so you will get sleepy quickly and your brain will remember the vocabulary while you sleep. Win-Win. This is my Spanish vocab book; it’s also a good idea to write down all of the meanings of the word. Yema in Spanish can mean three different things in...

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