Language Corner

Some moths ago, preparing a project for my university back home, in Granada, I came across this web page about language learning methods. I find it really useful for independent language learners. Steve Kaufmann who speaks 11 different languages gives us the keys to the successful language learning.

According to Steve there are 7 keys to the sucessful language learning: 1. To spend time in contact with the language; 2. To do what we like during learning a language; 3.To learn to notice ; 4. To focuss more in the vocabulary rather than in grammar; 5. To be patient; 6. To get the neccesary tools; 7. To become an independent language learner.

Even if we may not agree with all of them, I think that those are really good piece of advices. If you are interested and want to know more about the successful language learning here I add the link to Steve’s blog :

http://www.youtube.com/user/lingosteve

 

Hope you’ll enjoy it !

 

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Corpus linguistics

A corpus is a collection of texts or part of texts that help us to analyse them.  Using a corpus we obtained the presented list of english words , in which  we have a reference to the spoken language as well as a reference to the written language. We can notice some differences between the most frecuent words in the spoken and in the written language.

The most used word in both spoken and written is the english article “the”. However, the second more used is not the same, in the spoken list we have “I”, which shows us that the spoken language is much more personal than the written one, since in the written language the second word is the preposition “to”.

On the other hand, another big difference between the spoken and written list is that in the spoken one we have language markers as “mm” , “well” or “like”, words like ” yeah”, or even laughs,that we wouldn’t find in the written list. In the written list we find more preposition, since the written one is a more organised discourse with longer sentences and richer structures.

But a corpus linguistics doesn’t allow us just to analyse the words itself but also the meaning of the words, as we can analyse them in different context. Sometimes we are expecting a word to have a specific meaning and once we have looked it up in a corpora the different examples show us that it has more meanings.

In the examples we have been given the word we are going to analyse is “dead” , at first what we think when we heard the word dead is something negative because that is the real meaning of dead and most of the times we forget about the ironic meanings or the slang language, in which  the words are used in different contexts.

The word dead is used as an intensifier, as in the example of “dead sexy” or as in “Dead sure” , ” you’re dead right” which means completely sure, it is also used meaning stopped: ” the wind has been dead”, in the example ” dead of the night” means in the middle of the night , the quiet night. As we can see the corpus shows us all the different meanings of a word in context, it doesn’t provide us a definiton of the word we are analyzing but we can perfectly know how it is used by the different examples.

Games for language learning

– Games with learning purpouses : Bussu.  http://www.busuu.com/enc/

Bussu is a very good language learning tool. It consits of different levels the user has to pass, that way he feels the pressure to improve. When you pass a level you get a strawberry, the more strawberrys you get the better. It’s a very interactive game, since you have to learn vocabulary with flashcards and then grammar by constructing sentences and different structures. Once you have learnt the basic theories of that level you’ll have to interact with other users. You’ll send them a short text using your new knowledges and they will correct it, in the same way you will also have to reflect about your own language because you’ll have to correct other peoples texts. If you want to make your learning even more interactive you can use the chat.

You have to keep your bussu updated , because otherwise your garden will run out of strawberrys and your language won’t improve !

 

 

– Games without learning purpouses :

Some games haven’t been disegned with the purpose of language learning, but we could rethink those games and use them with a new aim. If we enjoy those games we will learn easily and we won’t feel that we are doing something we have to do , but it will be actually something we want to do. The important point is that we have to realise that those games that originally are not thought to language learning could help us to learn for example vocabulary.  Some examples of those games are: Footbal games as FIFA online or another sports games online, since we an learn a lot of expecific vocabulary about that particular sport. But if you don’t like sports there are a lot of other options, as the Sims, Computer games of current Tv series as The walking Dead, etc. We just have to find what we like better and try to take advantage of it, noticing the new vocabulary it provides us.

 

Every game is an opportunity to learn !

 

Erasmus experience

As an Erasmus student I wanted to share with you some tips that are currently helping me. I see that most of my fellow students are going on a Erasmus or exchange year next course, everyone could tell it by their faces, I can see fear and excitement, so I thought that my tips would be helpful for everyone.

First of all, it is completely normal to feel fear when you are going abroad, but really you shouldn’t feel that way because you will find what you are looking for wherever you go if you know how to search for it.  However, I found it really helpful to have a friend you can trust from the beginning, someone who would show you around, that way you won’t get lost,  you also should ask him or her to show you different cultural issues, as  famous bands, the most popular newspaper or magazines,radio stations, etc, so as you to be completely integrated in the society of that country.

On the other hand, and as a language learner each one should have his or her own tricks to make the most of this experience. Those are some of mines:

– To have a good language exchange partner . Having a good language exhange partner is really important, since you will probably be able to express yourself in the native language in a few weeks or in a week but our aim is beyond that, what we want is to really master the language we are learning. Therefore we should ask our language partner to show us as many useful expressions as possible, more specific words, etc. Because at the end, the only way to really learn vocabulary is calling thins by their own name not just trying to explain what we mean in a roundabout way.

– To note the new voabulary we learn. While being abroad we will be learning new vocabulary every day, but trust me, even if in the moment that you listen to a new word you think that you will remenber it and that you will star using it, you won’t , because you will come across new words every single day. Therefore I think it’s worth it to spend some time every day trying to summarize the new words we have heard that day. In my case, I have a terribly bad memory, so one of my methods to remember words is to  associate them to a particular situation. What I do is to write down the word, where did I listen to it or who said it to me and a clear example that explains what it means.

 

Those are little tips that are helping me in this amazing experience that is the Erasmus at UL, I’ll try to share more of them with you !