Couchsurfing

Hi language learners ,

I have been reflecting about the different ways in which we could practice our target languages in a fun and innovative way. I obviously  came across the ideas of watching movies, reading books, watching series in ur target language. Those are really good practice, but I was looking for something more interactive, activities that allow us to produce speech and communicate with native speakers.

Then I started reflecting about the things I like better and how are they related to the language learning. One of my favourites things in the world is to travel, but as a student there is not much money left to travel around. However, some years ago I was got to know a web page called Couchsurfing, where you can host people or be hosted by then without paying anything. I have already had some Couchsurfing experiences and they have been amazing, I have met some really nice people with who I still try to keep in touch.  Obviously the language we use to communicate with each other is english, one of my target languages, but we could also use French, German, Italian, I got the opportunity to meet people of all over the world thanks to this web page.

Up to now, I have seen Couchsurfing just as a page where I could find accommodation wherever I wanted to go and where I could meet a lot of interesting people. But I have never thought about it as a tool that could help me in my language learning. So, as I most of the times use english to communicate with other couchsurfers, I will from now on pay more attention to how I write, to the structures and vocabulary that people use in the messages they send me.

That’s the point of it, look at the tools you usually use from another angle, and make them into language learning tools!

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Personalising the language learning

1) How to personalise your language learning

In order to be an efficient learner it is necessary to personalise our learning. After years of studying different subjects and languages we already know which ones our weak points and strong points are , taking that into account we will personalise our own learning. In my case , to personalise my language learning I would use a lot of different materials , but I would  try to compare and connect the information as much as possible. I consider myself a verbal learner, however I often need an outline to connect different topics, that is really helpful when studying grammar, history or culture for example.

Nevertheless, for the vocabulary I use a completely different method, which is to use flashcards, that makes the learning more practical. I writte the word in the foreign language in the front and the translation in the back part; that way I have to try to remember the word and that makes the learning easier. Other trick to learn vocabulary is to write down when and where did you heard it so as to connect it to a situation and a person and that way it would be easier to remember it.

My personal language learning would require a lot of practice to, even if I find it hard sometimes I try hard. Continuing with the example of the vocabulary I try to use as much as possible the new vocabulary I have learnt so as to integrate it.

2) How personal should our language learning be ?

It is helpful to personalise our language learning, focussing it in our skills so as to be efficient leraners, but we shouldn’t forget about our weak points, otherwise we will miss a lot of it. It is important to focuss on what we like while learning a language but we also need to oblige ourselves to try new methods. In my opinion, it is also important to compare our language learning methods with others and see if we are missing something, if we can improve our personal way…etc.

3) Advantages and disadvantages of personalising our language learning

If we want to personalise our learning we have to think through it a lot first, because we have to take into account a lot of different facts, so as the learning to be efficient and complete. Because we could personalise our learning just focussing on what we like but that wouldn’t be enough, that would be a disadvantage. On the other hand, personalising a language could be an advantage, since we would have to reflect about the way we learn and we could improve a lot by reflecting about it.

Personalising our language learning may take more time that we would like to, but I find it helpful. Sometimes our aim is to finish our works as soon as possible, so it without realising how we do it and what are we suppose to learn out of it, but actually the time we will spend on this activity may be a lose of time, since we won’t make the most of it.

 

Academic writing

 

Let’s go deeper in the language learning !

 

As an Erasmus student we would notice that language is not just about social engagement, of course we have to deepen in the socioculural practices of the country we are living in but there are some issues that we won’t learn out in the streets. I’m talking about academic writing.

This is a very important area to learn about in our target language, because we usually learn faster what our collegues say in class, or what our new friends say when we hang out with them, even if it is more difficult than academic language , since it is constantly changing and it will be different depending on where our friends are from.

Academic language however, is a more generalised area and it is actually easier to understand. Usually, academic language contains a lot of latinism, so it is easier for foreing speaker to remember and to understand them. The tricky thing is that as foreing speakers we don’t realise the different registers of the language, we usually know less vocabulary and it is difficult to differentiate if it is academic or informal. Therefore the following tasks could help us to learn more about academic writing.

Task 1: Informality Replace the phrasal verbs in the sentences with a more appropriate verb from the list below.

1.  Researchers have been looking into the problem for 15 years. : investigating / examining/ exploring

  1. This issue was brought up during the seminar. : discussed / highlighted / adressed
  2. It is assumed that the management knows what is happening and will therefore step in if

there is a problem. : intervene / interrupt / act

  1. Schools cannot altogether get rid of the problem of truancy. : eliminate/ erradicate
  2. The number of staff has been cut down recently. : reduced
  3. It was very difficult to find out exactly what happened. : discover / ascertain/determine
  4. House prices have a tendency to go up and down. : vary
  5. A potential solution was put forward two years ago. : proposed / suggested/ presented
  6. The locals could not put up with the visitors from the city. : stand / endure/tolerate
  7. The decline was brought about by cheap imports. : caused
  8. The university is thinking about installing CCTV. : considering to
  9. Sales are likely to drop off in the third quarter. : declaine
  10. He went on speaking for over an hour. : continued to speak
  11. The meeting was put off until December. : delayed/ postponed
  12. The cinema was pulled down ten years ago. : demolished
  13. People have cut down on their consumption of beef. : reduced their

 

Task 2: Informality

Use a more formal word or phrase to replace those in bold.

  1. The reaction of the officials was sort of negative. :slightly
  2. The economic outlook is nice. : positive
  3. Car manufacturers are planning a get together to discuss their strategy. : a meeting
  4. The resulting competition between countries is good. : favourable
  5. The economy is affected by things that happen outside the country. : factors
  6. She was given the sack because of her poor record. : fired
  7. The examination results were super. : outstanding

 

Nevertheless , we shouldn’t just be careful with vocabulary, but also with the structure of our writing and we should also take into account that the academic writing is more nominalised, that means that we should use more nouns than verbs. All those little details would make our results in academical writing outstanding and we won’t have any problems to write our essays in our target language.