Jun 10. News
Many decades of language teaching has meant numerous theories about the “best” way to teach and learn a new language.
Currently, traditional ideas have coalesced into what is known as the “communicative approach” to language learning. Essentially, this theory puts communication above grammar, meaning that the primary aim for teachers and their students is about being able to communicate and be understood in a language, despite perhaps having grammatical errors.
There’s a really interesting article about it on The Conversation, here.
The main problem with this is that of course you need to get your language skills to a level where you can communicate in the first place and this may take a little while to begin with. Additionally, we need to leave our adult shame and embarrassment about getting it “wrong” aside in order to jump in and give speaking a go. This can sometimes be a tricky proposition!
That said, I have found that speaking (or at least attempting to speak!) has really helped my acquisition of vocabulary. Hearing the word said by me and by my conversation partner as well as seeing it written down has greatly enhance my communication skills. Additionally, without exception, I have found people to be very happy to speak to you when you are trying your best. I always think how amazing I find it when someone tries to speak English – yes, they may get it wrong but I certainly don’t think they look unintelligent, strange or funny. On the contrary, I admire them for their bravery.
Mar 11. News
The fastest way to learn a language is probably to immerse yourself in a country amid native speakers. While it may be crazy difficult at the beginning, within just a few months your language skills will have improved out of sight simply because of the necessity of having to use it day in, day out.
Unfortunately, not all of us have the capacity to take six or twelve months out to go an live in the south of Spain to learn Spanish (as idyllic as that may sound!). So instead, learning another language from the comfort of our own homes tends to be more akin to a long hard marathon.
I have a love/hate relationship with this reality. It is always tempting to want to speed things up – I want to speak and understand now! But on the other hand, there are few things in life now that take so long, and such a concerted effort to master as learning another language. I must admit that there is something about the zen-nature of that that appeals to me.
At the moment I am taking three language classes a week, but am thinking about adding a fourth. With homework, this means that I am effectively practicing the language, even if it’s just for an hour nearly every day. Even though the it’s still hard going but if I measure my improvements over time I can see that I have improved dramatically in the last six months, and that does give me some hope for the language marathon I’m in!
Dec 08. News
I’m taking a language class at the moment. It’s the fifth language I’ve learnt and last week I was discussing with my colleagues the other languages they had previously learnt. My pop quiz revealed that the vast majority also already spoke at least two, three or four other languages.
All this got me thinking about whether being a polyglot, or simply just loving learning languages, is something that appeals to a specific type of person? Is it a right or left brain thing? An interest in linguistics or other cultures? The desire to communicate with others across barriers?
For me, the best thing about learning another language is that you can’t fudge it – you either know it or you don’t. This basically means that the amount of work you put in directly correlates to the outcomes you achieve i.e. being able to converse with people, read books and newspapers and understand conversations.
And the best learning outcomes I’ve had is when I practice on numerous fronts. Mostly using visual stimulus (like the LinguaPosta posters and labels – I tend to need to see a word written in order to remember it), having conversations with people (it’s really hard for me to remember vocab or grammar without hearing myself say it) and writing practice (I’ve got a few pen pals that give me a practical outlet for my language).
Next year I’m hoping to use my language skills to help people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds fill out forms and/or access help. Local neighbourhood houses and community centres are always looking for assistance, so if you’ve got a few hours a week to help, perhaps refugees from Chad or Mali who speak French, settle in, what a win-win situation that would be?!
Jun 19. News
Hi there!! Or should I say ¡Hola!
A little while back we launched a new range of language labels in Spanish, French and German that you could print out and stick around the house. You can check out the free downloadable version here.
The response to this product has been amazing so we’ve decided to put together a full set of 4 sheets of Spanish language labels. It’s now available to purchase for the *extremely expensive* price of $5.00USD!
All you have to do is download them, print them out and stick them around your place. In addition to the labels for the kitchen, we’ve added ones for the bedroom, the lounge and the dining room.
As always, please let us know what you think. We’re very excited about our new product and hope you are too.
Mar 19. News
Lots of people love to travel – including us. But while going to new places can be heaps of fun, it can also be a little bit daunting.
Finding out how to get around, knowing what time the shops open and close and being able to let the locals know that you want the milk and not the cheese are all part and parcel of the travel experience.
Language can definitely soften the blow of travelling in foreign lands. In most countries we’ve been to, it’s fair to say that “a little goes a long way”! Even if you’ve only got the basics of a language, most people we’ve met have been nothing but happy that you’ve made some effort to get to know their language – and through it their culture and way of life.
So, when you’re thinking about that next trip abroad, instead of purchasing your ticket first, why not start by learning a few of the local phrases. Please, thank you and hello are always a good place to start – and see how many smiles you get for your trouble! As they say, a smile is worth a thousand words anyway, isn’t it?!
Nov 20. News
Congratulations! Your choice to learn a new language now comes with added benefits!
Not only can you have conversations, ask directions to the train station or the nearest restaurant and haggle in the market, it has now been proven that learning a second (or third, fourth or fifth!) language can help ward off the onset of dementia.
There’s many articles out there on the topic, but this one from New Scientist is really interesting. One of the main theories as to why learning another language can delay the onset of three types of dementia (including Alzheimers) is because the process of speaking one language means the constant suppression of another. This switching and suppression essentially makes the brain more flexible and hence less likely to develop dementia.
Amazing stuff. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get studying!
Aug 06. News
We’ve all been there. Learning a language can be hard. It takes a lot of time, practice and patience. Many times I’ve wished for my own Babelfish to make the process all that much easier.
Unfortunately, while the meaning of life may still be 42, there is, as yet, no Babelfish so that means putting in the hard yards. LinguaPosta posters and language labels can certainly help you on your language journey but in some ways they’re aimed at passive learning – taking information in as you go about your daily life.
While passive learning is important and necessary, I’ve found that to avoid hitting that wall and becoming frustrated with your language study, the best thing to do is mix it up a bit. Look up local language swaps in your community, volunteer somewhere where you can use your knowledge, find a language pen pal to practice your writing skills or why not take a class with other like-minded souls at your local Adult Education Centre?
There’s lots of different ways to learn, and we all learn differently, but where language is concerned, the only thing to do is to practice, practice, practice. Doing this in as many formats and ways you can think of will ultimately pay off down the track. One reason I’ve always liked languages is that you can’t fake it, you either know it or you don’t. So, it’s time for me to pick myself up and keep on learning.
Mar 24. News
We’ve all heard the excuse that you’re too old to learn a language. Well, that’s just simply not true.
There’s an interesting post here that dispels many of the myths you may have heard of about learning another language as an adult. The major one of these being that there is actually no decline in the ability to learn as people get older. So unlike many people think, the brain’s capacity to remember vocabulary does not lessen as you age. In fact, if you use your brain to learn new things as an adult, including another language, studies now suggest that your brain actually gets stronger and has a better ability to retain information.
Watching children acquire language is an amazing thing. But if you think about it, it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years for them to master it – much as it takes an adult years to master a new language. The two major benefits they have are that they are immersed in the language – think of how fast you’d learn French if you lived in Paris for a few years? And, they have relatively few inhibitions!
So, where does this leave us oldies? Well, aside from moving overseas for an extended period of time (which is always a great option, by the way!) the best thing we can do to help us learn a new language at home is to lose our adult sensibilities and jump right in that deep end. Don’t worry about looking silly or making mistakes. Go out and practice as much as you can, and if you’ve got young ones in your life, use them as inspiration!
Jan 15. News
We’re about to release the free sample of Linguaposta’s brand new product – awesome Language Labels for around the home available in French, Spanish and German!
We’re pretty excited about them and have already printed them out and stuck them around the kitchen. The free sample will give you fourteen language labels with some common vocabulary plus the word or phrase used in context to really help you learn and see the language in action.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we’ve enjoyed making them. Please let us know what you think and stay tuned, the full set for the whole house will be available to buy soon!
On my first trip to Paris when I was about 18, I was dying to try out my (very elementary – as I soon found out!) French so decided to go the bakery and buy myself a croissant.
Before I went in, I worked out the sentence formation in my head, practiced for a while getting the pronunciation just right, saying the words out loud.
I took a deep breath, went in and in my best french accent asked ‘Je voudrais une croissant s’il-vous-plaît?’
Well, it must have gone over well because much to my alarm, the baker started to speak back to me in French. I was, of course, lost!
But… after some more time and practice, I can now answer people when they speak to me. And if I don’t understand, I’ve learnt the most handy phrase I know when trying to pick up another language – ‘Parler plus lentement s’il-vous-plaît’ (speak a little slower please)!