- Canada is more bilingual now than it has ever been...
- ...and Quebec has the highest number of bilingual people out of every province.
- Research shows that it’s best to start learning a language at a young age, the best being 7 years old.
- However, research also shows that this is due to perception, not biology. With the right approach, an adult can learn a language as effectively as a child!
- Learning a language makes your brain physically grow! Brain scans show a greater density of grey matter in areas of the brain associated with language in people who speak two or more languages.
- There are 46 different alphabets used worldwide.
- Learning a second language helps prevent the mind from aging and delays the onset of conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s by as much as a decade.
- The most widely spoken in the world is not English… it’s Mandarin/Chinese!
- Interestingly, Mandarin is also the most difficult language to learn.
- The easiest language to learn is Spanish.
- The dot above an “i” or a “j” is called a tittle.
- Bilingual people have a better memory.
- Bilingual people do better academically, too!
- The first alphabet was called the Phoenician alphabet, created sometime around 1200 BC.
- 89% of employers agree that being multilingual adds value to an employee.
- 43% of the world’s population speaks two languages fluently… 13% speaks three.
- English is the most common second language. In fact, people who speak English fluently as a second language outnumber native speakers!
- Almost half of languages have no written form.
- Knowing more than one language makes it easier to learn additional languages. (You knew that one, didn’t you?)
- The most common reason for wanting to learn a second language is to communicate better when travelling.
- The most widely translated books after The Bible are The Little Prince and Pinocchio.
- There are roughly 6500 languages spoken in the world today; however, 2000 of these languages have fewer than 1000 speakers; in fact, one language becomes extinct every 14 days.
- The most linguistically diverse country is Papua New Guinea, where around 840 languages are spoken.
- There are more Spanish speakers in the US than in Spain.
- In Chinese, dogs go 'wang wang'... in Spanish they go 'guau guau'... and in Swedish they go 'voff voff’.
- Some cool celebrity facts (about language, of course): ✓ Arnold Schwarzenegger was told that he cannot voice his own character in a movie translated to German because his Austrian accent was too rough; ✓ The actress Sandra Oh, Canada’s own, is fluent also in Korean - and French, which she learned in Montreal; ✓ Mila Kunis was born in The Ukraine, and she speaks excellent Ukrainian and Russian to this day; ✓ Celine Dion didn’t start learning English until well into her teens – and her motivation was world fame, her inspiration – Michael Jackson.
Here is my argument in favor of learning a new language: every person around the world has done it! At some point, in some way, from conversations with parents and friends, following songs or TV shows, children form their vocabulary and start learning their mother tongue – naturally, gradually, step by step, year after year.
Nobody was born speaking a language.
So much for the tired excuse: “I’m not good with languages”! Recently, scientists have discovered that children are not really learning more easily or more quickly than us, adults. They spend several hours a day, immersed in the new language at school or out in the street, in a new country, working hard on their new skills, making mistakes, trying again, repeating and slowly going forward. Adults are more self-conscious and more critical; they get discouraged by every mistake, often have unrealistic expectations and, almost all the time, they’re very hard on themselves. Well, we, your teachers, have news for you: learning a language is a process. Make your mistakes – then the teacher will explain and correct you – then you’ll start catching yourself and correcting yourself – and fluency will come with time, practice and dedication.
It's a proven psychological fact that we retain much more when we are interested in the subject of learning. Our memory is very selective this way. Events and experiences that have impressed us or moved us deeply are engraved in our memory, many years later, while we all have boring exams we have passed and completely forgotten about within weeks. Take a sports fan who knows every detail about his favorite team or player, plus stats and scoring situations, championships, positions on the field, etc. I could never remember that, since watching sports is not my cup of tea; but ask me about my favorite musicians, and I will tell you every album, every landmark in their lives - believe it or not, I know every word of every song of my favorite band from the time I was growing up (it's too embarrassing to mention but I still like them), and I have won a bunch of contests and prizes because of my useless trivia knowledge, based on pure interest in the subject.
There is a huge, dangerous misconception about games, music and all visual media as sources of entertainment and nothing more. On top of that, young language learners are presumed distracted and unwilling to learn. Connect the dots, and you have the picture: if your students are lacking in interest or motivation, the reason is most likely boredom. The traditional textbook-workbook-pen-chalk-blackboard concept may be still good, but it most definitely is only a small part of the arsenal a language teacher can use in an attempt to make it a success.
So accept that new language as a new adventure.
Take a deep breath. Jump! The water is great.
One of my students came to class excited today.
He told me how he'd scored 100% on his English grammar test!
Well, that made my day. (That, and the red wine and the good company at our little office party later on.)
But seriously. He stopped using me as a dictionary a few months ago. Shortly after that, he stopped trying to switch back to French when he felt it was too difficult to express himself in English.
I am very, very proud of his progress. He has been working hard, taking 3-4 hours per month on average - which is not a big time or money commitment. But he's persisted. He comes to class with a smile on his face and an open mind, sometimes bringing a school project to fine-tune, and (most of the time) with his homework done.
And that's how learning a second language works.
EVEN FOR A TEENAGER :-)))
Nous organisons une semaine d'activités en anglais
pour les enfants
lors de la relâche scolaire
* du lundi au vendredi,
*3-4 heures par jour, en après-midi.
Au programme : enseignement, lecture, film, jeux et autres activités LE TOUT EN ANGLAIS ECLUSIVEMENT.
Les inscriptions débutent le 3 février, et se poursuivront jusqu'au 21 février inclusivement.
L’ENSEIGNEMENT des langues, comme plusieurs autres domaines de la vie privée ou professionnelle, requiert des compétences essentielles, dont la courtoisie, la tolérance et le respect des autres.
Chez HORIZONS, nous tâchons de nous adapter au mieux à l’horaire de nos étudiants. Il leur est ainsi possible, par exemple, de changer de groupe si les rencontres ont lieu à un moment qui ne leur convient pas, de rattraper un retard à la suite d’une absence ou de recevoir leurs devoirs par courriel s’ils n’ont pu se présenter à un cours. Nous proposons également des forfaits personnalisés aux personnes qui doivent passer un examen dans de brefs délais et faisons en sorte qu’un enseignant soit disponible pour les y préparer.
Mon travail de professeure d’anglais langue seconde m’a amenée à rencontrer des étudiants qui m’ont vraiment impressionnée par leur assiduité. Ils sont toujours ponctuels, font leurs devoirs avec soin et progressent rapidement, et ce, pour mon plus grand plaisir. Inutile de dire qu’observer une telle motivation s’avère très gratifiant pour un enseignant. Parce que plus que la recherche du gain financier, c’est la satisfaction de la tâche bien accomplie qui le motive. De la même manière que vous ne vous contenteriez pas d’un chèque de paye, nous aimons constater que notre travail porte ses fruits.
Parfois, il arrive que quelqu’un nous demande une garantie de résultats. Nous expliquons gentiment à cette personne que le travail réalisé avec le professeur ne représente que la moitié du chemin à parcourir et qu’il lui revient d’effectuer l’autre partie. Il nous est impossible de vous promettre que vous parlerez parfaitement l’anglais en vous réveillant demain matin. Ni de faire vos devoirs ou de passer vos examens à votre place. Par contre, nous pouvons vous enseigner, pratiquer avec vous, vous fournir des outils audio et vidéo, vous inviter à participer à des discussions et suivre de près vos progrès.
OPRAH a déjà dit que si la pilule magique pour perdre du poids avait été inventée, elle aurait été la première à l’acheter, peu importe le prix… Comme ce n’est pas le cas, elle prépare ses repas et fait de l’exercice tous les jours. Malgré tout, il existe une industrie multimillionnaire qui promet que, sans diète ni activité physique, grâce au thé vert, au pamplemousse ou à des comprimés d’algues, votre corps deviendra mince et ferme. C’est incroyable ce que nous sommes prêts à payer pour obtenir des résultats rapides!
Il en va de même pour l’apprentissage d’une nouvelle langue. Si quelqu’un vous garantit une réussite quasi instantanée sans effort, méfiez-vous! Apprendre nécessite du temps. Le processus peut s’avérer ardu et complexe ou dynamique et diversifié . Mais dans un cas comme dans l’autre, il compte deux participants et nécessite un travail collaboratif. Un bon professeur ne représente qu’une des deux clés du succès.
Enfin, en tant qu’adultes, nous présumons que nos étudiants sont honnêtes. Nous leur laissons donc le bénéfice du doute lorsqu’ils omettent de se présenter à un cours . La plupart du temps, nous travaillons avec des personnes merveilleuses. Mais il nous arrive à l’occasion d’avoir affaire à des gens qui pensent que nous, professeurs, sommes leurs employés personnels et qu’ils peuvent se rendre à leurs cours seulement s’ils ne
l’oublient pas. Inutile de dire que, comme tout le monde, nous réprouvons ce genre d’attitude. Un peu de respect et un avis d’annulation dans un délai raisonnable, voilà tout ce que nous vous demandons. Nous vous promettons la même chose en retour.
Laissez-nous vous aider à réaliser votre projet de bien maîtriser l’anglais.
Notre satisfaction réside dans votre réussite!
In language education, just like many other areas of life or business, people skills are essential. Common courtesy, tolerance and mutual respect go a long way.
At HORIZONS, we are going out of our way to accommodate our students and work around their schedules so that they can switch groups, make up for an absence, get their homework by email if they miss a class; we create personalized plans for people trying to cram for upcoming exams and fit their needs into our teachers' schedules...
As a teacher of English as a second language (anglais langue seconde), I've met students who keep you on your toes and push really hard towards achieving their goals. They always manage to be on time, always have their homework assignments ready and move ahead at a great speed, much to my delight. Needless to say, it's challenging, but very, very rewarding for a teacher to see such dedication. Because money is only one side of the coin: job satisfaction is the other. Just like you wouldn't be satisfied working only for a pay cheque, we like to see the results of our work, too!
Every now and then, someone will come along and ask for a "guarantee".
We keep calm and explain that a teacher's effort is only half of the job, and the rest is up to the student. No, we can't promise you that you'd wake up tomorrow and speak fluent English, sorry. We can't do your homework and we can't take your exam for you; we can explain, practice with you and engage you with audio and video, involve you in a discussion and check your progress. Fair enough?
Oprah once said, famously, that the magic weight loss pill doesn't exist - otherwise, she said, I'd be the first one to buy it, whatever the price... So, she packs her lunches and works out daily - but somehow there's an entire multi-million industry out there, promising you that you need no diet nor exercise - just that green tea or pineapple or seaweed tablet, and you'll be slim and fit - GUARANTEED! Oh, the money we are willing to pay for a quick fix!
Same goes for learning a new language: if someone promises you a quick and effortless process, run! Learning takes time. The methods can be dry and complex - or more dynamic and diverse - but either way, there are two participants and two sides of the story. A good teacher is only 50% of the success.
We, as adults, always presume our students innocent. OK, to avoid the criminal lingo, we give them the benefit of the doubt :-) Most of the time, we work with wonderful people. There are occasional individuals who think we, the teachers, are their personal employees, and they can show up if they don't forget. No-shows, needless to say, are nobody's favorites - and we are no exception. All we ask for is some respect and a cancellation call in due time. We promise to do the same.
Let us help you on your way to communicating well in English. It's our pleasure and your success story.
Remember the times when it was all about love: sweet, faithful, ever-lasting love?
If you do, you're getting old.
It's been a long way from "I want to hold your hand" to "We might not get tomorrow / Let's do it tonight!"... The reality hasn't changed that much; at the time The Beatles sang the cute song with the above title, they were in Hamburg, Germany, doing drugs, pulling all-nighters at clubs and allegedly having more groupies they could handle. The '60s and the '70s were probably the most decadent decades in recent history, when it comes to relationships and sexuality. It totally beats me how they managed to produce some of the most beautiful song lyrics (along with lots of unplanned babies). The '80s got a bit further - into sickeningly sweet, knee-bending, heart-melting ballads. It was all pure bliss even in the '90s - until the 21st century rolled in.
A sampler? Here it is:
"Look into my eyes, you will see
What you mean to me
Search your heart, search your soul
And when you find me there you'll search no more"
Bryan Adams ("Everything I Do...")
"I am a man who will fight for your honor
I'll be the hero that you've been dreaming of
We're gonna live forever
Knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love"
Peter Cetera ("For the Glory of Love")
"So close, no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trust in who we are
And nothing else matters"
Metallica ("And Nothing Else Matters")
"Love me tender, love me sweet
Never let me go
You have made my life complete
And I love you so"
Elvis Presley ("Love Me Tender")
You don't even need to see them - and they were so handsome! - to fall head-over-heels in love with those guys! Just the same way as men are all visual, we women can go crazy hearing things like that. It's true. I would have had a thing for Bryan Adams even if he looked like Danny De Vito - after all the sap he has produced over the past 35 years! I was this close to chaining myself to his boat in Plattsburgh a few years ago, just to meet him. Not kidding.
Now let's review what's on these days.
I was driving my little daughters and a friend of theirs (all between the ages of six and nine), when I got a bit of a jolt from the song playing on the radio:
"If happy-ever-after did exist
I would still be holding you like this
All those fairy tales are full of it
One more stupid love song, I'll be sick"
Maroon 5 ("Payphone")
This was actually funny, coming from three little girls, singing along at the top of their lungs. By the way, "stupid" is the family-friendly version for radio, while in the video the word is "f***ing". I'll leave it to you to guess the original word replaced by "it". This song would never have made it to the top in 1963. Or 1983.
Don't get me wrong: I love Maroon 5, their edge and their talent. Just comparing, not judging!
Not convinced? How about the oldest, lamest drunken pickup line about only living once, the only reality being right now, and tomorrow not being granted to us? I swear, it's the only thing you hear these days, in every hit, on every station:
"For all we know we might not get tomorrow
Lets do it tonight
Grab somebody sexy tell 'em hey
Give me everything tonight"
NE-YO ("Give Me Everything")
Awww, turns out it's not even you - it's just anybody in your immediate grabbing area! Now doesn't this make you feel special?
"Baby let's do it right now
Baby let's do it right now
Baby let's do it right now
Baby let's do it right now
I got the time - I got the love
Baby I'm a rubber cement man
Baby won't you do it with your hand..."
Bad Examples ("Rubber Cement Man")
I don't know about you, but my heart is melting. And the English teacher in me is weeping.
And I'm not even going into the hard-core rap. It's today's regular, mass media blasting all this, bleeping a word here and there, just to attract some more attention to the fact that the soundtrack of our lives has become one big swearing, cursing, ghetto-inspired work of art.
Makes you nostalgic for the time when The Rolling Stones could only sing "Let's spend SOME TIME together" because "Let's spend the night together" was too raunchy for prime-time TV; or the scandal caused by Jim Morrison when he dared sing "Girl, we couldn't get much HIGHER" on live TV, before delays and recording took care of the decency required (and wardrobe malfunctions).
I love teaching English with songs: they have the real everyday modern language in them, help the students improve their listening comprehension, bring some fun into a classroom, and can be used to practice grammar and spelling...
I'm far from being a prude. I'm not preaching or pretending to be overly shocked.
But the guy who tries to impress me or my daughters with this kind of lyrics had better watch out.
My early TEFL/TESL teaching years back in the 1990s were the most rewarding in my life; probably not so much in terms of cash - compared to a lawyer's career, for example - but invaluable when it came to creating connections and, most importantly, the job satisfaction coming from the visible, measurable results: when having a decent conversation with a student in English after a few months of intense but fun learning, which started at the ABCs.
As someone who has spent many years Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)*, I have made observations that are hardly surprising: turns out, adults love playing just as much as children do! In my own experience, no more than two percent of my students ever questioned my slightly unconventional methods of learning, which incorporated English language puzzles, charades, contemporary music hits and so on. Occasionally, there would be a serious guy asking why we were wasting our time matching words
with pictures, but later he would get down on all fours on the carpet, make a story with the group - and forget about the traditional ideas of learning (which are associated with pain and suffering along the way!).
ESL - the dangerous misconception
There is a huge misconception about language games, music and all visual media in the classroom, as sources of entertainment and nothing more**. On top of this, young TESL learners are presumed distracted and unwilling to learn. Connect those two, and you have the solution: if your students are lacking in interest or motivation, the reason is most likely boredom. The traditional textbook-workbook-pen-chalk-blackboard concept may be still good, but it most definitely is only a small part of the arsenal an EFL/ESL teacher can use in an attempt to make the classes a success.
It's a proven psychological fact that we retain much more when we are interested in the subject of learning. Our memory is very selective this way. Events and experiences that have impressed us or moved us deeply are engraved in our memory years and decades later, while we all have boring subject exams we have passed and completely forgotten about within weeks. Take a sports fan who knows every detail about his favorite team or player, plus stats and goal situations, championships, positions on the field, etc. I could never even try to remember that, since sports are not even remotely interesting to me. But ask me about my favorite musicians, and I will tell you about every album, every landmark in their lives - believe it or not, I know
every word of every song of my favorite band from the time I was growing up (it's too embarrassing to mention but I like them to this day), and I have won contests and prizes because of my useless trivia knowledge, based on pure interest in the subject.
Mix it up in the ESL classroom
Dear fellow teachers out there, please do not be afraid to venture out of the book, lesson plan, subject matter - or whatever else you have planned for your day or session. There has never been a better time to incorporate fun into EFL/ESL learning, and resources have never been more abundant. Take those clips off the internet, use them to prove a point ("I don't know nothin' about no stolen paintings!", from a movie, took care of "using double negative", and made us all laugh, because this example is even triple!) - then go ahead with the planned practice. You'll be amazed at the results.
Ask your ESL students about their interests and bring class materials that would not only engage them, but make them look forward to that class. Preparation is minimal, and you can use the props multiple times. Silliness and fun can be the surprising allies on your way to achieving excellence in teaching
*In most countries out of North America, English comes as a third, maybe
even fourth foreign language. There are differences between EFL and ESL, depending on location and surroundings.
**I have a very well-sold book on the subject ("Don't Worry, Be Happy -
or how to learn English while enjoying yourself", 1992)
A Europe-born-and-raised, but also suburban mother of two, with a passion for languages, cultures, writing, travel and knowledge - combining my 20-something years of teaching and marketing into a language school in the suburbs of Montreal. Quebec, Canada.