- 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.
PANDEMIC BLESSINGS IN DISGUISE
"I HAVE GREAT NEWS!"
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 :-)))
But how about life experience? How about knowledge you can't quite master as a child? Yes, kids learn easily, but they have no understanding of abstract or complex concepts. If I remember well, there are even different neurological centers in our brain involved in adult learning - totally different than the ones a child uses to learn a mother tongue! So, the argument becomes a comparison between apples and oranges.
I'll be honest: I personally prefer working with adults. What they have as an advantage over children is their motivation. Ask a child, and you'll probably find the parents as the driving force behind the language education; ask an adult, and you'll hear beautiful reasons:
There are many factors to consider when learning and teaching - age specifics are important! Just as well as an early-childhood educator will choose more visual aids - pictures, games, videos and flash cards - a teacher with an adult student can use all of these, plus favorite songs, crossword puzzles, and most importantly, topics that the students are interested in. Nothing makes it stick like interest and excitement!
Here are some ways to go around age-related slowdowns:
ecclesiastical Latin. He also knows Portuguese, biblical Hebrew and Ancient
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!
THE [GREAT] EXPECTATIONS
Some time in the recent past, I got to attend a workshop on managing expectations.
It was a revelation.
Since then, I've come to the realization that in reality, our entire lives are one big, long, exhausting exercise in expectation management. We approach every single thing, every day, with certain expectations - without necessarily knowing or intending to do so. We decide on a movie, based on a brief description or a review; we dress for an event accordingly and try to follow the dress code; many among us spend their lives trying to prove their worth to others, be it parents or siblings or just friends and colleagues; we expect praise for our accomplishments, punishment for our mistakes, and certain standards from everyone and everything surrounding us. Have you heard the stories of brides, claiming that their weddings were ruined - because of some tiny detail in the plan not going perfectly in line with their expectations of perfection? Yes, me too. Unbelievable.
It's shocking, if you think about it.
Yesterday I experienced great satisfaction finding a bag of onions, when I thought we were all out and the dinner was in jeopardy! On that same day, I happened to read a review on Trip Advisor, in which a guest of a 4-star hotel was complaining that his 7- and 9-year-old children were "bummed out" because the hotel pool...wait for it...had no jacuzzi! Can anyone offer me a reasonable explanation on the fact that I was overjoyed by onions, while some spoiled brats were disappointed by the hotel amenities in Miami - other than the levels of our expectations? I didn't think so.
Now, ask yourself: "What am I expecting from my language course?"
On the other hand:
REMEMBER: NOBODY ON THIS PLANET WAS BORN SPEAKING A LANGUAGE!
All of us, without any exception, have learned one or more languages in our own different ways, at our own pace and on our own terms.
We are not miracle workers.
We can't promise you the impossible.
What we can give you is patience, knowledge, passion, entertaining ways of learning, a cup of coffee to help you relax - and the rest is up to you.
Expect to be pleasantly surprised - and treated with respect and understanding.
IT'S A TWO-WAY STREET
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.
THE EVOLUTION OF SONG LYRICS
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.
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 on the North Shore of Montreal. Quebec, Canada.