Showing posts with label language. Show all posts
Showing posts with label language. Show all posts

Friday, 5 August 2016

3 simple language learning tips for shy people

Most researchers advocate that language involves the communication of meaning. It was this idea that brought forward the communicative approach in language learning. This approach gives special emphasis to communication and speaking in the foreign language, ideally from day one. Some of us, though, are shy. Some of us are not comfortable talking with people we don’t know, let alone talking with people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and using another language for that matter.

So what do we do? Here are a few tips for shy language lovers:

#1 BEING SHY IS OKAY

First of all, we should bear in mind that being shy is not something intrinsically bad. This is who we are and we are not obliged to change if we don’t want to in order to conform to a cultural ideal. Besides, while some language learners are extroverts and talkative, and are learning new languages with the aim of communicating with people, others, more scholarly types, learn a language in order to focus more on literature or translation. Each motive is legitimate in its own right.

#2 PUSHING YOURSELF WILL ONLY MAKE MATTERS WORSE

I don’t think it’s a good idea to push ourselves to speak in a new language if we don’t feel comfortable. After all, I believe that our shyness is not connected to our language learning. We can learn a language and still be shy, right? Besides, some people just need more time in order to develop oral communication skills. If you are in a language class, try to explain to your professor that you need your own pace. Your professor should respect your learning style and needs.

#3 COMMUNICATING ONLINE CAN BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

Language learning cannot transform shy people into extrovert language learners. However, shy language learners who nevertheless enjoy social media can opt for alternative communicative settings in order to practise the language they are learning. For example, they can join online conversations, e.g. a forum discussion. This way they will be able to use their new language in a safer setting. Besides, shy language lovers can always use their new language in a great number of situations, from reading and translating novels to enjoying films, exchanging emails or exploring a new academic interest. There is no rule saying that shy people should avoid learning new languages.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your language learning!

Monday, 11 May 2015

5 good reasons to learn Greek

So  you are looking for a new language to learn. Have you ever considered Modern Greek?

I truly believe Greek is worth it, and not just because it's my language. Okay, maybe precisely because it's my language, I may be a little prejudiced in favour of it. But why not trust my inside knowledge on this? Let's find out the 5 reasons why Greek should be your next language.

#1 NO HARDCORE GRAMMAR

Consider that Modern Greek is not that hard as Ancient Greek. Still, there are four cases to master (including the most interesting and rare vocative case), but all in all, grammar rules are pretty straightforward. As with most Indo-European languages, Greek has become more analytic, making things easier for the language learner.

#2 AWESOME SCRIPT

You will use a beautiful new script that is used in mathematics, science, and engineering. Greek letters are also used in the International Phonetic Alphabet and in the names of stars and constellations. In case you want to appear sophisticated, you could also learn how to write in the quaint polytonic system. So cool!

#3 GREAT POETRY

Some languages are great for prose and some other languages for poetry. Modern Greek is absolutely a language for poetry. We are a small country but already with two Nobel laureates, both in poetry. If you love poems, that's the language to learn!

#4 YOU ALREADY KNOW A LOT

Believe it or not, you already know a lot of Greek. I know, because I have the (bad) habit of saying Greek stuff to friends from other countries and I have seen they understand me. How they do it: using the Ancient Greek they had been taught at school as well as the various Greek elements that appear in certain English words. So with Greek, you are not starting from scratch. Αnd now a quiz for you: can you guess the meaning of the following Greek words? paidiatros (παιδίατρος), pateras (πατέρας) katharizo (καθαρίζω), theatro (θέατρο), panepistimio (πανεπιστήμιο) gymnastirio (γυμναστήριο). You can find the answers at the end of the post.  

#5 A LANGUAGE STILL ON THE MAKING

According to some linguists, Modern Greek is still evolving, trying to sober up after years of struggle between the two varieties known as Demotic and Katharevousa. The two varieties differ in the matter of register, with Katharevousa being more formal due to its connection with Ancient Greek. As a result, there are many sets of words that express the same idea or concept, something that is explored by writers in various ways. Learning Greek will enable you to witness this most interesting phenomenon.

As you see, Greek is a messy language, with tons of exceptions and irregularities. But this is due to its numerous adventures over the centuries. Studying this kind of language can make you grow as a language learner, and this is what matters most.

Still all Greek to you? Read more:


Enjoy!

Quiz answers:
paidiatros: paediatrician, pateras: father, katharizo: to clean (related to catharsis!), theatro: theatre, panepistimio: university (related to epistemology!) gymnastirio: gym (from gymnasium). 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

10 things language learning has taught me

#1 TO BE PATIENT

Achieving fluency in a new language can take so much time. So, one of the first things language learning taught me was how to set long term goals, and how to stick to them. Language learning has taught me as well how to manage these goals, and especially how to deal with boredom the days these goals seem far and unreachable.

#2 TO STOP BEING A PERFECTIONIST

With languages, a little goes a long way. With speakers of other languages, even in the cases when you simply know one greeting or two, it can make much difference. It shows that you respect and acknowledge these people.

#3 TO WORK TOWARDS PERFECTION

Having said that, I believe it is equally important to enjoy taking care of the small details while moving towards your goal. And this goal should be none other than fluency. Personally, I enjoy being fluent; when I use another language, I thrive on the quick game my mind is playing while searching for the correct word or expression.

#4 THAT NOT JUST ONE METHOD IS THE CORRECT ONE

With learning new languages, many methods work, from the most ancient to the most state-of-the-art ones. In other words, there is not a best method for every student and for every purpose.

#5 THAT IF YOU DEDICATE TIME TO SOMETHING IT WILL GROW

With language learning, a little goes a long way, as I said. If you study for a while every day, you will be able to see the first results very soon. This has taught me that if you give time to something, it will grow. In other words, if you take care of something, it will take care of you.

#6 THAT IT’S POSSIBLE TO HAVE MANY SELVES

Since languages reflect reality in many different ways, using another language can bring out another side of you. Personally when I use a different language, I become quite a different person. The medium affects the message, as they say.

#7 THAT LANGUAGE IS ONLY SURFACE DEEP

Have you ever felt you lack the words to describe a situation? That words are not enough? This happens because language evades us. Reality is far more complex than language, and what's more, people tend to use words in their own way. The fact we are able to translate between languages with meaning staying roughly the same shows that there is a level which exists below the surface of language. And while we can reach this level through language, it will always evade us. And it is better to try to think in other ways, for example through images and feelings, and don’t take language too seriously. This is closely connected to what I am going to say next:

#8 THAT THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO LOOK AT THE SAME THING

Since language is only surface deep, and speakers of different languages usually describe the same state of affairs using different means of expression, learning new languages can shed new light to our experience of the world. For example: in the English language, we 'jump' to conclusions, emphasising this action as premature or thoughtless. In Greek we say we 'bring out' conclusions. So, for me, conclusions are both 'brought out' and 'jumped to', and despite my being a native Greek speaker, when I think about conclusions it is impossible not to think about 'jumping'!

#9 THAT THERE ARE MANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN NATIONS

Not knowing anything about a group of people can lead to stereotyping and xenophobia. But interestingly, when you start learning their language, these people begin to have a voice. And it always comes out that this voice is very close to yours. In a world that emphasises differences, learning each other’s languages will bring us closer.

#10 THAT A NEW LANGUAGE CAN FEEL LIKE A NATIVE LANGUAGE

They say that a new language is truly yours when you dream in it. Do you think it is required to have achieved fluency in order to be able to dream in a new language? No, not at all! I have dreamt in languages I had just started to learn. Have you ever experienced looking at something and at the same time name the thing in your mind in another tongue? Or, have you ever started to use words, expressions, even whole chunks of language in a new language without realising it? This is native-language-style processing, and it certainly can happen with languages other than your own; especially when the situation calls for it!

Thanks for reading!