The Highs And Lows Of Using Technology To Educate

By Sanjana Shukla.

Teaching online 2

You’ve undoubtedly seen headlines across mediums –newspapers, e-zines, blogs and other places–‘Learning a language is so much easier with so-and-so app or website.’ Such websites or apps are so common that even someone completely indifferent to language learning could name at least two different companies, off the top of their head.

Naturally, because of all the success stories, the ease in setting up the company, and the ever-increasing demand, you think jumping on this bandwagon is going to be easy. Before you take that leap, read the following plus and minus points that come with teaching on the internet.

(NOTE: I’m only going to talk about the instructional technology I’ve actually used. Some other points refer to a more ‘general’ problem.)

Now, because I prefer to give the bad news first, let’s start with…

THE DOWNSIDE

1- Free-to-use communication tools and applications like Skype, Viber or Appear make instructing a student easy; however, their use means you depend heavily on the internet to take a flawless and interruption-free lesson. If either side (you or the student) experiences a faulty connection, wave goodbye to taking a lesson at that time. The only thing to do then is, wait for the connection.

No Internet

2- You know your stuff and are able to get your point across in such a way that the students understand the concept in no time. Unfortunately, unless they actually give your classes a shot, they won’t ever find out if this is true. It all boils down to trust and some fancy social media skills to advertise your classes. So if you can’t work Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to your advantage, invest in tutorials and webinars to learn how, because students need to know you exist and that you can deliver on your promises, before they take a chance learning a language with you.

Social Media

3- Teaching students will be a breeze, or so you thought. Unluckily (for you), others also thought the same thing. You now have competitors nipping at your heels, gobbling up a chunk of your share of the students. So what do you do in this case? Edge out your competition by being the best teacher of your subject out there, aided by the fancy social media skills I mentioned in the previous point.

THE UPSIDE

1- Your subject of choice can be what is usually thought of as a dry one, or it can be incredibly complex. Whatever you choose to teach, you have the freedom to eschew training material completely and use a real experience, or try infographics, posters, presentations or any other visual aids. This enables your students to assimilate information better because they are simultaneously enjoying the lesson.

Visual aids

2- Smaller groups of students online are easier to handle than a class full of them. Students also benefit from this individual attention; mistakes made can be corrected instantly and problem points can be worked on as they occur.

Group Learning 1

3- You can teach students from Indonesia, Australia, Nigeria, India or even France, without having to even set one toe out of your house. In fact, your home can double as a workspace, allowing you the freedom to adjust the lesson timing, and schedule to complement your personal plans. However, constant time and schedule change is a strict no-no and is to be done only in case of an emergency.

Students from all over

While teaching online has its pros and cons, whether you can adapt or not depends on your love for teaching, and your attitude towards technology. That said, if you want to teach, never let something like a blog article stop you.

Educate Away!

If you’d prefer to learn a language rather than teach it, visit Albert Learning and book your Free Lesson today!

10 Best Story Books for French Language Beginners

–By Huban Kasimi

We all love stories and in our previous articles we’ve stressed the importance of children’s stories and their role in learning a new language. This article is the sequel to our ‘Top 10 English Books to Read for English Learners’, but the list I’m talking about is for the French language. Here are some absolute must-reads for French learners, word to the wise, this list isn’t in order of favourites but age-appropriateness:

Max and Lili_Final ImageMartine_Final ImageLa Fontaine's Fables_final imageMessengers of Time_final imageTales of Broca Street_final imageThe Adventures of Tintin_final imageThe Little Prince_final imageThe Fantomette Series_Final ImageJean Francois Chabas-Childrens Books_Final ImageSophie Crepon Books_final image

So, this was our top 10 list of must-read books for French language beginners.  If you have any books you would like to recommend, do drop a line in the comment box. Until next time…

Learn English With These 10 Punderful Puns

By Sanjana Shukla.

 

A hilarious play on words and one of the best ways to lighten up a sombre article or post, puns can also be used as a testing tool for people learning English.

It is said that your proficiency in a language can be tested by checking to see how jokes and puns are received by you. Do you roll around the floor clutching your tummy in hilarity, or do you wonder what gibberish is being thrown your way?

How does a joke/pun help you learn a language, you ask sceptically? What could they possibly teach you?

There’s actually a method to every little bit of pun-related madness. Puns are written focusing on homographs, homonyms, and other ways of wordplay.

Homophonic puns: Where one word sounds the same as another, e.g. The wedding was so emotional that even the cake was in tiers.

Homographic puns: Words that are spelled the same but have vastly different meanings. e.g. Why are teddy bears never hungry? They are always stuffed!

Compound puns: More than one pun in a statement. e.g. Where do you find giant snails? On the ends of giants’ fingers.

Funny animal and bird puns: Obviously, these are related to animals and birds. e.g. A dog gave birth to puppies near the road and was ticketed for litteringPeacocks are meticulous because they show attention to de tail.

Visual puns: Puns based on an image. e.g. Brainstorming.

Brainstorm-Visual pun

Do you want to test your English language skills? If your answer is ‘yes’, read on for some seriously punny English puns (pun totally intended). The quicker you comprehend them, the better is your understanding of the language. (Hint: Use the images to help you.)

1) My socks are holey! You can almost hear a chorus singing!

Holey socks

2) Q. Why can’t Harry Potter tell the difference between the pot he uses to make potions and his best friend?

A. They’re both cauld ron.

3) RIP boiled water. You will be mist.

RIP boiled water

4) I bet the person who created the door knocker won a No(bell) prize.

No bells here

5) What do you call a bee that comes from America? USB.

US Bee

6) What did the buffalo say to his son when he left for college? Bison.

Bison

7) Have you ever tried to eat a clock? It’s very time-consuming.

Related image

8) A man just assaulted me with milk, cream, and butter. How dairy.

How dairy

9) Bear deer

10) What do you call a fake noodle? An impasta!

Impasta

To learn English with puns and jokes, visit Albert Learning!

Do you know any more such puns that can make you laugh till you cry? Tell us about them in the comment section below.

From Beginner To Advanced

By Sanjana Shukla

A Guide to Language Proficiency

Every new language is guarded fiercely by that dragon at the gate, masquerading as a simple question “What is your level in this language?”

Dragon guarding the gate

Answer incorrectly and face a world of hurt (or at least some wasted time on account of starting at the wrong level). Don’t know the level? Well then, the scary task (for many people) of taking a test awaits.

But what is this ‘level’ everyone keeps talking about? Why does it matter so much?

All About That Level

Do you remember how, when you were younger, you began your schooling with kindergarten, then first grade, then the second, and so on? The levels in language learning are similar–with each new grammar rule learnt or vocabulary used, learners move up the language ladder, gradually moving from one ‘level’ to the next.

A guide here, a guide there, a guide everywhere

Who decided what level a particular person should be? And what do people of a particular level even call themselves?

Try Googling ‘language levels’ and see how many results (and how many different levels) crop up. Which ones are the best and most commonly used? Are all levels the same?

*Look at the following images for clarity. As for which one to use, the CEFR/CECR is most commonly followed. Also, the guides are not the same, but they have some similarities. But you can follow the guides for the place(s) you reside in.

1) Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR/CEFRL/CEF): Developed by the Council of Europe for assessing the language skills across Europe. However, it is now increasingly used outside Europe as well.

CEFR Level Grid

2) American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL): Created by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages for assessing the proficiency of a foreign language speaker.

ACTFL
The superior and distinguished levels are not divided into ‘low’, ‘med’, and ‘high’.

NOTE: Only two levels have been explained here. There are many other region-specific proficiency tests, which learners will have to research according to their needs.

What’s My Level?

The title said it all–How can learners gauge their level online?

Simple. They can take an online test from a reputed website or language school. Some suggestions:

1) Cactus Languages: It offers CEFR-based level testing for a number of languages, like Cambodian, English, and more.

2) Transparent: This website’s test is well-rounded (grammar and vocabulary skills are tested) and provides scores promptly. Visitors will have to provide their email id for a detailed analysis of your level after taking the test, however, which increases the risk of spam.

3) Albert Learning: Yes, we’re on this list too. All potential students have to do is register using an email id and take a free live test with one of our teachers.

Level Jumping

Am i too short

You won’t want to remain a kid forever, would you? Staying the same age, and worse, the same height!

Similarly, language learners all over the world feel the urge to climb that level-ladder. Unfortunately, ascending that one rung could be like hiking Mount Everest if they are not careful. If the following points are kept in mind while jumping levels, their skills in said language will acquire some polish and gloss.

Polish and gloss

Keep the below points in mind while leaping from one level to the next:

1) Start at the beginning. ‘No need to start at the beginning, I already know it all’ is a common thought uniting many language enthusiasts. Because of its simplicity, the ‘beginner’ level is often overlooked by a learner who already has some knowledge of the language. Skipping this stage isn’t a very good idea, say experts, as it might just help students refresh their knowledge about alphabets, numbers, common colours, and more.

2) Every skill counts. Learners shouldn’t ignore one skill in favour of others; each of them is equally important.

3) Grammar is king. It is the base on which sentences are formed. It glues paragraphs together in a cohesive unit. No learner should ever skip grammar!

Grammar is king

4) Incorporate learning into your daily routine. Reading a book, listening to a podcast, watching a tv show/movie, practicing one exercise every day–any and all of these activities will get learners that much closer to their goal.

I'm gonna reach that

Love levels? Think they shouldn’t exist? Or want to add some more tips to level jumping? Write to us in the comment section below!

Synonyms: 4 Reasons Why You Should Use Them

–Huban Kasimi

‘Synonym’ literally means ‘with name’, and anything which has a name also has a meaning. Very often, we do fall short of words when trying to express thought or opinion, we end up using words like so, very, like, too etc. Instead of using poor substitutes like these, we can use better words. Here are 4 reasons why synonyms come to our rescue:

Synonym4Sharpens Vocabulary:

Learning synonyms helps keep your word power and dictionary referencing skills, current. Whether speaking or writing English, looking up words in a dictionary is a great practice.

 

Synonym5Better Understanding:

Synonyms make the meaning of words clear, e.g. instead of saying “Claudia’s house is soooo big.” Try saying “Claudia’s house is large.” The second sentence gives a better idea to the listener about the size of Claudia’s house. Words like so, very, or too can be used to express extreme emotions or ideas, however, use them too often and you’ll probably sound like a teenager!

Synonym7Great Conversations:

Even though we live in an age where infants come out of the womb holding a mobile phone, every once in a while, people do prefer a friendly verbal chat or a face-to-face conversation. Imagine how boring it would be if there are long pauses or filler words after each sentence.

Impressive Content:

Using synonyms in writing gets rid of two of the worst evils of publishing, repetition and redundancy. There are times when we have use similar words to describe something, having a decent knowledge of words helps creating good content. E.g. Take a look at these two paragraphs to see what I’m talking about:

Without Synonyms: John had no parents and his grandmother and grandfather looked after him. They lived in a small village near Farnham–Surrey, England. Their house was very small, with very little furniture, but this did not matter to John. He had a lot of place to crawl, play, he was very happy. John, John’s grandmother and grandfather were very happy inside the house.

With Synonyms: John was an orphan, his grandparents raised him. Their small house was in a tiny village near Farnham–Surrey, England. Though the furniture was scant, John was happy because he had plenty of room to crawl and play; the three of them were content with their lives.

Now, that you’ve read this article, I hope you will be able to understand, apprehend, comprehend, catch on, nail it!

Synonym3
 

Did you know, the synonym for synonym is… SYNONYM???

View us on Pinterest!

 

Common Mistakes in English: Simple Tenses

–By Huban Kasimi

'You're very tense today.'
*Image courtesy cartoonstock.com

Every language needs structure in sentences, and using the right Tense is part of it. In English, second language learners study Simple Tenses as early as the beginner stage. You don’t believe me? Well, here’s an example:

Who are you, and where do you live?

I am Emily and I live in France.

See? This is an example of Simple Present Tense. But this article is not about which Tense to use, it is about which Tense to NOT use. The beginning of learning English is (in most cases) through conversations and the easiest is ‘How to Introduce Yourself in English.’

Mistakes in the Simple Present Tense:

Let’s see how a conversation can go wrong without correct Tenses:

Marc is introducing himself and here is what he is saying (but shouldn’t be saying it):

Marc: Hello, I is am Marc. I have am 20 years of age.

If you are confused about what to use, follow this simple tip: ‘Am’ is used with I, ‘is’ with he, she, it, ‘are’ is used with you, they, we.

Mistakes in the Past Tense:

Rule of thumb, “let the past be in the past”. Here is how a sentence using Past Tense should be:

I was at the mall yesterday.

Now, read these sentences:

Last night, I has had fish for dinner. This morning, I eat ate fruits for breakfast.

The best tip I can give for using the Past Tense correctly is: You will be talking about an event/or events which happened before. Not now, not later, but earlier.

This is the first post in a series of Common Mistakes in English, look out for more on our blog…

View Us On Pinterest


 

10 Books To Learn English From

By Sanjana Shukla.

 

Image result for book lover

People usually fall into the following three categories– book lovers, the occasional readers and ones who don’t like reading…we’ll call them the ‘indifferents’ for convenience.

The common habitat of the book lover is the library (online and otherwise), a quiet, cozy reading nook, or a garden bench. He/she always has a book handy, whether they are at a party (don’t look so surprised, they could have carried an e-reader in their purse/bag), or while they are on holiday.  Some even take a holiday to read that one book that has been on their wish list forever. Occasional readers read…well…occasionally. Indifferents, on the other hand, rarely think about books.

Reading at a party 1
I’ll just sit here and read…

Regardless of which category you fall into, if you are learning a language, pick up a book. Any book (in that language). Now!

Note: Want to know why reading children’s books are important? Check out our previous post.

Whichever category you fall under, it is an extremely good idea to supplement your language learning by reading a book.

Here’s a list of books every learner must pick up, in my slightly biased opinion.

10 books to help you learn English

Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

Little Women

A Christmas Carol

Asterix

ABC Murders

 Carry on, Jeeves

Annie

A Walk In The Woods

The Famous Five

Anne of Green Gables

*Look through local bookstores, Amazon, or even Google Play to find editions of these books.

Tip: Your preferred genre can be a little hard to pin down. In this case, get your hands on a book from every genre you can find. Some of them are bound to spark your interest.

Different genres
I’ll read this, and this, and this…

Want to suggest other books? Write your comments down below!

Visit Albert Learning for more information.