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About PashaR

  • Rank
    Slang Poet


  • Currently studying
    Russian, Spanish
  • Native tongue
  1. You got it! For some people, it takes a minute or two to get this one.
  2. An easy way to improve vocabulary is by learning words that are cognates in your native language and the target language. What is a cognate? It's a word in two languages that shares a similar meaning, spelling, and pronunciation. Since many languages have borrowed words from others, cognates are usually plentiful and easy to find. For example, here are some cognates in English/Russian (I'll give you the English word; in Russian it sounds almost exactly the same): garage, master, massage, music, museum, plan, calendar, soup, salad, restaurant, park, angel, doctor, computer, Internet, taxi, dollar, picnic, menu, business, businessman, studio, oasis, crisis, university, agent, asphalt, intellect, coffee, lemon, lime, nationalism, planet, stadium, theater, television, telescope, microscope, telephone, terrorism, tourism, film, gas, radio, narcotic, cottage, festival...many more! Cognates are easy to learn because they sound very similar to the word in your native language. Be careful, though: a word in the target language may sound the same as a word in your native tongue, but have a completely different meaning. For example, in Russian there is a word that sounds exactly like the English word "magazine." However, it means "store" in Russian. What are some cognates in your language and the language you are learning?
  3. Yes, I agree. (I am an ESL teacher.) The maximum benefit results from one-on-one teaching. In order to make group teaching effective, the teacher needs to consciously create the proper atmosphere - relaxed, fun, interactive. The students must want to get involved and feel comfortable doing so. When everything is "clicking" in a group class, it is lots of fun and a great environment for learning. Of course, most of this depends on the teacher.
  4. To a certain extent, it depends on what your native language is. For example, the Foreign Service Institute has created a rating system for language difficulty for native English speakers. Languages such as Danish, Dutch, French, and Italian are considered "level 1," that is, quite similar to English and easy to learn. Languages such as Chinese, Japanese, and Arabic are "level 5," that is, extremely difficult. But notice: while Russian is considered "level 4" (quite difficult) for a native English speaker, it is quite easy for a native Ukrainian speaker to learn because the languages are very similar. This certainly would be true for speakers of any language. This similarity or dissimilarity of a foreign language to a person's native tongue determines, in part, how difficult it would be to learn that language. That having been said, I think five months is a bit unrealistic. I don't know how similar Greek is to your native language of Turkish, but "writing a proper letter" in Greek requires learning a new alphabet, a reasonably good vocabulary, and an understanding of spelling, syntax, punctuation, and grammar. You may be able to write a brief, simple letter after five months, but the ability to use the language even at the level of an 8- or 9-year-old child would, in my opinion, require considerably more time.
  5. There are pros and cons to each. The success of either depends largely on the teacher and methods he/she uses. In a group class, each student can become an "instructor." There are various types of methods/lessons that will expose the student to the target language in ways that a one-on-one lesson cannot. These methods encourage dialogue and are fun and interactive. Games, songs, role-playing, etc., can be very effective in learning and retaining various language points. This, of course, must be closely monitored by the teacher. And for students who are more timid or shy, this may be a more comfortable setting for them. A one-on-one program is probably, in the end, more beneficial. The teacher can focus on the student's individual needs and identify weak and strong areas. The entire lesson can be tailored to that one student. The student will be forced to use the target language more than in a group lesson. Plus, during the lesson the student is only hearing native pronunciation, grammar, sentence structure, etc. (if the tutor is a native speaker). I've taught both. I enjoy teaching group lessons more because I like the fun, activity-driven environment. It's harder to maintain this type of environment in a one-on-one lesson for 30, 60, or more minutes. This is especially true if the student has a more laid back personality. A sedate, boring lesson where the teacher is doing most of the talking is absolutely the worst environment in which to learn.
  6. Yes, I agree that it is a sad situation. Too bad Americans do not have more exposure to other cultures and languages. It broadens the horizons and makes us more understanding, patient, and tolerant of other people. We should learn to embrace our differences, but first we must learn what those differences are.
  7. Yes, it is a stereotype that native English-speakers (more specifically, Americans) are monolingual and are not interested in learning another language. Often, though, stereotypes are rooted in truth. Reminds me of a joke: What do you call a person who speaks three languages? Trilingual What do you call a person who speaks two languages? Bilingual What do you call a person who speaks one language? American! Truth be told, outside of high school language classes, Americans are not exposed to foreign language very much. You can go anywhere in the US and guess what? It's all English! Go north to Canada and guess what? Again, English! Most cites/states in the US are hundreds (even thousands) of miles from a foreign country where English isn't one of the main languages. Add to that the fact that, since English is an international language, Americans can travel to a lot of different places in the world and get by fine with English. So there just isn't a lot of necessity/opportunity to learn a second language. The stereotype "ugly American" tourist who expects other countries to cater to him - including using English - is, unfortunately, more common than one would wish. So I think Americans' general lack of knowledge of other languages is due to lack of exposure to other languages, lack of necessity to learn another language and, in some cases, arrogance.
  8. Did you hear about the cannibal who passed a man in the jungle?
  9. I am a certified TESOL teacher, and most of my teaching now is online. However, I lived in Moscow, Russia for two years and taught English while I was there. I had private students - both children and adults - and I also taught in three different schools. Two were public schools, and one was a very exclusive private school for the ultra-rich who live in new communities just outside of Moscow. In one class, there was a small boy who was called the son of "the Bill Gates of Russia." I loved it, and miss Moscow every day. It was an awesome experience. I would love to return, or teach abroad in another country.
  10. Rosetta Stone will make you feel like you are quickly learning a new language. You learn new words and are able to identify proper and improper structures in simple phrases. But it does not teach grammar or proper sentence structure, and you will probably never approach conversational level if it's the only language-learning tool you use. Rosetta Stone spends millions on marketing each year. It's the biggest name in language-learning programs right now. But this isn't because it's the best system, it's simply the most heavily advertised one. The price is outrageous compared to the benefits you'll get from it. There is no magic bullet when it comes to learning a language. The Rosetta Stone system isn't worthless, but I really question whether it's worth the exorbitant price. When I took a TESOL course a few years ago, my instructor (who has been teaching this course for many years, has two PhD's in neurology and has learned eight languages) called Rosetta Stone "the biggest waste of money on the planet." Pimsleur is a great system and far less expensive. Use books, audio material (much of which is available for free at your local library) and online resources. Don't waste your hard-earned money on Rosetta Stone.
  11. Not sure if you just want to expand your general vocabulary or your specific business vocabulary. I agree with some of the above posters; the "new-word-a-day" apps and websites can be helpful, but they don't allow you see the words in context. Also, some of the words are arcane and you'll simply sound strange or snobbish if you try to use them in general conversation or correspondence. Reading is a great way to expand your vocabulary. Unfortunately, much of what appears online and in newspapers today is written by people who themselves don't have a great command of English. I found that authors such as Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, and O. Henry were helpful to me in this regard. Some of the words they used are now obsolete (and Dickens, of course, used British English), but on the whole these authors will help you.
  12. "A Scandal in Bohemia" is, of course, a Sherlock Holmes story. I find all of these stories enjoyable to read. Doyle wrote only four Sherlock Holmes novels (The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Sign of the Four, A Study in Scarlet, The Valley of Fear). It's easy to find a "complete Sherlock Holmes" collection as either an ebook or a paper book. My favorite short story writer is O. Henry. His writing (language, I mean) is probably a bit more advanced, and for beginners in English, his stories will be quite difficult to understand. His humor is subtle, he uses slang, many idioms and colloquialisms, and he had an extensive vocabulary. But his stories are funny, witty, adventurous, and often have a great twist at the end.
  13. I have been casually trying to learn Spanish, and find that Pimsleur is a great language-learning program. It doesn't necessarily teach grammar, but you learn words and phrases very quickly because almost immediately you start "interacting" with the audio. It also uses graduated memory recall, which has been proven very effective in remembering vocabulary. Don't waste your money on Rosetta Stone.
  14. The advantage of learning from a non-native is the he/she has had to study all the mechanics of the language - grammar, syntax, spelling, punctuation, etc. He is probably more in tune with the actual structure of the language. Native speakers, although speaking the language fluently, often can't explain the grammar of their own language. (Being a native English speaker, I can attest to the fact that many, many native English speakers haven't a clue when it comes to how English grammar works.) I started studying Russian with a native speaker, and he couldn't explain the grammar at all! However, I think learning from a native speaker is equally important. Only natives can teach exact proper pronunciation (and hear mistakes you make that you don't hear, and that a non-native speaker wouldn't pick up on), idioms, subtleties of words that you won't find in a dictionary, and conversational speech.
  15. According to one source, Mandarin is #1, Spanish is #2, and English is #3. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Hindi, which is #4. Arabic is #5. I was surprised to see Portuguese as #6, probably because of Brazil.
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