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Everything posted by PashaR

  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, dol
  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
  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 co
  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 t
  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 a
  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
  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 autho
  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
  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
  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.
  16. I have a book of famous Russian short stories in both English and Russian. The left-hand page is Russian and the right is English. I can read Russian fairly well, but it is difficult to read classic Russian literature because, in part, the language has changed immensely in the past 100 years or so. There are many words that are now considered archaic and obsolete.
  17. I know quite a few families from Russia & Ukraine who are raising kids here in the USA. I think it is important for the parents to speak their native language at home. The kids will pick up English through friends, television, social media, and especially school. Even so, I have seen teens who can speak their parents' native language but have difficulty reading it. I know one Russian boy (he is 15) whose parents decided to speak mostly English to him from the time he was born. Since he was born in the USA, they felt it was important for him to learn English. However, being native Russians
  18. Everytime or every time As an English teacher, I would say (fairly certainly) that "everytime" is incorrect. It's not a word, and not an acceptable variation of "every time." Best to use "every time."
  19. Dead Ringer. it means an exact duplicate, something (or usually someone) that looks exactly like another. Here is the ridiculous explanation for this that was circulating in emails several years ago: In the 1500's, when people died, the body was not chemically treated, etc., the way they do it today. The body was just put in a coffin and buried. There was a concern, therefore, that the person could possibly still be alive. So a string was attached the the body's hand, through the coffin, and up to the the surface, where is was attached to a bell. If the "dead" person awoke, he could pull the
  20. One I like is, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." It simply means don't throw away something valuable or desirable along with something undesirable. A few years ago, an email was circulating with the subject line "life in the 1500's." It contained some ridiculous explanations as to the origins of some popular idioms, and this one was included. Here is what is said: In the 1500's, water was difficult to obtain, so people shared bathwater. By the time the last member of the family (the baby) was bathed, the water was so dirty and murky, there was a danger of throwing the baby out w
  21. I don't think there is a strict definition of the "south" in the United States, but it could be explained this way: During the American Civil War (1861-65), the "southern" states were in favor of slavery; the "northern" states were against it. If you look at a map of the USA, the states of Virginia, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and all the states south of them, were "the south." (This included North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.) Another way to define the "south" is what's called the Mason-Dixon Line. This is a little farther north and includes
  22. The expression means that a person is holding a grudge or grievance because he thinks he was treated unfairly in some way. Because of this, the person is prone to argue or fight. You have to be careful with websites that "explain" the origins of idioms like this. For many idioms, you can probably find at least three or four different explanations as to its origin. Such a false explanation is called a spook etymology. The fact is, the origins of many idioms are unknown, and no amount of research will get to the bottom of it. Idioms start out as casual phrases in simple conversational speech. I
  23. On the cover of an English language textbook in China: Eingsh On a vending machine in a bathroom: "Because I do not have a tissue always ready in this restroom, please buy used one." I would hope that the used ones are free!
  24. I think in most cases a private tutor is the best way to go. When learning a new language it is important to study grammar, vocabulary, etc., but it is equally important to speak the language at every opportunity. A class with multiple students, or a self-study course, will not afford you the same opportunities to do this as will a one-on-one teaching environment. Also, language books, exercises, etc., are geared toward formal, "proper" speech. Conversational speech is very different. Conversational pronunciation, too, often differs from "proper" pronunciation. You can study and study and stu
  25. I enjoy the sound of French, German, Italian, and Chinese. Chinese is tonal, which makes it interesting to me. I can't say there is a language I "hate" the sound of. Interestingly, though, even though Spanish and Italian are very similar, I don't find Spanish very pleasant to listen to. Italian is very lyrical, almost like singing.
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