Archive for February, 2012

Do you have the time to learn?

Posted on 27. Feb, 2012 by in Language Learning

You might think you don’t have time to learn a new language. You have to work, or you have to go to school. Maybe the kids take too much of your time. I understand, since I had little time when I was learning any language. It took me a little while to look for time to learn – and I don’t mean shuffling around my work and school schedules, but there is a lot of wasted time that I found useful for learning.

Driving is a big time waster. You’re driving to work, you’re driving home from work, and you’re going to the store, waiting for a train to pass by, stuck in traffic. During these times, you can have a CD playing your language lessons, or listening to a podcast or music in your new language. You don’t have to learn anything, just let it play. Your brain will subconsciously absorb the material – all I ask is that you practice safe driving first.

Other times you can do some review include waiting in line at the grocery store, the motor vehicle office, or the bus stop, anywhere you have to wait for someone or something. You can carry your notebook with you and review some points of the lesson you’re learning or of past lessons. Listen to audio files on your MP3 player, look at flash cards, or practice with a language app on your mobile phone.

If you’re studying at home, try not to put yourself into the mindset of having to study for hours. Just like you can’t eat an entire meal in one bite, learning a language must be studied a little at a time. So rather than studying 2-3 hours in one day per week, it is more effective to spend just 20-30 minutes each day. If you can’t do an every day schedule, then plan 2-3 times a week to keep a regular study routine going. Try making it roughly the same time each day (when you get up, at lunchtime, etc.) so that you get into the habit of studying regularly. And always refresh your memory when you have a few minutes to spare.

Another good time for review is when you’re just about going to bed. You’ve brushed your teeth, you’ve put on your pajamas and you’re in bed. Take this time to review your lesson or your notebook, and go through it from beginning to end without learning anything. Just read it through slowly and carefully. Then during the night, your brain will sort out this information and file it away into your permanent memory. When you get up the next day, you’ll find that not only do you remember quite a bit more material, but you will also understand the lesson better when you review it.


Transparent Language has great flashcard software called “Before You Know It” (BYKI). With it you can learn new vocabulary, useful phrases and print out lists of what you’re learning to take with you. BYKI is available for 71 languages and can be taken anywhere – your laptop, iPod, iPad and even your iPhone.

Why Not Try to Connect?

Posted on 20. Feb, 2012 by in Uncategorized

Do you use a Transparent Language Product? If not, you may have seen them in the software department of your local department store, or learned that a friend is using them to learn a new language. Either way, Transparent Language has been helping thousands learn a language through their software products for almost twenty years. I’ve been using them since 1997 and I’m hooked! I’ve learned Basque, Hawai’ian, a little bit of Albanian and reinforced my knowledge of Hebrew and Irish. It’s a great line of products, and their philosophy on language acquisition is in many ways similar to what I’ve always believed language learning should be.  And now, they’ve made something even better.

Recently, Transparent Language, Inc. has built a whole new language learning system from the ground up and call this new system Transparent Connect®. It combines today’s technology with personal instruction to really get you learning a language quickly and easily. I attended the Open House last Thursday and was totally floored with what it has to offer. The courses are designed for just about any language level from complete newcomers to advanced learners. These courses include over 50 hours of online learning material and 90 minutes of one-on-one instruction with an experienced language coach. The interactive format keeps your attention focused and allows you to build your skills and confidence. By the time you finish the program, you’ll be speaking and understanding your new language with ease – including some cultural background knowledge that is important to have when learning a language or interacting with native speakers.

Transparent Connect® has no software to install on your computer; it’s all online, accessible anywhere on the planet that has an Internet connection. This means you can learn a language at home or from your office. You will need to have the latest version of Adobe’s Flash player along with speakers and a microphone so you can interact with your instructor.

If you want to know more about this program, here’s some links you can check out and see what to expect and how much it costs.

Transparent Connect® homepage: http://blogs.transparent.com/personal/connect
Transparent Connect® Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/OnlineLanguageCourses

They still have some Open House dates available. You’ll be speaking live with actual instructors and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have. So mark these dates on your calendar and find out how you can learn a new language!

Thursday February 23, 2012 at 12-12:30pm United States EST
Thursday March 1, 2012 at 12-12:30pm United States EST

Sign up for the Open House here: http://connect.transparent.com/open-house-schedule

Don’t Mind Going Slow…

Posted on 18. Feb, 2012 by in Language Learning

BookshelfWhen someone sets out to buy a language learning book or language course, two questions most likely going through their mind are “Can this help me speak [language name] fluently?” and “How long will it take to learn this language?” Unfortunately, there is no universal standard for when a person is considered fluent in a language, and there is no miracle language course that works for everybody – that’s why there are thousands of books and software programs on the market today. Learning a language is a highly individual process and consists of a combination of factors of which the most important one is you, the learner. Let me ask you a question: What do you think motivates successful language learners?

Word lists?
Grammar books?
Audio CDs or DVDs?
Good intentions?

Believe it or not, those aren’t the most important factors when deciding to learn a language. In order to successfully learn a new language, you need to have the motivation to learn, the self–confidence to get through the lessons and a positive attitude to help you get through the tough parts.

One way to maintain your motivation is reminding yourself that you’re an intelligent adult. It’s true that it takes a bit of courage to approach strangers and ask them questions in the new language, even if you are likely to make mistakes. But the fear of speaking to strangers, especially in a foreign language, is natural — even I get tongue tied at times trying to speak my own native language! The trick, however, is to learn to deal with these fears so that they do not interfere with your language learning.

Before you start learning

Let’s say you’ve decided to learn a language. You know what language you want to learn (or need to learn) and you’ve gone to the bookstore and bought the books and CDs you need to begin. Don’t start yet until you read the following items. Many people do not realize what learning entails and that’s why most of them give up after a few lessons:

  1. Make a regular commitment – Make time for your new language. When you expose yourself to a new language frequently, you pick it up quickly and easily. The longer you wait between lessons, the more you’ll forget (and quickly!). So make time for your language.  There are plenty of opportunities to learn, practice and review your language capabilities. You just need to stick with your plan and use everything to your advantage. Regular repetition is the key to learning any language, so don’t be afraid to cover material again, and again and again!
  2. Don’t be shy – Learning a language will eventually involve using it and that involves making mistakes in the beginning. Don’t be afraid of sounding strange, awkward or silly. If you don’t open your mouth and speak, you’ll miss out on making new friends, or getting the information you need (especially in an emergency!). You will impress people with your attempts at using the language. And the more you speak and interact, the faster your mistakes will go away.
  3. Find your pace – Always proceed at your own pace. Don’t feel pressured into thinking you have only one chance to learn information before moving on to new material. Read or listen to lessons or parts of lessons as many times it takes to make you feel comfortable with what you’re learning. You have all the time you need to learn. Don’t try an activity until you’re pretty sure you understand what needs to be done in that activity. If you rush through, you make less progress.
  4. Take notes – Use a notebook to start a language journal. You’ll learn things much more quickly and effectively if you write them down or rephrase them in your own words. (Include any vocabulary, grammar, practice and examples, phrases from dialogs and more). Take these notes with you and review them whenever you have time to kill (waiting for a bus or train, at the airport, while dinner is cooking).
  5. Don’t worry about pronunciation – Listen to your audio several times. Listening is very important – you can’t reproduce the sound until you hear and mimic it. Don’t be afraid of sounding strange or being laughed at – just keep practicing and soon your pronunciation will improve. Don’t worry if you have an accent – celebrities, scientists, politicians speak English with a Spanish/French/German/Japanese accent, but get their point across.
  6. Make mistakes – Don’t worry about mistakes – just jump in and start talking! If you find you’re making a large number of errors, take things more slowly and practice the phrases more as you go through the materials. Even when you speak to native speakers and they smile at your performance, remember that it is usually a friendly smile, and that they admire you for your effort as well as for what you have already achieved in their language. Native speakers generally focus their attention on the content of your message and not on your performance or grammar. Look at errors as part of your learning process and do not let them discourage you from practicing. Without practice, you cannot be successful.

Remember, language is like any other skill – some people are great with languages, while others are better at math, science, or music. Everyone has the potential to learn, but the fact is that some people are just more capable of learning language than others. Others may need their self-confidence boosted, or need some more motivation to reach their goal. The amount of time needed to master a language depends on the language you are studying, as well as your native language. Some languages are, admittedly, more difficult than others, and thus take more time to master. But as long as you continue in your studies, you will find fluency can be achieved. Just keep in mind the old Chinese proverb: “Don’t mind going slow, as long as you keep going.”