Is time money? So invest it wisely!

Dear Students – don’t expect your teacher to be available for you to make up your cancellations any day or time. As you well know time is money. IF you want a 24/7 teacher try AI and be disappointed. #Teaching

The Americanoid Blog

We live in times when it’s almost a status symbol to say we don’t have time. We’re constantly in a rush. Sometimes it feels we’re running like the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland: “I’m late. I’m late. I’m late for a very important date”!

Invest your time wisely Invest your time wisely

This week, a student of mine, Rodrigo, was saying that to his defense he hadn’t had time to do his homework. He has 2 young daughters and a wife to care for at home. And his work is very demanding.

It sounded as if I gave him homework as a form of punishment. Actually, I couldn’t care less about it. Do it. Don’t do it. I won’t be any wiser because of that.

The only reasons I give students homework is to give them direction to review what was seen in class, to practice reading and writing and to expand vocabulary.

I…

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Waiting is hard

Yes, yes, I know… I could say that again… Waiting is HARD. “We twiddle our thumbs, we shuffle our feet, we stifle our yawns, we heave long sighs, we fret inwardly in frustration”.

That’s how a language learner feels… progress is slow. So instead of just moaning, we teachers must encourage our students to actively be in charge of their linguistic progress.

Are they on social media? Great. Encourage them to access accounts on Twitter, or instagram or Facebook …. using the language they’re learning.

As a teacher I know I must help my students develop a positive relationship with the language they’re learning. I must show them the value of that language, increase their interest in the learning process. Stress the relevance of they’re doing and failure is not an option. Signify to them what is done in the language they pursue and what they can do if they commit themselves to learning.

My students are my greatest asset, so I won’t treat them as morons (isn’t it a great new year’s resolution?) They’re my partners not only by paying for their lessons but also by allowing me my professional and personal development with and through them.

May the new year help us all take off to new heights.

Cheers,

Mo

 

Debunking language learning myths

This time of the year many people ask: “What do I have to do to learn English, Spanish, French, or whatever language this side of Babel?” The advice will vary according to who you ask and as many times you ask.Image result for learn a language myths “You should take classes with a native teacher”You have to use an app like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone.” You must move to the country where the language is spoken.” “Reading is key. Read as much as you can at a lower level and then raise your reading content.” Speaking is key. First you speak as a child and after 5 or 6 years think of learning how to read or write in that language.” “Listening is key. Stay at least 6 months only listening to songs you like – even if you don’t understand anything at first.” Or even worse: “Forget about it. You can’t learn another language after the age of 12. Not even bother.”  Well… all I can say is that any of the steps above will help, but there is no magic bullet. In order to learn another language you MUST immerse yourself as much as possible. Not necessarily living in the country where it’s spoken but becoming almost obsessed with it. In other words, unless you become passionate about the language you’re learning, you will never grow with it but just become its slave and at a significant cost (in time, money and effort). Happy learning, Cheers,  Moacir 

Online language learning: fact of fake?

What works best for students learning a foreign language online?

It is a broadly well known fact that learners do not get enough exposure /opportunities to practice their new language skills and vocabulary, especially if they’re not located in the area where the language they’re learning is spoken/ used.

By going online foreign language students – Brazilians learning English, Spanish or French, for example, or anywhere else in the world, they can access a practically unlimited source of authentic materials – be they videos, audio, images or text, in addition to hundreds (if not, thousands) of hours of prerecorded lessons, vocabulary and grammar explanations. A notable example is the BBC Learning English app. Also, now there are different online platforms providing live online classes with native speakers or qualified teachers. Some of these platforms are iTalki (www.italki.com) and Soulphia (www.soulphia.com)

Moreover, students are more inclined to repeat tasks online or via an automated system.

However, digital users are reaching some sort of maturity, apps have lost their amazement appeal. Online classes will work well as long as the connection is good abut tends to drain the attention of students, with some anecdotal stories showing that both teacher and students get tired faster when having to focus on a screen for more than 30 minutes.

The best solution would be for students to try to reach a blended learning process, with “in-person lessons” combined with online support, that should speed up their own learning process.

Happy learning,

Cheers,

Mo

Are There Any Bad Students?

First and foremost, let’s cut that politically correctness crap that anyone can learn a second language and that there are no bad students. That’s not true. I’ve learned it the hard way.

I’m not talking about those individuals who are pure evil… What I’m just saying is that some people should focus their efforts on something attainable.

Let’s face it: some people are great learners. Others are average. Others suck at that. I was great at History/Geography and sucked at Math. Great at English and sucked at Portuguese literature. That depends on:

Personality

Commitment

Intellect

that is how your brain works. Image result for brain clipart

 

So… what makes a bad student?

1. Has No realistic goals – expects to be speaking and understanding everything in 6 hours/days/weeks.

2. Passively receives information and believes that the teacher will concoct a magic potion that will make them learn – doesn’t know why they’re learning.

3. Waits for the teacher to present interesting things for him to watch, read and listen to (during class time, of course)

4. Never reviews or records any lesson material

5. Displays weak learning skills – won’t take notes but doesn’t hav learns r-e-a-l-l-y slowly, if ever.

6.  Feels Forced to learn

The positive point is that bad learners can be converted into good learners.

First, find out what makes them tick. What motivates them (unless they’re clinically depressed – then advise them to seek medical and psychological care).

Assess their needs and their learning strengths and weaknesses – do they have a good memory? Are they slightly dyslexic? Do they need speech therapy? How’s their hearing?

Empathize

Provide opportunities for success.

Cheers,

Mo

How much correction should language students receive?

Correcting another human being is something that can’t be programmed into a computer or robot. It requires the sensitivity and sensibility of a teacher who, through experience, trial and error, will know when to correct his or her students.
When the student tries to speak in a language they’re learning, the teacher must make them aware that they will be making mistakes. Actually, they SHOULD be making mistakes.
You should be making mistakes – if you stay only in your comfort zone you’re not making progress. Don’t be afraid to speak.”
How much do you want people to correct you?
It depends on your level – depends on the kind of interaction you’re having. If the student needs their new language only for vacation purposes the demands will be QUITE different from the needs they have to make business presentations, attend meetings, negotiate on the phone. 5CFECD88-F493-41BE-BFE6-61D698CCB577
The teacher must point out mistakes that might impede their understanding. Some key mistakes should be pointed out immediately to make students aware of their importance.
Example:
Student: “ Yesterday night I seed a film in tv. It’s about a napkin.”
Ok, teachers, what would you do now?  Correct the verb tense, the preposition, right away? How about the mysterious show about napkins?
Again you have to consider the student at a pre-intermediate level. He knows the simple past tense and has already learned the past of the verb to see.
Teacher: “oh, so LAST night you…. (expecting student to self correct and remember and say “saw”). But was the film about paper napkins?”
Student: “No. when robbers take a person and ask money.”
Teacher: “Oh, it was about a KIDNAPPING. A person was TAKEN. Tell me more.” 
Other mistakes should be duly noted and at the end of the session presented as feedback and students encouraged to write them down. The next class it would be essential for the teacher the review those points again so that students are ready to move on. Two classes later repeat review. One month later present the mistakes and have students correct them.
When the student gains more confidence the teacher  will start correcting meanings and nuances – what better word / preposition to use / beyond just communication impediment.
The key is to reach a balance between accuracy and communication always being kind is way better than being right.
Cheers,
Mo
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