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Latest Trends in Language Learning

Latest Trends in Language Learning

In our globalized and diverse economy, proficiency in one or more foreign languages is often seen as necessary for employment. In many cases, this results in an investment in learning for employees. But the done-to-death ways of bygone eras can put the most dedicated of people to sleep.

So, here are some latest trends in language learning to spice up the learning process!

Online Language Learning

With the rise of technology and internet access, online
language learning has become very popular. There are many language learning
platforms and apps available that offer courses in various languages. These courses are
accessible anywhere and anytime, making it easier for people to learn at their own pace
and schedule.

Gamification

Gamification has been a popular trend in language learning for a while
now. This learning method uses games and activities to make language learning more
fun and engaging. Many language learning apps and platforms incorporate gamification
in their courses to make the learning experience more enjoyable.

Personalization

Personalization is becoming increasingly important in language
learning. Many language learning apps and platforms use algorithms to create
personalized learning paths for learners based on their proficiency level, learning style,
and goals. This approach makes learning more effective and efficient.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual and augmented reality technologies are being
used in language learning to create immersive and interactive learning experiences.
Learners can practice their language skills in real-life situations, such as ordering food in
a restaurant or navigating a city, in a virtual or augmented environment.

Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning is a trend that is gaining popularity in
language learning. This approach involves learners working together to achieve a
common goal, such as completing a task or solving a problem. Collaborative learning
helps learners practice their language skills in a more natural and interactive way.
These trends are making language learning more accessible, engaging, and effective.

Which one do you think is meant for you? Tell us in the comments!

13 Activities to Help Your Child Study

13 Activities to Help Your Child Study

Parents often ask how they can help their child review what they’ve been learning in class. One way to do this is by using flashcards. Flashcards are fun and versatile learning tools that can be used for a variety of games and ESL levels. Here are just a few of them.

Memory games
Use 3 cards, or more for older, more capable children. Place the cards face up, and then turn them over and try to remember which card was where.

Timed memory game
Put the flashcards face up, and then turn them over. Set a timer and ask the student to find a particular card. If they choose the wrong one, they need to put it face down again and keep trying to find the card.

Noughts and crosses
Flashcards can be used to play some common pen and paper games, like tic tac toe. Place three lines of three cards face up. If you’re using alphabet cards, you can ask your child to say a word starting with one of the letters. If you’re using word cards, you can your child to read the word or use it in a sentence. When the child does this correctly, they can take the card or put a removable sticker on it.

Make a story or word
This is a fun way of playing with the English words, letters, and concepts your child knows well. Take some flashcards at random and place them face up on the floor. Ask your child to make a word, sentence or story with the words or letters on the cards.

Quick glance
Quickly hold up the card and then turn in face down so your child can’t see it. Ask your child to guess what is on the card. If they’re not able to, hold it up for a little longer and then turn it face down again. Keep playing until they can tell you what is on the card.

Categories
Hold up a card so only you can see it. Start saying things that are in the same category as what is on the card. For example, if the card says “B” you could say “banana”, “ball” and “bear”. If the card says “verbs” you could say “running”, “singing”, “raining”. Your child needs to guess what is on the card.

Treasure hunt
This is a fun game for energetic children. Hide some flashcards around the room and ask your student to find them. There are a few variations of this game. You could play “hot and cold” by telling your child they’re hot when they’re close to a card and cold when they’re far away from any cards. You could also hide some “trick” cards. Tell your child a word or sentence like “book” or “he read yesterday” and ask them to find the flashcards with those letters or words. But you’ll have hidden other cards with different words or letters on them, and your child needs to identify the correct ones.

What’s missing?
Spell out a word except for one letter and the student needs to say which one is missing. To make this more challenging, take out more letters. You can also use this game for making sentences.

Odd one out
This game is a good way of practising grammar concepts, but it can also be using for identifying rhyming words or even words in your child’s favourite English story or poem. Place some cards face up and ask your child to identify which one is different. To make sure your child is learning, ask them to tell you why the card is different.

Snap
The good thing about this game is that you don’t need much space to play it, and it is something you can do while you’re waiting for a train or at a restaurant and trying to keep your children entertained while the food arrives. Give every player several cards and you each take turns putting them down, face up. When a child puts down a card that “matches” or is in the same word category, they say “snap!” and win the game.

Is it a….?
Young children often really enjoy this game. Hold up a flashcard and ask your child if it is something different. So you could hold up a “yellow” card and ask them if it is a sun, purple or an animal.

Find me a…
Give your child a set of flashcards and ask them to find particular cards, like the “R” or “ball” card. For more advanced learners, you can ask them to find you a word in a certain category, like a colour or a noun.

Musical flashcards
This is another good one for energetic students. Place the cards face up on the floor and play their favourite songs. Your child needs to walk, jump or dance around the room until you stop the music, and then they need to tell you what is on the nearest flashcard and a little bit more about it. For example, if the card says “M” your child could say “M mmmmm, mouth.” If the card says “green” your child could say “green, my favourite colour” or “green, like my school bag.”

There are many flashcard games you could play with your child to review what they’re learning in class.

Try a few of these and see which ones you both like!

To Inspire Learning, Read to a Child

To Inspire Learning, Read to a Child

As a child, there were few things I loved more than listening to an adult read. Whether I was curled up next to a family member or sitting in a circle in front of a teacher, hearing stories captivated me. No adult reads exactly the same way. Some read slower, some showed the pictures longer, and some asked more questions. Rapt with attention, I noticed all of the differences, but enjoyed them equally. When I began teaching, I found one of the most helpful techniques to inspire learning was to read aloud to my students, and it ultimately changed their lives.

March 19th is International Read to Me Day, so I would like to discuss just how vital that concept is in a child’s education.

Younger Children Engage

Perhaps the “read to me” idea is best known to inspire learning for the youngest children. Parents use it to soothe their kids to sleep, and early education educators use it to teach. Often, we think of the iPad or similar tablet to keep children entertained with moving colors and silly voices, but an adult reading a story can be just as engrossing. The child is able to picture the story, analyze the illustrations, and ask questions.

Several years ago, I met Katherine, a college student working part-time at a daycare center in the afternoons. Despite barely making minimum wage, she drove to the local library every day after work and carefully selected five or six books. The next day, she would come into the room of four-year-olds just after they had awoken from their naps. She would help serve snacks, watch the kids on the playground, and then sit on the alphabet rug. Often without even being asked, the students would join her in a semi-circle and stare at her, ready to hear the latest books.

She was a natural speaker, and she would read as long as the students would stay engaged. Most of the time, that meant that she read all of the books she had selected. We think of four-year-olds as having short attention spans, but those kids could sit nearly an hour and share their (often hilarious) insights into the books.

Any unread books would be held until the following day, when she returned with the next stack. If kids had become fascinated with marine animals, pollution, artists, or any other topic, suddenly Katherine’s books were all about those interests–similar to Reggio Emelia teaching. “They love it,” she told me once. “We probably read 25 or 30 books a week.”

The kids gave her fixed attention to listen to nearly 30 books every week!

Many of the students had parents with long, highly demanding jobs, and they were at the school for at least 60 hours each week. I suspected that many (though certainly not all) did not have someone available to read nightly stories, and Katherine fulfilled a need they only subconsciously knew they had.

Teachers, especially early childhood educators, know the importance of reading aloud to students. Asking them questions, letting kids share their opinions, and subtly testing reading comprehension are all part of teaching literacy.

Reading Aloud Teaches Reading Alone

Nearly 15 years ago, I worked with a student who was severely academically behind. Technically in middle school, she had never been taught to read. Other teachers used flashcards, phonics games, and other common tried-and-true tools. Unfortunately, that only frustrated her more, and she especially hated the pity that seemed to come with those methods.

So, instead, I started reading to her. We bought two copies of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series, then Judy Blume’s Fudge series, then dozens of Magic Tree House books. We would sit on a couch or on bean bag chairs, each with a copy of the book in front of us, and I would read to her. Occasionally, I would quickly clarify words I knew she didn’t understand, but I always continued the story immediately.

We did this roughly seven hours each week; even for the most avid readers, seven hours is a long time to commit to reading. However, to us, it was a magical time. Away from the distractions of preteen drama, critical adults, and the daily hassles, we were lost in a world of curious kids’ shenanigans and their exasperated siblings.

Approximately one year into our lessons, she began telling me about books she was reading that were well above the level we were reading together. I was hesitant at first, and I wondered if she had simply read the back of the books or heard the stories from classmates, but (thankfully) I was soon proven wrong. She had picked up books at the school library and was reading them by herself.

After two years of reading with me, she was nearly at grade level. Just as importantly, she loved reading; I had not removed the joy by forcing her to sound out words she didn’t know or asking her to read aloud with other students. She carried a book everywhere she went and read significantly more than her peers. Ultimately, she enrolled in university, and now as an adult, she reads to her own children.

Simply reading to a struggling student can make a tremendous difference in their future and inspire learning. Whether they are four or fourteen, listening to someone read can be life changing.

It Even Captivates the Cool Kids

Not long after that adventure, I taught a six-week summer literacy program to at-risk teenagers. They completed hands-on projects and short journaling assignments related to The Giver and Flowers for Algernon.

It was summer, and I knew most kids would rather be anywhere else, and thus would not read on their own. Other professionals suggested they take turns reading aloud, but I could imagine the embarrassment they would feel–especially with those books. Instead, we bought a CD audio book of each text and a paperback copy for every student. Each day, they listened to several chapters of a book, reading it to themselves simultaneously. Then, they worked with their friends to develop a utopia and build a rat maze.

Reading comprehension and writing complexity increased after those six weeks, and no student had been disruptive while listening to the chapters. Outside with their friends–and even other adults–they might say they were bored or that they hated books, but I knew the truth. Even if they disliked being in a classroom in the middle of summer, they loved the speaker’s hypnotizing voice allowing quiet time between the constant plans and demands of their summer schedules.

Whether it is adults reading aloud or a professional speaker clearly enunciating in an audio book, listening to stories can help students with learning differences or those that claim they’re “too cool” to have someone read to them. It removes the pressure and potential embarrassment, whilst still teaching the sounds and subtleties of a language.

MyCoolClass Teachers Read Aloud, Too

Although parents often think of language curriculum as academic, story time teachers are just as important. They provide an excellent way to teach the basics of language, gently test reading comprehension, and prepare students to read independently to inspire learning. Plus, story time classes are engaging and fun!

There are many teachers on MyCoolClass who offer virtual story time sessions to kids around the world and inspire learning. Typically, with extensive experience in early childhood education or special education, these teachers can make stories come to life and capture children’s imaginations. Additionally, with global teachers and global students, children are likely to have an experience unlike those they may have with their families or local friends.

If you are trying to instill a love of reading, want to build literacy skills faster, or simply need 25 minutes to finish the laundry (we’ve all been there!), consider enrolling your learner in a one-time or continuous story time class. It’s likely to be an experience they won’t soon forget.

After all, International Read to Me Day exists for a reason. Truly, any child can be mesmerized by an incredible story being read by someone who loves reading to them.

5 Common English Mistakes Young Learners Make

5 Common English Mistakes Young Learners Make

If your child has been learning English for a few years and has developed a good vocabulary, you might find that they’re still making regular mistakes which limit their communication. Here are five common mistakes young learners make, and some suggestions for how to practice these skills.

Confusing Ls and Rs

This pronunciation mistake is particularly common with Chinese students. Asian students can also confuse Vs and Ws. While the context of the word often makes the meaning clear, sometimes it does not. It is also a habit most parents would prefer their child to avoid so that they can speak clear English.One way to correct pronunciation mistakes is by repeating tongue twisters. Tongue twisters can be a fun practice activity because even advanced speakers make mistakes, and because the words are often silly and funny. You can find some tongue twisters here.
https://www.esl4kids.net/tongue.html .It is important to choose tongue twisters with the sounds your child struggles with.

For example, a good one for children who confuse Ls and Rs is:
Red lorry, yellow lorry
Red lorry, yellow lorry
Red lorry, yellow lorry
Red lorry, yellow lorry


Forgetting to use articles

Articles are the words we use before a noun – a, an, the, that, these, this and those. Many students forget to use an article before a noun, and will say something like “I have cat.” It is also common for students to be unsure about which article to use. To help students remember to use an article, counting the sentence words on your fingers can be useful. Hold up a finger as you say each word, but say nothing when you hold up the finger for the missed word. When the young learners know they’ve misses a word, they usually take some time to think about it what be. Over time, they realise what the missing word is faster. Over even more time, they remember to say the article in their first attempt at speaking. An alternative to this is clapping for each word in the sentence. Young learners often enjoy this more. 

Forgetting to use words like to and with

Words like to and with can be difficult and are often a barrier to forming more complex sentences. The challenge with these words is that they can’t be acted out or shown easily with a picture. So students will often say “I will go shop” or be confused by the question “who will you go with?”A fun way to increase familiarity with these words is talking about pictures. Those pictures can be in the book the child is reading, work by their favourite artist or their own artwork. 

Confusing no and not.

Another common mistake is using “no” instead of “not”. This is an easy trap for students to fall into because this mistake probably won’t be corrected the first several times the child makes it. During the early classes teachers tend to prioritise pronunciation, vocabulary and confidence, so if the student says “I like red, no yellow” or “I no can swim” most teachers will simply repeat the sentence correctly, answer what the child was trying to say and then move on with the class. So often this mistake is simply a bad habit and the student will quickly learn what they should say after a few lessons on the topic.It is also common for students to correct this mistake themselves. Many children learn the correct word to use just from hearing their teacher or parents use it. Children who read a lot of English books can also learn which word to use from what they’re reading. But for children who need more help, a variation on the game “two truths and a lie” can be fun. Write two correct sentences and one incorrect sentence, and the student needs to say which sentence is incorrect and why. 


Confusing pronouns

Pronouns can be very difficult because they change frequently and, from a young learners perspective, randomly. It can be difficult for young learners to know whether to use “me”, “I” or “myself.” This can be a problem because often children need to be able to use the correct pronoun before they’re taught the grammar rules that tell them which one to use, so learning by doing is necessary. For young learners, this means playing lots of games. Some fun and effective sentence games include noughts and crosses, or tic tac toe. Draw a grid of nine squares and write a different pronoun in each one. The student then needs to make a correct sentence with one of the pronouns to get that square. Another fun game is “odd one out” where you make a list of a type of pronoun, for example reflexive pronouns, but include one different type of pronoun. For example: myself, themselves, herself, you. Your child needs to identify which one is different. Pronoun snap and pronoun bingo are fun alternatives. The useful thing about these games is that they can be adapted to practice many words and grammar concepts. With a little effective practice, your child will be able to avoid or stop making these common mistakes.
Winter Festivals to Inspire TEFL Lesson Plans

Winter Festivals to Inspire TEFL Lesson Plans

For teachers with long term students, festivals can be a great time to change our usual TEFL lesson plans and introduce fun activities in the classroom. Here are 5 winter festivals I celebrate with my students, and some of of my favourite activities.

Christmas – 25th of December

Being a global festival, Christmas is celebrated by many students and known by many others. There are so many free Christmas worksheets, songs, activities, and stories available that you can create your ideal TEFL lesson plans or customise your classes so they’re perfect for your student. Here are just three of many ideas for your Christmas themed class:

Read a book. As simple as this idea is, there are many beautifully written Christmas stories and poems, from The Night Before Christmas to A Christmas Carol.

Listen to a Christmas song. Christmas songs are ideal for listening activities because they’re fun and exciting, especially for children.

You can find some Christmas songs here:

https://www.songsforteaching.com/christmas/

Write a letter to Santa – A fun activity for children is writing a letter to Santa. This activity can be adjusted to your student’s level, with beginners listing their favourite toys and more advanced students learning about letter writing.

Chinese New Year – 1st of February

For those of us who teach Chinese children (or live in big cities) will be familiar with Chinese New Year. Celebratory activities include the dragon dance, fireworks, and the famous red packets. Red is the main colour of this vibrant winter festival, which for younger children could be a lesson in itself. Try finding red versions of your class topics – clothes, fruit, or animals. Other fun activities include:

Reading about the Chinese zodiac. 2022 will be the year of the tiger but you could also learn about your student’s zodiac animal.

Discussing tidying the house. Cleaning is a big part of Chinese New Year, a lesson on tidying things away is a timely way to practice nouns, prepositions of place, verbs, and sentence structure. Use a picture of a messy house and ask the student to help tidy it up by telling you where the items should go.

Creating a family tree for your student or a character in a book you’ve been reading.

You can find some more fun ideas here:

https://teambuilding.com/blog/virtual-chinese-new-year

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/Chinese%20New%20Year%20Lesson%20plan.pdf

The Rio Carnival – 25th of February through 5th of March

Rio’s famous carnival comes from the Portuguese tradition of dressing up in costumes before the start of Lent. It has since come to reflect more of Brazil’s many cultural influences, with the Brazilian dance called Samba taking centre stage.

Being an energetic, multi-cultural event, The Rio Carnival is perfect inspiration for EFL teachers. Here are a few ideas for carnival themed lessons.

Play Samba music. Although this isn’t overtly English practice, rhythm is an important part of language and awareness of rhythm has been shown to be beneficial for English students. There are some interesting Youtube videos about Samba rhythms which you could watch with your student. Alternatively, you could try speaking sentences or reading poems in a Samba rhythm to see how different it sounds.

Design carnival masks or costumes. The Rio Carnival is known for its vibrant masks and costumes, so students can have a lot of fun designing their own. You can find some masks to colour, and other Carnival themed colouring pages here.

Plan a street party. Street parties are an important part of Rio’s Carnival. A lesson on planning a street party can include adjusting recipes for more people, describing the student’s ideal party, or colouring some decorations for the event.

You can find more interesting activities here:

https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/storytelling-carnival-crime

https://classroom.synonym.com/childrens-rio-carnival-activities-6553349.html

Winter Solstice – 21st of December

The winter solstice has been celebrated for many centuries by people all over the world. There are many different ways of celebrating the solstice, making it ideal inspiration for teachers with lots of international students. Ways of celebrating the winter solstice include:

Reading ancient myths. Many cultures celebrate the winter solstice by telling traditional stories and poems. You could tell your student a traditional story from your culture or ask them to tell one of theirs. You could also read some ancient myths about the sun. Alternatively, you could read a story or poem that you just know your student will love.

Reading some recipes. Another common way of celebrating the winter solstice is by making a special meal, so reading recipes is a good solstice themed activity to do in a TEFL lesson. Creative students can write their own recipes, while those who love maths can have fun adjusting the recipes for more people. 

Studying astronomy – The winter solstice is a celebration of a natural event, so it is an ideal chance for those teaching science enthusiasts to bring their interests into our lesson. You can read a text explaining the solstice or even learn about the solar system in general. Many of the activities found here can be used in or adapted for online classes.

The Sapporo Snow Festival – 5th of February

This Japanese festival is very new and started in 1950 when some children made snow sculptures in Odori Park in Sapporo, Japan. This continued for several years and in 1974 it became an international competition.

The beauty of this festival is that it started with children playing in the snow. Although it has since become an international event, spontaneity and playfulness are useful in children’s TEFL lesson, and this festival is a reminder of what children can do when they’re given the tools and freedom to play. Here are three activity ideas inspired by The Sapporo Snow Festival:

Make some word art. Write out the words you’ve been working on and shape it, so it looks like an ice sculpture. You can make examples to show your students here.

Play snow sculpture dictation. The students draw their own snow sculpture but don’t show it to you. Instead, they give you instructions on how to draw it. Compare the pictures afterwards.

Play ice statue. This game is similar to musical statues. The student becomes an ice statue and needs to stay still while the teacher reads out words, or sentences, they’ve been working on. The student needs to move when they hear an incorrect word or sentence.

Ten-Minute Activities to Help You Learn English

Ten-Minute Activities to Help You Learn English

Anyone learning a new language knows how hard it can be to fit into our busy lives. Along with finding time for classes and homework, we need to keep reviewing the words we learn so we don’t forget them. And if that wasn’t enough, after all that hard work we find ourselves knowing many, many words that we don’t know how to put into a sentence. To Learn English and linguistics is hard! We all know that a “little and often” approach will improve our chances of becoming fluent in the language we’re learning. But how do we actually do that? Below are seven activities that take no more than ten minutes, which will help you become a fluent English speaker. There are many similar activities so commit to doing the ones you enjoy. 

Morning pages

This activity is really good for creative people and people who like to journal. The idea of morning pages is that you just write. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct. It doesn’t have to mean anything. Write the alphabet, “blue triangle cat” or “I hate English and don’t remember why I’m doing this” if you can’t think of anything else. Just write. Morning pages are excellent for language learners because we often know more than we think we do. Sometimes our efforts to speak and write correctly can cause us to overthink and doubt ourselves. Writing without any pressure can help us to avoid this trap. Just set a timer for ten minutes and write whatever comes to you. Reading through these morning pages later on will help you work out what you’re good at and what you need to work on. 

Read or listen to a poem

This is a short activity that you can do while you’re eating breakfast, while you’re on the train or while you’re waiting for your computer to start up. Reading a favourite poem is a great way to learn English because poetry is excellent for improving fluency. If you don’t know many English poems, there are lots of poetry anthologies and “a poem a day” books out there, often based around different themes, like winter. Several of them are written for children so this is a great activity to do with kids. You could even take five or ten minutes to read a poem together while you’re all eating breakfast, or after dinner. 

You can find some poems to listen to here:
https://www.poetryoutloud.org
https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/poetryaudio/
https://www.openculture.com/audio_books_poetry

Vocabulary/grammar drills


There are many ways of doing this one. You can use flashcards, worksheets, or apps to review the vocabulary or grammar you’ve already it learned. It is best to keep these activities short, so they don’t become difficult or tiring. Reviewing a few words while you’re waiting for a train or for five minutes during your lunch break can be a productive way of using that time. 

Listen to a song

Music makes many of us feel good, so this is a fun, effective way of practising a language. A good thing about listening to English music is that we learn English through repetition, and we listen to our favourite songs hundreds of times. Just by enjoying the song, we will start to recognise individual words and get some idea of what the unfamiliar ones might mean. Even if we can’t work out what the unfamiliar words mean, we’ll have heard it in context by the time we get to it in our classes or see it in a book. 

Tweet in English

Talking to English speakers is important because they will model the correct use of English words. One way of doing that is to find pen pals from English speaking countries and write each other letters or emails. Over time, you’ll get to know each other better and become more comfortable talking to each other. A quicker way is to create a Twitter account and tweet in English once a day. You can either just Tweet to practice your English or you can find English speakers you’d like to talk to. You can also write in your bio that you would like people to correct your English if you feel confident enough for some constructive criticism. 

Lesson on a language app

If you have ten minutes with nothing to do, you can learn a lesson on a language app. Language apps can be very different, so it is worth finding one that they you enjoy using, but the good thing about them is that their lessons are usually very short. One lesson a day can help you review the words you’ve been learning and keep them fresh in your mind. 

YouTube clips

After a long, busy a day, the last thing you want to do is study. Although watching television in English is a great way to practice, it can be tiring to try to keep up with a foreign language and work out what unfamiliar words mean. Watching a YouTube clip can take less than five minutes, so it won’t tire you out after a long day. The good thing about watching short clips of English films and television on YouTube is that more of them will be recommended to you. You’re more likely to practice English if something that looks interesting appears on your YouTube suggestions when you have some spare time. You can also find out which films and television series you would like to watch, which will remove the risk of sitting down in front of a two hour long English film feeling like a chore. Choosing three or four of these a day will help you learn English much faster and get the most from your classes, without having to find lots of time to study.
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