Posts Tagged ‘language learner’

A suggested lesson for adults learning vocabulary in an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) lesson

June 7, 2012
‘Lesson’
Resource
Level 2: Pre-Intermediate >> Vocabulary Worksheets >>
http://www.esl-lounge.com/level2/lev2seasons.shtml
Comments on using lesson material for teaching adults vocabulary relating to the seasons as provided by the website above.
In the lesson material above, students are asked to place a list of words under seasonal headings.
This would be an excellent revision exercise after an extended lesson on the vocabulary.
Vocabulary is stored in our memories according to the particular sound and meaning of the words. That is why we often make mistakes by recalling words that sound very similar to those we are trying to retrieve from our memory. It is also easier to recall words that belong to the same topic area, such as ‘pins’ and ‘needles’. In addition, words that we are familiar with can be recalled more effectively than those we have never come across before. This knowledge can be used in a lesson by concentrating on the words in a series of concentrated stages so that the vocabulary is fully acquired and most likely be recalled quickly and effective becoming part of the student(s) fully acquired ‘automatically retrieved’ language.  
Stage 1 of a 60-minute lesson:
Ask the student(s) to name the four seasons. Once these have been named and written down for the students to see, the students add words associated with the seasons that they already know and these are written down under the respective headings. (Note, many adults need to see the written word to be able to acquire new vocabulary.)
This may appear to slow the learning process down. It would be much ‘quicker’ for students to simply list the words they know under the respective headings and then ask their friends, look up on the Internet or a dictionary to find out the meanings of unknown words and add them accordingly. However, if the aim of the lesson is for the students to acquire the new words for long-term usage, much more than mere listing is required.
Stage 2:
Depending on the ability/personality/academic capability of the adult, if they are already aware of teaching methods, the student(s) should be reminded of the way in which we store and recall words.
The students are offered the remaining words from the list. Then students try to relate as much vocabulary as possible to words from their first language. For example, if the student is Spanish, the word ‘la flor’ may sound similar to ‘flower’. (Note, with adults, making associations with new vocabulary is particularly important and/or effective).
Stage 3:
In this stage words that are completely new to the students and/or that do not sound similar to words in their own language are taught. Different methods for vocabulary memorization may be offered or one chosen according to the nature of the student(s). One of the most effective ways of memorizing vocabulary is using a method similar to the ‘Linkword’ method in which mental images are created that link the sound and meaning of the new words so that they will become memorable. For example, If a Spanish student were trying to remember ‘flower’ they could picture a person dressed as a flower speaking and hesitating within the speech by saying ‘ –er’ (Hence, a Spanish student may think of the following: ‘flor-er’ = flower).
Stage 4:
When the entire list has been ‘learnt’ students are then encouraged to explore these words further so that they continue to stimulate their previously acquired language and thus embed the new word(s) so that it/they can be quickly – even ‘automatically’ —  retrieved and used. Students try to name additional associated words or forms. For example, ‘sun’ could be extended to ‘sun cream’, ‘sunbathe’, ‘sunhat’, ‘sun bed’, ‘sunning oneself’ and/or ‘suntan’. In this way they reinforce the initial word while becoming familiar with a wider vocabulary than the lesson requires. This will aid full acquisition of newer words later.
Stage 5:
In this stage the student(s) practise recalling the words to use them in different situations or contexts. For example, students may be asked to interview a weather reporter. While concentrating on shaping the interview and also including as many of the new words as possible, they will be engaging their cognitive powers effectively. Any misunderstanding of the meaning of some of the words will come to light as they try to use them in different contexts, for example, the student(s) my need to have explained the difference between ‘sunshine’ in ‘I love sitting in the sunshine’ and ‘Just do it, will you ‘sunshine’! (Even though this is a ‘pre-intermediate’ level sometimes humour using a different tone of voice is readily understood in the early stages of learning, although the full meaning may not be wholly understood.)
Stage 6:
At the end of the lesson students are given a positive experience in the usage of the newly acquired vocabulary. The exercise such as the one initially provided above (in which students list the words associated with the different seasons) or a quick team quiz which the teacher knows should be easy for the students will achieve further, positive reinforcement of the new words.
Ideally, these new words would be visited a day or two later, then a week later continuing i.e. the words should be recalled after increasing lengths of time.
The inclusion and/or the length of the different stages of the lesson will depend on the nature of the student(s). Some may be able to acquire new words quickly without a great deal of help so these stages may not need to be extensive. However, there will be those student(s) who find language learning particularly difficult and the stages listed above would be the best way for him/her/them to acquire new vocabulary effectively.
Advertisements

Flip flops and an identity crisis – (an item to tickle your sense of humour)

September 16, 2011

I’m a brilliant teacher. I’ve taught English for over 20 years. (Probably more, but I’d rather not count.) I know all there is to know about language acquisition – a posh way of saying language learning  – well, I’m supposed to – after all I spent 10 years writing a PhD thesis on the subject!

I have a bright idea that no one else has thought of – well, okay, maybe it is what teachers do anyway but my idea is better. I like to say it is more profound.

The theory is, you get students to follow a 4 step progamme:

First they ‘notice’ – meaning ‘look at’ the target language, then they relate it to what they know, they practise it and then they recall it later. Simple. This is obviously the best way to learn.

Okay then. I should be able to teach myself by following this method. I’ll be fluent in Spanish in no time. At the moment I speak a kind of Spanglish – a pigeon Spanish littered with the wrong nouns, words without endings and absolutely no verbs in the past or future.

My cleaning lady has moved my flip flops.  I know I should do my own cleaning – I have such a small flat — but she is Spanish and I want her to help me learn the language. Unfortunately, she has no teeth, speaks a dialect and yells so I am not doing very well. I cringe to think what the neighbours hear when we try to have a ‘conversation’. My favourite word is ‘que?’ So I’ll have to get the Spanish word for ‘flip-flops’ just right. It is not in the dictionary (surprise, surprise). In desperation I ask on Facebook – Maureen kindly gives me the word. It is ‘chancletas’. There, I’ve noticed my new word. Now how am I going to relate it to what I know? – simple – they are my flip-flops and I can picture them easily. I need more. Okay I’ll use the Linkword method – you know, you imagine silly interacting pictures that sound like the word. What does chancletas remind me of? I suppose the first bit is like ‘chunk’, the next ‘let’ and the last ‘us’. So I could imagine saying ‘Chunk let us …’ Who is Chunk? – Well Chunk sounds like ‘Hunk’ so I’ll imagine a hunk of a man. Mm. What would he ‘let us’ do? Something funny, or bizarre with flip- flops. Maybe he would let us have a flip-flop fight – boring. Maybe a flip-flop eating – no I feel sick. I know, I’ll imagine Chunk letting us cover his lovely body with flip-flops. Mm that’s better.

Okay, so what’s the word? My picture springs to mind. Mm What is the word? – something to do with flip flops and a good-looking man – oh Hunk, – I mean Chunk – ah yes Chunk let us Chancletas. Brilliant! See it works. Now I’ll try to remember the word for flip flops tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and I remembered a gorgeous looking man covered with flip-flops, but could I remember the word? No chance. I despair. I think I’ll just look up sandals in the dictionary when the cleaning lady comes.

(This piece was written in a similar style to the book ‘Out of a Learner’s Mouth’: the trials and tribulations of learning Spanish) …

It pays to ask people to comment about your writing. You learn a lot.

September 11, 2011

I have recently asked a number of different people to review my book ‘Teaching Language Learners’. The responses are so varied, that is is amazing that they are all talking about the same book. This latest review is by Jane Cronin, well-known teacher of Spanish in Torrevieja, Spain.

I have included the whole review and my response to the bit she did not like. What do you think?

Review:

Rosemary Westwell’s book “Teaching Language Learners” covers territory familiar to language teachers in an original way.  The main focus of the book is the need to adapt teaching methods to the individual needs of language learners, a concept which Rosemary has developed through her own experiences of learning Spanish.  The book focuses on the actual process of acquisition, recognizing that it is our “internal thinking” and personal ideas and points of view which must be addressed for learning to take place.

 

Given the obvious premise that no teacher can be familiar with the individual thought processes of all their students, Rosemary gives a number of pointers to help teachers become aware of the issue and to help learners to recognize their own learning patterns.  One of her key concepts is the focus on internal “needs” rather than external “goals” of language acquisition.  There is also a recognition that unconscious processes run alongside conscious processes, facilitating acquisition in unexpected ways outside the classroom environment.

 

“Teaching Language Learners” also contains a range of interesting and useful summaries and resources. There are lists of “false friends”, learning strategies, language teaching methods, summaries of grammar rules and definitions, spelling rules and topics for debate.  Each list stands on its own as a generic resource for both learning and teaching contexts.

 

The weakest point of the book for me are the examples of Rosemary’s own learning strategies using picture memory techniques, clearly because by their very nature they are individual, and as such do not coincide with methods useful to me in my learning.  Having said that, these personal examples abundantly illustrate the fact that when traditional methods fail we should not be afraid to look to our own internal thinking processes to advance our language learning.

Jane Cronin

 

Reply:

I am interested to learn that you do not find using pictures/images useful – Maybe you are one of these lucky ‘natural’ language learners who find learning languages easy…?

I have found using picturing/imagery very useful for me and for others – when teaching EFL and English on a number of different occasions and with different students. I plan this to be my next area of ‘study’. When I was studying for the MA in TESOL, our tutor demonstrated the ‘Linkword’ technique developed by Michael Gruneberg and the group of us was amazed at the speed with which we learned new words. However, for me, although this technique works well – I do not remember the words long-term. I need to practise recalling the words several times at different intervals.

Rosemary Westwell

Giving a presentation

April 23, 2011

This post contains a description of my experience giving a workshop presentation to the IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign language) Conference in Brighton April 2011

After a relatively iffy presentation at the conference last year, I was determined to do better this time. Kind friends came and suffered my first attempt and after making improvements from their suggestions, I believe it was OK! In fact, one member of the audience said to me as we left – that was a very good presentation and I had people crowding to see the book and asking me where they could get hold of it. So, my efforts to give much more information in a more agreeable way seem to have paid off.  One change I made was to have a lot of pictures. …

The presentation: Who or what do we teach? We don’t teach English, we teach language learners and if we focus on how learners acquire a language we can teach much more quickly and effectively.

During my PhD study (The development of language acquisition in a mature learner) I realized that a lot of the ideas I had been developing were also important to the way we teach. If we use our knowledge of how we acquire a language to restructure our approach, we can teach much more quickly and effectively. I have put these ideas into a book called Teaching Language Learners and we used ideas from this book in the workshop.

Have you ever felt, as I have, that I would be good teacher if it weren’t for the students? So many times I prepare a lesson in meticulous detail that would be the perfect lesson only to find that the students mess it up. They believe they have already learnt the subject, they don’t want to learn grammar at the moment or they would go off in a tangent, become terribly interested in a minute detail that was relatively unimportant. However, if we focus on how our students are acquiring language, few of these problems will arise.

So, how do we acquire a language? Note: I talk about ‘acquiring a language’ rather than ‘learning a language’ because for me the term ‘acquire’ includes a wider more permanent aspect to the process. So in order to acquire a language, we need to notice the target language. You can hardly avoiding noticing a picture of a tiger on a page, for example, but if you turn the page over, how much detail were you aware of. Did you notice the position of its paws and its tail? Where were the shadows? What other thoughts made the picture of the tiger real for you? The term ‘noticing’ in language acquisition, in its technical usage, means thinking about it in depth.

After noticing the target language, we need to make sense of it. We need to relate it to what we already know. That is why language acquisition is a unique experience for every individual. Each person has a different background and different previous experiences. Relating new target language to our own experiences and previously acquired knowledge makes the target language real for us. For me, a tiger lily, one of my favourite flowers reminds me of the tiger, making it easier to relate to the word ‘tiger’.

After noticing and making sense of the target language, we need to remember and recall the new language in order to fully acquire it. Then we need to use the language, we need to push ourselves to produce it in meaningful situations.

How can we encourage our students to ‘notice’ the vocabulary they need to learn? e.g. ‘vegetable’. Think of as many different ways as possible you could encourage your students to notice the word ‘vegetable’.

You no doubt have offered a number of useful ideas, some of which may have offered the following:

  • You could break up the word into short syllables: veg – e – table
  • You could make connections with the syllables – the word ‘table’, or for more advanced students you could move into using colloquialisms or idioms such as ‘to veg. out’ meaning to relax.
  • For beginners who have difficulty with pronunciation, you could concentrate on how the word is pronounced. You could focus on the silent vowels for example. Students often find it easier if they see the word written exactly as it is pronounced e.g. vegtbl
  • You could ask the students how many different kinds of vegetable they can name. By the time they have mentioned a number of examples, the word ‘vegetable’ has been used a number of times thus reinforcing it in their memories.
  • Or you could provide text containing the word ‘vegetable’ and ask the students to select other words they think would be useful to add to their vocabulary.

Next, how can we make it easy for students to connect to the language? How can we encourage our students to connect with the word ‘vegetable’ in ways that are meaningful to them as individuals?

  • You could ask them to translate into their own language.
  • You could ask them to select the correct meaning from several that you have offered.
  • You could ask them to name as many collocations as they can e.g. you can have ‘fresh’ vegetables, that is a common collocation, but do we talk about ‘new’ vegetables so much?
  • And of course there is the ever-useful gapfill in which you provide sentences with gaps and one of the gaps needs to be filled with the word vegetable.

Then, how can you encourage our students to remember?

How many different ways can you think of that will engage the students in memorizing the target word or words?

Memory techniques:

  • You could say the word and ask the students of repeat the word after you. There are some annoying adults who can remember words immediately this way, There are others, like myself, who need much more help than this.
  • You could use the method used to teach spelling many years age – You have the word written down, the learners look at the word, cover it, write the word down and then look to check if they have written it down correctly
  • You could ask them to use the Linkword method which worked very well for me although I only managed to retain the new language temporarily. What you do is to look at the new word for ten seconds while you think of interacting images, often humorous, bizarre that not only reflect the meaning but also use similar sounds to the syllables of the word. For example, if you want to remember the Spanish word for cat, the word is ‘gato’. Gato sounds very similar to gateaux, cake, so you could think of a cat eating, sitting on flying over a piece of gateau.

How can we encourage our students to use the language?

  • We could try the sledge hammer approach and try to force them to use it under duress, by saying ‘Use the word in a sentence NOW’ but that may not be the most successful way.

Let us take teaching the present perfect (I have done) for example, as in ‘I have thrown the ball over the net’.

Here is one way you could go about it.

1) You could ask the students for all the past participles they know and or introduce ones they need to know at their level or for a particular task. e.g. do (I have) done;  see (I have) seen

One way in which we use the present perfect is when we want to focus on the action itself.

2) To practice this use of the present perfect you could ask students to make up a series of questions e.g.

What have you done recently?

Which films have you seen?

3) Then you could ask your students to move into pairs or groups. One student could use the questions and the other student could provide the answers, both students using the present perfect in meaningful ways.

Another major issue I have with my students is the way I would burn the midnight oil marking students’ written work and return it to them the next day. They would look at the overall mark or comment(s). Yes a ‘B’ OK and then put the page away. They would ignore the corrections and learn nothing. You could ask them to rewrite the passage correctly, but some many have an aversion to writing. So, how can we encourage our students to notice, make sense of, remember and make use of our corrections to their written work? For example our student may have written ‘I am student by brighton.’ I think we should give the work of correcting to the students to do. I suggest using an Editing Guide. This is a list of common errors on one page, each error being numbered. Each error is explained and the correct forms listed. For example, if there is a problem with the use of an article, this could be listed as the first common error.

1. article? A? the? No article? e.g. a book (we don’t know which one); the book on the table (we know which book); Books are popular (we don’t know how many books we are talking about.)

Armed with a page of such information, each common error numbered, all you need to do is underline where the error occurs and write the number that corresponds to that type of error in the written work. It is then the turn of the student to read the information in the guide and to correct their mistake accordingly. In this case, they would write ‘a’ between ‘am’ and ‘student’. Not only would they notice their mistake, but in having to read the guide they would learn how and when to use this form correctly next time.

So you can see, using our understanding of how we acquire language, that is, knowing that we need to notice, make sense of, remember, recall and use the language can help our students learn much more quickly, effectively and enjoyably with a minimum of resources.

Depending on the age and level of the students, some may indeed be able to teach themselves much more if they are encouraged to use this approach.

‘Give them the tools and they will finish the job’ I say (with apologies to Winston Churchill)

Giving a presentation

This post contains a description of my experience giving a workshop presentation to the IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign language) Conference in Brighton April 2011

After a relatively iffy presentation at the conference last year, I was determined to do better this time. Kind friends came and suffered my first attempt and after making improvements from their suggestions, I believe it was OK! In fact, one member of the audience said to me as we left – that was a very good presentation and I had people crowding to see the book and asking me where they could get hold of it. (It is available from Burrows Bookshop in Ely and I hope to do an ebook version later.) One change I made was to have a lot of pictures. …

The presentation: Who or what do we teach? We don’t teach English, we teach language learners and if we focus on how learners acquire a language we can teach much more quickly and effectively.

During my PhD study (The development of language acquisition in a mature learner) I realized that a lot of the ideas I had been developing were also important to the way we teach. If we use our knowledge of how we acquire a language to restructure our approach, we can teach much more quickly and effectively. I have put these ideas into a book called Teaching Language Learners and we used ideas from this book in the workshop.

Have you ever felt, as I have, that I would be good teacher if it weren’t for the students? So many times I prepare a lesson in meticulous detail that would be the perfect lesson only to find that the students mess it up. They believe they have already learnt the subject, they don’t want to learn grammar at the moment or they would go off in a tangent, become terribly interested in a minute detail that was relatively unimportant. However, if we focus on how our students are acquiring language, few of these problems will arise.

So, how do we acquire a language? Note: I talk about ‘acquiring a language’ rather than ‘learning a language’ because for me the term ‘acquire’ includes a wider more permanent aspect to the process. So in order to acquire a language, we need to notice the target language. You can hardly avoiding noticing a picture of a tiger on a page, for example, but if you turn the page over, how much detail were you aware of. Did you notice the position of its paws and its tail? Where were the shadows? What other thoughts made the picture of the tiger real for you? The term ‘noticing’ in language acquisition, in its technical usage, means thinking about it in depth.

After noticing the target language, we need to make sense of it. We need to relate it to what we already know. That is why language acquisition is a unique experience for every individual. Each person has a different background and different previous experiences. Relating new target language to our own experiences and previously acquired knowledge makes the target language real for us. For me, a tiger lily, one of my favourite flowers reminds me of the tiger, making it easier to relate to the word ‘tiger’.

After noticing and making sense of the target language, we need to remember and recall the new language in order to fully acquire it. Then we need to use the language, we need to push ourselves to produce it in meaningful situations.

How can we encourage our students to ‘notice’ the vocabulary they need to learn? e.g. ‘vegetable’. Think of as many different ways as possible you could encourage your students to notice the word ‘vegetable’.

You no doubt have offered a number of useful ideas, some of which may have offered the following:

  • You could break up the word into short syllables: veg – e – table
  • You could make connections with the syllables – the word ‘table’, or for more advanced students you could move into using colloquialisms or idioms such as ‘to veg. out’ meaning to relax.
  • For beginners who have difficulty with pronunciation, you could concentrate on how the word is pronounced. You could focus on the silent vowels for example. Students often find it easier if they see the word written exactly as it is pronounced e.g. vegtbl
  • You could ask the students how many different kinds of vegetable they can name. By the time they have mentioned a number of examples, the word ‘vegetable’ has been used a number of times thus reinforcing it in their memories.
  • Or you could provide text containing the word ‘vegetable’ and ask the students to select other words they think would be useful to add to their vocabulary.

Next, how can we make it easy for students to connect to the language? How can we encourage our students to connect with the word ‘vegetable’ in ways that are meaningful to them as individuals?

  • You could ask them to translate into their own language.
  • You could ask them to select the correct meaning from several that you have offered.
  • You could ask them to name as many collocations as they can e.g. you can have ‘fresh’ vegetables, that is a common collocation, but do we talk about ‘new’ vegetables so much?
  • And of course there is the ever-useful gapfill in which you provide sentences with gaps and one of the gaps needs to be filled with the word vegetable.

Then, how can you encourage our students to remember?

How many different ways can you think of that will engage the students in memorizing the target word or words?

Memory techniques:

  • You could say the word and ask the students of repeat the word after you. There are some annoying adults who can remember words immediately this way, There are others, like myself, who need much more help than this.
  • You could use the method used to teach spelling many years age – You have the word written down, the learners look at the word, cover it, write the word down and then look to check if they have written it down correctly
  • You could ask them to use the Linkword method which worked very well for me although I only managed to retain the new language temporarily. What you do is to look at the new word for ten seconds while you think of interacting images, often humorous, bizarre that not only reflect the meaning but also use similar sounds to the syllables of the word. For example, if you want to remember the Spanish word for cat, the word is ‘gato’. Gato sounds very similar to gateaux, cake, so you could think of a cat eating, sitting on flying over a piece of gateau.

How can we encourage our students to use the language?

  • We could try the sledge hammer approach and try to force them to use it under duress, by saying ‘Use the word in a sentence NOW’ but that may not be the most successful way.

Let us take teaching the present perfect (I have done) for example, as in ‘I have thrown the ball over the net’.

Here is one way you could go about it.

1) You could ask the students for all the past participles they know and or introduce ones they need to know at their level or for a particular task. e.g. do (I have) done;  see (I have) seen

One way in which we use the present perfect is when we want to focus on the action itself.

2) To practice this use of the present perfect you could ask students to make up a series of questions e.g.

What have you done recently?

Which films have you seen?

3) Then you could ask your students to move into pairs or groups. One student could use the questions and the other student could provide the answers, both students using the present perfect in meaningful ways.

Another major issue I have with my students is the way I would burn the midnight oil marking students’ written work and return it to them the next day. They would look at the overall mark or comment(s). Yes a ‘B’ OK and then put the page away. They would ignore the corrections and learn nothing. You could ask them to rewrite the passage correctly, but some many have an aversion to writing.

So, how can we encourage our students to notice, make sense of, remember and make use of

our corrections to their written work?

For example our student may have written ‘I am student by brighton.’ I think we should give the work of correcting to the students to do. I suggest using an Editing Guide. This is a list of common errors on one page, each error being numbered. Each error is explained and the correct forms listed. For example, if there is a problem with the use of an article, this could be listed as the first common error.

1. article? A? the? No article? e.g. a book (we don’t know which one); the book on the table (we know which book); Books are popular (we don’t know how many books we are talking about.)

Armed with a page of such information, each common error numbered, all you need to do is underline where the error occurs and write the number that corresponds to that type of error in the written work. It is then the turn of the student to read the information in the guide and to correct their mistake accordingly. In this case, they would write ‘a’ between ‘am’ and ‘student’. Not only would they notice their mistake, but in having to read the guide they would learn how and when to use this form correctly next time.

So you can see, using our understanding of how we acquire language, that is, knowing that we need to notice, make sense of, remember, recall and use the language can help our students learn much more quickly, effectively and enjoyably with a minimum of resources.

Depending on the age and level of the students, some may indeed be able to teach themselves much more if they are encouraged to use this approach.

‘Give them the tools and they will finish the job’ I say (with apologies to Winston Churchill)

The web works!

July 13, 2010

Putting your thesis on the web free to view by all and sundry pays.

I finished my thesis on “The Development of Language Acquisition in a Mature Learner” a couple of years ago. I had kept a diary while I tried to learn Spanish as a beginner. The analysis of the diary was the basis of the thesis. I thought it would be something that a lot of people would be interested in. I made a few attempts to interest publishers in the diary of my learning experiences and the thesis but only received messages that they might be interested and would get back to me. They did not get back to me.

In the meantime, I wrote my own informal description of my language learning experiences in a self-published book: Out of a Learner’s Mouth (available at Burrows in Ely if you are interested).

Then, suddenly, after 2 years, a legitimate publisher approached me by email. They had been scouring the internet for possible theses to publish and had come across mine. They were interested in publishing! I had been told that the thesis was a good one and even though they may have been flattering me, I had worked jolly hard for over 9 years to get it completed. So it seems that getting you work published is more a matter of timing than anything. To my mind, it obviously pays to concentrate on getting you book right rather than getting a publisher interested with an incomplete work. When a publisher is looking for new work  – then and only then, will they show interest. Common sense, I suppose – but then, who has an abundance of that? (obviously not me.)

Go ahead, publish your book, you won’t regret it!

June 21, 2010

If you are thinking of publishing you own book – one that you think you would like to read yourself – go for it I say! It opens up a new world. You might not become a millionaire over night, but the rewards from positive feedback you get are well worth giving it a go.

At first you feel you are out on your own, indulging in a bit of vanity, being a self-indulgent eccentric. Your friends and family show mild kind interest because they know you, not necessarily because they are equally enthused.

Then someone insists on buying the book. It is just what they are looking for they say. Finally, they write to you to say how much they enjoyed it. You are not alone anymore. All your efforts have been worth it. Someone out there thinks the same way as you and really appreciates your efforts.

I received such an email today and I hope the author does not mind my sharing some of her comments. She was writing about “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” (available at Burrows Bookshop in Ely tel: 01353 669 759).

 Her comments: “I can not find the words to describe how I feel about your book, it is the best read I have had in ages. It is such fun, whilst at the same time a lot can be learnt from it.

 I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it, every word, although I will never get to GCE, C grade! I relate so much to the way in which you, go and have an early coffee! Any excuse to stop studying, we were on parallel lines almost all the way through, even down to reading Joanna Trollops’ A Spanish Lover, except you are two years and ten grades ahead of me! And I have not bought an apartment in Spain.

 I have just returned from a short Spanish course in Palma, Majorca, which was great fun but debatable as to how much Spanish I can speak, I can order a coffee and a glass of red wine so all is not lost! I am going to return next year for an intensive two week course, but in the mean time keep listening to my CDs and re-reading my book, that is when I can get it back from my friends, I should have made them buy their own!

 Thank you so much for writing and having the book published, it is an absolute joy.”

Talking helps when promoting your book

June 16, 2010

Yesterday I gave a talk about my book “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” written as an amusing series of diary entries describing my trials and tribulations of learning Spanish as a mature learner. I gave the talk at the Institute of Education in London – where I completed by PhD. I thought it would be good practice for me, a chance to flog a couple of copies of the book but  little more. However, with Anita Pincas in the chair, her people management skills made it much more than that. She had encouraged a fascinating group of people to attend. I asked them to interrupt if they wished and I am glad that I did for as I chatted my way through a number of these learned people interrupted, supporting my stories with what they knew about how we think and learn from their study and research. I certainly found what they had to say fascinating.

a season of talks?

June 14, 2010

It must be the season of giving talks. Last week I gave a talk “An Aussie in England” to Littleport WI, a thriving group of lively ladies when I talked about my childhood in Tassie – things like jack jumpers, tiger snakes, barbecues in the bush..

I give a talk on my book:”Out of a Learner’s Mouth” at the Institute of Education in London, thanks to my PhD tutor Anita Pincas.  I may be one of a very few to give an informal chatty presentation at this illustrious institution. I plan to chat about my experiences trying to learn Spanish (a new language for me)  – as a mature lady of over 50.

 Never a dull moment eh?

The best way to learn how to use a foreign language naturally

April 22, 2010

I think I have found out the best way to learn how to write and speak Spanish naturally – well, the best way for me, that is. A Spanish friend and I now write to each other. I try to write in Spanish and she tries to write in English and we correct each other’s letters and return them. Looking at what I wrote originally and then looking at the corrections my friend has made lets me see that even though I may be grammatically correct, it is not what native speakers usually say – there are more natural phrases to use. Now I can try to learn these phrases and use then in my next letter(s) and hopefully, eventually, absorb them into my usual use of Spanish. This, for me, is definitely the way forward.

Seeking advice on where to place a book review

April 20, 2010

Someone has very kindly offered to write a review of my book “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” and he asked me which magazines he should send it to. I suddenly realized I did not know. I would be very grateful for you advice.

The book describes the trials and tribulations of learning a language, how I, as a language learner, feel and how I overcome my problems… Although the book is language specific (an English person learning Spanish) as an EFL teacher, I have changed my learning and teaching approaches since my experience and this should be of interest and help to other teachers and learners of languages.

Can you advise which magazine(s) may be interested in publishing this review? I propose to publish you suggestions here for your future interest…