• Language,  Methods

    Why Media Helps with Language Learning

    – The Media’s Role in Language Learning – I’m a strong advocate for using the media for language learning and there is a simple reason for this: We are storytelling creatures, and stories promote language acquisition. George Gerbner wrote about storytelling a lot during his academic career. As a media research scientist, Gerbner focused on storytelling because the television has a very serious influence on consumers. To summarize his research, the television is telling a story and we are listening. This concept is so powerful it led Dr. Gerbner to develop one of the most influential theories of mass media research, the theory of Cultivation Analysis, which says that “heavy”…

  • Language,  Methods

    Learning Two Languages at Once

    Recently I received an email asking about learning two languages at the same time. It was my privilege to respond, and it occurred to me that TrentBooks.com readers could benefit from our discussion as well. Here is the message I received: Hi Kenny, I would like to know , what is your opinion on learning two languages at once? I have just read your book and really agree with the things you said, so I would highly value your advice. I little background info: I am a homeschooled teenager. I developed a passion for Korean pop culture and decided to learn the language. (Currently at a basic level learning verbs)…

  • Methods

    How to Improve Language Study Time

    While living in Paraguay, I lived by a pretty set routine that gave me a certain time to study languages in the morning (I was studying both Spanish and Guarani at the time). Pretty much every day I set aside an hour for various language study topics – verb conjugations, vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, etc. – and prepared to put them into practice during the day. I felt pretty proud of myself for spending an entire hour studying every day. After about three months of this routine I realized that I often ended my study time with a slightly “empty” feeling – like I had just had a whole lot of…

  • Methods

    Language Learning for Children

    As a homeschooling father, language learning in the home is very important to me. As a parent, I see regular opportunities for teaching my own children how to learn a language (specifically Spanish in our home). But whether you are a homeschooling family or not there are substantial benefits to learning a second language (such as those found here: Can Bilingualism Make You More Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise?), so learning with your children can be extremely rewarding. In addition to the bonding that takes place between parent a child, language learning can open future doors that might otherwise be closed. Here are just a few ideas for language learning in…

  • Free (or Cheap) Study Helps

    Using Google Translate for Language Learning

    Looking back on my first language learning experience – a high schooler in a level one Spanish class – I distinctly recall asking myself, “When am I EVER going to use the word ‘skycap’ in Spanish? I never use it in English!” Unfortunately, I discovered over the years that many initial study programs are plagued with irrelevant translation exercises, wasting time and precious motivation trying to teach vocabulary words that will rarely, if ever, be used. Fortunately, there exists a simple, yet powerful tool for language learning in Google’s Translation service, found at http://translate.google.com. Although it isn’t perfect, it is a great initial resource for one simple reason: It translates…

  • Methods,  Vocabulary

    Learn Vocabulary: Four Simple Methods

    Strict memorization of vocabulary words can be a dreadful experience. Flash cards can be downright painful when it comes to learning a new language. But learning new vocabulary words doesn’t have to be so dull. I’d like to offer four simple methods to learning vocabulary to make it somewhat more enjoyable – and certainly more effective than straight memorization. I refer to these four methods as: 1) The Holistic Learning Method, 2) The Word Association Method 3) The Object Association Method, and 4) The Context Acquisition Method. Before I get more into detail let’s take a step back to see the big picture. The most important thing to understand before…

  • Verbs

    Verb Conjugations – Learning the Framework

    Verb Conjugations Conquering verb conjugations can be difficult and strenuous. Let me emphasize can be. And it’s true. They can be terribly frustrating because they constantly change and, as a new language learner, you are tasked with the responsibility of deciding which form to use within the context of your conversation. But just because they can be frustrating, doesn’t mean they are. One of the keys to language learning is to recognize patterns and frameworks in your target language. Fortunately, conjugating a verb fits quite neatly within a patterned framework. Once you learn the frame it becomes relatively easy to decide how to conjugate the verb. For illustrative purposes I’ll…

  • Free (or Cheap) Study Helps

    Mobile Freebies

    If you’ve ever looked for language learning resources, you probably discovered pretty quickly just how expensive many of them can be. This shouldn’t be surprising, really – programs charging for services will have the financial resources to advertise and put their product in front of you. Finding inexpensive resources can take a little bit more time, but can be well worth it when comparing savings. If you’re “techno-savvy” enough to have a smartphone, one option for inexpensive resources is to search for applications (apps) within the mobile communities that are tailored to language learning. Many of these apps offer a “lite” version for free for the user (you) to try…

  • Language,  Vocabulary

    How Much Vocabulary to Study?

    If you’ve decided to learn a new language, you will eventually face the inevitable: Vocabulary memorization. But the question often arises, “How many words should I study in a day?” That’s a great question, and it’s different for everyone. Recently I posed that very question on a language learning forum and received some interesting responses. Here is a brief summary of what people said (keep in mind, this is small scale research and everyone is unique): The least number of vocabulary studied per day was reported as at least 2 words. The greatest number of vocabulary studied per day was reported as 50 words. The mean (average) reported vocabulary words…

  • Business,  Language

    Language and Business

    For some reason I love hearing about language blunders. For example… For those learning a foreign language these blunders are common and, with the right attitude, can add flavor to the language learning process. In the business world, these blunders are even more poignant because international businesses “should know better,” right? One which I particularly enjoy is the case of General Motors trying to sell the Chevy Nova in Puerto Rico. In Spanish, “no va” means “it doesn’t go,” which becomes a big problem when trying to sell a car. The Sunbeam Corporation provides another instance of a language blunder, which occurred when trying to sell the “Mist-Stick” in Germany.…