Category: Language travel

How to encourage language learning outside the classroom during Covid-19

“With our interconnected world, there is no reason we can’t learn—and teach—a language right here in our living rooms”

Learning a language can be rewarding in all kinds of ways, writes Language Trainers’ Kelly Wang. Whether your students are doing it to give their resumes a boost, or they want to have some vocabulary for when they are travelling, a second language is a great thing to have.

While classes may continue online despite the pandemic, opportunities for practising languages outside the classroom are more limited, with many local language exchange events cancelled and travel restricted.

But with our interconnected world, there is no reason we can’t learn—and teach—a language right here in our living rooms, without students feeling like they are missing out on anything. Here are some ways to help your students learn a language online.

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How Mandarin schools in China are coping with Covid-19

“A well-developed online learning platform is essential for Chinese language schools to maintain their profits during Covid-19”

 

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disastrous impact on the Chinese economy and Chinese people’s daily lives, writes Ivan Suchkov of That’s Mandarin. Here he discusses how Mandarin-language schools based in China are shifting online for classes.


 A large number of enterprises and factories had to suspend production to prevent the further spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, the situation has got a lot better now in China, and all the production lines (except for some industries like the educational sector) have fully resumed work.

However, thousands of private Chinese companies are now still on the verge of bankruptcy, as their businesses have been disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The role of language instruction in learning performance

“Schools that fail to emphasise teaching foreign languages do their students a grave disservice”

Around the world, various countries espouse different attitudes toward language and learning, notes Alyssa Abel of education blog, Syllabusy. She points out that European nations, for example, begin teaching foreign languages in primary school or before while conversely, many American schools do not offer these classes as electives until high school, and several have even eliminated foreign languages as a graduation requirement.

Schools that fail to emphasise teaching foreign languages do their students a grave disservice. Researchers have found a strong relationship between language and learning and its positive impact on academic performance. How can educators motivate their students to expand their linguistic ability beyond their native tongue?

How Does Language Affect Learning?

Research indicates that foreign language instruction bolsters academic performance in many ways — including an upward trajectory in test scores.

In one study, researchers selected random third-grade students to receive Spanish lessons three times per week for one semester. The teacher instructed class entirely in the foreign tongue. The students who received this instruction scored significantly higher in math and language on the Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT) than those who did not. Given the emphasis on these measures when it comes to funding, the practice offers a valuable means to improve overall scholarship.

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Do you speak English? It’s complicated.

“Identifying the gaps in language proficiency for each individual is only the beginning”

Kate Bell is co-author of the EF English Proficiency Index. In this blog, Bell examines how subtleties in employee proficiency affect the types and depth of language training that employers must provide.

From the outside, foreign language proficiency looks simple—either you speak a language or you don’t—but anyone who grew up receiving calls from grandparents abroad or who has worked for a few years in a foreign country knows that most people’s linguistic terrain is more of a swamp than a soccer field.

This is because our language skills develop over the course of decades as a result of inclination, exposure, education, and practice.

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Time for a rethink on English language competency levels for international students?

“[There is a] real concern that we seem to be making it too hard for international students to thrive”


As the year draws to a close, it is a good time to review the news that made the most impact.
Funnily enough, it’s not a Brexit story that has stuck in my mind, but the drip, drip of news stories about accusations of cheating, directed against international students in general and Chinese students in particular.

In January, for example, there was the notorious email from the University of Liverpool international advice and guidance team about exam conduct, which translated the word “cheating” into Chinese but no other foreign language, on the grounds that Chinese students were “usually unfamiliar with the word” in English. A student petition condemned the email as “racially discriminative”.

However, underlying these headline stories is a real concern that we seem to be making it too hard for international students to thrive when they come to the UK to study…

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Cost-effective translation for international education

“Translation is, after all, at the core of the international education experience”

International education is all about teaching and learning across national and linguistic borders. How can institutions and teachers best overcome language barriers and communicate better with foreign languages audiences? 

We consider the different options available: working with professional translation agencies, working directly with translators via freelance networks, and “doing it yourself” with Artificial Intelligence-powered machine translation software. We will consider the pros and cons and relative costs of the various approaches along with best practices, tips and tricks for improving outcomes.

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Will language translation tech ring a death knell for modern language learning?

“100 billion words a day? It is nearly unfathomable that Google’s neural machine translation can accomplish this”

Humans have been trying to find better ways of deciphering different languages for centuries, but it wasn’t until 1949 that the concept of “machine translation” really became a possibility.

According to a paper written by John Hutchins, Yehoshua Bar-Hillel was one of the first ones to take an interest in the field. He led a Georgetown University machine translation team and in partnership with IBM performed a demonstration of an automatic translation machine in 1954 known as the Georgetown-IBM experiment.

It was the height of the cold war, and the machine was capable of translating roughly 250 words from Russian into English. At the time, the demonstration generated a lot of interest, and it was predicted that machine translation would be perfected before 1960. However, computers weren’t advanced enough at this time to handle the complexity of translation, and subsequent experiments for the following few decades were lacklustre at best.

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Which are the easiest and hardest languages to master?

“The average learner would take four times as long to learn Mandarin as they would to learn Spanish”

For most people, mastering another language is no easy feat. However, it is broadly accepted that some languages are easier to learn than others.

It’s a topic that is discussed often and in depth within the translation services industry, as well as by everyone from military personnel to expats. As such, let’s take a look at contenders for the easiest language to master… and the hardest!
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Another ELT school shuts down in Ireland… but a positive outcome

“One student had paid almost €6,000 for both herself and her son for a six-month course, which she thought she had lost”

As reported in The PIE News, LanLearn, an English language school located in Ireland recently closed its doors affecting approximately 150 International students. The closure followed an inspection in January by the Department of Justice and Equality where a number of irregularities were discovered.

A school closure is inevitably very distressing for students who may be unaware of their rights in such circumstances. One Brazilian student affected by the closure had paid almost €6,000 for both herself and her son for a six-month course which she thought she had lost.
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Exploring the Factors Influencing Language Learning

“What we need is to get motivated and immerse ourselves in different cultural experiences when learning a new language”

Educational travel consultant at Edukt Violeta Petkova explores the influencing factors and decisions that young people and adults make when choosing a new language to learn.

A fundamental decision for young people to make is choose which language they want to learn. However, I believe it is not always clear which language is best for them, and may even become confusing because it’s a choice that touches our lives when we decide on a school, college, profession, living space, goals and how we approach challenges.

Sometimes it depends on several factors: a parent´s suggestion, current trends and social surroundings, family background, special books, movies, musical influences, professional development, favourite travel destinations, love stories – there are many personal reasons that can make you think about and reconsider your choice of language.
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