Read to write

Many decades ago, there was a young girl who would stay up late at night, reading with a torch under the blankets. If a light was seen under the door, she'd feel her mother's wrath. She'd speed through piles of library books, win prizes in MS readathon competitions, and go on fortnightly restocking trips to trash and treasure markets, where … [Read more...]

Writing isn’t just for writers

We've heard over and over again that successful people, happy people, entrepreneurs and creatives write every day. Daily writing: reduces depression reduces stress and anxiety increases coping skills increases productivity increases happiness and even improves your problem solving skills and creativity. You could build a morning … [Read more...]

Daily language learning hacks

If you are like me, your language learning motivation waxes and wanes, with the weather, with a changing daily workload and social appointments, and with tiredness and stress. Recently, my workload has increased, and I'm running around like a headless chicken chasing appointments, sometimes every single day of the week. It hasn't left me with … [Read more...]

Simplified language is not stupid

When I was doing my honors project in Computer Science, I was regularly criticized for making my papers and literature reviews too readable, too understandable. As if being understood is a bad thing! I was told that I could 'get away with it' when in honors, but it would absolutely be forbidden for me to write that way if I had continued into … [Read more...]

When you get stuck

I've been stuck a few times when learning Japanese and German. Mostly it's because I didn't want to leave my 'comfort zone'. I'm an extreme introvert, so meeting and talking with new people makes me terribly anxious, sometimes even sick to my stomach. Sometimes it has been because I doggedly stuck to one particular book or strategy that … [Read more...]

Written homework is important for conversation classes

You've reached a certain level of ability and confidence, and now want to join a conversation class. Great choice! One conversation class per week is recommended by the local language school. Enrolled! You are nervous at the beginning of the conversation course (who isn't), but muster courage and turn up each week. In class, you speak as … [Read more...]

How to be an independent learner

Have you ever sat through a class, been bored out of your mind, and not remembered anything that was covered? I have, many times! It can be a combination of a dry topic, how the topic is being taught, how the other students in the class are participating, the stuffiness in the room, and even how you are feeling at that particular time. The … [Read more...]

Australian animals – word search

One of the first handouts I made for my Japanese classes in 2010 was a word find puzzle, with a large number of Australian animals. It was probably one of the most popular lessons, as the students raced to be first and receive Australian stickers as prizes. They were surprised at some of the animals that could be found in Australia - camels, … [Read more...]

Motivation and language learning

It's common to hear "this year I'm going to learn ... Spanish, because I'm going to Spain for a holiday at the end of the year." Or, "I desperately want to learn Japanese. It would be cool to be able to watch anime without subtitles." Or, "I want a raise, and to get it I need to improve my English." You get all fired up and motivated at … [Read more...]

30 Travel Idioms

Idioms are used regularly in every-day spoken language. Even beginners are faced with idioms if they travel to an English speaking country for a holiday. That's why it's important to include idioms in all levels of language courses. Plus they are fun, and help with vocabulary learning and recall because they paint bold pictures in our … [Read more...]