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The other day at lunch I ran into a friend at McDonalds’s. As we were waiting in the order line, he said, “I feel like you need to know Spanish just to make an order.” As I looked at the pretty girl at the cash register she looked like she could be Mexican. As we got closer, she sounded just like the two of us and I could detect no accent. She sounded like a plain, old Utahan. Her English was perfect … according to anyone from Utah.
As I have reflected on the statement of my friend, I realize that I have frequented many fast food businesses that hire a lot of Spanish people, some with heavy Spanish accents. This also includes hotel, resorts, restaurants and many other service related businesses. Years ago I read an article about a person who hired a lot of people and he commented that he found his best employees were immigrants. He said they worked much harder and were more loyal than the people born in the United States. So when he was looking to hire, his preference was to find someone wanting to work that came from another country.
A few years ago, a man from Mexico worked for me. He was well educated, loyal, honest, resourceful and a very hard worker. Whenever I gave him a job he did it fast and he did it well. I just pointed him in the right direction and let him go at it. He could do construction work; painting, electrical and you name it. He could do it all. As we worked together I found he could even repair my automobile whenever I had a problem. I found he could do anything and everything I needed done.
One day I asked him how he had learned to do so many things. He told me his father owned an auto repair business and he had learned to repair engines and do body work as he was growing up. Then he went to a University in Mexico City and received a Civil Engineering Degree. I found he could do almost anything I needed done. He was an invaluable employee. It took me about a year to find out who he really was.
The one thing I have not told you is that he spoke hardly any English and I spoke hardly any Spanish. We made a great team. We resorted to the use of sign language, pointing, drawing and things like that to communicate and sometimes an interpreter. I found he could read English if I gave him something written down. He could follow diagrams but he couldn’t speak the language. The very sad thing is that I paid him a menial wage and no one would pay him anymore because he could not speak English.
Eventually he went back to Mexico feeling he could make a better living. What a disservice we, as a country, are doing to these immigrants that come to our country looking for the American Dream. These bright, motivated, industrious people could be valuable assets to us … if only we would require them to learn English so they could be more functional. We have wonderful ESL language courses that are easy to us and cover many different languages for people coming here to find their American Dream.
I just read a statement: Get a “brain boost.” I thought, “That’s interesting.” I decided that that is something I could use. Yes, my brain does need boosting. That’s for sure!
Some people try to get a boost from a cup of coffee, a coke, a piece of chocolate cake or just a plain old chocolate. At least these are ways we go about trying to boost ourselves physically. But a “brain boost!” what’s that?
This intrigued me enough to continue reading the article. Here are some of the things it said:
Get a “brain boost” by learning a second language. In 2004 the BBC News told of a study conducted by the University of London of some of their bilingual students. Their findings were that these students had evidence of advanced learning and their brains were more stimulated. There have been other studies indicating that by learning a second language a person can delay dementia with the possibility of keeping their brains functioning better for a longer period of time.
I think what this article is trying to tell us is something like this:
With all of the information we have today about exercising our bodies, scientists are finding there are many advantages to “exercising our brains” as well. Many of us are content to let our TV’s, radios, CD’s and IPod’s do the programming for us.
There is an old computer saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.” If we look at the brain as our computer and the decisions we make on what we put into it as our operating system, we need to decide not to put so much “garbage in.”
Anyway, give it some thought. I have decided to do a better job with my brain. I definitely need a “brain boost” … just in case.
Learn a New Language with Pimseur Method.com. Available on CDs and Downloads.
The Pimsleur Language Teaching Methodology
As noted earlier these FSI learning rates and achievement levels for easy and hard languages are based on learners being trained with a particular FSI Intensive Language Training Program. It is revealing to compare these results with results based on learners using the Pimsleur Self–instructional Language Comprehensive Programs, which consist of three coordinated levels containing 30 audio lessons in each level. Under the Pimsleur Methodology, learners accomplish one 30–minute lesson each and every day.
The Pimsleur method of language training is based upon the assumption that every natural language contains within itself all of the keys to unlock the code of that language. Therefore Pimsleur introduces the learner to any new language by exposing him to spoken language in use i.e. in actual communication. This practice permits the learner to actually “hear” precisely what he needs to hear in order to identify and to understand who is doing what to whom, when, why, and how. In this type of training the learner gains the most powerful aspect of language, which is to be able to hear statements, to understand the situation, and eventually to respond with his own choices.
In short, he will be using all of the meaning–carrying elements human languages have developed over generations to become the incredible tool it has become! What more does a learner of a language need in order to behave as a normal human being and engage in spoken communication with his language community? Teaching him the rules of grammar in English is not an asset he can afford to waste his time on at this stage of his language learning!
All of this essential learning can happen — and be acquired as language–in–use only if the learner is allowed to concentrate on being “exposed” directly to the target language while it is actually–in–use! This means the adult learner can “do his own thing” and having previously developed his linguistic skills, will acquire gradual control of this new language as he did his mother tongue. It will be as natural as talking! And we have made no mention here of the part that learning to re–apply and re–use the same sort of previously acquired linguistic skills will mean to learners. It will also mean they will learn faster and easier and their success will give them the confidence and assurance they need to stay the course of learning!
The important principle in the development of adult spoken–language communication skills training is that learners progress from a compound linguistic system, in which the items of the second language are added to the native language to form a coordinate system. In this coordinate system the two languages can function independently, as appears to be the case with pure bilinguals.
Concerning language acquisition itself, with the exception of those with severe pathologies, everyone who has acquired his native tongue, can, under appropriate conditions, learn to understand, to speak and communicate effectively in additional languages.
A second language will be acquired by a normal human being if and only if particular, whole instances of the language are modeled for him and if his own particular acts of using the language are selectively reinforced. The critical point is that unless a learner has learned them as language–in–use, he has not learned them as language, and that if he has learned enough such instances, he will be able to understand and to effectively communicate in the foreign language.
In second language learning, instructional procedures have a considerable effect in determining the way in which the two languages coexist psychologically. The objective of spoken proficiency levels — effective communication — depends upon the instructional methodology of the teaching/learning Program.
In the space of each Pimsleur lesson of approximately 30 intensive minutes a day, the adult learner will experience real–language use. As he does this, each individual learner builds his own tapestry of language, whether it be in one, or several additional languages, after the first one. Pimsleur learners know they have the power to use languages in real life!
Pimsleur learner’s who follow the schedule of Pimsleur training, will test out as follows, on the ACTFL as well as the FSI Proficiency Scales. The ACTFL (The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) has developed their own official Proficiency Scale as a statement of the general aims and goals for the foreign language teaching profession. ACTFL and the FSI have published equivalencies between the two Scales.
Level I Pimsleur Instruction 30–lessons, after only 15 cumulative hours, you will be at the ACTFL Intermediate–low spoken proficiency, (a FSI –1 rating), able to survive and cope in country; able to ask and answer questions dealing with everyday situations, and as well earn respect and cooperation for your fluency, your pronunciation, and courtesy.
Level II Pimsleur Instruction 30 more lessons, after the second 15 cumulative hours, you will be at the ACTFL Intermediate–mid spoken proficiency, (a FSI –1 rating), able to exchange information about yourself, your family, or associates, and avoid basic cultural errors .
Level III Pimsleur Instruction 30 more Lessons, after the final 15 hours of the Comprehensive Program — for a total of 45 hours of training, you will be at the ACTFL Intermediate–high proficiency, (a FSI –1+ rating), able to participate in casual conversations and conduct everyday transactions with success and pleasure in your achievements.
The use of the ACTFL Proficiency Scale in this publication does not constitute endorsement of any private Enterprise or product by The American Counsel On the Teaching of Foreign Language.
You can see our full line of discounted Pimsleur Method CDs & Downloads at PimsleurMethod.com.
The FSI (Foreign Service Institute) Rating Scale
Most U.S. government agencies use the FSI Absolute Language Proficiency Ratings to measure a prospective employee’s ability to use a foreign language in his work. Once employed, he periodically undergoes the same type of rating as a basis for promotion. The person to be rated is interviewed by one or more trained testers, who are always native speakers. They converse with him for ten to twenty minutes, probing his command of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. Then they pool their judgments to assign him a rating. The lowest rating is 1, the highest 5, and any rating can be modified by a plus or minus.
Each rating designates a particular degree of mastery of the language for business and social purposes:
- Elementary proficiency. The person is able to satisfy routine travel needs and minimum courtesy requirements.
- Limited working proficiency. The person is able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements.
- Minimum professional proficiency. The person can speak the language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations on practical, social, and professional topics.
- Full professional proficiency. The person uses the language fluently and accurately on all levels normally pertinent to professional needs.
- Native or bilingual proficiency. The person has speaking proficiency equivalent to that of an educated native speaker.
How long, one wonders, does it take a person to achieve the minimum 1, and how much longer after that to reach a 2 or a 3?
FSI researchers studied the performance of all their students during a three–year period, noting the ratings they received after various periods of training. Table 1 shows the results for the “easy” languages and for the “hard” languages. Incidentally, the definition of “easy” and “hard” were arrived at by including only Group 1 languages — for the most part the “Romance” languages —under the “easy” languages, while “hard” languages included Groups 2,3, and 4.languages — all other languages — as listed in the second part of the Table below. Whether this is the most valid, or even useful definition of easy and hard to learn languages, depends to a large degree upon whether one feels that language instruction, regardless of learner or teacher preference, must start with each individual learner gradually acquiring an increasing control of the spoken language, before adding written skills, or with the current standard academic approach to avoid language as a spoken skill at first, and work with an eclectic, mixed approach using a written grammar– translation and oral–drill combination, perhaps with a language laboratory, or combinations of film, CD–ROM and/or other equipment. There are advocates on both sides.
“Easy” Languages: (Ratings of FSI students speaking a Group 1 language after specified Periods of training.)
8 weeks (240 hours) 1/1+
16 weeks (480 hours) 2
24 weeks (720 hours) 2+
“Hard” Languages: (Ratings of FSI students speaking a Group 2–4 language after specified Periods of training.)
12 weeks (360 hours) 1/1+
24 weeks (720 hours) 1+ /2
44 weeks (1320 hours) 2/2+ /3
Which Are the “Easy” and “Hard” Languages?
Group 1: French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili
Group 2: Bulgarian, Burmese, Greek, Hindi, Persian, Urdu
Group 3: Amharic, Cambodian, Czech, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Lao, Polish, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
Group 4: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean
In reality, these time estimates are a little lower than they at first appear; holidays and other lost time reduce them by about 10 percent. Nevertheless, the meaning is clear. If you are a language learner of average ability, and you undertake an “easy” language, it will probably take you about 240 hours to get to the first level of mastery in speaking it, and double that to get to Level 2. If you are slower than average at learning languages, allow 50 percent more time, if faster, 50 percent less.
These figures are based on a particular type of instruction: the FSI intensive course where one studies a language for six hours a day, five days a week, in a class of no more than 10 students, led by an experienced linguist and a well–trained native drillmaster. The school is a language–learning paradise, the students are highly motivated, and optimum results are achieved. Yet these estimates are reasonably valid for people who, like most of us, have no choice but to attend a conventional course that meets forty–five minutes a day or a couple of evenings a week.
Human attention is limited. No one can absorb knowledge steadily for six hours a day, week after week; some of the time in intensive courses is necessarily “wasted” in relaxing, clearing one’s mind, or plain daydreaming. Moreover, things that seem confusing one day sometimes clear up by the next, after they have settled into place in one’s mind. This “incubation” factor favors a non–intensive learning schedule. In short, it is not certain that people who spread their language learning over a longer period necessarily require more total hours than those who concentrate. They may even require fewer.
The overriding message is that anyone can learn a foreign language, but some people are quicker at it than others. Still, language learning is a serious commitment, and if one’s aim is to speak it comfortably (say, 2+ on the FSI scale), this is likely to take the equivalent of six months of full–time study.
If your objective is to master the language fully in speech and writing, then you may have to devote at least a year and a half, most of it spent in the foreign country, to reach this objective. A good plan would be to study the language for three to six months at home, and then go to the foreign country for at least a year, during which time you must speak only the foreign language. At the end of this time, you would understand most people and even television and movies, read almost any written matter without a dictionary, and perhaps write with a modicum of style. Adults who go abroad to live find that after several months of getting adjusted to speaking and understanding in everyday situations, they can then begin to penetrate the language and participate in the life of the country.
Some people are dismayed by time estimates that run to hundreds of hours. They feel that this is more time than they are willing to commit. They should reflect on the fact that one year from today they will be one year older whether they undertake this learning task or not. The only question is, whether on that day, they are going to be well along toward mastering the language they have dreamed of knowing, or whether it will still be only a dream.
Here a free Pimsleur Method lesson at www.PimsleurMethod.com.
Learning a new language can be fun and challenging at the same time. Here are six steps that will help accelerate your language learning.
1. Understanding is the most important thing in learning a language, not memorization. You need to study to understand. This is different than just listening. As you listen you need to understand the words and meanings of what is being said. Don’t move on until you get the understanding of the words and the lesson. After you get this meaning it is time to move on to the next lesson.
2. Study at a time and in a place where you can concentrate on the material at hand. This can differ depending on the person. One person can listen and understand while walking, jogging or driving. Another person may find that he must study alone and in a very private place. Know yourself well enough to know what works best for you and then be sure that you consistently follow the same routine that will give you the best results. Effective study is hard work.
3. Study in time increments that keep you fresh. Many people find that when studying a language a 30 minute time period works the best. You focus so intently that trying to go for a longer period of time does not work very well. Be sure to keep your study periods to approximately 30 minutes. Then give yourself a rest until the next day.
4. Study your language each day, every day. Push yourself to keep going. You learn little by little and as time goes on you start to understand your new language and the pieces start to fit together.
5. It is important to try and use what you have learned. Take every chance to say words and phrases to others. You will never learn to speak a new language by just saying things to yourself. Studying a language is not just reading and memorizing, although it encompasses both. You need to use every chance to speak the language in order to acquire that language.
6. Studying is like a job. With time and effort and attention, you can learn to speak the language well. You must learn to think like a native speaker. Learning occurs with repeated practice.
Follow these 6 basic steps and you will quickly be on your way to learning a new language.
Are you ready to learn a new language? Try Pimsleur Method languages courses to quickly and effectively learn to speak a new language. Visit PimsleurMethod.com for more details.
Mexico is a country that lies at the south of North America. It is bordered to the north by the USA, northwest by the Gulf of California, west by the Pacific, south by Guatemala and Belize, and at the east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean. Its geographical features are diverse, it goes from swamp to desert, and from tropical lowland jungle to high alpine vegetation. The people are free spirited and they love socializing. For them, friends and family come first. Mexico is an example of a country that is full of life.
Vacations in Mexico are mostly associated with activities that are under the sun. This country is one of the best places in the world for activities such as surfing, scuba diving, body boarding, fishing and snorkeling. Cabo San Lucas and Cozumel are popular diving hot spots. To those who aren’t ready for scuba diving, snorkeling would do. In the waters of Yucatan Peninsula, you will find the second largest coral reef in the world, perfect for snorkelers who want to explore the exotic sea life. Another exiting must visit is Acapulco. It is considered one of the top tourist spots in Mexico as it is where you can find some of the country’s most elaborate beach resorts, and some of the finest hotels in the world. Another popular beach is San José del Cabo on the Baja Peninsula and on the Caribbean side; Playa Bonita is one of the best. Mexico vacations are a perfect way to catch some sun.
As a country with a rich cultural heritage, Mexicans celebrate a host of important cultural holidays which are often centered on religious beliefs. The religion of the majority in Mexico is Catholicism. A vacation to this place is also a good way to take in some interesting cultural reflections. The most popular among Mexican holidays is The Day of the Dead, also known as All Saints Day. The Day of the Dead is celebrated throughout the country at the 1st of November. It is one of the most sacred and fascinating holidays of Mexico for its travelers. Families honor their own deceased ancestors, along with catholic saints, by creating an altar in their home. This holiday also includes preparation of food which is later enjoyed by the family in a ceremony that celebrates death and life. For travelers who are after the festivals, November 1st is the best time to visit.
Learn a little Spanish before you leave on your trip to Mexico. It is an easy language to learn and will help you have a lot more fun while you are there. Try one of Pimsleur Method’s Spanish free lessons and find out just how fast you can pick it up.
Learning a language is one of our greatest achievements . Every child, brilliant or dull, masters the grammatical complexities of his or her mother tongue with little apparent effort. Some children master a second and even a third language with the same astonishing rapidity. When you think about it, it is truly amazing.
As we know from our experiences, however, as an adult we do not learn a second language quite as easily. The reasons are not yet known, for sure, with certainty. Perhaps our superior ability is a handicap rather than an asset. We don’t know. Language, it seems is best learned inductively (that is, by imitation and practicing of all the items in a language) rather than deductively, or through the application of broad principles.
Learning it inductively means a language is best learned by hearing, learning and speaking the language often.
We hear it by thorough listening. Using your mp3 player can really help. You can do this whether you’re driving or even while you are cooking a meal. Listening is a learned a skill; it is not automatic or instinctive. Listening requires concentration and mental effort. Listening is the Cinderella skill in second language learning and has become an important ability in learning a foreign language. You should take note that, an hour of listening is more effective than many hours spent in a class.
Learning a new language, means spending the time to actually learn, paying attention to words and phrases, and most importantly making sure to relax and enjoy the experience! Don’t be too anxious if you can’t remember everything yet, or cannot comprehend, or can’t even utter a word. It’s alright! Just know that you are learning and getting better at the language just by listening intently. Be sure you spend a lot of time with the language as this would be your best assurance of success.
By attempting to speak the language often you will find that practice makes perfect!
The best advice is to be active, be social, and talk to native speakers when you get the chance. In short, talk when you feel like it and the more you talk the better you will get at your new language..
Clearly, learning a new language has made great advancements over the past few years. No books are required and no of long hours are reqiored inside a classroom. It’s so much fun to learn a new language. By just paying attention to what you hear and by consistently dedicating your time to learn you can make great and rapid progress.
Finally, we come to motivation, which may be the most important and significant consideration in learning any new language. Any one of us can learn, if we want to learn, and will take the time and focus on what we are doing. We must concentrate on the task at hand. This seems to be as true of language learning as of any other discipline, perhaps more so. If we do not want to learn a language thoroughly, we probably will not; if we are strongly devoted to learning it, we will.