English

5 Secrets to Success in Learning a Foreign Language

small_skills.jpgHaving been in the role of both a student and a teacher, I can confess without false modesty that I know the topic of acquiring a foreign language inside out. So I'm going to share my story and some tips I hope you will find helpful.

My Black Sea

Sea.jpgI love water. Which is no wonder for I was born under the Cancer zodiac sign. It makes me feel calm, relaxed and in peace with myself. The proximity of a river, lake and especially sea brings comfort to my life. As to an ocean, I have never seen one.

The Power of Here and Now

here-now.jpgI've always found it difficult to concentrate on here and now. Instead I tend to find myself living either in the past or in the future. Although I am well aware that multi-tasking is a myth, it's hard for me to focus on what I'm doing at the moment without thinking of my future plans or giving inner feedback on the activities I have accomplished (or, more often, haven't accomplished). One of my favourite quotations is "Take one step at a time" though I have failed to live up to it so far.

Word Nymph's Point of View

monica-welch_0.jpgMonica Welch runs a wonderful blog "Word Nymph" where among other subjects she raises language issues. Being a keen observer, Monica never leaves any ambiguous or difficult word matters that come her way without investigating into them. The results of her thorough analyses are enjoyed and discussed by her blog readers. Being one of them, I found myself interested in what stands behind the blog and asked Monica for an interview.

A Road to God

Cathedral-8_0.jpgAlthough I can't call myself a very religious person, several times a year I feel an urge to get away from everything and feel closer to God. At such moments 300 km north in the morning and the same 300 km back in the evening does not seem a long way to go. We pack some snacks and primary necessities and start as early as we can in order to be back before bedtime.

The road is familiar. The first landmark is so called Russian Venice: a number of houses standing by the edge of water. Then a city named Nizhny Tagil. Finally the cafe where we unalterably have dinner approaching which means we are near our destination. All along the way on both sides of the road there are woods. Sometimes we stop and get out of the car to stretch our legs and let our daughter  give vent to the accumulated energy. But after seeing a snake one day we don't go deep into the woods any more.

What is the Best Age to Learn a Foreign Language?

small_discussion.jpgThe fact that my father dealt with native English speakers in his job as an interpreter didn’t facilitate my learning the language when I went to a Russian school with English bias at the age of seven. I encountered a lot of difficulties and didn’t make good progress in understanding grammar. It resulted in my inability to communicate in English in India where I had to spend seven months of my life being a ten-year-old. I only began to understand English grammar taking lessons from a private teacher before entering the institute. An idea began to form in my mind that it would be great to teach my future child to speak two languages at once.

The Art of Living

cameron-brooks-2_0.jpgStopping by someone’s blog, I always read the “About” page first. Here is what I read about Cameron:

"Cameron Brooks has a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and is a third-grade teacher. When he is not practicing tai chi or chi gong with his students, you may find him planting succulents in unlikely planters such as old skateboard decks, helmets, or broken seashells. In addition to writing essays and reviews for Literacyhead, Cameron is also a surfer, a skateboarder, a vegan chef, and a photographer."

I was pleased to find a lot in common. I did not only meet a colleague but also noticed some of the things Cameron is interested in attract me as well.  But there is a huge difference between us: we belong to different cultures. I decided to ask Cameron a number of questions and he kindly agreed to answer them. 

Hey from Japan - Notes on Moving

small_world-flags.jpgToday I'm happy to introduce you Emily Cannell, an American currently living in Japan. Emily is running a wonderful blog where she describes her family's adventures in a completely different culture. It may sound a bit strange but I especially enjoy reading her culture lessons learned the hard way. Meet Emily and her guest post.

Envy: a Motivator or a Brake

envy.jpgRecently I have noticed myself mention the word "envy" a couple of times. It set my philological and also psychologically-oriented mind thinking. As the term is not normally very widely used, I decided to investigate into the matter.

It always makes sense to start with a definition. Here is how Wikipedia defines envy.

A Girl with a Pencil in her Hand

Eden-Glenn_0.jpgI found Eden Glenn’s blog through the keyword “story”. Having learned the first thing about writing a story, I decided to stay a bit longer. Soon I knew that Eden is an aspiring author who is learning the craft of writing and sharing both her knowledge and experience. A short time later I discovered that Eden is a very hospitable, warm-hearted and outgoing person. To my great joy, Eden agreed to an interview. 

Foreign Languages without a Teacher

Yulia-Gorbunova_0.jpgBrowsing the web, I came across a blog called Lingvaroom. Not being a language-learner myself, I was just about to leave when my eye was caught by the website mission statement: “Learning English, Spanish and Italian on our own”. I got interested. Nearly twenty years of teaching experience told me it is impossible to learn languages on one’s own. My common sense told me it is impossible to learn languages with the help of a website. So I decided to ask Yulia Gorbunova, the blog author, for an interview and she consented to answer my questions.

Blog Entry or Story?

blogging.jpgHaving become a blogger, I was surprised to find myself interested in such a thing as writing. I came to believe that inside every blogger there is a writer.

When you come to think of it, a blog entry is like a story in many ways. As a blog author first of all I have to form an idea of what I'm going to write about, then develop it, trying to keep my entry quite short. Like a story, a blog entry has to have its readers, without whom it can't be complete and whose comments add very much to its appeal.

My View of Saint Petersburg

St-Petersburg.jpgIf you don't know, I can tell you that Saint Petersburg (former Leningrad) is situated on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful Russian city. Those who have been there once, always long to return there and quite a number of repeat visitors begin to dream of living there.

That is exactly what happened to me: my first trip to St. Petersburg took place when I was a schoolgirl and it made me fall in love with the city forever. After my first year at the university, I returned there with a friend.We were having such a great time seeing the sights of the city, that we decided to stay there. Unfortunately, St. Petersburg University didn't agree to transfer us. During my third stay I spent a whole month in the city of my dream and learned really a lot about it. But notwithstanding all the time spent there I can't say that I know the city inside out.

Anger and Fear

anger-fear.JPGAs a rule, a certain period in my life is marked by a certain emotion. Happiness changes sadness, energy comes after frustration and so on.

A very long time ago I noticed that anger goes hand in hand with fear. Let me make my point clear. When I felt anger for a number of days, I knew that after that fear would come and vice versa. Sometimes it felt like a vicious circle from which it could be rather difficult to disentangle myself. At other times I was gripped by the two emotions simultaneously: I might behave aggressively feeling fear inside or, on the contrary, showed fear and meekness while feeling anger. All this made me wonder, for I couldn't approach understanding the mechanism. 

Meeting your Past Selves

forest.jpgOnce surfing the web I came across the idea of writing a letter to my past self, which I liked. Some time passed and I found myself still remembering the idea and wanting to develop it into a meditation. As it is a great deal better to meditate to music, I'd recommend you to start the music you'll find inside first and only then read the post. The meditation will be more effective if you stop reading to answer each question and close your eyes. 

Meditation with Pens and Paper

pen-paper-1.JPGIt’s quite easy to relax and go deep inside one’s self while drawing. Unfortunately, not everyone can draw and there are many people who feel perplexed at the sight of a clean sheet of paper. Before I got to know this technique, I felt the same.

To draw such a picture you’ll need a sheet of A4 paper, as many coloured gel pens as possible and a few hours of time to spare.

Why do Russians Learn English?

small_personal-story.jpegToday I am happy to introduce you my former student. Vera saw me three times a week for a little over a year. During that time she achieved very good results. It is not an easy job to begin speaking a foreign language when you are in your thirties, no matter how early they are. But Vera's motivation was very strong indeed and it was what kept her moving on. Well, she is going to tell you everything herself. Meet Vera.

It's too Hot

hot-soup.jpgNow I am a great fan of Indian cuisine. But it wasn’t love at first glance. My first acquaintance with it took place when I was ten and I was far from liking it.

At the time we were staying at a hotel called ‘Rajdoot’ in Delhi. My four-year-old sister and I adored the hotel: there was a swimming-pool in front of it and it was fun going down to the restaurant for our meals three times a day.

The Postbag

letters.jpegWhen I was ten years old, my father was sent on a long-term business trip to India. My mother, my 4-year-old sister and I were to accompany him.

In Delhi we checked into a luxurious hotel paid for by the employer. Everything was provided for us as we had no rupees of our own. After staying there for a few days we were to continue our journey. Our destination was Ranchi, a city in the northeast of India.

Contacting one's True Self

contacting-self.jpgThere are times in everyone's life when we feel uncertain what decision to take or what it is that we really want. It means that our contact with our true selves has temporarily been lost.

A few years ago I was shown an interesting technique that helps in restoring the lost contact. From that time on I have been using it whenever I need advice.

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