language acquisition

Helping People Understand Each Other

elena-tolmuch_0.jpegIn my childhood my father worked first as a translator and then as an interpreter. So I was able to see both positive and negative sides of the two jobs. I can still visualize him sitting well into the night with sheets of technical texts and dictionaries all over the table. There was no Internet at that time and he had to have my mother by his side as a counsellor on the technical part (she was a computer programmer). I didn’t envy him at all at such moments.

As an interpreter Dad visited more than 30 countries. I could have envied him then if I hadn’t noticed that he was not his own master. He had to accompany foreigners whenever and wherever it was necessary: to the circus, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and so on. His working day wasn’t over with the sunset. He could hardly afford to make any arrangements with friends and I don’t remember a single time when he was able to accompany Mum, sister and me on holiday.

So even entering the faculty of foreign languages I had a very clear idea that I didn’t want to be an interpreter like most of my fellow students. I was sure that although the profession may suit men and unmarried women, it can’t be the choice of a family woman… until I met Elena Tolmuch (ladywdele.org) who seems to be quite happy in her job. I couldn’t miss such an opportunity and asked Elena to answer my eager questions.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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