Saturday, September 29, 2007

The 9 Best World Travel Destinations for English Teachers

The 9 Best

When the publishers of the Lonely Planet travel guides issued their annual list of the best travel destinations for this year there were a few surprises. Gone were some of the over-priced, over-crowded tourist traps of previous years. There are some new entries to peak the curiosity and provide ever-expanding new vistas and experiences for the crowd-weary world traveler and English as a foreign language teachers.

Here’s a partial list in reverse order.

9. Germany An old favorite that still can pull its weight with the tourism crowd and one of only two European entries that made the list, Germany has much to offer. More than just Oktoberfest, beer and sausages, travelers can delight in specialties from each of the country’s regions.

8. Colombia A stunning surprise entry on the list for the first time, Colombia may be know for its drug-trafficking and civil war violence, but it’s also the world’s leading producer of fine emeralds. It’s the world’s second leading producer of coffee after Brazil, but the quality of the rich, mild coffee produced here is second to none. One of South America’s most beautiful countries, scenic delights range from still-active volcanoes like the smoldering Galeras to the bubbling mud spews of Totumo near Colombia’s Atlantic coast.

photo: A Rhinocerous Beetle from the tropical rain forests of Colombia

7. India Mythical, mysterious, enchanting and a hundred more adjectives besides, how could this wondrous place not be on anyone’s wish list of travel destinations? A large percentage, up to 75%, of the population living in large cities speaks at least passable English. I’m surprised it’s only number eight. But it is on the list and deservedly so. Food, festivals, culture and history pour into the streets at every turn

6. Canada June, July and August are peak tourism months for the USA’s giant Northern neighbor. English is the language of all Canada’s provinces with French being the language of choice in the province of Quebec. There are marvelous winter festivals in Quebec City and francophone Montreal to delight the senses for willing to brave the frigid minus forty and below temperatures. There’s plenty to keep you warm though.

5. Antarctica Not only know as “that frozen continent at the bottom of the world”, Antarctica is now featured in a number of commercials and travel ads. But with temperatures ranging from degrees F to degrees F, “What’s the attraction?” you might ask. More than you might imagine. There’s not exactly a shortage of wildlife despite daytime temps in the minus teens on a “warm” day. Marine life is also abundant as are formations of ice and snow on the glaciers that the continent feeds. Wanna play with the penguins, anyone? The experience of being there itself is a unique, one-of-a-kind adventure that draws many. Stormy Cape Horn and the beauty of wind swept Patagonia are also near. Scientific expeditions from a number of countries are nearly always in progress. At times the place is not unlike Grand Central Station. Antarctica is certainly not for everyone, but it does have its charms.

4. Mexico Long a favorite destination of North Americans from the USA and Canada, what’s not to like about this country famous for hot chili peppers and even hotter senoritas? From the beach to bullfights, you can find nearly any form of diversion you like. Skiing in Mexico? You betcha. Mt. Orizaba, North America’s second highest peak is south of the border.

3. Nicaragua With a stable economy and rock-bottom real estate bargains, this country has caught the eye of investors and ex-pats looking for scenic locales and tranquility. Once torn by civil strife, conditions have reversed and improved to the point it’s now a tourism destination for in the know and savvy on Central American affairs.

2. China With one billion, three hundred million inhabitants, the world’s most populous country has awakened from its “sleeping giant” image to thrust its presence onto the world scene with a vengeance. Authentic Chinese food, not that “cloned” stuff you get at the chain franchises, awaits you in a variety and abundance that must be experienced to be believed. The Chinese eat and drink things that will absolutely amaze and astound you – and they make it look good too. From the world renowned Great Wall, the only man-made structure visible from outer space, to vast stretches of seemingly as yet unexplored country, even the Chinese are still turning up discoveries and treasures in their own midst.

1. Argentina It takes two to Tango as they say. If you want to try your hand at Argentina’s national pastime, here’s definitely the place. For meat lovers this is paradise as the beef here is among the best in the world and certainly the best in South America. The beef here is not only great, but there’s plenty of it and it’s cheap by U.S. and European standards. Gauchos, as Argentine cowboys are called, still abound on the grassy pampas and plains that comprise most of the country. There are tours, “tenderfoot” home stays at ranches and plenty of open spaces for a roundup of experiences that’ll leave you wanting more. Be sure to wash down all that succulent tender roast beef with locally produced wines that are surprisingly good at even more surprisingly affordable prices.

So there you have it, the top ten travel destinations from the Lonely Planet publishers. Where would you like to go this year? Forget the “old favorites” temporarily. Step out; try something new and different for a change.


Fish for Piranha in the Amazon region of Colombia, or Bull sharks off its Pacific coast. Explore China’s historical, cultural and epicurean delights. Oomph, Pah, Pah your way through Germany’s scores of different sausages and hundreds of varieties of malted brews. Carve an original ice sculpture in Quebec City, laughing at the record cold temperatures all the way. Fish or canoe one of Canada’s unspoiled lakes with water so pure you can drink it.

Whichever direction the wind blows you, you’re bound to enjoy experiences and sights to last a lifetime.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Moving to Mexico? Here’s where to Get Information in English

Questions From Readers

If you’re thinking of moving to Mexico, here’s where to get information online in English. These questions were sent in by some of my readers, who wrote:

We, as a family, have an interest in potentially moving to Mexico. First, we are looking for a southern California type climate; low humidity without the scorching heat. Secondly, we are looking for lower crime rate as we come from a small mid-west town. Finally, we are looking for a site(s) with an all around knowledge of Mexico and her weather.


Photo: the Parrish church of San Miguel at the Parque del Castillo in Orizaba



My Response

Having spent four years researching and writing about living and English language teaching employment opportunities in Mexico, I found the country to be interesting, climatically quite varied, culturally diverse and exceptionally livable. Although individual (and family) preferences will vary, with thousands of cities and towns, and almost every imaginable climate represented across a population of more than 100 million people, there are certainly a considerable number of choices available to you not matter what.

Briefly, there are three main sites in English you should try first.

If you read Spanish there are many more interesting sites searchable on Google which will allow you to listen to as well as watch local documentaries, radio and news.

First check out these three available in English:

http://www.visitmexico.com/wb/Visitmexico/Visi_Home?show=regions
http://esp.mexico.com/eng/index.html

http://www.enjoymexico.net/

The Heat and Humidity

If you're concerned about the heat and humidity (and who wouldn’t be?), then northern Mexico and cities such as Monterrey and Hermosillo are likely not for you. Cities and towns in or near desert areas like the cities of Chihuahua or Torreon will also not likely make your list. Perhaps you'd find mountain and / or mountain valley locations like mid-sized Xalapa (also sometimes spelled Jalapa), the mountain vista town of Orizaba, at the base of Mexico’s highest peak, Pico de Orizaba, or the city-in-the-clouds, San Cristobal de las Casas, more suitable. Even if you choose a smaller town like colonial Tlaxcala or mystic Tepoztlan, you should try to be near enough to a large city for a least a day or weekend trip. Central Mexican colonial towns like Morelia, Queretaro or Irapuato may lack sufficient entertainment, shopping or technological resources for you, but that would be up to you.

The Top Three

Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey are very large metropolitan areas and do not offer anything even remotely close to a “small town” living atmosphere. You may however, want to consider a nearby smaller suburban community. The Lake Chapala region near Guadalajara supports a 50,000 plus population of English-speaking ex-pats. The cities of Puebla and Toluca are commuting distance from Mexico City and allow for a slower pace of colonial life while being in proximity to the world-class facilities offerings of Mexico’s largest metropolis.

I hope this information is sufficient to get you started in your possible Mexico relocation plans. Also, detailed city and cultural information on Mexico is occasionally posted here at my English language teaching and learning blog.

Please let me know if there's anything else I can do for you.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Do You or Your English Language Learners Believe in Ghosts?

It’s That Time Again

One object of the English language teacher should be to convert and present existing available materials in different ways as an aid for foreign language learners to assimilate and internalize themes using a variety of learning styles and multiple intelligences.

It’s the fall of the year. Now I don’t believe in ghosts, spooks, witches, black magic, goblins, monsters (except the two-legged kind) or any of that sort of thing, but the students’ thoughts tend towards that direction during this time of year, so I “take advantage” of it.

How?

Try Out an Example or Two

Do You or Your English Language Learners Believe in Ghosts? Take an interesting season-related movie or video. Show it and prepare pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing activities based on the video. Have a relevant discussion, composition or oral report as a product for each learner. “It’s difficult to read in English”, one EFL language learner relates, “but I understand better when we finish all the activities with the teacher”. One film I like for this is the Walt Disney animated version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” as detailed in the article, “The Headless Horseman Rides Again” (posted online).

Another expanded lesson series the learners also like is based on the “Goosebumps” readings series by R.L. Stine (Scholastic Press). Use one of the books (or even an individual chapter) to generate role plays, dialogues and vocabulary-based exercises so that learners interact to a much greater degree with the book or chapter material and themes. “Sometimes I wish for more pictures”, another English language learner comments, “so I was glad to see the art work that we created as homework”.

Additional Activities

Some easily-prepared additional activities and exercises which can be generated from such a text include:

Role plays
Dialogues
Vocabulary matching
Word search and crossword puzzles
Fill-in-the-blanks
True – false exercises
Error correction
A combination of any of the above-mentioned exercises and activities

There are many other interesting possibilities.

“Having different activities with the readings works better for me”, a learner with reading comprehension difficulties says.

Whether you believe in ghosts, spooks, monsters and such or not, many learners are superstitious based on cultural and regional or ethnic beliefs. Take advantage of this time of year to expand on that theme to generate greater depth in your English as a foreign language and EFL classroom reading comprehension activities. Try out the “Goosebumps”, “Fear Street” and other series by R.L. Stine or many additional fall holiday-themed books, videos and movies to help boost your learners’ motivation and language skills. The Headless Horseman rides again.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to Develop English or Foreign Language Fluency So Fast It’ll Surprise Even You

Do You Talk Too Much?

Have you ever noticed someone “talking” to themselves? What did you think? The words “crazy” or “nuts” probably popped into your mind.

Wait a minute though. Maybe they’re on to something.


“Excuse me?”

I mean, talking to yourself, i.e., speaking practice, can be effective in many different forms when learning English or another foreign language. Mimicking or imitating the speech of others is proven to be highly effective in developing native speaker level fluency in a language. You’ve already proven that to yourself.

How? That’s how you learned your first language (L1) whether it’s English, Spanish, French or some other language. You “mimicked” your Mother, Father, family, friends, teachers and whoever else was around making “talking” noises at you as you formed communicative language skills.

So don’t knock the “crazy” who’s talking to themselves. At least don’t knock it until you’ve tried it for yourself, in English or your new foreign language. Hey, do you remember comedian Groucho Marx? He did it all the time. If it worked for him, it can also work for you.

Conversations with the Id

As you go through your day, in English or your new foreign language, tell yourself what you’re doing at the moment and what you’re going to be doing during the day.

“I’ll have to buy some new safety razors next time I’m in the supermarket. This one’s starting to get dull”, you say aloud to yourself while shaving.

“Which of these shirts, ties, ties, etc. should I wear today? Not this one, I wore it just last week. Maybe this one, but I don’t like this color with these pants. Let’s try another one”, you might say as you are getting dressed.

If you live alone no problem, you can talk aloud all you want without any external consequences except for the dog or cat giving you “that look”. If you don’t live alone however, then first explain to your family or roommates what you’ll be doing, that is talking aloud, to avoid a quiet phone tip to the community mental health emergency via a 911 call while you’re in the shower.

Other Sources for Mimicking

For some other useful sources for mimicking practice, pick out a newscaster or announcer on the radio or TV. Record a segment of their broadcast for a few minutes. Then you have “seed” material you can use during any down time you might have. Movie clips and scenes, TV and radio commercials, soap operas, even local exclamations, expressions and advertising slogans can all help to springboard your fluency at breakneck speeds.

So mimic anyone and everyone you can, and talk aloud to yourself daily for even more speaking practice. Does this sound “crazy”, maybe, but like the Nike commercial says, “just do it”, and you’ll develop English, Spanish, French or other foreign language speaking fluency so fast it’ll surprise even you.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Saturday, September 22, 2007

English and Foreign Language Teachers: Safeguard Your Voice Part 2


English and Foreign Language Teachers and Speaking Professionals: Safeguard Your Voice Part 2



When it’s absolutely essential that English and foreign language teachers, actors, politicians, singers, public speakers, sales personnel and other professionals whose voice is their fortune to constantly safeguard their speaking abilities, these additional deadly enemies of your voice need to be considered. In the first part of this article we mentioned the effects of extreme temperatures, tobacco and harsh foods. We continue now with other major voice-affecting conditions you should be aware of.

Medical Conditions

A wide variety of medical conditions can also be factors in proper care of your speaking voice and should not be ignored when you have frequent or extensive speaking including in your normal regimen. Medical conditions to consider include:

The need for constant yelling or screaming – these put an extensive strain on the voice and can cause physical damage as well. English as a foreign language teacher Oscar Jimenez says, in this regard, “When I have to raise my voice to talk over a noisy class, I get problems with my voice from having to strain to talk loudly.”

Colds, flu or throat and respiratory infections – symptoms of these can range from virtually nil through mild to severe and should be medically attended to well before a speaking engagement is considered.

Respiratory problems – anything from a minor infection, flare-up or asthma can negatively impact your ability to speak clearly and fluently, especially for an extended period of time.

Nodules, polyps and paralysis – whether of the face, neck, throat muscles or other respiratory and speech-related structures, these should be attended to by a qualified physician or therapist without undue delay.

Acid Reflux, allergies and Stress – Although acid reflux is a stomach-related condition it often causes throat problems. Allergies can heavily impact the throat’s structures and respiratory system. Stress can also cripple your ability to deliver a well-modulated oral discourse. If you are highly stressed, try several relaxation or stress-relief methods until you find at least a couple that work well for you. Then use them as needed to minimize the effects stress has on you.

Physician Guillermo Velasco, MD likewise reminds us that, “Nasal obstructions can cause an increase in mouth breathing which places a heavier load on the throat producing a higher incidence of bronchitis.”

Environmental Conditions

With the oft-polluted conditions we live in it’s a wonder we’re not even sicker more frequently than we are. Environmental factors can obviously play a huge role on our abilities to breathe, speak and even converse normally. Consider as examples, the following environmental factors like smoky, dusty and sandy environments which force us to breathe air that is filled with:

Smoke



Dust – Another English as a foreign language teacher, Colin Jacobs, offers this contribution, “The first two or three weeks of the semester, dust and cold air from the air conditioning system cause me throat problems. My voice cracks or my speaking volume changes unexpectedly.”

- Sand
- Powders or chemicals
- Solvents
- Yeasts or other biological agents
- Microscopic organisms
- Chemical gasses
- Manufacturing process odors and chemical agents

Summary

In addition to considering the above conditions in the care of your voice, pay extra attention to see a doctor, speech therapist or specialist if you:

- Have frequent cases of sore throat
- Need to “clear your throat” frequently for extended periods of time
- Experience difficulty or tiredness when speaking extensively
- Develop a persistent or heavy cough for any reason

So if you can’t imagine even one day of work without a voice, consider these suggestions for combating enemies of your speech. Take care to safeguard your voice.




Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Friday, September 21, 2007

English and Foreign Language Teachers: Safeguard Your Voice Part 1

English and Foreign Language Teachers and Speaking Professionals: Safeguard Your Voice

It is absolutely essential that English and foreign language teachers, public speakers, sales personnel, singers, actors, politicians and other professionals whose voice is their fortune safeguard their speaking abilities. Can you imagine even one day at work without having a voice? How about a week “sans voice”? Could you manage a speechless month? You think not?
Then consider these front line enemies to the care of your voice.

Enemies of the Voice

The following factors can all influence and affect your voice and its qualities in a negative way. At all times possible, any and all of these factors should be avoided, eliminated or at the very least, as highly controlled as possible. See your doctor for further medical assistance with these voice-affecting factors.

Extremes in Temperature

-Drinking very hot or very cold beverages – hot coffee, tea, chocolate or toddies can burn, overheat or damage the sensitive linings of the mouth and throat

- Drinking very cold beverages – albeit refreshing to quaff, a very cold beverage on a hot day or when you’re feeling parched consider sipping your beverage, not gulping it down. Beverages that are room temperature refresh just as well without subjecting sensitive tissues to extreme temperatures

- Heating, air conditioning, drafts – these can also cause chills and rapid temperature changes to the tissues of the neck and throat

Tobacco Use

Smoking – the hazards of smoking certainly need not be expounded on here. The tars and nicotine that cigar and cigarette smoke contain have a definite negative effect on your mouth, lungs, nasal and throat passages including the larynx or voice box. These negative effects can be difficult, time-consuming or even nearly impossible to reverse in some cases

Chewing – The constant draining and flow of tobacco elements in chewing tobacco make it no better than smoking and possibly even worse due to the higher concentrations of tars, nicotine and other chemicals that may be present. Tobacco chewers often have problems with “upset stomach”.

Sniffing or Dipping – these are virtually the same as chewing tobacco and like chewing can also affect the nasal passages, teeth, gums, mouth linings and throat tissues down to and including the larynx

Harsh Foods

There are an extensive number of foods which should be avoided before, during and after a scheduled oral presentation of any kind. Foods which can negatively impact the body structures associated with speech include:

- Hard-fried, baked or extra crunchy foods – potato chips, pretzels, snacks and other baked, fried or confectionary goods

- High salt content foods – Okay, so I’m guilty, I love salty French fries and salt-cured meats, but these are definitely to be avoided anytime near a speaking presentation as they can represent a severe shock to the throat, mucous membranes and linings of the throat and mouth

- High acid content foods and drinks – Foods and drinks with a very high acidic content aren’t exactly the cat’s meow when it comes to public speaking either. This includes such favorites as lime and lemonade, sour and bitter tropical fruits and those with a very strong odor, flavor or pulp texture.

Summary

In addition to considering the above conditions in the care of your voice, pay extra attention to see a doctor, speech therapist or specialist if you:

- Have frequent cases of sore throat
- Need to “clear your throat” frequently for extended periods of time
- Experience difficulty or tiredness when speaking extensively
- Develop a persistent or heavy cough for any reason

So if you can’t imagine even one day of work without a voice, consider these suggestions for combating enemies of your speech. In part two of this article, we’ll consider some additional factors affecting your speaking ability. Take care to safeguard your voice.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Using Movies to Improve Your English Language Speaking Skills in One Week or Less

Oh Say Have You Seen …

Have you seen the “Star Wars” saga? Remember the funny, short, long-eared green character named “Yoda”? Well, he’s quite an interesting character for English as a foreign language teachers and learners to study because of the way he speaks English. He doesn’t speak incorrectly, but his word order in particular is specialized and unique. Can you tell why?

Who hasn’t seen any of the “Harry Potter” series of movies? While reading the books by J.K. Rowling can be more interesting, the movies lend themselves well to use by English language teachers and learners too. The groundskeeper, the giant Hagrid, speaks an exemplary version of northern British English that can serve as a distinct model.

The Plan

Whether on VHS or DVD, select scenes in which the character you wish to model speaks. You, the EFL English teacher, can prepare the script directly from the movie scenes or use the original dialogues from the book. A practical sequence might go as follows:

Play the selected scene and dialogue

Rewind and replay, but now you, the learner, are the character.

Mimic the character’s speech and dialogue

Repeat the mimicking process as much as you need to for improvement

Try recording your voice at the same time you’re speaking at the beginning of the process

Practice multiple times for at least three to five days

On the last day of your mimicking practice session series, record yourself again.

Now listen to your first efforts and compare them to your latest recordings. You should notice some considerable improvement. Select yet another scene from the same movie with a dialogue from the same character, if possible and repeat the process.

Don’t Stop There

Once you’ve gone through a couple of different scenes or so of mimicking the same or different characters, you’ll definitely have noticeably greater ease and fluency in speaking. Besides, it’s usually quite a lot of fun, especially if you work with a friend, classmate or partner. But don’t stop there, look for other scenes and movie clips that you can use.

Some of My Favorites

How about trying other films by your preferred actor or actress? A variety of English language speech models will help to broaden your range of listening comprehension as well as aid in rounding out your pronunciation of connected speech elements. There are a slew of actors and actresses with noteworthy speech in the English language who can have you speaking like a native in very short order. There are also, unfortunately, some whose speech is more reminiscent of something the cat drug in.

These actors are normally good English language speech models which I like to use with my EFL learners:

Harrison Ford
Sidney Poitier
Sean Connery
Pierce Brosnan
Clint Eastwood
Brendan Fraser
Danny Glover
James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J)
John Travolta

These actresses are normally good English language speech models which I also like to use with my EFL learners:

Angelina Jolie
Sandra Bullock
Julia Roberts
Angela Bassett (pictured above)
Halle Berry
Cameron Diaz
Reese Witherspoon

Remember to check out the speech of Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies and Yoda in the Stars Wars saga. You’ll find them and many other characters excellent models of what to say (or NOT to say).


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

They Eat What! Latin America's Most Exotic Foods - Part 2

They Eat WHAT!

If you’re teaching English as a foreign language abroad, you can expect changes in foods ranging from the simple to the outrageous as we noted in yesterday's part 1 of this series.

So you’re back for more, huh? Well if I didn’t get to you in part one with “treats” from Colombia, Brazil and Mexico you’re gonna just love what you’ll get here in part two of this three-part series. We’re going to travel into the jungles of Colombia and up into the high Andes mountain range in Ecuador to introduce you to some “Eye-opening”, high-flying specialties that’ll make partly-cooked greasy pork liver seem like “Haute Cuisine”. Hungry yet? Tighten up your belts then and let’s continue our culinary tour.

Three-Toed Sloth
Called “Oso Perezoso” (lazy bear) in Spanish, these dense-haired, slow moving creatures live off of jungle foliage and leaves. You would think they’d be easy to catch, but in fact, they can live high up in the trees and be extremely difficult to spot. Cleaning and preparing to cook one takes several hours. Most of time being spent just to remove the coarse, dense hair which is done by dipping the carcass in boiling water and painstakingly scraping or pulling the hair off. The result is worth it though as it has the most delicious meat I’ve ever tasted when cooked in a thick, rich stew. Sloths are kept as pets since they’re actually quite harmless despite having up to four-inch long claws.
In the Cartagena photo above, English as a foreign language teacher Geny Vidal, from the southern Colombia city of Popayan, cuddles someone else’s pet sloth.

Bofe

Pronounced “bow-fay”, the dried, roasted lungs of a cow are this snack food. Often available at airport restaurants and street food vendors in Colombia, it’s a somewhat acquired taste, but not one that’s unpleasant by any means. Most people simply have to get past the thought of what it is (believe me; you DON’T want to see it before it’s cooked). It’s difficult and time-consuming to prepare. Ready to eat, it’s a dark, unappetizing looking concoction cut into bite-sized cubes for easy munching.

Vulture
Yup, you read right – Buzzard, is eaten in some towns in the Central Highlands of Ecuador. It’s caught, plucked and thoroughly cleaned (I wouldn’t want THAT job!). The high Andes mountain range runs from Colombia south through to Chile and is home to vast flocks of Condors. Condors are carrion-eating birds. I don’t have to tell you what “carrion” is, do I? The cleaned, prepared bird is normally prepared in soup with seasonings, broth and vegetables like yucca, potato, plantain, celery and carrots.

Cow’s Eye
Ever wonder what happens to the “unwanted” parts of food animals like the reproductive organs? Well in Latin countries, these parts are eaten same as the rest of the animal. Consisting mostly of liquid, cow’s eye is sold fresh, of course. It’s most frequently cooked by being stirred into a hot pot of chocolate and served as a drink or a thick “soup” of sorts. Although it’s relatively common and popular in Colombia, I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Several of my acquaintances say the concoction’s quite tasty.

How would YOU like to try it?

In part one of this three-part series, we traveled through Brazil, Colombia and Mexico to sample ants, piranha and green iguana. In part two you were introduced to sloth, vulture and cow’s eye and lungs. In the final part of this series you’ll meet more exotic foods. From the Pacific coast to the mountain highlands of the Peruvian Andes we’re going to rock you with even more “treats” of Latin America you’ll never forget. Brace yourself for this one. It’s definitely NOT for pansies.
If you’d like to get part three of this series “They Eat What! Latin America’s Most Exotic Foods”, please e-mail me at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com . I’ll be waiting.

Bon Appetit!

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

They Eat What! Colombia’s Most Exotic Foods Part 1

They eat WHAT!

They’re horrid, ghastly, gross, unthinkable, gut-wrenching, wonderful, savory and delicious. These are but a few of the adjectives used to describe commonly eaten fare “south of the border” from Mexico to Peru. The expression, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” has never seen more fruition than evidenced in these “exotic” foods found throughout Latin America. Just feast your eyes on these typical taste-tempting treats from Colombia.

Iguana

Starting off our list is a common delicacy from the Pacific Coast of Colombia and Caribbean. Although protected in many countries, these green lizards, which can grow to more than 3 feet in length, are a prized stable in Aruba, Bonaire, Panama and Colombia. The eggs are also cooked and eaten even though they’re often taken illegally. A sizeable black market for them exists in Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. They’re not cheap, but they are good.

And yes, little Kenya Lopez' family ATE the Green Iguana she's holding in the above photo!

Armadillo

From Texas to Ecuador, these nine-banded creatures have been coveted for decades. Their numbers are now greatly diminished due to years of heavy hunting; they’re still considered a delightful treat when they can be found. Usually cooked in stews to help tenderize their thick, dense meat, almost everyone who has eaten Armadillo really likes them. You’ve got to be fast to catch them though. They can burrow into the soil at alarming speeds.

Ants

Technically known as “Hormigas Culonas”, these swollen abdomen ant species are a highly-prized food commodity in Colombia and Mexico. They’re gathered from seemingly innocuous places like cemeteries, parks and untended pastures, then roasted or fried until crisp. Only the enlarged abdomen is consumed, often with cheese or honey as an “aperitif”. Sold and exported by the pound, they’ve quickly become an international favorite among the insect-eating crowd.

To b honest, I like them myself.

Piranha

Despite numerous movies to the contrary, they don’t always attack without mercy. Children in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru swim in Piranha-infested waters all the time without injury. Women are also known to do the family laundry in streams and pools teeming with razor-toothed schools of them. Many of the 35 known varies of Piranha, including the Cachama family, are not only edible, but delicious. Piranha head soup is used as a form of “jungle Viagra”. Tales abound of elderly Indian men with more than a dozen children and multiple wives.

Well if I didn’t get to you here in part one with “treats” from Colombia, Brazil and Mexico you’re gonna just love what you’ll get in part two of this three-part series. We’re going to travel into the jungles of Colombia and up into the high Andes mountain range in Ecuador to introduce you to some “Eye-opening”, high-flying specialties that’ll make partly-cooked greasy pork liver seem like “Haute Cuisine”.

See you in part two of “They Eat What! Colombia’s Most Exotic Foods”.

Bon Appetit!


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Monday, September 17, 2007

Teaching in Cancun? Don't Fall for the Latin Fantasy Tourist Scam

THE “LATIN FANTASY”

A SCAM YOU MUSTN’T GO FOR

It’s the weekend and you’re off from teaching English as a foreign language classes at one of the many private English language institutes, local or nearby primary or secondary schools. You could just as well be any other foreign tourist in town to enjoy the sights, the food and the beaches.

In any case, they’re WAITING for you.

So here’s how NOT to get caught!
Strolling down a sunlit street in Cancun, Mexico (or possibly another Mexican beach resort town), a sea breeze gently tossing your hair, window-shopping in a luxurious mall, passing along a beachfront boardwalk, day-dreaming of fresh, succulent seafood as its aroma wafts from a nearby restaurant.

“Excuse me”, you hear. You stop and turn to see a smiling face.

“Where are you from?”

“I’m from …”, you respond politely. You've just driven the first nail into your coffin. You've confirmed that you're a foreigner.

“How’s your vacation?”, the smiling face continues. You exchange pleasantries.

“Can I offer you a free pass…a night’s stay…a free lunch or dinner…a day at this new resort hotel?”, the smiling face offers.

“It’s to promote a new hotel, …resort…facility…or service that isn’t well-known to foreign tourists yet. And we want our hotel…facility…resort…or service to be known so you can tell your friends about it.”

You receive a genuine-looking piece of paper and perhaps a brochure and map. (somewhere in the back of your mind, your parent’s words- or mine- appear,

“There ain’t no free lunches in this world”) But, “Looks good”, you think, and accept.

“Take this and go this afternoon…tomorrow or whatever and everything will be taken care of with no obligation”, the hook advances.

And then the clincher words strike home, like a harpoon in the side of a great white whale,

“Be sure to bring your credit card!”

“Oh, it’s not essential”, the smiling face continues,
“Maybe you’ll just have to flash it, to show you’re not Mexican”, “…or a serious tourist”, or whatever.

At this point BAIL OUT – drop everything and leave – go, keep going and don’t listen or look back. If you don’t, you’ll be sorry – for years and years to come.

What they want is your credit card number, by any means necessary - your signature too, if possible, on anything; a ticket stub, free car rental agreement or thank you note; anything. It’ll be used to charge dozens, scores, even hundreds of items – next week, next month, next year, etc., etc., etc. Getting the charges off your card will be a next to impossible nightmare and cost you hundreds in legal fees. You won’t be able to get back at “them” or recover the merchandise, products, even real estate charged off to your account. Millions are made by “them” and irretrievably lost by unsuspecting tourists each year.

Don’t YOU be next! Just say, “NO”. And keep saying “NO”.

FINALLY …, Some helpful websites for more information

http://www.cancun.com/ /
Provides more than 100 hotels to reserve, airfare, coupons, maps, tours reservations, nightlife, restaurants and other general information.

http://www.cancunblast.com/ /
An online Travel Guide For Cancun And The Mayan Riviera

http://www.allaboutcancun.com/ /
All About Cancun helps travelers seeking information about Cancun including a complete City Guide

www.visitcancun.com/
Includes details of local activities, accommodations, dining, shopping and other information for visitors.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Cartooning Your Way to English or Foreign Language Learning Success

Cartoons vs. Comics

Who doesn’t love cartoons and comics? Okay, so I’m no fan of the Simpsons, but even I enjoy Felix the Cat, the Pink Panther and a host of other Saturday morning offerings. If the cartoon network came on in English where I live, I’d record it for use in my English as a foreign language (EFL) classes (and a little personal humor and enjoyment). There are two venues which actually can be used in teaching English as a foreign language or in foreign language teaching and learning; cartoons and comics. But what’s the difference?


The Differences

What’s the difference between a cartoon and a comic? Simply that a cartoon is an animated visual format with sound and a comic is a written, printed format in black and white or color. Some characters appear in multiple formats, having an animated series on TV, movie or comic strip. Characters from Peanuts, cats Felix and Garfield, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and a host of Walt Disney and Walter Lantz characters are some examples. Other characters may appear in only one format such as in many video games which is yet another venue.

Who Do You Love?

Why don’t you try asking your English or foreign language learners;

“Who’s your favorite cartoon or comic character?”
“Why?”

Learners could then elaborate on their favorite characters in addition to:

• describing the character’s personality
• acting out a scene from a cartoon or comic
• white out dialogue bubbles and write in their own lines of dialogue
Adapting Comics and Cartoons for Classroom Teaching

How can these different formats be adapted for use in an EFL or foreign language learning classroom setting? Well, you’ve hit the jackpot here. Because the language in comics and cartoons is usually very simple, it can be used in a variety of ways, such as:

• to demonstrate high-frequency vocabulary in context
• to illustrate idioms and expressions
• to teach verbs and other parts of speech
• as examples of connected speech
• to simulate dialogues to inject humor into class sessions
• to provide a basis for oral discourse and writing activities
• to illustrate culture and values
Other Related Activity Possibilities

Numerous other related activity possibilities exist, which may be applied with just a bit of imagination. For example, have your English or foreign language learners relate:

• who the author or creator of the comic / cartoon series is
• a biography of the author with photos
• describe the setting and theme of the comic or cartoon series
• show examples of cartoons, comics and characters in class, then compare them
If you’d like even more focus, you could show a cartoon or comic strip series in class to familiarize everyone with the character(s). Then might discuss the character’s personality and other elements and ask,

“Why is this cartoon or comic funny?”

Be sure to let the learners interact about their favorite comic strips and cartoon characters.

Take a Survey

Remember to take a survey of who the most popular cartoon and comic strip characters are among the learners. Better yet, have the learners design and conduct the survey themselves, presenting the results and reasons afterwards. By all means, do let Felix the Cat, the Pink Panther, the Simpsons, Garfield, the Power Puff Girls, Hagar the Horrible, the Wizard of Id, Peanuts and a generous host of English language cartoon and comic strip characters lend fun, flavor, magic and a whole new dimension to your English as a foreign language or foreign language learning classes.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Friday, September 14, 2007

Part 2 Cartooning Your Way to English or Foreign Language Learning Success

Not Available in English?

By all means, do let Felix the Cat, the Pink Panther, the Simpsons, Garfield, the Power Puff Girls, Hagar the Horrible, the Wizard of Id, Peanuts gang and a generous host of English language cartoon and comic strip characters lend fun, flavor, magic and a whole new dimension to your English as a foreign language or foreign language learning classes.

But what can you do if cartoons and comics are not available in English where you are? Suggestions and recommendations for further English or foreign language teaching and learning options will be discussed for those who live in countries (like here in Colombia) or regions where NO English language feeds are present.

Braj Kashru’s Circles

Language learning researcher Braj Kashru categorized countries into three circles of English language influence. The “Inner” circle is comprised of those countries and regions which have English as the first or official language. Countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, England and more than a dozen other countries are included in the “Inner” circle.

The “Middle” circle is comprised of those countries and regions where English is a useful second, but highly recognized and accepted language. Countries such as India, Panama, Kenya, and several other countries with a high number of indigenous languages are included in this group.

The “Outer” circle is comprised of those countries and regions where English has no official status, is not widely spoken and is considered a completely foreign language. Many countries in South America, Asia and on the African continent are included in this group. The language status of any country is ultimately, subject to change and these examples are by no means meant to be “concrete”.

When the available cartoons and comics are not in English, you certainly can still use them.

But how?
Who and What’s Available

Many cartoon and comic strip series are either dubbed or translated into the local language of a regional people. In addition though, there are cartoon and comic strip series originally done in a language other than English. Examples I know of include:

· Asterix and Friends done in French
· Mafalda written and produced in Spanish
· Condorito also written in Spanish

There are, very likely, many others in countries around the world similarly produced and written in languages other than English. These may, or may not, be available to English or foreign language learners in their desired language. If you know of any, I’d appreciate an e-mail letting me know about some of them and the language they’re in.
Use these then for activities including those mentioned earlier in addition to:

· Translation exercises
· Creating learner-produced dialogues (written and oral)
· Acting out dramatic scenes and situations

Don’t Forget About …
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for any political caricatures and humor from the editorial pages of newspapers and magazines that you might be able to use in the English or foreign language learning classroom. Also, you can occasionally find collections of comics in local bookstores.
Hopefully you will find some of these ideas and suggestions helpful for allowing the likes of characters such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, and the Flash along with a vast army of super heroes and cartoon or comic strip characters to lend more dynamics and humor to your English as a foreign language classes.

Up, up and away!

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What the Heck is That?


Most EFL or foreign language learners start shouting responses right away.

“Our group got 14”.

“We have 29”.

“Oh no, we only found eight”.

I make a game out of it, pitting small groups of EFL learners against each other in an effort to come up with the most.

The English as a foreign language (EFL) class group consists of 20 students aged 20 to 22 in their fourth or fifth university semester. Regardless of the faculty from Accounting and Business to Law, Medicine, Nursing or Orthodontics, and even with adult independent student class groups, they all love “the game”. In fact, language learners of other foreign languages like Italian, French, German, Japanese and Spanish swear by the game too.

The Game

Learners are organized into small groups of four to five. A picture, drawing or photo of a strange, unknown is projected or posted. They must then brainstorm as many possible uses for the “item” as they can. After an interval of ten to twelve minutes or so I have them tall the number of “uses” they’ve been able to come up with. Members of the winning group then receive a small “prize” or reward. Ones I like to give out are little cellophane-wrapped candies, a bag of M&Ms or something else like that. We then discuss the ideas presented, especially the most unique and interesting ones.

Gadget, Device or Machine?

This activity almost always brings up what the difference between a gadget, device and machine is. We go around the class room identifying objects from each category. Our working definitions are as follows:

A gadget uses no power and has no moving parts. Examples include a manual corkscrew, potato peeler or hand-operated can opener.

A device uses power but has no moving parts. Examples include a radio, a digital TV or a telephone.

A machine uses power and has moving parts. Examples include a computer, a CD or a cassette player / recorder, cars and airplanes.

Learners could also be assigned to look up definitions in a dictionary before reporting their definitions to the class. If two or more different dictionary versions are used, learners can make comparisons, coming up with a composite definition.

Finding an “Item”

So where o’ where can you find a good “item” or two to help your EFL or foreign language learners to play “the game”? You might try a leisurely browse through a dollar store or equivalent in your search. A flea market is another place where you might certainly turn up an antique gadget to use. I’ve had numerous successes when browsing for cheap, unusual and practically unknown items in both of these places. Check out the family attic and don’t forget to snoop through areas of the basement where “goodies” might be warehoused. Having two or three different items will allow you to repeat or vary the exercise using realia. You could also always draw a unique, but non-existent thingy for playing the game as well. Be sure to look for items that make you or your learners want to say;

“What the heck is that?”

The extents of your imagination is the only limit for both you and your EFL or foreign language learners.

Photo credit: New Interchange student book 2 by Jack C. Richards with Jonathan Hull and Susan Proctor, Cambridge University Press

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

How to Learn an English or Foreign Language Vocabulary List in 5 Minutes or Less


Vocabulary lists, what can you do?

You can’t learn English or any other foreign language using only them, but you can’t learn a language without them either. One great aid is to learn memorization techniques that will allow you or your learners to quickly and easily memorize even a fairly lengthy list of foreign language vocabulary. One such technique excerpted from my dynamic activity foreign language-learning e-book, “You CAN Learn a Foreign Language: Tested Techniques ANYONE Can Use to Learn ANY Foreign Language”, which you can use starting right now, follows here.


Let’s start by taking the following list of 18 common English words:

hat
hen
ham
oar
whale

shoe
key
wife
pie
toys
tot
twine
thumb
tire
till
dish
duck
dove

You’re going to memorize this list of 18 words in 5 minutes or less.

Oh, Yes you CAN!

Here’s how you’re going to do it:

Making a Memory Movie

This 18-word vocabulary string could be memorized as a sort of ridiculous movie like this:

A colorful hat falls down onto the head of a hen sitting on a nest of three eggs which look just like three small, whole hams. You slip an oar under the hams to take them out from under the hen by putting one end of the oar into a whale’s mouth. The whale swims backwards to slide the hams from under the hen, but the whale’s tail smacks into a giant, fashionable shoe floating on the water.

Sticking out of the shoe is a key that your (someone else’s) wife is trying to take out of the shoe. In her other hand she holds a steaming hot pie (your favorite kind of course) and there are toys sticking out of the pie which she then holds out to her tot crawling towards her so (s)he can get the toys sticking out of the pie. Tying the tot’s ankles together is a length of twine leading back to a big thumb that is jerking back and forth on the twine. See the thumb jerking back and forth?

The thumb is sticking up out of big, old, dirty car or truck tire. The tire just rolled down a hill because the fancy dish it was sitting on cracks and breaks because of the tire’s weight. There's a till (cash register) keeping count each time the thumb jerks - Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching! The sound attracts a quacking duck which waddles over and starts to peck at the pieces of the dish when a white dove flies over dropping olive branches on the duck.

Remember, really “see” the movie in your head in as much detail and graphic motion as possible. “Hear” the sounds of the whale splashing in the water, the dish breaking, the duck quacking and the olive branches as they crash onto the duck’s back. The more ridiculous, outrageous and vivid your movie is, the more memorable it becomes.

Have you done it?

Have you really memorized the word list?

Yes, you have!


Now here’s proof!

Recalling the Word String

- Ok, now play the “movie” back in your mind,
saying the words on the list out loud.


No peeking back at the word list!

Recalling the word string is much easier, faster and more accurate than you’d originally imagined, isn’t it?

- Now give the word string IN REVERSE,
starting from the last word to the first word.


Very likely you could do so easily by playing the movie in your head, backwards if you needed to, right?

Simple isn’t it?

If you didn’t do as well as you’d like the first attempt, try it again. You’ll very soon get the hang of it. Using this type of memorization technique, you can memorize almost any list of English or foreign language vocabulary in 5 minutes or less.



Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Of the Thousands of Foreign Languages You Can Learn Which One is Best for You?


A Key Question

A key question people ask when thinking of embarking on the life-long quest that foreign language learning can ultimately become, is “which foreign language should I try to learn?” Certainly there’s no lack of choice. Reasons for wanting or needing to learn a foreign language can be almost as many and as varied as the number of people themselves. Family, ancestry, employment, business, education, travel, adventure, romance and other personal concerns all may have their respective roles in the decision to learn and continue learning a foreign language.

Some Interesting Language Statistics

According to Vistawide World Languages & Culture statistics online at: http://www.vistawide.com/languages/language_statistics.htm
there are currently 6912 living languages in the world, but did you know that 516 of these are nearly extinct.

The Fabulous Five

Of the top five spoken world languages, Mandarin Chinese has the greatest number of speakers with a whopping 1.051 billion who manage one of the nearly one dozen forms or dialects.

Photo: one of my Mandarin teachers, Shutzng Zhang, is on the right in the photo

English is a “distant” second with an approximate total of 510 million speakers in 64 different countries. It is also the world’s most widely published language and has the largest number of words - approx. 250,000* distinct words. (*Some linguists even contend that there are as many as one million or more words in the English language.) English also has the greatest number of people who speak it as a second language – with up to 350 million non-native speakers.

Hindi is in third position with 490 million.

Fourth place is occupied by Spanish with 420 million native and second language speakers.

Arabic comes in fifth with 255 million speakers when all of its varieties are combined according to a World Almanac estimate.

Additional Language Statistics

The language with the fewest number of words is Taki-Taki, also called Sranan, which is spoken in Surinam. It has a mere 340 words.

The country where the largest number of languages is spoken is Papua New Guinea with 820 different languages even though it has only around 5,545,268 people. (That’s one language for every 6762 people for all of you statistics freaks out there)

Number two Indonesia has 742 languages among its 241,973,879 people.

Nigeria, with 516 languages spread through its 128,771,988 people, steps in at third.

In India 1,080,264,388 people spread across the country’s vast reaches speak an astounding 427 languages among them.

These statistics are likely, one of the reasons English has been adopted as an official language in each one of these countries.

Summary

So whether your reasons for wanting or needing to learn a foreign language include family, ancestry, employment, business, education, travel, adventure, romance or other more personal ones, a wide variety of language choices are available.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Saturday, September 08, 2007

How the Guinness Book of Records Can Help YOU to Learn any Foreign Language


Meet Jorge Fernandez Gates

At only 18 years of age, Jorge Fernandez Gates can speak, read and write in 11 foreign languages. They are not all related languages either. Some already under his belt include Mandarin Chinese, Catalan, Galician, English, French, German, Swedish, Romanian, Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch.

Not only that, but Jorge only started learning foreign languages a little over 5 years ago, which means he’s been “picking up” a foreign lingo at the rate of two foreign languages per year. His goal is to get into the Guinness Book of Records by mastering at least 25 foreign languages.

Already recognized as the “youngest polyglot in Peru”, in several interviews given primarily in his native Spanish, he discusses some techniques he (and you) can use to develop fluency in whatever foreign language you’re striving to acquire.

He says, “For me, foreign language learning is a hobby, I can’t control it, at any moment I could open a dictionary to look up a new word for my vocabulary.”

His principal ally in the quest to master enough foreign languages to make the Guinness Book of Records is the internet which he credits with up to 70% of his foreign language learning success.

He cites in particular Radio Bucharest online at: (http://www.multilingualbooks.com/online-radio.html) that features both live and pre-recorded radio programming in 38 European and Asian languages as well as 18 African continental languages, and online language courses as aids in helping him to familiarize himself with foreign languages.

Other tactics he has frequently employed include:

- Talking with the staff in ethnic restaurants
- Watching television programs in or about target languages
- Using the radio as a key listening and comprehension development resource “to help accustom your ear to the pronunciation of the language”
- Using the internet to listen and study foreign languages

A major concern he has had was that “one day his brain would explode” from the constant linguistic input or that he would linguistically get “his wires crossed” and become totally confused. A neurologist he consulted assured him that “there are no limits” to the brain’s capacity to take in and store knowledge.

Jorge Fernandez gives these “keys” as essential to his linguistic accomplishments:

- Learn the foreign language grammar “forwards and backwards”
- Acquire a basis vocabulary of high-frequency words and phrases
- Never stop augmenting new vocabulary in your new language – He tries to learn at least two new words each day
- Practice your new language with friends, language teachers or whomever you can regularly

And just what started it all?

“I’m not a good student and as punishment my Mother decided to take away my cell phone and prohibited me from chatting online. I couldn’t go out, so to keep from spending the entire day sleeping I enrolled in a French course.” Then things began to change for him. “I liked it and decided to take Italian too.” He later discovered a course in Romanian on the internet and “loved it”.

To “prove” his language abilities, family members have gone with him to Chinese restaurants to have him converse with the cook and contacted TV programs and foreign language professors to verify his linguistic skills in other languages.

So began the linguistic journey of Jorge Fernandez Gates. So as not to create a “Babel” in his brain, he restricts himself to “calmly learning only two languages” at a time per year. You can listen to journalist Rosa Maria Palacios do a 26 minute video interview with him (in Spanish) on his language-learning adventures at: http://www.youtube.com/



Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Friday, September 07, 2007

A Speaker of Seven Foreign Languages Gives Some Useful Tips


In this blog posting, I invited a native English speaker now living and working abroad; to share his best tips and experiences in picking up a foreign lingo once you’ve been relocated onto foreign soil. As mentioned before, when it comes to foreign language learning, be it English or any one of the other 6912 spoken languages in the world, we could all use any help we can get. Here are some segments from his extensive comments excerpted from my e-book, “You CAN Learn a Foreign Language: Tested Techniques Anyone Can Use to Learn ANY Foreign Language”.

Meet Kayleigh Garman

Kayleigh “Kees” Garman, Director of Language Studies at a large language institute in Europe, offers the following additional comments during an interview on foreign language learning. He speaks English, German, Dutch, Spanish, Danish, and Turkish and is now working on his Hungarian.

Learning a new language can be challenging for anyone As a learner of multiple languages, admittedly some better than others, there are indeed some tricks I have used to make the process easier for me personally which hopefully will benefit those who might be intimidated by the idea of trying to master (whatever that means actually) a new language. Some are rather obvious tips, but others are possibly things not much considered before.

Never fear

“One of the biggest and most obvious ways people hold themselves back in developing a new language is by being afraid to make mistakes.”

“Strive for meaning above accuracy, especially at the beginning!”

What do you mean Kees?

Are you saying that it’s okay not to have perfect grammar and language skills at the outset, even on simple structures? Are you suggesting that foreign language teachers and foreign language learners shouldn’t correct all their mistakes to keep from becoming “fossilized” in some mistakes?

“Yes and yes!”

Learn to laugh

On top of not fearing your mistakes, a very healthy dose of laughter can really take the sting out of those dreadful and “inevitable” mistakes.

“I’ll never forget some years ago being in a kitchen meeting at the dormitory in Denmark where I was living for a year and the horrible blunder I made. After waiting my turn to say that we needed to clear out the freezer of old bread and vegetables from days gone by, I made the following embarrassing mistake: Instead of saying “I’m very unhappy with the freezer situation” (fryseren), I said to my 23 friends at the table that I was “immensely unhappy about my hairdresser” (frisøren). It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that I was practically banging my fist about it – you can imagine the querying looks I got from my friends. You can also imagine the good laughs we had about in the days to come.”

But as they say; “It’s better to laugh than to cry!”

Get your pronunciation right

The mistake above was due to stress and intonation. Obviously you’re going to get it wrong sometimes, but why people (and often teachers as well) are seemingly rather lazy or uninterested in addressing pronunciation will forever be beyond me. Naturally, no one expects a learner of a new language to step off the plane sounding like a native-speaker, but let me say very clearly that …

… “The earlier one deals with getting pronunciation as close to natural as possible, the better off everyone is in the long run.”

Your speech doesn’t need to be the “Queen’s English”, in most settings one sounds quite silly speaking in such a way, but your language needs to understandable and acceptable to the community you’re in.

No matter which foreign language you might wish to tackle, these “from the trenches” tips can be useful tools in your English or other foreign language learning arsenal.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Thursday, September 06, 2007

A Truly Romantic Tip on Learning a Foreign Language


Meet Nick Morley

Foreign language learning veteran Nick Morley from the UK, now lives and teaches English in Bangkok, Thailand after a several-year stint in South Vietnam. With degrees of fluency in Vietnamese, English and now Thai, he briefly comments,


“What has worked for me is meeting a girl who doesn't speak much English and seeing a lot of her, which of course means I have to pick up some language to keep things going.”


That sounds like a winning strategy that worked successfully for me too.

Key Point: Talking on a personal level with the locals, especially those with limited or no English language speaking skills, is an excellent way to ramp your new foreign language skills up to the next levels.

This way you can have dozens, scores, yea – even hundreds of “foreign language teachers” of your new language all ready, willing, able and even eager in their own way, to help you with and teach you, their mother tongue. So nearly everyone you meet can become your foreign language “teacher”.

And actually, it’s not too far off from the way you learned your first language.
No matter which foreign language you might wish to tackle, these “front line trenches” tips can be useful tools in your English or other foreign language learning arsenal.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Fearless Fellow Polyglot Ex-pat Gives Tips on Learning a Foreign Language


When it comes to foreign language learning, be it English or any one of the other 6912 spoken languages in the world, we could all use any help we can get. I invited several native English speakers now living and working abroad; to share their tips and experiences in picking up a foreign lingo once you’ve been planted on foreign soil. Here are some segments from their extensive comments excerpted from my e-book, “You CAN Learn a Foreign Language: Tested Techniques Anyone Can Use to Learn ANY Foreign Language”.

Meet Lindsay Clanfield

Canadian Lindsay Clanfield now residing in the south of Spain says, “I speak English, French, Spanish and now a little German.”

“When I was learning Spanish, one of the most useful things that helped me gain fluency was learning "little" words that helped fill pauses or give me time to think while sounding more Spanish. In Mexico, these were words like "este" and "pues" which could conveniently be stretched out too ("pueeeeesss"). In Spain I've used "bueno" quite a lot."


"I've since learned that these words are called discourse markers.”


He clarifies the term discourse markers by adding, “In English, I suppose the most useful discourse marker is "OK", but things like "right" and "well" can also perform a similar function.”

Lindsay also believes that “…one of the successes of learning a foreign language is patience and letting go of perfectionism. My advances in language have been largely due to practice without panicking if everything I was saying was 100% correct or not.”


He notes that “correction, delivered in the right way and at the right time”, is definitely helpful, but cautions, “I don't think I would have progressed as much as I have if I made a point of not communicating unless I thought it was perfect.”

Key Point: Don’t worry about being “perfect”, improvement comes with practice not perfectionism.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

An Expert Foreign Language Teacher in Lord of the Rings Country Gives Priceless Tips on Learning a Foreign Language


An Ancient Chinese Saying


There is an ancient Chinese proverb which says, "To know the road ahead, ask those coming back." So a fellow ex-pat speaks on the realities of learning a foreign language “on the fly.”

Native English speaker Katherine Peckitt originally from Britain, now residing and teaching in Auckland, New Zealand; speaks Finnish, Polish, Portuguese and English

“I was actually in Finland for a bit, but I have also taught English in Poland and Portugal.”

“Poland was probably the funniest place to communicate because they speak so little English and I spoke absolutely no Polish. I remember going into a shop on the first day needing milk and eggs and we ended up acting out a cow being milked and a chicken laying eggs because everything was behind a counter!! We very quickly learnt the words and I'll never forget them!! But for the rest of my Polish we tried to learn functional stuff - so I actually was quite good at ordering a pizza over the phone, giving directions home in a taxi and haggling in a market.”

Key Point: “I definitely think that you need to learn functional things first that you will need to use everyday.”

“Portuguese was easier because I already spoke French which in a way made it also more frustrating because I could understand so much more than I could produce - but in the case of Portugal I actually met more local people and joined a gym which made me have to speak more. I also lived in a smaller town that didn't have so many tourists.”

Key Point: Smaller towns and non-tourist areas offer better, more frequent contact with the locals which can boost your practice and acquisition considerably.

Katie continues, “Finnish was quite probably the most difficult language I've ever tried to learn which wasn't helped by the fact that most people over there speak English anyway!

What I found most useful was having the radio on in the mornings as I was getting ready for work and then very slowly I found that I could understand how to tell the time and what the weather was like. I did join a class but being a complete beginner and not really having enough time or energy to study after teaching all day I quickly got left behind - and so at the end of my year there I still got the numbers 5 and 6 muddled up and I have absolutely no idea what the months of the year are!!”

Key Point: Listen to local radio stations to pick up vocabulary and phrases by ear.

Katie also says, “I think the best phrase you can learn is,
"Sorry, I don't speak _________"!!

No matter which foreign language you might wish to tackle, these “front line trenches” tips can be useful tools in your English or other foreign language learning arsenal.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for the no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com

Monday, September 03, 2007

Why You Should Learn to Speak a Foreign Language


There are a multitude of reasons for wanting to speak the lingua franca of another people; travel, business, education, matrimony, retirement, personal pleasure, even family or friends among many others.

Indeed it’s no small feat to habla Español, parlez Francaise, or sprechenze Deutcsh, but the prestige, financial gains, personal satisfaction and even peer envy that can accompany this easily-nurtured skill, can be supremely rewarding. If you’re not already an ex-pat, don’t start packing your bags just yet though, you’ve got a little “work” to do first.

If you’re already an ex-pat, then learning or improving your communicative skills in a foreign language may be a moot point. There you are, one of the millions of “escapees” from the USA, UK or other country, now surrounded by new horizons, vistas, culture, everyday life and a foreign language you need to master as quickly and adeptly as possible out of necessity.

Perhaps you’d like to study abroad; Fashion Design or the Culinary Arts in Paris with French as the medium of communication. Learning Renaissance Art in Milan or Rome would certainly be enriched by your fluency in Italian. Delving into Architecture or beer-brewing in Germany will be far more rewarding if you integrate into their society using your best German.

If you want to immerse yourself into Anthropology or Mayan Culture in the Yucatan, Mayan or Nahuatl would serve you even better than Spanish might. You could also simply double up and learn both languages. (Yes, you most certainly can!)

Exploring the mysteries of Oriental Antiquities, culture or martial arts in the Yellow River Valley of China requires at least some communicative skills in one of the dialects of Chinese, don’t you think?

Acquiring knowledge of ancient and modern agricultural techniques or perhaps the secrets of Yoga in the vast stretches of exotic India will be far more enriching with one of the local dialects of the country flowing like honey from your tongue.

Would you like to learn Karate, Judo or the art of making Sushi in Japan? Do you think knowing how to speak Japanese might make things easier?

You might be thinking of honing your Tango dancing skills in Buenos Aires, or improving your Salsa steps in Cuba or Colombia, then Spanish could pave the way to your progress. The list could go on and on, but just think how the “right” foreign language could not only make it all very possible, but expand and deepen your quest as well.

But, you’re thinking, how can you, with limited time, resources and perhaps even more limited patience, make any decent headway in a reasonably short time? You may well ask, “Can I indeed, at my age, really develop good communicative skills in a new tongue?”

Yes, you can and you will if you’ll use some of my “quick tricks” for heightening your language–learning experience and incorporating your prospective new language into your present everyday life.



Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an English language teaching and learning expert author and university professor in Cali, Colombia. Now YOU too can live your dreams in paradise, find romance, high adventure and get paid while travelling for free. For more information on entering or advancing in the fascinating field of teaching English as a Foreign or Second Language send for his no-cost pdf Ebook, “If You Want to Teach English Abroad, Here’s What You Need to Know”, by sending an e-mail with "free ELT Ebook" in the subject line. For comments, questions, requests, to receive more information or to be added to his free TESOL articles and teaching materials mailing list, e-mail: lynchlarrym@gmail.com