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Language Exchange User Posts

Student reading braille
Open Doors by Teaching Braille to Kids
Have you ever thought about Braille teaching jobs? For parents of children who rely on Braille, this may seem idealistic, and for those who have no personal ties to the language it may seem to be an offbeat path, but whatever your personal relationship is to Braille, if you’re looking to make a real impact on your students’ lives, consider the possibilities that come with teaching Braille.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has done research on the numbers of blind or visually impaired people in the world and discovered that out of 284 million visually impaired, 39 million are blind, while 245 million have low vision. Within the U.S. alone, October 2002 statistics reveal that 93,600 children are blind. The numbers have continued to rise. This means that Braille is becoming increasingly important.

For those unfamiliar with the history of the language, it all started with Louis Braille, who had been blinded in an accident in his father’s workshop when he was 3 years old. He was a boy determined to create communication pathways between the sighted and the blind and to expand the possibilities of gaining knowledge. He took the idea for Braille from captain Charles Barbier of the French Army, who had devised a system of "night writing" so that soldiers could communicate in the dark without turning on any lights. The system consisted of raised dots that soldiers could read with their fingers. Braille’s imagination was instantly sparked; fuelled by his desire to read and communicate, he took the method, altered and fine-tuned it so that each letter could be read with the touch of one finger, and created the Braille we know today. The writing system was introduced in 1829 but was not widely accepted until after Braille’s death. It has now gained world-wide recognition and use.

Braille teaching jobs require teachers with respect for reading and learning and a dedication to helping others gain a new way to understand and communicate. A teacher exhibiting a passion for reading and learning is an inspiration to students and helps give them a guiding light that encourages them to learn even when it gets tough. Being a teacher of Braille is a way to help visually impaired people experience the joy, convenience, and mind-expanding experience of reading. So if you find yourself with a love for reading and a desire to open these doors to children who don’t have the physical ability to read in other ways, consider teaching Braille.

Paths to Literacy has some excellent advice on how to make sure teaching Braille is engaging and enjoyable for the kids. Emphasizing the need to make each lesson fun, meaningful, and developmental.

The National Federation of the Blind is a great resource for Braille teachers, providing access to valuable articles and information about Braille and its modern use and information on becoming nationally certified in using Braille. According to their site, only about ten percent of blind children learn Braille in school, so that means that working to increase this number is of great importance.

For more information on fun games and activities that promote learning Braille, the Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness has compiled a thorough list on how to incorporate Braille in fun, everyday activities.

Braille Alphabet gives you access to tons of free worksheets, alphabet charts, and flashcards geared towards teaching Braille to sighted kids, working to bridge the communication gap that Louis Braille recognized.

Photo Credit: JP Davidson

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Two people at a language teaching workshop
Organizing Your First Language Exchange Meeting
You have agreed to meet someone for a language exchange. Ok, but there still remain what I call “the finer details” to be worked out. The idea of a language exchange sounds nice, but how precisely is one carried out? What follows, in no particular order, are a few suggestions regarding these “finer details” about setting up these language exchanges.

Suggestion 1: Consider splitting up the language exchange into two sessions
For our purposes, let’s say that you know English and want to learn Spanish, while your partner knows Spanish and wants to learn English. Instead of having a single session in which half the time you teach English and half the time your partner speaks Spanish, consider separating this one long session into two. In one session you teach English and in the other your partner teaches Spanish. This situation gets rid of that awkward “transition” period where you and your partner clumsily have to shift gears to an entirely new language.

Suggestion 2: Consider using a timer
If you and your language partner want to have a single session where you do both parts of the exchange as discussed in suggestion 1, consider using a timer. Doing so imposes a certain amount of structure on the language exchange and prevents you from continuing to teach English when you should be learning Spanish and vice versa.

Suggestion 3: Consider making slightly longer sessions
In my opinion, my experience with language exchange has taught me that hour-long sessions are more beneficial than thirty minute sessions. I want to be clear: I don’t simply mean that in the hour-long sessions I get more done, I mean that the last thirty minutes of the hour long session are incredibly more productive than the first thirty minutes. Think of it like this- it takes your mind a little while to adjust to the new language, and after that period of adjustment, the real progress can start happening. If you schedule 15 minute sessions with your partner, for example, your brain will spend the entire session just adjusting to the new language and you will be stopping the session just when your brain is ready to really start working.

Suggestion 4: Consider making as many sessions as possible
This one is a no-brainer. The more contact you have with a language, the quicker you will learn it. I would recommend as a starting point to meet at least once a week.

Suggestion 5: Consider making flexible lesson plans
This goes back to the idea of having structure I briefly talked about earlier. Just having a conversation with your language partner, while providing much needed contact with the language, is not the most efficient use of time. Have an idea of topics to cover and try to stick to a general schedule. That being said, if you and your partner are in the thick of an extremely productive practice, it doesn’t make sense to artificially switch to another topic. Mainly just find the right balance and be flexible. Organic growth aided by a little planning is what you are aiming for.

Photo Credit: Jirka Matousek

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Downtown Seoul, Korea at night
Learn Korean (or any language) in Seoul without Spending a Penny
Being an ESL teacher in Seoul, South Korea, it was a priority for me to get a better understanding of the language and culture of the area. My Korean was not up to the standards I wanted it to be, so I began researching ways to improve it without hiring a tutor or going to classes—or anything that would cost. The key is finding a language exchange partner, and I discovered that there are tons of opportunities to do this, if you know where to look.

  • Itaewon
    There is no better place in Seoul than the Itaewon district to meet and interact with people from across the globe. The district is known for its high international population—and if you spend time here you’re sure to run into others that are eager to learn about and experience new cultures and languages. Walking along the streets you’ll find clothing stores and restaurants featuring apparel and cuisine from all over the world. Stop into one of the popular bars like 3 Alley Pub or hang out at What the Book bookstore’s café to meet internationals and talk about language exchange!

  • Hongdae
    Known for its art and music, this vibrant university area is filled with creative individuals open to learning new things. The unique atmosphere attracts a great deal of travellers, English as a Second Language teachers, and artists, making it the perfect area to find others interested in language exchange. The local cafés Anthracite Coffee Roasters and Eunhasu Dabang or the Hongdae Freemarket, where artists and visitors come together for discourse, are great places to meet people.

  • The Language Exchange Café
    Meetup is a great way to connect online with others with mutual interests. In fact, Seoul even has its own Meetup group specifically for language exchange! The Language Exchange Café is a hub for over six languages, with 80+ people of varying nationalities meeting three days a week. All language levels are welcome, and you’ll find a friendly community of individuals seeking to teach and to learn.

  • Language Exchange Websites
    A great way to find a language exchange partner is to make use of websites designed to make your search easy! Websites like LRNGO allow you to input information on languages you know, those you would like to learn, and your location to compile a list of matches for you to contact.

  • Interest Groups
    Getting to know people is key to finding a language exchange partner. Seoul is home to many shared interest groups, from refugee support groups to hiking clubs, so you’re sure to find a group whose passions align with yours. Most groups include both native Koreans and foreigners, making it ideal for meeting a language exchange partner.

Photo Credit: Mario Sánchez Prada

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Learning another language by braille.
How Would You Learn Spanish If You Couldn't See?
According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired. About 39 million are completely blind and 246 million have low vision. Blindness is a condition that affects people’s activities of daily living. People with blindness learn how to live their lives differently by relying on their other four senses. Blind people use their hearing to communicate with others and their touch to feel around their environment. One question people may ask is, “How do blind people learn?” or more specifically, “How does a person learn a new language like Spanish if they cannot see?”

Without a doubt, vision is an important component in the learning process, especially when it comes to learning a new language. We use our vision to see how vocabulary words are spelled, to see how sentences are constructed, to read texts, to write notes, to observe how words are pronounced by the mouth, and so much more. Despite all of this, learning a language without the benefit of sight is by no means impossible. People who are blind primarily learn by listening to a teacher or audio books and by reading books in Braille. In other words, learning through hearing and touch can be just as effective as learning through vision.

Hearing is a very important sense for those who cannot see. Blind people use their sense of hearing to communicate with others, to understand their environment, and, of course, to learn. Someone who is blind can learn a new language by sitting in a class or by talking with a tutor. A blind person taking a Spanish class would have to listen very carefully to what the professor teaches such as how specific words and phrases are pronounced. It would be most helpful for this person to use a tape recorder in class so lectures can be re-listened to as many times as needed. One-on-one Spanish tutoring sessions can be very helpful because students can ask direct questions to their tutor and the tutor can accommodate their teaching style for the student’s learning needs.

Another way to learn Spanish for someone who could not see is by listening to audio podcasts. A vast majority of Spanish teaching lessons contain an audio component. There are also many sites online that offer Spanish audio lessons, files, and MP3s that can be easily downloaded for personal devices. These audio files are very important because correct pronunciations of words, phrases, and sentences are crucial to learning Spanish or any language for that matter. By constant listening, repetition of sounds, and pronunciation practice, anyone can learn a new language such as Spanish without having to read a word.

In addition to using their sense of hearing to learn, blind people also learn new subjects and languages through their sense of touch. Braille is a written language in which letters are symbolized by raised dots that can be felt with the fingertips. People who are blind learn Braille in order to read and write. Braille differs for every language since language have different letters in their alphabet. For example, in addition to the letters in the English alphabet, the Spanish alphabet also includes letters with accents that represent different sounds.

Blind or not, anyone can also learn Spanish just by engaging in conversation with native Spanish speakers. This is where language exchange and learning exchange comes into play. Language exchange is the process of teaching a language you know and learning a new language you are interested to learn in exchange. Learning exchange is a similar process but involves opportunities to learn subjects beyond language. For example, if I am interested in learning Spanish and I am very skilled in Math, I can meet up with a person who can teach Spanish and may need a little help in Math. We can then exchange Spanish and Math lessons with each other. LRNGO is a social media website that facilitates free learning exchange with people locally and around the world. By signing up for this site, you can meet hundreds of people who are willing to teach and are yearning to learn!

In conclusion, a disability such as blindness in no way has to hinder the process of learning a new language. Without vision, a new language such as Spanish can be learned through hearing and touch. Blind people can learn Spanish by listening to teachers, tutors, or friends made through learning exchange. People with blindness can also learn Spanish by learning and practicing with Spanish’s Braille system.

Photo Credit: Christian Liechti

lrngo users in over 190 countries

Arabic script on a wall
Learn Arabic in a Blink of an Eye
As technology has made the world smaller and brought people from across the world together to collaborate and work towards a common goal, the need for all of these people to communicate with one another easily has become increasingly important. That’s why multilingualism has become one of the most essential skills in the business world.

Arabic is a dominant foreign language in the financial circle, as many of its participants belong to Arabic-speaking ethnic groups. If you’re involved in global finance and have discovered that learning Arabic would be beneficial for you but don’t wish to overload yourself by getting over your head in a language you’re learning for business reasons, take a look at these resources that will help you get a better grip on Arabic without sacrificing too much of your time. Use these resources to learn Arabic for business, fast.

Online Tutoring
If you work best by one-on-one learning, try finding an online tutor or language exchange partner to guide you through your learning. Working with another person is beneficial because you can work together to build up the knowledge on the specific topics that you need to know. They also give you insight on cultural quirks and significant things to remember.

A language exchange partner is a free alternative to a tutor, but requires some extra time on your end, as the idea is to trade lesson for lesson, which means that you could teach someone English for Arabic.

Both of these options are available at LRNGO, which offers you free searches to connect with people all over the world to learn.

YouTube Videos
Learn on your own by using instructional YouTube videos to guide you. Dedicate 5-10 minutes of your time, watch a lesson and learn!

Learn Arabic from Me is a great channel for beginners, giving them a foundation for learning Arabic. Get a grip on basic vocabulary, phrases, and listening skills by watching a few short videos.

Arabic Pod 101 helps you learn the alphabet, offers vocabulary paired with pictures, survival phrases, and an "Arabic in 3 Minutes" playlist, helping you get the most of your Arabic learning in a condensed amount of time.

If you’re busy, but still want to find time in your schedule to learn Arabic, try getting yourself listening to podcasts. Podcasts are great because you can listen to them while doing other things, even driving to work, meaning you can get practice from anywhere.

Arabic Pod offers a ton of podcasts made for beginners to strengthen their listening skills and download lesson transcripts to go with them.

Arabic Survival Phrases is perfect if you are expecting to face situations in which you will need to know some basic phrases in Arabic, but don’t want to get into the details of learning the language. Learn useful phrases like business greetings, how to say "I’m sorry", and how to navigate a restaurant.

For more resources, lessons, and ways to learn on your own, take a look at these websites.

Learn 101 gives you well-rounded resources so that you get the basics of Arabic vocabulary and grammar, as well as audio and translation resources. You can explore the website yourself or go by their step-by-step lessons.

Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative seems like the best option for getting exposed to foundational Arabic. The class is completely free and is a six-week course with six lessons, focusing on both culture and language, including a lesson on professional meetings.

Education Portal and Open Culture both offer lists of other valuable, free resources that you can use to expand on your learning.

Photo Credit: markjhandel

lrngo users in over 190 countries

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