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Old Chinese proverb quote
Maximize English Comprehension with These Teaching Styles
There’s an old Chinese proverb that goes, “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.” That holds true in virtually every scope of life, and especially in teaching. For English teachers, the visual and interactive medium is especially effective, since it leaves a more lasting impression than that of simply teaching. If you want to increase your students’English comprehension, one of the best ways to do so is to engage your students in discussion or to involve them in an activity. The challenge can be, however, to make sure that you are actually teaching through the activity, and not ignoring teaching English comprehension in order to make way for amusement.

Keeping this challenge in mind, one of the best ways to boost your English teaching comprehension can still be through videos and/or movies. You can bring along a clip from a movie or an episode from a TV show, and compare and contrast the variations in language used by the different characters. You can use this opportunity to teach about the different colloquialisms used nowadays, as well as the errors. It’s a wonderful opportunity to hone your English teaching comprehension as well as to gauge your students’ English level, not to mention a great way to spice up your classes and ensure that your students don’t ignore what you’re saying simply because it feels boring.

Word games, like Scrabble and Boggle, are also a fantastic way to boost your English teaching comprehension. There’s a lot to be said for making a game out of your classes, as long as you don’t sacrifice learning for fun. It’s also a great opportunity to hone you students’ spelling skills, since they might have great pronunciation but poor spelling.

Of course, the key is to really keep a close eye on your classes and make sure that your English teaching outcomes are not suffering as a result. When effectively monitored, your students will actually profit from these activities and engagement will increase, rather than completely ignoring your English teaching in favor of the entertaining materials.

Photo Credit: Rob Enslin

Welcome landscape in Cebu City
Best places for Cebuano to English language exchange in Cebu
Cebuano is the Filipino dialect spoken in the Central Visayas and Mindanao regions of the Philippines. The word "Cebuano" is derived from the Cebu Islands, where the language originated from and is predominantly spoken. Cebuano has approximately two million speakers and is growing. If you are looking to visit these areas of the Philippines, learning Cebuano would be very helpful.

Free language exchange is the process of learning a new language from a person in exchange for teaching that person a language that you already know. For example, you can ask a native speaker to teach you Cebuano if in return you help that person improve on their English skills. Free language exchange allows you to meet new people, teach what you know to others, and learn about new languages and cultures.

The Philippines is comprised of many islands and finding a place to meet for a language exchange may be daunting. Here are the top five place to hold a language exchange in Cebu.

  1. Jollibee

    Jollibee is the largest fast food chain in the Philippines that is widely known for its chicken. With over 750 locations, Jollibee restaurants can be found throughout Cebu. This is the perfect place not only to meet up for a language exchange but to also try Filipino-style made foods and desserts.

  2. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in SM mall

    SM Cebu City Mall is the 4th largest mall in the Philippines and is a great destination not only for shopping but also a language exchange meet up. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is a great spot inside the mall to sit down, enjoy a European roast style coffee, and learn a new a language.

  3. University of the Philippines

    University of the Philippines (UP) is one of the most prestigious universities in the Philippines and one of its campuses is located right in Cebu City. The university setting is a great place to meet people who are willing to teach and learn about any subject.

  4. My Language Café

    My Language Café is a language school that is also located in Cebu City. This school offers lessons for a variety of languages including English, Spanish, French, German, and Italian. A school that solely focuses on learning languages is just the right place to teach English and learn Cebuano from native speakers. To learn more about My Language Café visit: http://www.mylanguagecafe.com/

  5. The Beach

    The number one spot to meet with someone for a language exchange in Cebu is the beach. It would be impractical to visit Cebu without visiting the beautiful island beaches that it is so well-known for. Malapascua, Bantayan, Camotes, Moalboal, and Oslob are among some of the many islands with the best beaches in the area. The ambience of the picturesque Cebu beaches makes it the perfect spot to relax, meet up, and engage in a Cebuano to English language exchange.

Photo Credit: Don Dexter Antonio
Photo has been cropped.

Cross section of child's brain
The Advantage of a Bilingual Brain
You might be familiar with usual tales of the social and professional benefits of bilingualism. For instance: you will better notice aspects of your culture and others’, you will find more people to speak to, and maybe even have more potential travel destinations, etc. But did you know that learning another language, especially during childhood development, could improve your brainpower?

New research shows that a child’s learning a second language is less like adding foreign letters into alphabet soup for a bowl of gibberish, and more like feeding new code into a computer that develops software in order to process it. Research has already shown the opposite of old myths. Bilinguals tend to show better organizational skills, and bilinguals also tend to read at a higher grade-level than their monolingual peers.

In addition, the newest research shows that psychologically, the benefits of bilingualism include the improved ability to control attention and switch tasks, to solve problems and resolve conflicts, and also to think creatively. At the same time, neurologically, the benefits of bilingualism also include better use of the executive and overall control system. According to Salary.com, and so we might say, “financially speaking,” bilinguals earn, on average, 5-20% more. If you can’t say “return on my investment“ in another language of your choice, now could be a good time to invest.

Moreover, benefits have been found for people of all ages. Believe it or not, babies born to bilingual mothers tend to show better performance before they have even learned to talk—even hours after birth. But learning another language isn’t just good for newly born or developing children. Among people who suffer from dementia in their later years, those who are bilingual tend to experience the onset about 5 years later than others.

Given the positive implications of language learning that are redefining research, and given our increasingly globalizing world, and populations, economies & languages that are growing and mixing, the benefits of learning another language are becoming more obvious now than ever.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Purdy

Two people having discussion over coffee.
Why You Can’t Learn English Online Without People
Ok, the tools are everywhere and come in all different forms—YouTube videos, vocabulary lists, and quizzes are at your fingertips thanks to the Internet. Learning English is more accessible than it ever has been before, allowing anyone with Internet access countless resources that promise to provide materials for quick and easy language acquisition.

This is nothing short of awesome, but there’s a catch. Learning English online gives you many opportunities to memorize vocabulary and understand basic sentence structure, but it does not expand into the complex realm of practice required to achieve fluency.

Not even the best instructional video has the power of human feedback to tell you that you aren’t saying that word correctly and to what degree, even though, in your ear, your enunciation sounds just like the instructor’s.

I’m a native English speaker, but during my time in France I found that the way I said water (l’eau) was incomprehensible. I had been studying French for about five years at this point, and water was one of the first words I had learned. Before my time with native French speakers, I had no idea that I couldn’t pronounce it correctly. It is still difficult for me to distinguish whether or not I’m saying it right without the help of native speakers, and it’s my lack of practice with them that caused the quirk to begin with.

Language is full of subtle peculiarities that just can’t be captured without the aid of a fluent speaker whose ear picks up on them. Videos can instruct, but they cannot correct.

Online learning also limits the acquisition of more casual, slang speech and conversational skills. Knowing the rules and words that build a language do not always translate effortlessly into speaking in everyday contexts. Slang is often not documented in online classes, but proves to be useful when interacting with native speakers.

Additionally, the risk of being able to understand a language and not necessarily being able to speak it becomes higher when online methods are the only ones used to learn. Conversation is an art and a skill which must be practiced in order to be mastered. The back-and-forth banter of everyday is not taught in language videos, and must be practiced in the real world.

When you hold conversations in a second language, you are challenged to learn new vocabulary that you may not have encountered otherwise. If you’ve been learning solely online, it’s doubtful that you’ve come across words like serendipitous, dry-erase, or jellyfish. Even if you have, there are undoubtedly many common, if unusual, words that you have not been taught. Real-life conversations allow for topics of every make and model, and they expand vocabulary by doing so.

Online courses are made to teach you the fundamentals, but they don’t often account for the challenges that accompany speaking with a variety of people with different pitches, accents, and speeds. Sometimes it’s hard to understand speakers of your native language because of these issues, so translating that into a foreign or second language is increasingly challenging. The communication difficulties this poses can be alleviated with practice and listening, but sticking to online courses to do this won’t replace watching films or holding conversations.

Online tools are major aids in the process of learning a language, but they can only be aids if your goal is to gain a thorough, working knowledge of English, or any other language. Let them form your groundwork, but don’t expect them to expose you to the subtleties and challenges that face-to-face interaction does.

Photo Credit: digital internet

John Lennon book cover.
Music Recommendations for Beginning English Speakers
In order to learn English, you will need to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. I personally believe that listening to music in English is one of the best ways to do this. It will help you grow accustomed to English and American accents, help you say difficult words, and in general grow more acclimated with simply hearing English being spoken. In addition, quite simply, listening to music is really fun. This is not just a silly point. Because listening to music in any language is enjoyable, you will be more motivated to continue immersing yourself in it, and the benefits will continue to accrue. Of course, many people will recommend that you listen to music, but most will not give you specific recommendations. What follows is a list of my personal music suggestions. I picked these specifically because I thought that exposure to these albums/songs/websites will help you to learn the language. Because of this, you will not find any avant-garde music that is very hard to understand (which I also like), or any music that does not have singing in it.

Great Websites to Check Out

http://www.fluentu.com/english/blog/learn-english-through-songs-music/ - Still unconvinced that learning music is a good way to practice? Concerned about how exactly you will go about using music to enhance your language learning experience? Check out this site that provides a great list of reasons why you would want to use music to learn English to begin with, along with some great miscellaneous tips.

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2008/01/30/the-best-music-websites-for-learning-english/ - this site is helpful mainly because it lists a variety of different music-related activities that I have not found on any other site (and in some cases, activities I have never even heard of). I would definitely recommend Lyrics Training. It is a great way to practice listening and provides some fun related games to play as well.

Great Specific Songs to Check Out

I won’t describe each song individually, but here is just a brief list of songs I feel either capture something important about English-speaking cultures, or songs that will, in general, inspire you to continue learning English.

  • John Lennon- Imagine

  • Queen- Bohemian Rhapsody

  • Rush- Tom Sawyer

  • Don Mclean- American Pie

For more information about this, check out sites like http://www.timeout.com/london/music/100-songs-that-changed-history-10

Great Albums to Check Out

Multiplication Rocks and The Four Legged Zoo by Schoolhouse Rock! – Both of these catchy albums are meant to help kids learn basic concepts such as multiplication. Because they are meant for kids, the words spoken are very clear and easy to follow. Listen to these if you are beginning English speaker to become more acclimated with the language.

Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys- A highly critically acclaimed album by a very well-known English-speaking band. Besides being a great album, generally speaking the band sings very clearly so it is easy to follow.

For more information, just do a quick google search for the “best albums” and check out sites like the following: http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/Current/1948-02a.htm.

Photo Credit: steve