Speak a New Language by Repeating it!

Today it’s the third day since I’ve received the Six Day Course from Rocket Language Website. This course promises to help learner to learn and use most common German words, phrases and sentences.

Unlike like most language courses and books I’ve ever read about how to learn a language, every lesson of the course gives me a very brief conversation for me to study every day.

It started with showing me how the conversation sounds in German and then exlaining their meanings  and in which situation each of them can be used. It asked me to repeat each of them at least five times. I think they’ve tried to make me listen and speak the things as much as possible and they didn’t make me feel bored about the repetition. They also provided some additional words and sentences so that I can enlarge my language a little at one time. At the end of the lesson, I could still hear the sounds of the conversation in my mind and reproduce them if I try.

They help me learn a bit about the language every day and use it right when I’m studying it. They help me make small steps closer to the language very slowly but effectively.

You can try to see how it would feel to start to speak a brandnew language by going to http://www.rocketlanguages.com. When you’re there, pick the language you’d like to study and subscribe to the Rocket Languages 6 Day Course. And there you go!


Speak It Like a Kid

The kids going to my class were taken to school by their parent. They looked fun and a bit naughty to have a new English class. It was time to learn, and like those from the classes I’ve been in charge, they just couldn’t sit still and shut up for the new lesson. So, I did the job for them.

They opened their books and started to repeat. They made some mistakes in pronunciation, but they surprise me all the times that they can pronounce the foreign sounds even when they don’t really know what they are. They just imitated what were spoken.

I was wondering that if they could pronounce the language any better or deshape it to something that they’d hardly be understood if they know more about the language. I heard from a teach german weblog that the best way to study a language is to use it.

Yeah, they were using it. Not like the so-called older, smarter and more experienced  and unchangeable people that are studying the language analysis, they do a much better job at the language centers and bilingual life nowadays while the adults get stuck with their tongue.

Lose yourself to learn a language!

Like the Dump and Deaf

My cellphone was ringing. There appeared on the cell screen “VU”, the name of my ex-classmate from high school. I haven’t seen this guy for at least nine years. I was trying to guess the reason why he called me, and like most of the other calls people make he asked me if I could go have some coffee.

Having coffee is one of the most popular suggestions used for a meeting. You can talk about business or personal stuffs or just go see a newly opened interesting coffee shop somewhere downtown Saigon that some suggested. There’re some places you can have lunch. They have free wifi, and that’s great if you bring your laptop.

When I met him across the coffee shop, he looked much fatter. But it’s hard to mistake him with anyone else by listening to his intonation. It’s easy to recognize and there wasn’t any change about it. It’s not large in the coffeeshop and there were people taking time having lunch and some drink. Some others were working online. He said that his family moved to Saigon ten years ago and I can see that from the first number on his motorbike tag. Between 50 and 59 as I know are the numbers used for the scooters registered in Saigon.

We updated information about our friends from the high school. I reminded him why I have his phone number and called him months ago. He and me know Hieu, the guy I met in university, and I got Vu’s cell number from him.

Vu’s now working in Petro Vietnam, a state’s gasoline company, and at the same time working for his graduate degree in Polytechnic University of Hochiminh City. In order to get his master degree, he needs to have a Toefl test score of 500. Otherwise, there’ll be a degree with his name on it but he never has it. That’s one of the reasons why he feels the urgence of possessing the English certificate. Furthermore, he described himself as the dump and deaf without good English ability. He explained that most of the books in his field are now in English and their Vietnamese Translation versions are misleading due to sucking translation.

He’s shown himself that there’s no more theoritical grammar class with teachers talking about their personal topics in the classes. He got to find the weekest link in his English skills. Toefl requires good listening and I wanted to know if he has that, and his answer is a “no”. He may be ok with his speaking, he thought, but he’s never sure about his listening.

He has a long way to go with his English to get to what he wants. And he can’t just pick a language center, pay the tuition and quit the class after one week like what he did at many big famous language centers in Saigon like Vietnam US Society Center or even worse the Language Center of Hochiminh City University of Teaching though I believe in the fame they’ve created within the market. Along with the cheap school fees, fame can’t help his English any better. Go find good English teachers with effective and useful knowledge as well as methods to enable him to speak  and listen in English to save him from the dumps and deafness.

Without Grammar?

This morning I woke up and took my girlfriend to go to her English class on An Duong Vuong Street District 5 in Saigon. From there, I went straight to my student’s home to teach. When I just took off my shoes and greeted Lan’s husband Huong, he smiled with me and asked me ” isn’t it Thursday today?” Oh, Gosh. Yeah, it is. It’s Thursday and I don’t have any class with Lan today. I thought it was Friday. That’s bad after I spent about an hour riding on the motorbike just to know that how absent-minded I am.

I’ve work as a English tutor with that student for about nine months now. She and her husband and their two children are in the process of getting their Immigration Documents to go  live in Texas. She said she has relatives in L.A. and Texas or something and she would like to go there to meet them more often and want their children to have better education and future.

Her husband doesn’t seem like to go live there at all. He’s a music teacher and he can earn a lot of money – of course to most people in Vietnam or even in Saigon. Saigon is the most expensive city in Vietnam. He can earn two thousand dollars  even in Vietnam and would prefer to stay in Saigon after his wife and children would come there  and support them 1,500USD a month and live on the remaining 500 bucks. He doesn’t want to start it over.

It’s a nice teaching experience with Lan. Not because her English is good, but it’s just because she had no ideas about English before I started to work with her. In Vietnam, it’s better for you to teach a foreign language to the ones knowing nothing about it rather than those who know SOME thing about it. Usually, they’re crammed with the wrong useless and misleading knowledge about the language. Usually doesn’t mean all. I know there’re other teachers or language centers do a good job.

The students new to the language are often taught grammar and other nonsense stuffs even before they open their mouths to generate a real sentence. There’re so many grammar points taught and a great number of exercises assigned but little or none of the listening and speaking skill applied to produce the language. I’ve made some surveys myself about that just to see that high school graduates after seven years studying English can’t make it to the third sentence by an American. Yes, they’ve studied English for SEVEN years and can speak none.

Luckily, Lan doesn’t have anything like that. She’s been shown how to say a word, a phrase and sentence in English and listen to how they sound before she could have any ideas about grammar. She said that her daughter, a senior high school girl, sometimes shows her some but she couldn’t understand nothing about it. It’s so complicated to her and she didn’t have clear enough explanations. I replied to her that it’s better not to know them before you begin to speak and listen in English. She’ll learn some grammar some day but not now, before she can generate the language and hear how it’s spoken in reality.

Start with reproduce the language first, not to analyze it.

‘What soup?’ or ‘What’s up?’

It’s been a week since one of the first classes since Khai Minh Language Center got its business license. Located in Tan Phu District, Hochiminh City or Saigon – Vietnam, the school has made its first steps to the education market in the city.

Since Doi Moi (Renovation) Policies are passed in Vietnam, plenty of foreign language centers  have been set up and till now in 2009 there are only around ten of them become famous in this industry in Saigon. They’re Vietnam US Society English, ILA, Cleverlearn, Duong Minh Language, Leecam, North America, Iwep, Vietnam American Training, Apollo, Outerspace,  and so on.

High end students prefer foreign-owned language centers, while most local ones fight severely in the price wars. Expensive centers use their “Western” fame and the inexpensive ones focus on training quality and student care efforts.

The teacher for Khai Minh’s first class seemed a little bit nervous a few minutes before the class started because two of the students hadn’t come yet. I told him to take care of his teaching  whatever may happen. The class’s there for him to teach.

Man, this guy has a really loud voice and he’s fun when explaining his lessons. He’s alright with his teaching but he has problem with his confidence or maybe he’s shy. Most people in Vietnam are born to be shy or they like to be. They’re very confident, relaxed and energetic with personal topics but become completely different when they do something more serious. They become more conservative and like or try to look shy at work. I think he can be better with a bit more confidence.

The night the day before yesterday he really shocked me when he showed the students how to say ‘what’s up?’ in a way I don’t know what to comment about. His ‘what’s up?’ turned to something like ‘what soup?’ Oh Gosh, how could he make such a mistake? He pronounced the ‘u’ in ‘up’ exactly the same way how it’s pronounced in Vietnamese – ‘ooh’. He didn’t know what he was doing so he repeated it at least three times.

He even astonished me more when he said ‘is’ like an ‘e’. This guy omitted the ‘s’ sound at the end of this verb. Most Vietnamese English speakers ignore or fail to pronounce English final consonants correctly how they’re spoken by the native friends. Perhaps people can say that it’s because of the mother their mother tongue hindrance, but a foreign language learner need to overcome it not to avoid it.

Before coming to Vietnam, you could be told by some friends living there that people in Saigon speak English very good. I doubt every meaning that can be inferred from that remark. You can find one or two really good English speaking Vietnamese among one hundred of them. They say it’s okay when foreigners can understand them; I say it’s better for these foreigner friends’ understanding with their better pronunciation.

Start Blogging

I came across the term ‘blog’ very accidently.  I still remember some friend asked me like “do you have a blog?” or “what’s your blog address?” I replied that I didn’t have one and had no idea about it. I was explained that a blog is just like a website where you can write what you want, upload your photos and share them with friends.

At that time, I didn’t hang out with people often. I just went to work and came home, ate and drank something and then took a shower. The most exciting thing after reading is to get online to check my emails and then wander around or surf on the net without any certain purposes. Sometimes, I feel a real need to get online. I guess I have the need to be connected to the world, but when I’m there I don’t know what to do.

I’ve studied some first simpliest techniques to create my previous blogs and gave some designs for them like choosing the themes and text fonts and sizes. The blogs I went to just showed me lots of ways to make a blog more attractive. It was like putting bright and colorful lights and decorative stuffs on your Christmas tree. But finally I didn’t know what to do with the blogs I just had.

I thought of numerous domain names but I couldn’t make up my mind what the real reason for it. Oh yes, that was the problems. I was busy thinking of how to design a blog but I still didn’t have a real reason to have one. Having a decorative blog may sound good but it’s not all I’ve looked for from a blog.

I’ve read some books about what to do with a blog just to see it’s still way too long to make my blog to where I want it to be, but it’s made me think over to the inside of me. Instead of searching out there the real meaning for my blog. I better off looking at it from a different point of view.

Why do I need a blog? Just to write about things I longed to write about but I haven’t. Just write what I want to write and I’ll know what to do next.