Using games to improve your language skills

Just in case you were wondering what happened to the language posts here is one.

I recently went to a birthday party and the guests there were found of using the Sims computer game in foreign languages to learn all of the basic household items. They also liked to play Command and Conquer online with Russian and other eastern block people as it was a good way to learn the language as it was used by the people. My way of naming my Pokemon after Greek animals seemed rather inferior after that. I have thought about changing my devices to foreign languages but that never goes well. I’ve done it by accident and I’ve used items abroad and it’s just too confusing for me. I also came across an Alexa recently so I thought I would see if it could talk to me in foreign languages. This Alexa was new so didn’t seem to be able to even tell me whether she was an Echo, Dot or what version she was. I gave up after asking the same question in 3 different ways and getting the same default responses. So as much as games and technology can help you learn a new language, the best way is always going to be to get out there and to be social as much as you might dislike this method.

Best wishes

Angela

Shadowing

  • This is a new technique that I have learnt that helps to address what is usually lacking in your language studies if your an introvert like me and really dislike talking to people.
    1. You need to get hold of some clear audio (an audiobook) that is at your current level.
      You also next to get hold of the corresponding text (e and physical is the most beneficial but you choose which is the best for you).
      Next you need a recording device, there is one on your phone.
  • When choosing your text make sure that the subject matter is interesting to you otherwise it will not be as useful to you and you will be wasting your time.

      Have the text in front of you and listen to the audio at the same time.
  • If you are someone like me this is quite difficult because I absorb information at light speed. I’m not really reading but seem to pick up the gist as quickly as a sponge sucks up water. (Most of the time)

    1. In this example though we are going for pronunciation practice here. So we’re trying to assimilate as much of the sound in terms of its physical qualities. By that I mean it’s intonation, spacing, pitch, rhythm, accent, emotion etc as possible. All of the different components are important here to get an authentic sound which is what we are aiming for.This is so that we can repeat it into the recorder as accurately as possible. This round is on a phrase by phrase basis.
      Then we try to repeat as much of it as possible listening to the audio recording from the beginning again. This is so that we can get a flow to the whole piece rather than isolating each sentence.
      Next we are going to compare our recorded speech with that of the prerecorded speech to check for differences.
      Finally we repeat the process until we cannot distinguish our own speech from that of the recording. (This maybe optimism as you may get bored if this doesn’t happen quickly).

    Again if you are like me, your reluctant to listen to your own voice recordings because what you hear doesn’t sound anything like you think you sound. It’s sounds pretty awful as it’s weak, pathetic and indistinct a bit like a newborn mewling kitten.

    This is the link if you wish to learn Russian from Max its creator Shadowing.

    If you have been following my blog you will know that this approach is next to impossible to apply in Greek. I have recently found audio books on YouTube but I have had to separately purchase the e and physical books from Amazon. It took quite some time to arrive as even though they were on Amazon UK, it had to be shipped from Germany.

    I have started to follow a lady on WordPress un petite bibliophile (this platform unless your reading this on my fb page) who reviews Greek children’s books in Greek. However, without access to the texts themselves; they are of limited use to me for this particular technique. They are simple children’s books but they can still teach valuable concepts. I like to use them for grammar and reading practice. It helps my comprehension and understanding having her texts there to consult.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    A simple Russian comprehension with related activities

    www.youtube.com/watch

    If you wish to watch and listen to the worlds most expressive Russian check out the above video. It’s a simple story with questions afterwards. There are subtitles to help you out as well as pictures and his actions.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    How to learn like a child as an adult

    The best way to learn a language in my opinion is with the ease of a child. By that I mean don’t approach it head on. Don’t get bogged down with grammar, declension tables or memorising lists of vocabulary.

    To effectively learn a language you need to engage your unconscious and sub conscious minds. This is where our creative powers reside and the majority of our brain power.

    Communication is mostly done unconsciously. This is where body language comes in and Freudian slips of the tongue. This is challenging behaviour for a child to control but relatively simple for us unless we are under duress, in a new scenario.

    A child will interact with his environment absorbing everything and gradually processing it into a shape that takes the form of words. However, before this children will express themselves in art. Even Picasso knew that the still resides an artist within every adult yet it has been obscured by becoming an adult.

    Children have no innate sense of fear so this allows them to explore and practice language without worrying about the implications of what they are saying. This is how we get such phrases as “out of the moths of babes”. The honesty of children gets lost as we learn to say white lies, to sugar coat our words or simply to say the opposite of what we mean entirely out of politeness. This all builds up to prevent us from being able to communicate in a foreign language.

    We are often reduced to the linguistic level of a child when it comes to second language acquisition and this frightens us. We are scared of the unpeeling of ourselves and the vulnerability that we now exhibit since we are no longer able to mask our true feelings.

    In order to master our linguistic abilities we need to learn to appreciate ourselves for who we were, who we are now but also who we wish to become in the future. We can’t change if we don’t know that we need to in the first place.

    Have you had to do any “unprogramming” of yourself to learn how to live a better, more authentic life for yourself?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Sky Arts programs

    These are another fantastic resource to use to learn languages with. There are many European programs where the people being interviewed do not speak English but subtitles are provided for your benefit. This can range from a program about the influence font (sizing, spacing, arrangement, case, style and colour of letters) has on us. The show travels from France, Germany, Spain, Portugal to French Canada, the USA and finally the UK to give a wide variety of signs throughout history with a knowledgeable local in each location.

    Another program I have watched was set in France and it demonstrated all of the sketches that the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent did during his working career including his cartoon sketches that he did when he needed a break. They interviewed those closest to him and the majority of the program was in French with subtitles.

    The most recent program I have been watching is Sky Arts Master of Photography. I believe this is set in Italy as that’s where the challenges take place. Some of the contestants are Italian so you get to hear them interacting with locals during the course of their day. It’s very European as you get contestants from Germany, UK, Switzerland etc. There are subtitles for the Italian but to stop any more linguistic confusion the main content is in English.

    Is there any other bilingual programs that you like to watch and would recommend me to check out?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    How to Create an Abundance Mindset (Lose Your Scarcity Mindset)

    Lose your scarcity mindset and adopt and abundance mentality in your language learning. You’ll learn more, and you’ll stay motivated.
    — Read on www.fluentin3months.com/abundance-mindset/

    This article details the attitude that is best in order for you to make the most progress in the quickest way which is what we all want – efficiency.

    My Art

    Vasiliki bell tower acrylic paint on stone
    Vasiliki bell tower acrylic paint on stone
    Vasiliki pastel on watercolour paper
    Vasiliki pastel on watercolour paper
    Graphitint and pastel on watercolour paper
    Graphitint and pastel on watercolour paper
    Lefkás town ink on canvas
    Lefkás town ink on canvas
    Lefkás Library acrylic paint and paper
    Lefkás Library acrylic paint and paper
    Lefkás town acrylic paint on canvas
    Lefkás town acrylic paint on canvas
    Cypriot church gouache on card
    Cypriot church gouache on card

    If you like my art that I have previously shared, Some of my own artwork and Some pictures of Lefkás. You can now see it all on my Instagram account that I have created just for the purpose of sharing with you all. AthinaMinerva7

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Krashen’s Hypothesis (on language acquisition) and what I think is it’s relationship to the difficulties present in Autism

    This is in fact a group of 5 hypothesis (sorry about that), that were formulated by Stephen Krashen in the 1970’s and 80’s. These are to do with Second Language Acquisition and Educational Psychology. This is rather in depth and technical at times so your going to have to bear with me on this one. It’s an important theory that I have just come across due to it being promoted by Luca Lampariello. He is a Italian polyglot and teaches languages for a living.

    The 5 hypothesis are as follows,

    • The Input hypothesis
    • The Acquisition Learning hypothesis
    • The Monitor hypothesis
    • The Natural Order hypothesis
    • The Affective Filter hypothesis
  • Input hypothesis

  • This says that you learn best when the language you are exposed to is slightly above your current level so you can understand it but it requires growth to properly comprehend it. You therefore need what is termed Comprehensible Input.
  • There are some corollaries or additions to this which I will now explain.
    1. Only practising talking, means that while you will be able to communicate, you will not necessarily be able to write as it is writing that encodes language into our brains far stronger than any other message. Hence when we need to remember something we write it down.
      When you have enough reading material of an appropriate level or Comprehensible Input you will learn grammar far better than through direct grammar teaching. This has been proven by the famous Hungarian polyglot Kato Lund but also by the Canadian Ling Q founder (language app) and noted polyglot Steve Kaufman.
      The way you are taught in a classroom is quite often different to how you learn naturally so a gap becomes apparent which results in lopsided learning that isn’t particularly useful. Any one who remembers there high school french classes can probably attest to learning innumerable things to pass tests but nothing useful that you could actually use in a real life situation.
  • Acquisition Learning hypothesis

  • It says that in the Acquisition Phase you acquire language simply by being around others that are practising a language. This is a subconscious process so you are not aware you are actually learning anything. If the language you are absorbing is above what you are currently able to comprehend ie it’s not Comprehensible Input; it will sit there until you have sufficient knowledge to be able to use it. Also see the explanation of Natural Order Hypothesis 2 headings below.
  • The Learning Phase is conscious awareness of learning and it’s when you are taught in a formal manner. It is the learning of rules and the framework that enables you to construct language in an appropriate way. It can seem quite abstract initially with just an outline. This is essential however as we will see in the next paragraph.
  • The difference between the 2 is important because the Acquisition Phase is much easier and more natural as it’s how you learned your first language. However when we get older we tend to use the Learning Phase for Second Language Acquisition. So this means, we struggle to gain adequate knowledge in order to make our wants and needs known. This discourages us from learning; as we feel we have regressed to an early stage of childhood. When we had to cry to get attention since we didn’t have the linguistic means to say anything.
  • It also showcases the fact that if you learn through Acquisition you will speak like those around you which may not be grammatically correct and could include a lot of slang. This will make it harder for you to learn other languages as you are unaware of the underpinnings of your own language. If you Learn it’s more likely to be grammatically correct and without slang but you will most likely sound very unnatural and robotic. This grounding however will make it easier to learn other languages as you already have a linguistic structure in place.
  • Monitor hypothesis

  • This says we use our existing language base to correct ourselves hence we say something incorrectly “….” and then realise what we were supposed to say and say this “….” is what we actually meant. This means that in theory adults are better than children as they have built up more of a base but it also explains why children are happy making mistakes. They are generally unaware they are doing so.
  • The difficulties inherent in using the Monitor will now be explained.
    • As the Monitor (think of a computer scanning your speech before you say it), requires you to analyse form (grammar and syntax) and meaning (semantics) at the same time; this can result in conversation slowing to a crawl or even completely stopping while the conversation is digested. I’m certainly one of these people. I think a lot of autistics are also prone to it. This is perhaps why autistics talk in such a strange way. We understand the grammatical rules but not the meaning because that often morphs to fit the situation. This affects not only our first language but any others we may learn. This is how you can come across people who while having been born and bred in the UK; prefer and sometimes even move to where they can speak French (Daniel Tamnet autistic polyglot with Savant syndrome), Greek (occasionally myself), or any other language including made up ones like Klingon or Elvish (many introverted geeky people).
      When Writing you often have all of the time in the world, so you can utilise your vocabulary to its full extent. This ability is enabled as you have no outside influences competing for your attention. This shows itself frequently in that autistics often prefer to communicate in written form as opposed to verbally like the rest of the world. This can be electronically in the form of instant messaging, email, blogging see an example here – How to have a basic conversation in Greek with common phrases or in older times writing letters, poetry, or even a book! See examples here My author page.
      As a result of this, while we (Autistics) may Know the Rules; we don’t don’t have sufficient processing time in conversations. We will therefore resort to talking about topics we know about without us requiring to consciously think about them. We don’t want to slow you down but we simply cannot listen and reply at the rate you do.Language variation.
  • From what I’ve seen of Neurotypical (anyone who doesn’t have Autism) conversations; it involves lots of talking, not a lot of listening and a lot of forgetting so you can say the same things repeatedly and nobody minds as they were never paying attention on any of the previous occasions anyway. So inefficient and illogical as it wastes so much time and effort.

    • We are more than linguistically capable of holding a conversation. Maybe even more so than yourselves, as you’ve never needed to prove yourself. As we struggle for the correct words to respond appropriately, we appear immature and tend to get treated as children with patronising and condescending comments. We (I) have very good hearing as these are usually whispered or muttered under the breath in an attempt to discreetly “badmouth” us. These are also delivered in tones that while are acceptable when you are still a chronological child, become infuriating when you get older both chronologically and mentally. The problem is the more you stay with people your comfortable with (because they induce less panic and anxiety), the more they want you to stay the same so you don’t grow. This is why we leave our parents. Otherwise we probably never would.
      Since so much of communication can’t be learned from a book, Autistics struggle greatly with this. Which is why you will frequently see us talking with our hands when we can’t get the words out quick enough. If Italians, Greeks etc can get away with it, why not other cultures like English too?
  • Natural Order hypothesis

  • This says that while we all learn at more or less the same speed; the time it takes for us to be able show this knowledge in an adequate scenario varies greatly so it seems that others learn much quicker.
  • Affective Filter hypothesis

  • This says that the learner receives too much negative impact from their environment and this impedes their ability to communicate. Their emotions and mood interfere with their processing capabilities. This is brought on by anxiety, low self esteem or boredom due to lack of interest. Carrying on from the Monitor hypothesis this sounds like Autism 101 or a basic introduction to Autism in case your unfamiliar with that terminology. Our affective filters or “emotional states” are always up if we are distressed and nothing gets through them as there like the most impenetrable firewalls you have ever come across. For an example of this in action see here Brain, Mouth and Me.
  • According to Krashen the filter/(force field etc) struggles to come down
    1. If your expected to speak too soon therefore not allowing enough silence for information gathering and processing (all the time in pretty much every conversation ever) and
      Your corrected too soon (yes this is me totally with so much baggage from my childhood it’s unreal).
  • Reading about all of these hypothesis makes total sense to me as I have been struggling a lot with my language skills recently. I have also been wondering why I cannot perform when I have the necessary prerequisites to do so. Hopefully the blocks have now been removed since they have been discovered.

  • Additions and Critique

    Additions

    According to Wolfgang Butzkamm (linguistics professor) and John A Caldwell (2009), while you need comprehensible input to understand the language around you, you also require dual comprehension. This means that you need to understand what something literally translates to as well as what they are actually asking you. This happens so often to me in English, Greek etc and I’m pretty sure this is another facet of Autism. We get the words but not the meaning hence our literal sense of humour. It’s witty and intelligent as it involves wordplay but deviate from the established standards and were lost.

    Critique

    The above hypothesis are critiqued by some (but Wikipedia is unable to say who Grrr) for saying that there is a gap between acquisition and learning – the acquisition learning hypothesis but as this not an area that can be proven it is left in the air so to speak. I know there is this gap because I can acquire language but it does not necessarily mean I have learnt it. It’s like saying memorisation and learning are the same thing. Just because you can repeat something does not mean you can use or make use of it.

    Conclusion

    I like the idea that language learning is heavily dependent on the mood of the learner and other factors like intelligence, memory etc are nowhere near as important. If a learner is under some kind of stress than the learning will be impaired just like if they are unwilling to learn in the first place. This shows that the environment that a learner is placed in, subject to and how it affects them is more important than any other factor when it comes to language learning.

    How to talk to Autistics

    How to educate Autistics

    How to learn Greek

    How to improve your Greek

    How to learn any language

    Greek life

    A Life of Halcyon Days

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Andreas Kalvos Greek poet 1792-1869

    He was a major part of the Heptanese school of literature along with his fellow Zakynthoan Dionysios Solomos However the 2 never met and there is also no known picture of Andreas Kalvos.

    He was a wayward soul hence he wasn’t recognised in his hometown and country until much later. He traveled widely through Greece and Europe having many affairs, marrying a couple of times and producing a couple although they often died shortly afterwards. Thus his life was full of sadness which powered his poetry.

    He also taught Italian and Greek to help finance his restless nature. His become disgruntled with his family and his patron which led to his inability to settle anywhere for any length of time. He was constantly moving in search of something he couldn’t quite get.

    Since he died in England it wasn’t until 1960 when George Seferis was the Greek ambassador that he arranged for the body of Andreas Kalvos to be returned to his native Zakynthos.

    He is part of my series on Greek poets.

    For a look at my other work see here Series links.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Dionysios Solomos Greek poet 1798-1857

    Dionysios Solomos introducing a George Seferis chapter
    Dionysios Solomos introducing a George Seferis chapter

    He is considered the principal poet of the Heptanese school of poetry of which he was part of yet this set contained amongst others Aristotle Valaoritis, Ioannis Zampelios Spiridon Zampelios and Andreas Kalvos.

    The reasoning for this is that Dionysios’s education on Zakynthos had been in Classical Greek and when he lived in Italy, Italian. When he tried to write in a more modern form (Dimotiki) it was extremely difficult for him as there were no poems to act as a reference since they were previously in Katharevousa. Therefore, he had to create a whole catalogue by himself.

    It was himself that started the poetic revolution that questioned what version of the Greek language that people write in compared with how they talk. In typical Greek fashion this was only resolved in the 1970’s. So for approx 150 years they were unable to decide which should be the official versions.

    Even Byron perhaps did not have that much effect on the Greek people although he did influence Dionysios. As usual this is not always corroborated by all the sites I have read but since people of similiar minds all tend to congregate in the same place he probably did have have an effect on him.

    For perhaps a more authentic take and some clarity read this Dionysios Solomos.

    He is part of my series on Greek poets.

    Aristotle Valaoritis

    Ioannis Zampelios

    Spiridon Zampelios

    Andreas Kalvos

    For a look at my other work see here Series links.

    Best wishes

    Angela