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Feb 26, 2009

Beginners.

Learning a foreign language can be a difficult thing. Any language has a huge amount of information. On top of that, there is also the pronunciation and fluency that need to be practiced. English can be a pain to learn. Even the word "this" is difficult to pronounce for a lot of people. So, what is the solution? The answer is accurate practice, and lots of it. I have been learning the violin for just over a year, and I can tell you that there is no substitute for accurate practice. My three boys, who are in elementary school, use different techniques to practice new information. My youngest boy, in particular, has started using flash cards. They are rectangular pieces of thin card, each with a word written on it. You look at one at a time and try to read the word. It is a very simple system. Some people don't like to use it. It never suited my two older boys,  but my youngest loves it. Another system that works, especially for children, is to write about things that they are familiar with but in a very funny context. Apparently, humour, repetition, and familiar details all help a person learn. So, when you are practicing English, try to create sentences with those three ingredients. You'll have fun at the same time.

Grammar notes.

Related vocabulary: information, practice, pronunciation, substitute, technique, accurate, rectangular, square, circular, triangular, humour* (Eng. sp.), familiar, on top of that.

Verbs: to write (write, wrote, written). The rules were written in stone.

To start + gerund. Exs: I have started using a new shampoo. It's better!   

He started driving really fast; we were all very scared.

Advanced.

What can we do to rescue our brains? What on earth do I mean? Do our brains actually need to be rescued? Well, apparently, yes. As we get older, we tend to forget details. Sometimes our long-term memory is better than our short-term memory. Have you ever walked into a room to get something and forgotten why you went there? Being over occupied is sometimes to blame. Women typically get that way when they are pregnant. Two other reasons for forgetfulness are anaemia and tiredness. They say nowadays that mental exercises are the key to keeping a young, fresh brain. Have you tried any? Crossword puzzles can stretch your word abilities, and your problem solving skills. One activity that my mother enjoys is Sudoku. You are probably familiar with it. You have to place the numbers one to ten in ten lines without having any duplicates. It can be very taxing. Another way to stretch your brain is to undertake an activity which is very different from anything that you have ever done. If you are musical, then perhaps you could try a new physical activity. If you are very physical and sporty, maybe learning about computers would be a good way to make your brain cells grow. Believe it or not, this podcast has stretched my brain a little. Let's hope its effects will last.

Grammar notes.

Related vocabulary: to rescue, what on earth, long-term memory, short- term memory, mental, crossword puzzle, believe it or not, occupied.

Exs: Believe it or not, my neighbours* won the lottery. (Eng. sp.).

       The helicopter was called out to rescue the people at sea.

       What on earth did you do with my new hand bag?

His long-term memory is amazing; he remembers what he used   to do as a baby.