Optimize mistakes to learn foreign language

Mistakes, a tool to accelerate foreign languages learning

« When you forbid mistakes, you steal victory »  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

Fear of error is the lock of learning. In the context of foreign languages, the avoidance strategy is its most common manifestation. The learner does not dare to answer, looks for the shortest and least risky sentences, or expresses himself in basic mode: “yes”, “no”, and “I don’t know”.

Are all mistakes equal when you speak in another language?
Is a fault more serious than a confusion?
Does a careless mistake carry the same weight as systematic misuse?
Can a false friend embarrass you?

Moreover, should errors be corrected?

To correct or not to correct errors when learning foreign languages

Using mistakes to give meaning

 

The question may come as a surprise, but the controversy is raging. Neuroscience supports correction. In his recent book, “Learning! The talents of the brain, the challenge of machines“,  neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene invites us to accept the error: “It is the very condition of learning, it allows the brain to update our mental models. »
(L’entretien du dimanche – Sud Ouest 21/10/2018)

When to correct? The dilemma in foreign language learning

When is correcting mistakes better?

 

“Mistakes should not be punished. They should be corrected. And the faster a correction is made, the more effective it is,” recommends Stanislas Dehaene. However, this advice is difficult to apply for foreign language teachers. Mastering a foreign language requires the acquisition of two skills: fluency and accuracy.

“Accuracy means the ability to speak correctly without mistakes. Fluency means speaking, reading, etc. with a natural pace and cadence without long pauses,” says Abbie, Master English Coach at VivaLingA language teacher must work to balance the emphasis on the two: not to ensure accuracy while sacrificing fluency and causing a learner to second-guess everything and speak with long gaps or pauses; at the same time, not only encouraging fluency with no consideration of correct usage, especially mistakes that can affect the overall meaning understood by the listener (such as using the wrong verb tense, a “false friend” from the learners primary language, or a word with the wrong connotation in the target language).”

Optimize mistakes as a learning tool

Mistakes as a learning tool

 

 

“Errors are part of the process of acquiring a new language. At VivaLing, our teachers spot which parts were hard for the students to learn and then reinforce and pay more attention to the similar points in the next sessions, explains Jing, Mandarin master coach.

“The most important thing I would like parents to understand, continues Coach Abbie, is that it is important that language learners develop accuracy and fluency simultaneously and that both are equally important. »

As is often the case, the solution lies in a wide range of strategies, to be adapted to the student’s situation and personality.

  When to focus on fluidity?

“If the teacher and student carry a meaningful conversation, communication should be the most important thing, points out Jing. Once students have expressed themselves, the teacher can repeat their general idea using the appropriate vocabulary, grammar or mode of expression. Most of the students will realize their mistakes.”

This constitutes the subtle principles of delayed error correction. “It means allowing the learner to finish their thought or sentence (fluency) before addressing the errors (accuracy)” states coach Abbie.

“If we are working on a free activity where there are no specific instructions (for example, “What do you usually do on a weekday?”), I don’t correct or only slightly” confirms Nuria, Spanish master coach. “I  just let the learner flow like it would happen in a real situation with natives (natives don’t correct you all the time).”

  When to focus on precision?

“On the other hand, when we are drilling a specific point of the language and the student makes mistakes, we correct them immediately. This part of immediate feedback is included in our Villa pedagogy,” says coach Jing, “so the students won’t repeat the same mistake over and over again.”

“In controlled practice activities,” Coach Nuria confirms, “the exercises involve specific instructions, such as: fill the gaps with the present tense. In this case, I try to point out all mistakes at the moment the learner says themI also go back, if needed, to read a certain word or a specific point, so it helps the student to remember and consolidate. »

Solutions in action

Solutions for optimizing mistakes

 

At VivaLing, our coaches use mistakes to transform them into a learning accelerator. The subject is too broad to cover in a few lines the full range of their pedagogical tools.  Let’s discover some of their basic strategies that will allow you to better decipher the videos of your children’s sessions….

   The coach helps the learner to focus on one or two specific mistakes at a time

Coach Abbie likes to identify specific areas rather than trying to correct everything at the same time. She uses goal-setting and cueing as a strategy.

“A lot of learners have fossilized errors that they carry over from their primary language or from years of bad habits. It’s important that they are aware of these trouble areas and know that their errors often come from the same core mistakes. By identifying a weakness, we can sharpen our focus and offer specific praise and practice to help them turn the “not yet” into a “yes!” For example, many French learners have trouble knowing which verb form to use in present simple tense: “He walks vs. They walk” or  “She has vs. We have.” Even when they do remember, sometimes they drop the pronunciation of the final “s”!!!

So I tell the learner that I’ve noticed they make this mistake often and I want to help them fix it. We come up with a cue or signal (such as drawing an “s” in the air with my finger) that we can associate with this specific error. Instead of interrupting them in the middle of a sentence, I will just make a motion with the signal, and the learner will restate what he/she has just said correctly. Another common error is forgetting to use the past tense. In this case, I just make a backward pointing motion with my thumb. The learner often knows the past tense form. He/she just forgot to use it and can fix the error without any interruption in fluency”

  The coach involves the learner in the correction process

“We play at solving the mistake together,” says coach Nuria, “as if we had to find the answer to a riddle.”

According to the principle of delayed error correction, coach Abbie waits until the learner has completed his sentence or exercise to throw a clue such as “Number 3 seems weird…What do you think?”

  The coach talks about mistakes in a positive way (and in affirmative mode)

“At VivaLing, “No, it’s not good” is prohibited,” explains coach Nuria. “We prefer to ask the learner, “Mh…. Are you sure about that?” because the last sentence stimulates curiosity and gives children a platform to think and decide for themselves. It teaches them to be critical of themselves. »

  The coach rewards the solution of the error

“I seek to reward my learners twice as much if they correct their own mistakes (even with help),” underlines coach Nuria. “Indeed, they are actively reflecting and consolidating the notion in their brains. It’s double effort and responsibility in their own learning process! ».
An approach approved by Carol Dweck, Stanford Professor of Psychology. Her research shows that it is better to congratulate the work done by the child (then the effort is rewarded, whether the result is correct or incorrect) than the child’s intelligence (mistakes would then be a sign of the limits of intelligence: “I am not good at it. It is not made for me”).

  The coach only corrects the necessary errors

How can a linguistic notion be corrected if the learner has not yet really learned how to use it? It is important to limit corrections to notions that the learner should already know. For the rest, the coach will be his student’s crutch to allow him to climb the successive steps.

Let us therefore encourage our children to consider their linguistic mistakes as an opportunity!

Learn English with coach Brittany from USA

Hello, can you tell us more about you?

My name is Brittany from New Jersey, USA. Currently, I live on a beautiful island called Puerto Rico. I have 2 brothers and 1 sister who live in New Jersey. I make every effort to try and visit them often.  

Have you always been a teacher?

I have been a teacher for many years. While I was in high school I started out tutoring students.  I have a special fondness for helping people learn new things. This is why  I went to school for cosmetology because I also have a passion for hair styling and making people look beautiful. Later on, I found myself working as an event and wedding planner.  

What do you like best about teaching your language?

The art of communication. English is a very expressive language. We don’t just speak with our words but we also speak with our facial expressions and our body language. My most positive experience in teaching English is that I have met hundreds of wonderful and interesting adults and children over the ye

What is your best memory about teaching?

I had a very difficult 5 years old student. He never wanted to sit down, never wanted to learn, and never wanted to engage me. After about 3 lessons, I felt like this was a lost cause. I really wanted to give up. Then this determination and drive just came over me and I said to myself “What can I do differently?”  Well, I dressed up like a crazy person :). One side ponytail. Bunny ears. Crazy makeup. Instead of teaching him sitting down I taught the whole class standing up. Instead of teaching 0 minutes in a 25 minute class I was at least able to get about 7 minutes teaching him. So I learned that moment that if I continue to create a fun loving experience really and put my love into the teaching to draw him out little by little, I’ll be able to complete a 25 minute session.

Do you have any favorite place in your home country? Why?

New York City ! I love all the lights. I love the fact that there’s always something to do. Broadway shows, food, jazz, walking around the city, museums, etc. NYC is known as the city that never sleeps and I love it !

What does a working day look like for you?

I wake up at about 6 o’clock in the morning and prepare my schedule for the rest of the day. I’m not really a breakfast person so I will only have tea or coffee. Then I check my emails and get dressed and ready for the day. Some days I teach in the mornings.  Other days I teach in the afternoon. On the days that I’m not teaching, I am involved in my volunteer work teaching people about the Bible in English. When I return home I always prepare my classes for the next day and send out any emails needed for my students and their parents. Sometimes I like to watch a movie or TV show with dinner and head off to bed.

What is your favorite hobby?

I love singing, dancing, and traveling.

Why do you think learning languages is important in life?

Where I currently live in Puerto Rico, I do not speak the language fluently, but I work diligently to communicate as best I can with these beautiful people.  Of course, I wish I had learned Spanish much earlier In life. The mind of a young child is like a sponge and it can absorb new information much more rapidly than adults at an accelerated rate. Being able to teach young children English is vital for them to be able to succeed in life. The world has become a melting pot of different languages and when you’re able to communicate even just a few words, it builds a common ground with whomever you encounter.

In one word, why should a child have language sessions with you ?

LOVE !!! I realize that I have great chemistry with children. My goal is to make learning English not only challenging but great fun. I love listening to children struggle through the activity of learning a new language and then successfully communicate the language with great ease. I love what I do!

Learn English with coach Ilse

Hello, can you tell us more about you?

I am Coach Ilse. I live in the breathtaking city of Cape Town in South Africa. I grew up in a small town called Somerset West. I have two naughty but adorable dogs, two beautiful cats and about ten Koi fish. I love hiking, camping, surfing and the outdoors. I don’t have a sweet-tooth at all, but I love baking for friends and family

Have you always been a teacher?

No, I studied CAD drafting and worked at an engineering firm. I used to teach Sunday-school classes and tutored a few students. I started working as an online teacher more than two years ago and I still love my job every day.

What do you like best about teaching your language?

English is and has always been my preferred language, as some things just sound better in English. I feel there is so much we can learn about the language, once you dig a little deeper. Idioms, poems, simile and phrases, to mention a few just makes life sweeter.

What is your best memory about teaching?

I would have to say the unique way in which my students surprise me. To see my students improve and to be able to help with their progress. Seeing how proud they are once they get there.

What is your favorite place in your home country? Why?

My favorite place is the beach. The crashing of the waves, the birds in the sky and sand between my toes, is better than therapy.

What does a working day look like for you?

I wake up and have a healthy breakfast. I start my sessions with my students, complete progress reports and after that I prepare my lessons for the following days.

What is your favorite hobby?

I have a lot of hobbies and changes with the seasons but at the moment my favorite hobby is definitely hiking.

Why do you think learning languages is important in life?

The world cannot function without language, we need a way to be able to communicate with ease. Learning a new language broadens ones listening skills and memory. It also helps us improve on our own languages.

What is the most important value of learning a language at an early stage for you ?

It is easier for younger learners to learn and remember a new language and it enhances future career opportunities.

In one word, why should a child have language sessions with you ?

Because of my enthusiasm! 🙂

Food in Spain: Tengo hambre!

Tapas, paella, sangría, jamón,… A lot of people around the world know and have even tried these typical dishes at least once in their lifetime. However, there are plenty of different local Spanish dishes which are more typical in Spain and even tastier than these world-known ones. I chose 5 dishes (although there are many more) from all around the “Península Ibérica”.

Pulpo a la gallega (originally called “polbo á feira)

Pulpo a la gallega

This delicious dish from Galicia (northwest Spain), can be challenging for those who don’t like or have never tried seafood before. “Pulpo” means octopus, and when it is fresh and cooked well… it melts in your mouth! It is usually served on a bed of boiled and cut potatoes, and has a drizzle of olive oil and a touch of paprika on top.

Pan con tomate (originally called: “pa amb tomàquet”)

pan-con-tomate-

Originally from Catalonia (northeast Spain), although you can find similar versions of it in other Mediterranean countries. It is made with just 4 ingredients: toasted bread, garlic, olive oil and salt. You can eat it by itself or with cheese, jamón, prouscitto… almost anything!

Bocadillo de calamares

BOCADILLODECALAMARES

If you ever go to Madrid (the capital of Spain) you should try this typical sandwich of fried squid rings. So simple but surprisingly good!

Paella Valenciana

Paella-9

Everybody knows paella, but not a lot of foreigners know that paella is originally from Valencia and is not supposed to have seafood in it (in other areas of Spain they created their own “seafood” version). The original paella valenciana typically uses rice, “judía ferradura” -a type of green beans-, “garrofón” -a special type of big white beans-, chicken, rabbit, tomato, water, salt, olive oil and saffron. If you are ever in Spain, you will need to know that Thursday is Paella day in every Spanish food restaurant!

Gazpacho

gaspacho-3279

From the south of Spain, this typical dish is made for hot weather. A cold soup, easy to make at home. The main ingredients are: tomato, cucumber, green peppers, olive oil, bread, vinegar and garlic. Quite light and refreshing!

Author: Nuria, Spanish Master coach at VivaLing

Why you should make a language study trip to France

 

Study Trip France - Accent Francais

The benefits of a language stay are many: a life experience, the discovery of another culture, self-discovery and a way of traveling “smart”

If you are not yet convinced, here are some excellent reasons why to try this adventure.

  • Linguistic immersion

An intensive practice of the language: A linguistic stay means real practice in the actual country. Progress is faster because you speak French, think French and even eat French! French classes, accommodation with a French family and the practice of cultural activities are the keys to effective learning.

  • The discovery of France and its culture

Beyond learning the French language, it is the experience of a culture different to yours and an ideal way to open your mind.

  • Getting out of your comfort zone and your family circle

Working life quickly teaches you that sometimes it is necessary to adapt to unfamiliar situations. Immersion in a different country and culture is an excellent learning experience: new encounters and situations different from what you are used to forges character. This experience is often a first for teens and young adults and a new step towards self-reliance.

  • New friends from all over the world

A language study trip allows you to meet students from all over the world who have the same goal: to learn French. When one is away from home, great friendships are made and good times continue to be shared, often through a professional social network,  well after the language stay has finished.

  • A way to enrich your resume

There is no longer any excuse to miss mastering a foreign language. A linguistic stay makes it possible to value the practice of a language and knowledge of the culture. A considerable asset in the labor market.

Smart holidays: Visiting a country, meeting new friends, having fun and learning a foreign language….. are these not the ideal holidays ??

If your children are aged 16 and above, let them enjoy the best study trip to France ever: contact our partner Accent Français and enjoy a $40 discount on your stay in Montpellier!

The Legend of Chinese New Year

chinese-new-year-18

 

An ancient Chinese legend about the origin of chuxi tells us that there was a monster called Xi. Xi would emerge from the sea on the 30th day of the 12th lunar month to dine on the locals. No one would dare sleep that night until, at last, they learned that the monster could be driven away by putting up red paper and setting off firecrackers. Since chu means “to get rid of”, the Spring Festival Eve was known as chuxi, meaning “to get rid of something”.

Have a look at a great video about this legend

The custom of pasting Spring Festival couplets, setting off firecrackers and staying up late at night is thus observed till the present day

The history of the character “福”

The character “福” is often seen pasted upside down during the Spring Festival. Do you know why?

Here goes the legend:

After the emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, ascended to the throne, he secretly told all the people who had helped him to paste the character “福”, which means good fortune, on their doors. He would then kill those who hadn‘t put the character up by the second day. Afler discovering the plan, the kind-hearted Empress Ma asked every family in the city to paste the  character before dawn hence eliminating the disaster. Thankfully the people listened to her.

On the second day, when the emperor ordered his soldiers to kill all those who hadn’t pasted the character “福”, he was told every family had pasted the character. This made him very angry. Then the emperor heard about a family had pasted the character upside down because they were illiterate. He became so furious that he immediately ordered the whole family to be executed.

Empress Ma then hurriedly explained to the emperor, “The family must have learned Your Majesty will come today, so they put the character “福” upside down”. The clever Empress Ma knew that when spoke in Chinese, “upside down”, has the same meaning as “good fortune has arrived”.

The emperor fell for her explanation and didn’t kill the family. A disaster was avoided. From then on, people have put the character “福” upside down, meaning “good fortune has arrived”.

What’s on the menu for Chinese New Year?

Chinese New year

 

Chinese people attach much importance to family reunion. No matter how far the family members live from each other, they will normally go back home to eat a family reunion dinner on the Spring Festival Eve. The dinner, usually a big feast, includes dumplings and all kinds of other food.

In northern China, each dish has a special meaning. The steaming hotpot signifies prosperity. Since fish has the same pronunciation as “surplus” in Chinese, it means “surplus year after year”. Chicken has the same pronunciation of luck, which predicts auspiciousness while carrot heads, also known as caitou, express the wish to have a good luck. Deep-fried food, such as that of lobsters and whole fish, signifies the auspiciousness of a family.  Dumplings, originated from the word “intersection”, which means the moment between the old year and the new year. Since a dumpling also resembles a shoe-shaped gold or silver ingot in ancient China, placing plates of dumplings on the table signifies “the New Year will come with wealth”.

Families usually sit around the table on the Spring Festival Eve, eating the reunion dinner while watching the Spring Festival Galat and awaiting the ringing of the New Year bell. The sound of firecrackers will be heard and spectacular firework displays seen.

On the morning of the first day of the first lunar month, people put on their finest clothes and exchange New Year greetings. Elder members of a family give “lucky money” to the children and adults exchange greetings, wishing each other good fortune and a Happy New Year. With the development of communication tools, people send loving text messages to each other. All around there is a bustling and joyous atmosphere. No matter where you are, you’ll surely receive good wishes.

This is the Spring Festival of China. It is lively, jubilant and joyous,

Would you like to come to China now and experience it?

 

Chinese New Year, it’s time to sing!

Chinese New year song

There is an amusing song that Old Beijingers sing about the time before the Spring Festival Eve. It vividly depicts how people busily and happily embrace the New Year:

“Little kids, little kids, don’t be greedy.

After laba, it’s New Year’s time

Drink the  porridge for several days, then on the 23rd day,

On the 23rd, eat glutinous sugar candy.

On the 24th, clean your house;

On the 25th, fry tofu;

On the 26th, stew meat;

On the 27th, kill chicken;

On the 28th, leaven dough

On the 29th, make steamed bread

on the Spring Festival Eve, stay up and play whole night.”

 

小孩小孩你别馋,过了腊八就是年。

腊八粥,喝几天,哩哩啦啦二十三。

二十三,糖瓜儿粘;

二十四,扫房日;

二十五,炸豆腐;

二十六,炖炖肉;

二十七,宰年鸡;

二十八,把面发;

二十九,蒸馒头;

三十儿晚上玩一宿;

https://quizlet.com/_4e2r5g quizlet link for this song with pinyin, characters and translation – 

Click here to listen to  the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0guqygv-CEI  

The day before the Spring Festival is known as the Spring Festival Eve, which usually falls on the 30th (although it can sometimes be the 29th) of the 12th lunar month. To usher in the New Year, fun activities such as hanging lanterns, setting off firecrackers and putting up Spring Festival couplets are held. People oflen stay up until midnight on the Spring Festival Eve, otherwise known as Shousui.

Chinese New Year 2018….Ready, Steady, Go!

Chinese-Year-PROMO1389731149

 

What is Spring Festival? Is it the equivalent to Chinese New Year? When is Chinese New Year? Does it occur at the same time of year? How long does Chinese New Year last?  How do people celebrate it?

If you don’t have the answers to all these questions, then read this article to uncover the truth about the most important and popular event in China.

This year, Chinese New Year falls on February 16th, the year of dog. Chinese New Year is also referred to as Spring Festival, due to the prominent arrival of Spring after the New Year.

When is the Chinese New Year? Does Chinese New Year fall on the same day every year?

Chinese New Year, is the most important traditional festival in China. In terms of grandness and importance, it is the equivalent to how Christmas is celebrated in the West.  It falls on the 8th of December in Lunar calendar ( 16 February this year) and lasts for two weeks.The festival comes to a climax on the last day of December in Lunar calendar (commonly known as the Spring Festival Eve or chuxi in Chinese) and on the 1st of January in Lunar month.

How do people celebrate Chinese New year?

The Chinese Spring Festival is more than 3000 years old. Preparations begin from the 8th of December Lunar calendar. The week commencing on the 23rd day of Iayue ( lunar calendar) is the busiest time for the Chinese. Activities include sweeping and cleaning houses and making special purchases for the festival, such as food, Spring Festival couplets, the characters of “福” and clothes from department stores and supermarkets. People living away from their hometowns begin to prepare for their journeys home. As a result, train stations, airports and long-distance bus stations are crowded with people eager to reunite with their families

For Chinese people, no matter where you are, no matter how difficult it is… it is a time to go home.

 

VivaLing at UWCSEA Community Fair 2018 – what a great time we had!

UWCSEA Singapore Community Fair

 

The Singapore VivaLing team joined the UWCSEA Community Market on Saturday 03 February 2018!!

This market was an engaging eco-marketplace that seeked to go beyond the buying-selling point of healthy, eco-friendly, compassionate and/or ethically-sourced products or services by including an immersive element to it.

We had such a great moment exchanging on language learning strategies and playing the “lucky wheel” game with families and kids. While having fun with word puzzles and “Truth or Dare” games, kids have also received attractive awards such as “Inside-Out” DVDs and free lessons with VivaLing.

We were so happy to see the excitement on their faces and hope to have many other opportunities to meet more international parents and kids in Singapore in the comings weeks and months!
Check out many more exciting moments at the UWCSEA Community Fair from: https://www.facebook.com/VivaLing/

Started in 1971, UWCSEA is an international IB school in Singapore, recognized for academic excellence, service and outdoor education for students ages 4 to 18. Over 75 nationalities enrich the daily life on the Dover Campus, as does the boarding community and the scholarship students selected through the UWC national committee structure on the basis of their potential to have a positive impact. UWCSEA is a truly international school.

the VivaLing team at UWCSEA Community Fair