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The Top Five Tools to Help You Learn a Foreign Language

The Top Five Tools to Help You Learn a Foreign Language

Learning a language is not always the easiest thing in the world to do. Maybe you are currently in school, and you are having difficulties with a language program you are taking. Or, maybe you graduated long ago, and still remember those horrible days of language classes when you just couldn’t get a full grasp on the material. No matter what the reason for your trouble with learning a new language, there is no reason to despair.

It is actually quite easy to pick up a new language, as long as you are using the right tools. Here are our top five picks for tools that will help you to learn a foreign language.

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1. Podcasts

If you have ever tried to learn a language and you have used recorded lessons, you know just how difficult it can be to really learn that language. The recordings are rarely natural-sounding, and they can be difficult for beginners to understand. A great alternative is to listen to podcasts. These learning tools are fully accessible, and you can easily listen to a podcast while you are on your way to work. Look for podcasts that are directed towards language learners. Coffee Break Spanish and Talk to Me in Korean are popular podcasts that will help you to learn these languages.

2. Text to Speech

Sometimes, you need to have visual and audio cues to help you learn a foreign language. Text to speech software gives you just that. It lets you have written text, and hear it being read aloud. Panopreter has created this easy to use software for Windows users, and it uses natural voices so it doesn’t sound like a monotone robot. It will convert text to mp3 and wav audio files, so you can listen to the files at any time. Tools include toolbars for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office Word, word highlighting, keyboard shortcut keys, and more.

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3. Song Lyrics

One of the best ways to learn anything is to put it to music, and this includes languages. Find music you enjoy listening to, and really listen to the words and try to repeat them. You can easily find songs with lyrics on YouTube, so you can read and say the lyrics while you are listening to the music. You can also find lyric study guides that have been created by teachers, which will help you to advance your language learning. The really good songs will stick in your head, and you will remember them. If necessary, get yourself a language guide so you can learn what the words mean.

4. Learner Community Websites

There are loads of great sites that you can use as study resources, and they offer lessons in a number of foreign languages. These sites include Busuu, My Language Exchange, Italki, and RosettaStone, and they offer great learning resources. You can connect with people who speak the language you wish to learn, and there are community spaces for chatting, where you can even correct writing and speaking, and have yours corrected. Learning a language through natural conversation is one of the best, and easiest ways to really learn the nuances of that language.

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5. Online Newspapers

If you really want to dive right into learning a foreign language, start reading foreign language newspapers. You can find newspapers online from all over the world, and in every language imaginable. Start out by reading shorter advertisements and photo cut lines (captions), and then move up to the longer articles as your language reading skills improve. As you advance, keep moving on to more difficult articles, and editorials which often contain local slang.

Featured photo credit: Foundry via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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