Learning Languages

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language and identity, learning languagesLearning Languages is a lesson that provides you with the opportunity to consider to what extent does language limit our education as well as how it affects our reading and writing. This lesson is centred around the theme Social Organization from the IB Language B curriculum which explores the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests. In this lesson, we will practice our listening and reading skills by understanding why learning another language is difficult.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
Watch a video on ways to get better when learning a language and answer the questions.

Click here to reveal the answer and read the transcript

Sometimes, when we’re learning a language, we can feel very frustrated.

Despite all the hours that we’re putting in and all of the hard work that we’re doing, when it comes to actually speaking the language, it can sometimes come out stuttered, full of mistakes, and sound like we’re not really that good.

This can lead to a lot of self-doubt. It can lead us to ask questions like: ‘Can I really learn this language?’ or ‘Have I perhaps reached my limit?’

The way to start speaking a language more fluently and more proficiently is just to practise speaking it. Practise, practise and practise again. Here are some tips that you can use to get more practice at speaking the language. So, the first one is: Get a conversation partner. You can find a lot of people who will be happy to practise languages with you online. Or, otherwise, if you go to a meetup group or a student event, I’m sure you will find plenty of people who you can practise your languages with. If you don’t know where to find a conversation partner, the other thing you could do is start to talk to yourself. Or, if you’re not comfortable talking to yourself in public, just think to yourself.

Start narrating to yourself what you’re doing and working out what things you’re comfortable describing and what things you’re not yet comfortable talking about. Then, when you go home, you’ll be able to fill in those vocabulary gaps, and the next day try again.

The third thing you can do is to learn vocabulary like you want to use it. So, instead of just learning the word for ‘door’, why not learn it in a phrase like ‘open the door’, ‘close the door’ or ‘behind the door’. That means that, when you need to talk about things like that, you’re immediately going to have phrases that you can start using.

Finally, whenever you learn a new grammar point or anything really in the language, always think about how you could use this. Imagine a scenario in which you’d use it naturally, with friends, as part of your normal life, and then immediately you’ll find that what you’re learning theoretically will be much more applicable to your speaking of the language. Share your language-learning tips and experiences by leaving a comment below, and make sure you check out the other videos in this series.

Listen to a poem performed at Slam Nation and then answer the question that follow.

1. What does Taylor Mali mean when he says 'I decide to bite my tongue'?

2. When the lawyer asks Taylor 'What do you make?', what does it mean?

3. When Taylor says he can make 'an A-feel like a slap in the face', what does he want from his students?

4. Why does he say he makes students 'apologize and mean it'?

5. What does he mean when he says 'Let me break it down for you'?


Click here to view transcript and answers

He says the problem with teachers is
What’s a kid going to learn
from someone who decided his best option in life
was to become a teacher?
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true
what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.
I decide to bite my tongue instead of his
and resist the temptation to remind the dinner guests
that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.
Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite conversation.

I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor.
Be honest. What do you make?

And I wish he hadn’t done that— asked me to be honest—
because, you see, I have this policy about honesty and ass-­‐kicking:
if you ask for it, then I have to let you have it.
You want to know what I make?
I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honor
and an A-­‐ feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time
with anything less than your very best.
I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence. No, you may not work in groups.
No, you may not ask a question.
Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?
Because you’re bored.
And you don’t really have to go to the bathroom, do you?
I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
Hi. This is Mr Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,
I just wanted to talk to you about something your son said today.
To the biggest bully in the grade, he said,
“Leave the kid alone. I still cry sometimes, don’t you?
It’s no big deal.”
And that was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make? I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write.
I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful
over and over and over again until they will never misspell
either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.
I make them understand that if you’ve got this,
then you follow this,
and if someone ever tries to judge you
by what you make, you give them this.

Here, let me break it down for you, so you know what I say is true:
Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now, what about you?

What teachers make by Taylor Mali

1. c
2. a
3. d
4. c
5. b

Read the text about the first day at school for young children.

Why learning a language is hard & how to make it easier by Erin

Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about learning languages:

  • applicable
  • conversation partner
  • commitment
  • cultural immersion
  • grammar point
  • intensive language course
  • motivation
  • native language
  • native tongue’s grammar
  • polite conversation
  • fluently
  • self-doubt
  • sophisticated
  • struggling
  • super-flexible brains

1. Write a blog for students who want to learn English.

  • Create an introduction on the importance of learning English.
  • Write four headings that highlight important points to consider when learning a language.
  • Finish with a short paragraph offering encouragement.

2. People believe that not all school children have the natural ability to learn a new language. This means it is not right to force all school children to study a foreign language. Write an essay stating if you agree or disagree with this matter.

  • Create an introduction which paraphrases the background information and state if you agree or disagree.
  • Write three paragraphs which give specific examples or explanations to support your ideas.
  • Finish with a short paragraph restating your opinion with the issue.
We add activities and exercises like this lesson Educating Early, regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to discover their interests, values, belief and culture.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to consider how events which take place impact an individual's life.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the sciences, technology and creativity.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to explore the way in which groups of people organise themselves through common systems or interests.

This topic provides students with an opportunity to look at the challenges and opportunities faced by individuals and communities in the modern world.

Here you will find exercise to practice for the different sections of IB English B examination for either the Standard (SL) or Higher Level (HL) papers.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of English grammar to communicate effectively.

Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically.
Levels Links:
This educating early lesson is for students at an advanced level of English. This will probably be suitable for students in their fifth or sixth year of English studies. We add exercises on grammar and vocabulary as well as whole text activities on a regular basis. In addition, we provide test practice activity for students who are preparing for the C1 Advanced which is part of the Cambridge Assessment English Main Suite as well as the English Language B for the IB Diploma. The material will also support students studying for the Cambridge Advanced courses.

We also provide free resources across the full range of levels to provide the tools to communicate in English well.

Elementary | Pre-Intermediate | Intermediate | Upper-Intermediate | Advanced