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Montag, 22. Juli 2013


Homework... A love hate relationship?


Does it actually make sense to hand in your homework if you didn’t actually do it yourself? 


Sure, homework helps you learn, but on the other hand, you actually have to make an effort and use some of your free time to complete it. Often, there just isn’t enough of an incentive to give up some of that free time, and those few “good” students find themselves using the internet to “locate” the answers. 


Unfortunately, this also means that the student doesn’t take the task of doing their homework very seriously either. Yes, they complete it, perhaps out of a sense of obligation, or in fear they will be called out in class when it is reviewed. But really, why bother?


Over the years, I’ve received assignments that have included hypertext links, the original author’s name, and one answer even included a list of other addresses in ‘its reference section’. It goes without saying, that students shouldn’t just copy and paste their answers from a web site, but instead, see these web pages as tools. Learn from them, and then practice how to use and apply it on their own.


This isn’t always easy though.  


For instance, look at what would happen if I wanted to know the German word for the English word charge. There are many current vocabulary translators online, and they come from respected and well known sites. (I.e. Pons, Leo, and Google just to name a few). Yet, by simply typing in one word, the user is often presented with many choices. With the example word ‘’charge’’, I’d need to know if I should choose Gebühr (fee), Kostet (cost), Anklage (accusation), Verantwortung (responsibility), or even Belastung (financial burden), just to name a few.


So what should you do?


Best, would be to learn the language in the context you need to use it in. As new terms and expressions come up, examine how they are used. Ask why, and try using them once they’ve been introduced to you.


As for the homework, I tell my students; use the online tools with caution. Yes, they can help. But if used blindly, they can also confuse things and make what you are trying to say incomprehensible.


Rob Beaudoin

Dienstag, 30. April 2013


What makes a good language learner?


Why do some students progress rapidly and others don’t?  What is the difference between a good language student and a, well… not so good language student?


A lot of it has to do with organization; getting organised at the start and staying organized.  This includes having a folder to keep notes and handouts, having these handouts sorted into a grammar section, articles section etc, and having some kind  of system to store and organise vocabulary so it can be practised, accessed and used quickly (Try out our Vocab Collection sheets here to help keep your vocabulary neat and organised).  Some students are very organised, others not; generally, those well organised do better!


It is not only the ability to be organized with pieces of paper that makes a difference, it is the ability to take an organized approach to the process of learning.  This includes:

  • >   Know what you want to learn and why
  • >   Analyse and learn from your own mistakes
  • >   Look at the learning / training tasks you are given critically; identify what the reason is for doing the task and what it is you should gain from it –focus on this
  • >   Understand your learning style and use this in your approach to your learning
  • >   Reflect on what you learn and evaluate your own progress – do you need more practice?


If you can turn the above points into habits of your language learning, you will be a successful learner, and your trainer will appreciate it too.


Mike Hicks

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