We had a brilliant time at our first meetup on Friday and judging from your lovely comments on Meetup and smiling faces in the photos, so did you! Here are a few pictures from our International Night to remind those of you that attended of a wonderful evening and to make all those who couldn’t be there green with envy and dedicated to coming to the next one! To see the rest of the photos, have a look on Facebook.
See you soon!
The Squarko Team
Our International Night will be held on Friday 1st July at Secondo, a café with a vintage theme and organic products by day which transforms into a buzzing retro cocktail bar at night. The evening will begin at 7pm and there will be 2 for 1 drinks on offer until 9pm. The Squarko Team have been working hard to come up with interactive and fast-paced language games with the dual purpose of breaking the ice and improving your language skills, so come along at 7 to partake in the linguistic fun! After the language games, a live band will take to the stage to entertain Squarkers with European sounds. A free salsa lesson will then be given as the music plays on and the drinks flow.
If you’d like to be part of our FREE International Night, please check out our International Night video on Facebook which explains the rules of the game and gives you a glimpse of the venue. You’ll find it in the ‘video’ section of the page, on the left. Don’t forget to ‘like’ the page to keep up to date with International Night developments. Then RSVP on Meetup, letting us know your native language and the language you’d like to improve and we will begin to work out different language combinations for our linguistic games. Please only RSVP if you really can come. We’ve got an awesome venue 30 seconds walk from a tube station, and the whole night is FREE so there’s no reason for you not to come!
We look forward to seeing you there!
SPAIN: A man has been arrested in Spain for curling up inside a suitcase, which was loaded into the hold of an airport bus. He then crept out of the suitcase and set about stealing items from passengers’ luggage. It’s like something from a Jean-Pierre Jeunet film!
FRANCE: French broadcasters have allegedly banned the use of the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’ on air, in an attempt to end surreptitious marketing. Presenters are now to ask viewers to follow them on social networks, rather than refer them directly to Twitter.
CHINA: A Chinese student has sold a kidney to buy an iPad and iPhone having met a broker online, who said he could help him sell his kidney for £1,825. His parents were gutted when they heard the news.
AUSTRALIA: Aelita Andre is the world’s youngest professional painter, aged just 4 years old. She earns up to £6,100 for her work and has her own show in New York. Not bad, for a toddler.
UK: A one-legged man has been arrested in Sheffield for robbery after leaving a tell-tale trail of single footprints at the scene of the crime. It’s like a bad game of cluedo.
We are very excited to announce that squarko.com is now up and running!
The Squarko Team
Language studies are evolving. With the increase in tuition fees, many students are shying away from language studies in traditional institutions, opting instead for more vocational studies in the hope of securing a career. Rising fuel costs make traditional face-to-face tuition too expensive for many language learners. Many are forced to teach themselves languages outside of the usual teaching frameworks. With the widespread availability of the Internet, the world has got smaller, and contact with native speakers and their culture has become a real possibility for people who cannot make regular trips abroad. As a result, language learning has got easier! So here are 5 top tips on how to take full advantage of the wealth of language learning resources on the Internet, as recommended by professional language tutors, learners and teaching experts!
1. Use Social Media to Your Advantage
Follow users who tweet in the target language. The language Twitterati tweet so regularly that you can rest assured you’ll be exposed to the target language on a regular basis. Why not enter into a discussion in the target language too? That way, you will be able to practise your writing skills and make regular contact with native speakers. Likewise, join groups on Facebook and subscribe to YouTube channels providing videos in the target language – fantastic for your listening and comprehension skills!
2. Download Podcasts
Download as many podcasts as you can in the target language and listen to them on your way to and from work. The British Council podcasts are brilliant for English language learners. If your language is up to scratch, why not download podcasts for native speakers? Even if you only understand a small percentage of what is being said, you will unconsciously expand your vocabulary by listening and understand what new words mean by their context. They really are a great resource to hone your listening abilities!
3. Join a Forum
Join a forum in your target language on a subject that really interests you. That way you will want to return to the forum to read updates and ongoing discussions and will increase your exposure to the target language. Why not join a language learning forum too for tips on how to improve your language learning from other learners?
4. Listen to the Radio Online
Try out a few online radio stations broadcasting abroad and leave it playing in the background while you’re at home. The key to successful language learning is regular exposure to the language, so make it part of your daily routine and tune in every morning while you get ready. The beauty of the radio is the range of vocabulary you are exposed to, from music related words to the vocabulary used on news programmes and the slang used by DJs.
5. Search For Local Meetups
Have a look online for nearby language and culture groups (we recommend checking out www.meetup.com ). Most groups have pages with an events calendar and a forum where issues can be discussed with other members in the same boat as you. You will be surprised at just how many are going on and they are a brilliant way to meet native speakers for some invaluable conversation practice! A fantastic way to take your online study offline.
Moving you tuition online opens up a vast client base to which most tutors would not have access. Students living in rural, hard to reach areas for example have the pick of the best online, rather than finding their choices limited to those with the time and means to travel to them. Online tuition is particularly revolutionary when it comes to language learning, since students are suddenly able to secure contact time with a native speaker of the language they want to learn. As any language learner knows, practice with a native speaker of the target language is invaluable.
Online tuition requires a different skill set to regular face-to-face tuition to ensure an effective lesson. An interactive approach is crucial; otherwise students may sit back and passively watch the tutor’s lesson. We have put together some top tips to help you become and impressive and effective online tutor, as compiled by us in the office and our best tutors!
1. Take a question-led approach.
This is an incredibly important aspect to bear in mind when teaching online, as it makes sure students are fully involved in the lesson and actively engaging with the material, rather than staring at it blankly. Every statement should be turned into a question. If this were a lesson, you might say: What should every statement be turned into? Tutors will then be able to see if a student has understood a point or not, since unlike in face-to-face tuition sessions, this cannot be read from the student’s body language.
2. Apply the 80-20 rule.
Students should speak for 80% of the lesson, leaving the tutor speaking for 20%. As in point one, this makes sure students interact. It also forces students to recall information from their memory from the very first lesson. Getting students speaking a language from the word go is a huge plus in terms of confidence and knowledge! Ask them, ‘how would you say?’ or ‘what is the word for?’
3. Give lots of positive feedback
Remember that students will be less able to read your positive non-verbal feedback such as nodding, smiling and eye contact in an online tuition session. It is therefore really important to maintain a positive approach to learning by encouraging students with what you say.
4. Test the technology before and prepare your resources.
The key to online tuition is preparation! Valuable time can be wasted due to technical hitches, so make sure everything is ready beforehand. Technical hitches slow the pace of a lesson that needs to be quick and interactive, so check everything in advance
5. Make the most of the wealth of resources available online.
Why not use a podcast for a listening exercise, watch a video on YouTube that illustrates your point? Check out a recent article I wrote called ‘5 Ways to Use the Internet When Learning a Language’ if you’re teaching a language online. The trick is to try and be as imaginative and interactive as possible when teaching online, and the Internet is a fantastic source of inspiration!
A recent article in the Guardian has revealed that students are opting for more vocational subjects over the arts and humanities, particularly languages. It looks as though undergraduates are more willing to shell out the proposed £9,000 tuition fees to learn a trade and help them secure a job in this highly competitive economic environment.
However, what perhaps future undergraduates seem to ignore is that language acquisition is highly valued by employers. Learning languages endows students with transferable skills and cultural awareness, both of which are sought after talents. Learning a language is, in a sense, learning a trade. Many careers such as translation, interpreting and MFL tuition for example have languages at their heart. Only those who have opted to learn languages may break into that field. Language studies marry a vocational skill and the wider study of culture and history, unlike other subjects which are either vocational or academic.
So, don’t let the tuition fee increase ruin your chances of being a top polyglot! Why not learn a language online with squarko.com and add a highly sought after skill to your CV, all the while learning about another nation’s culture?
The recent news that headteachers may have to cut the range of A-level courses on offer, while increasing the class sizes of those that remain, has got linguists all shaken up. Modern Foreign Languages departments are most likely to be hit by the cuts, which have exacerbated the already existing problem regarding the poor popularity of languages at A-level. But why should we learn languages, and why should we learn online?
Being able to communicate with others in their language is perhaps one of the most satisfying feelings that exists. Victor Borge’s statement that ‘laughter is the shortest distance between two people’ could be followed up with ‘when the joke is shared in the same language’! Speaking to someone in their language instantly shortens the distance between two strangers, and opens up new cultures and experiences to which you wouldn’t have access before. Imagine how many more people you could chat to if you spoke their language; it’s such an exciting prospect!
Learning a language online is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the language, from the comfort of your own home. For those of us who don’t have the option of moving abroad to learn French, study Spanish or speak German, the wealth of resources the internet opens up for us is vast. Taking lessons online provides regular contact time with a native speaker in a fast-paced and interactive environment. Gone are the days of learning with a tutor with whom you have nothing in common, simply because they live nearby! Watch clips, listen to the radio and read the newspapers online together with your tutor in the Squarko virtual classroom, which is designed to put the fun and vibrancy back into learning a language. After your lesson, why not continue your virtual immersion by watching a film online in the original language, listening to some foreign music or checking out the top websites abroad? These are all methods of continuing your language practice on a regular basis that the internet affords us.
So fear not, linguists and polyglots! Although traditional scholastic language learning is perhaps on the way out, language learning itself is not thanks to innovative steps taken by companies such as Squarko, who aim to re-inject excitement into language learning after years of dusty classroom textbook learning or intense grammar drills. Language lessons are not defunct, they are revitalised.