Friday Tip: Learn a Language

Every Friday here, I provide a tip or a guideline that makes teaching easier in the 21st century.  Today’s tip is: Learn a language during your summer vacation.

Start with Spanish, or French.  There are a host of good reasons to learn Spanish in the United States today, at least in part because it’s one of the most common languages in the western hemisphere, and because so many incoming students speak it.  Learn French because it provided a lot of loan words through Latin into the English language, particularly in law.

Learn Chinese or Japanese as your next language. Why? Because you’ll be showing students that you’re not above learning difficult things, and that you enjoy serious challenges.  One of these two Asian languages will also help you unlock the history and culture of another part of the planet to your students, even if it’s only something as simple as writing the date in Chinese on the board.

Most of all, though, learning a language — any language — will keep your mind fresh and active and strong.  And if you are engaged in the learning process, your students will be much more inclined to believe what you say about learning in general.

This week’s tip comes with the following resource: http://www.livemocha.com which is a free language-learners website that connects you to native speakers in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, and more.

And it comes with the following challenge:  I’ve made it my goal to do all of the online lessons in Spanish this summer, and be good enough to surprise my students this fall with my ability to speak Spanish.  Are you up for the challenge?  Join me, and we’ll learn together.

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