Benefits Of Learning A Second Language

4 Mental Benefits Of Learning A Second Language

It’s no surprise that learning a second language reaps (gains) numerous benefits. While you can communicate with more people, it also boosts your mental ability. Bilingualism is best achieved in childhood. But, adults learning a second language can also achieve fluency and get the same mental benefits.

Besides job promotions and class credit, here are four mental benefits you may not have known.

language learning

You Develop The Ability To Listen

What does this mean? Sometimes we don’t think about what we say when speaking in our native tongue. But, when learning a new language, we put on our brakes and listen to what is being said.

Our ears and minds work harder to not only understand what we’ve heard but also a response. This is called active listening, a skill highlighted in a blog post by Andrew Barr. Active listening is much more efficient in strengthening your language listening skills.

Tip: Start improving your listening skills with audio articles within our app. It’s updated daily with content to test if you can catch specific words.

Enhance Your Multitasking Ability

Studies have proven that learning a second language can strengthen your multitasking ability. How? When a bilingual person hears a word or sentence, the brain works between the two language systems to figure out what is being said, put it into context, and how to respond. This is called “executive thinking”, a process that governs multitasking.

Develop A Better Understanding Of Your Language

Learning a new language–especially one from a different culture–gives you a better understanding of your culture. For example, the communication pattern in Japanese is much more indirect than English. This gives you a comparison of the cultural differences between the east and west.

culture

Improve Your Creativity

Language improves your creativity by giving you more ways to describe situations. For example, in Japanese, describing fresh air translates to “the air is delicious” in English. In English, we say “the air is so fresh.” Depending on the language, different phrases will require you to think how to say them in a different way.

Endless Benefits To Language Learning

There are numerous benefits to learning a second language. While it can be difficult as you get older, the benefits outweigh the cost. Regardless of whether you’re learning for fun, to get a better job, or getting class credit, learning a second language will help you in all aspects of your life.

 

How to Improve Your Spelling

How To Improve Your Spelling

Spelling mistakes can be hilarious or fatal. Autocorrect is an amusing way most people get a kick out of their friends or family members’ spelling mistakes. But, when mistakes appear on a CV, it’ll damage your credibility. With these spelling tips, you’ll become a better speller and learn to look out for common spelling mistakes.

Why are some words more misspelled than others? It’s because people spell words based on their sounds. For example, the most common misspelling of ‘basically’ is ‘basicly.’ And ‘appearance’ as ‘appearence.’

Tip: The U-Dictionary APP provides daily spelling quizzes to improve your spelling.

Phonetic Spelling Strategy

The first spelling tip we have for you is the phonetic spelling strategy. It’s the most common method for beginner spellers. The strategy is to focus on each word and represent the sound with a letter or combination of letters.

For example, if you can identify the sounds for “hello,” you will be able to spell the word easily. Hundreds of English words can be spelt correctly using the phonetic spelling strategy.

By choosing between an American or British accent, you can familiarize yourself with how words are pronounced.

Knowing Spelling Rules

You may have heard the spelling rule ‘i before e except after c.’ It’s catchy and easy to remember. As a basic rule, it’s great. But, there are exceptions such as leisure and neighbour. Knowing spelling rules and their exceptions are tricks on how you can avoid their common misspellings.

Another spelling rule is the suffix “–ful.” Words ending in this suffix are always spelt with one “l”. Here are a few examples:

Grateful
Careful
Useful
Helpful

However, when we add “–ly” to words ending with the “–ful” suffix, it’s a double “l.” Here are a few examples.

Gratefully
Carefully
Usefully
Helpfully

There are lots of spelling rules in English. There are also exceptions to each rule. A trick is to come up with an easier way to remember them. Try making your own rules or jot down the ones you often forget.

Visual Spelling Strategy

The last of our spelling tips is the visual spelling strategy. As your spelling improves, you’ll subconsciously develop an eye for spelling mistakes. A helpful visual strategy is to look for patterns. For example, look at the following words: gate, bate, blate, date, and fate. They not only end in “ate”, but also sound extremely similar.

By looking for patterns, you’ll not only be helping your spelling skills but also your pronunciation. By seeing the common misspellings of English words in our spelling quiz, you’ll know what to watch out for.

Eloquent – Etymology

Eloquent

Eloquent is an adjective meaning persuasive speech or writing. It has Latin roots which meant ‘speaking out’ and from the verb eloqui. It’s borrowed from the French word éloquent. When describing someone is eloquent, you’re saying that their way of speaking or writing is impactful.

Someone who is eloquent is powerful in expressing strong emotions or to state factual arguments with fluency. But, eloquent has evolved to mean more than its initial definition.

“Action is eloquence.”  – William Shakespeare

Therefore, you could say that eloquence is someone who invokes a positive emotion in another; someone who is classy; someone who understands a situation and reacts to it appropriately.

Still confused at what eloquent means? Fortunately, the U-Dictionary APP available on both Google Play and the APP Store provides translations instantly.

Tip: U-Dictionary’s instant translation provides bilingual sentences, sample sentences, and cognate words in addition to the simple translation so you can better understand the use of a word.

Eloquent also has a noun form, eloquence, which has the same meaning as its adjective counterpart. Eloquence is developed from the Latin eloquentia.

The peak use of this word was in the 1850s. Since then, it has significantly declined. While not commonly used in casual conversations, it more often appears in writing prose.

Sample Sentences

Here are some samples sentences using eloquent.

  1. Her speech was very eloquent for her age.
  2. He looks like a very eloquent person.
  3. Her silence showed her eloquent nature.

Synonyms

Synonyms for the word involve poise, fluency, fervour, and expressiveness.

Antonyms

Some commonly used antonyms for the word are impotence, inability, and incompetence.

Writing Exercise: Building Suspense In Writing

Building Suspense In Writing

A dominant theme of horror movies is the concept of the unknown. Who’s behind you? Who’s on the other side? Horror movies are famous for making people question continuously, a great way of building suspense in writing.

In this writing exercise, you receive a call from someone who seems to know you. However, you have no idea who they are. What do they say and how do you respond?

Tips On Building Suspense In Writing

This writing exercise is not limited to suspense. Depending on your approach, you can easily turn this into a different genre such as mystery, horror, and even romance. Though, when creating this exercise, my initial thought is suspense. So, I’m going to suggest some tips on how to write suspense.

I’m no writing professional, but I do enjoy a good mystery or thriller during my spare time. The mystery genre and the suspense genre are considered cousin genres by WritersDigest. In that article, they also mention their nine tips to writing suspense fiction.

They make a good distinction between suspense and mystery. They use the example of an assassination crisis of the president. While a suspense would begin with dropping weapons, mysteries would begin with the knowledge or hint of the assassinated president. “In a nutshell, suspense creates drama before the crisis event while mystery starts its thrill ride after the crisis event.”

My own tips to add to writing suspense include putting yourself in your character’s shoes. In other words, if they aren’t worried, it’s likely the reader won’t be either. Also, use your characters to drive curiosity: when is something going to happen? Your readers can know what is going to happen but when is it going to happen? Or, something bad is going to happen but when?

Drop little hints along the way to fuel the suspense. A good suspense reveals bits at a time through dialogue or exposition. It should answer a question or many questions but leaves the reader hungry for more. In essence, it should build toward the climax of your story.

For example, in terms of this writing exercise, your character may start by feeling confused which escalates to fear after getting multiple calls. The character then realizes that the caller is inside his or her home or is suspicious when something is out of place such as the TV turned off when it was on a few moments ago.

Ready To Write?

These are only a few tips on how to write suspense. While your writing doesn’t have to reflect this theme, it’ll be a great way to practice building suspense in writing. Let’s go back to the writing exercise.

You receive a call from someone who seems to know you. However, you have no idea who they are. What do they say and how do you respond? What happens next?

Writing Exercise: Hero Or Villain

Writing Exercise: Hero Or Villain?

Imagine this: you get an exclusive offer to be part of the main cast of the most anticipated film of the year. They give you two options: to play as the hero or the villain. In this writing exercise, we would like to know which would you decide to play?

The Hero

writing exercise hero villain

A hero (male) or heroine (female) is the protagonist (the main character) of the movie. They combat hardships through strength, bravery, and ingenuity (intelligence). Heroes or heroines perform good deeds for honour and for the common good rather gain fame and fortune. He or she may have some special quality or talent that distinguishes them from the rest of the characters. This can also be an attribute.

There has been debate over the differences between a hero and heroine. Male heroes are often portrayed as physically capable, witty, faithful, determined, chivalrous, and many more fluffy adjectives. Heroines, on the other hand, are argued to shed their feminine traits for them to possess heroic characteristics. Nina wrote an interesting article detailing her thoughts on women heroes and their role in literature, film, and pop culture.

Some common examples of fictional heroes are the ones from superhero movies such as Batman, Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, and so on. However, Harry from Harry Potter and Thomas from The Maze Runner also classify as a hero. Great fictional heroine examples include Hermione Granger from Harry Potter and Diana Prince from Wonder Woman.

The Villain

writing exercise hero villain

The villain (male) or villainess (female) is often the antagonist (the opposing character) of the movie. They cause conflict and are an obstacle or provide obstacles so the protagonist has difficulty in achieving his or her goal. In cartoons and fiction, villains are often portrayed as scheming. Cackling with glee and rubbing their hands in glee as they plot for world domination or world takeover is an iconic scene.

However, Ben Bova recommends that authors do not include villains in their work. He states, “In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil… Fiction mirrors life. Or, more accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus on what they know in life and bring its realities into sharper, clearer understanding for us. There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. There are only people with problems, struggling to solve them.”

Additionally, there are debates that heroes and villains are driven by different motivations.

Many writers also seek to create sympathetic villains: a villain who has good intentions but are deterred to an antagonistic path along the way. This is an attempt to add realism and a human connection.

A quote by Joseph Brodsky sums up villains and arguably sympathetic villains quite well. “Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.”

Which Would You Choose?

While the hero character still dominates most films, literature, and shows, the line between heroes and villains have begun to blur. A quote by Joseph Brodsky sums this up quite well.

“Life–the way it really is–is a battle not between Bad and Good, but between Bad and Worse.”

For this writing exercise, we like to know which character you would like to play? Personally, I wouldn’t like to play either. Three cheers for sidekicks.

Follow our blog or Facebook or Instagram for more exciting writing exercises every Wednesday!

How To: Stay Motivated In Language Learning

Language Learning Motivation

In the early stages, it’s easy to get fired up on learning a second language. But then it slowly begins to fade and it becomes a downward spiral. Eventually, it becomes a tedious chore. So, how can you stay motivated in language learning?

What’s Your Goal?

To achieve anything you’re learning, it’s important to know what your ultimate goal is. Regards to language learning, is it to get a job or promotion? To become fluent? To learn about another culture? Knowing your end goal can help you be more focused. However, did you know that the end goal of building and maintaining relationships is more effective than achieving a job or promotion?

Cross-Cultural Relationships

According to The Telegraph, “learners who study a language with the aim of better understanding a culture, language, and society are integratively more motivated.” In other words, language learning is the bridge between building effective relationships romantic or not. Language learning can also be a gesture of respect.

 

language learning relationshipFamily members who have roots in different cultures also serve as good motivation as it’s personally meaningful to them. In addition, if you have a positive attitude toward your target culture, you will be better at picking up their intonation and pronunciation. This also results in more communication with locals to facilitate your language learning capabilities.

Personal Accomplishment

Personal accomplishments include getting a job or promotion. It includes academic achievement as well. For example, students learning a second language may have an interest in the language or culture beforehand. However, their target goal is to obtain their academic credit and move forward in school. Students and professionals are often motivated to learn a second language to further their career or believe that a second language will benefit them in the long run. Learning a second language is a stepping stone in achieving their personal accomplishments.

language learning accomplishment

The goal of personal accomplishments is just as important as forming cross-cultural relationships. However, it is important to keep in mind that if you have a negative outlook on the culture of the language you’re learning, it will be difficult for you to grasp pronunciation and intonation even if your salary looks more pleasing.

Did You Know?

Did you know that British teenagers are the worst in Europe in languages? According to a study done by The Telegraph, they tested fourteen British teenagers to speak French, the first foreign language taught in schools. Besides understanding basic phrases and words, many were unable to grasp more complex vocabulary and sentences. The reason may be due to English being a predominant language.

Learning a second language at a young age is better if you want to achieve fluency. As you’re more likely to absorb information, language learning becomes easier. It also helps if you have a family member who speaks the language well and communicates with you on a daily basis in that language. The older you get, the more difficult it is to grasp a new language.

Need Some Fun Motivation?

Did you know that U-Dictionary’s APP provides fun and engaging daily learning for English learners? We have games, English phrases, words, and videos to help you get a better grasp of English faster than reading textbooks and doing boring quizzes and worksheets!

Learn English Phrases Everyday [audio]

1. Add insult to injury 
The phrase “add insult to injury” is a common English idiom. It means to make a bad situation worse. This phrase is usually used as part of a sentence.
Here are three example sentences for your reference.
“They told me I didn’t have enough experience, and to add insult to injury, they hired my friend who had similar qualifications as me. “
“First, he missed his bus, and to add insult to injury, it started pouring. “
“Only five people came to his party, and to add insult to injury, some left before it was over.”

2. Once in a blue moon
Another English phrase is “once in a blue moon.” It is often used as part of a sentence. This phrase is used as another way to say rarely.
Here are three example sentences for your reference.
“She gets drunk once in a blue moon.”
“A chance like this comes once in a blue moon!”
“You find a rare item like this once in a blue moon.”

Talk: Sleep Deprived

apartment-bed-carpet-269141

男底色.png You look a bit grumpy today. 

女底色.png Do I? I think it’s because I haven’t been getting enough sleep lately.

男底色.png I see. Have you tried warm milk before bed? It usually helps me sleep better. 

女底色.png Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, I’ve tried it. I think I tried everything, and nothing has been helping me sleep better.

男底色.png You might be too stressed or have something on your mind. 

女底色.png Yes, I think you’re right. I need a day off. 

男底色.png I thought you will be going on vacation next week with your family.

女底色.png Actually, it’s not really much of a vacation. We are attending my brother’s wedding next week, and a bunch of relatives will be there.

男底色.png I take it that you are either not fond of weddings or not fond of crowds. 

女底色.png It’s both. Now I think I know the reason why I haven’t been sleeping well.