Let your imagination become your new reality. Jo Ammerlaan
I love imagination. We all have the ability to create a picture of our dreams and ideas and then by imagining them, create them. “Thoughts do become things”.
Language learning works really well with imagination – it’s easy to imagine sitting in one of our favourite places overseas and talking and laughing with the locals. Or we are sitting at our family’s kitchen table learning to cook a special cuisine with grandmother or aunt. The problem is that as we start actually doing the learning, our conscious mind gets involved in the process and tells us what it thinks we can and can’t do. (These thoughts are often the result of our years at school.)
BUT if we spur our imagination with belief, desire and expectancy and train it to visualise our goals so that we can see, feel, hear, taste and touch them, we will get what we want. My challenge for you this month is to stimulate your imagination. If you don’t have a picture of yourself speaking your new language fluently – create one NOW.
Focus on what you want with your language – focus on where you are speaking your language – what you are hearing and seeing - focus on how you feel - and before every tutorial or online lesson, spend a few minutes imagining what it will be like. Once you are smiling and getting excited about your picture, you are ready to begin learning. Try this for a few weeks to create your new habit and share with the VLLC student community how it is impacting your lessons.
Let your imagination become your new reality. Jo Ammerlaan
Even though the corona-virus is on everybody's minds, keep up with the hand washing and there hopefully won't be reason to panic in Australia. The basic protective measures as suggested by the World Health Organisation include sensible hygiene, coughing or sneezing into your sleeve or handkerchief or it may include self-isolation.
Well, VLLC can help you make the most of your quarantine! By having the opportunity to be still, recharge and reconnect, you will gain a better understanding of who you are and what you desire in life.
If learning a new language or brushing up your second language has been on your mind for some time, but you have never found the right time to start, why not use this time for something that makes you happy? VLLC's language courses and certificates are designed for online education, wherever you are around the world, in Australia or near our Melbourne and Adelaide centres. Our unique online method simulates language learning as if you were in the actual foreign country. The solitude of your home, allows you to read aloud and repeat the vocabulary and patterns, form picture and sound associations and perform simulations and practices of real life scenarios. Each of these online lessons is consolidated with virtual tutorials on Skype, with native speakers.
Afterward, you can rest up, have a nap to replenish your strength and regain the energy you need to continue learning your new language online.Each of the following languages is available: Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, French, German, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish & Thai. VLLC is very aware of how the corona-virus can spread and we have taken serious measures in our language centres to ensure that all surfaces are regularly disinfected and hand sanitiser is available.
Contact us to organise an information session on Skype and learn more about VLLC course options.
Learning a language for some is easy, and yet for others it is close to impossible. However, much about learning a language is in the mind, and we must remember our brain is a powerful thing. The best way to get to grips with learning a language fast, is to have a general idea of how your subconscious works and how we learn in different ways. Becoming socially interactive through language also grows the learning experience. Confidence grows, but the immersion in conversation prepares the mind to both listen and speak in a natural, if somewhat daunting situation.
Social Learning - Children are the best example of how the subconscious mind helps learn a language. Kids who grow up in households, or just countries where more than one language is spoken, become bi or multi-lingual very fast. They are absorbed in the language through the constant repetition of words, phrases and even mannerisms, allowing the brain and mind to soak up the language while almost resting. There is no forced “you will learn this” when it comes to kids and this means the child is confident in learning, if indeed picking up is actually learning, the language and feels confident speaking it.
The mind plays tricks on us all the time, and for many, overcoming the fear of speaking a language is one of the greatest challenges. However, the childlike approach to using the mind, especially a more subconscious mind using repetition is one of the best language learning techniques. Once one has learned to relax the mind and one has accepted it is not a race to learn the language fast you will become more receptive. Being more receptive means you will learn, it may even learn faster as your confidence grows.
Rules and Process - Many people talk about mind maps when it comes to learning a language. Bringing to together lexicon and syntax is in many ways what learning a language is. It is a little like a jigsaw puzzle and once one learns what goes with which things fall into place. This way of learning is less subconscious and more structured and logical. It basically creates a map for a language learner to follow. It does work and is very much a more deliberate way of teaching the mind to work, or think in a certain way.
Bringing it together - Our human brains and our minds are more than capable of learning another language or multiple languages. There is no one who cannot learn, some just find it more difficult than others, especially those who feel pressured into speaking or using a language. Of course, there are now many shortcuts to learning a language, or at least convincing others you can at least write the language. Nevertheless, in reality nothing beats the reality of learning a language for yourself.
Language stimulates the brain, and the challenge in applying the mind should be embraced. For many, a combination of understanding, applying and using rules along with the social use of language will be how they eventually learn. The mind is a very powerful tool and in a nutshell it needs a combination of stimulation and relaxation to deliver the results you are looking for. When you understand how best your mind works, learning a language is merely a matter of time and perhaps placing mind over matter.
Over the last few weeks, I have been talking with lots of students about their language goals for the year and helping them set some milestones in their language journey – it’s a beginning of the year thing!!
Language learning can be frustrating as we all seem to focus on what we DON’T KNOW rather than focus on what we DO KNOW. I always find that it is good to set myself some minor goals so I can celebrate each achievement through the year – then the major goals tend to take care of themselves.
Some goals may be:
These are only a few ideas to help you in your language journey. Have a chat with one of the student supervisors and let us help you set and achieve your next language milestone. We always like celebrating them with you.
Enjoy your language journey in 2020 – let’s see where it will take you…
In a previous blog we spoke about common New Year’s Resolutions and in the Centres I have heard a few of yours this week. Here are some ideas that may help you achieve your Resolution so that you become one of the elite 8% of people who will be celebrating success later in the year. Some of your language goals may be: Complete a certificate; Practice your French/Russian more; Travelling; Speak to your grandparents in Greek/Italian.. All of these are great goals and one of the best ways you can achieve this is to Clearly define your goal – Make it a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound). e.g. I want to go to Thailand in June and talk to the locals about daily events; I want to complete my Certificate III (my goal) by the end of the year; I want to start ‘thinking’ in French by March; I want to speak to my family in Greek by Easter. Just make sure you are setting a REALISTIC goal.
1. Track your progress. Measure where you are now and where want to be. A principal of psychology is that if you can measure it, you can change it.
2. Be kind to yourself – have some patience. Progress (especially in languages is never linear). You may see rapid progress and then hit a plateau. You want your language to be natural and subconscious mind and this takes time.
3. Publicise your goal (to family or friends). You have a VLLC family that you can share your goal with. I know this takes courage, but it dramatically increases your odds of success to share your goals.
4. Diarise it. Put it on your schedule. We all choose to spend our time the way we do. Make your language goal a priority and schedule lessons and practise time onto your calendar.
5. Start again, when you slip up… As Vince Lomardi said – “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up” Don’t turn a bad day or temporary failure into an excuse for giving up…
I love hearing students’ goals – and am always happy to give you some personal strategies to help you achieve them. Use the momentum of the New Year to become bi or multi lingual. It will change your life!!!
LEARNING a second language helps stave off dementia by an extra five years, medics claim. And the sooner you pick up foreign speech, the greater the protective effect.
Experts found being bilingual helps build brain power. These greater “cognitive reserves” mean a person is able to keep dementia at bay for longer. Italian scientists carried out brain scans on 85 patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Half the participants spoke two languages, while the rest only spoke one.
Scientists found bilingual patients were on average five years older at the same stage of the disease. And scans revealed they had stronger connectivity in the decision making part of their brain. Experts believe this slows the damage caused by disease.
The team from Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Italy also found the longer a person was bilingual, the stronger the protective effect.
Lead researcher Professor Daniela Perani said: “Overall, these findings strongly suggest that bilingual individuals with Alzheimer’s disease compensate better for the loss of brain structure and function.
“It suggests the earlier you learn another language and the more you use it, the greater the protective effect.”
The research is published in the journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Dementia affects around 850,000 Brits, with Alzheimer’s responsible for the majority of cases.
And the number is forecast to hit one million in under a decade and two million by 2051.
There is no effective treatment, with current medications only helping to slow down the symptoms.
Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said the study reveals how speaking an extra language protects the brain.
She said: “This elegant study provides new evidence that people who are fluent in more than one language have some protection against dementia.
“Brain scans showed that lifelong bilinguals have stronger connections between certain brain areas compared to those who only speak one language – this appears to allow their brains to cope better with damage before they start to show outward signs of dementia.”
And Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said bilingual adults have more “resilient” brains.
He said: “There is increasing evidence that being bilingual throughout life could increase our cognitive reserve.
“This study shows there are differences in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s who are fully bilingual that could explain why they are resilient to damage.
“The findings lend weight to the theory that keeping the brain active may provide a form of cognitive reserve, helping to delay the onset of symptoms as diseases like Alzheimer’s develop.”
I was reading from a great site on the Better Health Channel and thought I would share their tips about how to reduce stress over Christmas. Christmas is typically one of the most stressful events of the year. The expense of buying gifts, the pressure of last minute shopping, and the heightened expectations of family togetherness can all combine to undermine our best intentions. Some practical suggestions can help you reduce your 'Christmas stress' and enjoy the true reason for the season.
Budgeting for Christmas
For many of us, the Christmas aftermath includes massive credit card bills that can take months to clear. Christmas doesn't have to be a financial headache if you plan ahead. Stress reduction strategies include:
If you have a large circle of extended family or friends to buy gifts for, it can be very costly. You might be able to reduce the stress and cost of Christmas for everyone if you suggest a change in the way your family and friends give presents. For example, you could suggest that your group:
According to a recent study by Roy Morgan Research, around 60 per cent of Australians dislike Christmas shopping, just 20 per cent plan their shopping expeditions, and the majority of us (nearly 75 per cent) often come home without a single purchase for our efforts.
Stress reduction strategies for successful Christmas shopping include:
The Christmas lunch (or dinner)
Preparing a meal for family and friends can be enjoyable but tiring and stressful at the same time.
Some tips to reduce the stress of Christmas cooking include:
Stress, anxiety, and depression are common during the festive season. If nothing else, reassure yourself that these feelings are normal. Stress reduction strategies include:
The little extras
Other ways you might be able to reduce the stress include:
General health and wellbeing
Some other ways to keep your stress levels down include:
As we get older, our muscles get tighter, our brains feel foggier and mobility and range of motion can decrease. A regular stretch can help relax your muscles, make living easier and improve your ability to concentrate and learn.
Simple stretches can be carried out almost anywhere. I'm not talking about the yoga "tree" pose, but just the simple act of stretching your tight muscles to relieve tension and assist you to refocus.
The benefits of stretching can include:
Some examples of stretching exercises:
Neck stretch: Standing with legs apart and back straight, slowly lower your chin into your chest, hold for the count of five and then gently move your head upwards.
Shoulder rolls: moving shoulders backwards 5 times, forwards 5 times, once at a time 5 times, backwards and forwards
Shoulder stretch: Place your right hand on your left shoulder exerting a gentle squeezing pressure. Turn your head in the opposite direction and look over your right shoulder - feel your neck stretch. Repeat with the opposite hand and shoulder.
Everyone knows how a little exercise is good for you. Whether you are a focused gym bunny or just someone who takes the stairs over the elevator, exercise is good for you. Exercise keeps you fit, healthy and young but mentally you need to be healthy too and good brain health is a vital part of keeping and feeling younger. But how do you keep your brain young?
Keep up the exercise. If you already know that keeping physically fit is good for you then keep it up. Physical exercise is not just good for the heart and muscles it also keeps the brain healthy. As you exercise your brain produces healthy proteins that trigger the brain cells to work better with improved communication. A physical work out of just 20 minutes a day keeps your brain working and alive to help keep you feeling much younger.
Healthy Diet. A healthy diet keeps you looking fit and trim but a healthy diet also helps your brain. Foods that are high in Omega Fatty Acids such as fish are excellent for brain health. Memory and general brain performance have been shown to improve considerably with higher intakes of Omega-12 fatty acids, in those with ADHD improved focus has been noted and when taking exams, for example, accessing memorised information has been easier. Drinking plenty of water every day and cutting down on sugar and caffeine have all proven to keep a brain young and healthy and in turn, the have lead to a variety of general health benefits.
Control that Stress. Stress is one of the biggest causes of heart disease and death in the world today. The brain also suffers when a person experiences sustained stress levels. Taking time out to switch off from all stress helps keep the brain healthy and is also a good way to remain young inside. Yoga and meditation, or even just a walk outside with no distractions are proven ways to improve brain health simply because they slow things down.
Keep Learning: By far the best way to keep your brain healthy and at the same time keep you alive and feeling young is to keep on learning. The brain is designed to be taxed by learning new things. Learning stimulates the core functions of the brain, brain exercise if you like and can produce new brain cell growth as well as slow down brain cell deterioration. Learning a new language is one of the best ways to stimulate your brain and use the functionality of the brain to its full. Learning keeps you mentally alert and by remaining mentally alert and alive you automatically feel healthier and have a certain Joie de vivre that makes others see you and experience you as younger.
Look after yourself and look after your brain and you will look and feel younger. By feeling younger you will have more energy, sleep better and as studies show… live longer!
A recent study shows bilingual people have greater connectivity in key brain areas. Those who speak at least two languages may delay the onset of Alzheimer's by four to five years. According to Health24, lead researcher Dr Daniela Perani, a professor of psychology at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University in Milan and hear team found that people who speak two or more languages seem to weather the ravages of Alzheimer's better compared to people who have only mastered one language.
Research Shows The Effects Of Being Bilingual In Protecting Against Cognitive Decline. The study involved 85 patients with Alzheimer's, and the researchers found that people who spoke two languages had greater connectivity in key brain areas, especially the part of the brain which governs "executive control," Daily Mail Online reported. "Our findings suggest that the effects of speaking two languages are more powerful than both age and education in providing a protection against cognitive decline," the authors said. The researchers compared 45 people who spoke German and Italian with 45 people who only spoke one language - all of which are suspected to have Alzheimer's. They found that the group of bilinguals were on average five years older than the bilingual group.
People Who Are Bilingual Showed Less Severe Symptoms. The study also noted that this effect is greater in people who had greater ability in the languages, or those who have used both languages more in their lifetime, and these people show less severe symptoms compared to those who have used them less. This finding supports "cognitive reserve" that Alzheimer's cannot be cured, but people who had greater levels of education are able to overcome the brain wasting far longer. Part of the reason why bilingual brains are better at resisting Alzheimer's is due to a lifetime of switching between languages. Without the other language interfering, it increases the density of white matter. This means that there are more connections between brain parts, thus making this part of the brain more resistant to degeneration.
These blogs are about learning a foreign language and how utilising that skill can help to keep your mind active and assist with your cognitive function.