Keys to Language Learning

Language LearningWhen you prepare to learn a second language it is helpful to understand the distinct but connected components that comprise your studies. Vocabulary, grammar, and practice are the three keys to language learning. Becoming bilingual very much depends on the inclusion of all three, and understanding their place in the order of things will help you learn quickly and thoroughly. Interestingly, as you progress from basic to intermediate to advanced, the three components start to merge for more in depth learning and comprehension.

1. Vocabulary

Learning the words is the very basis of language learning. When you understand the words you increase your comprehension. Even a single word can say a lot! But vocabulary is about more than reading and writing, it is also about speech and sounds. Make sure your source is authentic and reliable!

2. Grammar

Learning where to place the words in a sentence is what grammar is all about. And using sentences to express ideas is what language is all about! Grammar can be tricky. There are rules to learn, and then there are also exceptions to the rules to learn, but don’t let it overwhelm you. To make it easier on yourself, grammar should be learned in increments. That is to say, start with the basics, and build on those. Taking it a step at a time will help you break it down into manageable pieces.

3. Practice

Practice makes sure you have learned the material. It includes speaking or reading aloud, interacting with others, and using repetition. Look for materials that require you to fill in blanks, rearrange sentences, and answer questions. Look for quizzes, puzzles, and illustrations that will elicit correct answers from your memory. Repeating words or sentences gets you started, but using what you have learned in new constructions, created by you, means you have stored the material in your brain for future use. Use television and radio and CDs to listen and repeat; use classmates and teachers for interactions; seek out community members to exchange greetings and pleasantries. Practice leads to fluency!

Language learning is clearly a process that starts with words, builds to sentences, and finally, with practice, becomes a means of full expression. But perhaps we should include a fourth key: hard work! Individual effort and self-motivation support successful language learning, and people who become articulate in a second language are, without exception, rewarded by the achievement in many ways. Become bilingual; make it your goal!

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From No hablo inglés to a Spanish Language Empire

From No hablo inglés to a Spanish Language Empire

Maria Oliveira

From No hablo Inglés to a Spanish Language Empire.  Join Host Jewel Daniels and Guest Maria Oliveira as they chat about the challenge of learning a second language and the difficulties in developing and operating a language learning center.

Maria Oliveira’s Language Learning Center features affordable adult study programs in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English for nonnative speakers. Class sizes are limited to allow for personal attention and the individual growth of students.

Formats include traditional classroom study, independent one-to-one sessions, and ongoing groups in which the students progress at their own pace. Materials used for the Spanish and Portuguese classes are produced by Maria Oliveira, having been developed and improved over more than 25 years of teaching and studying adult learning styles.

Maria Oliveira Language Learning Center

Maria Oliveira Language Learning Center is an alternative to the traditional classroom settings that are found in colleges and adult schools. Our mission is to offer low-cost, high-quality language learning opportunities for adults. At Maria Oliveira Language Learning Center, our comprehensive materials and classes appeal to a wide variety of learning styles. Small group classes, one-on-one tutoring, online courses, self-study workbooksdownloadable lessons, portable audio lessons, and specialty courses that focus on particular grammar usages are options that can be combined and alternated so that fluency develops quickly. The teaching methods used at Maria Oliveira Language Learning Center are based on innovative adult learning concepts developed by Maria Oliveira, who has spent her professional life studying and improving techniques for second language acquisition. As a result, classes and materials build on each other so that progression through the levels is successful and quickly absorbed. Furthermore, programs are designed to be fun and supportive in a learning environment geared to build confidence and maintain enthusiasm. Maria Oliveira also makes sure that students are exposed to the cultural influences that surround a language. Knowing more about the native speakers of any language adds interest and keeps the language relevant. Whether for travel, personal accomplishment, work requirements, or any other purpose, learning a second language at Maria Oliveira Language Learning Center will have you using basic phrases and sentences in a short time. Conversation, reading comprehension, and writing will follow as abilities increase.

We look forward to you becoming a participant and student at our unique Language Learning Center! Read what our students say about our school!

Maria Oliveira

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Spanish for Law Enforcement

SpanishLawEnforcementSpanish for Law Enforcement is now available on downloadable MP3s to help busy law enforcement personnel and fire fighters improve important interactions with a Spanish-speaking population. Anyone who wants to be effective and clearly understood will want to take advantage of online Spanish lessons that are convenient and always available. These online lessons augment Maria Oliveira’s language training program for Law Enforcement and other personnel who deal with emergencies. Practice at your own pace and on your own schedule to speak Spanish with online lessons that can be re-sorted as-you-go for successful retention.

Spanish language skills have become increasingly important for police officers, security personnel, and fire fighters because Spanish is the second-most-spoken language in the United States. It isn’t just emergencies that make the ability to speak Spanish so important, either, although emergencies do require immediate action. Imagine having to wait for a translator when you want someone to evacuate a building! Spanish language programs that teach immediately usable skills are in demand for those high pressure situations that frequently have life or death consequences. However, consider how helpful speaking or understanding Spanish would also be when interviewing witnesses, or easing the stress of a parent who needs assistance, or asking simple questions.

Learning to speak Spanish also means learning to understand Spanish. A person asking for help needs to explain the problem. Is it a fire? Is someone hurt? Is a child missing? It isn’t necessary to be grammatically correct, or to speak in complete sentences, although that would be very handy in many situations. But for fire fighters and security personnel and the police, simply knowing key words and phrases will help in identifying problems, describing individuals, and calming confused or panicked people.

In an emergency, those particular Spanish words and phrases will ease stress, identify issues, and get an action accomplished immediately. Employers will admire the increased efficiency of their police and fire personnel. In fact, some employers ask for group workshops to provide Spanish lessons designed for specific work-related purposes. For telephone responders or those who issue orders in the midst of chaos, using the Spanish language is an invaluable skill that is too vital to ignore.

Maria Oliveira provides Spanish language training that is designed for specific purposes as requested by employers.  For individuals who study on their own, Spanish for Law Enforcement is an audio program complete with workbook and CDs that can be purchased from our website. The material offers essential words and phrases that can be learned at any pace. Online lessons are also available for Law Enforcement and other security personnel that will perfectly augment existing courses. Practicing your skills with the online lessons will make sure you remember the important Spanish vocabulary and phrases you need on the job.  Purchase Spanish for Law Enforcement, and receive free access to a password protected area for additional practice and self-testing.   Check out the details here:

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Frequently Misunderstood Words,

In our Spanish language learning lessons we spend some time exploring the differences between words that look alike or sound alike. In fact, these words are used in very specific, and separate, ways.  When students practice their Spanish conversation skills, recognizing and understanding the differences between these words increases their comprehension level.  Let’s clarify the finer points that separate these words. Here are five examples of similar, but definitely different, word pairs that may have puzzled you in the past.

a month of the year
abrir to open (a verb)

cuarto fourth, or room
cuatro the number four

nada he/she swims (3rd person singular of the verb to swim – nadar)

the kitchen
cocina he or she cooks (3rd person singular of the verb to cook – cocinar)

trabajo the job
trabajo I work (1st person of the verb to work – trabajar)

You probably noticed that some pairs are spelled exactly alike, or that only a single letter in a word changes its meaning.  Sometimes it is the context of the sentence that tells you which word is the correct one. Understanding these often confused word usages is not the same as memorizing idiomatic expressions; by learning them you are attuning your eyes and ears to actual meaning differentiations. This is how you become truly bilingual.

If you have any troubling word pairs that you want to tell us about, send it to our comments section.  Meanwhile, we’ll be back soon with more of these “Frequently Misunderstood Words.”  Stay tuned! 🙂

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Learn Conversational SpanishAND GIVE YOUR BRAIN A WORKOUT!

Learn a  second Language: People who don’t exercise for even a short period of time are always amazed at how quickly their muscles lose their strength. Equally amazing is how much hard work it takes to get back into shape. It’s like that with our brains, too. If you don’t challenge your thinking abilities, all the synapses, the connections between brain cells, get weak from inactivity. Think about how you feel after you spend many hours sitting and staring at the television. You may feel relaxed enough to go to bed, but you also feel dull, dim, and not exactly sparked by the experience. But when you push yourself beyond your normal routine and use your brain to learn something new, you feel energized, alert, and more positive about life in general. Even if you are not a couch potato, shaking things up by by varying your activities helps to keep you energized.  Like the muscles in our bodies, our brains crave a good workout; they want to be stretched and used and stimulated. The admonishment to “use it or lose it” applies to every aspect of our lives!

The best news is that it is never too late to start using our brains. Research has shown that challenging ourselves is one of the most important things we can do to minimize any loss of our cognitive abilities as we age. Many older people recognize this need to keep the brain in shape; they might take up a musical instrument, read lots of books, or complete the daily crossword or sudoku puzzles in the newspapers. Lots of people also choose to learn a second language. All of these efforts result in a very similar consequence: when people engage their minds with challenging activities, they are sharper; they feel really good about the process, and they like the satisfaction they get from achieving their goals. But learning a new language brings an even bigger reward package to maturing individuals. A new language is about communicating; it is social, and it’s about people and culture. When you finish a puzzle, you are done with it. But when you learn a second language, worlds open up to you.

Learning a second language helps to combat the isolation that is another known negative factor in the aging process. Experts tell us we do better when we interact with others, have a social network, and get involved with group dynamics. Joining a class of like-minded individuals is a great way to be a participant and not just a spectator. If the common purpose is to speak in another language, all the better. You learn together, practice with each other, and help each other over the difficult parts. If you take your new language skills on a visit to another country, you add another layer of interactivity, communication, and involvement.

When you think about the process of becoming bilingual, you begin to see a wide range of brain-expanding attributes that will rejuvenate your faculties. Consider what happens when you attempt to learn just a single new noun. You read it, you hear it spoken, you visualize the thing it represents; you say it aloud and use it in a sentence; you memorize it. You are using your senses, and all the synapses in your brain are in action! And that’s only from taking the very first steps toward becoming bilingual. Learning a second language reinvigorates a vast number of connections in your brain; it will keep you feeling healthy, vital, involved, and alive. Consider taking your own first step toward learning a new language; it’s a great way to give your brain a workout!

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