Weekly language learning roundup – September 01, 2014

Weekly language learning roundup 1 September 2014

Every week I read many blog posts, news articles, and other content about the English language, learning English, and language learning in general.

I share a lot of this content on my Twitter, G+ and Pinterest accounts, and from this week I’m going to share some of my favourite posts in a weekly roundup here on the Botanical Linguist blog – posts that I think (and hope) you’ll find useful and interesting.



Exploring English: Language and Culture

This free online course for learners of English looks at British culture and examines English in use to help you improve your language skills. The course is presented by the British Council on the Future Learn platform.

The course will use short videos to present a different topic each week, including English as a global language, the environment, entrepreneurship and literature. Filmed in Great Britain, these videos will help you to develop your listening skills as you watch authentic examples of people speaking English. Our experienced tutor will examine some of the language used in the videos and will draw your attention to useful points that will help you improve your spoken and written English.

It starts today so if you’re interested, pop over to the website and sign up now ๐Ÿ™‚



How To Improve Language Fluency When Youโ€™re At A High Level

Donovan Nagel’s post at The Mezzofanti Guild discusses improving fluency at high levels by finding better or more appropriate ways to say the things we already know how to say in the language we’re learning.

Donovan explains how as a high level learner of Arabic he’s doing this with video, audio, real-life situations, and advanced level textbooks.



Paper beats computer screens

People comprehend what they’re reading on a sheet of paper far better than when they read those same words on a computer screen.

A new Norwegian study of teenagers confirms that reading texts in print versus on a computer screen is better for some aspects of comprehension.

It’s thought the reason for this is that with a physical book/text the brain finds it easier to make a mental map of the text than it does when reading a screen. Students who read a text on paper also became more emotionally involved in its content.

So, if you want to increase how much you understand when learning your new language, this research suggests you might understand and remember more from printed texts than those on your computer or other electronic device.

Read more here: Paper beats computer screens



Make your writing flow with transition words

This is one of my own posts from this past week which I think you’ll find useful for improving your writing skills.

It has examples of transition words and phrases you can use in your written English to link your sentences and paragraphs, connect your ideas, and make your writing flow.

Read more here: transition words and phrases



How Music Affects Your Productivity

This article from Entrepreneur.com looks at various research into the impact of listening to music on productivity.

Some sources claim that listening to your favourite music can help make repetitive tasks easier, and help you complete them more quickly.

You would think this all sounds good for language learning, and I know many people like to listen to music while learning, but the article also states that research shows some music can actually interfere with learning because it demands too much of your attention – especially music with lyrics.

Since listening to words activates the language centre of your brain, trying to engage in other language related tasks (like writing) would be like trying to have a conversation while another person talks over you…while also strumming a guitar.

Classical music (no lyrics) is better for getting things done; and listening to familiar music is much less distracting than music you’re hearing for the first time.

What do you think?

Do you listen to music while you’re working or learning? Do you think it helps?




  1. Hi Angela,

    I’m looking forward to reading the links you added, thanks.

    In answer to your question re music, I find listening to gentle background music useful for thinking through ideas, but once I start writing, I prefer silence. How about you?
    Anita recently posted..Why I writeMy Profile

    • Hi Anita,

      I like listening to music most of the time, even when writing. I don’t think having the radio on in the background affects my language-related tasks (as the research suggests it does), but maybe I would in fact concentrate better in complete silence! I’ll have to experiment ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hi Angela,
    Thank you for this article. English is not my first language so now that I became a blogger I really need to brush up. I’m officially a fan

  3. Some really interesting links! Looking forward to digging into a few of them.
    Yolanda recently posted..Business Growth: Whatโ€™s Really Possible? More Than You Imagine!My Profile

  4. Love the idea that we take in information better when we read it on paper rather than screens. That’s fascinating. I need to start making my materials printable.
    Sarah Arrows recently posted..How to build trust through your blogMy Profile

    • It is very interesting. I nearly always print out ebooks and course content if I can – I understand it much better that way. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like reading much on Kindle. PDF copies of course content etc. is a good thing for all of us to consider I think.

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