Judging by the large number of visits to last week’s post on More ways to learn language with Evernote, there is a lot of buzz about the many uses for this application that helps you to “remember everything”. Evernote just won Best Mobile Startup at the Crunchies 2008 Awards.
Here are a few more tips to help you learn language online with Evernote.
I gave up bookmarking to my Firefox toolbar a long time ago and adopted Delicious. The disadvantage of Delicious is that you can only save the link but not the content, which limits the capacity to search. In Evernote you can add the content of a webpage to a note in Evernote directly from your browser with two clicks, although to speed up searching it’s best to add tags. My Evernote is full of tags to help me find language-learning tools (‘reading’, ‘writing’, ‘listening’, ‘speaking’, ‘vocabulary’, ‘pronunciation’ etc.) For a better visual presentation of the page in Evernote, you can paste it as a screenshot into the note. The Firefox plugin screengrab does this well. You can also type your own notes into the bookmark to help you remember why you saved it. There is one negative though – clipping websites into Evernote seems to be slower than bookmarking in Delicious, something that should improve in future releases.
The best way to increase your vocabulary in a foreign language is through reading. The best way to increase your reading is to find material that you are really interested in. Doing reading comprehension exercises based on articles or books that don’t interest you at all is a waste of time. There is a huge amount of reading material on the Internet that matches our interest, but the problem is that the best articles usually turn up when we don’t have time to read them. So we bookmark them, but never remember to go back to them.
I hardly ever have time to read valuable material the moment I find it, so I have created a “read later” tag in Evernote. When I find an article that I would like to read, I save it using “read later” and then forget about it. I then plan “reading time” into my week when I have a spare hour, type “read later” into the search, and all my articles are there waiting for me. When I’ve finished reading I simply delete the tag.
In the post How to improve your language outside the classroom we talked about using social networks for language-learning. Sites like Ning Networks, EnglishForum and many others use Instant Messaging for live communication with your language-learning contacts. IM or chat is very effective for language-learning, especially if you combine it with Evernote. Copy and paste your IM chats into Evernote and make time later to study the conversation to revise the language that you learned from your language helper, and to see how you can improve and correct your own language. In the desktop version of Evernote you can use the Edit/Spelling and Grammar tool to help you.
Using Evernote is as easy as writing all your notes on post-its and throwing them into a drawer. Even when the drawer is overflowing with notes, you can still easily find the note you are looking for. In addition to the text search and tags, you can also filter notes based on when they were created or modified, what kind of media they contain, or the tool you used to capture them (web, mobile, desktop, etc.).
I learned Japanese in school. You would never know it today because I can hardly speak a word of Japanese. The classes were interesting, but one of the big problems was that I never had the opportunity to practise what I had learnt outside of class time. Japanese was just an academic subject with no connection to the real world for me.
But that was in the 80s – we had never heard of the Internet. EVERYTHING has changed! The role of the teacher has changed – we are now motivators and facilitators, we help learners to help themselves learn.
If you would like help to achieve your English or French learning goals, talk to us at englishonthe.net. Contact us here for a free lesson.
The role of the learner has also changed. Learners no longer sit passively and listen to information, they go out and find it themselves.
There are so many possibilities for live online language practice with native speakers. Here are a few links to help you start :
Claims to be the world’s largest EFL/TEFL social network with 50,000 visits a day. It’s main strength is the forums where learners ask all their questions concerning grammar, vocabulary, idioms, puzzles and games, distance learning, pronunciation, learning software etc. There is a large number of faithful teachers who give their time freely for advice and support, and generally questions are answered very quickly. There are also other social networking functions, such as photos & videos, live chat, and special interest forums. This site is HUGE – you need to go and explore for yourself.
A completely free network for language exchange. Connect with native speakers of the language you are learning who have similar interests to you.
Ning hosts a large number of social networks related to language learning. These are just a few:
EFL Classroom 2.0 Definitely the most active Ning network that I use. Although it seems more directed to teachers, there are also good resources for students (try the “English for Fun and Friendship” group). 4,900+ members
View my page on EFL CLASSROOM 2.0
Teachers and students have FUN (Frivolous, Unanticipated, Nonsense) to learn together in English and Spanish (500 members)
L’école hors les murs Teachers and students (from middle school up) from several (mostly European) countries join for educational projects through social networking (900+ members)
Voir ma page au L’Ecole Hors les Murs – School Beyond The Walls
Campus FLE Education
Educational social network for teachers and learners based in the University of Leon Spain – some excellent learning materials on their front page.
Foreigners in Lille also looks very good for French, but unfortunately it seems to be limited to people who live in Lille, France, and although it is based in Lille, France, they are open to members from anywhere.