Tips for language learning

Dear readers,

here are some important tips on how to learn a language:

  1. Practice: a language can only be learnt by using it constantly, so find a way to practice it a little every day.
  2. Fun: language learning can be boring but can also be a lot of fun: try to do the things you like most in a foreign language, like watching films, playing games, even listening to music if you then read and try to understand the text. So find fun activities that you like doing and try to do them in your second or third language, also without any expectations, just for fun.
  3. Technology: nowadays it’s a lot easier to learn a language due to new applications and software that can help you to organize and monitor your progress, memorize and learn vocabulary, improve your skills. Even social networks can be of help.
  4. Communication: find people you can talk to in a foreign language, use your language skills to get to know other cultures, go to chat rooms for language learning, attend language exchange meetups and events, even practice together with your fellow students and teacher!
  5. Passive skills: even if you don’t produce much language by writing and speaking, you can learn a lot by using your passive skills, listening, reading, watching. You can listen to news radio channels, for example or read articles online or watch a documentary. Don’t worry if you don’t understand much of it at first, most important is the practice. Understanding comes with time.
  6. Aims: find reasons why you practice a foreign language, set up a list of aims, motivation is essential.

In the next articles I will inform you on tools and resources that you can use to improve your learning process.

Stay tuned!


Online tests

Dear readers,

I wanted to inform you about an initiative that we have started at our University of Applied Sciences in Nordhausen. We have prepared a few language and general knowledge tests in the different languages that we teach here: English, Italian, French, Spanish and Russian. The first tests (English) were published about three weeks ago and last week it was the turn of Italian. My colleague Virag Földi-Deutsch wrote the questions for the English ones and I did the Italian ones. Next one will be French.

These tests can be done by all: staff, students and guests.So please go and have a look and test your language skills and general knowledge about the different countries! Here’s the link:


Have fun and good luck!


SLanguages 2012

Dear readers,

this year’s SLanguages conference will take place from 28th to 30th September 2012. It’s a very interesting event where language students and educators from all over the world come together online to talk about learning and teaching languages using new technologies, especially in virtual worlds. The conference itself takes place in Second Life, the most popular of the virtual worlds, but you will probably also be able to participate using Adobe Connect, an online software for conferences. At the moment the planning committee is working out a program of events for the three days which will surely be full of interesting activities, including presentations, demo lessons, tours and performances. The greatest advantage is that you can watch the events from home without having to travel anywhere. Among the many participants there are also some VIPs, like people from the British Council or from some big universities in the world that are looking for or have already started co-operations with educational lands in SL.

If you are a language teacher or student interested in new technologies, particularly the internet and virtual platforms or if you are into e-learning and into using computers and virtual environments to learn or teach new content, then you should really take part to this conference. Here you can find information about and a summary of last year’s event with links to the sessions’ recordings and here is the official conference web page with a call for papers and for volunteers.

To be able to attend the conference in Second Life, you would have to sign up (it’s completely free) and install the software from the SL website. Otherwise, I guess you’ll be able to find the links to the Adobe Connect conference rooms in the official conference website just before the events start. If you don’t know anything about Second Life and would like to know more or if you have any problems, feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to help.

Hope to see you in-world!


Terrible act of infamy

Dear readers,

I have no words to describe what I feel about what happened this morning in Brindisi. A bomb exploded in front of a school, killing one 16-year-old girl and injuring other 10, one of them is in hospital fighting between life and death. Fortunately, the timer did not work properly and the bomb exploded earlier than planned. Apparently, the terrorists wanted to kill children. This is disgraceful and outrageous. Never in Italian history had children been a direct target of a terrorist attack. My thoughts and my deepest sympathy and condolences go to the victims’ relatives and to the school children who survived the attack and their friends and fellow students. I hope with all my heart that the criminals responsible for this shameful act will soon be arrested and brought to justice.


Dear readers,

technology has become more and more important in the last years, especially in language teaching and learning. Nowadays you can learn a foreign language using the Internet, in virtual worlds like Second Life, with the use of computer software and visual aids, watching videos on TV or on the web, etc. Language teaching has also changed a lot: in many schools and universities you can use computers in class, you can upload material in e-learning platforms like Moodle or Ilias, you can set up interactive  activities or tests online or even teach directly online using special software.

In our university we use a lot of new technologies and now, thanks to our great e-learning team, we can develop projects and use our e-learning platform much more easily. The new team helps us by training and giving advice to staff and students, by uploading material or enter data, by developing new projects and implementing new ideas, etc.

One of the big advantages of e-learning is of course to save money and time but the main benefit for learners is to find new and easier ways to study and understand language structures and usage. Through the use of visual aids and computers they can learn better and more quickly and they can use e-learning platforms to download and upload material which is then available for them online from any computer connected to the Internet. Moreover, through the use of the web students can get to know native speakers from different countries and start a language exchange.

Of course, you have to be careful not to exaggerate and always make some use of the traditional pen and paper method, especially at lower levels. For example, it is very important for students to learn to write new words correctly and that can be done best using the traditional paper booklet. Furthermore, it’s not very healthy to spend hours and hours in front of a screen, so you should always remember to take a break or just turn off the computer or the TV at some point and turn on the stereo to listen to some recording or the radio or open your paper booklet and do some writing.

Well, that’s all for now about e-learning.

Stay tuned for more.



Regional Thuringian Conference in Nordhausen

Dear readers,

last week on 29th February the University of Applied Sciences of Nordhausen hosted the first regional conference for language teachers. It was the first time that teachers from the whole state of Thuringia could meet and get to know each other, sharing information and experiences. It was also the first time in a conference that we finally had enough time to talk directly to colleagues from other universities about our work. I’ve been to different conferences in the last years but it was always a continuous moving from room to room, from presentation to presentation, from workshop to workshop. I only had time to really get to know people during coffee breaks or conference dinners! Instead, in the meeting last week we had “conversation groups” about the different languages and the members first introduced themselves and then talked about the different problems they had at work, asking the others for advice.

The most important topics were: teaching material, copyright issues, dealing with internal rules and regulations, the different levels of courses and students. Another important point that was mentioned was the use of e-learning platforms in and outside class. The two largest groups were English and DAF (Deutsch als Fremdsprache/German as a Foreign Language).

The next regional session will take place in March 2013 at the University of Jena. 

Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften in Nordhausen

Liebe Leserinnen und Leser,

am 4. Oktober fand die Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften in Nordhausen statt und das Sprachenzentrum der FH Nordhausen bot fünf Veranstaltungen an. Die interaktiv gestalteten Angebote waren gut besucht. Besonderen Anklang beim Publikum fand Herr Langkopf in seiner Rolle als „Bob – the janitor“ beim Erkunden eines Werkzeugkastens und die Sessions „Exploring a beauty case“ und “Exploring a business traveller’s suitacase” mit Tipps zum „Grooming“ für die Geschäftswelt von Frau Marx-Tilp. Ich war auch dabei und habe meine Kollegen unterstützt, indem ich die interessierten Zuschauer in der Vorbereitungsphase betreute. Hier sind die Photos:

bob                  LNDW 2011 (3)

LNDW Sprachenzentrum (3) LNDW Sprachenzentrum (7)

Die nächste “Lange Nacht” wird in zwei Jahren stattfinden.

Stay tuned.