When You’re Learning a New Language: My Tips

language

This post has been brewing in the back of my mind for quite a while.  This is a subject I am always so excited to talk about.  Chances are, most people have had to study a foreign language sometime in their life.  I myself studied Spanish for about three years in high school and have taken one class in my undergraduate years.  The study of languages has always been interesting to me, but only in the last year has it really taken off.  Not with Spanish though; with German!

I’m sure I’m not the first person to discover this, but learning a language is so much easier when you absolutely love it!  About a year ago I first discovered the world of German musical theatre, and it’s been a wild ride ever since.  All my career goals have seriously changed within the past year and I now know that I will want to go abroad as soon as I can.

If you have been studying another language for a while, I bet you can probably relate to a few of these things.  However, some of these are probably just unique to the German language.  Regardless, I wanted to share what I would tell someone who is just starting off on this journey.

Don’t compare a new language with English too much

This might sound kind of strange at first, so I wanted to start off with one of my favorite quotes that often crosses my mind when I’m studying:

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” -Charlemagne

Because English has borrowed so many things from other languages, it’s easy at first to focus more on the similarities than the differences.  This can get frustrating quickly, so I recommend just letting go of it completely.  Afterall, you’re growing a second soul, so don’t expect it to be exactly like the one you already have!

I think it’s amazing when things can’t exactly translate verbatim between German and English, and they shouldn’t have to.  If one language were enough to describe the world, then we would probably all be speaking it now.

Get friendly with the phonetics

Some languages may use many of the same phonetic sounds that English uses.  I know when I studied Spanish all of the sounds were fairly easy for me to make because English speakers already use them.  In fact, I believe the only challenging sound is the rolled “r” and even that can be said by many English speakers.

German is a little more complicated.  The “uvular r” and other sounds in the back of the throat are used often.  Ignoring such trademark sounds of a language will really inhibit your sound and overall connection to the language.  Although unfamiliar sounds can be hard to get at first, I think anyone can master them with practice.  It will help people understand you when you can finally speak the language.  Think of someone whose mother tongue isn’t English trying to minimize their accent.  The same concept goes for anyone learning a new language.

language

In case you didn’t realize, these images are from Germany in Epcot, not the actual country, but still pretty close for staying within the US!

Accept what you cannot change

This kind of goes with the first tip.  Here’s a quote for my German learners:

“German grammar is like the weather- you can complain about it all you want, but it won’t change anything.”

If you’ve taken any German classes, you probably know that German grammar is hard!  This quote helped me get past that point and just focus on learning the language.  You will actually get it if you don’t freak out about it and give it up!  I’ve actually come to appreciate the small part of German grammar that I actually understand, I even think English should take a few pointers

*Sidenote: If you think other languages are strange, start looking at the English language a little closer and I think you’ll see we’re are just as strange!

Find things you enjoy in that language

This was, of course, the reason I wanted to learn German in the first place; because I kept finding things in German that I loved!  Listening to music, reading books, watching movies and television in your chosen language is essential in my opinion.  Not only does it expose you to that much more of the language, but it keeps you interested and motivated while learning.

If German is your chosen language as well, then I have some recommendations for you as far as music goes.  Chances are there is German music for any genre you prefer, but here is the worship album I often listen to by Outbreakband.  It’s pretty great!

Just from listening to music you can expose yourself to so much more of the language, and probably some things that you wouldn’t be exposed to if you only took a class.  Of course, since I’m the musical theatre type, I have to recommend to you my favorite musical auf Deutsch: Elisabeth.  Not only is this my favorite German-language musical, it happens to be the most successful German musical ever.  I could give you tons of recommendations for German musicals, but that would be an entire post on its own, so leave a comment if you want to know more.

Additional Tips and Resources

I’ve been using Duolingo for about a year now, and I’d say it’s pretty helpful!  The great thing is that it reminds you every day to practice, and pretty soon the threat of breaking your streak will make sure you practice!  Duolingo was recently updated, but before the update, I was 59% fluent in German.  I can understand why they got rid of the fluency percentage (I definitely do not know over half of the language) but it was kind of a fun way to measure your progress.  I’m still open to exploring resources similar to Duolingo, but for now, I think it fits me pretty well.

I know teachers say Google Translate is taboo when learning a language, but I wouldn’t say it’s completely useless, so proceed with caution.  One trick for whenever I use google translate is to swap the languages so you translate it both ways.  Often times a phrase will change when you do this.  I have found wordreference.com to be a pretty reliable online dictionary, simply because it will give you multiple definitions of a word.

And Finally…

In reality, this is only a small part of what I’ve been doing to learn a new language.  I think one of the most important things I have learned is to stay inspired and remember why you started.  I’ve experienced periods of little growth and times when it seems a dozen light bulbs will go off at once, so stick to it when things seem hard!  You are definitely not the first person to learn this language, so don’t throw in the towel.  Best of luck!  Here’s a lovely German proverb to leave you with.

“Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.”

“Starting is easy, persistence is an art.”

Making the Most of Semester Break

relax

The long awaited semester break is a time to relax, recharge, and catch up on some things that may have gotten away from you during the semester.  Whether you are on break for a month or a week, it’s important to make the most of whatever time you have.  For myself, I certainly need to recharge for next semester, but there are still plenty of items on my “to-do” list.  Here, I have organized some of the most important things semester break is for.

Relax

I don’t know about you guys, but I poured a lot of energy into this past semester.  Although it was a time of growth and learning, I know I have to plenty of recovering to do from all the energy I spent this semester.  No matter where you are at in life, sometimes you just need to take some time for YOU.  Here are my suggestions to relax over the break.

Coloring

Who doesn’t love coloring?  You can easily find printable coloring pages online, or you can get a coloring book full of pictures.  I am a real fan of adult coloring books, particularly these ones featuring verses of scripture.  Don’t forget to find your favorite package of markers or colored pencils.  I find coloring to be so relaxing, especially when I put on some good music!

Playing an instrument

Being on break, I’ve had more time to play my guitar.  Although I wouldn’t call myself very good by any means, it’s still something I like to do that relaxes me.  I you’re feeling up to it, this may be a great time to pick up a totally new musical skill.

TV or Movie Series

I bet I can count the number of movies I watched this semester on one hand.  Since being home I’ve watched the entire Harry Potter series with my family and now we are working on  The Lord of the Rings series (extended editions, of course!)  I didn’t have Netflix all semester, but in the last couple weeks of school, I caved in.  If you haven’t watched The Crown yet, I would 10/10 highly recommend!

Read!

You guys, what I wouldn’t give for a quality novel!  If you have any recommendations, please let me know in the comments!  Nevertheless, I plan to read a couple plays over break.  The first one on my list is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  The search for monologue material never ends!

Recharge

As much as I love lying around the house all day, I know I have to do a couple things to keep myself sharp for the next semester.  Don’t let this semester sneak up on you!  Take a few minutes to make a mental list of what would be most beneficial for you to recharge during break.

See some friends

Even though I may have a tendency to be a shut-in at times, I still think it’s important to see some familiar faces.  Especially if you are back in your hometown, try to get together with some old friends.  Coffee dates are fine, or maybe you and your friends would like to collaborate on a photoshoot.  An update to my headshots is the perfect opportunity to get together with friends.

Remember your goals

Along with all the exhaustion, I experienced this semester, I seemed to get a little off track with the overarching goals I’ve set in place.  Not so much my academic/performance goals, but the goals for my blog have suffered big time.  The time and distance away from school has helped me remember why I started this blog in the first place.  What are some goals you would like to get back to?

Take care of yourself

As tempting as Christmas dinner is, try not to eat it all winter break.  You will feel a lot better if you keep your health in mind over break (especially if you are living in the dorms, enjoy this break from cafeteria food!)  Maybe go on a run or take a hike with some friends, weather permitting.  I know I need to do a fair amount of stretching to stay in shape for when I get back into my dance classes this semester.  Don’t forget to drink plenty of water!

Get Ahead

Perhaps one of the most beneficial things about semester break is that it gives students a chance to catch up and even get ahead in some details.  Amidst the hustle of class schedules, there are those things on everybody’s to-do list that just seem to never get done.

Get organized

Maybe, you’re like me, and you find organizing to be relaxing.  Organize your room, your schedule, your school supplies, or perhaps your blog.  Tie up some loose ends and get a clearer perspective on your to-do list.

Get ready for school

I don’t have a very good track record with preparing for a semester before it actually starts, but this time around I am determined to get ahead.  It helps that I will likely be needing only two textbooks this semester!  This way, I have plenty of time to look for less expensive alternatives than just going to the school bookstore.  Have you applied for FAFSA yet?  FAFSA was actually available on October 1st, but I’m just getting around to it now… Nobody’s perfect.

So there you have it!  Just a couple things to focus on during this semester break.  Don’t forget to pet a lot of cats.  I hope you all get to relax and recover enough to have an amazing semester.  Let me know some of your favorite things to do over winter break!




Tips to Write the Perfect Paper

paper

*This is a sponsored post on behalf of Analyze.AcademicHelp.net.  All content and opinions are my own.  Thank you!

It seems like no matter what your major is, your professors always find some way to utilize essay writing in their curriculum.  With finals just around the corner, it’s a good idea to brush up on the essential elements to writing a good paper.  Whether you feel like your writing skills are up to par, or you know you need to make some improvements, here are 10 tips to help you write the perfect college paper!

1. Define Your Goal

First things first, you need to know exactly what you are trying to achieve with your paper.  Is this a research essay?  Reflection paper?  What prompt have you been given for this paper?  I usually copy and paste the essay prompt to the top of the document while I’m writing a paper.  It helps me stay focused on what I’m trying to achieve so I don’t go off on any tangents.  Usually, you are trying to answer a question with a paper.  Make sure you know what question it is.

2. Always Create an Outline

Always, always, always create an outline.  This is usually the first thing I do after I determine my thesis.  Your outline should have at least three main points of your essay, and two or more sub-points to back these up.  I am usually not too picky with my outlines at first, and I always contain more points than I think I will actually need.

3. Write down everything

As you’re writing, don’t hesitate to write down anything that comes to mind; as long as you keep it organized.  You never know what may become of a crazy idea that comes to you on a whim.  You can always edit things out later if it doesn’t fit in your paper.

4. Plan to write more than what’s needed

I would much rather edit out superfluous information than scramble to meet a word count on an essay.  Plan to write more than what you need, then edit it down to only your best writing.  Sometimes I write a complete paragraph and then realize it really doesn’t belong in my essay, in which case I’m glad I planned to write some extra material.

5. Save introduction for last

This may be standard operating procedure for many people, but that’s because it works.  I much prefer waiting to see what my paper turns out to be, then write an introduction that reflects it.  The same goes for conclusions and transition paragraphs if you plan to write those.

6. Avoid certain words

You should know if your professor is comfortable with you using first person words like “I” and “me.”  However, you may find your writing improves dramatically if you completely nix words like “very” and “really” as well.  Sure, it may seem easy to write the same way you speak, but your professors may not agree.  Instead of saying something like “I was really excited to see the show” try thinking a bit more professional sounding, such as “the audience was buzzing with anticipation of the performance.”  Some other words I try to avoid in my writing are “also” and “that.”  It’s made a huge difference in the quality of work I produce!

7. Substantial supporting evidence

No matter what you are writing, keep in mind to always back up your ideas.  It should be a constant call and response of claims and evidence.  This applies to any type of paper you are writing, but particularly pay attention to this when writing argumentative essays

8. Take breaks

Maybe you are the kind of person who can focus on something for hours on end, but I definitely am not.  Breaks are a strategic way to keep your mind focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes I can be responsible with my time and how long I am on break, but other times I require more discipline.  If you are really struggling with writing a paper, try giving yourself a short break every 15-30 minutes.  (If your break involves Pinterest, you might want to time yourself to only a few minutes!)

9. Get some feedback

After you’ve finished your rough draft, it’s a good idea to get a second pair of eyes to look at your paper.  You can grab a friend, your mom, or even check out some resources online!  One such service is Analyze.AcademicHelp.net.  Their service will help catch all the little things you miss in any paper such as proper spelling, punctuation, possessives, and more.

paper

I gave this service a try on an essay I had to write for a theatre class.  They caught several things I missed when I proofread my paper.  There is an actual person who will read over your paper and make corrections.  You can even correspond with them in the chatbox on the right and ask questions about your paper.  If you are looking for a second opinion on your paper, I would recommend checking Analyze.AcademicHelp.net!

10. Learn from your mistakes

After you turn in your paper, there is really nothing you can do.  Whether this is a relief or more cause for worry, it’s important to look at the work you’ve done and learn.  With every paper you write, get as much feedback as you can and apply it to the next paper you write.  Your writing skills will improve immensely with time and effort!




Stressed Out College Student Resources

stressed

This is the time of year when students everywhere are getting stressed out.  Not only is this unhealthy, it’s unnecessary to stay stressed!  Many college students have made it to graduation in one piece, and you can too!  The key is to get a handle on stress and keep a clear head.

Luckily, we have some lovely ladies who have already put a lot of thought into handling stress!  The college blogging community is a great resource for students no matter where you are or what you study.  Stay calm.  Don’t stress.  You can do this!

Don’t Freak Out

Whether you’ve just started to feel the stress of the semester, or you are up to your neck in papers and tests, this is the first thing to remember: don’t freak out!  Anxiety will not make things any easier for you.  The following posts are really helpful for reminding us all to not freak out when the workload starts piling up.

Handling A Busy Semester from buckeyebliss.com

Dealing with Overwhelm in College from collegewithcaitlyn.com

Productivity

Next, comes productivity.  Being organized and efficient with your time is so important for preventing stress in the first place.  Taking a few minutes to get organized can really help the amount of work you get done in a day.  These posts are all about organization and productivity.  Hopefully, this will help you prevent stress in the future!

How I Stay Organized from collegewithcaitlyn.com

9 Productivity Tools You Must Have on Your Home Office or Study Desk from michelleadamsblog.com

10 Ways to Be More Productive Right Now from laughswithoutfear.com (that’s right here!)

Destress

Honey, you need to take some time for yourself every now and then.  If your school work is taking so much of your time and energy that you are neglecting yourself, you need to rethink your priorities.  School won’t help you out in the long run if you destroy yourself in the process.  These posts should give you some ideas on how to destress and take care of yourself.

Activities to Unwind and De-Stress during the Semester from thecosmicroad.com

5 Things to do When You’re Stressed from kaylablogs.com

Great Ways to De-stress from lilieandviolets.wordpress.com

 




How I Got A’s in All My Classes This Semester

classes

Sometime during high school I realized that I was a was a good student.  After that, I realized that I had to work to keep it that way.  I actually wish I had realized these things sooner because it seems that there is always one person ahead of you in some way.  Although I may have surpassed a lot of people in academics, there were certainly several people ahead of me in my high school class.  Just a few numbers can mean the difference between thousands of dollars in scholarship money or awards.

But I am happy to announce that I got A’s in all my classes this semester!  After several long months, all my hard work has finally paid off.  Even if you totally expected to receive good grades, it’s still worth being proud of!  Today, I would like to share some of the tips and tricks that helped me bump up my GPA.  Quick disclaimer: I realize that everyone is an individual, and there is no right or wrong way to achieve success in your classes.  What works for me might not work for you.  Nevertheless, if my tips can help anyone else, I am happy to share the love!  Without further ado, here is how I got A’s in all my classes this semester!

I study something I love

I hope this goes without saying, but loving your education makes college a million times more endurable.  If you truly love the content and the work that goes into your classes, then your classwork don’t seem nearly as grueling!  Because I am a theatre major, most people realize right away that I am in this major purely because I love it.  On the flip-side, I have talked to plenty of people who adore theatre and have maybe even considered going to college for it, but they are scared to take the plunge.  But, trust me, my college experience is a blast because I am studying something I am passionate about.  I couldn’t imagine it any other way!

I am not alone in my classes

Now, I realize my major is pretty different from other fields of study, but I still benefit so much from the community of theatre majors I am surrounded by.  In my theatre classes, I always have several of my friends right alongside me which makes it easy to ask questions and collaborate on our classwork.  We frequently discuss our classes and help each other with projects or problems that we encounter.  We also have a lot of fun  in our classes too!

I made plenty of time for my homework

This didn’t always mean that I started a project several weeks before it was due, it just means that I dedicated specific time for working on big projects or papers.  I more or less budgeted my time during the week to have enough time for schoolwork.  I almost never worked on homework after 8pm, just because I didn’t like it!  I still had plenty of time for all my schoolwork.  Productivity is key!  Here are 10 Ways to Be More Productive Right Now.  These habits saved me plenty of time!

I avoided stress

This goes along with budgeting my time during the week.  I mostly didn’t work after 8pm because I needed that time to relax.  I also passed up opportunities to hang out with my friends because I knew I needed to recover from a busy day.  Stressing about school will only have negative effects on your classes, so learn to take control of stress.  Here is A Foolproof Guide to Dealing With Stress in College; all these tips help me conquer stress in my own life which allowed me to focus on school.

I worked on having a healthy attitude

Can I emphasize the word worked?!  This semester was hard!  For the last two months of the semester, I was having a terrible attitude about school.  I didn’t like my classes and I didn’t like living in the dorms, but I got through it!  I tried really hard to have a good attitude and cut the negativity out of my life.  I failed a lot, but I still finished strong and got good grades in all my classes!  Sick of school? Here’s What to Do When You’ve Had Enough of This Semester.

I had a voice in my classes

If I had a problem with something in my classes, I felt no remorse in emailing my professor about my concern.  For example: in my public speaking class, I was giving a speech and a girl walked into class late and completely broke my focus.  She loudly opened the door and walked right in front of me as if I wasn’t even there.  I had seen this happen several other times during other speeches and I had had enough of it.  I emailed my professor and told him that it was very bad speech etiquette to enter a room while someone was giving a speech.  He addressed it with the class and it didn’t happen again.  Do you see what I’m saying?  You are paying for this education, so don’t feel bad about having a voice in your classes.

Confession:

Ok, here’s my secret: getting good grades isn’t very hard for me.  This doesn’t mean I effortlessly get A’s in all my classes all the time, it just means that I’ve worked hard to develop good habits that are now second nature to me.  Developing good academic habits is the easiest way to get straight A’s.  Because of the discipline in instilling these habits, getting A’s this semester was a breeze.

I am always looking for more college or study tips to help boost the good ol’ GPA!  Let me know what tips you have for getting A’s in your classes.  Is getting A’s something that comes easily to you?  Or are you still working on developing good academic habits?  I want to know!