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Online Learning

The Internet has made second language learning much more accessible. One of the best ways to learn a second language is to start young. French and English schools in Canada have been offering dual-language programs for years and can serve as a model for best practices. Some Spanish and English dual-language programs in the USA have also served as the model and as the research platform to improve teaching.

We naturally learn language through the process of listening (or observing if we are deaf), thinking, then speaking (or practicing hand signs if we are deaf), thinking some more to make sure that we are understood. Later we move to the area of reading (best approached by listening to "native speakers" read to us while we read something interesting) and finally beginning to use our favorite readings as models for writing.

This approach works well for both first language learning and second language learning (SLL). Once we have acquired a solid foundation in the communication centers in our brain for language, we can begin to add multiple languages. I have found that an ear for language is similar to an ear for vocal music--listening to variations of tone and pitch and pronunciation. Some people say that you need an initial base for a language before the age of 15. I was exposed to most of the languages I know before then, though I began studying Italian in college.

I loved communicating in multiple languages and, when I took the Army language exams, tested fluent in Spanish, French, and Italian. I lived in Italy for three-and-one-half years and was considered (by the Italians I worked with) fluent. I have been speaking Spanish for much of my life and am certified by the state of Illinois as a bilingual (Spanish) teacher. My French is my least-used language. While once fluent, I haven't had the need to speak it daily. Yesterday I signed up for a year's subscription to EN101 --an online language program for English language learners (ELLs) with supplementary programs in multiple languages. I've started my review of French and will probably review the grammar for both Spanish and Italian throughout the year to bring back my fluency in all three languages. My native language is English and am certainly fluent in that. I am also certified in the state of Illinois as a Teacher of English as a Second Language and have been working in that field with adults overseas in Europe, Asia, and South America. In the USA, I was an ELL teacher (K-12) for six years.

I was recently approached by the founders of two language programs, focused primarily on teaching English as a second language. The first of these was EN101--which I have already subscribed to as a student of languages other than English. The second has a full release date set for November 1, 2009, and is the English language program of Excel Global University (XLGU). The initial focus of the XLGU program is to make a conversational English program available online at a modest tuition to English language learners in China.

My undergraduate major was Humanities--with more than 55 credits in English courses. My certification as a teacher in Illinois includes a "highly qualified" area of English and Language Arts and Reading at the K-9 level. I have also taught English as a second language at the high school level.

I believe strongly in second language learning and have written several research articles about English language learning and second language learning.

As I begin to work with both EN101 and XLGU, I believe that becoming conversationally fluent in English will be a big help for immigrants to the USA and to people wanting to develop business relationships with organizations based in the USA with connections outside of the USA. The second language learning offerings can help people fluent in English to pick-up conversational fluency in other languages to help make communication of better quality and easier in dealing with non-native English speakers.

Beyond all of this, there are some business opportunities in helping to expand the reach of both EN101 and XLGU. It's great to have a chance to help someone grow and to earn some money while doing it.

Click on the link below to view two EN101 success stories.


Visit the DrM-Blogfor posts dealing with online language learning programs.