Multilingualism – Part Two

INTERVIEW with Christine Konstantinidis, who speaks six languages and runs the blog ERFOLGREICHESSPRACHENLERNEN.COM.

She also is the author of the book: „Sprachen lernen, tolle Tipps und Tricks – Kreative Methoden für Motivation und maximalen Erfolg“ (2015). 

In PART ONE of the interview, Christine tells us something about herself and her work.

In PART TWO she talks about methods and the importance of grammar when learning a language.

I have added remarks (!) to each answer.

 

INTERVIEW PART TWO

Birgit:

Which methods would you recommend to someone who wants to learn a language in a fast and effective way?

Christine:

I recommend doing something for the language every day. Besides, you should try to train all four skills, so take care of listening, reading, writing and speaking. Of course, it depends on the objective. For example, someone who only has to understand written specialist texts can leave out the “speaking” part. But if someone wants to learn general language, it is important to practice all areas. An important aspect is to find the perfect method for you. If you like doing something, then you do not have to overcome yourself every time. You should also only learn with materials that you like, so try to read books and magazines on your hobby, for example. And for me the most important thing at all: contact with the country and the people and the integration into everyday life are the key factors of the learning. Surprisingly, many people have no idea what they can do for their English or other languages without a course or trip. They are then quite surprised what possibilities there are! In my case, at home, every room contains “language content”: books, magazines, crossword puzzles, my Kindle, my cell phone, the computer – all sorts of materials that help me start learning immediately. Also, I have close contact with our friends abroad (of course also with those in Germany) and not only talk we regularly about Skype but see each other and have connection via WhatsApp.

! My remark: Language training comprises speaking, listening, reading and writing. Integrate the language into your daily life: watch TV, listen to songs, find someone on What`sApp you can communicate with. Make sure you are having fun learning the language !

Birgit:

How important, do you reckon, is grammar for learning a language?

Christine:

I think grammar is not the most essential thing in the world, but without grammar you can’t speak and write well. I’m a big fan of situational grammar – which means that grammar is taught by me when you need it, no matter if it’s the topic in the class or not. With the topic “family” I always teach the possessive pronouns/determiners (my, your, our …), with the topic “directions” it is the prepositions (up, in, to, to …). If you want to express your own opinion, for example, in Italian you need the Congiuntivo – so these two areas are linked in learning.

! I like the term SITUATIONAL GRAMMAR. I fully agree: make use of any daily situation in order to switch into the language you want to improve !

Birgit:

What do you like about Italian food and Italy?

Christine:

In my opinion, Italian cuisine is very varied; each region has its own specialities. Italy is also very diverse – and even more beautiful are the holidays there if you have friends or you can speak the language. These are real enrichments. Italy has great landscapes, from the Alps to the northern Italian lakes to Tuscany and the islands. The cities offer so much architecture and history! And my tip here is: We love to experience cities and regions going running there. This year in Rome we jogged three times and discovered so much more than the typical tourist.

Birgit:

What do you like about Austrian food and Austria?

Christine: 

I love to hike, preferably in the mountains! Unfortunately, Switzerland is very expensive, so for us, also because of the geographical proximity, Austria is an alternative. And there’s nothing better than hiking to mountain huts and eating Austrian pastries like apple strudel or Kaiserschmarrn! The pastries are awesome!

Birgit: 

Be spontaneous: What do you think about Britain and British people?

Christine:

In the past, I was in the UK more frequently, mainly in London, but also in Cambridge, Oxford, Canterbury, Cornwall, Edinburgh and Inverness. Unfortunately, I have not had any contact with people from Great Britain for years, but when I hear people from there speaking, I always notice how much they are talking ten minutes about what they really want (Germans would say “yes” or “no”), and that they are extremely friendly – what  sometimes sounds a bit over the top to our German ears and sometimes puts a little strain on our German patience. I find the cities and landscapes in the UK very beautiful, I like the green, but also the modern and old architecture. My favourite places, however, were and are the bookshops! But, I have to admit, I love these in every country.

Birgit:

How do you communicate with your dog?

Christine:

Unfortunately, our dog died in the meantime. Since we travel a lot, we also decided not to take in a new dog here. But … the communication language with our dog was always German. 😊

But our children used to have to listen to different foreign languages – this was successful with our daughter – she studied French and Italian, but our son was more likely to fall on deaf ears.

 

 

Multilingualism – Part One

Read my INTERVIEW with Christine Konstantinidis, who speaks six languages and runs the blog ERFOLGREICHESSPRACHENLERNEN.COM

Christine is also author of the book: „Sprachen lernen, tolle Tipps und Tricks – Kreative Methoden für Motivation und maximalen Erfolg“ (2015). 

In PART ONE of the interview, Christine tells us something about herself and her work.

In PART TWO she talks about methods and the importance of grammar when learning a language.

I have added remarks (!) to each answer.

 

INTERVIEW PART ONE 

Christine:

Thank you, Birgit, for the opportunity of this interview.

Birgit:

What languages do you speak?

Christine:

Since languages are my absolute passion, no day passes without languages. I speak German as a native language, English at C1 level (earlier it was C2, but I do not practice it regularly at this high level), Italian at C2 level, French at C1 level, Spanish at B2 level and Portuguese and Dutch at A1 / A2 level. Latin is also one of my passions, I like the clear structure of the language. I would like to learn many more languages, but unfortunately, the day has only 24 hours for me.

! The level of the CEFR helps assess how well someone speaks a language: The Common European Framework of Reference levels are: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 ,C2 !

Birgit:

What is your favourite language and country and why?

Christine:

My favourite languages are currently French and mainly Spanish. When I was in Spain for the first time in 2016, I immediately felt at home there, even though I did not speak the language well then. Therefore, I can call Spain as my favourite country, but I also like France, Italy and Austria. In Spain, France and Italy I have great language partners who I also know personally, at least most of them. I find Austria ideal for hiking.

! It means Christine started learning Spanish three years ago and is now at B2 level – people do say: the more languages you speak, the easier it gets to learn another !

Birgit:

Where, when and how long did you learn English?

Christine:

I already had English at school. However, I have always been able to distinguish very well between English for school and English for private purposes. This means that my grades and my workload for English at school were rather modest, but at the time I already had penpals around the world – and I could communicate with them in English very well. I still have contact with two of them today, with Carolyn from Australia and Nils-Arne from Norway. But we switched to modern media. After school, I discovered my love for the English language, passed all Cambridge exams and spent a lot of time learning English. Currently I listen to and read in English, learn my vocabulary with Memrise  on a daily basis, speak English with German students if they are overwhelmed with German, and occasionally write e-mails. Meanwhile, my other languages have become more important to me.

! To have a penpal in the 80s meant to get an address from your teacher of a girl or boy living abroad and writing letters to him or her – on thin blue paper which was posted in thin blue envelopes “via airmail”. 

To take a Cambridge exam means you have to spend time on learning English – which will help you improve a lot!

Memrise is a free platform for learning vocabulary, which I can recommend. Doing this once every day for 10 minutes helps improve your competence !

Birgit:

Why did you start the blog and what does your typical working day look like?

Christine:

My blog  has been online since August 2014. Meanwhile, over 220 articles have been published. I started it because the same questions were asked in my language courses over and over again: How can I best learn vocabulary? How important is grammar? Where can I find listening material for the languages? How do you deal with mistakes? So, after answering these questions thousands of times, I started the blog to give the answers. After a few articles, I realised that writing about languages was so much fun. Therefore, I haven’t stopped.

My typical working day involves a lot of routines but also varies from day to day. There are no classic working hours. In most cases, work and leisure time overlap because languages are my passion.

I get up at 5:45 and update my to-do list for the day. This is not difficult, because I organise myself with Trello and have set up daily to-do lists, which only need to be changed slightly. I arrange my tasks according to priority and work everything off. What I’m not able to do on that day will be postponed to the next day or given due date. In general, however, I have my tasks under control.

Since I also teach languages in courses outside the home, parts of my working day are dictated by the course times. At home, my job is based on the type of employment: Do I have to write German materials for portals, blog articles for companies or my own blog, do Skype lessons, do I have to prepare courses … That is different from day to day.

But what happens on a daily basis: My routines for language learning, for my job and my health. Every day, I learn my vocabulary in all learning languages with Memrise, also every day I do 10 minutes of back exercises. Every day I read an Italian blog post via WhatsApp audio to an Italian friend, she does that for me in Italian – which also helps me with my job. For a German portal, I am also responsible for Facebook support, I also do that every day. And – very important for me: I regularly go running and do stability training, I’ve got a detailed training plan for that, too.

As you can see, I love plans and lists. Even for my household chores I use an app. Maybe some people think this is a bit exaggerated, but the system helps me a lot. Only my family cannot be organised like this 😀

! This is very interesting: Christine started her blog for the same reasons for which I decided to write my book ENGLISCHE GRAMMATIK – She had been asked over and over again the same questions – regarding how to best learn languages. 

Also, routine does have a positive effect on the outcome. It helps reach goals as it does support the health. Organising the way we learn a language does help getting where we want to be !

Vocab of the day

You will find new vocab of the day on my pages at

Facebook, Instagram & Twitter

This & that

Vocabulary

Leg stretches

Valentine`s Day

Carnival

Sayings…. no man is an island…

don`t judge a book by its cover es ist nicht alles wie es scheint

when in Rome, do as the Romans pass dich an

no man is an island jeder braucht mal Hilfe von anderen

fortune favors the bold Glück belohnt die Mutigen/Kühnen

better late than never besser spät als nie

Idioms….not for all the tea in China…

below the belt unter der Gürtellinie

a flash in the pan eine Eintagsfliege

to become second nature in Fleisch und Blut übergehen

not for all the tea in China um nichts in der Welt

out of this world spitze, erstklassig

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