How to learn a new language: 7 secrets from TED Translators


They say that children learn languages the best. But that doesn’t mean that adults should give up. We asked some of the polyglots in TED’s Open Translation Project to share their secrets to mastering a foreign language. Their best strategies distill into seven basic principles:

  • Get real. Decide on a simple, attainable goal to start with so that you don’t feel overwhelmed. German translator Judith Matz suggests: “Pick up 50 words of a language and start using them on people — and then slowly start picking up grammar.” .
  • Make language-learning a lifestyle change . Elisabeth Buffard , who in her 27 years of teaching English has always seen consistency as what separates the most successful students from the rest. Find a language habit that you can follow even when you’re tired, sick or madly in love. .
  • Play house with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. “Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,” says Russian translator Olga Dmitrochenkova . Label every object in your house in this language, read kids’ books written in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, or live-narrate parts of your day to an imaginary foreign friend. .
  • Let technology help you out . Dmitrochenkova has a great idea: “A funny thing like resetting the language on your phone can help you learn new words right away,” she says. Ditto for changing the language on your browser. Or you can seek out more structured learning opportunities online. Dutch translator Els De Keyser recommends Duolinguo for its gamified approach to grammar, and Anki for memorizing vocabulary with its “intelligent” flashcards. .
  • Think about language-learning as a gateway to new experiences . To Spanish translator Sebastián Betti , learning a language has always been about focusing on the experiences that the new language would open up, from “visiting theme parks, attending air shows, enjoying cowboy poetry and folk-rock festivals, to learning about photo-essay techniques.” In other words, he thinks of fun things that he wanted to do anyway, and makes them into a language-learning opportunity. Many of our translators shared this advice. Italian and French translator Anna Minoli learned English by watching undubbed versions of her favorite movies, while Croatian translator Ivan Stamenković suddenly realized he could speak English in fifth grade, after years of watching the Cartoon Network without subtitles. So the next time you need a vegan carrot cake recipe, find one in the language you’re trying to learn. .
  • Make new friends . Interacting in the new language is key — it will teach you to intuitively express your thoughts, instead of mentally translating each sentence before you say it. Find native speakers near you. Or search for foreign penpals or set up a language tandem online, where two volunteers help one another practice their respective languages. .
  • Do not worry about making mistakes. One of the most common barriers to conversing in a new language is the fear of making mistakes. But native speakers are like doting parents: any attempt from you to communicate in their language is objective proof that you are a gifted genius. They’ll appreciate your effort and even help you. Nervous about holding a conversation with a peer? Try testing your language skills with someone a little younger. “I was stoked when I was chatting with an Italian toddler and realized we had the same level of Italian,” recalls German translator Judith Matz. And be patient. The more you speak, the closer you’ll get to the elusive ideal of “native-like fluency.” And to talking to people your own age.
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Language Learning PowerPoint template

Language Learning PowerPoint template

Number of slides: 10

Language learning is the active process of acquiring the skills to communicate in a foreign language. Professionals that know how to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a second or third language are highly demanded in modern companies. If you’re in the language learning market, use this PowerPoint template to talk about the benefits of learning a new language, the most spoken languages in the world, the best habits for language learners, and more.

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Language learning benefits.

Increase the interest of your public on learning a new language by addressing the benefits of language learning. In this slide you can focus on four powerful reasons and explain each one with fun examples.

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How to learn a foreign language: Introduction

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It has been only a few years that I became interested in learning foreign languages. In high school, I had classes in English (which I managed somewhat effortlessly) and in French (in which I hadn’t learned more than basic phrases and quite a lot of grammar). There were two reasons I hadn’t learned a lot in French — first, I didn’t enjoy the process of learning in school, so I didn’t put much effort into it; second, although the learning method we used was a common one, it was simply not good (we learned using a French-only textbook — how were we supposed to learn a language we didn’t understand if all we had was a textbook written in that very same language?).

Over the years, my enthusiasm for learning languages grew because of the possibilities it offers; it is a great feeling to read a book or watch a film in its original language and actually understand it. I have tried many different methods of learning; some of them were horrible, some of them worked great. In this article, I’d like to tell you which methods work for me.

I divide learning of languages into four different stages; each one uses different approaches and is ‘designed’ to achieve a particular goal. You may also want to read my article entitled ” The single most important thing to realize when learning foreign languages ” first, in order to understand how to approach a foreign language in general.

Using this method, you familiarize yourself with the writing system of the language, the sound of the language and some basic vocabulary and grammar of the language. It is useful for very distant language, like Chinese, Japanese, or Russian (if you do not speak a Slavic language yet). It is inadequate for languages closely related to a language you already know — since you already understand English, if you want to learn, for example, Spanish, French, or German, what you need is a method I call “skimming”.

Skimming is a method used to learn languages closely related to a language you already know (such as Spanish, French, or German in the case of English). Thanks to that language, you already know great deal of your target language; there will be hundreds, perhaps thousands of words resembling words you already know, grammatical similarities (such as the system of tenses), and more. Thanks to skimming, you can learn much faster then you would just using traditional learning.

This method is what its name says — good ol’ learning, and comes after familiarization or skimming. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should just buy a textbook and spend hours just by doing exercises. There are still much more effective and fun ways to learn.

After you have reached about the C1 level of CEFR, traditional learning is no longer required. You need mostly to practice your pronunciation and speaking abilities, and to expand your vocabulary. If you want to find more about what’s appropriate at this stage, click on the heading above.

By the way, I have written several educational ebooks . If you get a copy, you can learn new things and support this website at the same time—why don’t you check them out?

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A Key Skill for World Language Learners

Presenting information is a great task for world language learners, and these four engaging activities will get them talking.

Student giving presentation to his world language class

The World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) consider presentational communication to be essential. In the world language classroom, presentational activities give learners more opportunities to use the target language in meaningful ways, build their self-confidence, and share cultures with other people. The goal of presentational communication is to develop the learners’ ability to present information, concepts, and ideas, and to share, inform, narrate, explain, and persuade.

I’d like to share four presentational communication activities that particularly engage my world language students.

4 Presentational Communication Activities 

1. Hop-On, Hop-Off:  The goal of this activity is for learners to present the beauty and bounty of a town or province they’ve chosen from the target culture. The idea is similar to a hop-on, hop-off bus, where learners assume the role of a tour guide.

The teacher arranges chairs in the classroom to resemble the seating in a bus. The learners “hop off the bus,” and an appointed learner tour guide gives their presentation. When the learner tour guide is finished, the learners “hop back on the bus,” ready for the next learner tour guide to give their presentation.

The tour guides share specific details, such as the history of the locale, notable landmarks, main products and cuisines, festivals, etc., using the target language. The tour guides are allowed to switch from the target language to their first language and vice versa, to give more detailed information about the location. The learners can prepare tour pamphlets and display boards as visual aids. They also have the option to show tourism advertisements, similar to this one , featuring the town or province they’ve chosen.

2. At the Museum:  During the activity, the class goes on a “museum tour.” Assigned student docents choose one cultural or souvenir item from the target-language country to feature in the exhibit and explain its cultural relevance. For instance, when we did this in class, I asked learners to pick and choose any item from the Filipino culture that they had learned about in class. One of my learners chose to display a baro’t saya , a pair of traditional Filipino clothing items for males and females. Teachers and students from other classes can also participate and experience a day at the museum.

3. Zoom-ing In:  The next presentation activity is applicable to virtual classes. Using Zoom as a platform, divide the class into groups. A suggested presentation features food items or dishes. Each group of learners presents the steps or procedures for preparing a specific dish from their home culture as they fulfill the role of a key informant or chef. Students from the target culture are the audience.

For instance, American learners of Tagalog would present the steps for preparing an apple pie or cornbread using the target language. The presenting learners prepare the dish, while their audience watches online. The purpose is to allow exchanges of cultural practices (through food) between the world language learners and others from the target culture. Hence, the target audience would give a presentation on how a traditional dish is prepared in their country.

When we did this in our virtual Tagalog class, the Filipino learners we invited prepared a vegetable okoy , a Filipino vegetable fritter. Both groups can also share other interesting facts about the dishes or food items they prepared.

4. Minute to Vlog It: The last activity to enhance presentational communication skills should be very popular. With learners’ familiarity with social media, they’ll likely relish presenting information through a vlog (video blog), taking on the role of a vlogger. To make it more interesting, the learners create a minute-long vlog featuring different fun facts about the country where the target language is spoken.

Using social media platforms and video editing tools or a design application like Adobe Creative Cloud Express , vloggers include interesting features of the country they’ve learned in class, such as the language, the people, places, or a specific cultural practice. An example is this video from a YouTuber who describes the Philippines in one minute , but the learners’ vlogs should be in the target language and have the vibe of an advertising campaign. Students can view the one-minute vlogs during class time.   The key to successfully organizing presentational communication activities for world language learners is to be mindful of the event’s communicative purpose (to present, inform, narrate, etc.), the media or channel (physical or virtual), and the audience. Although the World-Readiness Standards describe presentational communication as one-way, the teacher can still foster interaction by encouraging the audience to ask questions, clarify ideas, and add more information.

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Language, Learning, and Teaching

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Language, Learning, and Teaching

SLA --- AN Introductory Course Prof

presentation about learning languages


presentation about learning languages

Alina Alvarez IEEE Uruguay Section

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presentation about learning languages

Approach, Methods, Techniques

presentation about learning languages

Human Learning (PLLT) “... the cognitive domain of human behavior is of key importance in the acquisition of both a first and a second language.

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The Silent Way Tell me and I forget Teach me and I remember

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Chapter 4 Key Concepts.

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5 orientations of learning

presentation about learning languages

1-Who? Who does the learning and teaching? Questions about learners and teachers. 2-What? -What must the leaner learn and the teacher teach? -What is.

presentation about learning languages

Applied Linguistics LANE 423/ First Semester Introduction/ Lecture 1

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Learning about Literacy: A 30-Year Journey By P

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Chapter 2 The Grammar-Translation Method (GTM)

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Theoretical Perspectives for Technology Integration.

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TESL Methodology: An Overview Spring TESL Methodology: Values 1. For teachers to reflect that can aid teaching and to think what underlies their.

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FTCE 3.3 Identify and Apply Motivational Theories and Techniques That Enhance Student Learning Learning – Relatively permanent improvement in performance.

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Learning Theories Cognitive vs. Behavioral presented by Roberto Camargo EDTC-3320.

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Schools of Thought in Second Language Learning (1940’s ’s) Source: Brown, D. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. (p.p.9-15)

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The Nature of Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching

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Why Learn a foreign language - Presentation Assembly

Why Learn a foreign language - Presentation Assembly

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In this free course, Understanding language and learning , you considered the role of language in learning and started out from the assumption that language, and more particularly, linguistic interaction with other people, is a key aspect of learning. You also began to develop more critical skills, asking questions about what we actually mean by language and whether it is possible and necessary to separate out one language from another. In relation to English in particular, you began to question the extent to which new forms of English or ‘Englishes’ must begin to be recognised alongside more established ones. The growing discomfort with established notions of language in general and English in particular has been prompted by well-documented and intensified global interconnectedness in recent years, leading to increased language contact and a growing number of English-language users. Such real-world phenomena bring into question what we mean by English and what we mean by language. For educational practitioners, it raises important practical questions about the norms according to which students should be taught.

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How to Use Oral Presentations to Help English Language Learners Succeed

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presentation about learning languages

Excerpted from “ The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students ,” by Larry Ferlazzo and Katie Hull Sypnieski, with permission from the authors.

Having the confidence to speak in front of others is challenging for most people. For English Language Learners, this anxiety can be heightened because they are also speaking in a new language. We’ve found several benefits to incorporating opportunities for students to present to their peers in a positive and safe classroom environment. It helps them focus on pronunciation and clarity and also boosts their confidence. This type of practice is useful since students will surely have to make presentations in other classes, in college, and/or in their future jobs. However, what may be even more valuable is giving students the chance to take these risks in a collaborative, supportive environment.

Presentations also offer students the opportunity to become the teacher—something we welcome and they enjoy! They can further provide valuable listening practice for the rest of the class, especially when students are given a task to focus their listening.

Research confirms that in order for ELLs to acquire English they must engage in oral language practice and be given the opportunity to use language in meaningful ways for social and academic purposes (Williams & Roberts, 2011). Teaching students to design effective oral presentations has also been found to support thinking development as “the quality of presentation actually improves the quality of thought, and vice versa” (Živković, 2014, p. 474). Additionally, t he Common Core Speaking and Listening Standards specifically focus on oral presentations. These standards call for students to make effective and well-organized presentations and to use technology to enhance understanding of them.


Oral presentations can take many different forms in the ELL classroom—ranging from students briefly presenting their learning in small groups to creating a multi-slide presentation for the whole class. In this section, we give some general guidelines for oral presentations with ELLs. We then share ideas for helping students develop their presentation skills and describe specific ways we scaffold both short and long oral presentations.

We keep the following guidelines in mind when incorporating oral presentations into ELL instruction:

presentation about learning languages

Length —We have students develop and deliver short presentations (usually 2-4 minutes) on a regular basis so they can practice their presentation skills with smaller, less overwhelming tasks. These presentations are often to another student or a small group. Once or twice a semester, students do a longer presentation (usually 5-8 minutes), many times with a partner or in a small group.

Novelty —Mixing up how students present (in small groups, in pairs, individually) and what they use to present (a poster, a paper placed under the document camera, props, a slide presentation, etc.) can increase engagement for students and the teacher!

Whole Class Processing -- We want to avoid students “tuning out” during oral presentations. Not only can it be frustrating for the speakers, but students also miss out on valuable listening practice. During oral presentations, and in any activity, we want to maximize the probability that all students are thinking and learning all the time. Jim Peterson and Ted Appel, administrators with whom we’ve worked closely, call this “whole class processing” (Ferlazzo, 2011, August 16) and it is also known as active participation. All students can be encouraged to actively participate in oral presentations by being given a listening task-- taking notes on a graphic organizer, providing written feedback to the speaker, using a checklist to evaluate presenters, etc.

Language Support —It is critical to provide ELLs, especially at the lower levels of English proficiency, with language support for oral presentations. In other words, thinking about what vocabulary, language features and organizational structures they may need, and then providing students with scaffolding, like speaking frames and graphic organizers. Oral presentations can also provide an opportunity for students to practice their summarizing skills. When students are presenting information on a topic they have researched, we remind them to summarize using their own words and to give credit when using someone else’s words.

Technology Support —It can’t be assumed that students have experience using technology tools in presentations. We find it most helpful using simple tools that are easy for students to learn (like Powerpoint without all the “bells and whistles” or Google Slides). We also emphasize to students that digital media should be used to help the audience understand what they are saying and not just to make a presentation flashy or pretty. We also share with our students what is known as “The Picture Superiority Effect”-- a body of research showing that people are better able to learn and recall information presented as pictures as opposed to just being presented with words (Kagan, 2013).

Groups -- Giving ELLs the opportunity to work and present in small groups is helpful in several ways. Presenting as a group (as opposed to by yourself) can help students feel less anxious. It also offers language-building opportunities as students communicate to develop and practice their presentations. Creating new knowledge as a group promotes collaboration and language acquisition--an ideal equation for a successful ELL classroom!

Teacher feedback/student evaluation --The focus of oral presentations with ELL students should be on the practice and skills they are gaining, not on the grade or “score” they are earning. Teachers can give out a simple rubric before students create their presentations. Then students can keep these expectations in mind as they develop and practice their presentations. The teacher, or classmates, can then use the rubric to offer feedback to the speaker. We also often ask students to reflect on their own presentation and complete the rubric as a form of self-assessment. Figure 30.1 – “Presentation Peer Evaluation Rubric” , developed by talented student teacher Kevin Inlay (who is now a teacher in his own classroom), is a simple rubric we used to improve group presentations in our ELL World History class.

presentation about learning languages

Teaching Presentation Skills

We use the following two lesson ideas to explicitly teach how to develop effective presentation skills:

LESSON ONE: Speaking and Listening Do’s and Don’ts

We help our students understand and practice general presentation skills through an activity we call Speaking and Listening “Do’s and Don’ts.” We usually spread this lesson out among two class periods.

We first ask students to create a simple T-chart by folding a piece of paper in half and labeling one side “Do” and the other side “Don’t.” We then post Figure 30.2 “Speaking Do’s and Don’ts” on the document camera and display the first statement (the rest we cover with a blank sheet of paper).

We read the first statement, “Make eye contact with the audience,” and ask students if this is something they want to do when they are giving a presentation or if it is something they don’t want to do. Students write the statement where they think it belongs--under the “Do” column or “Don’t” Column. Students then share their answer with a partner and discuss why they put it in that column. After calling on a few pairs to share with the class, we move down the list repeating the same process of categorizing each statement as a “Do” or a “Don’t.” Students write it on their chart and discuss why it should be placed there.

After categorizing the statements for speaking, we give students Figure 30.3 “Listening Do’s and Don’ts .” We tell students to work in pairs to categorize the statements as something they do or something they don’t want to do when listening to a student presentation. This time, we ask students to make a quick poster with the headings “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Listening. Under each heading students must list the corresponding statements--the teacher can circulate to check for accuracy. Students are asked to talk about why each statement belongs in each category and should be prepared to share their reasoning with the class. Students must also choose one “do” statement and one “don’t” statement to illustrate on their poster. Students can present their posters in small groups or with the whole class. This serves as a great opportunity to apply the speaking and listening “do’s” they just reviewed and heightens their awareness of the “don’ts!”

presentation about learning languages

A fun twist, that also serves as a good review on a subsequent day, is to ask groups of students to pick two or three “do’s” and “don’ts” from both Speaking and Listening to act out in front of the class.

LESSON TWO Slide Presentations Concept Attainment

We periodically ask students to make slide presentations using PowerPoint or Google Slides to give them practice with developing visual aids (see the Home Culture activity later in this section). We show students how to make better slides, along with giving students the language support they may need in the form of an outline or sentence starters. An easy and effective way to do this is through Concept Attainment.

Concept Attainment involves the teacher identifying both "good" and "bad" examples of the intended learning objective. In this case, we use a PowerPoint containing three “good” slides and three “bad” ones (see them at The Best Resources For Teaching Students The Difference Between A Good and a Bad Slide ).

We start by showing students the first example of a “good” or “yes” slide (containing very little text and two images) and saying, “This is a yes.” However, we don’t explain why it is a “yes.” Then we show a “bad” or “no” example of a slide (containing multiple images randomly placed with a very “busy background”), saying, “This is a no” without explaining why. Students are then asked to think about them, and share with a partner why they think one is a "yes" and one is a "no."

At this point, we make a quick chart on a large sheet of paper (students can make individual charts on a piece of paper) and ask students to list the good and bad qualities they have observed so far. For example, under the “Good/Yes” column it might say “Has less words and the background is simple” and under the “Bad/No” column “Has too many pictures and the background is distracting.”

We then show the second “yes” example (containing one image with a short amount of text in a clear font) and the “no” example (containing way too much text and using a less clear font style). Students repeat the “think-pair-share” process and then the class again discusses what students are noticing about the “yes” and “no” examples. Then they add these observations to their chart.

Students repeat the whole process a final time with the third examples. The third “yes” example slide contains one image, minimal text and one bullet point. The third “no” example, on the other hand, contains multiple bullet points.

To reinforce this lesson at a later date, the teacher could show students more examples, or students could look for more “yes” and “no” examples online. They could continue to add more qualities of good and bad slides to their chart. See the Technology Connections section for links to good and bad PowerPoint examples, including the PowerPoint we use for this Concept Attainment lesson.

You can learn more about other presentations that support public speaking, such as home culture presentations, speed dating, talking points, top 5 and PechaKucha Book talks in our book, “ The ELL Teacher’s Toolbox: Hundreds of Practical Ideas to Support Your Students .”

presentation about learning languages

Larry Ferlazzo has taught English Language Learners, mainstream and International Baccalaureate students at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento for 15 years. He has authored eight books on education, hosts a popular blog for educators, and  writes a weekly teacher advice column for Education Week Teacher .  He was a community organizer for 19 years prior to becoming a high school teacher.

presentation about learning languages

Katie Hull Sypnieski has worked with English Language Learners at the secondary level for over 20 years.  She currently teaches middle school ELA and ELD at Rosa Parks K-8 School in Sacramento, California. She is a teaching consultant with the Area 3 Writing Project at the University of California, Davis and has leads professional development for teachers of ELLs. She is co-author (with Larry Ferlazzo) of The ESL/ELL Teacher’s Survival Guide and Navigating the Common Core with English Language Learners .

Why it’s never too late to learn a language as an adult

The long-held idea that language learning is better before adulthood is up for debate. Adults have a number of advantages when it comes to learning a second language, and it comes with major benefits.

A close-up view of a Chinese woman wearing headphones and sitting by a microphone as she works as an interpreter.

For those looking to learn a new language, the process can feel daunting, especially as an adult.

It’s long been thought that the earlier you learn new skills, the easier they are to pick up . The idea that age can play a huge role in a person’s language learning ability is one of the reasons why early childhood was once considered the best time to introduce a second language. But whether that holds true has been heavily debated in the scientific community.  

Unfortunately, the idea has helped perpetuate doubt in older individuals’ ability to quickly adapt to new grammar, syntax, and semantics, thwarting the rise of many potential polyglots.  

A complex organ capable of constant evolution, the human brain has potential for higher learning after puberty, research suggests—adults and children simply absorb and learn things differently.  

“Research says that adults are better learners at everything because we have a lot of self-regulation and we're very intent when we want to learn something,” says Lourdes Ortega, a professor of linguistics at Georgetown University, who herself speaks four languages. “Adults all over the world arrive at different proficiencies, fluencies, capacities for what they want to do with language, but there is no ceiling to it.”

People who can communicate outside their mother tongue also experience a number of cognitive benefits, suggesting that it may be well worth expanding your verbal horizons.  

What it takes to learn a second language

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20 percent of the U.S. population speaks another language other than English, compared to 59 percent of Europeans who can speak at least a second language, illustrating how different regions value language learning.    

Yet Ortega, who specializes in how people learn new languages beyond childhood, says that factors beyond age, like immersion, make a bigger difference in language learning success. “Without [the] opportunity to be exposed to the language, there's no learning that can happen, early or late,” she says.  

For most, it can take years to reach proficiency in a foreign language, says Ortega. According to The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) , factors like a person’s natural ability, their previous linguistic experience, and the consistency of their lessons affect the language learning process.    

The FSI says languages that native English speakers would find similar to their own, such as Spanish or French, can be taught relatively quickly in about 24-30 weeks. In contrast, languages that have significant cultural differences from English, like Greek or Russian, will take about 44 weeks. Learning time could double that for languages considered exceptionally hard, such as Arabic or Mandarin.  

Such estimates reflect a stringent study model, with a dedicated number of hours spent practicing for multiple days per week, says Ortega. It’s impossible and unlikely to expect one individual to follow such a strict schedule on their own, especially as the rise of language learning apps like Babbel and Duolingo has widened accessibility to foreign education by allowing people the time and confidence to reach certain goalposts at their own pace.  

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“No one can learn, as an adult, a new language unless they love it and unless they make it part of their life,” says Ortega. “In theory, it's a great thing, but you need to have reasons for it and the time to invest [in] it.”

That said, children and adults do have their own unique strengths and weaknesses when it comes to grasping new connections. Children tend to learn new languages more intuitively , may have more opportunities to play and experiment with new languages, and may be forced to adapt without the aid of translation apps or other resources. Adults can employ custom strategies to hone their language learning experience, like creating their own memorization systems or visualization techniques.  

Still, Joshua Hartshorne, a research associate professor at the MGH Institute of Health Professions, says scientists are finding that a lot more is going on at ages that they weren't really thinking about before.  

“People have been assuming that you more or less have gotten as good as you're going to get in a new language within four or five years,” says Hartshorne. “What we saw was actually, [as] people continue learning for about 30 years, they’ll continue to get better.”  

How a second language nourishes the mind    

Increasingly, longer-lived generations are looking to enhance their cognitive health and social lives, and the growing demand to learn another language has quickly proven to be a great way to accomplish it.  

“There are all sorts of cognitive benefits of being bilingual,“ says Boaz Keysar , a professor of psychology at The University of Chicago. “The more languages you learn, the more you realize what an important part [that] language is for our life. We take it for granted.”

For older adults, possible benefits include an increase in memory retention and obtaining a more expansive vocabulary. What’s more, many studies suggest learning another language as an adult could even help stave off dementia . Language learning enables students to become more flexible thinkers, says Keysar.

“You're more willing to take risks when you use a foreign language,” he says. “The words don't connect as much to your emotions.” Additionally, multilingual people are better at perspective-taking , meaning that they’re more tuned in to the intention of the speaker, says Keysar. It’s an ability that allows for smoother cross-cultural social interaction, and another facet of language that adults seem to be better equipped for.  

Despite language-bonding being a fantastic tool to expand a person’s social network, there’s still a lack of research surrounding the challenges older adults face when aiming to learn a new language.

According to one 2019 study that investigated the struggles they can face in classroom settings, older individuals may find themselves forced to use textbooks that don't consider their needs, like ones that utilize examples and activities that might be too childish or inappropriate for them to take seriously—and be reluctant to speak up to avoid making mistakes.

Nevertheless, discovering a language other than your own can be very rewarding. The best way to reap the bulk of those rewards is to start today.  

“It would be wonderful if people would be more open to the idea that it can bring a lot of richness to your life,” says Ortega. ‘If nothing else, don't just try one language, try at least two because each of them feels very different.”

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The 16 Most Useful Languages to Learn in 2024

While it’s fun and exciting to learn any language, not all languages are equally useful for everyone. 

So if you’re wondering what language should you start learning , we will introduce you to the 16 most useful languages to learn , based on how many people speak them, the unique benefits of learning each, and much more.

In the list below, information about which languages are most widely spoken comes from Ethnologue .

Unless otherwise noted, information on the sizes of different economies comes from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database and CIA World Factbook .

Information on the U.S.’s top trading partners comes from the U.S. Census Bureau .

3. Mandarin Chinese

6. hindustani, 8. japanese, 9. portuguese, 10. russian, 11. spanish, 13. indonesian, 14. finnish, 16. vietnamese, what makes a language “useful”, how to get started learning your new language, and one more thing....

Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)

english language

Speakers: 1.5 billion people

There are approximately 1.5 billion English speakers, which is 15% of the world population .

There are so many enriching thrills to be had in speaking other languages, but this is the single most practical language you can speak.

That said, consider that the other two-thirds of the planet don’t speak English.

You’ll have more interesting human communication adventures if you can master one or more of the other major world languages below.

arabic language

Speakers: 274 million people

If you want to learn a language that hundreds of millions of people speak and can help set you apart from other job applicants, look no further than Arabic.

Arabic is  the 6th most widely spoken language in the world.

It’s the official language in over 20 countries, so there are plenty of places where your Arabic skills will come in handy. Arabic is also an official language of the U.N.

Additionally, Arabic skills are in hot demand .

Arabic has been identified as a “critical language” for national security. This means learners can apply for the Critical Language Scholarship Program .

But beyond government jobs, Arabic speakers can also find work in international NGOs, journalism and more.

Since Arabic is widely spoken in many of the world’s wealthiest nations, Arabic speakers might also find work in science, engineering, architecture, business and more.

Mutual intelligibility —the degree to which speakers of one language/dialect can understand speakers of another—varies among the dialects of Arabic.

While Arabic includes several dialects that aren’t mutually intelligible, studying Arabic can open doors to learning whatever dialects you hope to specialize in.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

You can try FluentU for free for 2 weeks. Check out the website or download the iOS app or Android app.

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chinese language

Speakers: 1.138 billion speakers

Mandarin Chinese is the second most widely spoken language globally.

While other dialects that aren’t always mutually intelligible are often grouped as “Chinese,” Mandarin Chinese alone has over a billion speakers worldwide.

If that’s not enough to convince you of its usefulness, Chinese is also one of the six official languages of the U.N.

And since China has a huge population, it also has enormous buying power.

For anyone who learns Chinese, the booming Chinese economy can be a boon in their career.

American Express lists Mandarin Chinese as one of the most essential languages for business. China has the second largest economy in the world , so international business positions are likely to demand Chinese skills more and more, opening up job opportunities.

But business isn’t the only career option for Chinese speakers!

There’s also a good deal of demand for native English speakers to teach in China. Speaking Chinese can help set applicants apart when trying to snag a position.

french language

Speakers: 309.8 million speakers

French is the 5th most spoken language.

Plus, French isn’t only an official language of the U.N.—it’s also the official language of 29 countries on five continents.

But don’t think French is spoken in only 29 countries!

The Organsation internationale de la Francophonie —an international organization of countries where French is widely spoken—has 84 member states.

Perhaps because it’s so widespread, French is also commonly used in international nonprofits and diplomacy, so it’s particularly useful for those wanting a career in the nonprofit or diplomatic realms or development.

French is useful in the business world as well, since France has the seventh largest economy .

And lastly, French is also particularly useful in an academic context. In particular, since French has long been a major world player, learning French may be beneficial to aspiring historians.

german language

Speakers: 134.6 million speakers

German is the 12th most common language in the world.

Not only is German the most widely spoken native language in the European Union , but Germany is also strong economically.

It has the fourth largest economy . And the U.S. Census Bureau reports that Germany is the fifth top trading partner of the U.S.

This creates business opportunities for those who speak German.

hindi and urdu languages

Speakers: 840.7 million speakers

Sometimes called Hindi-Urdu, Hindustani refers to the mutually intelligible languages of Hindi and Urdu.

These languages are grouped due to history, grammar and vocabulary, though they can also be classified separately due to their different scripts and cultural associations.

Hindustani is spoken in Northern India and Pakistan.

There are over 609 million native speakers of Hindi. And 231.7 million people speak Urdu natively.

If Hindustani isn’t on your radar yet, it should be—especially if you’re learning a new language for professional regions.

India is projected to have the world’s fastest growing large-scale economy , so learning Hindustani can put you ahead of the curve in your industry.

italian language

Speakers: 61.8 million speakers

While it may not be as widely spoken as other languages on this list, Italian can still be useful.

Italy has long been associated with art and culture.

Ancient Rome significantly shaped Western culture and Italy was the epicenter of the Renaissance. While the Latin language of early Romans may be dead, the Italian language was based on Latin and was used in many Renaissance texts.

So if you work in the humanities, speaking Italian will give you some serious cred by allowing you to conduct research with original, authentic texts .

Plus, speaking Italian would allow you to enjoy a plethora of contemporary research on these eras and learn more about significant sites and history, as Italy has over 50 UNESCO World Heritage sites .

Because of Italy’s strong association with culture, Italian is particularly useful for anyone interested in art, fashion, food, history and music.

lady ordering food in japan

Speakers: 125.6 million speakers

Learning Japanese is helpful for so much more than just watching your favorite anime (but that’s cool, too)!

125.6 million people speak Japanese natively , and Japan is a business hub.

The International Monetary Fund reports that Japan has the third largest economy. Plus, Japan is the fourth top trading partner of the U.S.

That means anyone considering a career in international business might benefit from brushing up on their Japanese.

Japanese would also benefit technology aficionados , whether they want to work in the field or stay up on the latest inventions.

Tech giants like Canon, Sony, Panasonic, Nintendo, Toshiba and so many more started in Japan.

Some of the most innovative products and ideas—like mind-reading AI —are still coming out of Japan, so speaking Japanese will allow you to read about these products before they ever hit American markets.

portuguese language

Speakers: 263.6 million speakers

Portuguese is the eight most common language .

Portuguese is also spoken in geographically diverse regions . It has official status in nine countries in Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.

Plus, Portuguese has plenty of professional uses. Portuguese is included on the American Express list of the most essential languages for business, which makes sense considering Brazil has the 12th largest economy .

Additionally, Brazil is home to 60% of the Amazon Basin , so biologists and other scientists may benefit from speaking Portuguese to study the region.

russian language

Speakers: 255 million speakers

Learning Russian has layers of benefits and advantages—like a matryoshka doll of opportunities.

It is the ninth most common language in the world. Russian is also one of the six official languages of the U.N.

Because of Soviet influence in the region, Russian is common throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

This makes Russian a particularly useful language for anyone interested in a huge span of Europe and Asia.

While not everyone will speak Russian, many people will understand it to some extent. Since there are dozens of native languages in the region and you’re unlikely to be able to learn all of them, knowing Russian can provide you with a valuable tool to communicate across cultures.

Russian is also useful to professionals across multiple fields.

American Express includes Russian on the list of essential languages for business. Plus, Russia has the world’s ninth largest economy .

Due to Russia’s size and power, Russian is also important in international politics.

And since Russian literature is often considered among the finest, it’s also a valuable language for avid readers and literary scholars .


Speakers: 559.1 million speakers

Spanish is  the fourth most widely spoken language.

Spanish has official status in 20 countries in North America, South America, Europe and Africa, and is also an official language of the U.N.

Plus, if you’re looking to learn an essential language for business, American Express puts Spanish on its list. Spanish-speaking countries also do a lot of business with the U.S., and Mexico is the country’s second top trading partner .

But beyond that, Spanish is a particularly useful language for Americans to learn because it’s widely spoken in the U.S.

About 40.7 million people speak Spanish at home in the U.S.

So even if you don’t intend to travel or work in an international setting, Spanish may very well be useful in your day-to-day life.

Whether you’re using Spanish in the business world, the medical field or you’re just chatting with someone in line at the grocery store, in many parts of the U.S., you won’t lack opportunities to use your Spanish skills.

Korean language

Speakers: 80 million speakers

Korean is not just the official language of South Korea but also holds significant sway in North Korea.

Its growing influence extends beyond its geographic region, with Korea being a powerhouse in technology, entertainment, and business.

Learning Korean opens doors to a rich cultural tapestry, from K-pop sensations to globally renowned cuisine .

Moreover, Korea’s booming economy presents lucrative career opportunities, especially in sectors like technology, manufacturing, and finance.

As the world embraces Korean pop culture and business ventures, proficiency in Korean becomes a valuable asset for global communication and professional growth.

indonesian language

Speakers: 270 million speakers

Indonesian, spoken predominantly in Indonesia, emerges as a linguistic gem for those eyeing Southeast Asia .

As the largest economy in the region and a melting pot of cultures, Indonesia offers a diverse tapestry of opportunities for language learners.

Whether you’re delving into the realms of tourism, trade, or diplomacy, proficiency in Indonesian facilitates seamless interaction within the archipelago nation and beyond.

With its status as the lingua franca of Southeast Asia, learning Indonesian cam make you navigate cultural nuances and create meaningful connections in this dynamic corner of the world.

finnish language

Speakers: 5.5 million speakers

Finnish may seem modest in numbers but boasts unique attributes that render it a valuable linguistic asset.

Positioned in the heart of Northern Europe , Finland is celebrated for its excellence in education, technology, and innovation .

Learning Finnish not only unlocks access to this vibrant society but also offers insights into the Finnish way of life, characterized by efficiency, sustainability, and design.

Moreover, as a member of the Nordic Council and the European Union , Finland plays a significant role in regional affairs, so learning Finnish is an asset for those interested in European politics, commerce, or cultural exchange.

dutch language

Speakers: 24 million speakers

Dutch, spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium , stands as a gateway to the vibrant cultures and economies of the Low Countries.

With Dutch being the official language of institutions such as the European Union and NATO , mastering this language opens doors to lots of career opportunities in international diplomacy, trade, and governance.

Furthermore, the Netherlands’ robust economy, known for its innovation and global trade links, provides a fertile ground for Dutch speakers seeking to make their mark in fields ranging from technology and finance to arts and culture.

vietnamese language

Speakers: 76 million speakers

Vietnamese, with predominantly speakers in Vietnam, emerges as a language brimming with potential in the Southeast Asian landscape .

Vietnam’s rapid economic growth , coupled with its rich cultural heritage, makes Vietnamese a valuable asset for those seeking opportunities in trade, tourism, or cultural exchange.

As Vietnam positions itself as a key player in the ASEAN market and a hub for manufacturing and technology, proficiency in Vietnamese equips individuals with a competitive edge in navigating this dynamic region’s business landscape.

Moreover, learning the nuances of the Vietnamese language offers insights into the country’s history, literature, and traditions, fostering deeper cross-cultural understanding and collaboration in an increasingly interconnected world.

The “usefulness” of a language depends on several factors, including personal goals and preferences.

Here are some key things to consider when deciding which language is the most useful for you.

Number of Speakers

The most common languages are often the most useful because they’re widely spoken, and learning a language that many people speak opens up more possibilities to use it.

However, some languages don’t have as many native speakers but are frequently used internationally or professionally.

For instance, the official U.N. languages  are often used in political, business and nonprofit contexts.

Additionally, it’s essential to consider what second languages people worldwide are learning. For example, French is a widely spoken second language , increasing its total speakers massively beyond the number of native speakers.

Geographic Region

European languages  are frequently popular due to travel and business interests. However, each geographic region has a different appeal for various reasons.

That being said, it’s essential to consider your own interests and goals when assessing the geographic region where a language is spoken.

For example, even if a language is widely spoken in a particular region but you have no intention of traveling there, this language will be less beneficial for you than a language from a place you hope to visit often.

If you practically live on the beach and hate cold whether, Spanish will probably be much more beneficial than Norwegian.


Sometimes, you don’t know what you’ll want to use a language for. In that case, you’ll want to pay particular attention to a language’s versatility.

Widely spoken languages and  languages spoken in the U.S. are usually the most versatile because you can use them at home or abroad.

Languages like Mandarin Chinese or French are versatile because they’re used in many professional fields, from business to politics to art.

Language skills are highly desirable in almost any career field. However, which language is most valuable is primarily based on the specific industry.

For example, if you work in the U.S., Spanish will come in handy in any professional space (medicine, law, customer service, education, etc.).

However, if you work in international business, you might also benefit from Mandarin, Japanese, German, etc.

Each career field is unique, so the best way to determine what language will be most beneficial for your career is to look at job listings.

Find postings of jobs that look ideal to you.

What language skills do these jobs require?

Developing these skills will help ensure you’re qualified for the positions you want.

“Usability” refers to how often you’ll be speaking the language.

Mandarin Chinese might be widely spoken in your field, but if you only use it twice a year at industry conferences, it has less usability.

If you have travel plans, you might choose a language you’ll use abroad. If you have family members who speak another language, this would also increase its usability for you.

  • Set learning goals.  After deciding which language to learn, write out a few goals. Do you want to learn it to fluency? Why do you want to learn this language? What level do you want to reach by the end of three months?
  • Download an app (or two). Grab an app to help you learn the most common words and phrases, and find another resource to start learning grammar. Check out our post on the best language learning apps here .
  • Study your language for 10-15 minutes a day.  It doesn’t have to be much, but a little bit of practice everyday is better than one or two long study sessions a week. Many apps ask if you’d like to receive notifications that remind you to study, so you can turn those features on. Or, identify opportunities throughout your day for practice, like your work commute, lunch break or while drinking your morning coffee.
  • Focus on immersion. Immersive learning is the fastest way to get started in any language. If you don’t live where your target language is spoken, there are language learning programs that can help you achieve immersion from home. 

If you want to learn a type of magic more practical than herbology and potions combined, give these 16 useful languages a try!

If you dig the idea of learning on your own time from the comfort of your smart device with real-life authentic language content, you'll love using FluentU .

With FluentU, you'll learn real languages—as they're spoken by native speakers. FluentU has a wide variety of videos as you can see here:


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FluentU has interactive captions that let you tap on any word to see an image, definition, audio and useful examples. Now native language content is within reach with interactive transcripts.

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Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Benefits of Foreign Language Study

Benefits of Foreign Language Study. Petal High School Foreign Language Dept. Created by Laura Lee Moore. How can studying another language help me?. There are many benefits to studying another language! Cognitive Academic Communicative Economic Interdisciplinary Societal.

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Learning a Foreign Language through English

Learning a Foreign Language through English

Learning a Foreign Language through English. Joseph Caldarera CUIN 6320 Product 3 July 3, 2008. TEKS Objectives –. §114.23. Levels III and IV - Intermediate Progress Checkpoint (Grade level 9-12).

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Learning a Foreign Language

Teaching for Cultural Awareness Presentation by Dr. Christiane Gautier University of California, Santa Cruz STARTALK 2009 Berkeley Teacher Program University of California, Berkeley August 7, 2009. Learning a Foreign Language. Not just about learning a new linguistic code ( “ what ” ).

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Learning a foreign language

Learning a foreign language

Learning a foreign language. Seyyed Ahmad Fatemi-Samir Fatemi- سمیر فاطمی-سید احمد فاطمی. Revision. Find a new word in this unit to match the definition given. awful. 1. ________ extremely bad or unpleasant; terrible

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Learning a Foreign Language

Learning a Foreign Language. I. Idea Catching. What does the writer want to tell us?. His experiences of learning English at different stages. WHAT?. How does he make clear his story?. HOW?. By cause and effect writing. II. Understanding Each Paragraph. difficult. rewarding.

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ENRICHED FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNING PROJECT. Enriched Foreign Language Learning (EFLL): Presentation of the project. Foreign Teachers’ Meeting , Ljubljana, July 2, 2010 Katja Pavlič Škerjanc , [email protected].

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U3 Foreign Language Learning

U3 Foreign Language Learning

U3 Foreign Language Learning. Take a look!. COME ON! I am not a “ MONKEY ”!. Don’t call me a “ WAITRESS ”. Please call me a “ SERVER ”!. TEXT. Using English Properly. Para A B C. Why today many people prefer the word “server” to “waitress”?.

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Benefits of Foreign Language Study

Benefits of Foreign Language Study. Johnnie Carr Middle School Foreign Language Dept. How can studying another language help me?. There are many benefits to studying another language! Cognitive Academic Communicative Economic Interdisciplinary Societal.

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Learning A Foreign Language

Learning A Foreign Language

Learn online Foreign Language Courses offers a number of specializations include cultural studies, cinema, art, translation, linguistics and business. Call 437839751 for more info!

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Learning Chinese as A Foreign Language

Learning Chinese as A Foreign Language

Today, lots of people from all across the world are learning to speak Mandarin. Now, there is no need for you to travel to china to learn Mandarin, as you can get the course in Shanghai.

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Benefits of Foreign Language Study

InaWord is a Foreign Language learning Institute in Chennai. We conduct classes for several languages - German language course, French classes, Spanish language, Japanese classes, Mandarin Chinese classes and English classes.

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Foreign Language Learning For Kids

Foreign Language Learning For Kids

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Foreign Language Learning Styles

Foreign Language Learning Styles

Foreign language learning is a challenging task for any person. Many choose to start children off by hammering vocabulary and grammar into their heads. And to be fair, sometimes this works. But did you know that by understanding and accommodating the specific learning style of a child, you can give them a better chance at succeeding? So, what are some of the various foreign language learning styles? Here are a few of the top recognized methods:

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Learning a foreign language

Susanna Zarski has knowledge of eleven languages. She speaks in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Esperanto, Mandarin Chinese, Dutch, Irish. He has written books on learning a foreign language. Foreign language enhances your knowledge and skills. Foreign languages u200bu200bprovide an edge in career options. Learning a foreign language is not difficult. You can easily learn a foreign language by reading our blog.

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6 Benefits of Learning a New Language

6 Benefits of Learning a New Language

Find out here why language classes like Chinese classes in Singapore are a worthwhile investment. #ChineseClassSingapore

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Learning a Foreign Language

New Horizon English. Unit One Section A. Learning a Foreign Language. Learning a Foreign Language. Learning a Foreign Language. Learning a Foreign Language. Learning a Foreign Language. Section A. Learning a Foreign Language. Text Study. Pre-reading Activities. Writing Skills.

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Benefits of Foreign Language Study

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Benefits of learning python language

Benefits of learning python language

One of the most fast-growing and popular languages is python. In recent times python has been on the top list compared to the other programming languages such as C, C , and java. It is an important language used in software projects and web developments. Because of its versatility, flexibility, and object-oriented features, it is the most welcomed language by developers, data scientists, software engineers, and even hackers. If you want to take your career to the next step then learn python the hard way, it gives a deep knowledge of every concept in python. Python languages are constructed with various frameworks, libraries functions, modules, and file extensions. With the help of the Python language, it is easy to use the web and mobile applications. Python language supports other types of a programming language as well as best for building micro-projects to macro enterprise web services. Python is a high-level programming language although it has clear syntax and it is easy to learn. It can solve a difficult task as well. Here comes some of the benefits of learning python. What is python programming? Python is the general-purpose programming language, hence the codes used in python are readable and understood by all. Particularly the python language plays a major role in machine learning applications. It works easily in data science The reason behind learning python by various programmers is that the language is simple to learn. Many coders who are learning different programming languages are moving towards python hence a lot of job opportunities are available but by learning python languages as well as you can receive larger pay. But everyone gets a question: what makes python a suitable language for data science and machine learning? The answer is that python offers frameworks and libraries like PyBrain, NumPy, MySQL, Pandas on data science, Al, and machine learning. Ease of language You can learn python easily because the code used in it is simple. Many software developers are giving importance to the python language due to its complex management system. As well as python programming language helps beginners from syntax learning stress. Simplicity Another important reason why beginners need to learn python is because of its simplicity. If youu2019re starting your career in the software field then begin learning python language because it is both simple and readable. In python, you will not face any kind of classpath problems as in java or like C compiler issues. Install the python in your system and along with it add the PATH while installing, and you can run python anywhere on your system. The features python performs u2022tInterpreted u2022tHigh-level u2022tEnhance large community u2022tFree and open source Accommodate in Machine learning In recent years, machine learning is growing phenomenally, and it's changing everything around us. The day by day the importance of python languages is increasing. If youu2019re interested in machine learning then start learning python language and do projects based on it. Even the professional developers are preferring python languages over anything else on machine learning and data science. The contents in python are larger compared to java, there are many machine learning library files available in python. Facilitates web development The python programming language holds good old developments. It provides multiple good frameworks and libraries like Django and Flask, which makes web development easy. The python languages complete its task within minutes. Nowadays python languages are mainly used for web scraping. The famous websites on the internet like Reddit are moving their trend towards python. Advance Automation and scripting Python can also be used as a scripting language. Python languages offer to script: u2022tThe code in the python are written as scripts and then executed u2022tDuring runtime error checking is done u2022tIt reads and interprets the code. u2022tOnce the code is checked it can be used several times. by automation, you can automate certain tasks in a program. A large number of frameworks and libraries There is a larger number of open source libraries, frameworks, and modules available in a python programming language. You can easily create an application through a larger number of libraries and frameworks in python. Think like designing web pages without Flask in Python or spring in Django or java. The only thing you need to do is focus on logic and it makes your work easier. Python language has different libraries for different needs. For example, SciPy and NumPy are the most popular in data science and web development, flask and Django are used. As well python languages have enormous data science and machine learning library functions like Scikit-Learn, padas, Kerau2019s, TensorFlow, etc. Multipurpose By learning Python language, you can design a lot of web pages while other programming languages like R are good for machine learning and data science but when it comes to web development it is not possessing better work. But python language is well versed in every field of development. For example, you can create your web applications using Django and Flask, and you can do data analysis using Scikit-learn, NumPy, SciPy, and NLTK. Apart from these works you can also use python language in your day to day task and for writing scripts. Do your incredible work with python: u2022tDesign web applications and websites from scratch u2022tProgram the boring stuff u2022tProgress graphical user interface applications u2022tPerform numeric and scientific computing u2022tMake advantages of micro frameworks like flask and bottle Helps in IoT Python language is in a top position to build IoT or the internet of things solutions. The concept behind IoT is to connect things such as lamps, washing machines, etc to one another or the internet. The most important part of IoT is on and off switches. Extensible and portable In python, you can perform cross-function operations because of its extensible and portable properties. Ranging from Windows to Linux, Solaris, PlayStation among others, python is most suitable in every platform. There are many online portals giving coaching for python language but many of them prefer to learn python the hard way free, hence it covers entire python frameworks and library files. Wrapping up The above-given reasons endeavor the benefits of python language. If you have decided to learn the python language then it is a great decision you have made in your life. Make your career strong with python language.

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From Novice to Native: How Long Does It Take to Learn a Language?

Rashmi chugani.

  • June 15, 2024

An online English teacher teaches in front of her laptop.

Learning a new language may seem like a daunting task. Adults taking language courses for business purposes are often highly motivated, as are the companies that invest in their training. So, how long does it take to learn a language? This is an important question for both the learners and stakeholders. The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) provides estimated timelines for progressing from one language level to the next, but a variety of factors can influence the amount of time that will need to be invested.

Many things influence how long it takes to learn English, but the following 10 factors are the most important to consider. Let’s dive in!

Get to know Bridge Corporate Language Learning and discover online teaching opportunities.

1. Prior language learning experience

If a person has previously learned a second language or has experience with language learning techniques, they may have an advantage in acquiring English skills more quickly.

For example, if a student in India has grown up speaking Hindi and also learning the local state language, then picking up English may prove easier. A student like this already knows to look for different sentence structures, verb conjugations, and correct spelling. Even though every language is different, they all have rules and exceptions to the rules, and having learned a language before can impact the amount of time it takes to learn English.

2. Native language of the learner

Ever wonder why Germans tend to speak such good English? It’s because English and German share the same provenance. The native language or mother tongue of an individual can affect the learning speed of an additional language. Some languages share similarities with English, such as vocabulary or grammatical structures, which can facilitate the learning process.

Conversely, those who speak a Romance language like Spanish or Italian may find it harder to perfect their English.

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3. Instructional methods

People have unique learning styles, such as visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Tailoring the learning approach to match one’s preferred style can enhance comprehension and retention of English language skills. In fact, learning should be personalized for individual learner needs, as there is no one-size-fits-all method.

Business English teachers with Bridge Corporate Language Learning combine the CEFR with the GSE (Global Scale of English), which expands learner levels from six to a 10-90 scale. The GSE maps students’ target performance across a range of skills and domains, giving teachers a roadmap of learning objectives to inform their teaching strategies and course materials.

Essentially, the CEFR provides teachers with universally understood descriptions of English proficiency levels, and the granular scale of the GSE specifies what a learner can do within each of these levels. Using these tools in tandem can help fast-track learning progress.

Explore more ways to hyper-personalize Business English training.

4. Use of authentic resources

This goes hand in hand with instructional methods as access to authentic resources that put language learning in the context of job-specific tasks can influence how long it takes to learn English. A task-based learning methodology , for example, may provide authentic resources for the learner to practice writing emails or reports, or a variety of other typical job-specific tasks. With effective instructional techniques and support, such as using language learning apps, project-based tasks, and working with a tutor, task-based learning will optimize the learning experience.

As Business English language learners will often engage with other non-native English speakers in their professional capacity, Bridge teachers also use course materials that teach English as a global language , recognizing varied accents, dialects, and cultural nuances.

“We use Pearson’s materials,” said Bridge’s Academic Operations Coordinator, Umut Ergöz, “which have lots of listening materials where the speakers are speaking with Japanese accents, Indian accents, Australian accents, Scottish accents, and so on.”

He also shared that Bridge teachers use video as well to expose students to other ways people speak and use English.

Read about five ways to use AI as your personal teaching assistant.

5. Age of learner

Generally, younger learners tend to acquire languages more easily than adults. Children have a higher degree of language plasticity and tend to pick up languages through immersion and natural exposure. However, this doesn’t mean that adults cannot learn English proficiently; they just may approach the learning process differently. An adult student may feel self-conscious speaking aloud or struggle to find time to practice the language, but with the right instructional methods, rapport with a teacher, and flexible course schedules, there are workarounds to address challenges for adult learners.

Many adult students use language apps like FLOW Speak, Duolingo, or TalkPal for conversational practice. Teachers can provide information about resources like these to use for extended learning beyond the classroom.

For example, the FLOW Speak app features speaking and listening practice lessons, many of which are geared toward using Business English in various situations.

Read more about some of the best digital tools for teaching English online.

presentation about learning languages

6. The learning domain

The learning environment, including access to resources, exposure to native English speakers, and immersion opportunities, can greatly impact learning speed. Living in an English-speaking country or regularly interacting with native speakers tends to accelerate fluency. For example, if somebody who only speaks Spanish moves to England, the natural exposure to English will likely accelerate language acquisition.

Whether teaching online or in person, teachers can do a lot to create a fun, engaging, and effective learning environment for their students. Using realia , authentic objects from real life, in the classroom makes learning experiences more memorable and creates connections between the objects and language concepts.

Teachers can also integrate games and activities in instruction, including with adult students, to help students relax, make learning fun, and provide low-stakes ways for students to apply their learning.

Find out more about using games in the adult ELT classroom.

7. Motivation and dedication

How long does it take to learn English? A lot of that also depends on the level of motivation and dedication a person brings to their language learning journey. A highly motivated person can significantly reduce the time required to learn a language. Consistent practice, a positive attitude, and a genuine desire to learn English can put a learner on the fast track to fluency.

Teachers can influence the motivation level of their students as well. Facilitating engaging classes, using realia, and instituting games and activities can make learning fun and inspire learners to give it their all.

The GSE is another effective tool for motivation. The expanded language level scales show micro-learning progressions that can’t be seen in the shorter scale of the CEFR. Leveraging the GSE allows teachers and students to track and celebrate progress made toward the next CEFR level.

Lastly, teachers can also create opportunities for rewarding learning experiences. Acknowledging the progress of students through personalized verbal or written feedback, progress reports, and certificates and rewards builds confidence in students and increases their motivation.

Learn more about effective strategies for giving feedback to ESL students.

8. Starting proficiency level

The initial level of English proficiency influences the learning timeline. Beginners may take more time to grasp the basics, while those with some prior knowledge may progress at a faster rate. Even a person who consumes more media in English will be at a better starting point than someone who does not.

The amount of time needed to learn English also depends on the goals each person has. Some people may want to be completely fluent, while others are satisfied with reaching the proficiency necessary to complete their specific job tasks.

class of adult learners working together.

Bridge teachers leverage adaptive learning technology of placement tests and other student assessments to determine students’ English levels at the start of language training and to assess progress. Tests like Linguaskill and Pearson’s Level Test align with the CEFR, which can then be combined with the GSE to create customized learning paths.

Interested in teaching Business English? Explore Bridge’s Specialized Certification in Teaching Business English.

9. Cultural and social factors

Oftentimes, there are common misconceptions about learning a language. Some may believe that simply completing lessons and tests is the way to learn English. This is especially true in countries where second languages are not as common. For example, people in European countries who are exposed to various languages throughout schooling understand that learning English is a lifelong process. On the other hand, in a country like the United States where there is not a common culture of learning an additional language, there’s more often the misconception that it can be learned quickly.

10. Natural aptitude

Some learners simply have a natural talent for picking up a new language. Language aptitude encompasses factors such as memory, analytical skills, and the ability to recognize patterns.

While some people may find it more difficult to learn English, it does not mean that it’s a farfetched goal. With proper instruction and individual attention, everyone can advance with language acquisition as long as there is some degree of motivation.

These 10 factors influence the amount of time it takes to learn English. Of course, individuals who start young and are in an immersive environment will have an advantage; however, with the right language training, there are many ways to increase the speed and efficiency of the learning process.

Interested in a career in teaching Business English? Read about the essentials of teaching Business English online and in person.

presentation about learning languages

Rashmi is a culture vulture who hopes to travel the world. News is her second love, after coffee.

Browse Course Material

Course info.

  • Prof. Bruno Perreau


  • Global Studies and Languages

As Taught In

  • International Literature
  • Cultural Anthropology

Learning Resource Types

Childhood and youth in french and francophone cultures, choice of presentation, choix de l’exposé, l’enfant dans la peinture en france.

  • La vierge et l’enfant. Château de Sully, Bourgogne, début XVe
  • Alessandro Botticelli, La vierge et l’enfant, 1470
  • Nicolas Poussin, L’inspiration du poète, 1629
  • Jacques Blanchard, La charité, 1633
  • Portrait (anonyme) de Louis XIV
  • Antoine ou Louis Le Nain, Famille de paysans dans un intérieur, milieu XVIIe
  • Georges de la Tour, Saint-Joseph charpentier, 1640
  • Jacques-Louis David, Les Sabines, 1796
  • Camille Corot, Louis Robert, enfant, 1843
  • Léon Bénouville, Portrait des trois filles d’Alphonse Jacob-          Desmalter, 1848
  • Berthe Morisot. Eugène Manet avec sa fille 1881
  • Fernand Pelez, Le marchand de violettes (1885)
  • Paul Gauguin, Jeunes lutteurs en Bretagne (1888)
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir, L’enfant et les jouets (1895)
  • Henri Matisse, Jeune fille lisant (1905)
  • Albert Gleizes. Mère et enfant (1921)
  • Pablo Picasso, Mère et enfant (1901)
  • Pablo Picasso, Mère et enfant (1905)
  • Pablo Picasso, Mère et enfant (1943)
  • Pablo Picasso, Françoise, Claude et Paloma (mère et enfants) (1951)
  • Dran, fresques 2010-18 [ image 1 ] [ image 2 ] [ image 3 ] [ image 4 ]
  • Swed, fresque à Metz, 2020


You are leaving MIT OpenCourseWare

Docker overview

Docker is an open platform for developing, shipping, and running applications. Docker enables you to separate your applications from your infrastructure so you can deliver software quickly. With Docker, you can manage your infrastructure in the same ways you manage your applications. By taking advantage of Docker's methodologies for shipping, testing, and deploying code, you can significantly reduce the delay between writing code and running it in production.

The Docker platform

Docker provides the ability to package and run an application in a loosely isolated environment called a container. The isolation and security lets you run many containers simultaneously on a given host. Containers are lightweight and contain everything needed to run the application, so you don't need to rely on what's installed on the host. You can share containers while you work, and be sure that everyone you share with gets the same container that works in the same way.

Docker provides tooling and a platform to manage the lifecycle of your containers:

  • Develop your application and its supporting components using containers.
  • The container becomes the unit for distributing and testing your application.
  • When you're ready, deploy your application into your production environment, as a container or an orchestrated service. This works the same whether your production environment is a local data center, a cloud provider, or a hybrid of the two.

What can I use Docker for?

Fast, consistent delivery of your applications.

Docker streamlines the development lifecycle by allowing developers to work in standardized environments using local containers which provide your applications and services. Containers are great for continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) workflows.

Consider the following example scenario:

  • Your developers write code locally and share their work with their colleagues using Docker containers.
  • They use Docker to push their applications into a test environment and run automated and manual tests.
  • When developers find bugs, they can fix them in the development environment and redeploy them to the test environment for testing and validation.
  • When testing is complete, getting the fix to the customer is as simple as pushing the updated image to the production environment.

Responsive deployment and scaling

Docker's container-based platform allows for highly portable workloads. Docker containers can run on a developer's local laptop, on physical or virtual machines in a data center, on cloud providers, or in a mixture of environments.

Docker's portability and lightweight nature also make it easy to dynamically manage workloads, scaling up or tearing down applications and services as business needs dictate, in near real time.

Running more workloads on the same hardware

Docker is lightweight and fast. It provides a viable, cost-effective alternative to hypervisor-based virtual machines, so you can use more of your server capacity to achieve your business goals. Docker is perfect for high density environments and for small and medium deployments where you need to do more with fewer resources.

Docker architecture

Docker uses a client-server architecture. The Docker client talks to the Docker daemon, which does the heavy lifting of building, running, and distributing your Docker containers. The Docker client and daemon can run on the same system, or you can connect a Docker client to a remote Docker daemon. The Docker client and daemon communicate using a REST API, over UNIX sockets or a network interface. Another Docker client is Docker Compose, that lets you work with applications consisting of a set of containers.

The Docker daemon

The Docker daemon ( dockerd ) listens for Docker API requests and manages Docker objects such as images, containers, networks, and volumes. A daemon can also communicate with other daemons to manage Docker services.

The Docker client

The Docker client ( docker ) is the primary way that many Docker users interact with Docker. When you use commands such as docker run , the client sends these commands to dockerd , which carries them out. The docker command uses the Docker API. The Docker client can communicate with more than one daemon.

Docker Desktop

Docker Desktop is an easy-to-install application for your Mac, Windows or Linux environment that enables you to build and share containerized applications and microservices. Docker Desktop includes the Docker daemon ( dockerd ), the Docker client ( docker ), Docker Compose, Docker Content Trust, Kubernetes, and Credential Helper. For more information, see Docker Desktop .

Docker registries

A Docker registry stores Docker images. Docker Hub is a public registry that anyone can use, and Docker looks for images on Docker Hub by default. You can even run your own private registry.

When you use the docker pull or docker run commands, Docker pulls the required images from your configured registry. When you use the docker push command, Docker pushes your image to your configured registry.

Docker objects

When you use Docker, you are creating and using images, containers, networks, volumes, plugins, and other objects. This section is a brief overview of some of those objects.

An image is a read-only template with instructions for creating a Docker container. Often, an image is based on another image, with some additional customization. For example, you may build an image which is based on the ubuntu image, but installs the Apache web server and your application, as well as the configuration details needed to make your application run.

You might create your own images or you might only use those created by others and published in a registry. To build your own image, you create a Dockerfile with a simple syntax for defining the steps needed to create the image and run it. Each instruction in a Dockerfile creates a layer in the image. When you change the Dockerfile and rebuild the image, only those layers which have changed are rebuilt. This is part of what makes images so lightweight, small, and fast, when compared to other virtualization technologies.

A container is a runnable instance of an image. You can create, start, stop, move, or delete a container using the Docker API or CLI. You can connect a container to one or more networks, attach storage to it, or even create a new image based on its current state.

By default, a container is relatively well isolated from other containers and its host machine. You can control how isolated a container's network, storage, or other underlying subsystems are from other containers or from the host machine.

A container is defined by its image as well as any configuration options you provide to it when you create or start it. When a container is removed, any changes to its state that aren't stored in persistent storage disappear.

Example docker run command

The following command runs an ubuntu container, attaches interactively to your local command-line session, and runs /bin/bash .

When you run this command, the following happens (assuming you are using the default registry configuration):

If you don't have the ubuntu image locally, Docker pulls it from your configured registry, as though you had run docker pull ubuntu manually.

Docker creates a new container, as though you had run a docker container create command manually.

Docker allocates a read-write filesystem to the container, as its final layer. This allows a running container to create or modify files and directories in its local filesystem.

Docker creates a network interface to connect the container to the default network, since you didn't specify any networking options. This includes assigning an IP address to the container. By default, containers can connect to external networks using the host machine's network connection.

Docker starts the container and executes /bin/bash . Because the container is running interactively and attached to your terminal (due to the -i and -t flags), you can provide input using your keyboard while Docker logs the output to your terminal.

When you run exit to terminate the /bin/bash command, the container stops but isn't removed. You can start it again or remove it.

The underlying technology

Docker is written in the Go programming language and takes advantage of several features of the Linux kernel to deliver its functionality. Docker uses a technology called namespaces to provide the isolated workspace called the container. When you run a container, Docker creates a set of namespaces for that container.

These namespaces provide a layer of isolation. Each aspect of a container runs in a separate namespace and its access is limited to that namespace.

  • Install Docker
  • Get started with Docker


  1. Free Language Lesson PowerPoint Template & Google Slides Theme

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    Build confidence 9. Improve your native language 10. Make new friends Image by chrisflorence via Flickr. 23. Start reaping the benefits of language today with a Transparent Language Online free trial Radically better language learning in 80+ languages. 24. Image by kalinagoenglish via Flickr.

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    Find a language habit that you can follow even when you're tired, sick or madly in love. . Play house with the language. The more you invite a foreign language into your daily life, the more your brain will consider it something useful and worth caring about. "Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language," says Russian ...

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    American students, who are future employees, need to be able to compete for a job with anyone, anywhere. Knowing, understanding, and applying a foreign language will help them to succeed in work and in life. I believe that every student, from preschool to college, would greatly benefit from learning a foreign language.

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    That's why we've curated a selection of Google Slides and PPT templates that focus on language. From vibrant backgrounds to sleek typography, our editable designs give your presentation that extra flare. Save time and impress your audience with a template that fits your language, whether you're presenting a language-learning app or a cultural ...

  10. Language Learning PPT

    If you've developed a language learning app, use this presentation template to create online material for your users. Get your presentation custom designed by us, starting at just $10 per slide. STEP 1. UPLOAD PRESENTATION. Share your presentation and design preferences via our easy-to-use order form. STEP 2.

  11. Language Powerpoint Templates and Google Slides Themes

    These language presentation templates are suitable for language teachers, linguists, language learning centers, and educational institutions. They can be used to create engaging presentations on language learning techniques, linguistic theories, language teaching methodologies, and cultural aspects of different languages.

  12. How to learn a foreign language: Introduction

    Skimming. Skim­ming is a method used to learn lan­guages closely re­lated to a lan­guage you al­ready know (such as Span­ish, French, or Ger­man in the case of Eng­lish). Thanks to that lan­guage, you al­ready know great deal of your tar­get lan­guage; there will be hun­dreds, per­haps thou­sands of words re­sem­bling words you ...

  13. A Key Skill for World Language Learners

    The key to successfully organizing presentational communication activities for world language learners is to be mindful of the event's communicative purpose (to present, inform, narrate, etc.), the media or channel (physical or virtual), and the audience. Although the World-Readiness Standards describe presentational communication as one-way ...

  14. 56 Learning languages English ESL powerpoints

    Learning languages. 56 Learning languages English ESL powerpoints. SORT BY. Most popular. TIME PERIOD. All-time. apop2020. Guess the First Lett ... EVERYTHING ABOUT ME . HAS BEEN EDITED Also. 4067 uses. martarizz. time of the day. presentation about t. 3455 uses. Megapooh85. Question words. A PPP very useful to. 2311 uses. AzucenaSalas. Have ...

  15. Why Learn Languages? PowerPoint

    Resource type: Lesson (complete) File previews. pptx, 10.36 MB. Need to convince your students on why to learn languages? This PowerPoint on why learn languages will be sure to help! It includes 3 celebrities, the languages they speak, links to relevant video clips, useful quotes, as well as hard-hitting reasons on how languages open doors.

  16. Let's talk about languages

    Let's talk about languages has been designed for primary students as a fun way to introduce words in different languages with activities and songs for practising. Why choose languages is aimed at secondary students and introduces some key statistics to inform discussion about why we should all consider learning another language. These ...

  17. Language, Learning, and Teaching

    Learning a Second Language Learning a new language Learning a new culture A new way of thinking A new way of feeling A new way of acting Long and complex undertaking. ... Method is an overall plan for the orderly presentation of language material. 10 DEFINITIONS Classroom techniques Any of a wide variety of exercises, activities, or devices ...

  18. Why Learn a foreign language

    pptx, 1.77 MB. Here's a freebie about why learning a foreign language with 6 slides. It contains: - an objective slide. - a matching up activity. - a true/myth activity with answers. - a celebrity slide with celebrities speaking many languages. - reasons why learning an MFL is important. The full version can be found here :

  19. English language powerpoint presentations free download ESL

    Free powerpoint presentations on English Language. Feel free to learn and teach English using the resources below. Below are a list of powerpoints. These have been submitted by teachers to help other teachers. They can be used freely and modified to your own preferred format. Please submit any of your powerpoints at the bottom of this page.

  20. Understanding language and learning: Conclusion

    Conclusion. In this free course, Understanding language and learning, you considered the role of language in learning and started out from the assumption that language, and more particularly, linguistic interaction with other people, is a key aspect of learning.You also began to develop more critical skills, asking questions about what we actually mean by language and whether it is possible ...

  21. How to Use Oral Presentations to Help English Language Learners ...

    Research confirms that in order for ELLs to acquire English they must engage in oral language practice and be given the opportunity to use language in meaningful ways for social and academic purposes (Williams & Roberts, 2011). Teaching students to design effective oral presentations has also been found to support thinking development as "the ...

  22. Why it's never too late to learn a language as an adult

    The long-held idea that language learning is better before adulthood is up for debate. Adults have a number of advantages when it comes to learning a second language, and it comes with major benefits.

  23. PDF 1 Introduction: What is language?

    language and communication, as well as the methods of analysis used by those who work in this field. It also considers the complexity of language by examin-ing various theories about how children acquire language. The fact that small children learn language in a relatively short period of time indicates that people may have innate language ...

  24. The 16 Most Useful Languages to Learn in 2024

    3. Mandarin Chinese. Speakers: 1.138 billion speakers. Mandarin Chinese is the second most widely spoken language globally.. While other dialects that aren't always mutually intelligible are often grouped as "Chinese," Mandarin Chinese alone has over a billion speakers worldwide.


    Enriched Foreign Language Learning (EFLL): Presentation of the project. Foreign Teachers' Meeting , Ljubljana, July 2, 2010 Katja Pavlič Škerjanc , [email protected]. ... Foreign language learning is a challenging task for any person. Many choose to start children off by hammering vocabulary and grammar into their heads. And to be fair ...

  26. From Novice to Native: How Long Does It Take to Learn a Language

    Get to know Bridge Corporate Language Learning and discover online teaching opportunities. 1. Prior language learning experience. If a person has previously learned a second language or has experience with language learning techniques, they may have an advantage in acquiring English skills more quickly.

  27. Choice of Presentation

    A list of works of art to choose from for the presentation assignment. Browse Course Material ... Global Studies and Languages; As Taught In Spring 2024 Level Undergraduate ... Learning Resource Types Readings. assignment Written Assignments. assignment Media Assignments.

  28. What Is Artificial Intelligence? Definition, Uses, and Types

    What is artificial intelligence? Artificial intelligence (AI) is the theory and development of computer systems capable of performing tasks that historically required human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and identifying patterns. AI is an umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of technologies, including machine learning, deep learning, and natural language ...

  29. PegaWorld iNspire 2024: How Can Generative AI Improve Learning at Pega

    Join this session to see how generative AI is being used in Pega Academy to create personalized learning - by tailoring the content, pace, and application of concepts to your reality, with feedback-driven learning experiences. ... Language. English Français Deutsch ... How Can Generative AI Improve Learning at Pega? (Presentation) PDF; 30 Pages;

  30. Docker overview

    The Docker daemon. The Docker daemon (dockerd) listens for Docker API requests and manages Docker objects such as images, containers, networks, and volumes.A daemon can also communicate with other daemons to manage Docker services. The Docker client. The Docker client (docker) is the primary way that many Docker users interact with Docker.When you use commands such as docker run, the client ...