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I began learning English when I was 10, because I wanted to understand the lyrics to my favourite band’s songs. (Please, don’t ask which one. I was ten! It was the 90’s. Honestly, it’s embarrassing.)

Therefore, I started simply translating the songs with a dictionary. As you do, you know? It turns out, well… not so much. I’ll tell you: that endeavour led to much confusion! Direct translations oftentimes don’t make any sense and the mini dictionary’s word meanings were quite limited.

I continued on that way for a while; teaching myself through music, magazines, films, television and the beginnings of the internet, until I joined an actual English course. Due to having been self-taught for a few years, I was admitted as an advanced student. At the ripe old age of 14! When I turned 15, they invited me to take the teacher training course, which I accepted. However, I didn’t go on to start teaching yet, as it conflicted with my schooling.

In the next few years, I finished the course and kept on studying and practising by myself, immersing in all I could find in my dear second language. English became a tool through which I could access so much more of the things I cherished.

I rediscovered my love of reading and eventually writing, now in English. It again expanded my worldview, introducing me to different realities, fictional and otherwise.

I struggled a bit at university, when I realised the path I’d chosen out of love didn’t truly fit me. It would lead me to neither accomplishment nor happiness. Whilst taking some time off, I went back to my old friend for comfort. I read and wrote as much as I could. I devoured books and wrapped myself up in stories.

I thought, at the time that I was sinking; until I realised, that truly, I was only delving into what I truly love. That, perhaps, I didn’t need to figure out what my profession would be, what my passion was. It’d been constantly with me since I was 10: the language, the words, which opened new worlds, new meanings, ways of thinking, possibilities…

I went back to university to study English and have been working with it ever since. I’m an English teacher, translator and editor. I’m also an aspiring author.

I love the back and forth, the dynamic of a classroom. I love sharing my passion of English and perhaps planting that first seed of something that can grow and shape the life of a person. I adore working with words and stories; crafting and moulding them and bringing them into life, then honing and polishing them until they shine.

My youthful curiosity has led me on a decades-long journey, which is still unfolding. How could 10-year-old me have thought that a desire to understand some music would, in due course, evolve into a lifelong passion, a profession and, hopefully, in the near future, even a country relocation?

I suppose, one can never tell where the road will lead once you start on a learning adventure.

Now, enough about me! ;)
I also love to hear other people’s stories.
Tell me about your own language journey in the comments!

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For more language content, check out these tags: english, esl

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Here is a list of some of the habits I found really helped me with my English (as a second language) skills. They cover all four basic skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking.

With the internet, any and all of these forms of practice are easily accessible free of charge and can be tailored to your specific areas of interest (or target language). All you have to do is search for them and invest some time.

• Listening to music in English, while reading the lyrics and singing along;
• Watching tv, films, documentaries, YouTube videos, etc. without subtitles, or with subtitles in English;
• Reading news, magazines, articles, books, blogs, etc. in English;
• Listening to audiobooks in English, while reading the written book and enunciating (especially new words) along;
• Writing comments, tweets, Facebook or forum posts, articles, short stories, etc. in English;
• Chatting (in writing) with people, in English, whenever on the internet;
• Doing language exchanges with partners who are serious about it, who are more advanced than you (preferably natives), who adequately divide language times and are willing to make corrections;
• Having spoken conversations in English* via conference (Blab, Hangout, Skype, etc.), or in person;
• Doing one or more of the above every day.

Other ways that I found of surrounding and improving myself in English are:
• Installing English dictionaries on browsers, word processors, chat softwares and keyboard apps, etc. and always spellchecking;
• Setting as English the default language of installed softwares, apps, social media, email providers, search engines, etc.;
• Using English to make Google searches;
• Looking up new words’ meanings, synonyms and their pronunciations on an English-to-English dictionary and speaking them aloud a few times;
• Going back to last word I looked up, whenever I do a new word search.

I hope some of these habits help you in your language journey!
Share them if you know someone who might benefit from it!
And leave a comment sharing your own habits to improve language skills!

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* To improve fluency, I highly recommend listening to your target language as much as possible and practising speaking whenever you can, even if it is by talking to yourself.
Don’t worry about seeming crazy; just think about how the results will be worth it. You’ll be the one laughing once you are speaking fluently! ;)
I’ve observed that after talking to oneself for a while in English, people feel more comfortable speaking to others.
If insecurity and a (misplaced!) sense of inferiority are the issue, talking to other learners can also be good before moving on to native speakers. However, be careful not to pick up mistakes and vices from someone who’s inexperienced.

To improve pronunciation, try out some tongue twisters! They are a great way to practise those tricky sound and word combinations; especially when your target language has phonemes that don’t exist in your native tongue. Just remember to start out slow and build up speed as you begin to stutter less.

For more language content, check out these tags: english, esl

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Music When Writing

This topic was brought up in a community I'm part of and I thought I'd re-post my comment here as well, since it's been too long since I last posted here and I'd like to know what your opinions are on the subject.

I find that songs with lyrics distract me. Therefore, when I really want to shut out the world and immerse myself in my writing, I put on some instrumental music.

While in school, I used to do that to help me study, since neuroscience has proven that listening to classical music can provoke several beneficial outcomes on the brain (improved brain function, reduced anxiety, heightened emotions, calming effect, etc.).

In my experience, whenever I do this, I write a lot more and the results are much better than when I’m writing without music or listening to another type of music. Inspiration really flows, as well.

Not all brains are the same, though, so you have to find the right kind of instrumental for you. Not all classical music works for me: most Beethoven makes me tense and nervous; I like Vivaldi, Verdi and Bach better. I also like Celtic, medieval and some different native ethnic music. I adore both of Era’s ‘Classics’ albums and, at the moment, I’m into some nature sounds designed for meditation. The bulk of my instrumental songs were stolen from my husband’s collection, though. He made me a huge playlist with all he’d thought I’d like from his endless video game soundtracks. I whittled it down a little, but I love it!

As for creating soundtracks for stories I write; I’m all for it! However, most times, I just randomly come across a fitting song and make a note of it for a certain scene or character. There are also the songs that inspire a scene in a story and, I’ll admit, I sometimes google a particular topic to find a song that’s fitting for a specific scene.

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Its been almost 4 days and I still don't quite know what to say about Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Going to a midnight premiere (for the first time ever) was quite the experience for me.

I got to meet great people, talk about favourite characters, scenes and simply bask on and share some HP love.

There were House scarves everywhere and wands abound; loads of cloaks, customised HP clothing and scar-heads! When a group of Death Eaters (fully costumed) showed up the whole theatre lobby cheered.

The whole vibe of the thing was so exciting and contagious! I had never felt so at home and deeply understood by a group of complete strangers before. It felt as if I knew them all in some intrinsical way. I thought, 'Yeah, these are my people, they get me. They love books. Words move them to do this.'

During the film the crowd cheered and oohed and aahed at all the right times.

I cried... a lot.

There were times I could hear people from about 10 rows away sobbing, and I must admit, people couldn't hear me only because I tried really hard to keep myself mostly composed.

The film itself... well...

Amazing? Yes.

An incredible way to finish the film series? Yes.

The best Harry Potter film? Oh, Yes!

Possibly the best film ever? Hell Yes!

I think it was the film most faithful to the books (which is of huge importance to me). The acting was better, the production magnificent and the cuts and changes to the story bearable (and mostly not entirely and annoyingly pointless, too!).

Are there things that I would change? Most definitely. As there always are.

But as a whole it was excellent. Epic. As it should be. And... well... words fail me.

Since then I've been feeling a bit adrift in a haze of I-don't-know-what-hit-me-flavoured Potterishness.

It was that way that I came upon At the Close: A Harry Potter Wars Comment Ficathon. If you're a Potter fan and haven't seen it yet, then you must.

There are some great fics and prompts out there. Real jewels. All quick reads, but very poignant ones.

Check it out, see my prompts as well and even write them if they inspire your muse…Collapse )
Now what is your opinion on Deathly Hallows Part 2? Was it all you were expecting?
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Meme: Harry Potter

Grabbed from girlofavalon.

I switched the order of things around a bit and apparently I can’t pick only one thing in most topics.

Hogwarts House: Ravenclaw.
2nd Favourite House: Gryffindor.
Top places you’d find me in Hogwarts: The Common Room (cosy); the library (books!); the grounds, especially near the Black Lake (beautiful) & sneaking into the Forbidden Forest (good for adventures).
Favourite Ghost: Nearly Headless Nick.
Least Favourite Ghost: Moaning Myrtle (she’s annoying).
Favourite Non-Human: Doby & Crookshanks (they’re adorable).
Least Favourite Non-human: Dementor (because of what it is and does; I love the concept, though).
Favourite Quidditch Team: None. I’m not into sports. But since I usually root for the underdog, maybe the Cannons.
Favourite Triwizard Task: The second one, in the lake.
Favourite Hogsmeade Shop: Honeydukes (sweets!).
Favourite Magical Object: Time-Turner & Invisibility Cloak. Actually, the wand too (I’d like one).
Favourite Transportation: The Hogwarts Express (wouldn’t you want to ride it, too?) & Portkey.
Favourite Potion: Felix Felicis & Polyjuice Potion.
Favourite Spell: Riddikulus & Expecto Patronum.
Favourite Unforgivable Curse: Imperio.
What Amortentia would smell like to me: Chocolate, fresh earth after rain (petrichor) and new books.
My Boggart Would Be: Loneliness.
Favourite Lesson: Charms & Defence Against the Dark Arts.
Least Favourite Lesson: Arithmancy.
Lesson I’d Probably Be Best At: Charms & Care of Magical Creatures.
Favourite DADA teacher: Remus Lupin.
Favourite Teacher: Remus Lupin & Filius Flitwick.
Least Favourite Teacher: Gilderoy Lockhart (he’s a hilarious character, but not much of a teacher).
Favourite Of The Trio: Ron!
Favourite DA Member: Luna Lovegood (I’m counting out the Trio).
Favourite Order Member: Rubeus Hagrid, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin & Nymphadora Tonks.
Favourite Minister for Magic: Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Favourite Death Eater: Draco Malfoy & Bellatrix Lestrange (wonderful character).
Favourite Wizarding Family: Weasleys! (c’mon, they’re ginger-heads!)
Least Favourite Wizarding Family: Blacks (except for Sirius, I don’t think much of them in general).
Favourite Characters: I ♥ most Ron, Hermione, Luna & Doby; I like Hagrid, Sirius, the twins, Lupin & Tonks; and think Snape, Bellatrix & Voldemort are great characters (though I’m not particularly fond of them).
Characters I’m most like: Hermione (not always in a good way).
Who I’d ask to the Yule Ball: Ron!
4 Characters I’d want to punch in the face: Dolores Umbridge, Peter Pettigrew, Aunt Petunia & (in my opinion the most annoying character in the books) Harry Potter.

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Meme: Shag, Marry, Cliff

This is my first participative meme, by which I mean a meme that’s not one-sided. So please participate, people!

Here’s what you have to do:

1) Comment to this and I will give you 3 people.
2) Post this meme to your LJ with your answers.
3) Provide pictures and the names of the 3 people.
4) Label whom you would shag, marry and (push down a) cliff.

What happened was that I made the mistake of agreeing with angelskiss on what I’d do with my compatriot girlofavalon’s choices on this meme.
My countrywoman became possessive about Anakin Skywalker, then. ;-)
So I asked her for 3 people of my own to choose from.

She gave me Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Ron Weasley (Harry Potter) and Chuck Bass (Gossip Girl).

It wasn’t hard making a choice, really.

*does a little dance and sings*
I’m marrying Ron Weasley!
I’m marrying Ron Weasley!

*looks around and tries to compose herself*

I mean, he’s British, he’s ginger, he’s taaall, he can do magic and… and… Well, he’s Ron!
Also, I must admit, the fact that he’s played by Rupert Grint onscreen doesn’t hurt his chances with me, either. Even my husband has come to terms with this. So there you have it.

Hmm... Luke Skywalker...
Luke is pretty adorable, yes. A good boy, as girlofavalon pointed out. He’s a Jedi and has got The Force; he also has a lightsaber (which so, so cool)…

But Chuck? I so don’t wanna chuck Chuck Bass off a cliff!
He’s sexy, he’s hot, he’s an utter bad boy with a penchant for debauchery, but he’s got a heart, too (sometimes). Also, he’s filthy rich and can wear purple and wicked like no one else.
He’s the best thing about Gossip Girl... Well, besides Blair, of course.

Show me the Results…Collapse )

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In 2011, NanniClover resolves to...
Go to the fansons every month.
Cut down on my britpicking.
Tell my family about elves.
Give some ghosts to charity.
Give up writing.
Backup my hermione regularly.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

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Meme: Dear Santa...

Dear Santa...

Dear Santa,

This year I've been busy!

In March I caught a purse-snatcher who stole musings_by_mama 's purse (30 points). In November I bought porn for aloemilk (10 points). Last Thursday I farted in an elevator (-6 points). Last Saturday I punched honourweasley12 in the arm (-10 points). Last week I turned lillywmw in for tearing the tag off a mattress (3 points).

Overall, I've been nice (27 points). For Christmas I deserve an XBox 360!

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Write your letter to Santa! Enter your LJ username:

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