Speaking from day one with Elisa

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Meet Elisa, polyglot extraordinaire! We bumped into her at expolingua 2018 and witnessed the spectacle of Elisa teaching a room full of eager students three new languages, all at the same time! It transpired that Elisa shared our commitment to training students to speak and converse from the very first lessons. We wanted to find out more, so sat down and asked Elisa to tell us more about her amazing gift for language acquisition and to share some of her ideas and philosophy about language learning.

When did you first realise that you had a gift for language learning?

From my experience, for most people learning languages is not about being talented but about being passionate and not giving in. I discovered my passion for French quite early on during a trip to Paris with my mum when I was eight. Although  I did not really study it until I was in secondary school, this initial experience with a foreign language inspired what is now my passion.

What is the biggest advantage that language learning has given you?

I´d say „flexibility“, for many reasons. I can work almost everywhere in Europe without the language being a problem (if I work for a company). Furthermore, I can teach in different language combinations (Russian in English, English in Spanish, Spanish in French and so on). On a more personal level, learning a new language provides me with an insight into other cultures and mentalities, and this has helped me learn to see things from different perspectives.

What can learners do to avoid being overwhelmed by the challenge of a new language?

Sometimes we just want too much, too quickly. Knowing that learning is a process made of many small steps should help us to relax and not put too much pressure on ourselves. The more we concentrate on doing a little every day and putting into practise what we have learnt, the more motivated we are likely to stay.

My awareness that languages are systems, that everything we learn is useful and that it will all make sense in the end, keeps me going and motivated.

What is your favourite language and why?

I really like all the languages I have learnt and I am attached to all of them for different reasons. Having said that, I particularly like Russian, German and Hindi. I like challenges and enjoy understanding languages which at first seem(ed) difficult to me.

What’s the best way to learn and remember new words?

I personally think that learning words in context is very useful because you automatically learn when to use them. Also, learning words in context will help you remember them because your brain will associate those words with situations, sounds, etc.

There are many ways to learn words in context: watching a TV series (in TV series words are often repeated, so you can learn new ones just by hearing them throughout the series), listening to songs (singers tend to repeat many words in their songs) or reading books which really interest us (important words will be repeated and will also be understood within the context), etc.

What’s the best time of day to study?

There is no ‘best time’ as everyone is different. Personally, my favourite time to study has changed a lot over the years. When I was a teenager I loved studying in the evening when it was dark and I had no distractions. Nowadays, I prefer to do creative and learning activities in the morning. I think that the best time of the day to study is a time that we know we can commit to, in order to fit it into our daily routine so that it becomes a habit.

Thanks so much for sharing your expertise with us Elisa! We hope to see you again at the expolingua 2019.

Elisa Polese, Italian, is a professional online language teacher (www.speakfromdayonewithelisa.com) who offers Italian, German, English, Spanish, Russian, French, Dutch, Catalan, Portuguese, Greek, Hindi, Arabic and Esperanto! She specialises in multilingual teaching where students learn how to speak two or more languages simultaneously.

About the Author Simon Goodall

Language learner, teacher and contributing author to the Rosetta Stone magazine

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