Advice on Learning
This section aims to outline our approach to language learning,
how our offering can best match your needs, what tips you
could benefit from, and how you can start using Active Language©
Learning straight away!
Research into modern language learning
2. Why Learn
3. What is
Active Language© Learning?
4. To whom
is Active Language Learning aimed?
5. What makes
the Active Language Learning so special?
6. What difficulties
am I likely to encounter as I embark on Active Language©
7. How can
I make the most of Active Language© Learning?
8. Which is
the best foreign language to learn first?
9. Isn't it
enough just to be able to speak English?
are the hardest languages to learn?
11. Why move
from being bi-lingual to multi-lingual?
12. How do
I start using the Active Language© Learning approach?
Eurocosm has an established research programme and is committed
to continually growing its competences in modern language
and cultural learning. One of Eurocosm's major research
efforts has been into modern language learning, in particular
to see what lessons can be learned from successful language
learners, who learn languages alongside a busy career.
1. Eurocosm Research into modern
Active Language© Learning is the result of a study by Eurocosm
professionals into modern language learning opportunities
- covering a very broad range of research topics, not only
in core areas, such as learning methodologies and new technologies,
but also in peripheral areas such as motivation and personal
benefits. Key inputs into this research included not only
published literature and interviews with thought leaders
and multi-lingual business professionals, but also inputs
from teaching staff, language students and, of course, our
own experiences of gaining fluency in multiple languages.
The study was lead personally by Eurocosm's Managing Director,
Johl Garling, who is English and who, in parallel to his
international career with Fiat and Andersen Consulting,
has managed to gain fluency in Italian, German, French and
Spanish - if anyone knows how professionals learn languages
, he does!
The major findings of this study reveal some though-provoking
Some interesting issues:
- There are often differences between traditional language
teaching methods and the methods used by successful
- Professionals who have had to master a range of foreign
languages in parallel to their profession, often devise
their own efficient methods that allow them to cope
as quickly as possible in new language environments,
and to be able to refresh their capabilities quickly
in preparation for certain events, such as presentations
- These methods, on which Active Language© Learning
is based, usually require a minimum of financial investment,
and are often totally free.
- These new methods can be used by other people to improve
their language-learning capabilities.
As well as confirming some current ideas in modern language
- It is quite possible to become fluent in a language,
even if you already have a demanding schedule. In fact,
the most successful language learners often already
have very demanding agendas, usually need languages
to help them with their main activities, and find the
learning process a form of relaxation!
- Too often, people are prevented from gaining great
satisfaction from language learning owing to unfortunate
experiences, such a traditional language teaching in
the classroom, or by taking basic courses that force
them to study subjects in which they are not necessarily
personally interested, or courses that come to an end
and that don't provide the means to reaching the next
- There are two areas of traditional language learning
that remain an important part of the most modern and
effective approaches, and should not be ignored: grammar
and learning vocabulary.
- Many language courses still focus too much on learning
single words, and too little on learning phrases.
- Focusing mainly on learning phrases instead of individual
words leads to a quicker path to fluency, since the
student is better able to learn constructions and context.
- While many language courses cover basic language levels,
few offer a full programme leading to fluency and beyond.
- Languages go hand in hand with cultural awareness
and understanding - it is through language learning
that true cultural understanding can be reached.
- People learn languages more efficiently when the subjects
correspond to their personal needs and natural interests.
- Too often, people requiring languages, such as those
who move to another country to work, take a passive
approach to language learning, in which they hope to
"soak up" knowledge over a long period of time. The
problem with this approach is that the end result is
usually not very good (eg difficulty understanding newspapers,
grammatical mistakes etc) and, owing to reduced language
capability, make fewer friends and overall do not enjoy
their stay as much as those who take a more active approach
to language and cultural understanding.
- Speaking the language remains key to building fluency.
- While new technologies are offering new ways to learn
languages, they should be viewed as only a part of a
range tools to enable efficient learning.
- Language learning effectiveness is greatly increased
if it is combined with cultural learning.
2. Why Learn Languages?
People may learn languages for a wide variety of reasons.
However, there are some important trends that are making
language learning - especially in Europe - increasingly
a factor in enabling people to create a fulfilling life
for themselves. The opportunities are there, and the challenges
are being taken up by an increasing number of people.
European integration has, after the introduction of the
Euro, and the (in some cases) entire removal of internal
border conrols, become a reality for many people in Europe.
The expansion of the EU is further increasing awareness
of what being a European means.
Many professionals will increasingly become aware of the
limitations in their career, as those who have a more
international outlook, gained through travel and language
learning, will be able to understand the big picture better,
build more powerful networks, and enjoy greater opportunities.
For mature professionals, the message is "don't be left
behind". For younger people, living and working in, and
understanding Europe has already become an important condition
for building a management career. In addition, by expanding
your own cultural and linguistic horizons, you will be
in a position to pass these values onto your children
who, more than anyone else, will need this understanding
if they are not to be left out n the new economy. Through
Active Language Learning at Eurocosm.com, we will show
you how to jump aboard the Euro train, and guide you along
as far as you wish, up to fluency and cultural understanding
in (at present) five major European languages.
Languages bring more benefits than just career rewards.
Many families, through mixed-nationality marriages already
contain members from different countries and, especially
in Europe, this trend will continue. To mixed-nationality
couples, language learning offers the chance to understand
one's partner better, and to integrate different sides
of the family more smoothly. To grandparents, this may
mean being able to build a closer relationship with their
Perhaps the greatest reason, however, to learn languages
is the sheer sense of satisfaction that it can bring.
Making oneself understood, recognising words on advertising
billboards, understanding television, reading literature
in it's original form, making new friends - all of these
bring a huge amount of personal satisfaction.
3. What is Active Language©
Active Language© Learning is the name given to Eurocosm's
approach to learning multiple languages and cultures,
and is the result of a study by Eurocosm professionals
into modern language learning opportunities - covering
a very broad range of research topics, not only in core
areas, such as learning methodologies and new technologies,
but also in peripheral areas such as motivation and personal
The word "active" is used to emphasise the active nature
of our approach:
- Students learn languages in a way that actively supports
their own needs and interests
- Students move from vocabulary learning to active language
application in a very short time
- Students use our knowledge to actively seek out the
literally thousands of opportunities afforded to language
- Students are motivated
Key goals of this approach are to help our customers to:
- Build a solid language-learning ability
- Learn a language from scratch to fluency quickly and
with minimum financial cost.
- Maintain a high level of motivation.
- Move from expertise in one foreign language to expertise
in a range of foreign languages.
- Provide multi-linguists with the tools to be able
to communicate in a variety of languages simultaneously,
and be able to refresh their capabilities quickly in
preparation for certain events, such as presentations
The main features of the Active Language© Learning programme:
- A range of electronic tools and paper-based products,
which can be used individually or together as part of
a tailored and complete language and cultural learning
- The possibility to work both on-line at the Eurocosm.com
website, or off-line using our website CD (a full copy
of our website on CD, that reduces your telephone costs,
enables you to study more easily when your "on the move",
and eliminates download time).
- Focus on vocabulary to build competence in a huge
variety of practical situations, reflecting personal
needs and natural interests.
- Tools to help practise vocabulary.
- Tools to use language skills to discover and build
- Advice regarding application of newly-acquired language
skills in a wide variety of easily acquired sources.
- Focus on real-life application of newly-acquired language
4. To whom is Active Language©
Whether you are yourself a working professional, seeking
to build your general multicultural and management capabilities,
a language enthusiast already able to speak five languages,
a language teacher, student, or even a beginner preparing
for a holiday, you can benefit from the Active Language©
Learning programme at Eurocosm.com.
5. What makes the Active Language©
Learning so special?
Active Language© Learning allows you to learn languages
in accordance with your own needs and interests. At the
heart of our offering lies the Active Language Database
- a vast collection of language usage, compiled over a number
of years, and written in five languages, and sources of
information regarding language learning and application.
If your interest is cooking, we will teach you the language
of cooking, provide you with regional cookery recipes, show
you what is required to achieve the same results as the
"locals", make recommendations regarding restaurants, point
out the best cookery courses for your chosen country, and
even help you find an e-mail penpal interested in cuisine,
whose mother tongue corresponds to the language you are
If you are starting work in a new country, Eurocosm's Active
Language© Learning programme will teach you the language
you will need, show you how and where to undertake the administrative
tasks, give you tips on settling in, help you meet new people..
and much much more!
The methodologies and tools that comprise the Active Language©
Learning programme have been developed by looking at really
the best experiences of real live people who have achieved
a significant level of success in language learning.
Also, you will see, by visiting Eurocosm's Active Language©
Learning homepage, that phrases belonging to a huge spectrum
of circumstances can be seen side-by-side in up to 5 languages
- people learning multiple languages may have longed to
see such a representation, but will probably never have
had the chance - well here is your chance!
6. What difficulties am I likely
to encounter as I embark on Active Language© Learning?
Active Language© Learning, as its name suggests, encourages
an active approach to language learning, in which students
actively seek out new learning opportunities, in harmony
with their own needs and interests. Unlike a passive approach
to language learning, which often brings poor results, a
certain level of self motivation is required. If you find
your motivation levels drops off at any time, review again
exactly why you decided to learn languages and compare these
goals with your current progress - either the goals you
defined originally need to are no longer valid, and need
to be altered, or maybe progress is slower than you expected,
a point which is covered below.
More often than declining motivation, the more common problem
is frustration with the rate of progress. On this theme
there are a few important comments to note:
- If you are new to Active Language© Learning, remember
that language learning becomes faster the more experience
- On the road to fluency, it is quite natural to experience
cycles, in which you have periods in which you feel
very good about progress, and periods in which you feel
less optimistic. These cycles often begin and end every
two weeks, or so. In fact, when you experience such
a cycle, it means you are on a good learning path. Why?
Because learning new vocabulary or grammatical ideas
often challenges to some extent what you already know,
reducing your overall capability for a short while your
mind tries to integrate the new with the old. During
this short period, you may feel somewhat depressed about
your overall progress, but once you feel comfortable
with these new ideas, your overall capability rises
very rapidly a step higher than it was before, bringing
a great feeling of satisfaction. In order to reduce
frustration, it is usually very helpful to use your
time reviewing vocabulary that you have already learnt
before - simply sit down in a comfortable place and
read our paper-based phrase learner - and you will see
your competence bounce back very quickly. What is also
interesting, is that the further you come with a language,
the longer the optimistic part of the cycle becomes,
and the fewer problems the negative part of the cycle
- On the path to fluency, comprehending the language
in conversations or on TV requires some concentration.
This can mean that you can become quite tired, even
when you are sitting in a meeting. Tiredness then reduces
you ability to communicate, and this can be sometimes
a bit frustrating. However, this is also very natural,
and is actually a good sign that you are on a good learning
path. Tips to reduce this problem include keeping meeting
times short, and switching to your mother tongue once
you feel "saturated" (if, of course, your colleagues
will understand you!). What is also important to remember
here is that this feeling of tiredness becomes less
and less, the more time you put into Active Language©
- Another difficulty is the feeling that one cannot
formulate clear logical sequences of ideas when trying
to formulate sentences in a foreign languages. Trying
to answering questions like "What is your opinion on
this matter" can sometimes lead not only to challenges
regarding "how" to say something, but also "what" should
be said. For some, especially working professionals,
this can be an important factor in deciding NOT to learn
languages. However, our research has shown that successful
language professionals devise clever ways to avoid these
problems. In important business situations, such as
presentations, make sure you prepare your script well
in the foreign language, and try to memorise this script
a few days beforehand. Then practise your presentation
a few times without this script, if possible with a
native speaker. Our Active Language Databank can help
you to find the right phrases for your script, as well
as showing you how to pronounce them. You may wish also
to stick to your mother tongue, for certain situations
- but don't worry, people will understand this. Remember
also, that you can and should speak in all "non-critical"
situations whenever the opportunity arises. Lastly,
linking sentence building and idea formulation will
become easier and easier.
- In addition, some people find that although they try
to make the effort to speak in a foreign language, sometimes
their interlocutors reply in your language, either because
they want to show you how good they are in foreign languages,
or because they feel that by doing so the discussion
will be quicker. In this case, it absolutely necessary
to emphasise how important it is for you to learn the
language, and how you must insist on speaking in their
language. This is a very sound argument, and most people
will understand this and respect your determination.
If this problem occurs with people you see regularly,
you may also arrange that some periods are for one language,
and other periods for the second. Or that each person
speaks in their foreign language, and corrects the mistakes
of the other. Such agreements can be mutually very rewarding.
7. How can I make the most of
Active Language© Learning?
As with all learning activities, motivation is the most
basic requirement, and represents the major reason why
students give up learning before they have reached a level
where they can truly gain the full satisfaction of being
a linguist. Important is to understand why you want to
learn a language, and what benefits this will bring you.
This includes recognising where your natural interests
lie, and choosing study areas that correspond to these.
Do not believe you can learn a language simply by sitting
in front of a computer screen. While Eurocosm's Active
Language Database will certainly help you with phrase
learning, pronunciation, and comprehension in 5 languages
(and, especially for students of Italian, even how to
understand and use hand signals through on-line video
clips!) we recommend you supplement this work with off-line
activities that do not involve computers.
An important part of off-line learning is being able to
relax while learning vocabulary. Eurocosm has developed
a number of printed products that enable comfortable learning
away from the computer screen. These handy products, which
reinforce our electronic tools and content, are designed
for taking with you, and using anywhere, anytime, even
if you only have, say a few moments while waiting for
the bus, or 10 minutes respite at your desk after lunch!
In fact, our managing director uses his copy every morning
in the bath!
Realise that language learning to fluency requires building
also cultural understanding - take time to use Eurcosm's
cultural tools to help you uncover the secrets!
If you consider yourself a beginner, with perhaps some language
background at school, probably your best option is to choose
this language to begin with. It is easier to build on some
existing knowledge than to start a new language from the
8. Which is the best foreign
language to learn first?
If you have no language background, then choose a language
that supports best your own interests - if you enjoy holidaying
in Italy, then Italian may have more relevance to you. If
you wish to be able to communicate with the widest variety
of nationalities, then perhaps English would make a good
Other points to consider include language difficulty, as
described after the next point.
9. Isn't it enough just to speak
English is a good language to learn if you wish to be
able to communicate with the widest audience with minimum
effort, especially in business contexts. For many non-English
people, this language is therefore the first foreign language
they wish to develop. However, to really understand and
make the most of opportunities in Europe, it is important
to study a range of languages - language an culture go
hand in hand.
The answer to this question depends to a large extent on
your mother tongue. An Italian will recognise greater similarities
between Italian and Spanish, than say between Italian and
10. Which are the hardest languages
In fact, students often see the greatest similarities among
the romance languages which, owing to a strong Latin influence,
contain similar constructions and word roots.
German is often viewed as the most difficult language, and
English by some to be the easiest.
However, beyond these general points, each language contains
aspects that are more difficult, and some that are easier.
English contains fairly simple grammar constructions (for
example, verbs are usually quite straight forward, and there
are very few words that are denoted either as masculine
or feminine - an exception is ship, which is usually referred
to a feminine "I name this ship 'Southampton', and may God
protect all those who sale in her"). However, some pronunciations
are difficult to make for some people (try saying "hither
and thither"), and spelling can also cause some problems
(eg Slough has two pronunciations, depending on whether
you mean the town in southern England, or the slow-moving
German contains some quite complex grammatical areas (for
example, their are three genders - masculine, feminine and
neuter, four cases - nominative, accusative, genitive, dative).
In addition, German word ordering is often quite different
from those of the other four languages. However, German
spelling is easy - being a phonetic language, words are
spelt exactly as they sound.
French also contains fairly complex grammatical areas, but
these are not often viewed as being as challenging as those
of German. Many often find the French accent is sometimes
difficult to imitate.
Italian grammar lies roughly on the same level as French,
however many often find Italian a bit easier. Like German,
Italian is a phonetic language and spelling and pronunciation
are not usually a problem.
Spanish is viewed by many to lie on approximately the same
difficulty level as Italian.
11. Why move from being bi-lingual
You will see when learning one European foreign language,
that there are many similarities to be found with your
mother tongue. When you learn two foreign languages, these
associations become even more vivid. Learn all five major
European languages, and you will see how intertwined and
similar European languages really are.
Learning more than one foreign language, will also help
you to build in your head a complete cultural picture
of Europe - one that will certainly broaden your outlook,
help you to become more effective in your career, becoming
an attractive part of your personality.
Of course, there is another simple reason - the more languages
you learn, the easier it gets! While learning your first
foreign language to fluency can take a few years, a second
foreign language will take much less time. By the time
you reach your fifth language, you may only need six months!
12. How do I start using the
Active Language© Learning approach?
The best way to start using the Active Language© Learning
approach is to visit our web-site at Eurocosm.com. This
will enable you understand better exactly what we are
offering our customers, and what opportunities are open
Secondly, decide on the languages you wish to learn, and
familiarise yourself with the specific range of language
tools and advice that are on offer.
registering yourself as a member of our site, as this
will enable you to take advantage of some of its more
Active Language© Lab - Special Introductory Offer!
Register for 6 months before 1st January 2012
and receive 6 months extra subscription
FREE of CHARGE!
More info - click here