best movie scores

Quiz: Which Well-Known Symphonic Movie Score Represents You?

best movie scores

Summertime is a prime time for blockbuster movies, and 2016 is no exception!

But even with all the new movies on the way, there’s nothing quite like the classics. Think about the movies that took you on great adventures, pulled at your heartstrings, and got your adrenaline racing. Which ones top your list?

Now think: can you recall the movie score? For many of the acclaimed films from the last few decades, the music behind it is integral. After all, where would Jaws be without the iconic two-note theme? Would Star Wars be the same without its epic intro?

Although not all movie-goers recognize it, it’s the music that leads you on the journey and coaxes your emotions out.

So, let’s have a little fun. Out of the best movie scores, which one represents you? Is your personality more adventurous… or more romantic?

Find out with this fun quiz from Connolly Music:

What’s YOUR soundtrack? Leave a comment below and share your results!

Want to learn more about the best movie scores, and how to get started composing your own? Continue exploring with these links:

Photo by Andrés Nieto Porras

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difference between Spanish and Portuguese

10 Important Differences Between Spanish & Portuguese

difference between Spanish and Portuguese

The 2016 Summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil. For language-learners everywhere, it was and still is a great time to explore Portuguese, their official language!

And if you’re already learning Spanish, you’re at an advantage. There are a lot of similarities between the two languages — in fact, there’s even a name for speaking a mixture of the languages to help speakers of different backgrounds communicate (Portuñal or Portunhol, in Spanish and Portuguese, respectively).

But what about the difference between Spanish and Portuguese? You’re not off the hook if you speak Spanish; you’ll need to put in some work to learn new pronunciations, spellings, and vocabulary in Portuguese. Same goes if you’re a Portuguese speaker trying to learn Spanish!

To help you get started, our friends at LiveLingua put together a post showcasing some key things to remember. Here’s part of the article:


1. Difference between hasta and hacia. In Portuguese there is no hacia preposition. There is the preposition até, but we need to explain the difference very well so students can learn how to use it properly. In short words, hacia indicates the direction in which we move and hasta the point at which we arrived.

2. The preposition “a” after many verbs. The most common example [in Spanish] is “ir a.” I guess it must be weird for some Portuguese native speakers to use an expression even found in Portuguese, but adding an “a” in the middle. Let’s have a look at this sentence: Vou sair agora ( Portuguese), Voy a salir ahora (Spanish)

3. The position of reflexive pronouns. The rule is very simple. In Spanish, when the tense is either gerund or infinitive, the pronoun merges to the end of the verb. Otherwise when the verb is conjugated, the pronoun is placed before the verb and not joined. Example: dormirse, bañarse; se durmió, te bañaste, etc.

4. False friends or very similar words. Every language has to face this issue. We only learn this when we come across those words. There is a funny word which needs to be clarified: almóndiga. This is a Spanish slang word which means “meatball,” but in Portuguese is pronounced albóndiga. In Portuguese a vagabundo is a person who leads a bad life, while in Spanish it is someone who lives on the street (morador de rua in Portuguese).

5. Muy or mucho? In Portuguese this is easy: muito is the only word compared to those two. Muy is used before adverbs and adjectives, while mucho is placed either before a noun or after a verbs. When we want to make a comparison, we always have to use mucho. Example: Es mucho (no muy!!!) mejor que tú.


The article goes on to list five more differences between Portuguese and Spanish — continue reading it here!

Now, ready to get started learning Portuguese? Keep these tips in mind:

  • Determine your learning style and goals. Instead of blindly jumping into learning, have a plan in place. Are you learning for fun? Do you want to be fluent? How do you learn best? Knowing the answers to these will help you stay on track. Here are some guiding questions to start with.
  • Find a conversation partner. The most important part of learning a new language is understanding the context and having real conversations with others, and practice makes perfect! Instead of simply memorizing vocabulary words, make the effort to talk and listen!
  • Work with a tutor. Taking 1-on-1 lessons with a language tutor is a great way to get that conversation practice. TakeLessons offers both Portuguese tutors and Spanish tutors to help you improve.

Readers, do you have experience learning both Portuguese and Spanish? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

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improvising and jazz guitar scales

Guitar Scale Hacks: How to Jazz Up Any Scale & Start Improvising

improvising and jazz guitar scales

Many beginner musicians want to learn to improvise on the guitar, but just don’t know how to start. In this guest post, Greg O’Rourke from fretdojo.com teaches you three easy tricks that will supercharge your guitar scales and bring more life to your solos.

 

Have you ever tried to improvise on the guitar and it sounds like you’re just running scales up and down the fretboard?

Look:

Regardless of what style you want to improvise in, only knowing the scales isn’t enough.

Here’s the deal:

To sound like a convincing improviser, you need to learn the vocabulary of the style you want to play — meaning the particular patterns and approaches that give a style of music its unique sound.

Which is what this article is all about.

By the end of this post, you’re going to learn three easy jazz tricks to transform any boring old guitar scale into a hip, jazzy-sounding pattern that will supercharge your soloing.

Let’s get into it!

The Basic Idea

The approach I’m going to show you is to:

  • Look at the finger patterns on each string of a guitar scale, then
  • Substitute them with finger patterns commonly used in jazz.

For this lesson we’re going to use the ol’ faithful C major scale.

Let’s use the well-known pattern commonly played in the 7th position on the fretboard (for those of you who know the CAGED system, this would be the “E” pattern of C Major):

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 1

jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-1

jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-2-corrected

Audio:

If you aren’t familiar with this guitar scale pattern yet, practice playing bits and pieces of it over the backing track to get familiar, as the video below demonstrates:

Video Example:

Backing Track:

As you can see, if you improvise just by going up and down guitar scales it sounds like, well… just like scales going up and down.

Boring!

Let’s see what we can do to jazz this sucker up…

Step 1: Substitute the ‘134’ Pattern

Look at the notes that sit on the 3rd string for this guitar scale:

jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-3

As you can see, this string uses fingers 1, 3, and 4, hence a ‘134’ pattern.

Hmmm… let’s try something.

Replace this finger pattern with a ‘4123’ pattern instead:

jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-4

To get used to the idea of replacing the finger pattern, play the simple exercise below.

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 2jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-5

Audio:

Here’s the trick.

Now, whenever you play the 3rd string as you improvise, replace the ‘134’ pattern with the new ‘4123’ pattern.

Video Example:

Go on — try it! Here’s the backing track once again:

Backing Track:

Hang on:

Notice how this can be used on other strings of this C major scale as well…

Eureka! The 4th string also has this ‘134’ pattern.

Do the same finger pattern replacement on this string too.

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 3jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-6

Audio:

I want you to practice soloing over the backing track once again.

This time, whenever you hit the 4th string or the 3rd string, play the pattern ‘4123’.

Backing Track:

Great — you’re sounding a whole lot jazzier already!

Let’s have a look at how we can mess with the other strings to get more of that jazzy sound into our soloing.

Step 2: Substitute the ‘124’ pattern

Here’s the finger pattern on the 1st string in this C Major scale:

jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-7

As you can see, the 1st string has a ‘124’ finger pattern.

It’s time to soup up this finger pattern too.

Can we use the ‘4123’ pattern (the one you used on the 3rd and 4th string) here?

No, you can’t — the final note (the ‘3’)  will be a note that is not in C Major, which will sound bad.

For this approach to work, we need a pattern that will finish on a scale note.

So, we’ll need a different pattern. Let me think…

How about this one:

jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-8

Looks good — this new ‘43241’ pattern ends up on a scale note (the ‘1’).

This ‘43241’ pattern is one of the most commonly used vocabulary ideas in jazz, and it’s easy to play too.

To get familiar with this new pattern, play this exercise on the 1st string:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 4jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-9

Audio:

Improvise with the backing track in a similar way to what you did on the 3rd and 4th string.

This time, whenever you play the 1st string replace the ‘124’ pattern with the ‘43241’ pattern.

Video Example:

While you’re at it, make it more interesting by experimenting with different rhythms and accents each time you play the pattern.

Backing Track:

This ‘43241’ pattern works really well on the 5th and 6th strings too, as they also have a ‘124’ pattern in this C Major guitar scale.

I’ll show you what I mean:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 5jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-10

Audio:

Step 3: Enclosures

Great, so we have now jazzed up every string of this guitar scale…

Or have we?

Hang on — it looks like one string hasn’t been covered yet: the 2nd string.

The problem with the 2nd string in this C Major guitar scale pattern is that there are only two notes on the string.

D’oh! We can’t play the other two patterns you’ve learned so far, as they were for three notes, not two.

Don’t sweat! There is a solution.

We’re going to use enclosures to surround (or ‘enclose’) each of these two-note scales.

I know what you’re thinking:

“What’s an enclosure??”

I knew you were going to ask that.

Let me explain.

Enclosures are one of the most commonly used devices found in jazz solos.

They give a great chromatic sound and are characteristic of jazz bebop in particular.

Enclosures are useful as they can be added to any note in any guitar scale.

Here’s an example of an enclosure:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 6jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-11

Audio:

In this next exercise, you’re going to apply an enclosure to each of the two notes found on the 2nd string of the C Major guitar scale pattern:

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 7jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-12-corrected

Audio:

Now try to improvise on the backing track with enclosures on these notes whenever you hit the 2nd string:

Video Example:

Backing Track:

Note: You can do enclosures on any note of the scale, not just these two scale notes on the second string — try it and see!

Step 4: Combining it All Together

Fantastic! We have now jazzified every string of C Major guitar scale.

Your final challenge awaits…

Have a go at playing the substituted finger pattern for each string one after the other, going from the 1st string to the 6th string:

  • 1st string: 43241
  • 2nd string: enclosures
  • 3rd string: 4123
  • 4th string: 4123
  • 5th string: 43241
  • 6th string: 43241

Listen & Play: Guitar Improvisation Exercise 8jazz-guitar-scales-image-example-13

Audio:

Now improvise on the backing track by adding the relevant pattern for each string here and there as you solo.

Video Example:

Backing Track:

A couple of things to be aware of as you improvise on the guitar:

  • If you do the new jazzy patterns too much, it will sound too “spicy.” Just add them here and there and it will sound totally hip.
  • The challenge here is to remember what pattern goes with which string in the guitar scale. Be careful as you’ll find it won’t sound very good if you mix them up by mistake.

Huzzah! Just by adding some simple finger patterns, you know have an interesting, jazzy foundation for your guitar solos.

Summary

You can apply this technique to any guitar scale:

  • Whenever you have a ‘134’ pattern on a string, replace it with ‘4123’.
  • Whenever you have a ‘124’ pattern on a string, replace it with ‘43241’.
  • Whenever you have only 2 notes on a string, use enclosures around each note.

So there you have it: three simple finger patterns that you can apply to any guitar scale, to instantly get that jazzy sound.

The question is…

What guitar scales do YOU have under your fingers to jazz up?

Let me help you out.

Download a free copy of my Essential Guitar Scale Patterns PDF eBook, and you’ll learn the most important guitar scale shapes that you need to know for any style of music.

I would also like to give a shout-out to Matt Warnock at mattwarnockguitar.com, whom I credit first showing me these innovative ideas for scale patterns. He’s a great teacher and has a ton of resources about jazz guitar improvisation on his site.

I wish you well in your guitar practice. Happy soloing!

Ready to learn more? Find a local or online guitar teacher, or check out our live, online group classes for guitar!

AndyWPost Author: Greg O’Rourke
Greg O’Rourke is a professional Australian jazz guitarist and holds a Bachelor of Music (Hons) with the Australian National University. He’s also the owner of fretdojo.com, which offers detailed lessons and eBooks on how to master jazz guitar.
john legend pre-show routine

10 Pre-Show & Stage Fright Rituals of Famous Musicians [Infographic]

Do you get butterflies before you’re about to perform, even for a small audience? Imagine singing or playing your instrument at sold-out arenas!

Performing for screaming fans can be nerve-wracking even for the most seasoned musicians. To combat the nerves, many rely on pre-show rituals to center themselves. Continue reading to find out what some of your favorite famous musicians do behind-the-scenes…

stage fright in famous musicians - pre-show rituals

How 10 Famous Musicians Battle Stage Fright

Learn about the pre-show rituals of your favorite musicians.

  • Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper eats Skittles as a pre-show snack and watches kung-fu movies before he takes the stage.

  • Beyoncé

Beyoncé has a pretty specific pre-show ritual: she gathers the members of the band to say a prayer and do a stretch. After that, she sits in a massage chair while she gets her hair and makeup done. She also enjoys an hour of peace before her show and has a special playlist that she listens to every day.

  • Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones rocker is very specific about his pre-show meal. He always eats a Shepherd’s pie, and he must be the one who breaks the crust.

  • Justin Bieber

When Justin Bieber was a young star, he enjoyed Sour Patch Kids and gummy worms before his show. We’re not sure if he still eats these snacks before he performs for sold-out arenas, but whatever he’s doing, it’s working!

  • Rihanna

Like Beyoncé, Rihanna grabs her musicians and backup dancers together for a prayer circle. Also, right before they take the stage, they put their hands in the middle and raise them as they yell a rallying cry.

  • Eminem

The fit rapper requests 25-pound dumbbells and six Lunchables Snack Packs (three turkey and three ham and cheese) for his dressing room.

  • Coldplay

The British rock band enjoys a little bit of quiet time before their shows and always makes sure to do a group hug.

  • John Legend

John Legend knows it’s important to eat a good meal before a performance. The singer eats roasted chicken before his shows.

How to Battle Anxiety and Stage Fright

While the musicians listed above have a lot of performance experience, it doesn’t mean they’re immune to feeling some pre-show jitters. In fact, many famous musicians — including Adele, Barbra Streisand, and more recently Zayn Malik –have shared their personal stories of anxiety and stage fright.

In reality, stage fright is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, you can even use that energy to your advantage — check out our Ultimate Guide to Stage Fright to learn the strategies. So get out there and enjoy yourself! The rush you’ll feel is worth it, we promise.

Readers, do you have your own pre-performance rituals? How do you battle stage fright and anxiety? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Sources: MusicNotes, Mental Floss, EMGNHuffington Post, Photo by Benny Chandra

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9 Language-Learning Tips for Summer

9 Proven Language-Learning Tips Just for Summer

9 Language-Learning Tips for Summer

We get it — summertime often means vacations where you’ll be out of your regular routine, and maybe even taking a break from your classes or lessons. Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. offers some tips for avoiding the dreaded learning loss, while still enjoying your summer…

 

Practice makes perfect, and language skills are no exception. And while we don’t recommend taking time off from learning, we understand the summertime mindset.

If you must take a break, you can avoid major learning losses — while still having fun and enjoying your summer. Use your free time to explore the language you’ve been studying in new ways, so you’ll return in the fall with increased skills, fluency, and appreciation for the language you’re mastering.

Continue reading for tips specifically for summer, aimed at strengthening the skills you’ve already developed, exploring new facets of the language, and maintaining motivation and momentum in your target language.

Summer language-learning tips for parents

Summer Language-Learning Tips for Parents

  •  Hire an au pair with a specific language background.

Au pair arrangements can be ideal: you provide someone with the opportunity to travel with you or stay in your home, and in exchange, they offer child care, in the target language alone or in combination with English. Not only will your child improve his or her language skills, they will also make a new friend and learn directly about the culture behind the language.

  • Make new friends.

As a parent, you’re probably always looking for activities to keep your kids busy in the summer; seek out like-minded parents whose children are either learning the same language or are growing up speaking it, and plan a play date! You can even offer to host it. During the play date, you could encourage the kids to have a tea party in the target language, have the dolls or stuffed animals speak in the target language, or even put on a Disney movie dubbed into the target language.

  • Look into summer language camps.

Going to a language camp can create a lifelong love of learning and languages, as it can be a uniquely profound and immersive experience for your child. Research camps to find one at the right level for your child, and you’ll see their language skills soar!

Summer language-learning tips for adults

Summer Language-Learning Tips for Adults

  • Keep up with your workbook, listening activities, and other supplementary materials.

If you or your tutor is out of town, there’s plenty you can do on your own! Using a textbook that comes with a workbook and/or audio activities is a great idea, since you can check your work with the answer key. For bonus points of education and enjoyment, try working on your workbook in a café that offers cuisine from the culture. For example, if you’re learning French, head to a French cafe and enjoy a croissant and an espresso while working.

  • Attend outdoor cultural events.

Summertime is made for outdoor dancing, film screenings, and picnics. Research events in your community to find which activities are culturally oriented toward your target language. While you’re attending these events, you may make new friends, practice the language, and experience the culture first-hand.

  • Join a book club, in person or online.

Reading is a summertime pastime that can go wherever you go; you can read at the beach, on a plane, or in a garden, and you’ll be building new vocabulary, increasing your reading speed and comprehension, and enjoying yourself in your target language. Try either joining a club where you can discuss what you’re reading, or create your own personal reading challenge for the summer – choose several books and commit to finishing them by a certain date!

Summer language-learning tips for everyone

Summer Language-Learning Tips for Everyone

  • Reinforce language skills in the car. 

If you’re planning some summer travel, make use of that time stuck in a car, plane, or train! For kids, consider bringing along some flashcards or language-focused card games to keep them occupied and engaged. You could also download language-learning apps and games onto your iPad or iPhone. For adults, queue up some interesting podcasts in your target language. (Editor’s Note: Check out our top picks for Spanish podcasts!)

  •  Join a cultural center.

Organizations that are dedicated to a specific culture offer loads of fun and learning in the summer, when it’s a great time to be out and about. Between film screenings, organized trips to museums and cultural institutions, and picnic gatherings and social hours, cultural centers will offer you or your child creative ways to engage with the language.

  • Travel!

If you’ve dreamed of exploring Spain, Germany, Italy, or anywhere else, summer is a great time to do so! You’ll return home refreshed, along with immersing yourself in the language. Plan ahead of time how you’ll maximize your time spoken in the target language and minimize the use of English.

 

Of course, these language-learning tips are just the beginning — use your imagination and incorporate your target language into whatever activities you enjoy! Enjoy your extracurricular enrichment, and don’t forget to schedule your next lesson or class for the fall, as you’ll want to continue building on all the new skills you developed in the summer!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

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what is the SIELE spanish proficiency test

The SIELE: Here’s What You Need to Know | Spanish Proficiency Test

what is the SIELE spanish proficiency test

Aspiring expats, you’ll want to read this! If you’re interested in someday working or studying in a Hispanic country, you may need to take a new Spanish proficiency test called the SIELE. Learn more about it in this guest post from Matthew at Listen & Learn

 

The Instituto Cervantes, a globally recognized non-profit organization created by the Spanish government, and three highly respected universities in Spain, Mexico, and Argentina, have created a Spanish language proficiency exam that is going to change how the world thinks of Spanish as a second language. It’s called the Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Español (SIELE) and it’s slated to be far more ubiquitous than any of its predecessors.

It is already available as of this year in the United States, China, and Brazil, and will almost certainly expand to other nations within the decade. If you have any interest in working or studying in a predominately Hispanic country, here is everything you need to know about where, why, and how to take the SIELE before you leave.

Where Can I Take the SIELE?

The exam is taken online, but it must be done in a designated exam center. There are currently around 100 registered centers scattered throughout the major U.S. cities, and that number will soon expand thanks to the ease by which an institution can obtain authorization to allow test-takers to use their facilities. For now, exam centers can be found in Seattle, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, San Antonio, Chicago, and New York.

How Do I Take The SIELE And What It Will Cost Me?

In total, the exam consists of four separate sections: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. If you so choose, you can complete all four sections in one sitting over the span of three hours. However, you’ll also have the option of splitting the exam in parts, with each sitting consisting of two of the four parts. The full exam costs $175. If you prefer to take two sections at a time instead of four, the smaller exams vary between $85 and $90. Prices will vary if you intend to take the exam in a country outside the United States.

What Distinguishes The SIELE From Other Proficiency Exams?

  • Integration of Dialect: There are a number of special new features that set the SIELE apart from anything that came before it. Among the most interesting yet challenging is the integration of the numerous Spanish dialects from around the world. Whereas in past exams dialect was only tentatively included, the SIELE will extensively integrate vocabulary, accents, grammar, and expressions ranging from Argentina to Mexico to Spain, as well as the many nations in between.
  • Quick Results: For exams prior to the SIELE, results typically took two to three months. For the SIELE, test-takers will receive a score for reading and listening immediately upon completion, since the test is taken on the computer. The full assessment will be provided within no more than three weeks. So if, say, you have a potential employer or university that has shown interest in you, but first wants you to prove your Spanish proficiency, you will now be able to do so in a timely manner.
  • New Evaluation System Will Become The Norm: In past exams, test-takers had to decide which level they wanted to take. At the end, they would either pass or fail for that particular level. If they failed, nothing happened. If they passed, be it by an inch or a mile, they could put that level on their résumés. For the SIELE, there is only one exam for all takers, and it is evaluated on a point system of 1 to 1,000. This will prove more attractive to employers, as they will be able to evaluate your skill level to a more exact degree.
  • The Credential’s Validity Is Limited To Two Years: At first glance, you may assume that this is a disadvantage, but the fact of the matter is that the fresher the credential, the more valuable it is to an employer. If you had attained adequate proficiency a decade ago but have no way of proving you have kept up your language studies, you are of lesser value than someone who has just recently completed an exam and is at the height of his or her studies and is still improving.

What Can I Expect From The Actual Exam?

  • Reading: You’ll be tasked with completing five sections, which add up to 38 questions based on reading passages designed to test your reading comprehension level. You will have exactly one hour to complete it.
  • Listening: You will be required to demonstrate your understanding of six listening tasks, delivered in the form of recordings. This section also has a total of 38 questions. You’ll have exactly 55 minutes to complete this section.
  • Writing: There are only two tasks for this section, in which you’ll be required to react to content by writing full responses. Grammar and sentence structure will be taken into account, but above all, coherence will be the most important factor. This section takes one hour.
  • Speaking: This section only lasts between 15 and 20 minutes. This too will be delivered to you in the form of recordings, and you’ll need to respond with recorded spoken answers. There will be a total of five tasks for this section.

The Numbers Don’t Lie

Until this year, the closest resemblance the world had to a Spanish equivalent of the TOEFL was the Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language (DELE), which to this day is only taken by roughly 70,000 people per year. The SIELE is projected to have some 300,000 test-takers in its opening year and that number is expected to reach over 700,000 within half a decade. If you’d like to find your nearest test center and sign up to take the SIELE, you can do so by clicking here. If you know something we don’t about Spanish proficiency tests, please let us know in the comments section below.

Looking for a local or online Spanish tutor? Start your search here.

 

Matthew writes for Listen & Learn, a language-training company that offers customized group and individual packages around the world. Take one of their 18 free language level tests. Matthew is from Philadelphia and has lived in Argentina and Colombia, splitting his time writing and teaching English. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact Matthew at matthew@listenandlearn.com.

Photo by The LEAF Project

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genetics and learning a second language

Are Genetics the Key to Language Learning?

genetics and learning a second language

Genetics can determine your physical appearance, your health outlook, and even some of your personality traits.

And now, new research is confirming that your ability to learn a second language may also be predetermined.

The newest study, from the University of Washington, followed Chinese international students taking a 3-week English immersion course. The researchers took brain scans throughout the course, and saw some interesting changes:

The brain scans suggest that within a day of the immersive English training, white matter had already begun to change. Foreign language exposure increased the connectivity of the brain’s language circuitry in enrolled students compared with students who were not enrolled in the language class. The increase went up over the course of the three-week training, and then reversed after the training ended.

From there, the researchers suspected that each student’s unique genotype might be related to how much white matter changed.

And guess what?

They were right. Two specific genes were linked to greater increases, and a third type didn’t show any changes. Moreover, the differences accounted for 46 percent of total variance in the students’ final class scores.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Should you blame your parents if you’re not passing Spanish class?

Not quite.

As scientists learn more about our brains and how they work, it’s worth paying attention to. And it’s even more proof that there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to learning. Mastery of any subject — whether it’s learning a language, learning how to play an instrument, or even learning how to cook — requires an understanding of things like your learning style and what your ultimate goals are.

It’s also why we’re passionate about helping you find fantastic tutors who know how to customize your lesson plans and help you reach those goals.

So while we wait for more research and studies, why not give it a try? Find a tutor in your area or online, and get started today with learning a second language.

Good luck! 

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French vocabulary for summer

52 Fun French Vocabulary Words and Phrases for Summer

French vocabulary for summer

Summer, summer, summertime! It’s the perfect time to relax and have some fun. Plus, it’s a season full of fun French words and phrases! Read on to learn some vocab from French tutor Beth L. 

 

Summer is coming, and France is a wonderful haven during this time of year (if you can avoid the heat)! The weather is warm, and delicious, fresh food abounds. Children are on vacation from school, and many families take advantage of that to travel. For many, the allure of nature and the great outdoors is difficult to resist.

What will you be doing with your summer? Beef up your vocabulary so you can tell your friends about it – in French!

One of the first things summer brings to mind is the excitement of vacation and travel.

1) l’été – summer
2) les vacances – vacation
Note: les vacances d’été – summer vacation
3) voyager – to travel
4) un voyage – a journey
5) juin – June
6) juillet – July
7) août – August

Now, let’s use these words in a sentence! For example…

  • Pendant mes vacances d’été, j’aime bien voyager! (During my summer vacation, I like to travel!)
  • Je peux choisir le mois de juin, le mois de juillet, ou le mois d’août pour mon voyage. (I can choose the month of June, the month of July, or the month of August for my trip.)

Many people enjoy the extra time and warmer weather to enjoy the outdoors.

8) le parc – the park
9) la pelouse – the lawn / grass
10) un pique-nique – a picnic
11) de la glace – some ice cream
12) la plage – the beach
13) le sable – sand
14) la piscine – the swimming pool
15) la mer – the sea
16) l’océan – the ocean
17) un maillot de bain – a swim suit
18) un lac – a lake
19) un bateau – a boat
20) nager – to swim
21) le Jardin – the garden
22) jardiner – to garden
23) une fleur / des fleurs – a / some flower(s)
24) une plante – a plant
25) un arbre – a tree
26) la nature – nature
27) les montagnes – the mountains
28) dehors – outside
29) marcher – to walk
30) courir – to run
31) jouer – to play

Editor’s Note: Get a refresher on conjugating -er verbs.

Example sentences:

  • Pendant l’été, nous jouons souvent dans le parc. (During the summer, we often play in the park.)
  • On prend un pique-nique pour déjeuner déhors. (We bring a picnic to eat lunch outside.)
  • J’aime surtout le jardin d’enfants avec ses fleurs et ses arbres. (I especially like the children’s garden with its flowers and trees.)
  • J’ai toujours aimé les bateaux. (I always liked boats.)
  • Quand je suis à la mer, je fais du bateau à voiles. (When I’m by the sea, I go sailboating.)
  • Quand je passe du temps à un lac, je regarde l’eau et les arbres, et j’écoute la silence. (When I spend time at a lake, I look at the water and the trees, and I listen to the silence.)

With the outdoors, of course, you’ll need to be able to talk about the beautiful weather, as well.

32) le soleil – the sun
33) la chaleur – the heat
34) le vent – the wind
35) les nuages – the clouds
36) le ciel – the sky
37) le sud – the south

Example sentences:

  • Quand on va à la plage, il faut se souvenir de son maillot de bain! (When you go to the beach, you must remember your bathing suit!)
  • Comme ça, on peut courir dans l’eau et dans le sable. On peut se bronzer sous le soleil, sentir le vent sur la peau, et apprécier la beauté de l’eau et du ciel. (That way, you/we/one can run in the water and in the sand. You/we/one can tan yourself/ourselves/oneself in the sun, feel the wind on your/our/one’s skin, and appreciate the beauty of the water and the sky.)

In addition to the words above, below are some common phrases and expressions related to summer.

1) Je vais dehors – I’m going outside
2) Il fait chaud – It’s hot
3) Il fait du soleil – It’s sunny
4) Il fait beau – It’s / the weather is beautiful
5) Il fait du vent – It’s windy
6) donner de l’ombre – give / provide shade
7) se limoger – to distance oneself
8) faire du camping – to go camping
9) faire du bateau à voile – to go sailboating
10) aller à la (f.) / aller au (m.) / aller aux (pl.) – to go to
11) prendre l’autoroute – take the highway
12) tomber en panne – break down
13) un coup de soleil – sunburn
14) prendre un coup de soleil – get a sunburn
15) se bronzer – to sunbathe / to get a tan

Check the same regular verb list linked above for help conjugating the regular -er verbs on this list. Several more expressions use the verbs faire and aller. (Learn more about irregular conjugations here.)

Example sentences:

  • Aujourd’hui, on a voulu se bronzer à la plage. (Today, we wanted to tan ourselves at the beach.)
  • Mais on est tombé en panne quand on a pris l’autoroute. (But our car broke down when we were getting onto the freeway.)
  • On a perdu toute une journée d’été! (We lost a whole day of summer!)

So, what are your favorite French words and phrases for summer? Here are ours:

Fun French Vocabulary Words for Summer

As school lets out and the summer begins, don’t be the first to lose your French – instead, continue practicing with your friends while you’re out having fun!

CarolPost Author: Carol Beth L.
Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She has her Masters in French language education from the Sorbonne University in Paris and has been teaching since 2009. Learn more about Carol Beth here!

Photo by Tommie Hansen

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The Perfect Father’s Day Playlist for Rock & Roll Dads | Videos

Famous fathers and Father's Day songs

Shout-out to the rock and roll dads out there! Read on as guitar teacher Matt K. shares his top picks for famous dads known for rocking out, plus the best Father’s Day songs from them to play… 

 

Balancing studio time, touring, and constant press coverage is part of being a rock star. Add taking care of a kid or two (and doing it well) to the equation, and we have to wonder… how do famous musicians do it?

With Father’s Day coming up, it’s important to recognize all of the great dads out there, including the ones that make the music we love. Below, I’ve compiled a list of famous fathers, in no particular order, and which of their songs I’d add to a rock-heavy Father’s Day playlist.

1) Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney raised four children with his first wife Linda Eastman. Heather (Paul’s stepdaughter), Mary, Stella, and James. All of them have become successful in their own right. Heather is a well-known artist, Mary is a photographer, Stella is a fashion designer, and James just released an EP called “The Blackberry Train” back in May.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Yesterday”

2) Steven Tyler

Aerosmith’s frontman has four children. You may recognize at least one: Liv Tyler is an actress who has appeared in many hit films, including “Lord of the Rings”. Although his role as a father was not perfect — Liv wasn’t aware that Steven Tyler was her father until age 11 — they quickly made up for lost time. She even starred in Aerosmith’s music video “Crazy”.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Dream On”

3) Ozzy Osbourne

The Prince of Darkness has two children from his first marriage, and three children with second wife Sharon Arden: Aimee, Kelly, and Jack. The latter two were featured on the reality show “The Osbournes” with the couple. Nowadays, Ozzy is more like the Grandfather of Darkness, with six grandchildren!

Father’s Day playlist song: the 1991 hit “No More Tears”.

4) Slash

Slash is Guns and Roses’ famous top-hat-wearing guitar wizard. He has two children with pretty cool names: London and Cash. They were born in 2002 and 2004, respectively.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

5) Zakk Wylde

Super-shredder Zakk Wylde makes this list because of the awesome names donned upon his children. He has three kids: Hendrix Halen Michael Rhoads, Hayley Rae, and Jesse. Although Jesse didn’t get a rock and roll name, Ozzy Osbourne is his godfather.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Stillborn” (below is a video of Zakk improvising over an Andy James track)

6) Travis Barker

Like Ozzy Osbourne, Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker also had a reality television show. In “Meet the Barkers”, we got an inside look into this father and his home away from the rock life.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Stay Together For the Kids”

7) Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile is an indie rocker who helped form the band War on Drugs. He is now a successful solo artist who seems to be working on the next big thing constantly, but it’s pretty clear his family comes first; you can see his daughter steal the show in the video below!

Father’s Day playlist song: “Never Run Away”

8) Eddie Van Halen

Eddie Van Halen may be the coolest rock dad on this list. In 2006, Van Halen’s original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie’s 15-year-old son, Wolfgang. Fast-forward to 6:40 in the video below and you can see them rocking out together.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Everybody Wants Some!!”

9) Thurston Moore

Sonic Youth’s singer/guitarist Thurston Moore attempted the near-impossible: he and now ex-wife Kim Gordon raised their child on the road. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Coco Hayley Gordon-Moore now fronts a band called Big Nils.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Superstar”

10) Carlos Santana

Guitar god Carlos Santana has three children: Salvador, Angelica, and Stella. Nowadays, Stella is following in his footsteps by releasing an album — although you won’t find any guitar solos here. Instead, she has a more soulful and R&B vibe to her music.

Father’s Day playlist song: “Black Magic Woman”

Readers, who would you add to this list, and what other Father’s Day songs should be included? Vote for your favorite in the poll below, or let us know who you’d add by leaving a comment below! 

Who's the most legendary rock and roll dad?

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Matthew KPost Author: Matt K.
Matthew K. teaches guitar, piano, and music theory lessons in Brooklyn, NY. He studied music composition at Mercyhurst University, and he has been teaching lessons for four years. Matthew is available to teach in-person lessons as well as online via Skype. Learn more about Matt here!

Sources: IMDb – Paul McCartney,  IMDb – Liv Tyler, IMDB – Ozzy Osbourne, IMDb – Slash, IMDb – Zakk Wylde, IMDb – Travis Barker, MusicRadar, Refinery29, IMDb – Carlos Santana, Billboard

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11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish 720x300 (1)

11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish [Infographic]

conversational Spanish lessons + tips

Whether you’re learning Spanish for business or just for fun, your end goal is most likely to communicate with others — not just stare at a textbook! And to do this, you’ll need to practice listening and talking with real people. Here, Spanish tutor Joan B. shares some tips, and where to find conversational Spanish lessons… 


Ready to start speaking in Spanish with confidence? The following tips include creative ways to practice your Spanish in social settings and in your community, with native and non-native speakers.

If you’ve been studying Spanish but feel your conversational skills are lagging behind your understanding of grammar or your reading abilities, use these tips to make rapid, consistent progress while simultaneously having fun!

Note: These tips work for any language you’re learning. From Spanish to Japanese to French, conversation practice is key.

11 Tips for Improving Your Conversational Spanish

1. Attend social events geared toward Spanish speakers.
This could be a cultural event, a local gallery opening of Latin American art, or a community meeting regarding an issue affecting the local Spanish-speaking community.

2. Listen to material that is casual and conversation-based.
It’s great to listen to newscasts, but if you’d like to converse in Spanish, you can improve your comprehension of spoken Spanish by listening to podcasts and other recordings that reflect common usage of Spanish, rather than formal spoken Spanish. (Our Spanish podcast picks here!)

3. Combine your passions.
It can be hard to find time to improve your language skills when you’re balancing work or school, friends, and other hobbies. So, why not combine them?

If you like traveling, consider choosing a Spanish-speaking country, where you can practice your conversational skills and gain new ones. You could also consider doing volunteer or paid work in your field that would expose you to Spanish speakers. If you enjoy dining out, go out with a few friends who speak your target language — and try to go the entire meal speaking in Spanish!

4. Find a language exchange partner and work with a tutor.
Language exchanges are an excellent way to practice conversation, make a new friend, and learn all about the cultural aspects of speaking Spanish. This is a unique way to challenge your conversational skills, as language exchange partners are usually fluent, native speakers.

Keep in mind, though, if you’re making grammatical mistakes, your partner may not provide corrections. Because of this, it’s smart to balance your study by also working with a private Spanish tutor. Don’t let the word “tutor” scare you off — the great thing about private lessons is that you can set your own specific goals! If you’d prefer to spend the majority of the time practicing conversations, just let your tutor know! Many teachers specialize in conversational Spanish lessons.

5. Chat with a friend who is also learning the same language. 
If you’re more comfortable with someone familiar, try chatting with a friend who is also learning the same language! Even better, take a class together. Even if you don’t live in the same city, online group classes are a great way to learn together and get structured conversation practice with others.

6. Use online forums and communities to your advantage.
The internet is full of helpful resources for language learners! The TakeLessons Blog, for example, features articles and guides from professional language tutors like myself. You can also check out forums, like WordReference.com. If you can’t find the answer to your question, you can post it and get answers from native speakers and other in-the-know Spanish speakers.

7. Set specific goals or niches you’d like to focus on.
Is there a certain topic that you would like to excel in conversationally? Identify what interest you, then look for resources (or ask your tutor) to help you build a specific set of vocabulary.

For example, if you like to discuss politics, you could read the newspaper in Spanish, follow Spanish and Latin American politicians on Twitter, or join a community political activist group where Spanish speakers are active. Soon you’ll find yourself conversing easily on a variety of topics in your niche interest!

8. Supplement real-time conversations with language-learning apps.
Language-learning apps are great to use on your own and during your downtime. Some apps focus on pronunciation and conversational skills. Others include fun games that can drill vocabulary and grammar rules that you’ve worked on with your tutor.

Here are some of our favorite apps for supplementing your conversational Spanish lessons:

9. Watch films and telenovelas. 
Watch classic films or catch up on your latest telenovela to hear how Spanish sounds, what vocabulary is used, and how people express themselves. Try watching with subtitles to add another layer of reinforcement and understanding!

10. Get out in the community.
Volunteer to help Spanish speakers learn English, and you’ll learn about Spanish sentence structure and expressions by observing the ways in which they try to express themselves in English. Your knowledge of Spanish will also help when they are searching for an expression in English, but haven’t learned it yet.

This is just one of many ways to offer your skills as a volunteer and simultaneously improve your conversational skills. There are many opportunities for volunteering in the fields of law, social justice, nutrition, and more!

11. Host an exchange student or rent a room to a student.
If you have some extra room in your apartment or house, why not host an exchange student or rent a room to a Spanish-speaking student? In addition to making some extra money, you’ll get an enriching experience as you interact with your guest, learn various social customs, and engage in both Spanish and English. Your guest will appreciate your effort to learn his or her language, and you could also request that your guest does a weekly conversation hour with you in Spanish. It’s a win-win!

To recap…

How to Improve Your Conversational Spanish - lessons

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Conversational Spanish can be one of the most challenging yet rewarding activities for language learners. Start with one or two of these tips, and then continue through the list as you improve. Most of all, enjoy the journey as you increase your knowledge, make new friends, and have new experiences.

Want some extra help? Search for a local or online Spanish tutor to get started!

Joan BPost Author: Joan B.
Joan B. lives in Carmichael, CA and has been teaching high school Spanish for more than 18 years. A lover of language, she’s studied French, Arabic, and Italian and spent time living in Spain. Learn more about Joan here!

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