Top 25 Biggest Benefits of Studying Abroad [Infographic]

Benefits of Studying Abroad

There are dozens of benefits of studying abroad – travel, new friends, and unforgettable life experiences, to name a few. There are just as many study abroad programs available for students looking to take advantage of these benefits.

Some universities partner with schools in other countries to make study abroad trips possible. If you’re looking for a program related to your field of study, check with your academic department or the study abroad office on your campus. There are also a number of organizations outside of the university that facilitate study abroad trips. 

However you choose to go abroad, you’re sure to have a memorable journey. To get even more excited for your trip, check out the 25 biggest benefits of studying abroad below!

Benefits of studying abroad

Top 25 Benefits of Studying Abroad

#1 Travel

Studying abroad allows you to broaden your horizons, be a tourist, and go sightseeing around your host country. You won’t have your nose in the books the entire time! You’ll be experiencing a whole new culture, and you’ll come home a more well-rounded person.

#2 New Cuisine

You’ll get to try the local food and drink wherever you go – whether it’s the empanadas in Spain or the bouillabaisse in Southern France. If you’re a foodie, then this will be one of the most memorable experiences of studying abroad. You’ll definitely gain some new favorites to add to your recipe book (and maybe a few extra pounds)!

#3 Language Acquisition

Immersion in another country is the quickest way to become fluent in another language! And if you get a head start before taking off for your trip, it will be even easier. Remember that communication is a vital component of traveling abroad – both in your coursework and in social gatherings. Check out TakeLessons to start working on your language skills today.

#4 New Cultures

Whether you’re studying in a fast-paced or more relaxed culture, you’ll come to appreciate a new way of life. Life moves at different paces in different places. For those used to the rapid-fire daily routine of western countries, studying abroad may introduce you to a new, slower way of life. (Of course, this depends on where you travel!)

#5 Lasting Friendships

You’ll form lifelong bonds with fellow students when sharing an experience as intimate as studying abroad. Studying abroad offers the opportunity to become friends with people from all over the world, including your home country. Oftentimes, connections are made during study abroad trips that lead to future opportunities to travel more.

#6 New Hobbies

Whether you catch the “travel bug” or bring home a new favorite sport, studying abroad is the perfect time to explore new interests. Perhaps you’ll get to travel to other cities within your host country, or maybe you’ll learn to play cricket. Since you’re already stepping outside of your comfort zone, it’ll be even easier to try new things that you normally wouldn’t.   

#7 Networking

One of the many career benefits of studying abroad is that if you find a local job or internship, you’ll get the chance to form authentic business relationships with people on the other side of the world. Career advancement often rides on a person’s ability to network, and making connections abroad could provide serious advantages down the line.

#8 Spiritual Growth

Certain countries have unique religious perspectives you may not have considered before. Moving abroad, even if only for a short time, allows you to become more open-minded, disconnect from your everyday routine, and reflect on a new way of life.

#9 New Laws

Some destinations will have a different system of government, and laws that you’re not used to. For example, in the UK the legal drinking age is 18. Certain restrictions may work in your favor, while others may seem strict. For example, heading to Singapore? Don’t get caught spitting out chewing gum or you’ll face a hefty fee!

#10 Lower Tuition

Countries such as Norway, Finland, and Germany offer more affordable tuition. Imagine how much you could save in just one year abroad! Higher education is expensive in the US, so take advantage of the lower tuition fees in other countries. Even one semester or year of studying abroad can save you a lot of money.

#11 New Career Paths

During your time abroad, you may have the chance to take new classes in a different field of study. This can open your eyes to an opportunity you hadn’t discovered back home. 34% of students said studying abroad helped them choose their future career. Who knows – the entire course of your life could be drastically altered.

#12 Improved Academics

After returning home, students saw an increase in their overall GPAs, according to a study by the University System of Georgia. Those term papers at home will seem like a breeze after the experience of studying abroad. You’ll find new ways to manage your time and your study methods will be put to the test in new settings!

#13 Timely Graduation

There are many academic benefits of studying abroad. UC San Diego research showed that studying abroad can increase your likelihood of graduating in four years. Feeling unmotivated? Perhaps a change of scenery, lifestyle, and pace is in order. Changing it up might give you the final push you need to finish college on a high note.

#14 Higher Education

The statistics show that studying abroad is worth it! For example, 90% of students who have studied abroad get into their first or second choice of grad schools. This is one of the most compelling, academic benefits of studying abroad. It not only enhances your undergrad experience, but it prepares you for the future!

#15 Resume Boost

Studying abroad looks great on a resume, and is the perfect way to get a leg up on the competition when applying for your first job. The studies prove it: 64% of employers value international experience when recruiting, while 90% of study abroad alumni landed a job within six months of graduation!

#16 Higher Salaries

Another one of the career benefits of studying abroad is that it could help you earn more money in the long run. Employers value global competency. According to a study by UC Merced, students who studied abroad ended up making 25% more than their peers who did not. 

#17 Self Awareness

Studying abroad inevitably leads to more self awareness and confidence. Even stepping onto that plane takes a big leap of faith that whatever awaits you on the other end will be rewarding! This is probably why 96% of study abroad alumni felt they gained increased self confidence as a result of their experience.

#18 Problem-Solving Skills

International travel often requires split second decision making, and it develops stronger critical thinking skills. Whether you’re trying to navigate your way around a busy city or communicate with the locals, these seemingly small experiences are very beneficial over time.

#19 Money Management

From booking travel plans to budgeting for social outings, living abroad will help you gain a new understanding of finances and how to manage them. You’ll get better at budgeting through finding housing, going grocery shopping, and more. Running out of money on the other side of the world is a scary experience, and a mistake you’ll certainly want to avoid!

#20 Tolerance and Respect

There are cultural benefits of studying abroad, too. Experiencing unfamiliar places while studying abroad leads to a greater appreciation for nationalities other than your own. In fact, 98% of students said it helped them better understand their own cultural biases.

#21 Leadership Skills

Personal development happens at an accelerated rate while studying abroad. Students often develop a keen sense of leadership and maturity after making due on their own in a foreign country for a while. If you hope to be in a leadership role someday, you should definitely consider studying abroad!

#22 Flexibility

This is another one of the personal benefits of studying abroad. If you struggle with change, studying abroad will help you adapt to new surroundings more easily when you get home. You’ll become more flexible and able to “go with the flow.” 

#23 Organization

International travel is a true test of your organizational and time management skills, from packing to planning out your class schedule. But don’t worry! You’ll have lots of opportunities to hone these skills abroad. Get ready to come home a more organized and prepared person.

#24 Social Skills

It’ll be much easier to make new friends after returning from your study abroad trip. Why? After stepping outside of your comfort zone in a foreign country, you’ll come home much bolder. A study from Friedrich Schiller University found that students often return more extroverted!

#25 It’s Just Plain Fun!

The ultimate reward of studying abroad lies in the irreplaceable experiences and memories you’ll come home with. If you need a change from the routine of life, this is an excellent way to add some more fun into the mix.

Now that you know all the benefits of studying abroad, what are you waiting for? Keep in mind that whether your sights are set on France, Argentina, or Japan, learning a bit of the language of your host country prior to studying abroad will greatly enhance your overall experience.

Start learning basic to intermediate conversational skills with the free online French classes or Spanish classes offered at TakeLessons Live. Looking for another language? Try taking a few private language lessons before you go. Good luck and bon voyage!  

 

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Guest Post Author: Tim Wenger is the Content Manager at Teacher Indie. His wanderlust keeps him on the road frequently, and he’s now visited 17 countries across Asia, Europe, and North America with plans to visit many more.

Want to Learn Something New? Try These 10 Desirable Skills.

Learn something new

It’s always a great idea to engage the mind and learn something new. Forming a new habit keeps your brain sharp, healthy, and active.

Whether you’re a college student, parent, or have recently entered retirement, you can benefit from checking out the list of activities below. Here are 10 highly desirable skills so you can learn something new starting today.

10 Ways to Learn Something New This Year

1. Meditation

Just like the body needs a workout to stay in shape, so does your mind! The awesome thing about meditation is that you can do it anytime and anywhere, making it accessible to anyone. People that regularly meditate often report feeling calmer and more emotionally stable throughout their day.

Learn something new

2. Public Speaking

Believe it or not, even the most seasoned public speakers get a little jittery when speaking in front of a large crowd! If you want to feel more confident and comfortable in your own skin when speaking in front of others, seek opportunities to practice your public speaking skills. For starters, look for a Toastmasters club near you.

3. Foreign Languages

Studies have shown that the brains of people who are fluent in more than one language function differently than others. Not only does learning a second language improve overall cognitive function, but it also makes navigating a foreign country much easier if you enjoy traveling. Not sure what language you’d like to learn? Try out several languages for free at TakeLessons Live.

4. Time Management

If you want to learn something new, time management is an excellent skill to have. Waiting until the last minute to complete a task causes unnecessary stress, and recent studies have shown that constant procrastination can lead to cardiovascular disease. Purchase a daily planner and get into the habit of writing down your deadlines and goals. Use a productivity journal and reward yourself for tasks completed in a timely manner.

5. Budgeting

Creating an organized and detailed outline of your financial situation makes paying the bills feel easier and helps you take control of your finances. If you have a financial goal you’d like to hit this year, use a helpful budgeting tool such as an app, or make a DIY spreadsheet using Excel to keep track of where you’re spending.

Learn something new

6. Networking

In many lines of work, networking skills are the key to success. As the saying goes, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” If you want to improve your networking skills you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone to attend social and business events. Practice your communication skills, be authentic, and you’ll find yourself naturally making more connections.

7. Musical Instruments

Playing music has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve overall cognitive function, and boost concentration skills. It also opens the door to a variety of possibilities from entertaining to performing. Whether you prefer the sound of the ukulele, piano, or guitar, it’s never been easier to start taking online or in-person music lessons.

SEE ALSO: Which Instrument Should I Learn? [Quiz]

Learn something new

8. Dancing

Do you get bored easily with routine hobbies? Try dancing if you want to learn something new and fun. With ballet, hip hop, swing, tap, salsa, and even more genres available, the possibilities are endless! Dancing is not only fun, but it has loads of health benefits. Trying to lose weight? Dancing can burn hundreds of calories in just a half hour. Dance lessons are also a great confidence-booster.

9. Singing Lessons

It’s never too late to start improving your singing voice. Whether you’re a seasoned soprano or you strictly reserve singing for the car, your voice is the most accessible musical instrument and arguably, the easiest to practice! Learning how to sing is great for reducing stress and raising self confidence. Try taking free online singing classes to get started.

10. Yoga

Yoga is one of the most popular (and relaxing) methods of exercise. Don’t be discouraged from joining a class if you struggle to touch your toes! Most gyms offer classes that are beginner-friendly. Yoga is a great way to unwind before or after a long day while getting a quick, low-impact workout.

Learn something new

Now that you have this helpful list of new hobbies and activities to incorporate into your routine, it’s time to get started! Keep in mind that it takes about 21 days for a new habit to stick – so it’s important to hold yourself accountable for at least the first three weeks.

How do you plan to learn something new this year? Let us know in the comments section below!

Guest Post Author: Emily Schario is a blogger for StudentUniverse – the world’s leading travel booking service for students and youth. StudentUniverse offers special rates on flights, hotels, and tours, allowing students to travel more and spend less.

Daily Homeschool Schedule

10 Ways to Add More Fun to Your Daily Homeschool Schedule [Infographic]

Daily Homeschool Schedule

From getting to spend more time with the kids, to hitting the snooze button as the school bus rolls by, the joys of homeschooling are many. But aside from all the perks of homeschooling your children, stay-at-home parents know it’s not always rainbows and butterflies!

There are quite a few challenges that come along with homeschooling. Parents have many different roles aside from just teaching, and one of those tasks is administration. It takes a lot of organization and creativity to plan an effective and engaging curriculum for your student(s).

This school year, try adding a few new activities into your week to make learning more fun and interactive. Incorporating any of these 10 ideas into your daily homeschool schedule will not only add variety to your routine, but many of them will also give you a much-needed break!

Daily Homeschool Schedule

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10 Ways to Add More Fun to Your Daily Homeschool Schedule

1. Invite a Music Teacher Over

Once or twice a week, schedule music lessons in your home so your child can pick up a new, beneficial skill. Music lessons can range from 30-60 minutes and many local teachers have their own studio, if you’d prefer to take a trip outside the house.

Learning an instrument isn’t all fun and games. The right instructor will teach your child discipline and perseverance. There are also numerous physical and mental benefits of learning an instrument, such as improved math and reading skills!

2. Have a Pre-Lunchtime Cooking Class

Home economics, or household management, is an often overlooked but necessary subject for any growing child. And what better place to teach valuable culinary skills than in the safety of your own home?

Take the 30-minute time block before lunchtime and use it to teach your child basic cooking techniques. Depending on your student’s age, you can show him or her how to properly peel vegetables, slice different kinds of fruit, read a recipe, or measure out ingredients. Who knows – maybe your child will become the next family chef!

3. Learn About Art at a Kids Museum

Add a museum visit to your daily homeschool schedule

If your child is a visual learner, this fun activity will be the highlight of their week! Get your student’s creative juices flowing by taking him or her to a kids museum. Most children’s museums offer free or discounted admission on certain days of the week.

Museums present the perfect opportunity for a hands-on art lesson. Make sure to browse the museum’s website ahead of time and discuss the exhibits with your child. After the trip, help your student recreate one of their favorite works of art!

4. Picnic at the Park

It can be easy to stay indoors all day when you homeschool, but never neglect the importance of getting some fresh air every now and then! Break up the day and take a trip to the park for lunch. Let the kids roam or play on the playground for a little while. They’ll get some PE time in, and you’ll leave feeling refreshed.

SEE ALSO: 14 Hilarious Signs Your Family is Ready to Go Back to School

5. Read at a Local Library

There’s something about visiting a library that makes reading more exciting as a kid. Take your child to the local library and let him or her choose from a seemingly limitless number of books in a variety of different genres and themes – it’s language arts paradise!

Having a library card is also an excellent way for your child to learn about being responsible and considerate to others. Pro tip: most libraries offer weekly storytelling programs or puppet shows where the pages really come to life!

6. Mix up your Math Media


Math can be a challenging subject for many children, but here’s an effective solution: try using a variety of media to boost your child’s progress while making learning fun at the same time. Use math games, YouTube videos, and catchy songs as teaching tools. You’ll be surprised how much mixing up your media can help your child more easily master tricky math concepts.

7. Take a Field Trip to the Zoo

Trips to the zoo are a blast for children of any age (parents included)! There are many learning opportunities at the zoo as well. Your child will have the opportunity to explore different habitats, learn about the environment, and pick up some new vocabulary. Many zoos also offer educational programs and discounts for kids.

SEE ALSO: 5 Must-Have Back to School Apps

8. Sign up for Online Language Classes

There are countless benefits of learning another language for young minds. Aside from learning to respect and appreciate other cultures, studying a foreign language has been found to increase attention spans, improve the memory, and boost problem-solving skills.

Other research shows that bilingual students score higher on standardized tests in the areas of reading, social studies, and math. Try the online language classes at TakeLessons Live. They’re free for your first month, and you get to choose from a variety of experienced instructors. It’s easy to find a class at any time of the day that works best for your child!

9. Do a Nature Walk in the Great OutdoorsAdd a nature walk to your daily homeschool schedule

Looking for a new science activity to engage the senses? Try doing a nature walk with your child in your community. Prepare a scavenger hunt, go bird watching, or see how many different types of plants your child can spot. For a list of great places to take a nature walk near you, check out TrailLink or NatureFind. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars!

10. Check out Indoor PE Videos

“PE videos” might sound a little contradictory, but in cold and rainy seasons, YouTube can be your new best friend! There are dozens of kid-friendly YouTube channels designed with the sole purpose of facilitating indoor PE sessions.

Just because you can’t leave the home doesn’t mean your child can’t get some much-needed exercise in. For starters, check out the GoNoodle channel to get your child dancing, stretching, and jumping.

Add any of these activities into your daily homeschool schedule and you’ll set your student up for a successful and fun school year! Looking for a way to organize all the details of your routine in one convenient place? Check out The Frugal Homeschooling Mom for free resources like customizable spreadsheets that will keep everyone on track!

Do you have any other ideas about how to add variety to a daily or weekly homeschool schedule? Share your suggestions by leaving a comment below!

 

best hobbies for your brain infographic

20+ Facts About Your Hobbies to Prove You’re Smarter Than Most

These days, we get a lot of messages about living your best life. Bloggers and books abound that offer tips for being happy, managing stress, and staying sharp.

Sometimes, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

So instead of forcing yourself to read more or do that Sudoku puzzle just because some article tells you to, how about doing more of the things you love?

Maybe that’s jamming on your guitar, cooking, or even doing art projects.

Well, guess what?

If you do these activities in your free time, you’re already ahead of the game. Dare we say… you may even be smarter than most?

Check out the infographic below to see if you’re already doing some of the best hobbies for your brain — and continue reading to learn how to exercise your brain and improve your skills even more.

8 best hobbies for your brain - infographic

Learn More: The Best Hobbies For Your Brain

best hobbies - benefits of sports

Sports and Fitness

Exercise your brain while you exercise your body! Breaking a sweat can improve your ability to multitask and boost productivity. Even just 20 minutes of exercise helps your brain process information and improves your memory functions. In another study, exercising boosted women’s performance on memory and problem-solving tests by 20%.

Plus, it’s great for your career: employees who exercise regularly are 15% more efficient and 23% more productive!

Fitness is also important for older adults. You may have heard about the hippocampus, the part of your brain that forms long-term memories — and that it shrinks with age. Good news: seniors who exercise for 45 minutes, three days a week can actually reverse that age-related shrinkage by one to two years. 

Try something new: Tennis, golf, and even ping-pong can keep you active.

best hobbies -computer skills

Computer Skills

Nowadays, our lives are pretty much all on computers and smartphones. But did you know that can actually be a good thing? Mastering new computer skills can have a big impact on your brain — and that goes for both young and old alike! 

For the younger generation, being comfortable with technology is a given. And don’t feel guilty about playing video games, either: certain games can even increase your brain’s “flexibility” and improve your eyesight. One study even showed that playing fast-paced video games can improve the reading skills of dyslexic children! Beyond the brain benefits, computer and technology skills can help your career prospects: by 2020, almost 80% of jobs will require IT skills.

And for older adults? You actually can teach an old dog new tricks. Researchers found that adults who regularly used a computer reduced their risk of mild cognitive impairment by 53%.

Try something new: Picture yourself working at Pixar? Find a teacher for animation, graphic design, or even web design.

2

Yoga and Meditation

Awesome news for yogis: centering your chi greatly reduces stress, fights off anxiety, and can lower your risk of depression. 

How does it work, exactly? GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a key neurotransmitter for stress relief. Hit a yoga class or do an hour of meditation, and you’ll increase GABA levels in your brain by 27%. In fact, one study reported that 60% of anxiety-prone participants showed improvement after 6-9 months of meditation. 

Don’t have an hour? Research has shown that even 20 minutes of Hatha yoga improves participants’ speed and accuracy in memory and focus tests, helping your brain retain and use new information.

Try something new: Nervous about putting your moves on display at a studio? Take an online class from the comfort of your own home, or work with a private yoga coach.

best hobbies - cooking and baking

Cooking & Baking

Whipping up a tasty meal can help develop your cognitive skills and improve your overall well-being! As you cook, you’re working on your motor skills and hand-eye coordination, and improving your problem-solving skills every time you improvise with an ingredient.

Make it a healthy meal, and you’re serving up a double-whammy: not only are you keeping your brain active, you can add some important nutrients to your diet. (One study found that people with a Mediterranean diet are 36% less likely to develop age-related memory loss and thinking difficulties!)

Try something new: Take a cooking class with your friends and family — the endorphins you’ll receive from spending time with loved ones can do wonders for reducing stress.

best hobbies - music

Music

The benefits of playing an instrument are amazing — and this goes for any age! While there’s a lot of research about music education and kids, it’s never too late to start playing. Did you know, for example, that drummers’ brains release feel-good endorphins immediately after playing? Or that playing any instrument gives your brain a full workout, since it uses both hemispheres? 

Outside of the brain benefits, you’re also improving your motor control, exercising your creativity, learning about time management and perseverance, and boosting your self-esteem as your practice and perform for others.

Plus, even just listening to music can be beneficial to your health. Listening to your favorite songs can increase your brain’s production of dopamine (the “feel-good” neurotransmitter) and decrease your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.

Try something new: If you think of yourself as tone deaf (tip: you’re probably not!), don’t give up just yet. Working with a music teacher 1-on-1 will give you the personalized attention and lesson plan you need to succeed — so take the plunge!

best hobbies - crafts

Crafts

Did you know that crafts like knitting and scrapbooking also benefit your brain? In a way, it’s much like meditation: when you sit down with those knitting needles, your mind focuses on that, not the stress from the day. Doing this calms you down, and all the while your brain is releasing dopamine, which acts as a natural anti-depressant.

Crafting can be especially helpful for older adults. Research has shown that several leisure activities, including crafting, can reduce your chances of developing mild cognitive impairment by 30-50%. This means you’re at a lesser risk of developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Time to break out the scrapbook!

Try something new: Are the DIY Pinterest projects not working out? Get some extra hands-on advice by taking a class in jewelry design, scrapbooking, or crocheting.

best hobbies - learn a language

Language

Learning a new language is another activity with tons of benefits. Not only will you be able to communicate with different people, you’ll improve your decision-making skills and enhance your ability to multitask. Multi-linguals are also typically better at focusing, as well as remembering lists or sequences.

Moreover, research has shown that bilinguals show Alzheimer’s symptoms about five to six years later than those who speak only one language.

Try something new: Languages are about communicating, right? So put down those grammar flashcards and textbooks, and spend some time simply chatting with a friend or family member who is also learning the same language. Spanish learners, here are some great conversation starters to try.

Bonus: Try out one of our live, group language classes to get even more practice!

best hobbies - art

Art

Channeling your inner Picasso can improve your problem-solving abilities and boost your memory. In fact, artists often have structurally-different brains, with increased neural matter in the areas related to fine motor movements. Research in Germany even showed that making art could delay or even negate age-related declines in the brain.

Much like yoga and meditation, it’s a fantastic way to calm your mind and take a break from a busy day. There’s a reason art therapy is a thing — and it works! You can even fit it into your work day: doodling while listening to information, like lectures and work meetings, can lead to a 29% increase in memory recall

Try something new: Adult coloring books are all the rage right now — pick one up and spend some time coloring! Or, try out a drawing, painting, or photography class.


How to Really Exercise Your Brain

The next time someone guilt trips you after spending hours on Pinterest, playing video games, or pulling out your coloring crayons after a hard day at work, use these facts to fight back.

All said and done, any activity that you enjoy will release dopamine in the brain. So don’t stress! The best hobbies for your brain are the ones you love.

And when you’re ready to really step it up, try something new! We’ll help you get started.

So just tell us… what do you want to learn? 

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5 Strategies to Make Learning Fun

make learning fun

Keeping students engaged and motivated can be a challenge, even for the best teachers. It’s easy to teach the same lessons year after year simply because they have worked in the past, without giving much thought to students’ current interest level. But even the strongest curriculum still needs some variety once in a while to make learning fun. Likewise it’s important for students to be aware of learning strategies that are both effective and fun for them. If teachers and students can stay conscious of improving the learning process ona regular basis, it’s much easier to work together to keep lessons engaging and motivating. Here are five strategies that can assist teachers and students with this process to make learning fun.

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3 (Fun!) Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

fun summer activities for kids

Summer is here! With school out and the temperatures rising, no doubt your kids are excited to play. But beyond the summer camps, sleepovers, bike rides, and water balloon fights, stealthy parents know how to encourage activities that can actually help kids grow and learn!

Don’t worry — that doesn’t mean workbooks or summer homework. We’ve got three fun summer activities in mind that kids will be excited to participate in, and ones that will build confidence at the same time.

  • First up? Music lessons! If your son or daughter loves to sing along to songs when you turn on the radio, music lessons are a natural fit. And there are so many different lesson types to consider, from piano to guitar to saxophone.
  • For the more introverted or bookworm types, learning a language — like Spanish or French — might be a great choice. Of course, your child won’t become fluent over the course of one summer… but it can be a fun introduction to new cultures! Plus, it’s easy to find fun games and apps that support language learning.
  • Finally, if your child can’t stop moving, sports like soccer and softball are a great way to keep him or her busy. They’ll never know they’re actually improving their teamwork and goal-setting skills!

Here’s a recap of all the surprising stats you need to know about these fun summer activities for kids.

3 Fun Summer Activities That Help Your Child Grow [Infographic]

Whether your child is athletic, musically inclined, or interested in learning another language, summer is the perfect time to enroll them in classes and nurture a new hobby. And knowing your son or daughter is also growing and learning, you can sit back and relax this summer — just as the season was intended for.

Ready to get started? Search for fun summer activities, classes, and lessons near you!

Photos by Philippe PutDark Dwarf, and l. c.

 

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ESL Learners: Are You Making These 21 Common Mistakes?

20 Words Most Misused By ESL LearnersSometimes people who have learned English as a second language confuse some basic English words — there are certainly some tricky ones! Here are the words ESL learners misuse the most:

Them, Those, and These

“Them” is a pronoun that stands in the place of a plural noun. It is commonly used as the subject of a sentence, as in: Did you see them? or Have you seen the scissors? I used them to cut the labels off my T-shirts; now I can’t find them.

“Those” indicates a group that is distant from the observer, for example: Those girls are the ones who found the missing keys.

“These” refers to a group that is near the observer: These pencils are the ones I use for drawing.

Their, There, and They’re

These three words are frequently mixed up – even by native English speakers, let alone ESL learners.

“Their” is a plural possessive, referring to something that belongs to a group the speaker is not a part of. Look at this sentence: A common characteristic of the members of the Red-Headed League was their red hair.

“There” is a location that is somewhat distant from the observer or speaker, as in: Put the suitcases over there on the bed. However, it can also be used to refer to a state of being: There are 12 items in one dozen.

“They’re” is a contraction of “they are,” as in: They are going to the store.

Similar/Similarly

“Similar” is used in the objective case, whereas “similarly” is an adverb that describes function. For example: Apples are similar to pears in that they are both fruit vs. Laptops function similarly to desktop computers.

Whether/Weather

“Whether” is used when there is a decision to be made, as in: I am not sure whether or not I should mow the lawn.

“Weather” refers to an external condition, such as rain, snow, or sunshine. Here’s an example of both: I’d better mow the grass, whether I want to or not, because the weather report is predicting rain for tomorrow.

To, Too, and Two

Again, these are homonyms (words that sound alike but are spelled differently) that are often confused by ESL learners. Here are some examples:

I am going to the store. – Indicates a desire to travel from one place to another.
I meant to do it. – Indicates intention.
If you are going to the store, I want to go, too. – Here, “too” means to be added on to something.
If the two of us go to the store, we can carry back the ice cream, and some soda pop, too. – “Two” is the spelling for the numeral two.

Of

“Of” often gets used when the correct word is “have.” For example: I should of done it. Instead, the correct written statement is: I should have done it, which is frequently contracted into: I should’ve done it.

“Of” also gets used interchangeably with “from”: My feet felt as if they were made of/from lead.

Affect/Effect

This is a word combination that will have native English speakers reaching for a dictionary. Simply put, “to affect” something is to change it (it’s usually used as a verb), but “effect” is the result or change that has been achieved.

Examples:
To affect change in the environment, everyone must work together.
Internal combustion engines have a negative effect on the air quality.

Lay/Lie

“Lay” always needs a direct object, whereas “lie” is used when there is no direct object.

Example: Please lay the suitcases on the floor, so that I can lie down on the bed.

Sit/Set

“Sit” doesn’t require an object and refers to live things—similar to lay/lie. “Set” is used when directing someone to place an item on a surface.

Example: Sit down in the comfy chair, and I will set the tea table in front of you.

With

“With” is often confused with “to” – and this is made even more confusing by the alternation sometimes being correct usage. For example: Ford Rangers, when compared to/with Ferraris, are a much better buy for a working man. However, even though you might say, I will go to the store, you would not say, I will go with the store.

ESL Learners

Looking to improve your speaking or writing skills? Search for a private English or ESL tutor today!

Cari Bennette is a blogger, content creator at custom writing service Jet Writers, and ghost author. Her favorite topics are academic writing, education, blogging, and career. Feel free to drop her a line on Twitter.

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Singapore- Study Abroad 2015

6 Fascinating Study Abroad Cities Worth Every Penny

Studying abroad can be one of the most exciting and unforgettable experiences of your life.

Students who possess a traveler’s spirit often deliberate for months on where exactly they should go, and can become overwhelmed by the variety of options. If you’re wondering about the best places to study abroad, here are six top destinations for students to help you make your decision.

Top 6 Best Places to Study Abroad

1. Montreal, Canada

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Montreal is Canada’s “cultural capital” and home to the city’s leading institution, McGill University – currently ranked 21st in the world. You’ll have a host of new experiences if you find yourself in the second-largest French-speaking city in the world – second only to Paris itself. It’s large, and its international student community enjoys a packed annual calendar of festivals and other foodie and music events. Beyond French and English, you’ll come across languages ranging from Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese to Arabic, Chinese, Greek, and Russian.

2. Paris, France

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Oui? Paris is ranked the 16th most livable city, according to a 2014 report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Beyond the city’s world-renowned reputation for its history and cultural vitality, Paris’s low tuition fees make the city affordable for students. If you’re new to learning French, then the greatest yet most rewarding challenge, of course, is conquering the language barrier. Paris is an almost 100% French-speaking country, with a small percentage of German dialects, Celtic languages, and other Gallo-Romance languages spoken throughout the city.

3. Munich, Germany

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With a population of approximately 1.5 million, Germany’s third-largest city weighs in on our top five list for a couple different reasons. First and foremost, Germany’s lack of tuition fees makes studying abroad in the city the most affordable option you can choose. Beyond that, Munich is ranked 8th in the 2014 Quality of Life Survey by lifestyle magazine Monocle. One of the many cultural experiences you’ll encounter in Munich is the famous Oktoberfest beer festival.

SEE ALSO: Top 10 Most Beautiful Colleges of the World

4. Seoul, South Korea

Seoul- Study Abroad 2015

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Seoul is the most densely populated city of South Korea. With mostly Korean and English spoken throughout the city, the language diversity here isn’t as pronounced as in other countries on this list. However, even if the lack of language diversity bores you, you’ll surely find enough to do in this city that never sleeps, with its unprecedented mix of tradition and modernity – from cutting-edge technology to Buddhist temples and royal palaces.

5. Singapore, Southeast Asia

Singapore- Study Abroad 2015

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Officially named the Republic of Singapore, this island country close to the equator is known for its tropical rainforest climate (where temperatures range from 72–95°F year round), four nationally-recognized languages (Mandarin Chinese, English, Malay, and Tamil), a low crime rate, and a slow and steady rise in education. Singapore has two top universities, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, ranked 22nd and 39th in the world, respectively. Though Singapore is ranked as the world’s fourth most expensive city in Mercer’s 2014 Cost of Living survey, Lonely Planet ranked them the top travel destination for 2015.

6. Seville, Spain

Seville Spain

Spain has so much to offer for study abroad students! Spaniards are friendly and laid back, the cost of living is affordable, and there are plenty of beautiful places to visit no matter what your hobbies. The rich culture can easily be enjoyed wherever you choose to travel on your days off, including the Feria de Sevilla, Parc Guell in Barcelona, or el Prado and Paseo del Artes in Madrid.

To be sure you’re attending the best program available, check out these Seville study abroad reviews. There are also plenty of internship opportunities in Seville. As an intern, you’ll get to experience the Spanish Siesta and long lunch breaks (who doesn’t like to enjoy a 3-hour break with friends and coworkers)? Adelante Abroad has many affordable summer and semester programs, as well as internships in Barcelona and Madrid.

Not only does studying abroad look great on your resume, but it also serves as one of the greatest opportunities to help improve your language skills. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons students participate in study abroad programs – no other experience helps you develop unparalleled fluency in a foreign language. So now you have all the reasons you need to go abroad! Enjoy your trip and let us know which location you chose in the comments section below!

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Is Japanese Hard to Learn? Find out the Truth

is japanese hard to learn

Learning any new language can seem difficult at first. If you’re feeling apprehensive about learning Japanese, these tips from language tutor Carol Beth L. can help.

Is Japanese hard to learn? Many people say so. I believe the answer can be yes or no—or both—depending on the individual. Japanese is often said to be a logical language that does not have anywhere near the whimsical inconsistencies or notorious exceptions of languages like English or French.

English, in fact, can be very difficult for some foreigners to learn. This is a result of the inconsistencies stemming from its numerous linguistic influences from historic groups that inhabited, invaded, or came in contact with England, such as Anglo-Saxon, Welsh, Scottish, and French. For most people reading this article, however, English is probably not difficult. In fact, it’s likely to be your first language. If it’s not, you have most likely mastered it to a reasonable level. Japanese can be mastered to the same degree English can, given reasonable time and effort. So why do people say that Japanese is so hard then? Here are a few often-cited reasons:

1. Time Required to Learn

Japanese is often considered to be one of the most different languages linguistically from English. As a result, it takes more time for English speakers to learn Japanese. Our way of thinking has been shaped by our native English language, and we must teach it to conform to a different way of organizing our thoughts.

2. New Characters

The Japanese writing system borrows a lot from Chinese, but the characters (kanji) are not always used the same way. As English speakers, we are used to phonetic—not pictographic—language. Japanese has two syllabaries, or sets of written symbols,  hiragana for native words, and katakana for foreign words. These syllabries provide ways to write without knowing all the characters for what you are writing. The pictographic kanji and the phonetic hiragana and katakana are regularly used side by side in writing. Using more kanji, however, will help you look more educated.

3. Japanese Grammar is Very Different From English

In Japanese, the verb is always placed at the end of the sentence. For an English speaker who is accustomed to putting the verb right after the subject, it can take time to reorganize the parts of the sentence in his mind so that everything comes out in the right order. Japanese grammar is, nonetheless, very logical. In this respect, it’s not really so difficult as it is different. Differences usually mean added learning time for students. The same is true for most non-Japanese speakers, too, because Japanese is related to very few other languages. French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese speakers can learn other languages in this group very easily because all are Romance languages stemming from common Latin origins. French also strongly influenced English after the Norman Conquest of the 11th century, making all of these languages easier for English speakers, too. The only widely-recognized language thought to have common roots with Japanese is Korean.

4. Phonetics

Phonetics are not actually as difficult as people sometimes make them out to be. The R sound—really between an R and an L—is one of the most difficult for an English speaker to get exactly right, though probably not as difficult as it is for a Japanese speaker to distinguish between the English R and L. The long vowels can also take some time. For example, kawai and kawai’i have two very distinct meanings: scary and cute respectively. Not words you’d want to mix up! Yet the only phonetic difference is the long “ee” sound in kawai’i to contrast with the short “ee” in “kawai.” Note that “long” and “short” are not used in the same sense we use them with our English vowels. A long vowel in Japanese really takes more time to say; it isn’t a reference to a phonetic difference. Most Japanese syllables are quite simple: one consonant sound plus one vowel sound. Chinese pronunciation with its tones and unique sounds (zhi, chi, shi, and ri) is probably more difficult for most English speakers.

So is Japanese hard to learn? Yes and no. It will require time and willingness to think differently, but learning Japanese can be fun, and the language is logical and consistent. If you’re willing to commit your mind and your time, then you can master it.

Carol Beth

Carol Beth L. teaches French lessons in San Francisco, CA. She  also studied Japanese in high school and college.  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!

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5 Best Apps for College Students

Best Apps For College StudentsBeing a college student in 2014 has its pros and cons. The competition is fierce and college courses are more challenging and demanding. However, coupled with these expectations come a ton of technological tools and apps that can help make your life easier and more efficient. Here, tutor Natalie S. has picked out a few of the top apps for college students that you should download right now!

1.  Dropbox

This app and desktop tool enables you to back up all of your documents and easily share them with others. You’ll never struggle with emailing large attachments again, and you’ll never have to worry about losing all of your documents if your computer crashes. You can download Dropbox to your desktop, so you can save all of your files to this location instead of on your computer. Then, all of the info in your Dropbox syncs to the cloud and when you log into your account online, the account mirrors whatever you have saved on your desktop Dropbox. If you’re responsible for a group project, you can create a Dropbox folder and invite all of your group members to join. You can save all documents there and any updates will be seen in real time.

2.  Mathway

This app is a great tool for students who are not mathematically inclined and who need additional help navigating homework and prepping for exams. You can utilize the Mathway app to check many math concepts, including your algebra, geometry, or calculus math homework. Also, if you’re stumped on a problem, Mathway will show you step by step how it can be solved.

3.  iTunes U

This is a fantastic app to use in conjunction with your class lecture notes. iTunes U features lectures on all subjects by professors from leading universities, including as Cambridge and Yale. You can download lectures that correspond to the subjects you’re studying, and use iTunes U to supplement your lecture notes and in-class seminars.

4.  SelfControl

This app is designed to block certain websites like Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites that take your attention while you’re studying. Just download the app and tweak the settings, so you can block specific websites for a specific amount of time. Once you finish studying, SelfControl will turn off, and you will gain access to your favorite time-consuming social media sites once again.

5.  EasyBib

This app is designed to help you correctly format all of your sources, so you can easily create your bibliography page for your research papers. Formatting bibliographies can be a daunting, time-consuming challenge. This app helps you create citations in multiple different styles, including MLA and Chicago. All you have to do is either search for the book or article you want to cite, or enter the basic information manually, and EasyBib will instantly create the correct citation.

Whether you’re struggling with citations, self-control, math or file sharing, these apps for college students are must-haves to download right now!

Natalie S.Natalie S. tutors English, ESL, History, Phonics, Reading, and Test Prep in San Diego, as well as through online lessons. She received her BA in English Education at the University of Delaware, and her MA in English Literature at San Diego State University. Learn more about Natalie here!

 

 

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