advice

Por qué Duolingo NO funciona

Duolingo no funciona para aprender a hablar inglés fluidamente. Muchos alumnos que empiezan a llevar mi programa de inglés con clases en vivo me preguntan ¿Por qué no he logrado hablar inglés después de practicar meses con Duolingo? No aprenden por muchos motivos, pero en éste artículo me enfocaré en dos principales razones: la falta de contextualización y la falta de retroalimentación. En la primera parte te explicaré cómo Duolingo carece de contextualización y de qué manera trabaja con vocabulario y en la segunda ejemplificaré cómo carece de retroalimentación y listaré las razones por las que el feedback es vital para el aprendizaje del inglés.

Falta de contextualización

En aplicaciones como Duolingo sólo aprendemos palabras o frases sin mucho contexto. Podemos llegar a ganar un repertorio amplio de frases o preguntas que no podemos conectar de forma lógica en una conversación para comunicarnos en el idioma meta. Es cierto que Duolingo ofrece un vocabulario extenso incluso en temas básicos, sin embargo, prioriza el aprendizaje de léxico en vez de las funciones comunicativas. La funciones comunicativas son el uso que se le da a ciertas expresiones y formas gramaticales de un idioma para responder con propiedad a situaciones particulares como saludar a alguien, hacer una sugerencia, pedir direcciones, ofrecer una disculpa, brindar información, dar un cumplido, etc.

En lo personal, a mi me gusta mucho practicar un idioma con funciones comunicativas en conversaciones del día a día porque nos permiten ponernos en un contexto. Todas las preguntas y respuestas de esa conversación giran en torno a un tema, entonces aprendemos qué decir en dadas circunstancias, es decir, en el futuro podemos aplicar lo aprendido cuando se nos presenta la oportunidad de hablar en inglés en una circunstancia parecida. Por ejemplo, si vamos a aprender vocabulario sobre enfermedades, más útil que saber treinta y cinco nombres de enfermedades es saber en qué contexto se presentan esas palabras. Cuando te encuentras con un amigo en la calle y le preguntas cómo está y él te responde “no muy bien, tengo dolor de espalda”, ¿cómo continúas esa conversación? tener un vocabulario extenso sobre enfermedades no te ayudará de nada en esta situación, necesitas una “función comunicativa”. En este caso es mucho más útil saber como ser empático en inglés con una persona que está pasando por una dolencia o un momento difícil, necesitas aprender a decir “hay que pena”, “espero que te mejores pronto”, en inglés I’m sorry to hear that or I hope you get better soon o saber cómo dar una sugerencia “¿Por qué no visitas a mi quiropráctico?” Why don’t you see my chiropractor? Ésas son funciones comunicativas, algo que Duolingo y aplicaciones similares no incluyen en su sistema.

Falta de retroalimentación

La segunda razón-y no menos importante razón-por la que Duolingo no funciona es la carencia de retroalimentación, más conocida como “feedback”. Un profesor en vivo te acompaña en tiempo real, un docente especializado en la enseñanza de una segunda lengua creará el ambiente ideal para desarrollar tu producción oral en clase y te brindará retroalimentación inmediata. Sin duda la tecnología ha avanzado mucho y hoy en día encontramos aplicaciones que nos permiten grabar nuestra voz y compararla con la pronunciación de un nativo hablante. No obstante, incluso las aplicaciones que te permiten grabar tu voz y compararla con una computadora, no pueden ayudarte a corregir errores de pronunciación o decirte como debes poner la lengua para producir cierto sonido.

¿Entonces, no vale la pena usar Duolingo? Sí, vale la pena, pero no como herramienta principal para aprender un idioma sino más bien como una herramienta “adicional”. De hecho yo recomiendo su uso para repasar vocabulario pero si lo usas como única fuente de aprendizaje, es bastante limitante. Si quieres aprender inglés-o cualquier otro idioma-y hablarlo fluidamente, considera llevar clases con un “humano” que pueda brindarte contexto y corregir tus errores de forma inmediata, en otras palabras, un docente especializado en el aprendizaje de una segunda lengua. Aunque no puedas hacerlo de forma regular, o no cuentes con los recursos económicos para contratar a un profesor particular de forma diaria, por lo menos trata de hacerlo una vez por semana para que puedas tener una experiencia de inglés real donde apliques lo aprendido en estas aplicaciones.

Espero que éste artículo te haya servido de ayuda si aún estás indeciso sobre cómo proceder en tu proceso de aprendizaje del inglés. Aprovecho esta oportunidad para invitarte a una clase en vivo gratuita para que pruebes la metodología con nosotros, en WeSpeak Idiomas y tengas una idea de cómo trabajamos.

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Si deseas probar nuestra metodología solicita una clase gratuita.

B1, B2, grammar, Recorded class

Comparisons with as…as

If you’re a basic English learner, you must already know how to make comparisons using -er or more, sentences like “Brazil is bigger than Peru” or “Accommodation in Mexico city is more expensive than in Playa del Carmen”. That’s a basic way of expressing comparisons. In this video, however, I’ll teach you a different way, using as…as.

Step 1: Watch the video

Step 2: Do the exercises

A1, Recorded live class, vocabulary

Instructions at the doctor’s office

What are the doctor’s instructions when you have a check-up? Today one of our basic students, Rodrigo, will help you learn some new vocabulary used at the doctor’s office.

Step 1: Watch the video

Step 2: Do the exercises

Podcast

Are you already following our podcast? 🎙️

There are many ways to increase your exposure to English even if you don’t have time to sit in front of a computer and watch a screen. For example, you can listen to music or podcasts!

In our WeSpeak English Podcast you’ll listen to recorded classes on conversation strategies that will help you improve your speaking skills. You will also listen to segments of life classes I have with my regular students, where we will tackle pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary mistakes.

Come join me!

The Present Perfect to make comments WeSpeak English

Welcome to another episode of my series "A sneak peek into an online class". In this episode, we will learn how to use the Present Perfect to make comments about movies we've seen. Class details: This is a A2 level class (upper basic level). My students' mother tongue is Spanish, they're both from Perú. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/wespeakenglish/message
  1. The Present Perfect to make comments
  2. Collocations with "party"
  3. Grammar: Using "prefer" with gerunds
  4. Vocabulary: Savage or wild?
  5. Asking for favors
  6. Reacting to a story
  7. Asking politely
  8. Responding to suggestions
  9. Checking information
  10. Correcting the things we say

B1, vocabulary

Money

For some reason we are always talking about money. On a daily basis we say sentences like How much is this?, I’m short of money, I need to save up to go on a trip, My friend asked if he could borrow some money. Money is part of our daily lives so knowing words and expressions around this topic will come in handy.

How much money vocabulary do you know? Learn 10 new words/expressions related to money management and then test your knowledge!

Now go ahead and do the interactive exercises on Quizlet to test your knowledge. Never used Quizlet before? It’s extremely simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. go to the flashcards section and review vocabulary, click on the listen icon to practice pronunciation
  2. go to the learn section and test your knowledge!
A2, Recorded class, Youtube channel

The Present Perfect

The Present Perfect could be a confusing verb tense for English learners since it has multiple uses. One of those uses is to talk about “past experiences” or things that have happened to us in the past. For example, when we tell a friend I’ve been to Thailand, I’ve had Indonesian food or My brother has surfed in Hawaii, we are using the present perfect to talk about experiences. Watch this video to understand how to form sentences with this verb tense and how to use it in conversation.

Step 1: Watch the video

Step 2: Do the exercises

A1, Recorded class, Youtube channel

The numbers

I have a new free lesson for you!

In this video you will learn the cardinal and ordinal numbers in English.This lesson is for “real beginners”, so if you have just started to learn English, this video is for you!

Step 1: Watch the video

Step 2: Do the exercises

Podcast

Collocations with “party”

What is a collocation?

“Collocation” refers to the way in which some words are often used together, or a particular combination of words used in this way. For example, you “make your bed” not “do your bed”. In this episode, we will learn collocations with the word “party”.

Class details: This is a B1 level class (intermediate level). My student is from Perú, she’s a Spanish speaker.

Uncategorized

Conversation strategies: Reacting to a story

Episode 9

You can comment on things other people say to show you’re listening and interested in the conversation.

  1. You can use expressions of surprise like Oh, no!, Oh, . . . , Really? or You’re kidding!

A: When I came out of my bedroom there was smoke everywhere and the fire alarm went off.

B: Wow!

A: When I came out of my bedroom there was smoke everywhere and the fire alarm went off.

B: Oh, no!

A: When I came out of my bedroom there was smoke everywhere and the fire alarm went off.

B: You’re kidding!

2. You can give personal information or your opinions:

A: We were making Jerk chicken for a bunch of people . . .

B: Oh, I love Jamaican food.

A: We were making Jerk chicken for a bunch of people . . .

B: Oh, I love Jerk chicken.

3. You can use expressions with that’s + adjective:

A: Then I hid the burnt pan under the sink and started spraying perfume in the kitchen.

B Oh, that’s hilarious.

A: Then I turned on the diffuser and added a mix of lavender, orange and peppermint oil in it.

B: That’s resourceful.

4. I bet . . .

You can use I bet in different ways.

• You can start a statement with I bet . . . when you are pretty sure about something:

A: I get distracted so easily and forget I have appliances on….

B: I bet your family is used to that.

A: Yes, they are. My dad actually gave me a nickname Katrina, after the hurricane. He says whenever I’m in the kitchen a disaster happens.

• You can use I bet as a response to show you understand a situation:

A So the chicken was Ok but the rice was burnt and I remember my mom used to tell me to put a piece of raw onion in the rice maker when that happened. It’s supposed to fix it, or at least remove the smell. It didn’t work.

B: I bet.

A: Yeah, after a while the essential oils did the trick and the smell wasn’t a problem anymore, but the rice didn’t taste too good. I freaked.

B: I bet.

Let’s put everything we learned today into practice. I am going to give you some news. You have to think of how to react to the following statements following my instructions.

Now, think of how to react to the following statements.

  1. I was going down the stairs, tripped over my shoes and fell. (Use that’s + adjective) That’s terrible!
  2. I go to the gym every single day, even on Sundays. (Use “I bet”) I bet you’re fit.
  3. Last week I was in Thailand for a work conference. (Use “I bet”) I bet you loved the country.
  4. My aunt Sam is pregnant with her fifth child. (Express surprise) You’re kidding!
  5. My boss told me today she was giving me a big pay rise. (Use that’s + adjective) That’s great! That’s amazing!
  6. Did you know that she’s getting married next week? (Use “I bet”) I bet she’ll have a big reception.
  7. I’m going to start working on that new project in India next month. (Express surprise) Wow!
  8. My company has started laying people off because of corona virus. (Express surprise) Oh no!
  9. Mark didn’t get the job as human resources manager. He’s still looking for a job. (Use that’s + adjective) That’s disappointing.

Uncategorized

Conversation strategies: Responding to suggestions

Episode 7

Picture this, you meet with your friends and would like to go to a coffee shop. One of them suggests: Why don’t’ we go to Starbucks? How do you respond to that suggestion?

  • Suggestions that we like

You can use these expressions to respond to suggestions that you like:

A: We could go to a bar.  B: That’s a great idea.

A: Why don’t we have Chinese? B: Sure

A: Let’s go to that coffee shop that serves coffeetails. B: That sounds great!

By the way, there is a coffeeshop that sells coffeetails, like cocktails but with coffee. It’s a little hole in the wall in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was actually going to another coffee shop but I kind of got lost and ended up going to this little café called “Graft café”. If you ever go to Chiang Mai and are a coffee lover, I highly suggest you check out this tiny, unique coffee place.

So, if someone suggests going to Graft café, I will always say That’s a great idea! Or That sounds great!

  • Suggestions we don’t like

You won’t always want to accept a suggestion. For example: There’s a Peruvian dish I hate called “Olluquito”. If someone suggests having Olluquito for lunch, I would probably say: “I don’t know. I don’t really like that dish”.

To respond to suggestions that you don’t like you can use these expressions:

Suggestions we don’t like

A: We could have a pizza or something. B: I don’t know. We had pizza last weekend.

A: Why don’t we have an early dinner? B: I guess we could but then I’ll get hungry again by midnight.

A: Let’s have vegetarian. B: Maybe, but you know it’s hard to find good vegetarian restaurants here.

A: Why don’t we have pasta? B: I guess we could, but we’re in Thailand you know? Thai food makes more sense.

If someone suggests going to a vegetarian restaurant in my city, I wouldn’t be so excited about it because there aren’t really good vegetarian restaurants and the few good ones are kind of expensive. Chiang Mai, on the other hand, is well-known for offering good and affordable vegetarian food. Here I had the best Pad Thai made with papaya noodles; it was absolutely delicious.

After making a negative response, people usually offer an explanation or excuse:

 A:  We could just work remotely and go backpacking for a few months.  B: I don’t know. I’d like to, but it’s not that easy. I doubt my boss would agree to that. (a little dosis of reality there).

I guess

You can use I guess when you’re not 100% sure about something or if you don’t want to sound 100% sure. It can make what you say sound softer:

 A:  We could just work remotely and go backpacking for a few months.  B:  I guess it’s not that easy.

A: Let’s go window shopping. B: Maybe. It’s actually kind of risky, though. I guess I could end up buying something I can’t afford.

To listen to this episode click on the button below.