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Archive for March, 2011

If you’re a multilingual jobseeker, your language skills are your bread and butter. In a competitive market, particularly with many bilingual and multilingual graduates out of work, it’s important that, if you’re not a native speaker of your chosen language, you keep your skills as honed as possible.

With that in mind, we’ve come up with five effortless ways to make sure you stay on top of your language skills!

1.       Stop watching films in English (unless, of course, you’re not a native English speaker!) – watch some European cinema instead! Even if you’re watching an English film, change the audio track to your second language. Doing this a couple of times a week is an easy way to immerse yourself in the sound of the language without being in the country.

2.       Talk to your friends! For example, if German is your second language, keep up the regular conversations with native German-speaking friends. Ask them to point out any mistakes and make a note of them at the end of the conversation.

3.       Read a book or a magazine in your second language. Doing this will give you the time to pause and check on any grammar or vocabulary you’re not sure of.

4.       Learn a new word every day – even native English speakers feel the need to increase their English vocabulary so why not do the same with a second language? The more articulate you are, the greater the edge you have over other candidates.

5.       Play games! Sites like Sporcle are great resources for language quizzes for those times you feel like brushing up (and competing against yourself).

Keeping yourself at the top of your game doesn’t have to be a big effort, nor does it have to change anything about your regular routine, apart from the soundtrack!

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German appeal

Why did the English speaker from Canada come to Germany to learn about North America in English? Sounds like the start of a corny joke, but many English-speaking students are flocking to German universities as a range of English language courses prove more appealing than those in the UK and the States.

Germany was recently named in an international league table as the most supportive country for overseas students. The appeal? English-speaking students never have to utter a word of German in order to complete their degrees.

As it stands, Britain ranks third in the same table, but risks losing this spot due to government policies making it harder for overseas students to study in the UK and to stay in the UK afterwards, whereas there are very few barriers for international students in Germany.

Tuition fees in Germany are significantly lower than the UK and far lower than in the US, where tuition fees can be as high as $50,000.

Germany is currently at the forefront of true internationalism in its education system, with many university lecturers being so proficient in English that an outside observer might not be able to tell who is a native speaker and who is not.

Since the cap on tuition fees in the UK has been lifted and universities can now charge up to £9000 per year, as opposed to a price in many German universities of 500 Euros per semester, will more UK-based students opt for an English-speaking degree from a German university?

It remains to be seen, although if you’re planning to trade in life in England for a German adventure, we’d recommend learning the language, as it’s a really valuable skill to bring home to the UK jobs market!

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With English fast becoming a global language, and certainly the language of business, many people have taken on the attitude that it’s unnecessary to learn a second language. After all, if everyone speaks English, who needs to make the effort?

Here at Euro London Appointments, we seriously disagree! We are always talking about how language skills can increase your employability but that’s not the only reason why language skills are beneficial. Here are the other top five reasons you should learn a second language:

1.       Studies have shown that being bilingual actually structurally changes the brain and increases intellect, especially for people who have been bilingual from an early age. Therefore bilingual people are more likely to have a rounded intelligence than monolinguals.

2.       Language is not just about semantics. Having access to a language means having access to another culture and coming to truly understand it. This is great for business as different cultures have different ways of doing things and makes you more desirable to potential employers!

3.       Knowing a second language increases your knowledge of the English language. Many non-native English speakers are sticklers for grammar – the same goes for language students. Learning a language from scratch makes you more aware of your native language’s grammatical structures.

4.       Language skills get you into university. Some UK universities are now rejecting applicants without at least a GCSE in another language. Degrees are generally a path to a better job, therefore learning a language is a ticket to a better career!

5.       Last, but by no means least, learning a language widens your appreciation of art, cinema, travel, music and the list goes on. By learning another language, you’re giving yourself access to a whole world of culture and art that you may have never experienced!

So don’t rely on the language skills of others. Take matters into your own hand, learn a language and open lots of new doors!

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Battle of the bands

Once a year, there is a battle in Europe. Every country carefully and democratically selects their warriors well in advance, subjecting them to rounds of gruelling competition and then months of strenuous training. The pride of every European nation falls on their contestants coming out on top, as there is no greater measure of success or popularity. Yes, we’re talking about the Eurovision song contest.

In line with a proud British tradition of Eurovision entrants, including Jemini, Gina G and Javine Hylton, the people of Britain have selected worthy and established boyband, Blue, to try to bring home the prize.

However, they may be beaten to the post, as the people of Ireland have chosen a seemingly infallible pair to compete in Eurovision 2011. These two are thick-skinned, energetic and have hair as bright as the sun and as tall as the sky – and they’re going to win (according to Louis Walsh)! We are, of course, referring to John and Edward Grimes, better known as ‘Jedward’.

For those of you who have the misfortune of being unfamiliar with Jedward, the identical teenage twins rose to fame during 2009’s X Factor competition in the UK. Week after week they stunned judges and viewers alike with their resilience. Like the villain in a horror movie who just won’t die, Jedward could not be voted off – even winning the protection and approval of Simon Cowell himself. They achieved all of this, despite the conspicuous absence of their vocal abilities.

We feel that these qualities of perseverance and determination guarantee that Ireland will avoid the dreaded nil points at Eurovision. Although Blue are strong contenders, Britain has a reputation for sinking with half-hearted has-beens and this could be the year that  Ireland comes out on top. We’ll even go so far as to say that 2011 could one day be referred to as ‘the year of Jedward’.

As much as Eurovision promotes healthy competition, it also unites us in a mesh of cultures bound together by a commitment to tuning problems and flamboyant outfits – and at the end of the day, no matter who comes out victorious, the whole of Europe will be tuning into Dusseldorf at the same time, brought together by a tradition so ancient it’s practically innate. Viva Eurovision – may the best obscure, C-list pop star win!

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When it comes to language learning in the UK, the figures aren’t great. Less and less students are taking languages but we’re hearing more and more stories about the increased importance put on learning them. So where do we stand?  I think that more needs to be done to encourage young people to study languages and there must be a clearer policy when it comes to languages in education.

Since 2004, studying a language at GCSE has been optional in the UK, however the new English Baccalaureate will only be awarded to students that take GCSEs in language subjects. Furthermore, there are set to be changes to the way league tables are calculated to encourage more students to take languages, and Universities like UCL will soon only consider applicants who have studied a language at GCSE level.

We are giving young people such mixed messages when it comes to studying languages. One minute languages are optional but then they won’t get the English Bac without them – is this a case of a bit too little, too late? With schools and students both unsure of where they stand when it comes to language learning, the current situation is too contradictory and I think that languages should again become compulsory to ensure the UK remains competitive and that British students get the best future job prospects.

As business becomes increasingly international, languages have become a crucial skill for employers, but we’re finding fewer and fewer British graduates with strong language skills as those that took their GCSEs once languages were no longer compulsory are now coming out of the education system. This needs to change if we want young people to have the best chance of finding a job and if we want British business to remain competitive.

What do you think?

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