Archive for November, 2009


Would you like to know about some very basic shortcuts to learning Spanish? Here are some suggestions that I know will work,because I have used them over and over again with great results. In this section I am giving some basic introductions, I will cover more information at a later time. The goal is to motivate you to learn not to overwhelm. I am also just about done with a great study guide for those individuals who have purchased my trilingual book Marie and Her Friend The Sea Turtle.

To start, you must first understand that the goal to learning to speak any language is to communicate. Most people get discouraged before they even start the process of learning.

Secondly, please remember there are very important words that are used on a daily basis. If you want to communicate a wish or desire you always start with using the pronoun I or the possesive pronoun MY. Daily communication requires all of us regardless of where we are from to simply verbalize life’s basic needs.
Great results with learning a language and communicating effectively comes from knowing those basic daily vocabulary. ARE YOU READY?

We will start with learning the pronouns. All pronouns are used to replace a noun. In English they are: I, you, he,she ,it ,we, you, they. For right now we will focus only on the pronoun I . That is very important because you want to be able to say something about yourself or a need you may have. I just came back from Cabos San Lucas, and since my youngest will study Spanish in high school in the fall I taught him what I am now teaching you. I wanted him to understand how to communicate a need in Spanish. I took him to the local grocery store and asked him to go ask a clerk for help. He learned that YO means I in Spanish. He asked the clerk- YO QUIERO COMPRAR PAPAYAS , ¿POR FAVOR DÓNDE ESTÁN.? The clerk took him directly to where the papayas were. Next I had him ask about bying other fruits, oranges, pineapples, and mangoes. The goal was for him to learn how to use the subject pronoun YO until he was very comfortable with it all the while learning the names of fruits in spanish. He used the phrase YO QUIERO COMPRAR which means I would like to buy, the rest of the phrase means where are they please? To inquire about the oranges, pineapples and mangoes he just added the name of each fruit at the end of papayas.

For some people this may come across as too simple, but keep in mind that once you are able to communicate something of importance to you , that helps built self-confidence and with that comes the eagerness and willingness to try harder. This is just an introduction, in my next lesson I will go in more details about verbs and subjects.

One last thing, do you live near people who are native speakers? Have you ever met a native speaker who was not eager to teach you some words ,people in general are very proud of their culture and language. I became very fluent in Spanish(Spanish was the fourth and last language I learned how to speak) by constantly asking native speakers to help me, while in college I had one roommate who was from Spain and one from Cuba. Every chance I had I practiced speaking with them. That is the key to success my friend. Learning a new language can be so much fun. As for my son he was beaming from ear to ear after he was able to proudly ask for help in Spanish. I try teaching him something new everyday, and I later have him practice what he has learned. That is a very important key, you must practice, practice, practice and before too long you will be amazed at what you are able to retain. Do you think young children learned how to speak through osmosis? Absolutely not, they learned by listening and by practicing.

Next week I will post part two with a focus on verbs and subjects. Until then- Study the following : I-YO, You- TÚ, He-ÉL, She-ELLA, You(Formal)USTED, We- NOSTROS, NOSOTRAS, They- ELLOS, ELLAS, You ( Formal/plural) USTEDES


Did you know that over half the words in the English language originated from Latin. In specialized areas such as cuisine and clothing there are hundreds of French words found in English. French and Spanish are both romance languages and have their roots in Latin. It would make sense that either French or Spanish would be a language of choice to study since both languages have Latin roots just like English. English, French and Spanish share many cognates. There are thousand s of English words that have Latin origins and closely resemble words in French and Spanish.

It would be easy for many students studying French and Spanish to do well since English/ French and Spanish share many of the same cognates. The words in the new language could be looked upon as a very handy tool for learning and recognizing unfamiliar or unknown words in their own language. It is very clear that the study of both French and Spanish offers a tremendous asset in developing a richer and more advanced English vocabulary. Here are some examples.

Latin /Spanish Derivative /French derivative/ English Equivalent

Amicus/ Amigo/ Ami /Amicable, friend

Numerous/ Numero /Numéro/ Number

Bonus/ Bueno/ Bon /Good, bonus

Veritas /verdad /Vérité /Truth, veritable

Magister/ Maestro /Maitre/ Magisterial, teacher

Avarus /Avaro /Avare /Avaricious, greedy

Oculus /Ojo/ Oeil /Ocular, eye

I believe as a nation if we want to remain competitive in an ever changing global world, we must change our priorities. Football players and actors earn millions of dollars; yet as a nation we can’t finance early childhood education properly. There is compelling evidence that the earlier a child is exposed to a new language the easier it is for that child to master that language. Foreign language study should be available for all children starting with first grade. In Austria, a student must have eight years of instruction in a modern or classical foreign language before being admitted to a university. It is not unusual for students in Sweden to have taken nine years of English before high school. Even a country like Egypt, requires six years of English study. Here in the united states less than 8 percent of our colleges have a foreign –language entrance requirement. We are the only country where one can graduate from some colleges without having studied a foreign language prior to or during the college years.

The benefits of expanding one’s horizons by becoming fluent in a second language are numerous. It is truly very rewarding to be able to communicate directly and comfortably with other people, I know of no greater joy than that. I have been called to a mission, that mission is to inspire others to be open to learning a new language.


Ever wonder why it is so very easy for a young child to master a new language? It is because children are not easily intimidated, they are eager to learn and most importantly they do not care if they make mistakes. This carefree attitude is essential for language acquisition. Learning a new language requires a certain amount of risk taking. Not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of other people, especially strangers. The learning environment has to be a place that is conducive to risk taking. It is the responsibility of the instructor to determine how he or she will make the classroom a safe place for all learners to feel comfortable and welcomed.

Once a student feels comfortable he or she can thus begin to open up so he or she can start the process of acquiring the skills necessary to learn how to speak the language. Since language is a set of skills to be acquired; the student must be given ample opportunities to practice over and over again. That is why chain drills are very important. Before long, the student will develop a huge sense of accomplishment, and with that comes the building up of his/her self-esteem.

I have had students who flatly refused to participate in the chain drill activities. They reasoned that they do not want to make a fool of themselves. Consequently, the students in question failed the class and ended up dropping it at the end of first semester. What I learned from these situations is that students with low self-esteem are too afraid to make mistakes; they are usually very shy and keep to themselves.

Early on in my teaching career, I was able to achieve great successes with the students who were risk takers; most of these students had very high self-esteem. They had achieved a high degree o f success in other areas, so it was easy for them to apply that in my class too. High self-esteem and desire to learn goes hand in hand, you can’t have one without the other. Both are essential for acquiring the skills necessary to learn a new language.


How many times do you hear people say, “I studied this or that language for two years but I can’t speak a word of it.” I would like to share some thoughts on this subject. The artificial classroom scene is not an ideal place to master a second language. Most people feel very unsure and even foolish because they have to give up the security of their native tongue in order to learn the new language. Additionally, people may suffer a huge blow to their self-esteem which can make it even more difficult to learn the new language. How do you overcome these obstacles? It is not good enough to simply memorize vocabulary, verbs and such, it is more important for the language experience to be as real as possible. The best way to accomplish this is through active meaningful oral work. Oral work should consist of exchange of ideas, experiences and emotions.

I have been able to achieve great success with my students by providing them with meaningful experiences through active speaking. This is done through chain drills one of the most useful ways to teach new learners how to communicate effectively. The goal is to give the student ample opportunities to engage in conversation that he or she can relate to. Every topic being covered can easily be adopted in a meaningful way. Here are some examples:


Teacher is not dominating the procedure, students are required to answer a question, and then that student turns to his or her neighbor and asks the same question. Je m’appelle Nicole. Et toi, comment t’appelles tu?-My name is Nicole. And you, what is your name? This continues until everyone has had a turn. This exercise may seem very childish and simplistic, but is very effective because the student is exchanging personal information.


Everyone loves to eat; the same kind of drill can be used to foster oral proficiency. Students can thus bring in pictures of their favorite foods.

Lastly, the language experience should model real life experience as much as possible. After all, we all learned our native tongue quite naturally by learning how to speak first.


Since publishing my first book, I have been a guest author two times.

Friday, June 26, 2009- Lea Schizas

Meet Nicole Weaver – children’s author
I began writing around seven years ago. I joined my church’s writing group. I started writing poems about my experiences. Many of my poems were published in my church’s bi-monthly publication. I later entered a poem competition sponsored by my local library district. I won 1st place, that really inspired me to continue writing.
Yes! my family supported me in a huge way. I have written a story about my son. I will at some point get that story published.

I fell in love with children’s Picture book when I came to the United States. I was ten years old at the time. In about six months, I learned how to read in English. After reading so many volumes of children’s Picture books, I knew one day I would write one myself.

I wrote the book in English/French/Spanish because I am fluent in all three languages. I have been teaching French/Spanish for twenty four years now. I think it is imperative that we expose young children to other cultures and languages at an early age. The World is becoming more and more competitive, in order to stay abreast educationally, culturally we must provide our children with much more rigor. In Europe it is not unusual for students to study two to three foreign languages.

I lived near the beach in Haiti when I was a little girl. Sea turtles came to shore a lot. One day as I was strolling on the beach along came this huge sea turtle….. Sorry you have to buy and read my book to find out what happened next.

I think writing is hard in general.

I published with Outskirts Press because I wanted to have complete rights to my book. I am very much dedicated to writing books that feature children of color. As a child I always wondered why the characters in the books I read were always a different color than me. Publishing with Outskirtspress afforded me the flexibility to decide on the illustrations and many important issues regarding my book.

I would love to see many more children books that features people of color. I spend a lot of time in the children section at my local library reading, much to my dismay very few books are about people of color. I want to make a huge dent in that trend.

I am currently working on two more books. Both will be tri-lingual. In fact, all of my future books will be in English/French/Spanish. I am totally dedicated to promoting foreign language literacy and World cultures.

Parents/ teachers : The best way to use my book is to first read it in English to your child/ student, later have he/she tell you the translation for specific words. You might want to discuss prior to reading the book what a cognate is in English. There are many cognates in French/Spanish that are similar to English. I am working on a study guide that I will make available later . One last tip: See if your child/student can sound out the French/Spanish words after reading the English version. This activity can be a very good exercise in phonetics.

Title: Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle

Posted by Lea Schizas – Author/Editor at 5:34 AM

Write What Inspires You! Newsletter

October 2009 – Interview

1. What or whom inspires you to write?

    My children and students inspire me to write.

2 .What has been the most memorable experience in your writing career?

    Getting my first book published.

3. What style or genre of book do you write/have you written?

    Children’s picture book.

4. What type of creative process do you use for the development of your ideas? Are you an outline writer?

 I basically jot down ideas as they come to me. In my opinion it is too rigid to work from an outline.

5. Please share with us the idea behind your book, Marie and Her Friend the Sea Turtle.

 I lived on the beach when I was a little girl, sea turtles came to shore all the time. The story is based on true events of my childhood days.

6. Have you used any of your experiences teaching in your writing?

As a teacher you have to have a lot of compassion, so I always try to incorporate the importance of having compassion in my writing.

7. What did you find to be the most frustrating step/process of getting your first book published?

The editing process was very frustrating. Prior to that was the many rejections I had gotten. That is why I decided to self-publish. I also decided to write the script in three languages to make it more marketable.

8. Please share with us your current work-in-progress.

   I am currently working on getting a book of poetry published and a book on short stories for middle and high school students. Last but not least, I am doing a re-write for a children’s picture book that was critiqued by Guardian Angel Publishing Company.

9. What advice would you like to convey to aspiring writers?

    Never give up, keep writing so you can get better at it.

10. A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to     share with us a tidbit form their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Nicole, can you please share one with us?

The first time I vacationed in Mexico I had a very interesting experience. My husband and I went to the flea market to look around, one of the merchant made a very unpleasant remark about me in Spanish, I responded in perfect Spanish and said “Watch what you say, you never know who can understand you.” Since I am black she assumed that I did not speak Spanish. The people around us got a real good laugh.


I am proud to announce that I have been given a book contract with Guardian Angel Publishing.  I am very excited about this grand opportunity  to publish my second trilingual children’s picture book.


Why Learn a Foreign Language?

The learning of a foreign language can be a fun way to introduce a child to a different culture. A young child is so free spirited that he or she is not easily intimidated . Young children are eager to learn, therefore they have no problem with imitation. Learning to imitate is a must when it comes to learning how to speak a language. That is how we learned our native tongue.

When I lived in Houston, I taught first grade for one year. The children were all Spanish speakers from Mexico. At the end of the year a lot of them became fluent in English, because they were so eager to learn. I later moved to Colorado and began to teach high school students. I had many Spanish speakers in some of my classes. These students had a lot more difficulties learning English. They were easily intimidated, and they were afraid to speak in front of their peers. Remember the number one rule to learn any language , you must practice, and the only way to practice is to speak! The next question how do you accomplish that tasks? You listen and then you imitate, plain and simple, zero quess work!

So now, what are the benefits of learning a foreign language? To start, if you want to attend a good college, you must have a least three to four years of a foreign language. Secondly, learning a second language can help you do well in others classes too. Thirdly, you become more marketable if you know more than one language. I am very fortunate that I am fluent in four languages. I have worked as a translator in the courts, I tutor college students, during the summers I teach young children in groups of five.

In my opinion , the greatest benefit of knowing a foreign language is the flexibility you have when you travel to the country where the language is spoken. As I write this article I am sitting in a very beautiful balcony in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. My husband took my three children on an adventure of a lifetime. They went ziplining in a beautiful canyon. It is so much fun to be able to communicate with people. I get to practice my Spanish while having a great time . Life is simply grand!