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Hello and hi everyone!
My name is Isabella and I live near Munich in Bavaria/Germany. So my mother tongue is German. I also speak Bavarian, which is a dialect of German that follows its own grammar rules and structures. Some of the Bavarian people call themselves bilingual, but not me... I am not an advanced Bavarian speaker ;o).....
I started learning English in school at the age of ten. For my graduation I chose Latin as my foreign language. Now no one can understand why I did that, not even me. But be as it may be, now at the age of 45 (becoming 46 at the end of January) I decided to improve long-forgotten skills in english. Last year I started joining an English conversation class at the vhs, which is a German institute for adult learners. And there I got the recommendation for some podcasts and so I found English Learning For Curious Minds. Soon I became a member because I think, something that is so well made, with such a great passion needs to be supported through a membership, especially when it also catches you with each episode, because you are curious to know how life and the world works.
As I am not a long-time member, I didn't have the possibility to listen to all of the episodes, but my favourite ones so far were about language: The Cockney Rhyming Slang was the funniest one, but the episode about the Illogicality of the English Language was quite interesting as well.
I work as a primary school teacher, at the moment with first graders who started school in September. I do neither have the possibility nor the need to speak English for job reasons and because of the pandemic, not even for travelling. So the goal for improving my English is just a personal one: I like the sound of the language, I want to keep up my mind and I want to extend my vocabulary, all of which is not easy when you hardly have opportunities to use it actively and regularly.
And this is what I struggle the most with learning english: practising speaking English. This is what helps you to become better, because I think you only can improve your vocabulary when you use it actively. So I decided to write down in a small green book words that attract my attention while listening to English Learning for Curious Minds or while watching movies. And my personal challenge is to use them in my weekly conversation class or in the monthly icebreaker events on Leonardo English. And every time I use one of these words of my personal interest, I tick them off in my green book. So the question is: How many ticks will there be at the end of this year? So please keep your fingers crossed for me!
I know that there are English learners who struggle most with pronunciation, which was never an issue to me although I never lived abroad and learned English just in school. The feedback my English conversation class teacher and my co-learners give me was always positive due to my pronunciation. And I was extremely overwhelmed when Alastair told me the same in our introduction call some weeks ago. He assumed that it might have something to do with my early musical education. I started at the age of five playing the recorder and went on playing the flute when I grew older. I always liked to sing and joined the choir in school and even the orchestra. And finally I chose music as one of my major subjects in university. So that might be a reason that I was used to listening carefully to different sounds.
And another reason came up in my mind. For several years I recorded audiobooks. Not for profession, just privately for my sister’s and my cousin’s children. And I read to my pupils every day a chapter of a book. And my aim is to create an image in their minds just by listening to the story. What helps with that is the fact that every figure needs to have its own voice related to its character traits: a small tiny shy animal or person in the book would not fit to a dangerous, intimidating or boastful voice. So over the years I managed to play with creating different voices and expressions with all that is needed to build it: your lips, your teeth, your tongue, your throat and so on. And I have to review myself quite exactly, because every time I have to find exactly the same tone when this figure speaks. This is an exercise in my mother tongue, but because I am trained in speaking differently, it might be one of the reasons why I am capable of imitating a foreign language quite easily, when I have native speakers to listen to.
Well, so far so good (which is by the way one of the phrases that caught my attention while listening to an episode today - so I can tick it off in my green book) this is the story about my language learning journey. I hope you enjoyed it
Alastair from Leonardo English says
Isabella is an inspiration, and I was thrilled to receive her "audio" version of this text as well. I'm sure that people will be amazed at how good her pronunciation is, especially for someone who has spent such little time in an English-speaking country. She is a wonderful example to others of what can be achieved with a curious mind, a good attitude, and an attentive ear. Keep it up, Isabella - I'm sure your book will be full of green ticks by the end of the year!