Reflections on language learning: wáss shí der? wəz ʃi ðeə |

To help students improve their speaking and listening skills, lessons with ‘MiProfe’ are based on modern teaching techniques, using some of the best practises and direct or communicative methodologies.  Historically, until the 1970s and early 1980s the ‘grammar-translation’ method prevailed, when students translated and learnt lots of grammar theory.

These days most language schools and teachers use effective methodologies which bring early results for the vast majority of learners. The focus is on speaking and listening in the new language with students’ objectives in mind. Lessons are almost completely in the new (or second) language with only a few exceptions perhaps later on – for example reverse translations i.e. Spanish to English for practise, and when learning about false cognates (“false friends” ) e.g. ‘actually’ – English vs. ‘actualmente’ Spanish.

If you are progressing towards the intermediate levels, a good general English course will include a wide variety of subjects, including:

  • vocabulary acquisition –  and techniques,
  • “building” good linguistic foundations,
  • communication and verbal agility
  • asking questions correctly
  • conversational short answers
  • active listening and exercises to develop comprehension
  • pronunciation, speech patterns, intonation, voice and sentence stress – and of course…
  • lesson topics chosen for your learning objectives and requirements – or those of your small group, if applicable.

Always remember: a very important choice you have to make is: do you want either to speak more and understand (listen) more, or do you want to learn to translate to your mother tongue?

There is a big difference!

Let’s take a look at this idea.

There are many Internet resources – some (in my opinion) excellent, others (in my view) quite reasonable – and others which are barely adequate. In fact, some pages and pronunciation and ideas are (in my professional view) not going to help you meet the above goals of developing your verbal expression (speaking) and auditory comprehension (listening) at all. 

In the end using even good book and Internet resources in isolation will not usually bring good results.   There is little or no substitute for dynamic lessons, tuition and coaching with a native language teacher.


There are many Blogs about English language learning (such as this Blog, for example!).

Below is is an excerpt from an email from a different blog. My questions are :

  • how much do you think it will help comprehension and spontaneous conversation? 
  • Does it develop your comprehension and self-expression?

Verbo To be
– Ser – estar

Pronunciación aproximada
Yo estuve allí
I was there
ái wáss dér
 ˈaɪ wəz ðeə |
Tú no estuviste allí
You were not there
iú wér nót dér
ju wə nɒt ðeə |
Él no estuvo allí
He was not there
hí wáss nót dér
hi wəz nɒt ðeə |
¿Estuviste tu allí?
Were you there?
wér iú der?
wə ju ðeə |
¿Estuvo ella allí?
Was she there?
wáss shí der?
wəz ʃi ðeə |
¿No estuviste tú alli?
Weren’t you there?
wéren’tchú der?
wɜːnt ju ðeə |
¿No estuvo ella allí?
Wasn’t she there?
wássn’t shí der?
ˈwɒznt ʃi ðeə |
No, tú no estuviste allí.
No, you weren’t there.
nóu, iú wéren’t dér
nəʊ | ju wɜːnt ðeə |
No, ella no estuvo allí.
No, she wasn’t there.
nóu, shi wássn’t dér
nəʊ  ʃi ˈwɒznt ðeə |
Ellos han estado allí.
They have been there.
déi háv bín dér
ˈðeɪ həv biːn ðeə |
¿Han estado ellos allí?
Have they been there?
háv déi bin dér?
həv ˈðeɪ biːn ðeə |
¿No has estado allí?
Haven’t you been there?
havén’t iú bin dér?
ˈhævn̩t ju biːn ðeə |
Yo he estado allí
I’ve been there
áiv bín der.
aɪv biːn ðeə |
Tú no has estado allí.
You haven’t been there.
iú háven’t bín der.
ju ˈhævn̩t biːn ðeə |
Ella no ha estado allí
She hasn’t been there
shí hássn’t bín der
ʃi ˈhæznt biːn ðeə |
¿Ha estado ella allí?
Has she been there?
háss shí bín der?
həz ʃi biːn ðeə |


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