forest green gold small4 300x216 Learn a New Language with Focus Language: in Person or OnlineWould you like to learn a Foreign Language? Focus Language makes it feasible and enjoyable.

Easy to learn:

Many people believe that learning a new language is a difficult and boring task. We make it doable and fun. We provide you with the right teachers, the right materials and the right programs. We have thirty years experience helping people learn.

Fast:

We understand how to structure our programs so you can learn efficiently and fast. All you need to do is apply and enjoy yourself… Continue reading

French is a wonderful language to know. It has fewer native speakers than Mandarin or English, but it its presence is widespread throughout the world. In Europe, Africa, Asia and Canada, knowing French will allow you to communicate in many places. Continue reading

Effective language learning follows certain principles. At the most basic level, you must make sure that your input and your output are balanced. Input refers to how much of the new language you listen to and read on a daily basis. Output is the way you train yourself to speak.

Input in your language program.

The two most important things you can do here are to listen to the new language intensively, and to read as much of it as possible.  Yes, it is useful to study basic grammar and vocab, but it must be reinforced by a… Continue reading

1209922 66296139 300x199 Learning a Language with PassionPassion, in any area of our life, improves our performance and insures that our motivation remains high. Learning a language is not an instantaneous process. Many advertisers tell you you can learn Chinese or French in a month, 10 days or  even 3 days. This is of course unrealistic (I mean absurd).  It takes time and application to develop fluency in any language: ask any baby.  It is possible to learn smatterings of shopping language or travel  language in a few hours. And it… Continue reading

Blue hills 300x225 Learning Mandarin Chinese Part 7: CharactersDo you want to learn Mandarin? Beyond ordering food and buying souvenirs? So you can actually communicate?

Learn the Characters. It may seem a daunting tasks to learn several thousand characters.( Why don’t they use an alphabet like us? )

But, if you want to progress in the language, you need to be able to read. End of story.  Pinyin is a great tool to get you started and to teach you the pronunciation of new words. But the characters contain the… Continue reading

699898 966922112 300x226 Learning Mandarin Chinese Part 6: TonesTones are what gives mandarin its character. Each syllable is actually spoken on a different note. It is at first a challenge for Westerners when learning to speak, simply because we are not used to them. The best thing you can do is to listen to Mandarin being spoken. What do you hear? Can you imitate it?

Mandarin has four tones and a neutral tone.  My best advice to anyone wanting to speak this language is to learn how to say the tones comfortably.  You need to hear… Continue reading

Water lilies 300x225 Learning Mandarin Chinese Part 5: PinyinPinyin is the writing system that allows you to read Mandarin immediately. It is written with the Roman alphabet and is very consistent. You just need to learn how to read the different sounds.  Some letters are used as they are in English: bei, hua, lao etc. Others are not. You simply need to learn the new values: xi is pronounced like she and qi is pronounced like chi.

Pinyin makes it possible to pronounce Chinese fairly accurately very fast.  You want to be learning how to… Continue reading

reddish butterfly white flowers1 300x225 Learning Mandarin Chinese Part 4: Mandarin SoundsSome people learn the sounds of a language just by listening. Some learn by first understanding how the new sound system works.  I find that getting acquainted can be a good initial step. A map can never replace walking or driving in a real place but it can be of great use.

I will not systematically present the sounds of Chinese here. I only want to mention a few features.

Se-pa-rate

The Chinese language is based around individual characters: one syllable each.  So each syllable is… Continue reading

MANDARIN AND SOUND

564762 26651672 300x225 Learning Mandarin Chinese Part 3: SoundLanguage is sound.  Arrgh! … Oops! … Wow! …  Oh noooo! …  Various combinations of sound  communicate our meaning.  As you approach Mandarin as your new language, get acquainted with its sounds. The better you hear, the easier it will be to understand natives. The better you sound when you speak, the easier your communication will be.

Falling in love

My advice is always to learn a language that you are attracted to. It is much easier to spend time with something… Continue reading

511428 44705167 300x100 Learning Mandarin Chinese: Getting started Part 2So how do you proceed from here? You have a general idea what you need to learn. What is the best approach to learn effectively? the most effortless and fruitful? So many programs! So many promises!

Whatever  system you choose, there are two fundamental ways to approach the language.  Output and input based.

1. Output

This is the traditional approach. We are immediately asked to memorize and use an increasing amount of vocabulary and grammar. We are also asked to produce spoken and written language… Continue reading