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The Lines Of Our Times

What lines can teach you about success today.

Tracy Lee Nicol



Parallex-Tricks-Ongoing-Learning-Personal Improvement

Eddie Obeng, founder of online business school Pentacle, says that parallax tricks exemplify what’s happening in the 21st century. Today, the pace of change is so fast that yesterday and today’s rules won’t apply tomorrow. Forecasts can’t keep up either.

The world today, in engineering speak

The reason many ideas, strategies and businesses fail is because they can’t keep up: Cyberspace moves at the speed of light, technology accelerates exponentially, and interconnectedness has gone global, but we’re still playing by yesterday’s rules.

Obeng describes the phenomenon using laminar and turbulent flow experiments. “Take a clear pipe and set the flow of water. Now inject coloured ink and it forms a line. Add more flow and the line appears to stay the same. As you increase flow the ink line starts to flicker and then break into eddies and whirls before being violently dispersed and diluted as the colour disappears.”

What’s happening in today’s business world is that the rules have changed from laminar to turbulent but we’re still using laminar learnings. In today’s world, turbulence brings opportunities but they operate by new rules.

So how do you cope?

While you could try to learn to keep up, correct answers don’t last forever because the rate of change has overtaken the pace of learning. So instead of doing things the old way by seeing things, understanding them, and taking time to put them into practice, think about whether the problem you’re solving is going to deliver in tomorrow’s world.

Iterate, iterate, iterate. After all, statistically only one in 100 000 business ideas are still in existence and making money two years after inception.

“Creativity and ideas are golden words but from the mouth of a CEO saying, ‘Take risks and be creative!’ to the ears of staff hearing ‘Do crazy things and I’ll fire you,’ something is going awry. Why? Because in the old world getting stuff wrong = failure.

There are only two ways to fail

“Here’s what’s great in the new world,” says Obeng. “There are only two ways to fail: One, you do something you should follow a procedure to and you do it sloppily — for that you should probably be fired. Two, you do something new that no one’s ever done before, and you get it completely wrong — you should get free pizza! Why? Because it’s smart failure: It’s about doing things differently enough that when you inject ink into the flow it changes the colour.“

So the next time you’re making an absolutely sensible and rational decision based on the past, think about whether it will make sense in tomorrow’s world.

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Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.


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Tips To Becoming Fluent

The ultimate goal when learning a new language is to use it fluently, as accuracy can be improved and developed over time.

Wits Language School




Learning a foreign language can be challenging and difficult, and requires great commitment and motivation. It is, however, one of the most enriching and rewarding skills that can be acquired over a lifetime. There are proven benefits to learning a second language, for example, improved intelligence, memory and concentration, as well as lowered risks of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Fluency is the ability to express oneself easily and coherently in real time. Accuracy is the ability to be correct and precise, and it means that one is communicating without any grammatical, vocabulary, tonal or any other errors. The ultimate goal when learning a new language is to use it fluently, as accuracy can be improved and developed over time.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

How you can improve your language fluency

There are a number of ways to improve fluency. Firstly, immerse yourself with native speakers as much as possible. Listen to them in their natural contexts and if you are unable to do this, watch movies and television shows in the language you are learning, or listen to audio books and music in that language. Another option for immersing yourself in a foreign language is to stream radio from a country that speaks it, or tune into a television station from that country on DSTV.

Find avenues to practice wherever and whenever you can.Having a friend to practice with can help you to stay motivated and focused. Practice speaking every day and try to learn new words and phrases every day. Encourage native speakers to correct you wherever possible.

Be prepared to invest a lot of time and dedication into learning a foreign language. Students are likely to stay motivated over the long-run if they have a good reason to learn the language.

The problem that many beginners encounter is that they become too focused on reaching a perfect end-stage that they get discouraged and never get past the early stages.

Become comfortable with making mistakes and try not to be perfect. Think in the language as much as possible, instead of thinking in your native language and then translating. Try to improve and remember specific grammar rules so as to avoid incomprehensibility or vagueness when communicating with native speakers.

Choose an comprehensive language course

When choosing a language course, remember to look for a course that focuses on all the language skills like reading, writing, listening, grammar and speaking. Read books, magazines, and other material in the target language whenever possible. Write something in the language every day, for example, a short sentence summing up your day, a diary entry, or an article.

Memorising lists of vocabulary can be quite challenging and very boring. A great way to build vocabulary is to learn vocabulary that is relevant to your life and things around you. You could start off by writing your “to do” lists and shopping lists in the language that you are studying. Practice by giving commands to your dog, labeling household items, and playing memory games.

Related: How English Language Skills Play An Essential Role In Building Trust With Your Customers

Social media platforms are another excellent way of interacting with native speakers, as users are able to interact with each other over the internet.

Web blogs are one of the many forms of social media, and provide a platform in which people can express issues related to their lives and different viewpoints that they may have. Blogs address a wide range of topics and are used in many different ways, which makes this platform an excellent means to practice your language of choice.

Practice, practice, practice

Try not to leave long gaps between courses or take a semester off, as you will forget your language at an alarming rate. If you are planning to go on holiday, take some exercises with you so that you can do these throughout your trip.Consider booking your next trip to the country where the language you are learning is spoken.

If you are serious about learning the language and getting direct pleasure from what you have learnt, you need to go where that language is spoken. Above all, you need to enjoy learning the foreign language and never stop having fun while learning.

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“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education.

Wits Language School




While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Benefits of face-to-face language learning

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: Ongoing Learning For Leaders

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Related: Why You Should Keep Learning

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Moreover,  Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short certificate courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a range of online short courses that enable you to study wherever you are. Certificates of Competence are awarded to successful participants for both certificate and online short courses


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Successful Adulting: Why Studying Isn’t So Scary

How to cope with studying as an adult.

Monash South Africa




Balancing the various priorities that fill your day is one of the greatest differences between studying as an adult and studying when you have just finished school. Students who have just finished school often only have their studies to focus on, whereas adults with full-time work commitments and/or a family to take care of have more on their plates.

While this is not to say that all new students having finished school do not have these priorities — more and more do these days — they also seem to have more support from the family unit. Adult students need to start their degrees with clear strategies to succeed.

Here are a few tips.

1. Make a time and a place that you can dedicate to your studies

This should allow you to work without interruption. Having your family understand and respect these boundaries is very important and critical to you doing well. If you have defined time to work, you can spend time freely with them once you are done.

Related: Struggle To Stay On Task At The Office? A New Study Says You’re Not The Only One

2. Find balance between the various aspects of your life

The best way to do this is to not fill too many hours with unnecessary work. Work or studying can easily expand to fill any amount of time you allow, and so you have to manage this so that you have enough time to work, study, relax, and do all the other things that are important to you, all the while remembering that time on task is important to your successful future.

3. If you do not understand, you should ask questions

Don’t be shy! As lecturers, we appreciate questions and enquiring minds. Understanding something now may mean the difference between passing or failing in future, so ask questions sooner rather than later.

4. Form a small study group with others

There is nothing more motivating than being on the same path as others. Everyone has different skill sets and abilities, and members of your study group will help you gain a new perspective on your work.

5. Find a mentor that you can learn good habits from and whose input you value

It takes a lot of courage to find a good mentor, but this relationship will benefit you in years to come. The key is to find someone who is in a place in life that you admire, either from a personal or professional perspective.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

6. Don’t fall behind with your studies and make sure you keep up to date

Take time to check that your notes are updated, in order and make sense. The best way to do this is to use some time after lessons each day to go over that day’s work to be sure you have the work well summarised and in a form that you can use for revision. Another impactful way to check your understanding of a topic is to find a friend in the class who needs help, and help them. You cannot explain the work if you don’t understand it. If you are not brave enough to do this, then draw a face on an orange or an apple and explain the work to the fruit!

Pulling it all together

Starting and completing a degree as an adult student is not as overwhelming as it may appear at first. The key is to break it down into small, manageable steps. By putting positive, constructive habits in place and surrounding yourself with a support system, you will not only obtain your degree, but enjoy the process of learning and growing.

If you’re ready to take the next step and fast forward your career, learn more about Monash South Africa’s MSA Executive education programme at

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