Improving my Portuguese, one (lost) calorie at a time

Posted by & filed under Experiences, How to learn languages with songs and the media.

We’ve probably heard of people improving their conversation skills in a language over a meal. I’m reversing the trend. Portuguese vocabulary goes up and the inches melt away. (Let me be ambitious and count in inches which are longer than centimeters!) When I say “reading Brazilian books on a bike to improve my Portuguese”, is this the image that comes to mind?

Rediscovering Budapest and reveling in the Polyglot Conference

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Have you ever felt like traveling into your past while being marveled by the present? My trip to Budapest for the Polyglot Conference was both a trip to my past and a wonderful journey to be with others who are passionate about foreign languages. Before my trip to Budapest, I was in Mexico doing presentations on learning English for the US Consul General in Tijuana and I had no time to practice my Hungarian. Sorry Hungarians, but who wants to practice magyar when you can admire the stunning sunsets and sand animals at the tip of the Baja California peninsula instead? My Hungarian had once been at an A2-B1 level. But that was in the last millennium when Hong Kong had just been “returned” to China. Not exactly yesteryear and not anywhere in the forefront of my memory. The only person with whom I sometimes exchange pleasantries in Hungarian in California actually speaks less Hungarian than I do even though he spent twice as many months in the country as I had. When I reached home in Alta California (the US side) from Baja, I had four days to unpack, wash my clothes, pack, celebrate Mother’s Day, handle two media… Read more »

Vote for a language education start-up to get a $100,000 grant

Posted by & filed under Free Language Learning Resources.

By Tyler Ulrich (guest blogger) Language education is competing against other industries for $100,000 The Loogla language and literacy project may be awarded $100,000 in a grant competition. Watch the video and spread the word! voteliteracy.com No logins, age or national restictions to vote. Please support language education through voting and sharing this video. About Loogla Not everyone has a gift for language, and many get a late start. Even the most well-intentioned and earnest late-bloomers often quit from frustration shortly after they plateau. The Loogla project, a portmanteau of Looking Glass Language in honor of Lewis Carroll’s contributions to the playful exploration of language, promises a way to try again and finally achieve their goals. Loogla turns any material on the web into activities and guidance contributed by an community of instructors. The intent is to empower learners to be active in their own acquisition process, without putting other aspects of their lives on hold. One of our simpler, but beloved, tools is Smart Syntax. For example, ELL students reading Create Your World Book could instantly encode this page with shapes and colors to make the grammar (gender, number, tense, mood) more intuitive. The page also becomes interactive and… Read more »

Beyond Gangnam Style: Learning Korean via Korean Music

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An Introduction to Korean Indie Music for Korean Language Learners Guest post by Sam Gendreau It’s been 5 years since I started looking for some of the best possible—preferably noncommercial—Korean bands out there, and today is your lucky day because I’ll share some of my findings with you! It’s not an exhaustive list by any standard, especially due to space constraints, and of course it’s subjective, but hopefully this will pique your curiosity and serve as a good introduction to Korean music. By “Indie,” I mean bands or artists that write their own music and that are less mainstream than, say, KPOP and manufactured music ready-made for mass consumption. This “Indie” label is common in Korean music, and such music is often referred to as “K-Indie”. Technically, this could include genres as wide as rock, pop, grunge, acoustic, folk, ballad, and more. For the top 10 bands, I’ve included an introduction to the band/artist, including the kind of music they play, the amount of years they’ve been on the scene, and the number of CDs they’ve released. I’ve also embedded a video for you to listen to, for what I consider to be one of each band’s “best” songs (one… Read more »

The Language of Race and Gender

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By Umar Alim Al-Junaid One of the hardest things to be is an American citizen who speaks other languages, but being an African- American who speaks several languages has its own unique set of issues. For one, 99.99% of the time you feel as if you are the only person within a 3,000 mile radius who speaks another language, you find yourself searching through outlets such as Youtube for people who look like you that speak several languages, and when you do find them, you clamor like a lonely, desperate adolescent. You find yourself reaching out to them on every social network there is – begging and hoping that they will add you to their inner circle of coolness. By the way, thank you Moses McCormick, Idahosa Ness, and David Mansaray. Meanwhile in real life, everyone in the community is so impressed that you speak 3 or 4 languages, but they want no parts of learning one for themselves…or maybe they just don’t know where to start. Either way, this is what inspired me to write my first book The Book on Language Learning: 10 Reasons Why African Americans NEED To Learn a Second Language.  My aim was to not… Read more »

Why you should care about endangered languages

Posted by & filed under Benefits of multilingualism.

Endangered species. Endangered whales. Endangered languages? What’s an endangered language? About half of the world’s 6000 languages will be extinct in 100 years unless we act to preserve them. In this video, I explain why you should care about languages, how linguistic diversity enriches your life and brain health and what we can do to keep languages alive.

What Facebook executive’s new book tells about women, success & foreign languages

Posted by & filed under Multilingual women.

Sheryl Sandberg, cover of Time Magazine The TIME Magazine “Confidence Woman” cover story on Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, and her new book, Lean In, about women, success and careers made me very angry.  The article reinforced what I was already suspecting was the explanation for why we don’t see more female polyglots being public about their foreign language successes. Women’s success is not appreciated by her peers. Men’s success is appreciated. Translate this into foreign language skills and this is the picture you see. While many foreign language classes have more females than males, we see more men than women on the Internet showing their language abilities. Women play down their abilities while men are taught that it is good to show off or at least be public about their accomplishments. Read this excerpt from Sandberg’s new book Lean In about the double standard that pervades the way a powerful woman is viewed in society vs how a man with the same traits is lauded by his peers. In 2003, Columbia Business School professor Frank Flynn and New York University professor Cameron Anderson ran an experiment. They started with a Harvard Business School case study about… Read more »

Russia through French eyes: Experiencing life anew in a different language

Posted by & filed under How to learn languages with songs and the media, Multilingual identity.

Russian through French

Rare is the book which envelops my attention, delights me in its prose, makes me re-read passages both for the joy of the flow of the sentences and for the content and strikes a chord with me personally. Le testament français (UK edition)/Dreams of my Russian Summers (US edition) not only had all of the aforementioned effects but it also made me get out my pen and underline key sentences and make notes. I hadn’t done that since my college years. The story is fictional. It’s about a teenage boy in Siberia in post-World War II Russia who learns about pre-Revolutionary Russia and Paris before World War I from Charlotte, his French grandmother. He learns about the opulence of the Tsar’s visit to France in French. Via the French language, he feels as though he enters into another world, one whose words he doesn’t even know in Russian. The author, Andrei Makine, is a Siberian novelist who writes in French and has been living in France since he defected from the former Soviet Union in 1987. While devouring the book, I often recalled my own discovery of the riches of pre-Soviet St. Petersburg via a French novel, La gouvernante française,… Read more »

Polyglot dreaming: In which language do you dream?

Posted by & filed under Benefits of multilingualism, Multilingual identity.

I have heard on several occasions that the sign of fluency in a language is when one dreams in the language. That can’t be true. Or else I’m fluent in Arabic without being aware of it! I briefly studied Arabic but I don’t speak it. However, sometimes I have dreams in Arabic, or in what sounds like Arabic, in Arabic-speaking countries and I understand what is going on. In this video, I speak with Luca Lampariello and Richard Simcott about the languages in which they dream.