At the risk of sounding like I am crazy, I hear multilingual voices in my head. To learn native pronunciation, I first hear a native speaking in my head. When we see things in our heads, we refer to that as seeing with the mind’s eye. How about when we hear native speakers of foreign languages in our heads? Shall we call that “in the mind’s tongue”? My accent changes and I hear native accents in my head without any deliberate effort. My mind’s tongue has a mind of its own! Brazilian and Portuguese flags Given how I have had both European Portuguese and Brazilian influences along my journey to learning Portuguese, I have a mixed accent. When I’m in Brazil, people ask me if I have lived in Portugal or if I have Portuguese family because my vowels are more closed, like Portuguese vowels. But in Portugal, people often ask me if I’ve lived in Brazil or if I have Brazilian family because I pronounce a “d” followed by an “e” as a “zh” sound. My accent is Brazilian with my consonant and vowel combinations and Portuguese by my vowels. When I put those together, I have a mixed… Read more »
Posts By: Susanna
There’s a big difference between a learned and a lived language. It took a carrot to make that difference abundantly clear to me. In California, I sometimes speak Portuguese in the weekly pagode group I attend, where I sing samba music. Sometimes I read news articles in Portuguese, but my regular exposure to the language is limited. Being in Portugal for six days in late 2017 and early 2018 was a welcome re-entry into the language. I even held a Portuguese-language film screening of Saved by Language (about how the Ladino language saved a Bosnian boy’s life in the Holocaust) in Lisbon that was covered by the local Portuguese press. Even though I could speak about endangered languages in Portuguese, I had a funny incident when ordering my first meal! Tired, jet lagged, and hungry, I went to eat at a local tasca restaurant in the Graça area of the Alfama neighborhood soon after arriving in Lisbon. I asked the restaurant owner which vegetables came with the grilled salmon I had ordered. The woman said cenoura (carrot). Embarrassed that I didn’t know what the word was, I asked her to show me the vegetable. She showed me a carrot, and said,… Read more »
The strange thing with the Portuguese language is I don’t remember why I wanted to learn it, yet I can speak it. The Spanish language and Italian literature and film have been major influences in my learning the Portuguese language and becoming interested in Portugal.
One missing digit One missing digit (not a finger!) almost kept me from going to India. En route to Chennai (Madras), I had a rude awakening at the Frankfurt airport: my passport number in my Indian e-visa was missing one number! I hadn’t noticed the missing digit when I received the email with my Indian e-visa. The airline check-in people at the San Francisco airport also hadn’t noticed the mistake. The German customs official would not let me through customs to my India-bound flight. I only had an hour to sort out my visa before the plane was going to board and I was getting stressed about how to fix my problem without being stuck in Germany or being forced to return to San Francisco. Indian e-visa logo My only option was to call the Indian e-visa company in India and ask them to change the e-visa immediately and send me an email with my new visa. I thought I would use the Indian SIM card in my international mobile phone to call the Indian e-visa company. It turns out that my Indian SIM card didn’t work outside of India. Instead of the Indian e-visa company, I called… Read more »
This article came out earlier this year from the UK showing that state jobs require foreign language knowledge while fewer school offer language classes. This means that more people will have to learn on their own. Perhaps they could use my book, Language is Music? Foreign languages are ‘elitist’ subjects A generation of children is being left behind as foreign languages become “elitist” subjects dominated by private school pupils, according to research. By Graeme Paton, Education Editor, Telegraph, 20 Jan 2010
New Haven schools get $1.3M for language studies; Chinese, Arabic to be expanded By the New Haven Register In Connecticut, the school systems is expanding its Chinese and Arabic language classes and including parents in the learning process. See this quote: “Part of the grant “involves the design and implementation of a Saturday program where students and parents attend separate classes focused on the language program the child has chosen. Parents will learn basic language skills and cultural aspects, and there will be field trips that parents and students enjoy together,” the statement said.” Great idea to get the parents involved!
From USA Today and Higher Ed, one college is finally getting it right and making foreign language education be more than just grammar and literature by offering non-literature alternatives to foreign language classes. Hallelujah! Colleges strive to make foreign languages relevant By Elizabeth Redden
Having just read this article written by Nikita Khrushchev’s great grand-daughter about how one of the Russian spies couldn’t hide his Russian accent makes me both laugh and wonder why the Russian government spent so much money on a spy who could not learn American English to perfection. Learning a language is not just about imitating an accent, it’s also about becoming like the person of the target language and adapting to life as one of them. Read on, this is a great article. The Spy Who Came in by Amtrak: Why is Russia spying on Khrushchev’s great-granddaughter?
Despite the financial controversies mentioned at the end of the article, this is fascinating. The Seagram’s heiresses are investing in multilingual education and funding a project to have a 3 year old boy be raised by nannies speaking to him in five different languages. I always knew alcohol could help people loosen their tongues and speak other languages better:) Secret mission: A child By JAMES M. ODATO in the Times Union Quote from article: The boy has become part of a unique program begun by self-improvement organization NXIVM founder Keith Raniere called the “Rainbow Cultural Garden” aimed at helping youngsters master several languages. As a result, the child has been under the care of a number of different nannies, some from foreign nations, each using one of five different languages.
For parents whose childrens’ schools have cut foreign language education, it’s imperative to use foreign language music, movies, TV and radio at home to keep their kids learning. A software program WON’T be enough. See this article from the Star Ledger in New Jersey: Computer programs replace foreign language teachers in N.J. classrooms after budget cuts