Posted by & filed under Como aprender idiomas con música y los medios, Susanna's TV interviews.

Susanna Zaraysky, autora del libro, El Idioma es Música, habla con Fabiola Kramsky del idioma ladino (de los judíos sefardíes expulsados de España durante la Inquisición) y cómo se conserva hoy en día con la música. Kat Parra canta “En la Mar”, una canción ladina. Al Despertar, Telefutura 66, San Francisco CA. Susanna Zaraysky speaks about the history of the Ladino language of the Spanish Jews expelled from Spain during the Inquisition and how it is being preserved today with music. (English subtitles are available by pressing the “CC” button in the lower right side of the screen or the Interactive Transcript button to the right of the flag button below the screen.)

Posted by & filed under Como aprender idiomas con música y los medios, Susanna's TV interviews.

English subtitles available by pressing the “CC” button in the lower right side of the screen or the Interactive Transcript button to the right of the flag button below the screen. Susanna Zaraysky, autora del libro, El Idioma es Música, habla con Fabiola Kramsky del idioma ladino (de los judíos sefardíes expulsados de España durante la Inquisición) y cómo salvó la vida de un joven judío bosnio durante la segunda guerra mundial. Kat Parra canta “Hannukiah”, una canción ladina. Al Despertar, Univision 14, San Francisco CA. Susanna Zaraysky speaks on San Francisco’s Univision station about how the ancient Ladino language saved a boy’s life during the Holocaust.

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

Going Kyrgyz in a Kyrgyz dance costume at a costume ball in Alameda, California.     Wearing the Kyrgyz kaplak hat. The Kalpak is a hat usually made from four panels of white felt with traditional patterns stitched into them as decoration. It is worn by males of all ages especially in rural Kyrgyzstan, and is a symbol of the nation.

Posted by & filed under Experiences.

Yes, I do enjoy linguistic ignorance from time to time. I met with a Turkish Couchsurfer when I was in Istanbul who generously spent two days showing me the city via the Bosphorous ferry and a drive along the Golden Horn. He wanted to give me a crash course in the Turkish language and I had to explain that after almost two weeks in Kyrgyzstan, where I was speaking in Russian all the time and sometimes interpreting (one of my most loathed activities), I wanted to be in the bliss of linguistic ignorance and understand little to nothing of what is said around me. My brain needed a break. When you are in a city as beautiful as Istanbul, and so full of history, just soaking it in is a delight. Here are some photos of what I enjoyed looking at and admiring. When I walked into the Hagia Sophia, I wondered, “Why do so few Americans have passports?” With wonders like this former cathedral that became a mosque under the Ottoman Empire, reasons abound to travel the world.   A little language fun… In Russian, this börek shop would mean Idiot’s börek (meat or spinach filled pastries)!   Palace… Read more »

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

Last year, I reported on how the problems resulting from the Azeri language of Azerbaijan being written in Latin script instead of Cyrillic letters. In Azerbaijan, the elderly who haven’t caught on to the new alphabet, can’t read official documents or the election ballots, so they don’t vote. On my recent trip to Central Asia, I learned that in Uzbekistan, the country switched from the Cyrillic alphabet to Latin letters (like the ones we use in English but with accent marks). The new writing system makes it super difficult for the Uzbek diaspora to communicate. The ethnic Uzbeks living in Kyrgyzstan still use the Cyrillic alphabet and Uzbek kids in Kyrgyzstan can’t read children’s textbooks from Uzbekistan because they are written in the Latin alphabet. Why Uzbekistan switched to the Latin alphabet is beyond me. Was it to reject Soviet occupation? It’s one thing to be mad at one’s colonizer, it’s another thing to throw out the baby with the bath water. Why change alphabets when the population is already used to reading in writing in Cyrillic? It seems like an unnecessary burden on the population to learn to read and write anew. After the wars and demise of the… Read more »

Posted by & filed under Como aprender idiomas con música y los medios, How to learn languages with songs and the media, Multilingual identity.

Version en español. With over 20 official Spanish speaking countries, few people know of another Spanish language: Ladino. The language is also known as judeo-español, Djudeo-Espanyol, Djudeo-Kasteyano, Judezmo, Djudezmo, Spaniolit, and גודיאו-איספאנייול‎‎. No, it’s not Latino. It’s not Latin. It’s Ladino, the language of the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal at the time of the Inquisition. The Ottoman Empire invited Sephardic (Spanish) Jews to its lands. Those Jewish communities kept their old Spanish language and to this day there are still people in Turkey, the Balkans and Israel who speak the language. Unfortunately, most Ladino speakers are elderly and haven’t maintained the language with their children. Thus, this form of Spanish, with its Turkish, Greek and other linguistic influences, is on the road to linguistic extinction. Why preserve the language? It can save a life. You may wonder why someone living in Bulgaria or Bosnia would bother to maintain a language from a country from which his or her ancestors were expelled. The same question could be asked of my parents who forced me to learn Russian despite their having left the former Soviet Union as traitors to Communist paradise. You could also ask Cubans who fled Fidel Castro’s… Read more »

Posted by & filed under Como aprender idiomas con música y los medios, How to learn languages with songs and the media, Multilingual identity.

For the English version of this article, please click here. Con más de 20 países de habla hispana, pocos conocen el otro idioma español: el ladino. No, no es “latino” ni “latín”. Es el ladino (judeo-español, djudeo-espanyol, djudeo-kasteyano, judezmo, djudezmo o spaniolit), la lengua hablada por los descendientes de los judíos españoles y portugueses (los sefardíes) expulsados por la Inquisición en el siglo XV. El imperio otomano invitó a los sefardíes a sus dominios de los Balcanes, el Medio Oriente y la actual Turquía. Esas comunidades conservaron el ladino, que aún se habla en Turquía, los Balcanes e Israel, pero desgraciadamente la mayoría de los ladinoparlantes son personas de edad. Este idioma, con sus influencias griegas, turcas y de otras lenguas, está por morir. ¿Para qué conservar el idioma? Le puede salvar su vida. ¿Por qué es importante para alguien de Bulgaria o Bosnia conservar un idioma que hunde sus raíces en el país del que fueron expulsados sus antepasados? Se podría hacer la misma pregunta a mis padres, que me obligaron a aprender ruso aunque nos fuimos de la Unión Soviética como traidores al paraíso comunista. Y lo mismo se podría preguntar a los exiliados cubanos en los EE…. Read more »

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

The odd irony of giving three presentations about language learning in a city that saw 450 people killed last year in ethnic violence was not lost on me. Via the US Embassy, I was in Osh, Kyrgyzstan informing language students and teachers about how to learn and teach various languages using songs, TV, radio, movies and other activities. I spoke in Russian and English to 13-15 year olds and adult language teachers and professors. When I looked out into my audience, I saw ethnic Uzbek, Kyrgyz and white faces (either ethnic Russian or German Russians called Russlanddeutsche). For more information about the origins and history of the Kyrgyz and Uzbek, please visit the Wikipedia pages for the Kyrgyz and Uzbek people. The BBC recently did a report on ethnic tension in Osh, Kyrgyzstan and showed a mixed Uzbek-Kyrgyz couple talking about the problems their children face in finding a spouse. They don’t know if they should marry and Uzbek or a Kyrgyz. Interestingly, they did the interview in Russian, which may be the language they use to communicate with each other. I see language learning as a way for people to bring down the barriers between peoples and communicate. It’s… Read more »

Posted by & filed under Multilingual identity, Multilingual women.

Talking about learning English using music and media at the American Corner, Kant, Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyz flag on wall. In the past year, I’ve been paying more attention to reaching out to girls and women who want to learn foreign languages. While speaking to Benny Lewis at the beginning of the year, we talked about why there are more men publicizing their language knowledge online than women. You can see Benny Lewis’ blog post on the gender differences in polyglot activity online and my post on the subject. Jennifer Wagner of IE Languages and I also had an email exchange on the topic which she discusses in her blog post, Female Polyglots and Language Learners – Where Are You? . What I am thinking about how is how being multilingual can impact a woman’s life, especially if she’s in a country where the status of women is low and women are kidnapped to become brides. As I am originally from the former Soviet Union, the problems faced by women in this part of the world concern me deeply. Although Russia does not have a culture of bride kidnapping, many women are trafficked from Russia and other Russian language countries to be… Read more »