Alphabet politics: Change your alphabet, alienate people

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...
Confessions of an Economic Hit man

Living in the middle of many worlds

Are you multilingual and looking for a job? How about being a spy or economic hit man? Candidate character description: Multilingual, sensitive to other cultures, can mix with local populations in difficult areas around the world,...

Don’t fault innovative musicians!

Instead of criticizing people who are risk takers, we should be applauding their efforts because if we don’t innovate, these languages are going to die.

Living in multiple realities

Being a world traveler and polyglot can disorient someone, even a seasoned traveler like myself. I think my brain is not able to process multiple realities simultaneously. I am actually kind of embarrassed to...
The Whistleblower film

Could speaking English empower female sex trafficking victims to escape?

I rarely talk about the practical life-saving applications of speaking another language. But the topics of female sex trafficking and bride kidnapping make me wonder about how speaking another language, particularly English, could liberate...

Why culture and language matter

My friend Eric Blaisdell painted these drawings when he was teaching English in Japan to show important it is to learn cultural norms when in a foreign country. In the case of the clueless...

Bride kidnapping in Central Asia, Is an English speaking woman less likely to be...

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...

Teaching language learning in areas marred by ethnic violence

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...
woman's mouth with $20 bill

Putting my money where my mouth is

I was born in a Communist country where you couldn’t speak freely. If you opposed the government, you would go to jail or you’d go to a gulag (prison camp) and may never return,...
Mental health problems

How to identify depression and find help

I am writing to convince you why it’s important to talk to people who are close to you about their mental health issues. If you don’t want to do it because it makes you...

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