Tag Archives: Italian

Victoria’s language learning, and teaching story.

Could you tell us about your own language learning journey, at home and school as a child.

 

I remember being interested in languages from an early age.  I was lucky enough as a child to go on family to holidays to France quite a lot (living in Kent made it fairly easy to pop over on the ferry) and I loved trying out phrases my parents taught me.  Normally, buying sweets or asking for ‘frites’ on the campsite.  I was also fascinated with the Netherlands as we have family friends there and I remember dressing up as a Dutch girl for a school summer fayre with the theme of European countries.  When I was in the last year of primary school, a

German lunchtime club was offered which I loved going to.  Moving on to secondary school, I enjoyed both French and German lessons, taking both for GCSE and French for A level.  Following this, I decided to study French at university and start Italian alongside. (I think the incentive of a year abroad was one of the deciding factors for this!)

 

 

What inspired you to love languages?

My teachers at secondary school were very inspiring and I enjoyed all their lessons.  We went on two trips to France with school which were great fun.  I also just enjoyed finding out and learning new vocabulary and for some reason I loved learning French grammar!

 

 

What led you to pass on your love of languages to others through teaching?

 

I have mainly taught in schools located in areas of high deprivation where children don’t often get the opportunities that others would. I think it is really important to widen their horizons and show them there is a world out there with which they can communicate.  I love it when they find out something new about a country or learn a phrase to use.  The children are on a level playing field when learning a language so it gives everyone a chance to shine which is really important, especially for those who may struggle in other areas of the curriculum.  I ran two trips to France at my previous school and the majority of children had never been out of the East Midlands.  It was wonderful to see their fascination when arriving in a different country.

 

Could you tell us about ALL  

 

The Association for Language Learning or ALL is a small charity which promotes language learning and supports teachers in the teaching of languages.  We work closely with a team of volunteers and cultural institutes to provide support and help to anyone teaching a language.  For example, through CPD events, resources, our magazine and research articles.  I think it is important, with the workload of teachers being so high at the moment, that there is good quality support and materials out there to make everyone’s life easier!  I still teach, alongside my role in the office, and the resources and ideas I use from ALL are brilliant. I would urge anyone involved in the teaching of languages to get on board.  We would love to have you as part of our association!

 

Inspirational Italian mummy Giulia

This month’s inspirational mum is Giulia Giaco from thenyoucamealong.com

I’ll let her introduce herself.

I am a woman of mid-30’s from Italy. I’ve changed my life many times in the past 6 years, from Law in Italy, to HR  and Hospitality manager in Vancouver and now mother in Sydney.

 

Could you tell us how you learned languages with your parents and in school

Honestly, in Italy, English is rarely taught well. To learn a language it is very important to have bi-lingual or native english speaker teacher, and we don’t always get that. Normally they teach literature or grammar using boring books. Instead, with my parents we often played games… “If I see an apple what am I seeing?” “Una mela!”. Songs were also very useful. The curiosity of understanding their meaning forced us to search for translations, so my entire generation probably needs to thank Take That and the Backstreet Boys for helping us improve our English.

 

So how did you meet your husband?

At that time I was sharing my apartment with other roommates, one of whom was a Spanish guy that was playing for a local soccer team in Vancouver. After a couple of weeks he invited my girlfriends and I to a soccer party….This funny Australian guy was there!! We spoke for an hour, or better he spoke and I was pretending to understand his terrible mumble and lazy accent (I always make fun of him for not being a native English speaker). We started to text each other, and after a month I had the first phone conversation with him. It was not really successful as we didn’t understand each other and we ended up chasing each other through various Subway stops.

Language barriers are sometimes funny, but can also just create massive misunderstandings. We still laugh about a couple of fights that started simply through miscommunication.

Sean and I we got married in July 2016 in a beautiful small church in Italy, surrounded by our multi-cultural group of friends and family, with everyone trying to communicate with the help of translators, body language and big smiles.

 

What do you love to do in your spare time?

I love cooking, just Italian of course, and hosting people in my house. I love making fun of the accent of my Aussie husband, probably as much as he enjoys making fun of my strong Italian one. I believe that my husband is an amazing designer, but I’m better at telling him what he likes haha. I love every single moment of creating these posters; from drawing them with Sean on the sofa to printing the final poster.

Our pregnancy is captured in this poster and in the name of the website, it is a box of memory for me.

 

Could you tell us a bit about the product your husband and you have developed.

What is it and why did you develop it?

 

We have developed a beautiful range bilingual posters, the artwork is fun and educational. The colourful designs attract the attention of kids of any age.

 

We  strongly believe exposure to a second language, at a young age is the easiest way for children to learn. By associating letters and words across different languages, the process of learning becomes simpler. With the repetition of ‘I Say, We Say…’ child and parent can create an enjoyable routine and together practice new words in multiple languages.

 

Our next project is to create a complementary range of posters, focusing on numbers, feelings, the weather, body parts etc.

 Want to find more about this product? Check out thenyoucamealong.com

 

Knight’s school and Chaucer -the Canterbury Tales Experience

We were so excited to be asked to review the Canterbury Tales Experience. It was a brilliant introduction to ‘Olde English’ culture.

We had only vaguely heard of Chaucer prior to our visit to Canterbury, so we took out a few books from the library to help familiarise ourselves with the story (Yes, I am uncultured!). The books which were most helpful were: Illustrated Canterbury Tales (Illustrated Story Collections) , Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales by Marcia Williams (4-Feb-2008) Paperback, and The Canterbury Tales in Modern VerseChaucer in Modern Verse. This meant we were familiar with the stories, and had talked about them with the kids, before we got there.
As we toured, we realised this preparation was not necessary as the stories were told really clearly, with lots of illustration from the set.

The multilingual audio guide told the stories as you reached each set. The guide was in English, Dutch, German, French, Japanese and Italian, as well as a less bawdy kids-English version. At the start, children​ were encouraged to choose a medieval costume to wear as we joined in the pilgrimage to Canterbury and listened to the stories along the way.

The guides begun the story in the Tabard Inn in London, where we joined the pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. The experience lasted about forty minutes, with a combination of live interaction and audio guides. It was really cleverly done: our favourite of the five stories was the one where the lady showed off her bottom (The Miller’s Tale).
medieval clothing, swords and helmets, and, surprisingly, mead for an authentic medieval experience. We had to take a bottle of locally produced mead home, of course!

After we had visited, we went into the churchyard, which had been transformed into a Medieval Story Garden complete with Knight School, herb garden, storytelling tent and Maypole Dance tuition. We spent an hour there and the kids loved it. Emily liked the Knight School best. As a mum, it was great to see my 16, 9 and 8 year olds all training to be knights together, though they did need reminding a few times not to fight each other. The guide was brilliant at keeping it under control and safe, which with children and swords is no mean feat!

Our amazing guide taught us all about medieval medicine in the herb garden, and we played a brilliant ‘match the herb to the illness’ game. My girls liked it so much they played it three times.

My favourite part of the Story Garden experience was the maypole dancing. It took a lot of practise and co-ordination to get the final effect to work. There was a lot of hilarity as we got tangled up along the way, chatting to other families we had only just met.

My middle daughter loves books, so the story tent was just her thing; full of medieval stories – including one by JK Rowling, which we promised to buy a copy of for her later.

When I checked my watch, I was surprised to see that we had spent over an hour in the Story Garden – my youngest even restarted the Knight School with another family, as she enjoyed it so much.

The Canterbury Tales Experience was suitable for all our family, aged from 8 to 42

If we’ve convinced you to join in the fun, there are a few special events to add to the overall enjoyment.

Monday 1 May, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Mystical Beasts
An assortment of Mystical Beasts will descend on The Canterbury Tales’ Medieval Story Garden for May Day, with themed activities including a Mystical Beasts Hunt, Longbow talks with our costumed character and the opportunity to practice some beast-slaying skills at Knight School!

Saturday 27 May – Sunday 4 June, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Magical Patterns
The Canterbury Tales team will be exploring the magic of patterns this May half term with a variety of activities in the Medieval Story Garden. Have your hair beautifully braided, marvel at the magic patterns in kaleidoscopes, try your hand at maypole dancing and enjoy a demonstration of Astrolabes, ancient instruments for determining time and the position of stars, which Chaucer himself was fascinated with.

Saturday 22 July – Friday 1 September, 11am – 3pm
Medieval Story Garden: Summer
Venture to The Canterbury Tales church yard this summer for a selection of medieval activities, all included in the visitor attraction’s admission price. Split into four zones, the church yard will be transformed into a Medieval Story Garden, offering younger guests the chance to try Maypole Dancing, hone their dragon slaying skills at Knight School, observe Medieval Medicine demonstrations and be enthralled by a tale in the Storytelling tent from a costumed character.

Saturday 2 & Sunday 3 December
Artisan Christmas Gift Fair
FREE ENTRY
A special festive market with a medieval twist. Shoppers will be able to step back in time to the streets of 14th century England and browse gifts from a host of talented Kent artisans and crafters.

Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 December
Magical Medieval Christmas
Enjoy a magical medieval Christmas at the award-winning Canterbury Tales attraction. Serenaded by carol singers, guests will meet Santa’s elves, write a Christmas wish to post in the special mail box and visit Santa’s grotto where there will be a gift for every child.

Disclaimer

We were given free admission to the experience in exchange for a review. These are our own thoughts and opinions.

Why would adults learn languages?

We have a brilliant guest blog from my lovely friend Nathalie. She speaks at least two languages daily and a few more besides, so must be always learning languages. Anyway, over to Nathalie

If you are reading this blog, the chances are you already know how beneficial the exposure to other languages is to children. What about us as adults though? Either you don’t know another language or you already know one, 2, 3… or even more… Either way I feel we should always either practise and improve our skills in one language or learn new ones. I don’t necessarily mean to become fluent but to learn new sounds, new rules, new cultures… Why?

• It sets a good example for the children around you
• It puts you in the position of a learner; no one should ever forget what it feels like to learn new things: the excitement and the challenges! This way you can always sympathise with other learners, especially children
• It gives you focus; you have to be committed in order to learn another language
• It is good for your brain: research has shown that learning languages can help protect against Alzheimer’s
• It gives you direct access to more understanding: of words, of texts, and more importantly of people, even without travelling
• When you have found a way which works for you, it should be enjoyable too; if it isn’t, try another language… or another way!
I am sure they are many more reasons… please do share them with us!!


So which language am I learning at the moment?
I am learning Italian, partly with Duolingo, because I am going to Rome in April and I want to be able to communicate at least a little and I want to be able to pronounce food when I order it! Then I will learn Dutch ahead of a trip to Amsterdam with the football team which I coach and my daughter plays for; I will be encouraging the girls to try speaking Dutch when we’re there! Afterwards, I would like to learn some Arabic as a change from the European languages which I know and love… and an extra challenge!

Which language are you learning at the moment? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to read more of Nathalie’s blogs and brilliant book reviews check out.
http://www.nattalingo.co.uk/

How do you become a polyglot?

This week we are really blessed to have an exclusive interview with a man who speaks at least twelve languages, Dimitrios Polychronopoulos. I hope it inspires your own language learning journey.


Could you tell us about your language learning journey?

When I was growing up, I dreamed of travelling the world and learning languages to speak to the people I would meet in the different countries I would visit. My first languages were English and Greek. I’m a Greek citizen and I grew up in the United States.

While I’m grateful for the lessons in the evening at the Greek Orthodox Church, where I learned to read and write in Greek, my ability with Greek wasn’t very strong when I was growing up. This is a common problem in many parts of the United States where children often lack peers with whom to speak their heritage language on a daily basis.

One solution to this was offered by Eithe Gallagher who presented at the Polyglot Conference in Thessaloniki in October 2016, and makes a case of promoting home languages in the classroom and I hope that soon we will see this kind of activity spreading to schools worldwide.

As a teenager, I was offered a choice of French, German or Spanish. For the university I wanted to attend, a foreign language in high school was required. Some people told me to protest that rule and say it shouldn’t be necessary in my case because of Greek. Because I was interested in language and culture anyway, I went ahead and enrolled in French courses without really thinking why I should choose this language and not one of the the other two.

The year after I started French, my parents took me to French Polynesia. People spoke fast when I tried to ask questions in my broken French. Despite my mom insisting I switch to English when speaking with the locals, I persisted with French to see how we could manage to communicate.

When two exchange students from France showed up at my high school the next year, they became my best friends and we learned a lot from each other. My French improved so much that I was able to be the first person from my high school to pass the Advanced Placement exam for university French credit. They invited me to France and I eventually earned a scholarship to study in Angers, France.

As I was finishing high school, also I started with my fourth language: Italian. Russian came next when I was 20 and I spent three months on a people-to-people exchange in the Soviet Union.

My sixth language was Spanish, which I added the next year after I was in the Soviet Union. It was amazing to read about the collapse of the Soviet Union in Spanish while visiting Costa Rica.

After university, I started to study Mandarin Chinese and began work in Taiwan as an English instructor.

So in my early 20’s I was up to seven languages to various degrees of competency. From my experience, Russian and Chinese are the most difficult languages I’ve ever studied. I can still converse in both languages and use LingQ and ReadLang as two methods of continuing to practice and improve on them. My Russian is rather basic though and I’m always making mistakes. Russian is difficult in terms of grammar and learning the rich vocabulary, but the alphabet was rather easy to pick up because I already knew the Greek alphabet.

My Chinese is modest, shall we say. It is difficult to learn the idiomatic expressions and the writing system. The first week of study, I also focused only on the tones. Unlike most learners of Chinese, I began simultaneously with the reading and writing. While learning daily conversation, I was also studying the Chinese radicals. After I finished my lesson book and cassettes from Audio Forum, which brought me to a basic conversational level after four months, I began to use children’s school books and learned the Mandarin Phonetic Alphabet to help read texts alongside the complex characters that five-year olds and then six-year olds and then seven-year olds would read at school.

From Taiwan, I moved to the Philippines where I completed a Master of International Studies. The time I spent living in Taiwan and the Philippines, over a span of five years, allowed me to easily enjoy visits to other parts of East Asia and I had the opportunity to explore a lot of the region.

In Manila, I had the chance to practice several of my languages while living at the university. I also began to study Tagalog and then Bahasa Indonesia. Fortunately there was a student from Greece there. My Greek was out of practice, but she helped me get it up to scratch. I also enrolled in advanced Spanish conversation and tried Portuguese for the first time but withdrew because the pace was too slow and boring. There were individuals who knew French and people from Mainland China and Taiwan, so I had lots of opportunities to use these languages, too.

After completing my studies in the Philippines, I moved to Greece and enjoyed my work there as a tour director. When I was on tour, I would also lead groups to Turkey as a part of their two-week journey to the region, so I began to study Turkish as well. In Turkish, I never reached the point of understanding the TV news or reading a newspaper, but I could communicate at the rudimentary level of taking taxis, handling issues with the tour driver and with the hospitality staff.

As for Greek, to reach a level of Greek more like people who grew up in Greece, I enrolled in courses at the Greek American Union in Athens and was placed in advanced classes with foreigners who had been living in Greece for a long time. It was also wonderful to live close to my family in Athens and I really enjoyed the time there.

A few years later, I moved to the Peloponnese and also began to take on tour assignments to Italy. The amounts of work in Italy allowed my Italian to improve a lot. Later I also began assignments to Spain and Costa Rica, which helped boost my Spanish.

One of the activities I enjoyed in the Peloponnese was kite surfing. One of my instructors was Brazilian and invited me to kite in Praia do Laranjal in southern Brazil. So I spent a couple of our winters in Brazil, which are their summers. I had ‘Teach Yourself Portuguese’ audio lessons and although I arrived and spoke Spanish to most people, I was able to switch to what they call Portuñol and eventually to Portuguese with a few Spanish word in it.

The year before I started hanging out in Brazil, I had been in Montevideo at La Herradura Language School. Ever since the day I began to study Spanish in 1991, every time I was in a Spanish environment, my Italian would disappear. Likewise, whenever I was in an Italian environment, my Spanish would disappear. Finally in 2008 I became capable of shifting between Italian and Spanish without much interference between languages. Then I moved to Spain and my Spanish continued to improve and I have fortunately been able to maintain my Italian.

In 2012 I started to study German in Hamburg with colon.de , and then later started to study Dutch on my own and then Norwegian up to A2 level in Oslo with language power and then continued Norwegian on my own after that.

Now I live in Norway where I completed an MBA recently and last year I worked on a tour a few times from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and on to Finland. I’ve dabbled with all four of these languages as well, using material such as Teach Yourself, LingQ and Routledge.

In May of 2016 at the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin I introduced my new language website yozzi.com, which aims to become the lang-8 (lang-8.com) for advanced language learners where people submit texts and receive corrections. The point is for people to practice writing entire articles in their target languages, not just sentences and paragraphs which is what lang-8 offers.

In June 2016, I became the congress coordinator for the Society of Intercultural Education Training and Research Europa (SIETAR Europa) sietareu.org for the congress in Dublin in late May 2017. Currently I’m dabbling with Irish.

Now that I’ve fulfilled my dream of travelling the world and learning languages, I’d like to use my languages in new ways, such as encouraging people to improve their writing skills as Yozzi aims to do, and in building intercultural understanding and awareness and to encourage language-learning.


Do you think learning languages is important and why?

Learning languages is a great way to build empathy. When a person has experienced the humility of trying to speak a different language and not being understood, of having a thick accent, bad grammar and limited vocabulary, it can make people who are otherwise in comfortable positions think about the struggle immigrants go through when they move to a new country in hope of improving their lives. Language learning also helps with educational opportunities as one can study in universities in different languages and also with career opportunities.

Do you have any new Language Learning challenges on the horizon?

My biggest focus is to reach an advanced level of Dutch and Norwegian. When there is a sense of urgency, I will likely bring one of the languages I’ve dabbled in up to a higher level. Motivation is the key when it comes to language learning. When motivation isn’t there, it’s hard to push beyond the A1 material. Another thing I have experienced is that if I reach an A2 level in a language but then don’t use it for a long time, the language drifts into a fog and that’s what has happened with Tagalog and Turkish. My main focus is with my twelve strongest languages and if circumstances arise to bring another language up to an intermediate level, then I will likely do so with an intense three-month language challenge, which I find very effective, such as with Brian Kwong’s Add One Challenge.

If you’d like to stay in contact with Dimitris check out these links
to Yozzi on:

twitter @LanguageYozzi
Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/yozzilanguage/

If you’d like to share your language learning journey on our blog we’d love to hear from you.

Meet Darren: Not bad at really simple foreign phrases.

I’m delighted to introduce you my inspirational linguist friend, Darren, who is not bad at really simple foreign phrases 😉 I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Could you tell us a little about your language learning journey?
My language learning journey began at about 7 years old when my teacher at the time came back from holiday and decided to teach the class some Italian phrases. I found I was able to remember them after just reading them a couple of times and I thought it was very exotic. The big trigger was from the most unlikely of places, though: the Heinz Invaders Fan Club. Heinz released a range of spaceship-shaped pasta dishes in the early 1980s and started a fan club, which my parents let me join. I waited a few weeks for the promised goodies, only to be told that the club wouldn’t run due to lack of interest. However, Heinz did send me an Invaders pack, which contained, among other things, an Invaders secret language decoder. And that was it. I was hooked on the idea that I could read a language that no one else could, and I started looking for more secret codes everywhere I could. Unfortunately, this was in the days before the Internet, so I was limited to what I could find when the library van came around.
Real languages didn’t enter my life until I started secondary school. I started learning German at 11, then added French at 13. I found German easy but struggled with French so I never really enjoyed it. I passed both my GCSE exams and then didn’t think about languages until around 2005, when a friend asked me to help her study Latin terms for her nursing exam. I was able to break each term down so that she could link it to something in her life and remember it all easily and I again felt the rush of having this “secret knowledge” again. Luckily for me, there were a lot of Polish girls at work who couldn’t speak English, so I started helping them in exchange for them helping me learn Polish. In no time I was using basic phrases and even managed to get myself a Polish girlfriend (now my wife) though she personally didn’t have any desire to teach me Polish. I decided to take lessons and enrolled at Bristol University for a year. After the first term, I was able to help the more confused students and found that this basic form of teaching really agreed with me. After finishing Polish (the course was sadly discontinued at the end of that year), I trained to be an EFL teacher. Once I’d completed my courses, I started teaching at Bristol Language School. I only taught for a single term as we had two very small children at home and I didn’t want to miss anything, but it made me realise what I eventually wanted to do. After that, I started learning foreign phrases as many languages as I could get hold of: Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Russian, Hungarian, Greek…
2016 was the best year for me so far. I copy edited the 2nd edition of “Endangered Alphabets” by Tim Brookes, completed the Esperanto course on Duolingo, and discovered the Utalk Challenge – completing all 12 of my chosen languages. Let’s see what the rest of 2017 brings…

 

How does your family join your language learning journey?
My wife Aneta is fluent in four languages; English, Russian, German, and Polish, so we sometimes mess around, changing languages mid-sentence or testing each other on random words. Our oldest son, Robert, is autistic and has always been amazing with languages – he could read and write the English alphabet before he started nursery, could write basic Russian words, and could say “Hello”, count, and say handfuls of words in Spanish, Polish, Swahili and more. Sadly, he lost interest at around 4 and now will only speak in English. Alex, our youngest, speaks English and some Polish. He also loves to practise languages with me.


I see you teach languages. Could you tell us a little more about that?

I give free exchange lessons: English for any other language, and I also run Esperanto and Italian study groups once a week. It enables me to keep myself surrounded in languages.


Where can we find out more about your classes / teaching?

I prefer face-to-face lessons as it allows me to form a bond with my students/language partners that you don’t really get through Skype or other platforms, so I tend to only see people in Bath/Bristol. I can be contacted through email or Facebook for anyone that is interested in language exchange sessions, or those who need help with learning another language.

I’m sure our readers are really social, where can we connect with you on twitter, FB, Insta etc?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lingo78

Instagram: omnilinguist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Rosomakx

Nasza-Klasa: Darren Cameron

Cooking, Carafes and learning Italian

We’ve a brillant guest blog from Kate at Cooking and Carafes She talks about her experience of learning Italian both at home, and in the country.
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I’ve always liked languages, when I was little we used to holiday to Spain and I always had my hands on the phrase book. I would be learning the basics myself and then would endlessly recite numbers, days of the week and other basic phrases to my parents. I enjoyed learning languages at secondary school but French and German didn’t have the same affinity with me as Italian (which wasn’t an option to study). Although I studied Latin which I’m certain built the perfect foundations for when I later went on to learn Italian.

From the age of 10 we started to go on family holidays to Italy and that’s where my love affair with this beautifully romantic language began. Not only did I fall in love with the country; the scenery, the people, the food, the hand gestures, and the list goes on… but the language too.

Italians are so passionate, I used to watch them speaking to one another, gesturing, emphasising some phrases over others and thinking ‘I wish I knew what they were saying’. So once again I began with the phrase book and as holidays became more frequent both my mum and my sister took up Italian evening classes so I would use their books to teach myself.

I taught myself a fair amount and would use the books and the tapes/CDs to help me. When I went to university I got the chance to study Italian as one of my modules on my course. It was by far my favourite subject, so much so I got a First in this particular module. We had a great teacher, Claudio – he made learning enjoyable and fun and would take his time when you needed help.

After uni, I couldn’t contain my desire to travel and learn a language any longer, so in the midst of not knowing what I was going to do once I completed my degree I applied for jobs as a holiday rep in Italy. I was lucky enough to land myself a job with Citalia based on the beautiful island of Sardinia. I thought I’d hit the jackpot… and I had!

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That summer I flew out to Italy and completed my training in the town where my love for the country first began, Sorrento (near Naples). After a few weeks there I flew to Cagliari (an airport that would soon become my weekly hangout with new arrivals and departures!) and was based in the south of Sardinia in a little town called Pula on the coast of Santa Margherita di Pula about 45 minutes from the island’s capital.
Here is where my real language learning journey began…

I moved into my own apartment, right in the heart of Pula, Piazza del Popolo and lived next to a delightful older couple Angioletta and her husband. They ran a small souvenirs shop next door, she would greet me every morning and evening…Piccolina! And would continue to talk to me at a rate of knots in Italian, I didn’t understand a word! In the first few days of being on my own this is when I realised to enjoy this I had to embrace the language. So I began slowly; può parlare più lentamente per favore became my favourite phrase, and the more I tried, the more I learnt.

Sardinia is more popular with German and Italian tourists so although a lot of my friends spoke English it wasn’t as good as some of their other languages. I immersed myself in their culture, I would spend evenings with friends and I would be the only English person so naturally they mainly spoke Italian and the more words I heard and the more I asked what they meant, they slowly began to stick. You learn familiar conversations and can start responding more easily, learning key phrases and words and more importantly how to piece them together – this was a turning point to being able to engage in conversation.

My real time to practice was on my coach journeys to and from the airport, as a lot of my friends worked in hotels or bars so knew English, just some weren’t as confident or as fluent as they were in other languages. However, my coach drivers were all Sardinian so if anything they just spoke more Sard (the island’s dialect), so each week I would have two return transfers with different drivers so I would practice my Italian with them and then when a flight was delayed we’d teach each other over un cafe in the airport’s bar. They would try to get me to learn their dialect and to this day I think I still only know a few phrases one of which was Comme menti staisi? How are you? Which in Italian is Come stai?

I could sit here and regale many moments of learning Italian in Sardinia… like when the concierge from one of my hotels helped me on my first day and I thought he didn’t speak any English so the entire time he let me muddle my way through broken Italian… later on I found out he was fluent, he also turned out to be one of my best friends!
Once I returned home at the end of my season my heart was heavy with love for ‘my’ beautiful island, its people, its culture and my desire to keep speaking Italian.

I continued with a few local lessons and then one to one lessons with local Italian Romilda who was wonderful – her enthusiasm and confidence in me knew no bounds. Unfortunately work and day to day life got in the way and my Italian dwindled.

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A few trips to Italy though and it’s amazing what comes back to you in a short space of time, you only have to hear a word once and it comes back so easily. Now with another holiday on the horizon (to ‘my island’) it’s motivated me to refresh my language skills so I’m using the app Babbel at the moment which is brilliant as it works on repetition and across writing, speaking and listening, along with grammar modules and all at various levels.

Obviously language learning has moved on in the last 20 years since I was at Secondary school, you can now access more tools to help you learn. The internet and smartphones have transformed learning a language, and at the touch of a button you can look up words on a smart phone with Google translate, use an app to help you learn, read articles in different languages, speak to friends in other countries more easily using skype/facetime and messaging services like whatsapp and so on.

However you decide to learn whether it’s at a local college’s evening class or within an online community or in the country itself, it will help build confidence when conversing in other languages, whether it’s on holiday or for business. Learning a new language is hugely rewarding and will also help stimulate your mind so why not start learning a new language today!

My love for Italy has continued, mainly with my love of their food and wine so check out my Italian recipes ideas and wine reviews at www.cookingandcarafes.co.uk

Polyglots Assemble!

Polyglot bagWhat’s a polyglot anyway? That’s the question most of my (monolingual) friends asked me when I tried to explain to them why I was heading to Berlin for an extended weekend. I was one of 357 participants from more than 40 countries who converged onto the German capital from 5th to 8th May 2016 for the third annual Polyglot gathering. In case you wonder, Polyglot simply means “many languages”, and it’s difficult to estimate just how many languages were spoken during the four days of the event, several dozen at least, including the likes of Esperanto, Toki Pona and even Latin!
It was a very early start for me on the Thursday, getting up at 2:30 to catch a 6am flight. Thankfully I only had hand luggage so this saved some time, although regrettably it limited the amount of books I could bring back! The early start was worth it though – just being around people who share the same enthusiasm for languages is an experience difficult to put into words. And my own journey paled in comparison when I realised a couple of people had come all the way from the USA for the event.
We were absolutely spoilt for choice with the seminars on offer. Some were introductions to languages such as Greek (the modern rather than the ancient version), Indonesian, Turkish and Welsh. Polyglots are always looking for the next language to learn. Other seminars covered different aspects of life as a polyglot, as well as the process of language learning. A lot of the seminars were in English, but some were delivered in Italian, French, Esperanto and one even completely in Latin by Roberto Salazar!
In fact, as I’ve been devoting some time on reviving my “dormant” Latin recently, I was really pleased about the seminars on “Does it Make Sense to Speak a Dead Language” and “Rudimenta Latini Sermonis – Spoken Latin 101”. I must have been doing something right, as I could follow the Latin seminar – in Latin – without problems.
The seminar I got most from was – strangely enough –in a language I don’t really speak: “Storytelling in Language Learning”, delivered entirely in Italian by the amazing Antonio Libertino. I was pleased that my knowledge of Latin, French and Spanish somehow combined to help me follow what was going on. This seminar fitted really well with what we do in Lingotastic, so I was determined to get the most out of it, never mind the language used.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was just how popular Esperanto is as a language in the polyglot community. We all wore name badges with little stickers of flags identifying which languages we speak, and at what level (see picture). And almost everyone was speaking Esperanto at some level. The lovely Charlotte Scherping even delivered a whole talk on “Comparing the 3 easiest languages” entirely in Esperanto, having only learnt the language for a little over 4 months.
Badge
What was also encouraging was the mix of aspiring polyglots with “only” three languages on their badge, and those who clearly needed a larger badge to fit all of theirs on!
It was great to chat in person to many of the people whose blogs and podcasts I follow. It was a good place to network. I was particularly pleased to meet Jimmy Mello and to come away with his book Jimmy Mello. We sung with him in our Muppets Christmas Carol video, put together by Lindsay

It was incredible to have so many experts in one place. I took lots of notes and will be learning from the seminars for a while yet.

Language legend Lindsay has produced five amazing videos so you can watch the highlights of the Polyglot Gathering in the comfort of your own home (or wherever you are at this moment)

Why learn languages?

This week my friend Teddy Nee from Nee’s language blog talks about the value of learning languages

“Why should you bother learning another language when you already know English?”
Someone might have ever asked this question to you before, and how did you react to it? Or let’s assume nobody had asked this question to you, how would you answer it when you are asked?

I was frequently asked by either my friends or acquaintances why do you learn languages. They know and we all know that I know English because if you can understand this text, it means that I know English. Having been asked that question, I have only one answer, “Not everyone is eager to speak English or can express themselves well in English.”

We should accept the fact that nowadays we can get information from other countries in other languages much easier than, let’s say, 20 years ago. It mainly because of the internet. The internet has really changed our way of life, and it even has created so many jobs that weren’t existed before. I work as an IT engineer, and it is not easy to explain about what I really do to my parents, or even to my grandparents because what I am doing did not exist in their time when they were at my age.

So, this easy access to information has caused globalization to happen where companies can establish partnership with overseas companies, and have the ability to expand their market even to much larger scope, not to mention inter countries, but inter continents.

English pic

English as a universal language
English language which originated from England has apparently became a universal language that two persons from different countries would use to communicate unconsciously because they thought English is supposed to be the language that everyone understands for international communication.

If you often gather information from the internet, you must have realized that most contents are available in English. Therefore, if you know English, you can get much more information that those who don’t know English. That’s the fact! However, I need to remind you that there is still limitation for using English to search for information, especially if the information is more personal that only speakers of the original language could have the privilege for the access.

TeddyGroup

Taking part in an international community
When we discuss about a universal language, a question might occur in mind, that is “What is a truly universal language?” and “How do we define a universal language?”. The United Nations even has 6 official languages — English, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Russian. We might also be intrigued to talk about a constructed language for international communication, Esperanto.

Esperanto speakers around the world have been vigorously promoting Esperanto as the language for international communication. Nowadays, we can see many activities done in Esperanto, such as activities related to education, charity, science research, journalism, commerce, and so on. Although there are quite a lot of people who are still pessimistic and skeptical about Esperanto language being a human communication tool.

We need to have more knowledge about other language in order to get access to much more information, and to be able to get to know more people from other countries, especially those who don’t speak English or our languages. On top of that, language learning is like an investment. Spending a little time and effort to learn a language that you could use for your whole life doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

Books

Choosing a language to learn
When you search for, let’s say, top 10 most favorited languages in the world, top 10 languages with the most speakers, top 10 languages for job seekers, etc. you can get abundant of results. The most important is to know your goal, whether you want to learn the language because there is more job opportunities in your area or you want to learn the language that is completely different from that you have known or you want to learn a language that is similar with that you have known. Deciding the goal is the very first thing you need to do.

If you like challenge, you should choose to learn language from other language family. For example, if you know English, you can pick Hindi, Mandarin or Russian as your target language. If you want to quickly reach higher level of understanding in other language, you should choose to learn language from the same language family. For example, if you know Spanish, you can choose to learn Italian, Portuguese or French.

There is actually a rule of thumb that many language courses don’t teach you. If you want to impress your friends with the amount of languages that you know, learn languages from the same family group because they share so many similarities that you even already can understand a big portion of it without learning. Thus, it is not surprising to know a someone who knows 5-6 languages but those languages are from the same language family.

Depending on your geographical location, some languages might not be useful. Let’s say you will spend some months in Latin America. Your focus should be Spanish rather than Japanese, and perhaps, the second language could be Portuguese. However, any languages will likely be useful if your activities are internet-based since the majority of people around the world have had access to internet nowadays.

So I ask again. Why learn languages? Knowing more languages is always beneficial. Apart from giving you more opportunities to enjoy what speakers of those languages can enjoy, you can also enrich yourself by broaden your viewpoint and increasing your skills. Learning language also trains your brain and it certainly increase your intelligence. No wonder, many articles state the benefits of knowing more languages as if there is no downside of it.

Teddy loves to learn languages.

Teddy loves to learn languages.

Teddy Nee is a passionate language learner and blogger. An IT Engineer by day and a language learner by night. His mission is to raise awareness of the importance of knowing more languages and to educate more people to be global citizens. He believes that learning the language of the others is a milestone to reach world peace. You can correspond with him in Medan Hokkien, Indonesian, English, Chinese Mandarin, Spanish, and Esperanto. Visit his blog at Nee’s language blog.