Tag Archives: Latin

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

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.
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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)

Learning from the Romans


We spent a few days up North around Easter. As a polyglot family we could not stop language learning! We’ve visited a brilliant Roman settlement near our home in St Albans. There we learned much of the glassware found there was produced in Cologne (nearish where my mum in law lives in Germany) We took the children to see to Roman remains there last year
Cologne sightseeing guide
The most impressive part was the Praetorium discovered under the Rathaus in Cologne.

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Also near my mum in Law’s in Germany is the Varusschlacht museum. Near the site of another great wall and the site of a massive battle between the Romans and Germanic tribes Vindolanda
My son had learned some Latin at primary school with minimus This book follows a real Roman family who lived at Vindolanda (They identified them from their well preserved letters on the Vindolanda tablets) and a mouse called Minimus in the guide. My hubby has been using this book to bring back his school Latin so from the book all our Children had learned to introduce themselves in Latin. Quad nomen tibi est? Nomen mihi est Sarah. Last year they excavated a Roman Granary I’m sure that’s where Minimus loved to be. Our children had a lot of fun exploring the site and imagining what it would be like to live there in Roman times. The girls were really inspired to see the volunteers excavating as we were there. They were keen to find out how old they have to be to join in!
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I was so excited to see the real Vindolanda tablets and the actual shoes belonging to Lepidina the Prefects wife. It was amazing to see all the Roman remains found in such good condition for their age.
We visited a real section of Hadrian’s wall at Birdoswald on the way back.

As I said we bought tickets for the Roman Army museum as well. I was very different to Vindolanda. The children enjoyed just how interactive it all was, bringing the to life the Romans who were stationed here. We had chance to practice our Latin in the school room together. Picture. My favourite parts were the found Roman jewels and the film of the area from the air revealing yet another Roman fort.

Your family go learning from the Romans too. There are lots of Roman remains all over Europe. A great opportunity to let kids experience history for themselves and do a bit of language learning. Let us know where you choose to go!

U Talk Family Frolics

I was asked if I wanted to join the uTalk challenge. I can’t resist a challenge!HelloEurotalk

In January our whole family took part in the uTalk challenge with Eurotalk

I learned some Urdu

My daughter some French.

My son some Polish

My hubby some Latin

So here’s how we got on.. (in our own words)

 

Sarah – was asked if I wanted to join the uTalk challenge. I can’t resist a challenge! Having heard Urdu around me for many years it was a language I’d been thinking of learning for a while and the challenge gave me the perfect reason to. January was a busy month so I did not have as much time as I’d have liked.

On the school playground there are many Urdu speakers who let me practice on them!

I played  Urdu with the u talk app daily and tried out what I’d learnt with others. I had a few comments about speaking very posh Urdu! I said Aap ka shukria – Thank you . They said just Shukria – thanks was fine.

I learned how to say Subah bakhair – good morning and Alwidah -goodbye.

I found learning my first non European language very tricky as I did not have any clues with words I knew! I did like that hello in Urdu is Hello and many foods are the same too.  I’ve a long way to go to fluency but could now identify a question and recognise some numbers colours and a few other random words.

I did not even start to look at script but I have a few words to greet people here in the UK simply by playing with an app. I’m happy with that.

 

Jasmin age 8

I wanted to learn French with Eurotalk to help with the French I’m learning at school. I found the talk now app easy to use. I felt like I learned a lot and it helps me as the app has a better French accent than my teacher at school.

 

Josh age 15

I enjoyed doing the uTalk Challenge as it helped me learn Polish which I used to to talk to a Polish guy at my school. I found it hard to do it all in one month as I didn’t have much spare time on my hands as I am doing my GCSEs this year and I am preparing for mock exams by doing revision and also having a lot of homework to do, as well as revision. The uTalk Challenge helped me learn some useful Polish phrases to greet people in Polish. After doing the uTalk Challenge I not only started speaking Polish, but also started talking and greeting people in other languages as well such as German and Arabic.

 

Maik age – better not mention that!

I guess I had to enter the uTalk challenge, as I couldn’t let my wife win …  But seriously, my Latin, which I spent five years learning all those years ago in school, had lain dormant for a good while. One thing I had found difficult, being a polyglot, was how differently Latin is taught compared to other languages. As it is supposedly a dead language, little emphasis is placed on speaking it. This is why I liked the Usborne “Latin for beginners” book, with which the uTalk challenge tied in rather nicely.
I did struggle with a lack of local native speakers though, who appear to be mainly resident in the Vatican. However, with uTalk taking the “Conversational Latin” approach, which I had only recently discovered myself, this way of getting to grips with the language worked really well in my existing multilingual framework and was great fun, and therefore easy to maintain. I’m not sure whether I will ever need to ask where I can park my car in Latin, but I am now in a position where for the first time I am starting to think in Latin rather than approaching it with the typical analytical mindset that tends to come HelloEurotalkwith reading a (supposedly) dead language.