Saturday, September 26, 2009


Learning A New Language, Part Deux

By Jill Earl

Earlier this month, WOW! teamster LuAnn’s post, ‘Learning a New Language’ offered reasons for writers to think about foreign language study, such as making one more marketable in pursuing work. Imagine my surprise to learn that today, September 26th, has been designated as The European Day of Languages (EDL) by the Council of Europe.

According to The Council’s website, the day was designated back in 2001 “to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity.” They add that it’s “ a time to celebrate the 6,000+ languages spoken around the world, promote language learning and have some multilingual fun!”

One way to celebrate this observance is by looking into free online foreign language courses. This can be an inexpensive way to find out what language will be the right fit for you. These courses are generally self-paced, therefore you won’t have to deal with deadlines to submit work (unless you impose your own), but you’ll need to motivate yourself to stay on task. If this sounds like something you'd like to try, I've included a few sites below for your perusal.

Many of MIT’s OpenCourseWare (OCW) listings are from past foreign language classes, but there are readings, PDF’s of lecture notes, assignments and exams available in both undergraduate and graduate divisions. Choose from language, literature, and cultural studies.

Internet Polygot includes a tutorial slideshow for learning with pictures, various games to test newly-acquired skills and an option to create your own language lessons.

The BBC’s Languages site has extensive offerings for the language learner. You can choose both audio and video courses in many languages, such as 12-week beginners courses and foreign language TV with downloadable transcripts of programs.

Should you want to join in today’s festivities, find out more at the European Day of Languages website:

MIT OpenCourseWare

Internet Polygot

BBC’s Languages

Looks like there's going to be some language learning in my future. Thanks, LuAnn!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009


Learning a New Language

by LuAnn Schindler

This morning, I attended a foreign language class at an area high school. My assignment: interview the teacher and students about why this language is important and worth learning. What's unique is that the language is Chinese, and the school is located in the middle of Northeast / North Central Nebraska.

How does this relate to writing? It's interesting; the instructor handed me a sheet of paper and a 'pen' resembling a paint brush and told me to work along with the students, drawing the Chinese words for numbers one through ten and the directions.

Later in the class, she shared a slide show with famous places to visit in China. Each slide had English and Chinese writing, as well as gorgeous photographs. At the end, she played a clip of a Chinese acrobatic troupe, similar to the Cirque Shanghai show I saw in Chicago this summer. Spectacular! When I asked her what her goals were, she said to give students a hook of culture and then reel them in to learn the language. I think she's succeeding.

She hooked me.

As a former teacher, I can't stress enough the importance of life-long learning. According to the instructor, one of every five people in the world know Chinese. Think about the career possibilities: translators, writers - in every genre, travel guides. The list of opportunities is endless.

As a writer, it may seem like there isn't enough time to squeeze in time for a class of any kind. I look at my schedule and wonder when I'll ever get caught up with my writing obligations and contemplate adding another element to the mix. But, if I want to remain marketable and open new doors, I should investigate learning another language.

You never know where the world of language may take you.

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