With plenty of opportunities to start learning right away, it’s time to decide which language you want to start learning. There are a lot of factors that can influence this decision.
Some languages are easier to learn than others, some are more widely used, and you may have a vested interest in one language over another based on where you live, your background or any other personal preferences.
If you’re on the fence about which language to learn, here are a few ways to help you decide.
Are You Looking for a New Hobby?
Becoming adept in a foreign language offers numerous personal benefits including enhanced memory and cognitive function, more confidence in your capabilities and intellect, or even just “bragging rights” to impress friends and family.
If your motivation for learning another language stems from the desire to acquire a new skill or explore a new hobby, consider studying French or Spanish. Both of these languages are widely spoken throughout the world, with French spoken in 32 countries and Spanish in 21.
Given the appropriate time investment—five days per week—you could gain conversational proficiency in six months.
Are You Heading Back to School?
Not only does learning a language make you a better student, various scholarships are available to bilingual speakers, especially for graduate program expenses.
If you want to learn another language for educational purposes, consider studying German, which is esteemed in academia.
Also, keep your degree program and major in mind when you select a language. If your degree would benefit from learning one language or another, consider that as well.
You may want to talk to your academic advisor and see what he or she recommends. Having languages skills on your resume can help you land your dream job.
Are You Preparing for a Trip Abroad?
Knowing how to speak the native tongue when traveling allows you to have a more authentic and memorable experience.
It also makes you a more self-assured traveler, being able to communicate with locals, read traffic signs, and order from a restaurant menu without mispronouncing the entree.
You will have a much more fulfilling trip and be able to experience more than you would if there was a language barrier or lack of understanding of the local language.
If your motivation for learning another language stems from wanderlust, study whichever language correlates with the region you’re visiting.
Are You Investing in Career Goals?
Knowing a foreign language can make you a sought-after—perhaps even indispensable—asset on the job market because companies recognize the advantage of global business relations in our modern economy.
Bilingual employees can network with international clients, remain abreast of overseas corporate trends, or even compete for higher-paid positions abroad.
If your motivation for learning another language stems from professional development, consider studying Mandarin Chinese, which is spoken by 1.3 billion people, more than any other language.
Are You Connecting a Foreign Language to Your Roots?
Learning a foreign language promotes awareness of other cultures, how ethnic heritage shapes family dynamics and rituals, cultural perceptions and beliefs, or even your own life and ancestry.
If your motivation for learning another language stems from an appreciation for where your family originates from, consider studying whichever language reflects that ancestry.
Caucasians often find German or French beneficial, while Hispanics gravitate toward Spanish or Portuguese. Asians might choose Malay or Chinese, while those of Middle Eastern descent likely connect with Arabic.
This is a great way to learn about the history and native language of your spouse’s family as well. You can learn the language together and then plan a trip to visit their family’s home country.
Once you gain proficiency in one language and, therefore, understand how the learning process works, learning more languages over time becomes less intimidating, challenging and time consuming. Decide which language you want to learn, start studying and see where it takes you—who knows, you could end up moving abroad or landing your dream job.
Maile Proctor is a professional blogger and content editor. She writes articles on lifestyle and family, health and fitness, education, how-to and more. Maile earned her Bachelor’s in Broadcast Journalism from Chapman University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys hiking in San Diego, California.
Disclosure: Gamesforlanguage has no business relationship with Couponbox and Maile Proctor other than publishing Maile's article.
If you ever want to practice the Italian you have just learned and enjoy the local cuisine as well, you can combine both in this beautiful place called Venice.
“Romance” is certainly the word that came to our mind when my husband and I visited this city during a recent mini escape and collected our visual impressions in this Lingohut Travel log (click also on the image) .
Venice, capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region, is built on more than 100 small islands in a marshy lagoon in the Adriatic Sea. Its stone palaces literally rise out of the water.
There are no cars or roadways, just canals and boats. The Canal snakes through the city, which is filled with innumerable narrow, maze-like alleys and small squares.
One of the pleasures of being in Italy is hearing and trying out the language. Spoken Italian is so melodious and expressive! You can learn and practice Italian vocabulary here.
As you can see just below, many common words can be easily recognized by English speakers. But oh, what fun to sound them out!
il canale - the canal
la barca - the boat
l'isola - the island
la città - the city
il palazzo - the palace
la piazza - the square
il calle - the street, alley
It's in Venice's old town that we discovered our favorite food during our journey through Italy.
I would like to share two places with you. Let me start with the best lasagna and eggplant parmesan we have ever put in our mouths: It was at Osteria Ale Do' Marie. I had never eaten a sea food lasagna before in my life, it was decadent! This place is off the beaten path and visited mostly by locals.
Another must stop is the Taverna da Buffo nestled in one of Venice’s many squares with a canal running alongside is an ideal romantic place to enjoy a meal with your love or a terrific spot to meet good friends.
While you sit there eating a delicious meal, from time to time a street performer will stop by and serenade you. To me it was complete ecstasy, the square was serene and charming. There is nothing better in life than to sit with the love of your life in this surreal environment.
Enough about the ambiance, let’s get to the important stuff, the food. It was out of this world. After trying many pizzas, I was thrilled to find the perfect one at Taverna da Buffo. This thin crusted wood fired oven pizza, with delicious topping and just the perfect amount of mozzarella was mind blowing. As we all know the mozzarella in Italy can’t be topped.
My husband will tell you that his fish was scrumptious and one of the best he has ever had. That is saying a lot for him, since he is a fish connoisseur.
We spent three of our evenings in Venice in this quaint square having romantic dinners at Taverna da Baffo. The first night he ate the “Branzino,” a delicious sea-bass and the other evenings he enjoyed the “Rombo” turbot, a local fish. In his words “Wow.”
The following may also come in handy:
osteria - pub, bar
pesce - fish
forno di legno - wood oven
frutti di mare - sea food
artista di strada - street performer
During our first lunch, oh yeah I forgot to tell you, we found this place by accident in the middle of the day while strolling the narrow alleys of Venice, that is when we had the pleasure of meeting Alex Barcaru, the owner. He is such a friendly charismatic young man, always making sure his customers are well taken care of.
During our visit to the restaurant we also got the honor to get to know Diana and Andrei, two very personable and knowledgeable waiters. They were so helpful in sharing what the dishes had and how they were fixed. Stick with their house wine you will not be disappointed. Buon appetito!!!
A different version of this blogpost was published on LingoHut.
Bio: Kendal Knetemann is founder of Lingohut, where free language lessons, activities and articles are making language learning uncomplicated. Communication is our thing!!! Help us grow, share us with your friends and like us on Facebook
"A different language is a different vision of life," said Federico Fellini. As our world becomes smaller and flatter and more people get exposed to foreign languages, the wisdom of this observation begins to sink in.
As you become more fluent in a foreign language you will learn to avoid the common misconception about translators and interpreters. Many U.S. companies often assume that any individual who speaks a foreign language is automatically a translator. But just because you grew up speaking Portuguese doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be a good translator.
Translators vs Interpreters
There are two categories of foreign language experts. The interpreter’s job is to translate orally from one language to another everything that is said, preserving the tone and style of the original speech. Translators deal with written documents, taking into account various language and terminology issues and the context.
In other words, translators translate documents, and interpreters interpret speech.
There exist some language professionals who are great at both translating the written word and interpreting the spoken word. But more often than not, they are an exception, not a rule.
What Translators Do
Language translation is a very specialized field. In addition to being linguists, some translators are professionally qualified in specific technical disciplines, such as aerospace, biochemistry, hardware and software, electrical engineering, finance, law, mechanical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications.
Some only translate patents and others concentrate only on translation of technical manuals, or only on translation of legal contracts. Most of the professional translators work only in a single language pair and in one direction (e.g., English to Chinese).
Because professional translation requires training and expertise, it has a high cost for failure. An article in the National Law Journal relates an instance where a large Italian bank was being sued as a loan guarantor. When the loan document was translated literally from Italian, it stated that the bank guaranteed the loan. However, the word "guarantee" has different meanings in Italian than it does in English, and a literal translation did not accurately convey the document's meaning. The court dismissed the case, deciding that an Italian "guarantee" was different than an English "guarantee" - and the bank was not responsible for the loan.
As you find out more about professional translators and interpreters, you will learn that it is a good sign if the translation company, whose services your company uses, provides professionally executed legal, corporate and technical translations and utilizes translators, who are certified by the American Translators Association and who translate only into their native language.
Where Interpreters Work
There are two types of foreign language interpreters: simultaneous and consecutive. Simultaneous interpreters facilitate conferences with a large number of attendees. For small meetings, tradeshows, depositions and social events, companies need to hire consecutive interpreters.
As you begin to experience in a different culture, you will learn how easy it is to create a misunderstanding by viewing people from other cultures, as if they are similar to us.
Imagine that your company sends you to Japan for a technical meeting. The Japanese company’s representative comes to your hotel room and inquires if you have had your lunch. You tell him that you want to try some sushi. You feel great when he invites you to a restaurant, where a gracious waiter encourages you to try various kinds of sushi. A while later, you begin to feel ill at ease, when you realize that your host has just paid about $400.00 for your lunch.
Language and Culture
Incorrect assumptions about cultural similarities may cause us to misjudge people and situations. In our culture, smiles, for example, are associated with pleasant emotions and project friendliness. Some Asian cultures, on the other hand, use a smile as a mask when dealing with unpleasant situations.
As you continue to enhance your knowledge of a foreign language, your competence in the culture of the country whose language you are studying will also increase. And little by little you will be able to see and interpret any situation from two different viewpoints. And you will then understand what Federico Fellini meant when he said that a different language is a different vision of life.
Enjoy the beautiful journey as your growing fluency in another language and in another culture will continue to enrich your life and your worldview.
Bio: Nina L. Ivanichvili is CEO of All Language Alliance, Inc., a legal translation and interpreting company providing multilingual legal translations, certified translation services and deposition interpreting services in more than 100 foreign languages. You can contact her at 303-470-9555, at www.languagealliance.com, and follow her legal translation blog Translation for Lawyers.
If you're learning Italian, you surely know that what you read in books is not enough. There are lots of expressions that you won't find in a dictionary, but that you'll learn on the street or hanging out with local people. Understanding and using these expression in your conversations means that you're actually improving. Moreover, your way of speaking will turn out to be really funny!
Here's a short list of strange expressions that Italians use, compiled for you by The Language Class.
"Che figata!" [keh fee-GAH-tah] is a very common expression. It was at first used by younger people, but today everyone says it. We can translate it with the English "What a cool thing!", but unfortunately it cannot be directly translated.
Therefore, you can use it in many different situations, as it expresses both amazement and admiration: If for example, you're amazed should someone tell you: "I've met Leonardo di Caprio in person!" or admire your best friend, if she tells you: "I've learnt to make tiramisu!" You could answer in both cases: "Che figata!"
"Dai!" [dahyee] is a commonly used expression as well. The pronunciation is actually similar to the English verb "die", but the meaning is absolutely far from that!
If we want to give it an English translation, we can simply choose "Come on!" and we can insert it, as Italians do, in almost each of our sentences! For example, if you suggest to a friend "Let's go to the beach!" and he or she answers "No, I really don't want to", your response will inevitably be "Dai!!!" Or you would use it even to encourage someone to do something that he or she does not want to do at all: "Another beer, dai!"
Don't forget that the expression can also be used as a way to stop someone from doing something! If your friend does not stop stealing your dessert, you just have to say a curt "Dai!"
In Bocca al Lupo
"In bocca al lupo!" is an expression that demonstrates that the Italian language is very... creative! It literally means "into the mouth of the wolf" and is used to wish someone good luck by inviting him to be eaten by a wolf. (The English expression "Break a leg" has a similar meaning!)
The answer to this expression is "Crepi il lupo" and we must admit that at least this seems a bit more logical, as it means "The wolf shall die". When someone wishes you "In Bocca al Lupo!" you certainly don't answer with "Grazie", as this implies bad luck. You don't want to be thankful for being eaten by the wolf.
"Magari!" [mah-GAHR-ee!] is the Italian corresponding to the English "I really wish!" or "Let's hope so". It is clear that we use this expression when we really wish something from the bottom of our heart - but not only.
In fact, in many cases we would use it with an ironic connotation. If your friend asks you "Would you ever marry an American billionaire?" you'd say "Magari!" meaning that of course you would, even if, in all likelihood, it will not happen!
"Meno male!" [MEH-noh MAH-leh] literally means "less bad", but it is not used with this meaning. On the contrary, we can translate it with "Thank God!" and we use it when we actually feel blessed!
Did I really pass the test? "Meno male!" And, don't forget that you can also say "Grazie a dio!" which has the same meaning.
Mini Bio: Gabriele Monti studied Modern Languages at South Bank university in London, and he has been teaching languages ever since in many countries including Japan, Great Britain and France. Currently he loves to write about learning languages and travel.
Remember what your mom would say, actions speak louder than words, she was right. From eye contact to posture, nonverbal details reveal who we are and impact how others see you.
Is non-verbal communication important in a conversation? Absolutely, words are important, but it turns out, we communicate most of the meaning of our conversation via body language and gestures.
The way you move, the way you stand and the way you listen tells others whether or not you care about what they are saying. When your words match your body language, they increase trust, clarity and rapport.When they don’t, they trigger tension, distrust and confusion.
Unfortunately, many people send negative and confusing nonverbal signals without even knowing it when speaking with someone from another country. When this happens, both clarity and rapport may be irreversibly damaged.
To become a better communicator, it’s important to become sensitive not only to the nonverbal cues of others, but also to the nonverbal cues you may be sending.
As you can imagine, communicating with someone from your own culture can be challenging but when speaking with a foreigner it can perplexing. Nonverbal communication gestures do not translate across cultures easily and can lead to serious misunderstanding.
While translation systems are available for verbal communication, translators for nonverbal communication do not exist.
Nonverbal communication is composed of facial expressions, body movements, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, space and voice. We must appreciate and identify that in one country a respectable gesture may mean something completely different in another country. In this article we will focus on 5 different hand gestures that are commonly exchanged:
Understanding the different meaning these signs may have in other cultures, will not only enhance your conversation but may keep you out of trouble while talking to someone from another part of the world.
In the US, we use it to convey agreement, it assures people things are fine or when everything is perfect. In Brazil, Greece and Spain it conveys a different meaning! This sign is used to call someone an a**hole. While visiting Brazil in the 1950’s, Richard Nixon flashed the OK sign to the crowed and they responded with boos! In Turkey and Venezuela the sign is used as an insult toward gay people. In France and Australia it means zero or worthless. Lastly, in Japan this gesture means money.
We use this gesture a lot in the US it means it is all great. But I recommend you do not use it among Middle Easterners and people from West Africa. People from Bangladesh, Australian and South Americans also find this gesture hideously offensive. It is assumed to mean that you want the receiver to stick it where the sun don’t shine, up yours or sit on it.
Where I am from in Latin America, snapping your finger meant to hurry up. In the US and Great Britain, it usually is used when someone remembers something or gets an idea. In some cultures it used to get someone’s attention but in many cultures it is just rude.
So, to keep it safe, snap your fingers for the same reason the Ancient Greeks did -- to keep the rhythm set by musicians and dancers
Beckoning sign (come here)
In the Philippians the beckoning sign is impolite and can be a cause for being arrested. In the USA it is used often to call someone over here. Careful by using this gesture in Japan. It is very rude and only fit for a dog and or other animal. In Singapore, beckoning is an indication of death.
This gesture has been adopted by rockers and it is a sign of approval “rock on” for most Americans. Except in Texas, where football fans use it as a sign representing the horns of a bull. In other cultures, this is not the horn of a bull but instead of the devil and representing evil. In Buddhist and Hindi culture, it means the Karana Mudra which is used to dispel the evil. Watch out making this gesture in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Portugal and Italy since it is known as the 'Cuckold' and is used to tell a man that other men are enjoying his wife. In 1985, following the news that Texas Longhorns football team won the football game, five Americans were arrested in Rome for using this gesture outside the Vatican.
We might not have translators for nonverbal communication but we have our phone or computers at our hands to learn and understand the meaning of the gestures we use. So remember before jumping to conclusions about the meaning of a gestures, consider the person’s cultural background. Embarrassing moments can happen as a result of ignorance and by misinterpreting a gesture.
It is always ok to ask people from different countries and cultures about the meaning of rituals, mannerisms and gestures. It is a great topic to discuss with a friend from another country over a cup of coffee and a yummy pastry. There are no wrong and right gestures, only cultural differences.
Bio: Kendal Knetemann is the founder of LingoHut where free language lessons, activities and articles are making language learning uncomplicated. Communication is our thing!!! Like us on our Facebook page.
Though the rewards of mastering multiple tongues are immeasurable, nobody says that learning a foreign language is easy. From memorizing new vocabulary to making sense of unfamiliar grammatical structures, the language-learning process is fraught with challenges.
And the difficulties that language learners face go beyond the language itself. From lack of time to lack of money to lack of motivation, the realities of everyday life often prove to be a more significant roadblock on the path to fluency than the complexities of vocabulary and grammar.
Luckily for the modern language learner, there’s a simple and effective way to overcome these common obstacles that life throws at us: playing games. No, language games can’t simplify the grammar of a foreign language: they can’t take away the subjunctive in Spanish, or reduce the number of cases in Russian from six to two. But they can and do provide a host of other benefits for learners – even those of us who are busy, shy, or unmotivated.
Here’s how language games address common problems that learners face.
1. Games are fun.
The problem: It’s undeniably chic to be able to switch your language at the drop of a hat, but the process of getting there isn’t always so glamorous. Indeed, there are some aspects of foreign-language grammar that will prove dense or even outright boring.
How language games help: There comes a point in time when we simply can’t look at lists of irregular verbs anymore without falling asleep. But when we turn these lists into a game, we’re suddenly awake, involved, and perhaps even enjoying ourselves. Free games like this Spanish verbs racemaintain our interest and attention when we’re reviewing topics that can often induce boredom. (Image via NIH / Wikipedia)
2. Games are low-pressure.
The problem: Nobody likes making mistakes, and this goes double for language learners. There are few experiences as uniquely frustrating as making grammatical errors when trying your hardest to communicate well in a foreign language. When interacting with native speakers, this can be a highly anxiety-inducing experience. Our fear of making mistakes can prove debilitating when it discourages us from conversing – and thus improving – in our language of study.
How language games help: Games constitute a perfect casual setting where we can make mistakes freely and without judgment. In conversations with native speakers, a forgotten article or misused verb tense can be embarrassing, but when we’re playing a game like Kloo, we can more easily just laugh it off – after all, it’s only a game!
3. Games aren’t work.
The problem: You’ve just finished a long day at work or school (or both!), and the last thing you want to do is MORE work. Although every language learner dreams of being able to devote their entire day to learning new words and phrases, the realities of school and work get in the way of this. We already have jobs, classes, and responsibilities, and learning a new language can seem like yet another item on our endless to-do list.
How language games help: If you’ve already spent all day in class, you’re not going to want to study even more at home. But what about playing a game? That doesn’t sound so bad! Language games help us view language learning not as work, but as something fun and relaxing. This way, we can look forward to the time we spend learning a language, even after a long day in the office.
4. Games are motivating.
The problem: Even the most diligent language learner will experience a dip in their motivation at some point. Indeed, motivation ebbs and flows, and sometimes we simply just don’t have the drive to stare at the same verb conjugation tables for the hundredth time. Of course, staying motivated is a key aspect of the language-learning process, and it can be difficult to make progress when our motivation is low.
How language games help: Games are goal-based, and are designed to be motivating. Whether the purpose of the game is to solve a puzzle, beat out our competitors, or get a new high score, playing language games is fun and exciting. Even when we’re running out of steam, it’s much easier to muster up the energy to play some games than it is to forge through a new chapter of our coursebooks.
5. Games are social.
Games are great for learners of all ages. (Image via Pixabay)
The problem: Especially if you live in an area where there aren’t many native speakers of the language you’re studying, it can be hard to find people to talk to. Indeed, language learning can be quite a solitary activity for many learners among us. But given that language is an inherently social thing – the purpose of learning a language is to communicate, after all – this lack of social interaction can be a hindrance in the language-learning process.
How language games help: Language learning is best done with friends, and a game is a perfect activity to share with others. If you can connect with native speakers, playing games with them will not only strengthen foreign language skills, but can also strengthen your friendships. And even if you don’t have any native speakers at your disposal, you can set up a friendly competition and challenge your fellow language-learners.
6. Games are quick.
The problem: You’re busy. Unfortunately, for most of us, learning a language is not our only responsibility. When we’re constantly on the move and running errands, it can be hard to squeeze in time for language practice – let alone find the time to devote to language classes every week.
How language games help: If you’ve got just five minutes to spare, it won’t do you much good to try hurriedly getting through half a page of your course book. But just a few minutes is all you need to play quick a quick game like these ones, which help you practice various aspects of French pronunciation and grammar. Games are a great way to fill those scarce moments of downtime in our hectic day-to-day lives.
7. Games are (quite often) free.
The problem: Between classes, course books, audio CDs, and other supplementary materials, learning a language can take a toll on our wallets. Nobody likes spending money, and for many of us, buying expensive courses and materials is simply not feasible.
How language games help: With the ever-growing prevalence of the internet, there are more and more opportunities to play language games – completely free of charge! All of the offerings from Games for Language are totally free, giving anyone with an internet connection the chance to improve their language skills and have fun while doing so.
Indeed, from being nervous to being exhausted to simply being bored, there are plenty of things in our daily lives that can prevent us from studying a foreign language and advancing our skills. But fortunately, taking advantage of language-learning games can help us combat these challenges – despite our social, monetary, and schedule restrictions. Games are a great way for us to stay regularly connected with our foreign language, and can help solidify language learning as a part of our daily routine we look forward to.
Readers: what are your favorite language-learning games? What other benefits does playing games offer us? Let us know in a comment on GamesforLanguage's contact or its Facebook Page!
One out of every six Americans is Hispanic. Professionals in the workforce need to know how to interact positively with this rapidly growing population.
Traditionally, law enforcement departments, hospitals, school districts and organizations have offered Spanish training to their employees in the form of a 2 to 5 day seminar.
Providing only 16 - 20 hours of classroom-style language training which has proven to be ineffective. No one can learn a new language in days. While the training might be top-notch and feedback might be great, if people can't apply what they learn on the job, then the training will not stick and will ultimately fail to produce long-lasting results.
The method organizations use today to train needs to be revisited, since ever tightening budgets are forcing organizations to flush many valuable programs ‘down the commode.’ Ten years ago e-training was a novelty, but today e-training is becoming the norm as organizations experience greater ‘bang’ for each buck invested.
Learning online is a very effective method of studying Spanish. Online training gives the learner access to practice and repetition (the keys to success in learning a new language) anytime, 24x7. Instead of a one-shot seminar, the flexibility and lower costs of online learning are ideal to implement at any type of organization.
Spanish e-training is a big bang investment for organizations.
First, the scheduling and implementing is less time-consuming than planning and running day seminars.
Second, the training takes place in the convenience of the employee’s space, eliminating travel expenses and other expenses associated with seminars.
Third, online training can holds employees more accountable than a traditional seminar because attendance, assessment scores, activities, course completions, and participant progress can be monitored and immediately reported through learning management systems. Most important, online training allows organizations to provide a dependable, consistent and high quality training experience for every employee.
When selecting a Spanish training program, organizations need to consider a few core components including the cost, program content, program restrictions and requirements. There are additional concerns to consider when evaluating an e-training program. These other considerations include the method of teaching, the availability of teachers for live support, and how the online platform engages the learner.
In my 25 years of teaching Spanish, I have found the most effective method of studying and learning a new language is by using the spacing effect also referred to as “drip approach” method. Imagine a dripping faucet, where each drop will collect to form a puddle that keeps expanding. Similarly, this method focuses on learning the language in small increments. Think of each word as a drop, phrases and sentences as small puddles which becomes a large pool of Spanish knowledge providing success with language learning.
As you review different programs ask and ask questions. Questions that should address your concerns in implementing the appropriate Spanish program within your organization.
Here are 10 sample questions you could ask when evaluating an online Spanish training program:
What learning approach is used in the online program?
What styles of learners does it address?
Does the program offer individual and group accounts?
What is the cost per seat?
Is there a way an administrator could monitor the training?
How long does the employee have to view all material and complete the training? (Many programs lock you out once the lesson is complete.)
Is there a contractual agreement to sign?
Does it provide live teacher support? If not, how can a student ask questions about the training?
Is the program available on a mobile device?
How does a student review his/her progress?
In my opinion, one last component the e-training must have to be successful are games and activities to make the learning experience fun and educational.
When employees are engaged in their learning, they take greater ownership. Most of us agree that games are a great way to engage in learning and improve retention. It takes time to become confident in a language, games make the learning process fun, interactive and rewarding. Besides engaging, their knowledge increases, performance improves as well as their confidence to communicate in Spanish.
It is estimated the Hispanic community will increase by 24 percent by 2050 in the United States. Employers including Spanish training in the annual training budget will with no doubt see top-line growth.
Mini Bio: Kendal Knetemann is a cross cultural communication consultant, a language blogger and Spanish instructor. You can read more about her at LingoHut where you’ll find free language lessons, activities and articles on how to make language learning easier, or visit LingoHut’s Facebook page. First appeared in Parrot time
On the periphery of the historic pedestrian areas, we stumbled upon a fascinating archaeological museum housed in a building with fundaments dating from the time Dijon was a Gallic and then a Roman settlement. (Cathedral of Dijon, left above)
Next door is the large cathedral of St. Etienne where masses are well-attended. Be sure to check out the crypt where the saint himself was entombed at the beginning of the Christian era and, while you’re there, try the acoustics by chanting some early medieval plainsong. Only then do you realize that you’re actually standing in the early Romanesque church, now below ground. Underneath it are the fundaments of earlier temple structures.
After a week in the city you’ll find yourself venturing out to Lake Kir, walking the greenway along the lovely Canal, exploring the Botanical Gardens or going to a concert at the strikingly modern Auditorium. Don’t bother with the university because it’s just a bunch of rather ugly utilitarian structures twenty minutes from the center.
But how about the part of our trip that was supposed to be devoted to developing fluency in French?
No "Lover Option"
After two weeks we found ourselves bumping against reality. We’ve reached that age when younger people kindly refer to you as a ‘senior,’ and seniors have a hard time circulating in the hotspots after ten o’clock at night.
When younger people are sitting in bars discussion politics, love and pop music with passion, we are getting ready for bed. Since we’ve been married more than fifty years, neither of us can go out and find a lover! In short: The quickest avenues to fluency are now closed to us.
Finding Conversation Partners
When we appealed to our friends at Gamesforlanguage, they advised us to find conversation partners.
Dutifully we went out into the streets and tried to corner people for more than the superficial exchanges necessary to buy a newspaper or order a meal.
The barrista at a coffee shop, like the proverbial bartender, was willing to talk, but his conversational parameters were fairly limited to complaining about government red tape and restrictions on small business people (apparently terrible oppressive!).
Finally while buying a pair of reading glasses at an opticians shop, my wife talked a young man into getting his brother (Alexandre) to come to our apartment occasionally for conversation (twenty euros per session).
Otherwise, getting beyond utilitarian exchanges necessary to buy postage stamps, order coffee and such everyday discourse was a very daunting business. And no wonder!
First of all, we realized that nobody can simply go to a place, hang around for a couple of weeks, and find people in this busy age who have both the time and inclination to gab with somebody who is – to put it mildly – still stuck with looking up every tenth word in the dictionary. Imagine the patience AND the leisure that a conversational partner would need! I wouldn’t have it myself back home with somebody learning English. So what to do?
Expanding our Horizons
We decided to keep trying and most important of all, to keep savoring all that this complex, fascinating country has to offer.
We began to go on short trips to surrounding places of interest: Besancon, Autun, Auxerre, Sens, Vezelay. (left, Auxerre and Yvonne River)
It proved easy enough eventually to venture out farther afield. Lyon is an hour and a half away on the TGV. As the second largest city in France and one of the most beautiful larger cities, it offers a lot that Paris boasts, and more. There are, for instance, the Roman theaters! The Musee des beaux Arts is excellent, and there’s even a Starbucks for good measure.
From Dijon, Avignon is three and a half hours by TGV and worth the trip, not only to see the well-known Papal Palace but two less-known art collections housed in smaller palais and tucked away in the narrow, winding, medieval alleys. Avignon is at the gateway of Provence, too, and only a quick hop from Marseilles and the Cote d’Azur, though we preferred Languedoc and Nimes as a starter.
Au revoir Dijon
Tonight Alexandre came over for a final repas chez nous. We had engaged him to do the conversational sessions with me, and he's a delightful young man, an entrepreneur (part owner at present of a night club), with a masters in finance.
This morning my wife and I went to les Halles and bought the most remarkable cheese and aged meat from a young vendor from Savoy, then smoked salmon (can you believe it was 50 euros per kilogram?), then to two or three boulangeries where we'd found the best bread. With the South African wine that Alexandre brought, we had one of those three hour repas with pleasant conversation.
Another pleasure! Our cup is overflowing!
T.H.P. is a retired Professor of German, who has taught at several US Universities. He speaks German fluently, reads French and is working on improving his French speaking skills.
If you’re looking for a beautiful, small city in France with regional flavor and a depth of culture that can keep you excited for a couple of weeks…if you’re a person who prefers a more leisurely vacation experience…if you've been learning French for a while (we used the free Duolingo and Gamesforlanguge courses) - THEN my wife and I have discovered the town for you!
Choosing a French City
Dijon (see picture above) is on the mainline of the TGV, France’s answer to the problem of fast, comfortable, worry-free travel, and can be reached easily from Paris. We chose it after a bit of casual research and previous visits to France that never amounted to more than two or three days in Paris for the Louvre.
This time around, we wanted to get to know France better. A few months after starting our online French courses, we focused on Burgundy and chose Dijon as our base of operations for launching our experiment in becoming basic, functional French speakers. (While Part 1 describes our experience of "discovering" Dijon, Part 2 focuses on the realities of becoming fluent during a one-month stay.)
There we expected to avoid the hectic pace of Paris (and the expense!) while enjoying life in a thoroughly and uniquely French place.
We haven’t been disappointed.
Our first two weeks in the city were full of constant discoveries launched from our base, a comfortable second-floor apartment in the very quiet Rue Proudhon.
We had only a short stroll to the magnificent Ducal Palace (see picture right) to be in the heart of historic Dijon, with streets (for pedestrians only) lined with a potpourri of styles, beautiful 18th century palaces, fine 17th century townhouses, and half-timbered medieval buildings.
The broad streets and plazas teem with people of all ages. We were most impressed at the beginning by the affection between parents and children and by the helpful friendliness of the natives when we asked advice or help. Giving us a simple answer often wasn’t enough and people would walk with us to make certain we reached our goal. It made us wonder why our friends back home had so often complained that the French are rude or unfriendly!
What part of France had they visited? Certainly not Burgundy!
If you like to eat, you’ll love les Halles (see picture left), a huge, l9th century steel and glass structure that covers a vast market full of vendors touting everything from cheese to horse meat.
On market days (Tuesday and Friday, though there are some vendors open for business on Thursday as well) the pedestrian areas within a couple of blocks of les Halles are crowded with booths of vendors selling everything from books to clothing, and the crowds pulse with excitement.
The pedestrian sections of the old town are the focal center and heart of the place, both beautiful and full of elegant shops, good cafes, and plenty of opportunity for people-watching.
The broad avenues emanate out from the gorgeous Ducal Palace and the 12th century church, Notre Dame, with its unique, Burgundian version of Gothic and the relief carving of the owl that small crowds of tourist always seem to be rubbing (for good luck).
There are surprises galore in town that challenge and stimulate the patient tourist.
Take the Musee de beaux Arts whose collections are divided into epochs (Middle Ages, Renaissance, etc) that are each displayed in a wing of the ducal palace built at that particular time.
Wander across the magnificent half-moon plaza in front of the ducal palace and take the second left down what looks to be an alley – and discover the delightful Magnin Museum, an eclectic jumble of art crowded on the walls on rooms of period furniture left as they were in the family palais by the last two members of the Magnin family.
A National Campaign?
There are so many pleasant encounters with Dijonais in town and I must report this one.
The battery in my watch ran out and we went to the jewelers to get a replacement. A young lady asked what our nationality was (my accent?) and I said American. She said, "Oh, we love Americans!" This happens to us ALL THE TIME.
It is so odd, because over the last forty years during our stays in and travels through Europe, the last thing I've encountered is people liking me BECAUSE I'm American - rather in spite of it, if at all.
This has been our experience again and again in Germany; in England pleasant condescension if anything. Back many years ago in Paris: rudeness.
I'm beginning to wonder, if the French have had a national campaign to teach them to become more friendly and hospitable? If they have, it has certainly worked and it seems to be genuine, so warm, even kind. It goes far beyond just being polite or even reasonably considerate. But it is certainly a delight to be on the receiving end.
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