To kick off the new year in language learning, here are two predictions: Language learning company Rosetta Stone gives us one for the year ahead while Dr. McWhorter shares his thoughts on the state of global languages one hundred years from now in an essay on the Wall Street Journal.
First published on EDUKWEST | January 28, 2014
Cambly is a new platform that connects English and Spanish learners through video chat. Sure, this sounds very familiar as startups like Colingo and Verbling are essentially fishing in the same pond.
Interestingly I had a chat about live video lessons among other trends with busuu.com’s co-founder Bernhard Niesner last week in London. As I was invited to give a short intro to the Edtech Innovator Award I had put live video lessons on my list of trends to watch in 2014.
Readers of British newspaper the Guardian were invited to nominate their public language champion of the year for the second annual award hosted by the Guardian and the British Academy.
The judges chose comedian Eddie Izzard from a list of nominees that included the manager of Bayern Munich football club Pep Guardiola, and the UK’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
As you know, there are different dialects of English around the world like British English, American English, Australian and so on. In most cases it does not really matter which English dialect you learn as long as you try to stick with it and don’t mix up different Englishes. When you learn English as a second language in school, in the vast majority of cases, you’re either taught British or American English.
However, the situation changes when it comes to studying in London or working in New York City. Dialects, accents, a slightly different vocabulary and grammar can play an important role as proper spelling might have an effect on your grades at university or your coworkers will simply understand you better when you talk the way they are used to, may it be in a British or American accent or the use of certain words and vocabulary .
To make sure that we are all on the same page, let me say that certainly, most Germans speak decent or even good English and to a lesser degree other foreign languages. However, this doesn’t necessarily has an effect on their willingness to do business in another language.
I think the following quote by former German chancellor Willy Brandt still holds true to a great extend: “If I’m selling to you, I speak your language. If I’m buying, dann müssen Sie Deutsch sprechen.”
We already learned that in the UK language learning is in decline and that only 9% of 15-year-olds in the UK are competent in the first foreign language they learn in school after seven years, whereas other European students at the same age show much higher competency, like 82% in Sweden.
Back in August the Guardian shared some data on British teens and their growing reluctance to learn foreign languages but their parents aren’t any better. A survey by travel site TripAdvisor found that Britons are worst in the EU when it comes to speaking the language of the country they are visiting for vacation.
According to Europe’s Language and Culture Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou learning foreign languages can be a way out of the economic crisis for many Europeans. We already wrote about examples in other countries like Canada which show that being bilingual pays off.
The European Union committed to promote multilingualism with the goal of every citizen of the EU speaking at least two foreign languages. This way people would become more mobile and language savvy and enable them to find work across borders.
This sketch is about two Scots in an elevator with voice recognition and probably a take on Siri that apparently has trouble with the Scottish accent. Continue reading Burnistoun – Scots in an Elevator with Voice Recognition
Italian lesson is a classic sketch from Monty Python in which an English speaking teacher teaches Italian to Italians. Continue reading Monty Python: Italian Lesson