Here at The World Company Blog we have a feature where we attempt to offer up what we consider to be the Top 10 news stories from the previous month in regards to languages, travel and language learning. Since we haven’t showcased this feature since July you may find a few older links in there – but we promise they’ll be good! Please let us know if we missed any great language stories in the comment section. Enjoy!
1. PlaySay language learning tool raises $1.3m, demos at TechCrunch Disrupt- Technically Philly (9/13/11)
PlaySay, the Temple University-born startup that hopes to make learning a new language more fun and social, demoed its now venture capital-backed company at TechCrunch Disrupt this evening.
Originally a mobile device-based language flashcard platform, the company has created a Facebook application that allows users to learn language by associating photos, like one of a man that resembles what you’d assume to be a grandfather. The application congratulates a user by playing the recorded pronunciation of the correct word: “el viejo,” in Spanish, meaning “old man.” The app is slick.
2. Putting our minds to helping immigrants learn English – Los Angeles Times (9/17/11)
In my back-to-school column two weeks ago, I wrote that parents ought to look in the mirror before pinning all the blame for the state of education on schools and teachers.
Readers were with me on the idea that parents ought to be more engaged in their children’s education, whether they do so at home, on campus or by marching on Sacramento. But reactions split over my suggestion that parents who make no effort to learn English aren’t helping their kids or themselves.
As promised, here’s the follow-up.
3. The Best Languages to Learn in College - The Huffington Post (9/18/11)
For 8 years now, I’ve been running HUGS for THUGS / Enter to Grow in Wisdom, a sendoff event for rising Harvard freshmen. One of the biggest pieces of advice that I dispense to them is to take language classes. Universities generally do a fantastic job of teaching them, they’re a super-useful lifelong skill, and they’re generally an easy ‘A’. You just can’t go wrong.
The big question is, which languages should you take? Here’s my $0.02 on which to take, with ratings for each. I’ve taken lessons in French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Portuguese and Chinese, so those are based on firsthand experience.
4. Foreign language learning takes off at secondary level in Taiwan - Taiwan Today (8/31/11)
The number of senior high school students in Taiwan studying a foreign language other than English has nearly tripled since 2001, the Ministry of Education said Aug. 30.
While English is compulsory for all pupils, around 45,000, roughly 10 percent of all high school students, took courses in French, German, Japanese, Spanish and other languages each semester in the 2010-2011 academic year, according to Chang Ming-wen, director of the MOE’s Department of Secondary Education.
5. Chinese – the language the whole world wants to learn - The Independent (9/8/11)
There’s been some noise this week in the southern Pakistani province of Sindh following the announcement that from 2013, learning standard Chinese will become compulsory for all students from sixth grade onwards.
There are those who say the move will erode Pakistani culture and those who say it simply makes sense as the world’s most populous nation sits right on Sindh’s doorstep.
6. Signing up: interest in teaching babies to communicate with their hands has increased - The Star-Ledger (9/16/11)
While 10 other infants slept soundly in their cribs, Arleen Garner played with one who wasn’t ready for nap time quite yet.
“Sleepy,” Garner said as she brushed her palm from baby Isabella’s forehead to her chin. “Sleepy.” One-year-old Isabella shook with giggles at the peek-a-boo type routine, unaware the sign stood for a word.
“At first, it’s just mimicking, but then they start to understand, to place the motions with the feelings — sleepy, hungry, milk, more,” said Garner who’s been working for a year at the Learning Experience in Livingston, teaching infants as young as 6 months American Sign Language.
7. 4 Top Language Teaching Tools for Business - The Street (9/19/11)
In this newly flat, hot world of ours, businesses can no longer afford to be monoglot affairs. So picking up some basic working Spanish, Arabic or Chinese really does open up opportunities for your shop.
8. Don’t Kill Foreign Language Funding - The Huffington Post (9/8/11)
With the flap over FLAP funding, Beltway bickering is once again flushing our kids’ futures down the proverbial plumbing to score political points today. Every American, especially every parent, who understands the importance of foreign languages and global-mindedness to our collective future needs to be calling their representatives in Congress now.
9. Stanford researcher launches national K-12 English Language Learning initiative - Stanford University News (9/13/11)
Schoolchildren struggling to learn English in American public schools, and the educators responsible for teaching the language to them, will soon have resources to help ensure they meet the nationwide Common Core State Standards, in an initiative led by Stanford education Professor Kenji Hakuta.
10. Foreign Language Classes Get Cut - WDTV Channel 5 News (9/21/11)
Many schools across the U.S. and the state are cutting back on the number of foreign language classes they offer.
Board of Education officials in Marion County say some of their high schools and middle schools have cut down their number of foreign language classes because of a lack of interest.