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Top Ten Language Links of the Month | September

Top Ten Language Links of the Month | September

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!

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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.

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Top 10 Language Links of the Month | May/June 2011

Top 10 Language Links of the Month | May/June 2011

We fell a little behind in May with our Language links of the month, but here at The World Company Blog we have a feature where we [try :) ] to offer up what we consider to be the Top 10 news stories from the previous month in regards to languages and language learning. Since we fell behind in May we have put together a list for May and June (so far). Please let us know if we missed any great May or June 2011 stories in the comment section. Enjoy!

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1. After 90 Years, a Dictionary of an Ancient World - NY Times (6/6/11)

Ninety years in the making, the 21-volume dictionary of the language of ancient Mesopotamia and its Babylonian and Assyrian dialects, unspoken for 2,000 years but preserved on clay tablets and in stone inscriptions deciphered over the last two centuries, has finally been completed by scholars at the University of Chicago.

2. World Language Academy approved to add grade levels – Gainesville Times (6/8/11)

World Language Academy fifth-graders can now continue their bilingual studies, thanks to a charter amendment approved Wednesday. The Georgia State Board of Education Charter Committee approved the school’s effort to add sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

3. Foreign-language radio stations provide connection to home – USA Today (6/17/11)

The Federal Communications Commission says there are 14,619 AM, FM and educational broadcast radio stations in the USA. Cision, a Chicago company that tracks media, says 883 have programming in 35 foreign languages. Spanish and Spanish/English bilingual programming account for 747 of those stations, but the stew includes Romanian, Punjabi, Gaelic, Albanian and Creole. Inside Radio, which monitors industry trends, says there were 574 Spanish stations in 2001.


4. As Slang Changes More Rapidly, Expert Has to Watch His Language – Wall Street Journal (5/26/11)

For most people, being late to a language trend isn’t a problem. But Mr. Dalzell, a 59-year-old union leader by day and slang expert after hours, is now in the process of updating the New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. And as informal language evolves faster than ever, Mr. Dalzell is finding it trickier to keep up.

5. Native language skills key to Inuit academic success - The Globe & Mail (6/17/11)

Aboriginal leaders say governments, businesses and parents must all step up to improve the dismal state of education for Inuit children.The report is the result of more than two years of work by federal, provincial, territorial and aboriginal representatives. It concludes that the key to improving a 25 per cent graduation rate for Inuit children is teaching them in their aboriginal language as well as in English or French.

6. Spanish Language Contact Center Solutions: Verizon Introduces Newly Personalized FiOS Service Bundles -TMCnet (6/7/11)

Verizon has designed just launched new options for customers who want to personalize their FiOS (News – Alert) service bundles to fit their individual voice, broadband and home-entertainment needs. Hispanic households now have the option to customize their bundles as well, starting with Verizon’s (News – Alert) La Conexion and other Spanish language bundles, further improving and elevating the level of Spanish language contact center solutions as operators must successfully assist Spanish-speaking customers.

7. New Mobile Spanish Language-Learning App Brands Itself as the “Opposite of Rosetta Stone” – PRWeb (5/26/11)

Mobile language learning has reached a new level today with the release of Brainscape Spanish. As the most expensive language-learning app on iTunes to date, this $40 iPhone app is the first to employ a ground-breaking new language acquisition method known as Intelligent Cumulative Exposure (ICE).

8. Language Learning Helps Businesses Compete Globally – Forbes (5/27/11)

Thanks to the Internet, even the smallest company can be a multinational. Over two billion people are online and an additional 500 million will connect for the first time this year. Over four billion people have a cell phone with SMS capability and many of them will upgrade to an Internet-enabled smartphone in coming years. Technology has unleashed a global market unconstrained by space, time or travel barriers.

9. Bilingual education called best of both worlds – The Desert Sun (6/20/11)

Thirteen years ago, California voters approved a law mandating that students be taught “overwhelmingly” in English.
But about 2,400 Coachella Valley students — about 3 percent — learned at least part of their lessons this year in their primary language — Spanish.The law allows parents to request a waiver to place their child in a bilingual class if they meet certain criteria.

10. Spanish-language computer hits the U.S. market - FoxNews – (6/21/11)

Dell has launched a new laptop computer with its operating system and keyboard in Spanish, an option introduced to satisfy the demand among the growing Hispanic market, especially adults.

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Military at Fort Bragg Pushing Language Training

Military at Fort Bragg Pushing Language Training

According to a report by the News & Observer’s Martha Quillin on April 26, the Military, the Army out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, is beginning to push language training.

Quillin writes:

Since January, 64 paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team have spent their days learning to read, write and speak basic Dari, the most common language among the people of Afghanistan, and delving into the culture and history of the country.

The Army has taught the same 16-week course at Fort Drum in New York, Fort Polk in Louisiana and Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Marine Corps base Camp Lejeune will graduate its first class this summer from a 52-week course in Dari, Pashtu and Urdu, two other languages of the region.

The proliferation of the language courses suggests the military expects to be in Afghanistan for a long while to come, and reflects the current policy of cultivating relationships among the Afghan people and incorporating them in the fight against the Taliban.

The reason for moving towards the language training is the same reason why all of us decide to pick up another language whether it be for work or pleasure – we are limited by our inabilty to understand that other language. Soldiers stepped up after a 12-month deployment and let it be know that their inability to communicate with soldiers and security forces they hoped to train really put a damper on what they could accomplish.

Quillin writes:

The 4th BCT returned in September from a 12-month deployment to the country. Its soldiers say they were frequently limited by their inability to communicate with the soldiers and security forces they were trying to train, and the villagers from whom they were seeking information.

Sgt. Bradley Oliff was one of those who jumped at the chance to take the first course offered at Fort Bragg by the Defense Language Institute of Monterey, Calif.

Oliff, a medic, said that during his time in Afghanistan he relied on “a lot of hand gestures, a lot of guessing and a lot of calling for the interpreter and hoping he’s around.”

Oliff added that “Unless you could see the injury, sometimes there just wasn’t anything you could do without an interpreter,” he said. “Now, I could ask them, ‘Do you need help?’ I could actually have a conversation.”

The Military continues to ramp up their language training programs and it seems everyone can benefit.What do you think?

Click HERE to read the entire article from Quillin.

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Top 10 Language Links of the Month | April 2011

Top 10 Language Links of the Month | April 2011

Here at The World Company Blog we have a feature where we offer up what we consider to be the Top 10 news stories from the previous month in regards to languages and language learning. Please let us know if we missed any great April 2011 stories in the comment section. Enjoy!

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1. Big U.S. Firms Shift Hiring Abroad - NY Times (4/19/11)

U.S. multinational corporations, the big brand-name companies that employ a fifth of all American workers, have been hiring abroad while cutting back at home, sharpening the debate over globalization’s effect on the U.S. economy.

2. Charters in New York Can Be Revoked for Low ELL Recruitment – Education Week (4/18/11)

New York state has made some changes in its education law aiming to spur charter schools to recruit and enroll more English-language learners.

As of May 2010, charter schools in New York can be closed for repeated failure to meet or exceed enrollment and retention targets for ELLs. Those targets are set by the New York Board of Regents or Board of Trustees of the State University of New York.

3. Mandarin, anyone? – The Denver Post (4/17/11)

School reform may have a long way to go, but we sometimes fail to appreciate the transformation already under way.

Consider a remarkable statistic in a recent report by The Denver Post’s Yesenia Robles: 53 percent of Denver students now “attend a school other than the one assigned to them, up from 34 percent in 2004.”

4. Big Cuts to International Programs – Inside Higher Ed (4/15/11)

When a chart of all cuts in the 2011 budget passed by Congress on Thursday was made public earlier this week, international-education advocates received an unpleasant surprise: funding for foreign language and area studies programs within the Education Department could be cut by as much as $50 million, rolled back to levels last seen before Sept. 11, 2001.

5. Making the case for natural language processing – CMIO (4/28/11)

Using natural language processing (NLP) might facilitate the business of radiology, but the first step is understanding NLP.

Daniel L. Rubin, an assistant professor in the department of radiology at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., notes that NLP has many faces, based on the desired task, including:

  • Text Classification: A text report or sentences in the report are run through a computer classifier program to label the reports, such as for automated ICD coding.
  • Name Entity Recognition: Recognizes findings, diseases, devices and diagnoses in reports.
  • Information Extraction: Pulls out from reports particular types of factual statements (such as the anatomic location of an imaging finding) or recommendations.
  • Information Retrieval: Searches a large database of text reports for those that match certain query criteria.

6. Immersive French – Language Learning Success for iOS – prMac (4/28/11)

Wattanasoft, a leading provider of iOS language-learning apps, today is pleased to announce Immersive French for the iPad and iPhone. Immersive French provides the user with a full multimedia learning experience by associating pictures with spoken words and sentences. As a means of celebrating the launch, the developer is offering this language learning app – normally priced at $4.99 (USD) – for the reduced price of $0.99 (USD).

7. Human language arose in southern Africa, first-of-its-kind analysis suggests – The Washington Post (4/14/11)

Human language arose only once, in southern Africa, a first-of-its-kind analysis of world languages suggests.

Verbal communication then spread across the globe as humans walked out of Africa, reaching Australia and New Zealand last.

This verbal spread parallels the dispersion of early human genes across the world, leading the researcher to conclude that language may have prompted the great human migration.

8. Evolution of Language Takes Unexpected Turn – Wired (4/14/11)

It’s widely thought that human language evolved in universally similar ways, following trajectories common across place and culture, and possibly reflecting common linguistic structures in our brains. But a massive, millennium-spanning analysis of humanity’s major language families suggests otherwise.

Instead, language seems to have evolved along varied, complicated paths, guided less by neurological settings than cultural circumstance. If our minds do shape the evolution of language, it’s likely at levels deeper and more nuanced than many researchers anticipated.

9. Univision to Add 2 U.S. Spanish Language Cable Channels - The Wall Street Journal (4/13/11)

Univision Communications Inc. plans to launch at least two new Spanish-language cable channels in the U.S. in the next year, as an increasing number of competitors rush to cash in on the growth of the country’s Hispanic population.

10. Language translation apps for Smartphones make traveling lighter – Chicago Sun-Times (4/10/11)

Smartphone apps have left many office tools and devices collecting dust.

Add language translators to that growing list.

A few years ago, a wave of portable translation products hit the market, promising to make navigating Russian markets or ordering at a French restaurant a breeze. Ranging from color-screen e-dictionaries to checkbook-size devices that utter travel phrases in a robotic voice, these gadgets typically cost well north of $100.

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Top 10 Language Links of the Month | March 2011

Top 10 Language Links of the Month | March 2011

We are happy to announce a new feature here at The World Company Blog where we offer up what we consider to be the Top 10 news stories from the previous month in regards to languages and language learning. We will do this from here on out during the last week of each month. Please let us know if we missed any great stories in the comment section. Enjoy!

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1. Google Scores its Algorithm – NY Times (3/5/11)

The explosion of language on the Web, in text and audio, has given the statistical algorithms a rich training ground for improvement. Ever-faster computers help as well.

But parsing and categorizing language, with its ambiguity and subtlety, remains a formidable hurdle for computers. So the challenge facing Watson was far greater than the one I.B.M. overcame in 1997 with its Deep Blue chess-playing computer, which beat the world champion Garry Kasparov.

“It’s a lot more difficult for a computer to understand language at the level of an 8-year-old than to beat a grandmaster at chess,” observed Oren Etzioni, a computer scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle.

2. A Human Language Gene Changes the Sound of Mouse Squeaks – NY Times (3/28/11)

People have a deep desire to communicate with animals, as is evident from the way they converse with their dogs, enjoy myths about talking animals or devote lifetimes to teaching chimpanzees how to speak. A delicate, if tiny, step has now been taken toward the real thing: the creation of a mouse with a human gene for language.

3. Talkative Twins Use Own Special Language – ABC (3/30/11)

A viral video showing some talkative twins is raising questions about how babies communicate.

Sam and Ren are 17-month-old fraternal twins who appear to be making baby small talk, but then, it appears their exchange turns into a meaningful conversation.

4. Google Now Supports Cherokee Language – Mashable (3/25/11)

In an attempt to preserve the endangered Cherokee language, Google has added it as an interface option.

The addition, announced today, means Cherokee speakers can now make it their default language for searches, and help keep the language alive. Google also introduced an on-screen keyboard option. In practice, this means anyone who can read and write Cherokee can look up anything on Google. Users can change their language setting to Cherokee here.

5. Univision CEO Steps Down – LA Times (3/14/11)

Joe Uva, a veteran advertising executive who switched gears four years ago to run the nation’s largest Spanish-language media company, said Monday he was stepping down.

6. Irish Language Gaining Popularity at Notre Dame – Huffington Post (3/17/11)

A Notre Dame professor says the Irish language is gaining popularity at the university as students seek to connect with their cultural heritage.

7. Bill Would Make English Official Language of US Government - CBS News (3/11/11)

Two conservative Republican lawmakers, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) and Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), introduced the English Language Unity Act of 2011 on Friday, a bill that requires that all official United States government functions be conducted in English.

8. Need an Asian language interpreter, teacher or city navigator? There’s an app for that – LA Times (3/6/11)

If language limitations have kept Asia off your destination list, smart-phone applications can help you overcome those barriers. Before you go abroad, try testing apps that use the Internet or GPS to determine how much data roaming they do. Adding an international data plan may minimize the risk of your wireless carrier socking you with expensive international data charges.

9. Fluent in Another Language? The CIA Wants you – MSNBC (3/9/11)

Many Americans don’t learn a second or a third language from birth, let alone a language that the CIA or U.S. Foreign Service might want. The situation has forced U.S. government agencies to learn how to cultivate the most talented second-language speakers from among college students with little to no other-language expertise.

10. The Best Software for Learning a Language – PC News (3/14/11)

Learning a new language can be a daunting experience, and doing it throughsoftware alone may seem even more overwhelming. More importantly, what works for some people might not work for others. People have their own learning styles, whether they prefer audio or visual material, or need sequential lessons versus the ability to jump around. Fortunately, there are many language learning apps to choose from, each of which meets different needs and is better suited to students with different learning styles.

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