Volume XV - March 3, 2005

Welcome to the E-Comp!, a complimentary monthly newsletter for language educators brought to you by Prolinguistica.com.
Prolinguistica Mini-Workshops Begin this Month!

Prolinguistica is offering a series of ten 3-hour workshops right here in our office in Mount Vernon! The topics are varied, not all of them specific to language teaching, but all are about teaching and learning. (And since I'm a language teacher, you can guess where most of my examples come from!) The classes are designed to appeal to both teachers and parents.

Creativity – What is it? and Where can I Get Some?!
A Place to Learn
Could it be dyslexia?
Studying better, not harder
Cheap -- but educational -- thrills
Drawing out Learning
Raising a Reader
Writing Projects Kids Go For
What Can I Leave for My Sub?
Pick a language and teach it- with TPR!

You'll find more information on the content and learning outcomes at the website: http://www.prolinguistica.com/workshops.html. Cost per person is just $39.95 per workshop. Class size is limited to 12 participants. Choose from a weekday evening class or a Saturday morning. Teachers can receive three Washington clock hours from The Heritage Institute (www.hol.edu) for each workshop you attend. What a deal! So please sign up for a class if you live within driving distance!

There is additional information about the mini-workshops and clock hours, registration instructions, and a downloadable registration form at: http://www.prolinguistica.com/workshops.html. And please share this information with your colleagues and any parents you think might be interested in attending. We need this effort to "fly" in order to bring back the big summer workshops on TPR and ESL in 2006!


For Your Reading Pleasure

Just for fun, really...
Internet Fame Is Cruel Mistress for Dancer of the Numa Numa
Here is the cautionary tale of a guy from New Jersey who made the grave mistake of uploading a clip of himself lip-syncing. This is really only of interest to language teachers in that he's lip-syncing to a Romanian pop song. In the article there's a link for watching the guy's little video clip - rather fun, actually, but for me, the really interesting bit was just listening to the Romanian words.

International Education: demand soars for Arabic speakers
By Rick Smith International Herald Tribune
February 15, 2005
PARIS Just as Sputnik spurred a surge in Russian language training a half-century ago, Sept. 11 has made Arabic the language of choice for a new generation of ambitious diplomats and academics across the world. "Looking around, we see that we haven't been training enough qualified Arabic speakers," said Ahmad Fawzi, director of the news and media division of the United Nations in New York. "The language has been neglected." Others agree. "Even in France, with a large population of bilingual Arab speakers to draw from, it has not been easy to find possibilities to study Arabic," said Philippe Cardinal, chief of communications at the Institut du Monde Arabe, the Paris-based cultural center supported by France and 21 Arab governments. That is changing rapidly.
Read more about this at: http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/02/14/reports/rarab.html

Telemundo Coaches 'Neutral' Spanish Accent
NEW YORK - Soap opera fans swoon over Michel Brown's blue eyes and teen-idol looks, but executives at the Telemundo network say there is a more subtle aspect to the telenovela star's appeal: his unaccented Spanish. Brown's delivery, carefully coached to conceal his singsong cadence as a native Argentine, is part of a new policy at the Spanish-language network aimed at increasing viewership in the lucrative Hispanic American market, where there as many accents as there are Spanish-speaking countries. "I had to learn to shorten my vowels and keep my voice from going up and down," Brown said in an interview from Colombia, where the telenovela "Te Voy a Ensenar a Querer," or "Learning to Love," is filmed. "They wanted a universal, completely plain Spanish."
Read more at: http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/entertainment/10914580.htm?1c

Spain opts to instruct in English
Michael Kessler reports on radical plans to improve national EL levels
Friday February 11, 2005, Guardian Weekly
During Spain's general election campaign last year, the Socialist candidate for prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, repeatedly promised that under his leadership all students would be given the opportunity to become fluent in English by the age of 16. Now in office for nearly a year, his government appears determined to make good his promise with a radical plan to teach parts of the primary and secondary school curriculum in English.
Read more about it at: http://education.guardian.co.uk/tefl/story/0,5500,1410229,00.html

City aims for a four language policy
Saturday February 12, 2005
Playing its part in developing a truly cosmopolitan and multi-lingual culture in South Africa's economic powerhouse, the City of Johannesburg has approved a new language policy, which it hopes to have implemented by the middle of 2005.
According to a report presented to the council, the new language policy has several aims:
—To identify and promote the equal use of all official languages in the City,
—To facilitate equal access to the City's services, knowledge and information,
—To ensure redress for the previously marginalised official indigenous languages, and
—To promote good language management for efficient public service administration to meet residents' expectations and needs.
Read more about this at: http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/zones/sundaytimesnew/newsst/newsst1108215666.aspx
(Long URL alert - you may have to cut and paste this into the address line in your browser.)

Forced to learn a language of failure
As China's planners roll out a bilingual education policy across their vast country, the damage it is doing in remote minority-language-speaking communities is being overlooked, says Anwei Feng
Friday February 11, 2005, Guardian Weekly
In its long history of minority education, China has engaged its 50 or so minority groups in bilingual education with an officially proclaimed aim to produce bilinguals with a strong competence in Putonghua (standard Chinese) and their home languages. The stated outcome of this policy is for minority groups to be able to communicate with, and ideally assimilate into, mainstream society. The concept of bilingualism has, therefore, a long association with minority groups and bilingual education for these groups has undergone its course of trials, disasters and hopes reflecting the political realities of the country. To the Han majority, which comprises about 92% of the total population, bilingualism has remained a remote notion and it has hardly, if ever, appeared in their education literature. But over the past few years this has changed drastically. Bilingualism is now widely seen by the Han majority as a useful tool for improving foreign language skills, particularly English, and for developing a workforce that combines specialised knowledge with foreign language skills.
Read more about it at: http://education.guardian.co.uk/tefl/story/0,5500,1410221,00.html

US College Students Crowd Into Arabic Language Classes
By Faiza Elmasry, 17 February 2005
Arabic has been part of the language departments at some U.S. universities since the 1950s. But the number of students taking Arabic classes was always relatively small -- until the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001. "After September 11th, the universities that had been offering Arabic before experienced a 100% increase," says Mahmoud Al-Batal. He teaches Arabic at Emory University in Atlanta, where the language was first offered in 1987. Mr. Al-Batal says the growth of interest since 2001 has been extraordinary. "Many universities and smaller colleges began offering Arabic for the first time, " he says. "If we look at the figures of the Modern Language Association of America, the numbers of students who are studying Arabic currently are in the range of about 12,000 students, as opposed to about 5,000 students just before September 11th."
More on this at: http://www.voanews.com/english/AmericanLife/2005-02-17-voa28.cfm

Chinese latest trend in language education
Maya Suryaraman
Knight Ridder Newspapers, Feb. 17, 2005 02:44 PM
SAN JOSE, Calif. — Move over French and Spanish. Chinese is emerging as a popular high school course offering. And if you want to know what’s driving the demand, ask Jason Lee, a Korean-American sophomore at Cupertino, Calif.’s Monta Vista High School. "Later on, China will have a good business potential — it will help me if I can actually speak with Chinese people," said Jason, a second-year Chinese student.
More on this too at: http://www.azcentral.com/families/articles/0217mandarin17-CR.html

Computers keep ancient Native language alive
February 14, 2005 - by Dan Fiorucci
Chickaloon, Alaska - A last-ditch effort is underway to save one of Alaska’s most-ancient dialects. That dialect is “Ahtna-Athabascan” and its roots go back to a people who lived here even before the Eskimos. The rescue effort comes at a time when perhaps just 100 Natives speak the dialect. The great irony is that the ancient language is being preserved by one of the most modern devices -- the computer.
Find out more at: http://www.ktuu.com/CMS/templates/master.asp?articleid=11669&zoneid=4

Maths skills survive linguistic damage
Philip Ball
Different processes underpin the grammars of numbers and language.
© Punchstock
An inability to process language needn't stop you from doing maths, UK researchers have found. They say that three men with severe aphasia, a linguistic impairment, can understand 'grammatical' rules in mathematics even though they cannot handle analogous rules in language. Aphasia leaves people unable to use or comprehend words, and is often triggered by stroke or other brain injuries.
The discovery challenges a commonly held view that linguistic and mathematical mental processing draw on the same cognitive resources. "Our findings very strongly turn that idea on its head," says Rosemary Varley, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Sheffield, UK.
Find out why they think Chomsky was wrong at: http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050214/full/050214-3.html
(You may have to subscribe to get in, but it's free!)

First, we heard how reading's on the decline in the US, now...
Chilling mystery: Why don't Mexicans read books?
MEXICO CITY – Cristina Woolrich looks across the crowded cafe to the small bookshop she runs, and sighs. "We have the best poetry section in town and we're going to get rid of it," she says. "We're going to have to eliminate almost everything if we want to survive." For the past decade, The Pegaso bookstore, a cozy shrine to the printed word, has offered browsers free coffee, overstuffed leather sofas, and a wide-ranging literary selection. But now it's scaling back, ditching poetry and history, and keeping the few things that still sell - some novels and glossy art books. Pegaso, like many other Mexican bookstores, is on the verge of succumbing to a complicated crisis that threatens Mexico's book industry - one Ms. Woolrich says boils down to this: "Mexicans aren't reading."
Maybe this has more to do with how much books cost, but you can decide for yourself by reading it at:

Two-Way Language Immersion Grows in Popularity
But Some Experts Say the Approach Needs More Solid Research
By Mary Ann Zehr, San Antonio
Promising results from research on two-way language-immersion programs have pumped up the popularity of such programs in recent years. But some experts say that the three large-scale studies that compare two-way immersion with other kinds of instructional methods for English-language learners aren’t conclusive in showing that the programs are better than other options. ... “I like two-way—I would recommend it for my grandson,” Stephen D. Krashen, an emeritus professor of education at the University of Southern California and a language expert, said in an e-mail message this month. Still, he cautioned: “The research has not shown it is the best option for English-language development. We don’t have the data yet. So some claims made by advocates are exaggerated.”
Check it out at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2005/02/16/23language.h24.html
(You may have to subscribe to read this, but it's free!)

Learning English through play
X edex Olivas gestures and draws pictures of the Middle Ages for the 16 students in his third-period English Language Learner class at Parkrose Middle School. For the seventh-grade students, history is often frustrating to read and understand. He ends the class by reading aloud "Castle Under Attack," only the characters' names are the same as those of the students in the class. When he dismisses the class, he calls them by their new Medieval names: King Santos, Alex the Bad and Sir Yegor the Brave. "The more you can connect the lesson to something you know, the better you can remember it," said Olivas, a former Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor and native of Mexico.
Read more about this at: http://www.oregonlive.com/metroeast/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/metro_east_news/1106744546309130.xml
(Long URL alert - another one you may have to cut and paste into the address line. Also, The Oregonian wants your zip code, year of birth and gender, then they'll let you in. Sheesh...!)

I don't usually forward DOD press releases, but...
DoD Seeks People With Language Skills, Regional Expertise
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2005 — If you speak a foreign language or have the desire and aptitude to learn one, Uncle Sam wants you. The Defense Department is on the lookout for people with language skills to support not only current operations, but future ones as well, according to Gail McGinn, deputy undersecretary of defense for plans. And just as important as language skills, she said, is an understanding of other countries' geographies, cultures and people.
Future ones? Check it out at : http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2005/n02032005_2005020305.html

Don't Speak the Language? Live With the Locals
By MARCI ALBOHER, The New York Times
February 1, 2005
For years, Rebecca Koladycz traveled all over Latin America for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, visiting the organization's affiliates - and mangling the Spanish language. In her first week on the job, she had an especially grueling trip to Peru. As an icebreaking exercise in a group meeting, people were paired off with colleagues they had never met and were asked to interview them. Then they had to introduce their partners to the other participants and reveal a few facts about them. Alas, Ms. Koladycz's Spanish was not up to the task. Grasping only fragments of what her colleague told her, she stood up, palms sweating, and winged it. "I gave him an extra child he didn't have, and as I continued to talk about him, he just looked at me with a blank stare," she said. ... Realizing her linguistic clumsiness was holding her back professionally, Ms. Koladycz enrolled in a Spanish-language immersion program in Guatemala, where she stayed with a family and studied for seven hours a day with a private tutor for two weeks.
More on this at: http://travel2.nytimes.com/mem/travel/article-page.html?res=9E0DEEDF123BF932A35751C0A9639C8B63
(Another cut and paste candidate!)

Dubbing makes 'Shrek' funny in foreign languages
By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times | February 6, 2005
HOLLYWOOD -- At first Chuck Mitchell did not think it was such a great idea to insert a slaughterhouse joke in the middle of "Shrek." "I said, wait a minute, I don't think so. I mean, it's one thing to have Shrek say he's going to kick Donkey's butt; it's another to have him dragging him off to the meat house." But then Mitchell isn't Polish. Apparently, in Poland, there is a very funny folk tale involving a donkey and a slaughterhouse. And according to the translator working on the Polish version of the wildly successful DreamWorks film, they would be fools not to reference it. So Mitchell said go with the slaughterhouse. "We had a great translator," he says with a shrug. "I trusted him. There were lots of things that had to be changed because a lot of the fairy tales they use in 'Shrek' are not known in Poland. So we used dialogue to add some Polish fairy tales."
I want one of those jobs! Check it out at: http://www.boston.com/ae/movies/articles/2005/02/06/dubbing_makes_shrek_funny_in_foreign_languages/
(Another one you may have to cut and paste.)

Interacting with baby prompts language
By Barbara F. Meltz, Globe Staff | February 3, 2005
Just when you think the culture can't get any more confusing for parents, along comes ''Baby Berlitz," what the press release describes as interactive sound books and CDs ''especially designed to stimulate language learning in infants up to 3 years old." In a culture that increasingly capitalizes on parents' innate urges to ''do the right thing," the pitch -- give your child ''every educational edge possible before entering school" -- is likely to snag some parents. Annette Karmiloff-Smith of London, one of the leading researchers on language acquisition, has a succinct response: ''This is just a bunch of hype."
How babies learn to speak is a complicated process; even researchers don't fully understand all the mechanisms that go into it.
The article goes on to list what’s normal and ultimately presents you with a 2 year old who speaks German and English. Okey-dokey, check it out at:
(another one you may have to cut and paste due to length)

Resources you might be interested in….

A TPR Cafe!

What a cool idea! Wish I'd thought of it, but then again, it's well beyond my computer skills to set something like this up! Here's the introduction I received:
My name is Wojtek Kuczynski and I am from Poland. I have been using TPR in my classroom for 6 years now and ever since I have been in contact with prof. James J. Asher who offered me tremendous help on the approach. I am writing to you to tell you that I have set up Total Physical Response Message Board on the Internet. You can see it at: http://www.tpr-poland.pl/forum
The idea is to have one meeting place on the internet for all TPR Instructors worldwide where questions can be asked, ideas shared and lesson tips published. I do hope all teachers will find the idea useful is their everyday teaching job.
Best regards,
Wojtek Kuczynski
Let's encourage Wojtek by visiting the TPR Cafe!

EduHound Weekly
The February 10, 2005 edition of EduHound Weekly (http://www.eduhound.com/eduhoundweekly.cfm) focused on Web sites that provide assistance with learning vocabulary. The sites mentioned include:
— Vocabulary Training - This site is meant to replicate on the Internet a means of learning words and phrases in English, German, French and Spanish. The technique used in this site can be helpful in learning vocabulary because the vocabulary is presented randomly, emulating as nearly as possible the "flash-card" technique and the user may keep score, thus monitoring progress.
— Self-Study Vocabulary Quizzes (ESL, EFL) Study English with Quizzes, Crossword Puzzles and other activities for students of English as a second language. HTML Quizzes : http://a4esl.org/q/h/vocabulary.html JAVA Quizzes : http://a4esl.org/a/jv.html
— Learning Vocabulary Can Be Fun! This interactive site offers a variety of games (wordsearches, crosswords, hangman, match games and quizzes) using words assigned by category (animals, food, geography, etc.). http://www.vocabulary.co.il
— Vocabulary Web Games. Improve vocabulary and boost SAT/GRE scores. Master the 720 most frequently tested vocabulary words with these free web quizzes. http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/web_games_vocab.htm
— VoyCabulary.com. Makes the words on any Web page into links to look them up in a dictionary or other word-reference-site, by simply clicking on the words. http://www.voycabulary.com

Anyone care to check these out and let us know if any of them are worth visiting?

Finally, more fun...

From a guide intended to help foreigners understand the idiosyncrasies of British English, found by a journalist for The Economist in 2004 on an office wall in the European Court of Justice. Originally from Harper's Magazine, December 2004, published again Thursday, January 20, 2005.

English as a Second Language
What they say: I’m sure it’s my fault.
What is understood: It is his fault.
What they mean: It is your fault.

What they say: I’ll bear it in mind.
What is understood: He will probably do it.
What they mean: I will do nothing about it.

What they say: I was a bit disappointed that . . .
What is understood: It doesn’t really matter.
What they mean: I am most upset and cross.

What they say: By the way/Incidentally . . .
What is understood: This is not very important.
What they mean: The primary purpose of our discussion is ...

What they say: I hear what you say.
What is understood: He accepts my point of view.
What they mean: I disagree and do not want to discuss it any further.

What they say: Correct me if I’m wrong.
What is understood: Tell me what you think.
What they mean: I know I’m right—please don’t contradict me.

What they say: With the greatest respect . . .
What is understood: He is listening to me.
What they mean: I think you are wrong, or a fool.

What they say: That is an original point of view.
What is understood: He likes my ideas.
What they mean: You must be crazy!

What they say: Very interesting.
What is understood: He is impressed.
What they mean: I don’t agree, or I don’t believe you.

What they say: You must come for dinner sometime.
What is understood: I will get an invitation soon.
What they mean: Not an invitation, just being polite.

What they say: Quite good.
What is understood: Quite good.
What they mean: A bit disappointing.

Have a great month! And sign up for a coupla mini-workshops from Prolinguistica!

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