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
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
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
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
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
—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
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
More on this at: http://www.voanews.com/english/AmericanLife/2005-02-17-voa28.cfm
Chinese latest trend in language education
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
Different processes underpin the grammars of numbers and language.
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
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.
Let's encourage Wojtek by visiting the TPR Cafe!
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,
— 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
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
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
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 - Teaching for Comprehension