Archive for the 'Foreign Language Instruction' Category

Apr 27 2005

Vacation Spanish Blog

The Vacation Spanish Blog was published yesterday. The URI is www.vacationspanish.com. Please feel free to add your comments.

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Apr 25 2005

The Senior English Language Fellows Program is an exciting opportunity for experienced teachers and trainers to increase the level of English language instruction by training local English teachers and designing curriculum that will be used by generations of learners. Senior EL Fellows serve the 10-month Fellowships primarily as teacher trainers at Teacher Training Institutes, Ministries of Education, Universities, and other institutions. The standard responsibility of Senior EL Fellows is to train English teachers, though some are responsible for developing materials that are often used countrywide by generations of English language learners. Senior EL Fellows are improving the level of English instruction around the world in a sustainable and effective manner. Currently we are recruiting for at least 39 Senior Fellowships all over the developing world for the 2005-2006 academic year. Senior EL Fellows make a difference in the lives of thousands of people. This is your opportunity to help build a peaceful and prosperous world community, make a tangible difference in the quality of English instruction, and make a personal difference in the lives of others.

Senior Fellows receive a $24,000 stipend, living allowance (designed to pay for housing, food, utilities, and transportation to and from work), shipping allowance, educational materials allowance, pre-departure expense allowance, in-country program activities allowance, round-trip travel, accident and sickness insurance, and are eligible for a dependent allowance.

Applicants must be US Citizens, have a MA TESOL (or closely related degree), and have significant teacher training and/or materials development experience.

All application materials must be submitted by May 15th, 2005.

The English Language Fellow Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and administered by the School for International Training.

Please visit our website for more information and to download an application.

www.sit.edu/elf


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Apr 25 2005

Investment in Enhanced Language Training Pays Off

As part of the Internationally Trained Workers Initiative, Citizenship and Immigration Canada is helping newcomers acquire the language skills they need to reach their full potential in the Canadian labour market, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joe Volpe announced today.

“Language is one of the main barriers to integration into the workplace for many immigrants to Canada,” said Minister Volpe. “This investment will help engineers, trades people, doctors, nurses and workers in many other fields who received their training outside of Canada to find and keep good jobs that match the skills and experience they bring to Canada.”

While most newcomers have adequate conversational language skills upon arrival in Canada, many employers report gaps in the specialized workplace language skills and vocabulary that are required in many trades and professions. The Enhanced Language Training (ELT) initiative will provide job-specific language training to enable immigrants to gain the language skills they need to flourish in the workplace.

“I am pleased to report the progress we have made to date on this important initiative and share with you the list of projects that have been implemented across the country in 2004–2005,” added the Minister. “This would not have been possible without the successful partnership we established with Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and British Columbia on the delivery of ELT projects in these provinces.”

The government currently spends about $140 million a year on basic language training for about 50,000 adult immigrants outside of Quebec. The Enhanced Language Training initiative accounts for an additional $20 million annually, and provides bridge-to-work assistance, including mentoring, work placement and other assistance in accessing the labour market.

The ELT initiative is an important component of the Government of Canada’s efforts to attract highly skilled workers and ensure more successful integration of immigrants into the economy and communities. Other measures include working with regulatory bodies and sector councils to facilitate the development of effective processes for the recognition of foreign credentials and prior work experience, and the development of the Going to Canada Immigration Portal to provide better information to immigrants before they come to Canada.

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Feb 07 2005

Web of Words: Online Translation Services

English just about remains the prevalent language online, but making sense of some sites is tricky unless you’ve taken the time to learn a new language.

However, technology is on hand to help out with those moments when you find material online, in books and magazines or from far-flung friends or family that has you reaching for the language phrasebook.

Alternatively, there may be an important document from Europe or further abroad that you need to respond to quickly. Fear not, as the internet provides online language translators. It can even help you get on with things when you’re abroad if you have access to a handheld computer and know where to look.

Fishing for meaning
Babel Fish is the most famous online translator. Its name is taken from the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, who in turn borrowed it from the Bible. The Babel Fish lived in people’s ears and translated languages from all over the universe into English for the book’s hero.

Surprisingly, given its reputation as the original translation site, Babel Fish seems to have been slightly outdone by an upstart. Once again Google’s translation service picks up where others have left off and, although it makes no great strides toward perfect English, it does at least manage to pick up on some of Babel Fish’s omissions…

Online translators should not be relied on to provide the exact meaning of foreign words and phrases, but they can give a good idea of the gist of the meaning and when the alternative is knowing nothing at all, it’s not exactly a risk.

Web of words
Many sites also provide the option to translate an entire web page from its native language into English. Altavista and Google both have a section where a web address can simply be entered into a box. From there it will automatically take you to a version of the site where all block text has been translated.

Again, expect varying results from this method and be aware that text in images will not be translated. The good thing about this is that any links you click on while looking at the translated site will also be translated into the language you requested.

If you’re looking for something a little more accurate, it is possible to buy software that considers the nuances of words and grammar to give a much better translation.

Try Systran as a starting point. The company provides the software that powers the Altavista site but also offers professional translation tools to home users. However, the company warns in its promotional literature that this software is mainly for getting the gist of what a document is trying to say and if you want to read or publish in any higher quality then a good degree of user input may be required.

Babylon Software
also offers translation tools for Windows…

A roving eye
There may be times when it is essential that you get a very accurate translation of a foreign document but you don’t want to fork out huge amounts of money on software that may not necessarily provide you with the perfect answer.

Sometimes having a human eye run over it is the only possible alternative.

Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone that speaks or reads Japanese, Arabic or Spanish, because there are websites that can provide you with this service at a reasonable price. One reliable site is TransAction which does the whole thing online if you wish, including getting a quote and receiving and delivering the requested documents.

You may think that to get a foreign document translated you will first have to type in all the text for the software to analyse, along with all those unusual grammatical and punctuation marks. Not so, as a scanner and optical character recognition software can take the strain here.

The software recognises the shape of letters by scanning them in; each scanned letter or symbol is then converted to the character, number or symbol it represents. Occasionally it will mistake a letter, especially if the print quality of the document is poor but this can be solved with a bit of common sense and a spell checker.

Of course, the optical character recognition software has to feature support for the language you want to translate from. Readiris Pro… recognises 104 languages while FineReader… understands up to 107.

Verbal dexterity
If you find yourself dealing quite a lot with foreign documents or speaking to people from other countries online, you may decide that you’re ready to take the plunge and learn the language. If so, there are numerous pieces of software that can help you out.

Linguaphone courses now come on CD-ROM and as downloadable software…

Wordace (available at Amazon) is another useful tool as it helps the user get to grips with the complexities inherent in speaking like the natives, as well as having hundreds of thousands of word translations and verb conjugations, some of the building blocks of language.

If you’re simply looking for useful phrases to help you get around when you’re in a country, try Phrasebase. It’s a simple-to-use site with a whole range of phrases in many languages that have been categorised into easy to understand areas. Simply click on an area, find the phrase you’re looking for and away you go. It’s much cheaper and easier than buying and using a phrasebook, if you have online access while you’re away.

You can also buy software for handheld computers that contains hundreds of useful phrases for holidaymakers, and many will actually read out the translation so you can perfect your pronunciation and impress the locals with your efforts. Mobilearn covers French, German, Italian and Spanish…

Handy tools
If you’re staying in a foreign country, accessing the internet may not be as easy as it would be at home. Even then, would you know how to ask where the nearest cyber-cafe was? At such times, having a handheld PC with translation software installed may be the perfect solution.

One company that specialises in such software is Ectaco. It provides a range of different applications that can be used on your Pocket PC, Palm and even some advanced mobile phones.

You can even purchase software that will take a phrase you speak, translate it and then speak it back to the person you are talking to. However, this is expensive and for less… you can get a more basic phrasebook with translation capabilities.

If you’re looking to keep costs down, there are some free versions available. One example is Pocket Translator from Innersky for Pocket PCs. The website provides easy-to-follow instructions to get it up and running. But as with most things, the free versions won’t provide the same depth or ease of use as those you pay for.

Everything becomes clear
If you’re simply looking to find a way to read foreign text, and all you need to know is the basic gist of what’s being said, then the internet is the perfect place to start looking. There are lots of online translation tools that can change a slab of text, or even an entire foreign website, into English but don’t expect to understand everything that comes back using this method.

If you’re looking for more detailed translation, expect to pay for it. Generally, the better the quality of translation, whether through software or translation services, the costlier it is.


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Of course, Linguistic Solutions breaks down language and cultural barriers through translation, interpretation, foreign language instruction and cross-cultural training.

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Feb 05 2005

Audiofyâ„¢ Opens New Channels for Digital Audiobooks – New Resellers Established for Pimsleur and Soundview Products, Including Amazon and Bookchips.com

Audiofy Corporation, a premier digital audiobook publisher, today announced a venture with Heinle & Heinle, the former owners and publishers of the Pimsleur Foreign Language Series. As part of this venture, Audiofy will operate the popular www.pimsleurdirect.com site as an e-commerce site for the sale of Audiofy’s Pimsleur Bookchips.

Audiofy also announced the availability of its popular audiobook products through new channels, including Amazon and www.bookchips.com, Audiofy’s new ecommerce site.

“We’re excited to be delivering Pimsleur foreign language instruction and Soundview’s bestselling audiobook management summaries to a broader audience,” said Peter D. Nalle, Audiofy’s CEO. “The Audiofy platform takes these premium products and makes them easier to use, wherever you are.”

Audiofy’s Bookchips are specially formatted SD Cards that allow customers to listen to their audiobooks on most devices that have an SD Card slot, like PCs, PDAs and smartphones. The Audiofy Player provides customers without those devices with a simple and satisfying way to listen to Bookchips. The inexpensive, pocket-sized player is easy to use, whether you are driving, commuting, exercising, or just on the sofa in your living room. All Audiofy products comply with the Audiobook Compatible standard established by the Audio Publishers Association and the Consumer Electronics Association.

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Note: I personally use and recommend the Pimsleur language instruction program.

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Feb 02 2005

First Tennessee Launches Banking Programs For Hispanics

Beginning this week, First Tennessee bank officials will launch two components of their Hispanic initiative which recognizes and supports the growing population in Chattanooga. The first provides professional Spanish language instruction to bank employees.

Stacy Johnson, Director of Hispanic Relations for First Tennessee, stated, “The Spanish language program will be of great benefit to Spanish speakers living in our area by helping to narrow the language barrier that is so prevalent.” Ultimately, their hope is to better serve this population’s important financial needs, officials said.

Classes are offered three times a week and are free of charge to the bank’s employees. To date, 45 are enrolled in the program. The class will be offered in the Cleveland area as well.

The second initiative being launched is a curriculum geared to Spanish speakers throughout Hamilton County in partnership with READ Chattanooga, Tennessee’s oldest adult educational program. The class, known as Money Matters, is a financial literacy program designed in conjunction with the FDIC, whose purpose is to teach people the benefits of utilizing banking institutions. The most fundamental benefit is to protect a family’s financial assets, in addition to their overall security.


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Jan 31 2005

Don’t Speak the Language? Live With the Locals

Americans have always had a reputation for linguistic laziness, and since much of the business world is willing to conduct business in English, their deficiency tends not to hold them back. But an increasing number of Americans realize that going the extra step to hone skills in a foreign language can provide a professional edge or grease the wheels of deal-making. They are dusting off their high school Spanish, French or German, and the most ambitious of them are plunging into immersion language courses…

These programs have proliferated throughout the world and come in all sizes, lasting from a few days to several weeks, emphasizing vocabularies in a variety of professional specialties and conducted as group sessions or one-on-one tutorials.

For many American executives, Spanish is the language to learn, given the large Latin American market next door and the surge in the Hispanic population in the United States.

There are numerous immersion programs, both in Latin America and Spain, but Guatemala has become a hotbed of language study, in part because of its inhabitants’ reputation for speaking in a clear, easily understandable accent and partly because of its extremely low cost. It is home to scores of schools, many of them based in Antigua, a well-preserved colonial city with cobblestone streets and easy excursions to nearby volcanoes and Mayan ruins.

For as little as $150 a week, foreigners can receive six hours of private language instruction for five days a week. Accommodations with a local family providing three home-cooked meals a day are generally included in the price.


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Jan 31 2005

Rural Development Opens New Vistas for Rural Communities

We are working toward universal broadband access in rural Alaska, strengthening distance learning and telemedicine services and encouraging homeownership and entrepreneurship

For example 0ver the past two years we have provided eight rural Alaska school districts with grants of $400,000 to $500,000 each to provide distance learning opportunities.

The equipment purchased with these grant funds connects rural classrooms and provides students with learning opportunities not only here in Alaska, but elsewhere in the world.

After learning that her rural Southeast Alaska district was successful in receiving a grant, one superintendent told me she plans to use our equipment to provide Spanish language instruction to her students, and to partner with a school in China to provide language and cultural instruction.

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Jan 31 2005

Parents Challenge Schools on 21st Century Languages

Finding Arabic or Chinese as class offerings in area school systems is rare.
But some Arlington parents want the schools to take a more forward-looking approach with foreign language instruction.

The Arlington school system is adding Italian to the curriculum next year — the first new foreign language it has added since 1988, according to The Washington Post. The school system says a survey revealed that Italian would be the most popular new language to offer.

But parent Peter Rousselot is worried that the schools aren’t really preparing students for life in the 21st century where Arabic and Chinese may be in higher demand.

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Jan 31 2005

Elmbrook Parents Push for Languages

The Elmbrook School Board continues to face intense pressure to reinstate foreign language instruction at its six elementary schools, despite the need to trim $2 million from next year’s budget.

At last week’s School Board meeting, attended by about 45 parents and foreign language teachers, parents pleaded for foreign language to be taught for 90 minutes a week as part of the regular school day curriculum. But elementary school teachers testified that the day is already too full and other classes would suffer.

The parents’ suggestion would require creating the equivalent of 3.5 new teaching positions in 2005, costing about $273,000, and adding more positions in 2006, bringing annual costs as high as $390,000, according to a district study group report.

School Board members made no decision Tuesday. Most said they could not justify the expense, given the district’s financial deficit but also appeared torn after listening to passionate arguments for the program from parents and one of their own members, Steve Schwei.

In the end, Superintendent Matt Gibson offered to come up with a budget plan next month that would cut other items to make up the cost of the foreign language program, so that parents might better see the impact of such a decision.

Until two years ago, Elmbrook fourth- through sixth-graders were exposed to French, Spanish and German in school. The program was eliminated in a round of budget cuts. But Gibson said the district also felt the elementary program failed to adequately prepare pupils for foreign language instruction in middle and high school.

Since then, interested children have been attending foreign language clubs after school, with expenses paid for by parents. But Marilyn Pritchard, a parent representative for the Elementary School Day Study Group, said participation is fading and parents have complained that these clubs aren’t effective.

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Jan 28 2005

Bilingual Charter School Approved

The Santa Fe school board approved the application for Charter School 37, a public charter school based on dual-language instruction in English and Spanish and expeditionary learning through action. The school must still obtain approval from the state public-education department to proceed with its plans to open for the 2006-2007 school year… Charter School 37 will serve approximately 400 students, admitted by lottery. School organizers say they hope to have a balanced mix of Spanish and English speakers.

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Jan 28 2005

Is Korea a Forward Base for the Globalization of Chinese?

China is sending some 600 Chinese language teachers to Korean elementary and middle schools.

Zhejiang Online News reported Friday that 600 graduates from a teachers college in Zhejiang province would be sent to Korean schools after Hangzhou Normal University signed a deal with 16 school principals during their recent visit to China. The heads were tasked with negotiating the agreement on behalf of the roughly 2,000 Korean schools that teach Chinese.

Beijing’s dispatch of the teachers is part of an ambitious strategy to make Chinese a global language. Late last year it established the China National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language. Attached to the State Council, the body has set itself the target of increasing the number of foreigners learning Chinese to 100 million within five years. Currently, there are an estimated 30 million foreigners studying the language at 2,300 universities in 100 countries.

Beijing is setting up forward bases for the task around the world. Similar to Germany’s Goethe Institut or the U.K.’s British Council, Confucius Institutes teach Chinese language and promote Chinese culture, with the first one opened in Seoul’s Yeoksam-dong last year. China’s quasi-state run news agency China News reported Thursday that Beijing also plans to open up several Confucius Institutes in the U.S. by next year. One Western diplomat in China said Beijing aimed to promote Chinese as an international language able to hold its own against English.

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Jan 27 2005

The Blackfeet Language Will Be Taught to All Tribal Staff

“One Councilman started the ball rolling,” said Edward North Peigan, lead teacher of the Blackfeet language at Blackfeet Tribal Headquarters. “He wanted the Blackfeet language taught to all the staff, and he wanted to learn the language also.”

The BTBC resolved Dec. 2 to create a Blackfeet language teaching position in the tribal government, said North Peigan, who has taught the language at East Glacier Park Elementary, Browning High School and at Blackfeet Community College. Together with his wife, Wilma, he has logged many hours of Blackfeet language instruction time. “I’m a native speaker,” he said. “English is my second language. I’m continuing to struggle with English.”

But according to North Peigan, his experience in learning the dominant language of the United States gives him hope that people can learn Blackfeet. “If I can learn English, then anyone can learn anything they choose,” he said.


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Jan 26 2005

English Ed Bill Comes Due

Running out of patience, a federal judge on Tuesday ordered state lawmakers to provide more cash for English instruction programs by the end of this session or face possible sanctions.

Judge Raner Collins said legislators have failed to meet prior deadlines set by the court to comply with an order to properly fund these programs to teach English to students who come from homes where that is not the predominant language. Collins rejected pleas by attorneys for the state to give lawmakers a chance to act on their own — and at their own pace.

Collins noted that it has been more than five years since another judge found the state was violating federal laws which require the state to ensure that all children learn English.

“If the court were to defer its ruling to see if the Legislature acts on its own, it may jeopardize any opportunity for the English Language Learner programs to be funded during this legislative session,” Collins wrote in his six-page ruling. The result, he said, is “the children will have to wait more than another year for any type of relief.”

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Jan 24 2005

More UAE Students Prefer Private Schools

An increasing number of national students are preferring private schools to government schools to the extent that about 30 per cent of the students enrolled in the various private schools in the country are originally from the UAE. According to official figures, out of an estimated 290,072 private school students, around 50,000 are UAE nationals.

When your favourite No. 1 newspaper asked a cross-section of the national population for the reason for their choice, a majority of the parents responded that they want their children to acquire sound communication skills in English.

When lack of proficiency in English — both written and spoken — is pointed out as one of the reasons that hamper the career prospects of many UAE nationals, parents believe that providing their children with quality education will help them overcome the shortcoming.

Among their reasons for opting against government schools are better quality of English teaching and scope for cross-cultural interaction in private schools that will widen their horizon of thoughts and enhance their communicative skills. Mostly preferring the American or British curriculum, parents are willing to shell out a chunk of their income, even when free education is available in a government school.

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