What are the easiest languages to learn?

Well, if you’re Spanish – it could be Italian or Portuguese. If you’re Dutch, it could be German. But if you’re a native English speaker, it could well be Spanish or Portuguese. At Euroasia, we regularly get asked this question.  Especially by those trying to decide which language to learn and don’t have a specific preference or reason behind learning a language. There isn’t a “right answer” for this question, but one way of evaluating which language is easiest to learn is by

looking at how close they are to English and how difficult they are.

The Defense Language Institute (DLI)* categorises languages into four levels of difficulty. Category I languages are easier to pick up, while moving on up through Category IV, language comprehension is more difficult, and the length of courses reflect that.

Category I languages, 26-week courses, include Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese.

Category II, 35 weeks, includes German and Indonesian

Category III, 48 weeks, includes Dari, Persian Farsi, Russian, Uzbek, Hindi, Urdu, Hebrew, Thai, Serbian Croatian, Tagalog, Turkish, Sorani and Kurmanji

Category IV, 64 weeks, includes Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and Pashto

*  The Defense Language Institute (DLI) is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) educational and research institution, which provides linguistic and cultural instruction to the Department of Defense, other Federal Agencies and numerous customers around the world. The Defense Language Institute is responsible for the Defense Language Program, and the bulk of the Defense Language Institute’s activities involve educating DoD members in assigned languages, and international personnel in English. Other functions include planning, curriculum development, and research in second-language acquisition.

Check out Euroasia’s language courses, with summer school kicking off in January 2013. We offer a range of Category I, II, III and IV languages.

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Minority report – Welsh

The first in an occasional series on languages spoken by fewer than a million people around the world…we start with Welsh

The land of Wales, officially one of the four “home countries” which make up the UK, is famous for its beautiful scenery – usually seen through rain – its coalmines – now largely closed or turned into tourist attractions – its singing… and its rugby!

Wales(Cymru) is also home of course to the Welsh language, or Cymraeg, as the natives call it. Welsh predates English: when the Anglo-Saxons invaded much of Britain and brought with them the Germanic tongue from which modern English is descended, they encountered a Celtic people speaking what we would now call “Welsh”. Modern Welsh is much closer to this old Celtic language than modern English is to Anglo-Saxon.

Gradually, the speakers of Welsh were pushed westwards, until they were only left in what is now Wales. And there the language has survived for the last 1,500 years.

Over the centuries, the proportion of people speaking Welsh has unfortunately declined. Wales was conquered by England in the Middle Ages, and the influence of English grew at the expense of Welsh. Today, out of a total population of about 3,000,000, around 25% of people in Wales speak Welsh as a mother tongue. But whether you hear Welsh spoken on the streets depends very much on the part of the country you’re visiting. Every official signpost everywhere may be in English and Welsh, but if you go to the capital,Cardiff(sorry, Caerdydd) or the second city, Swansea(oops, Abertawe), you may not hear it at all. Welsh speakers tend to live in rural areas and smaller towns, where they’re very often in the majority. So in Machynlleth or Blaenau Ffestiniog (sorry, no English names available), you’d better get out your phrase book!

Well, not really. Pretty much everyone who speaks Welsh is bilingual. In every school, both languages are taught, and Welsh is usually a compulsory subject on the curriculum. Some schools are bilingual, with certain lessons conducted in English, and others in Welsh. Others schools are English-medium, with Welsh being taught as a foreign language. If you attend a debate at the Welsh Assembly, headphones are available so you can listen to interpreters rendering the speeches in English or in Welsh.

Thanks in part to official encouragement, the Welsh language has undoubtedly experienced a resurgence in recent decades. This success is not, however, entirely welcomed by everyone. The 75% of the population who don’t speak Welsh as a native language are sometimes frustrated that a substantial proportion of jobs in the public sector now require competence in the language. Some parents complain that a lot of study time is devoted to the learning a language which may be seldom used in their particular locality.

Two interesting facts with which to conclude:

1. Welsh is also spoken in parts of Patagonia! Settlers from Wales took with them, and retained their mother tongue. And you thought you needed Spanish for Argentina…

2. This year, Wales became the first country in the world to open up a path following the entire length of its

coastline. If you’re tramping in Wales, just make sure that you walk on the llwybr cyhoeddus!

Though we

do not yet offer Welsh language training, we do have a range of language courses in Spanish, French, German, Italian and various other European and Asian languages. Check our Euroasia’s language courses in Auckland, Wellington and online.

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How much money does business lose because it doesn’t get the language right?

Pretty much every business in New Zealand buys from, sells to or works with people for whom English is not their native language. Most of the time, we work on two assumptions: the first is that our partners will be prepared to deal with us in English; the second – more worrying, because it’s less obvious, and usually false – is that our partners have a level of English pretty much on a par with our own.

The problem identified

Here are some examples of how we can get it wrong:

1. The New Zealand Qualifications Authority has on its website information for international students thinking of studying in New Zealand. Here’s how it starts:

“Educational institutions in New Zealand offer a wide variety of courses and New Zealand welcomes international students at all of its institutions. Students intending to study in New Zealand can be assured of achieving qualifications that are at a standard comparable to qualifications achieved in leading educational institutions in other parts of the world.”

It’s perfectly good English, but it’s inappropriate English: given that a fair number of those students are coming here first of all to study English, maybe the

writer could have chosen language which they might have had a sporting chance of understanding! How about:

“We really welcome international students to New Zealand. You can take many different courses at our schools, colleges and universities. And our qualifications are at

the same high standard as those from the best schools, colleges and universities around the world.”

2. A leading operator of backpacker tours around New Zealand has chosen funny names for its tours. These include “Funky Chicken”, “the Full Monty” and “Whole Kit and Caboodle”. A good choice? If the target market is native speakers of English, probably: the names will have a certain resonance. But if they want to attract non-native speakers? I suspect that these names would mean nothing at all even to people with a degree in English – they might still sound quirky, but they don’t actually convey any real message or image beyond quirkiness. Is quirkiness enough?

3. What about the spoken language? I once heard a hotel porter in London giving some directions to a distinguished-looking guest with very limited English. He then added, trying to be helpful, “Jawamedewri’i’dahnfaya?” Which I think translates as, “Do you want me to write it down for you?” He could have made himself understood, and still spoken with his distinctive London accent, if he’d just made a few pauses between the words, and perhaps accompanied the words with a little “writing down” gesture.

I rather fear that an Auckland hotel porter might have come out with something similar!

Imagine these examples multiplied a thousand-fold every day across the English-speaking world…

Two ways of tackling the problem

We suggest that businesses consider two options for their staff.

  1. Encourage them to learn a foreign language!

We’re probably preaching to the converted here, but there’s no doubt that learning a foreign language gives you not only insights into the thought patterns of people from a different cultural background, but also greater appreciation of the language learning process. You have more empathy for non-native speakers of English when you realise just how much time and energy they must have expended in order to communicate with us.

2. Encourage them to work consciously on their use of English!

This is perhaps a newer idea, but it’s one which Euroasia is now actively promoting. We can help people writing websites, handling international correspondence, working in marketing and sales, delivering presentations etc. etc. to ensure that the language they use will be understood and appreciated by the widest possible audience.

Euroasia offers in-house stimulating and highly focused programmes for businesses keen to upgrade the skills of their staff. Please contact the Principal, Peter Chapple, for more information (peter@euroasia.co.nz). (Peter is currently putting the finishing touches to his book entitled “How to talk to foreigners”.)

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Learn a new language to prevent aging and Alzheimers

It’s well accepted amongst the scientific community that a deep cognitive reserve provides protection from aging and Alzheimers.

We came across this very interesting article in Time Magazine recently which we think would be of interest to the Euroasia community.

Some key points:

  • Research on bilingualism by Ellen Bialystok of York University in Toronto has demonstrated that speaking more than one language delayed the onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms by an average of five years.
  • In a study published last year in the journal Cortex, Bialystok and her co-authors used brain scans to measure the extent of brain atrophy in monolingual and bilingual individuals who showed early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

    The amount of atrophy in the bilinguals’ brains was much greater — indicating that even though their physical disease was more advanced than the monolinguals’, they’d been able to keep functioning at the same level.

  • Bialystok theorizes that the lifelong mental exercise required to

    speak multiple tongues — remembering which word belongs to which language — helps bilinguals augment their cognitive reserves.

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/06/13/want-to-prevent-agin-learn-another-language/

Posted via email from Euroasia

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Euroasia opens in Wellington!

Thursday, 12 April 2012, 2:09 pm

Press Release: Euroasia

Leading foreign language school expands into Wellington

New Zealand’s leading provider of European and Asian language and cultural services is opening a branch in Wellington CBD this month. Courses are delivered in conjunction with Wellington partner English Teaching College (ETC), which has been operating in Wellington since 1993. The manager of the school in Wellington is veteran language professional Marty Pilott.

Euroasia Director Kenneth Leong says: “Over 200 Wellingtonians have expressed interest in signing up for our courses in the last 12 months. We believe our range of offerings would appeal to the Wellington market.”

Mr. Leong describes Euroasia’s mission: “We are in the business of connecting people across cultures. Euroasia has a role in promoting greater cross-cultural understanding as New Zealand becomes more culturally diverse.”

“Language skills aid in bridging the cultural divide as globalisation means people of different cultures will increasingly work and play together.”

Although there are other organisations offering

foreign language teaching, a few things about Euroasia make it a little different:

•Specialisation in European and Asian languages other than English (including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese etc)

•Teachers are native speakers, and offer interesting cultural input

•Specially designed curriculum taking into account unique requirements of New Zealanders

•Each course is designed in consultation with the students to meet their needs

Euroasia’s foreign language classes have been attended by over 3,000 New Zealanders in the past 5 years. Euroasia courses in Auckland and Wellington are available through evening classes, in-company tuition or online learning. Cross-cultural consulting and translation services are also offered. Euroasia’s clients include many of New Zealand’s leading corporate and government organisations.

Mr Leong further adds: “New Zealanders’ interest in foreign languages and cultures continue to grow unabated,”

said Mr. Leong. “More New Zealanders are traveling and doing business overseas; this is translating into higher levels of business for Euroasia”.

ENDS

Posted via email from Euroasia

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Interesting language learning articles – January 2012

Here we’ve compiled a series of articles which may be of interest to language learners and linguaphiles, all from January 2012.

1) How to maximise your memory – The Guardian, 14 Jan 2012

Forget rote learning, one of the best ways to commit something to memory is to think of associated images – the more outlandish, the better.

The brain is often likened to a muscle, the suggestion being that if you exercise it, its function will improve. A bodybuilder can strengthen his biceps by repeatedly lifting weights and so, the argument goes, you can improve your memory by repeating over and over to yourself (either out loud or sub-vocally) the information you wish to remember.

For years, researchers considered that “rehearsing” information in this way was necessary to retain it in your short-term memory and transfer it into long-term memory. This view fits with our instinct that if we want to remember something like a phone number, we say it to ourselves again and again in the hope that it “sticks”. Generations of students have held fast to the principle that repeatedly reading through lecture notes and textbooks, attempting to rote learn the facts needed for exams, is the path to success.

There is evidence that the more an item is rehearsed, the greater the likelihood of long-term retention. In one study, participants were presented with a list of words and were asked to rehearse the list out loud. When asked to recall the words, memory retrieval improved as a direct function of the amount of rehearsal that was undertaken. However, in almost all circumstances, simple rote rehearsal is much less effective than strategies that involve thinking about the meaning of the information you are trying to remember.

Check out the rest of the article on The Guardian

2) Learning a language may come down to gestures – Washington Post, 10 Jan 2012

Gestures make it easier to learn a language, researchers discover

Language classes of the future might come with a physical workout because people learn a new tongue more easily when words are accompanied by cialis sale movement.

Manuela Macedonia and Thomas Knoesche at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, enrolled 20 volunteers in a six-day course to learn “Vimmi”, a phony language designed to make study results easier to interpret. Half of the material was taught using only spoken and written instructions and exercises, while the other half was taught with body movements to accompany each word, which the students were asked to act out.

Students remembered significantly more of the words taught with movement, and they used them more readily when creating sentences, according to the researchers.

Rest of the story at Washington Post

3) Why language study should be part of your college experience, CNN, 5 Jan 2012

Russell A. Berman, 2011 President of the Modern Language Association and professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies at Stanford University talks about why the decision to learn a foreign language is one of the best you can make. “Learning another language will open the door to another culture and enhance your career opportunities in the increasingly global economy. Having strong skills in another language may give you

an edge when applying for a job. That unique ability will set you apart from other applicants and show a potential employer that you have demonstrated long-term discipline in acquiring specialized knowledge.”

Check out the rest of the article on the CNN blog.

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2012 New Year resolution: Learn a language

Up there on many new year resolution lists would be the line: “to learn a language”. In recessionary times, it’s even more important to keep improving and to consider learning a second language. Now is the time to be upskilling to future proof

yourself. The ability to speak a second language puts your business buy an essay cheap or your job prospects one step ahead of the competition. You are also demonstrating to future employers that you have what it takes to stick to something. Employers realise that people who embark on language learning have some key characteristics that are highly valued in such times: commitment and dedication being some key ones.

Part of what makes knowing a language a great skill to have is simply because it’s not that easy for someone to acquire fluency. If it was, it would quickly lose it’s value and won’t be treasured as much.

Check out our post on how to learn a language fast for some language learning tips you can employ in 2012.

Hope to see you around at one of the Euroasia language courses soon. We

have a 2-week summer school intake kicking off on 18 Jan, and the main term on 31 Jan.

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4th Fiesta de la Chilenidad in Auckland – 17 Sept 2011

Euroasia is proud to once again support the Fiesta de la Chilenidad in Auckland. We encourage all our clients/friends to join in the celebrations. It will be an awesome party. Invitation from Renaceren Auckland Cultural Society attached.

Hi Everybody

Renacer en Auckland Cultural Society is cordially inviting you to the “4th Fiesta de la Chilenidad in Auckland 2011” to celebrate Chilean culture with traditional Chilean food and dances as well as a fantastic dance party with a live band.

This great event will be held in the Te Atatu Peninsula Community Centre, at 595 Te Atatu Road, Te Atatu Peninsula, on Saturday 17th of September 2011 between 5pm and midnight.

The evening will start at 5:30pm with the Chilean Folkloric Show in which “Renacer en Auckland” will entertain us with their new folkloric works as well as other Latin American dance presentations from our talented guests.

And from 8pm the amazing “Matecito” Latin Band will make sure we dance to the best Latin rhythms till midnight.

This year we have improved the sales system inside the hall so that you can enjoy the best Chilean food and drinks without wait (only cash is accepted and I.D. is required to purchase alcohol).

Tickets are already on sale at $15 (kids under 12 are free)

To buy your tickets contact Jose Valdivia (Spanish teacher at Euroasia) 0211113569 or jose.valdivia@euroasia.co.nz

So don’t wait any longer and buy your tickets before they go!*

Please extend this invitation to all your friends and resend this email to all your contacts.

We hope to see you soon

Renacer en Auckland Cultural Society Inc.

* Last year tickets sold out a week before the event. We recommend you buy your tickets before September so you don’t miss out.

Fiesta_chilenidad_poster

Continue reading “4th Fiesta de la Chilenidad in Auckland – 17 Sept 2011”

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German interpreter in court

Came across this funny story, not sure how true it is, but it's funny nevertheless.

The police swear that this story

is true, and that

it is about a Christchurch judge who was once in session in a court down south, when the case of a German tourist was called.

The tourist could speak no English and no interpreter was available.

Was there anyone in the court who could speak German? the judge asked.

He did a

bit of pleading and cajoling in the interests of getting the case heard right then, and eventually a wee chap in the back of the public seating put his hand up.

Yes, he spoke German, he said.

The judge looked relieved and motioned him forward and told him to stand next to the dock.

He would act as the unofficial interpreter to get the case moving.

Could he start by confirming the person’s name please? the judge asked.

The wee chap turned to the dock and loudly demanded: “Vot iss your name?”

Shaking his head, the judge said, “Ah well, I suppose I asked for that,” and sent the “interpreter” back to the public seats.

Credit: Courtnews

p/s: Euroasia offers professional translation and interpreting services, to ensure you don't end up in these “funny” situations.

Posted via email from Euroasia

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