I was, like….what? – The new new English

For whatever reason, I was recently on a bus in Chile. Having a modest command of Spanish, I can usually manage a basic exchange in the language, but when the conductor addressed me, I heard bla, bla, bla and nothing more. Even when he repeated what he’d said, I didn’t catch a single word.

Annoying! Why can’t people speak their own language properly?

Sitting behind me were three young Aussie guys. I overheard their conversation, which went rather as follows:

“ Man, I was, like… what?” “I was, like… far out!” “And she was, like… what the…” “I was, like… crazy.”

And so it went on. I soon realised that, although I could identify all the words, I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. All I caught were various parts of the verb “to be”, a

handful of “likes”, a grinding pause after every “like”, and then finally some kind of interjection.

After a while, the conversation reached its glorious, inevitable climax:

“I was, like… fuck!”

Whereupon everyone roared with laughter. Whether this meant that the trio had actually extracted some meaning from this curious exchange, or whether they were just accommodating one another, I’m not entirely sure.

Having overheard the sentence, “I was, like… fuck!” and observed the same reaction a number of times now, I’ve concluded that it inevitably produces a kind of Pavlovian chuckle. It doesn’t require interpretation. Maybe it just cheers people up – if you’re feeling down, you could perhaps recite it to yourself to see if it helps.

That said, I tried to envisage a context in which “I was, like… fuck!” had some meaning. I believe I understand the standard meaning of all four words in this utterance, but how could they come together to convey some aspect of reality? A number of curious images drifted in and out of my consciousness, but somehow failed to coalesce into anything very concrete. Still less could I attach them to the context in which the words were used – but then, as I hadn’t been able to identify a context anyway, it wasn’t very likely that I would.

But here’s another idea: maybe there’s some mystery code enabling sophisticated meaning to be extracted from a language which has apparently been reduced to about four words. Are there perhaps layers of meaning conveyed by the intonation, and has that replaced vocabulary as the primary vehicle for the conveyance of meaning? Instead of using a hundred different words, just produce “fuck” with a hundred different intonations, and meaning will be conveyed, at least to the cognoscenti, just as well.

I’m thinking now that we should rewrite the textbooks we produce for learners of English. Out goes: much of the old grammar. In comes: “to be + like + pause + interjection”. We could then add, “This construction is now used to convey meanings ranging from ‘to say’, through ‘to feel’, to ‘the reaction was’, to essentially anything at all. It has replaced 99% of the previously existing language.”

But seriously, does it matter if the English language is reduced to about four words? I have to say I’m not exactly offended by the word “fuck”: how can anyone be seriously offended by hearing a word they’ve heard thousands of times already? I do have an issue when it’s used in every sentence regardless of meaning. And I have an even bigger issue with a jarring “like” puncturing every sentence and creating a horrible staccato effect.

It seems to be mainly younger people who speak in this way. Sometimes their speech is so far removed from standard English that it really amounts to a distinct dialect – one determined not by region, class or even nationality, but by generation. Actually, if they want to speak in this way, and manage to communicate with one another, well, so be it. But I really hope they recognise that this is not standard English, and that there are contexts in which they need to switch codes and use that standard.

One such context is in communicating with non-native speakers of English. No learner of English is actually taught the construction “to be + like + pause + interjection”, and to be suddenly confronted by it must be a little dispiriting. When you learn a foreign language, you rather hope the native speakers you encounter will speak the form you’ve learnt. Dialects may well create a valuable sense of identity, but they can also exclude, and when you’re learning another language, they can drive you mad – it’s hard enough learning the standard, let alone umpteen variants.

Most English speakers make little effort to learn foreign languages; the very least we can do is to use a standard form of the language when speaking to those who do. The I-was-like-fuck! dialect may have its place, but it’s not here.

One of the travellers now approached another conductor. Speaking Spanish was obviously out of the question, so would he perhaps switch codes and try to communicate in standard English?

“Yeah, we were, like… wondering if we could, like…”

And I was, like… wondering whether English speakers deserved to

be understood at all.

Euroasia Principal Peter Chapple recently returned from a holiday in Latin America. He is currently researching the topic of optimal delivery of Spanish lessons for English speakers as part of the Euroasia curriculum development programme.

Posted via email from Euroasia

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101 FREE tools to learn any foreign language

The people at Online College have written an interesting article on 101 tools that can help you learn a new language. At Euroasia we believe that these tools are best supplemented by classroom time with a teacher. Nevertheless these are good resources for language learners.

Translation

With these tools, you’ll find translation and dictionaries.

  1. Xanadu: Get a free all-in-one translation wizard on your PC with Xanadu.
  2. Google Language Tools: Search across languages, translate text, and more using Google’s tools.
  3. Freelang: Check out Freelang for free dictionaries, human translation, fonts, and more.
  4. Rikai: On this page, you can enter the URL you want to go to and see translations as you move your mouse over the text.
  5. Free Online Dictionaries: Make use of these dictionaries to learn more about different languages.
  6. DictSearch: Access 265 online dictionaries using this one simple interface.
  7. Yahoo! Babel Fish: Yahoo!’s Babel Fish will translate text or a web page for you.

FREE Introductory Courses

  1. French I: Follow this course for an introduction to the French language and culture.
  2. American Sign Language: Here you’ll find lesson plans, information on deaf culture, and vocabulary.
  3. Learn to Speak Dutch: You’ll get access to language lessons, vocabulary, and more here.
  4. German I: Acquire an understanding of German through active communication.
  5. BBC Greek: The BBC’s Greek resource offers a quick fix for learning the language.
  6. Beginning Japanese I: Use this course’s interactive study materials to learn beginner Japanese.
  7. Introduction to Portuguese: Use this course to get started learning the Portuguese language.
  8. Learn to Speak Korean: These video courses offer a convenient way to learn Korean.
  9. Intermediate Japanese: Improve your fluency and learn Kanji characters in this course.
  10. BBC Portuguese: BBC’s Portuguese course offers an introduction to the language in 10 short parts.
  11. Farsi: Follow this beginner’s course to get an introduction to vocabulary, sentences, and basic phrases in Farsi.
  12. Advanced Japanese I: With the help of this course, you’ll become an expert in Japanese.
  13. Learn to Speak Russian: You can improve your Russian vocabulary and grammar using these courses.
  14. Kenyan Sign Language: You can learn about Kenyan Sign Language using this illustrated course.
  15. BBC Chinese: Get a taste for the Chinese language with BBC’s slideshows, quizzes, and more.
  16. Introduction to European and Latin American Fiction: Learn about the language and culture of Europe and Latin America through this literature course.
  17. Spanish I: Watch this course’s videos to learn authentic Spanish and all about its cultural diversity.
  18. First Year Chinese: You’ll get an understanding of the basic Chinese speaking and writing principles from this course.
  19. BBC Italian: Improve your Italian skills using these resources from the BBC.
  20. Oral Communication in Spanish: Get an understanding of Hispanic culture with the help of this course.
  21. Learn to Speak Portuguese: Use these audio lessons to learn Brazilian Portuguese.
  22. Communicating Across Cultures: With the help of this course, you’ll learn how to converse with people outside of your culture.
  23. BBC German: Learn grammar, vocabulary, and more in this German Quick Fix.
  24. Spanish Conversation and Composition: Improve your speaking and writing in Spanish with the help of this course.
  25. Learning German: Find four courses in the German language here.
  26. Learn to Speak Japanese: Take these Japanese lessons, and you’ll improve your vocabulary and pronunciation.
  27. Chinese I (Regular): MIT offers a full series of Chinese language learning.
  28. Spanish for Bilingual Students: Students who are bilingual in Spanish and English can improve their Spanish skills with this course.
  29. Learning the basics of French: This beginning course offers a look at verb tenses, grammatical structures, and simple vocabulary.
  30. BBC French: You can find resources for French learners from beginners to intermediates here.
  31. English grammar in context: Learn about speech and writing in English using this course.
  32. The Linguistic Study of Bilingualism: This course will help you better understand bilingualism.
  33. Chinese I (Streamlined): This collection of Chinese courses is designed for students who grew up in a Chinese speaking environment.
  34. BBC Spanish: Get access to Spanish TV, radio, and other resources here.

Language Learning Communities

Through these communities, you’ll be able to meet other people learning a new language and find partners to practice with.

  1. Livemocha: Connect with language partners around the world for social language learning.
  2. My Language Exchange: Make friends and learn a new language on My Language Exchange.
  3. Skype Community: On this board, you can connect with others that want to learn your language, and share theirs.
  4. LingoPass: In this language learning bartering system, you’ll teach and learn new languages.
  5. Palabea: Palabea canada viagra is a social networking site for communicating in foreign languages.
  6. UniLang: You can learn languages with these free language resources, as well as learn, discuss, and practice languages in this community.
  7. italki: Use this add-on for Skype to find other users to learn languages with.

Podcasts

Follow these podcasts, and you’ll find regular entries that will have you speaking a new language in no time.

  1. English as a Second Language Podcast: Check out this podcast for more than 100 ESL lessons.
  2. Chinese Learn Online: Chinese Learn Online offers an introduction to Mandarin Chinese.
  3. French for Beginners: Get started with these lessons for French beginners.
  4. Learn Japanese Symbols: With this podcast, you’ll learn how to use Japanese symbols.
  5. Arabic Language Lessons: Through this service of the US Peace Corps, you’ll find lessons that teach you the Arabic language.
  6. Bulgarian Survival Phrases: With the help of this podcast, you’ll learn enough Bulgarian to get around.
  7. Latinum: Latinum offers language learning in podcast form from London.
  8. English for Spanish Speakers: Check out this podcast to learn English from Spanish.
  9. Le Journal en francais facile: Hear nightly news slowed down for comprehension.
  10. Maori: You can learn the language of New Zealand’s indigenous people with this video podcast site.
  11. Chinese Lessons with Serge Melnyk: With Serge Melnyk, you’ll get weekly lessons in Mandarin.
  12. Esperanto: Use these lessons to become familiar with Esperanto.
  13. Ta Falado: You’ll find Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation for Spanish speakers in this podcast.
  14. Hebrew Vocab Pronunciations: Find out how to pronounce words in Hebrew using this podcast.
  15. GermanPod 101: Find materials for German learners from beginners to advanced in this podcast.
  16. Learn Romanian: This podcast offers survival phrases for Romania.
  17. ArabicPod: Here you’ll get access to mp3 podcasts as well as transcripts of learning Arabic.
  18. I Speak Hindi: With this podcast, you’ll learn essential words and phrases for Indian travel.
  19. A Taste of Russian: Find real, every day life chats to learn with this podcast.
  20. Dar to Danish: Learn dirty Danish words and other daring parts of the Danish language with this podcast.
  21. Special Finnish: This podcast slows down the language to make understanding easier.
  22. Learn Hindi from Bollywood Movies: You’ll have fun learning Hindi with this podcast.
  23. Russian Literature: This literature podcast can help you improve your comprehension and vocabulary with Russian classics.
  24. German Grammar: These German grammar podcasts are designed for American students.
  25. One Minute Catalan: Get quick learning for Catalan using this resource.
  26. Let’s Speak Italian: Break Italian down into manageable 5 minute podcasts here.
  27. Cody’s Cuentos: Learn Spanish by listening to these classic fairy tales and legends.
  28. Survival Phrases Arabic: With this podcast, you’ll learn the essentials of getting around in Arabic.
  29. Laura Speaks Dutch: Prepare for travel to Holland with the help of Laura’s podcast.
  30. Insta Spanish Lessons: Students of all levels will enjoy this Spanish grammar podcast.
  31. Easy French Poetry Podcast: This podcast uses poetry as a topic for French language learning discussion.
  32. Japancast: You’ll learn from anime and everyday conversation using this podcast.
  33. LoMasTv: LoMasTv offers language immersion for Spanish.
  34. Yabla French: With Yabla French, you’ll get captioned videos, integrated dictionaries,

    and more.

Learning Tools

Here, you’ll find tools made just for language learning.

  1. Mango: Use Mango’s online language learning system, and you’ll build your conversation skills in any language.
  2. Babbel: Learn a language with the help of flash cards on Babbel.
  3. Lingro: On this useful site, you’ll find study tools, online translation, games, vocabulary lists, and much more.
  4. Tibetan Language Tools: Here you’ll find resources for the basic alphabet, vowels, and more in Tibetan.
  5. Busuu: Get writing and speaking practice with the help of Busuu.
  6. Byki: You can download language learning software, follow lessons online, and more, even on your iPhone.

Textbooks

Use these online textbooks in your foreign language studies.

  1. German: Make use of this Wikibook to learn German, or take the bite-sized German course.
  2. Belorusian: Learn the Belarusian alphabet and beyond in this textbook.
  3. Afrikaans: Check out this Wikibook to find pronunciation, lessons, and much more for Afrikaans.
  4. Scottish Gaelic: Find pronunciation, sentence structure, and grammar from this book.
  5. Polish: With the help of this Wikibook, you’ll be able to learn the basics of the Polish language.
  6. Irish: Learn the old language of Irish Gaelic using this Wikibook.
  7. Arabic: This Arabic workbook shares the Romanization system, alphabet, definite articles, and beyond.
  8. Portugese: Choose between European and Brazilian Portuguese on this Wikibook.
  9. Yiddish: This book covers Yiddish for Yeshiva Bachurium as well as conversational Yiddish.
  10. French: Check out this excellent French Wikibook for French language learning.
  11. Russian: This Wikibook presents Russian for English speakers.
  12. Albanian: Learn about the unified version of Albanian here.
  13. Textkit: You’ll find books, readers, and more for Greek and Latin learning on Textkit.
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Spanish lessons for Starbucks workers

I’ve just found out that some viagra discount 100,000 Starbucks workers throughout the United States will begin learning Spanish.  Starbucks just signed an agreement with Spain’s Cervantes Institute to offer workers Spanish lessons via the Institute’s online Virtual Spanish Classroom (Aula Virtual de Español), according to a newspaper article.

This is no small endeavour, and obviously Starbucks would have given this a lot of thought. It’s not just professional development for staff, but increasingly an economic necessity, given the sheer number of Spanish-speaking customers throughout the US.

Here in New Zealand, the situation is not exactly the same, but increasingly headed in that direction. We have more and more people in New Zealand, especially in Auckland, speaking languages other than English.

Spanish lessons anyone? We have Spanish classes starting this week and in July.

Check out our course timetable for more information on Spanish and other language programmes.

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Charlize Theron wants to learn Spanish

Charlize TheronCharlize Theron says she wants to start taking up Spanish classes. The 33-year-old worked with Mexican director Guillermo Arriaga on “The Burning Plain”, and the moviemaker helped improve her Spanish skills by teaching her a string of swear words.

Theron says, “Of course he taught me the dirty stuff! I had this fantasy, 'cos I've always wanted to learn Spanish, that I would learn Spanish before I shot the movie with him, that he would be really impressed with me, that

he could direct

me in Spanish but of course it never happened”

And the experience has made Theron realise that she needs to start taking Spanish language classes. She adds, “I'm really embarrassed to say that I don't speak Spanish, I've lived in California for eight years and I just think it should be a prerequisite, you should be able to speak Spanish if you live in California.”

Very international this girl. South African American. Named Esquire's Sexiest Woman Alive in 2007. In late 2008 she was asked to be a UN messenger of peace by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.  And now she's learning Spanish…

A while back I saw Charlize being interviewed on Letterman.

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Why bother with Spanish lessons?

Spanish classes are very popular amongst Kiwis. Many choose to kick off the year with some Spanish lessons, in preparation for an upcoming trip to South America or Spain. Some choose to learn Spanish because of business reasons. At Euroasia, we are often asked why Spanish lessons are so popular. Here are some reasons.

  • Spanish is unquestionably one of the world’s most important languages, spoken not only in Spain but also in most of the Americas, from California to Cape Horn!
  • The Spanish-speaking countries are exciting places: the cities offer a round-the-clock buzz, while the great outdoors has huge potential for adventurous outdoor activities.
  • Within the Spanish-speaking world, there is an enormous range of exciting places to visit: in Mexico and

    Central America, the cities of the Maya and the Aztecs, and resorts such as Acapulco and Cancún; in South America, the cities of the Aztecs (including Machu Picchu), the colourful Andean cultures of Peru and Bolivia, the strikingly varied landscapes of Chile and Argentina, and the cosmopolitan excitement of Buenos Aires.  Although some English is spoken, getting around is much easier with a little Spanish.

  • Spain itself is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, famous not only for its Mediterranean beaches, but also for its stylish cities, its well-preserved small towns, and, in the south, its

    unique Moorish heritage.  Not to mention Ibiza, with the hottest nightclub scene in Europe, if not the world!

  • The Spanish language has been the vehicle of great writers, from both Spain and Latin America.  Both areas have also been the home of world-renowned artists and, more recently, film-makers.

  • New Zealand is increasingly looking to South America for trade links, especially Chile, the most prosperous of the South American states, and the one closest to New Zealand.  Spanish speakers will be in demand in the future (in fact right now we have Kiwi businesspeople doing business in South America learning Spanish at Euroasia).
  • Young Kiwis can work in Argentina, Chile or Uruguay for one year under a working holiday scheme.  A knowledge of the Spanish language would obviously make a huge difference to anyone’s job prospects.

Find out more about Spanish lessons at Euroasia.  Or to enrol for a Spanish course, check out the Spanish timetable!

2-week intensive Spanish language courses start this week (20 January intake) and the once-a-week option kicks off early Feb. Enrol now.

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Euroasia Christmas message – Joyeux Noël

The team at Euroasia has put together a short video message, wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. You'll have to guess who's saying what. If you're playing this at the office, try not to laugh too hard ok. We don't want to get you in trouble.

p/s:If you can

9;t see the video here, check out the youtube clip at http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=tzGqluc0kNs – Don't miss the outtakes ok

Our office closes on 19 December, and will reopen on 5 January for the 2-week intensive programme (2 weeknights + Sat half day).

At the start of next year you have 3 intakes to choose from:
5 Jan and 19 Jan for Fasttrack programmes
2 Feb for the standard courses.

Enrol online now, or talk to us about buying a gift voucher for a loved one. Looking forward to having you back next year. online canadian pharmacy

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Obama says learn Spanish

Obama gave this talk in Georgia recently, on the campaign trail, encouraging locals to learn Spanish.

Obama: “I agree that immigrants should learn English…but understand this…instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English, they’ll learn English, you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish!”

Obviously not a very popular message in the American heartland, but only something that Obama can pull off. Check this out.

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Why learn Spanish?

Spanish is the most popular language offered by Euroasia. We are often asked why is this language so popular. Here are some reasons.

  • Spanish is unquestionably one of the world’s most important languages, spoken not only in Spain but also in most of the Americas, from California to Cape Horn!
  • The Spanish-speaking countries are exciting places: the cities offer a round-the-clock buzz, while the great outdoors has huge potential for adventurous outdoor activities.
  • Within the Spanish-speaking world, there is an enormous range of exciting places to visit: in Mexico and Central America, the cities of the Maya and the Aztecs, and resorts such as Acapulco and Cancún; in South America, the cities of the Aztecs (including Machu Picchu), the colourful Andean cultures of Peru and Bolivia, the strikingly varied landscapes of Chile and Argentina, and the cosmopolitan excitement of Buenos Aires.  Although some English is spoken, getting around is much easier with a little Spanish.
  • Spain itself is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, famous not only for its Mediterranean beaches, but also for its stylish cities, its well-preserved small towns, and, in the south, its unique Moorish heritage.  Not to mention Ibiza, with the hottest nightclub scene in Europe, if not the world!
  • The Spanish language has been the vehicle of great writers, from both Spain and Latin America.  Both areas have also been the home of world-renowned artists and, more recently, film-makers.

  • New Zealand is increasingly looking to South America for trade links, especially Chile, the most prosperous of the South American states, and the one closest to New Zealand.  Spanish speakers will be in demand in the future (in fact right now we have Kiwi businesspeople doing business in South America coming to us).
  • Young Kiwis can go and work in Argentina, Chile or Uruguay for one year under a working holiday scheme.  A knowledge of the Spanish language would obviously make a huge difference to anyone’s job prospects.

Click here to find out more about learning Spanish with Euroasia.  Or to enrol for a Spanish course, check out the Spanish timetable!

Courses start week of 13 October so you can still fit in a course before Christmas.

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Chilean National Day celebrations

Today is the anniversary of Chile's independence from Spain. Our Spanish teacher, Jose is from Chile.  He and his friends are putting together a celebration next Saturday.  I thought maybe I should do some research to understand a bit more about Chile.

This from the CIA Factbook:

Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians (also known as Mapuches) inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Araucanian Indians were completely subjugated. A three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.

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