Three Ways Multilingualism Opens Doors In An Interconnected World

In the past, meeting a person who spoke more than one language was a rarity; before the advent of modern transportation and communication technology, contact with other nations was limited, so knowing more than your native tongue was not, for most people, a necessity.

However, today we live in a very different world. Cell phones, the Internet, and air travel have significantly increased our connectedness to people in other countries, and as the world becomes more globalized, those connections will continue to intensify.

Much has been made about the benefits of being multilingual on the scale of the individual; after all, people who know more than one language have been shown to have greater mental agility, better job prospects, and a sharper understanding of the world around them. But increasing multilingualism around the world also confers distinct advantages on our macro-level, global society.

Take a look at the following ways that greater multilingualism provides opportunities for increased understanding between (seemingly) disparate groups:

More Clear and Open Communication Between Governments

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, most national governments have recognized the importance of remaining in close contact with those of other countries around the world. Forging good relationships with other nations is a key to maintaining international stability, which is, of course, to our mutual benefit.

Multilingualism among world leaders allows governments to communicate clearly and openly with one another, and serves to break down barriers where they may exist. For example, it’s hard to forget President Kennedy’s powerful “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” (“I Am a Berliner”) speech, delivered in West Germany1963; he gave large portions of the address in German, thereby conveying his camaraderie with the citizens of the divided nation. Despite his famous mistake, in which he accidentally referred to himself as a jelly doughnut, the speech went far in establishing a relationship between the U.S. and West Germany.

It’s important for officials to be able to convey their wants and needs as directly and accurately as possible, especially in a tense situation. Multilingualism allows this, and it helps create a more tangible bond between leaders who are looking for common ground.

Easier Business Dealings and Negotiations

It’s true that the world is becoming more interconnected overall, but more specifically, business has reached international heights more rapidly than most other spheres. For the first time in world history, it’s fast and easy to conduct business transactions between distant nations, and multilingualism is the key making those deals happen.

Although it’s true that English is often the lingua franca, and thus the dominant language when it comes to business deals and negotiations, as countries in the developing world become bigger players in the world economy, multilingualism will be critical in high-stakes negotiations. This is because the nuanced nature of the back-and-forth involved in a business deal requires more than just a basic understanding of one another. Multilingualism among business professionals will allow both parties to convey their interests clearly and maintain a good working relationship. This is why major companies such as Apple, BMW, and Coca-Cola are actively recruiting leaders with the ability to speak more than one language.

Deeper Understanding of Other Cultures

It goes without saying that being multilingual will allow international travelers to interact with other cultures much more easily. For example, having an intimate understanding of Italian will make your trip to Rome a much more satisfying experience.

But the need for cultural sensitivity runs much deeper than a one-week summer vacation; as the expectation that we all become good citizens of the world increases, it’s critical to understand the ins and outs of other societies in more than just a superficial way. Increasing multilingualism provides us with the ability to understand the complexities other cultures in a genuine way. Language is complicated, and word choice means a lot in explanation and descriptions – multilingualism means that none of these fine distinctions will pass us by.

Multilingualism has the power to transform our world – consider learning a language to be a part of the movement!

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This blog article was contributed by Sara Collins, writer for NerdWallet, a site that helps users stay informed about the best ways to save money on travel.

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Meet Sean Shadbolt – Photographer and Chinese Language Learner

We recently interviewed Sean Shadbolt, who has been learning Chinese Mandarin at Euroasia for a number of years. Sean is in Elaine Wu's Advanced Chinese Class on Wednesday evenings.

Euroasia: What do you do professionally?

Sean: I am a commercial photographer. I shoot a lot of different things but mostly centered around food and lifestyle photography. Its always changing and while it has huge ups and downs as far as work and income are concerned, its always interesting with the people I meet and the experiences I have.

E: Tell me how you first got involved in photography.

S: I first got involved in photography when I managed to talk my way into a temporary job as a photographer for the Wellington city council in 1983. After that I worked as a trainee photographic technician at the tourism and publicity department for two years and after that two years of study at Wellington Polytechnic. In 1991 I started my own business.

E: What do you do when you aren't taking photos/working?

S: When I’m not planning for or doing photography I am either studying Chinese or working on my own or my friends houses. I would like to spend more time travelling but recently have been unable to but hope to go back to China within the next year.

I usually just tell people I am a photographer and not much more, technical details of what it is exactly I do can be dull and complicated, Most people’s experience of photography is wedding photography which I engage in occasionally. My family still isn’t really sure what exactly it is I do.

Euroasia client and commercial photographer Sean Shadbolt talks to us about his life journey
Euroasia client and commercial photographer Sean Shadbolt talks to us about his life journey

E: What has surprised you most about learning Chinese?

S: The thing that has surprised me the most about learning Chinese is how many Chinese speakers there are now in New Zealand. I hadn’t really noticed too much before I started although through my work I was quite aware of Chinese culture here. I also have some close friends who are either Chinese or have Chinese heritage. I also taught a number of Chinese students when I was a photography tutor.

E: What's the best thing to happen since you started mixing with Chinese people/learning Chinese?

S: I think the best thing to happen to me since I started learning Chinese is a much wider appreciation of the culture and heritage, also having a window into Chinese perspectives on life and values.

I also enjoy learning Chinese because it is a language that is spoken everyday in New Zealand, unlike the European languages I studied many years before. You can go into any Chinese restaurant or shop and get a little bit of practice.

E: What would you tell someone who is thinking about learning Chinese?

S: I would advise anyone thinking of learning Chinese to be prepared to do a lot of extra study and practice, especially at first, as progress can be very incremental, also to consider doing the HSK exams, that can really give a goal to focus on.

E: What's it like to be learning Chinese at Euroasia?

S: I enjoy the classes at Euroasia because of the after hours times. It is difficult to fit in any study during the day so it fits in with my schedules. I don’t miss too many classes. The classes are also very social and I enjoy catching up with the other students every week and also in our trips to Chinese restaurants.

E: If you weren't a photographer, what would you be doing instead, or what would your life be like?

S: If I wasn’t doing photography I would probably do some kind of teaching. I taught photography for a long time and also did a CELTA and language teaching course a while ago at Unitec which I thoroughly enjoyed.

__________________

Thanks Sean for sharing your thoughts.

For more details about Sean, check out Sean's website.

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How to learn a language fast – maximising return on investment

Today I would like to share a little known fact from the world of languages. In day-to-day interactions, we often use no more than 100 words. To maximise return on investment, you have to focus on acquiring the basic vocabulary ie it’s probably not going to matter if you don’t know the Chinese word for aardvark (土豚or “tu tun” for those who must know).

The key to language mastery is knowing how to string different words together (we call these ‘rules’ grammar). Here are 4 key tips on how to learn a language fast.

The 80/20 rule. In the English language, the most common 25 words make up about one-third of all printed material, and the top 100 most common words make up about one-half of all written material.

At the bottom of this article, I have reproduced a list of the top 100 most commonly used English words (thanks Wikipedia). The key words may vary depending on language, but most likely you will find that it’s only the relative ranking of the key words that change, and the top 100 most commonly used words would be pretty similar across languages. Focus on what matters.

Don’t get too stressed over mistakes. The point to remember is no native speaker expects you as a non-native speaker to speak their language perfectly so don’t get too worked up over whether you have the word order 100% right. Remember: the aim of communication is to get the message across. Unless you’re planning to be a United Nations interpreter, the locals will most likely not care if you make a few mistakes here and there. Memorise the key vocabulary first. The rules matter, but without the vocabulary, you have no ammo.

Know what to talk about. This is related to point 1. It takes a lifetime to master a language, so as you can imagine it’s not

easy to work out the order in which we learn topics. We asked our clients what they needed to know when travelling overseas and came up with a long list. Unsurprisingly, knowing how to order a beer and telling a good-loooking girl she’s beautiful ranks pretty highly. At Euroasia, we teach language learners the important stuff that you can use everyday. Here is a sample outline of what we expect to cover at the most basic beginners level.

Unit 1 – Greet people, give your name and ask how people are.

Unit 2 – Ask and answer questions about your job; you will also be able to ask about and give your phone

number.

Unit 3 – Say where you come from and give the language you speak.

Unit 4 – Talk about the people in your family and say how old they are.

Unit 5 – Tell the time and give days and months; you will also be able to ask for a ticket on public transport.

Unit 6 – Say what you like or don’t like, and also talk about your freetime activities; you will also be able to say what the weather is like at the moment or at particular times of the year.

Unit 7 – Ask about something in a shop, understand and talk about prices, and also describe clothes.

Unit 8 – Talk about different meals, also food and drink; you will know what to say to buy these things from a shop.

Unit 9 – Order a meal in a restaurant, book accommodation and check in, also know how to talk about simple problems.

Unit 10 – Talk about where places are in a town, ask for directions and understand simple instructions for getting somewhere.

Constant practice. Learning a language is all about persistence. Much like going to the gym. No pain, no gain. Attending a class on a regular basis makes a huge difference (which is why language schools still exist despite language software and internet courses having been around for the past two decades). Ultimately, to improve you would need to practice speaking the language.

p/s: Check out thelanguage courses at Euroasia.We offersummer school programmes starting 5 Jan and 18 Jan, with regular courses starting 31 Jan.

Top 100 Most Commonly Used Words

  1. the
  2. of
  3. and
  4. a
  5. to
  6. in
  7. is
  8. you
  9. that
  10. it
  11. he
  12. was
  13. for
  14. on
  15. are
  16. as
  17. with
  18. his
  19. they
  20. I
  1. at
  2. be
  3. this
  4. have
  5. from
  6. or
  7. one
  8. had
  9. by
  10. word
  11. but
  12. not
  13. what
  14. all
  15. were
  16. we
  17. when
  18. your
  19. can
  20. said
  1. there
  2. use
  3. an
  4. each
  5. which
  6. she
  7. do
  8. how
  9. their
  10. if
  11. will
  12. up
  13. other
  14. about
  15. out
  16. many
  17. then
  18. them
  19. these
  20. so
  1. some
  2. her
  3. would
  4. make
  5. like
  6. him
  7. into
  8. time
  9. has
  10. look
  11. two
  12. more
  13. write
  14. go
  15. see
  16. number
  17. no
  18. way
  19. could
  20. people
  1. my
  2. than
  3. first
  4. water
  5. been
  6. call
  7. who
  8. oil
  9. its
  10. now
  11. find
  12. long
  13. down
  14. day
  15. did
  16. get
  17. come
  18. made
  19. may
  20. part

Source:The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, Third Edition; by Edward Bernard Fry, Ph.D, Jacqueline E. Kress, Ed.D & Dona Lee Fountoukidis, Ed.D.

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Summer school – Learn a language in January 2012

Language learning is an aspirational goal that ranks highly on many New Year resolution lists. It’s an especially worthy endeavour for avid travellers wanting to maximise their travel experience. You've probably heard stories from Kiwis who have returned from their “Overseas Experience” lamenting the fact that they would’ve enjoyed themselves more if they could speak the local lingo.

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These days travel is not the only driver of foreign language learning. Increasingly Kiwis realise that knowing a foreign language gives them a distinct edge in dealing with clients and suppliers from other cultures. Job seekers also realise that employers value people who speak more than one language. Language learners also demonstrate to potential employers that they are proactive enough to make the effort to learn a foreign language.

In expectation of a surge in interest from people wanting to learn a language to kick off 2012, we are offering a range of summer intensives.

Courses for beginners are available in Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, Italian, Korean and Russian. 

No previous knowledge of the language is

required. By the end of this course, you will already know enough to “get by”: you will be able to cope with the most common everyday situations by asking and answering simple questions. and you will be able to understand people when they speak to you about the situations covered.

Kickstart 2012 with a language boost. Sign up online now.

January 2012 language intensive – 10 sessions over 4 weeks

5-26 Jan 2012

Duration: 4 weeks, 10 sessions; Tue & Thu 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Sat 9:30 AM-12:30 PM

Session 1, Thu 5-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 2, Sat 7-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session 3, Tue 10-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 4, Thu 12-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 5, Sat 14-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session 6, Tue 17-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 7, Thu 19-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 8, Sat 21-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Session 9, Tue 24-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 10, Thu 26-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Cost is $649 (inclusive of all materials, no hidden costs).

Beginners language course (2 weeks)

5-14 Jan-2012 OR 18-28 Jan 2012

Duration 2 weeks, 5 sessions (Tue & Thurs 6:00-9:00pm, Sat 9:30am-12:30pm)

Session 1, Thu 5-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 2, Sat 7-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30

PM

Session 3, Tue 10-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 4, Thu 12-Jan-2012 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Session 5, Sat 14-Jan-2012 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM

Cost is $368 (inclusive of all materials, no hidden costs).

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How do babies learn new languages? Astonishing new findings

In this TED video, Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another — by listening to the humans around them and “taking statistics” on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.

Why do babies pick up language easily? There is widespread acceptance amongst the language learning community

that children pick up languages easily. How they do this is not as well understood.

According to Kuhl, cheap car insurance quotes babies are listening intently to us, they are “taking statistics” depending on how adults talk. In this video, she gives some examples of Japanese and American babies learning their native language.

In English, babies use a lot of RA and LA. But the Japanese do not, so the study shows that though both Japanese and American babies respond early on to the same RA and LA sounds, but somehow as the babies grow older the American babies respond better to RA and LA, but the Japanese babies deteriorate ie. what sounds babies are exposed to matter.

Bilingual babies have to keep two sets of “statistics”. Do they get confused?

Kuhl tested sets of American vs Taiwanese babies at 6-8 months vs 10-12 months

The experiment exposed American babies to Mandarin sounds at these time intervals. American babies exposed to a Mandarin speaker over 12 sessions have equivalent respoonses to those living in Taiwan. This is an amazing finding.

Kuhl then tried to replicate this with audio and TV/video.  If the baby is exposed to audio alone or TV/video alone, babies do not absorb the “statistics”. Only human interaction matters. This has enormous implications for parents

who spend thousands of dollars buying video/audio packs for babies in French, Spanish, Mandarin etc.

Kuhl closed her lecture with some food for thought.

In investigating the child’s brain, we will discover deep truths about what it means to be human. And in the process we may be able to help keep our own minds open to learning for our entire lives.

Watch the video. Highly recommended for everyone, not just parents with kids.

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How to achieve your new year resolution: learn a foreign language

So you’ve decided your New Year resolution in 2011 is to learn a new language. You’re not alone. So what do you do next? There are myriad options available for intending language learners, and we’ll outline a few here. I know first and foremost you’re interested in knowing the cost, time and

effort involved in learning a language.

Cost: This can range from FREE (lesson downloads/youtube) to thousands of dollars. How much you spend would depend on your budget and how committed you are to learning a language. Generally there are 3 options (also check out the detailed comparison between Euroasia and other providers/options).

1) Going to a school: You may choose to go down the academic route and enrol at university, especially if you want to dedicate yourself to mastering the language. Some even decide to spend some time at a language school overseas in full-immersion ($5000+). There are also private providers like Euroasia who offer part-time courses (cost: $368).

2) Private tutor: Proceed at your own pace. Supply of private tutors is plentiful. You can even hire a teacher off the supermarket notice board. Quality is highly variable, and so are costs ($20-$60 per hour). You can also hire a teacher from a recognised language school. You will definitely pay more, but at least you have some assurance of the quality of the teacher and the backing of the school.

3) Online/Independent learning: There are plenty of CD or online packages available as a search on google would confirm. This option gives you some flexibility. And is not that expensive (FREE to a few hundred dollars, depending on package you choose). In fact you can get started right away. But do you have the discipline to do everything by yourself? What if you need to ask a native speaker how to pronounce certain words? Or if you get stuck with a certain problem with grammar?

Time/Effort: What do you mean by “learn a language”? To get by in everyday situations, to speak it like a native, or to reach one of many different stages in between? There’s a huge range of possible levels of competence, and a huge range in the amount of time needed. Which one do you hope to achieve? People are also different; some pick up a language faster than others. The ads which say you will be speaking your target language by studying ten minutes a day, watching a video clip or simply listening to your Ipod while you exercise overlook this fact.

In my experience, most Kiwis want to learn enough to “get by”, ie. to introduce yourself, ask for directions, engage in small talk, some bargaining, order food. This is why we’ve designed our course to be as practical as possible, so that you leave us with practical know-how you can immediately use in real life. Our basic beginners course involves 10 lessons delivered over 2, 5 or 10 weeks. Even in this short space of time you can make really significant progress. If you can find time in between lessons to go over material, expand your vocabulary, listen to CDs, then you will undoubtedly make faster progress.

New Year resolution: Learn a language

Language learning is an aspirational goal that ranks highly on many resolution lists. It’s an especially worthy endeavour for avid travellers wanting to maximise their travel experience. You’ve probably heard stories from Kiwis who have returned from their “Overseas Experience” lamenting the fact that they would’ve enjoyed themselves more if they could speak the local lingo.

These days travel is not the only driver of foreign language learning. Increasingly Kiwis realise that knowing a foreign language gives them a distinct edge in dealing with clients and suppliers from other cultures. Job seekers also realise that employers value people who speak more than one language. Language learners also demonstrate to potential employers that they are proactive enough to make the effort to learn

a foreign language.

Every January, we see a surge in interest from people wanting to learn a language, and I’m sure 2011 will be no different. It’s worth checking out my blog entry from last year, on how to make a SMART plan to ensure you meet your language learning goals.

For a zero-risk evaluation of whether language learning is for you, check out the Euroasia FREE language taster lesson that is taking place on Wednesday, 19 January 2011.

6pm-7pm: French,

German, Portuguese, Mandarin.

7.30pm-8.30pm: Spanish, Italian, Japanese.

Venue: Euroasia, 10 Titoki Street, Parnell (next to Birthcare) – plenty of parking at Auckland Domain or along Titoki Street.

Please register for the free class as we have a limited number of spaces.

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Language learning questions we get asked daily

At Euroasia, we get asked a lot of questions about languages and language learning. So we’ve decided to compile a list of frequently asked questions. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will be releasing one question and the corresponding answer every day. If you have a question that you would like answered by us, feel free to comment.

We start the series with this question:

Why is it a good idea to learn a foreign language?

We might add… when everyone else speaks English. Well, here are some of the main reasons:

  • Actually, there are many more people in the world who don’t speak English than do!
  • Just think how much time and effort those who have learnt English have put into their studies; shouldn’t we make some effort as well in acknowledgment of this?
  • Even learning a limited amount of the language can make a huge difference to

    the benefit derived from a trip overseas.

  • Learning a language is often a key to understanding a people and a culture.
  • You only really understand your own language when you can compare it with others.
  • Learning a language is mentally stimulating and fascinating in its own right.
  • In most countries around the world, it is taken for granted that educated people will speak at least one foreign language.
  • New Zealand trades more with non-English-speaking countries than with those where English is the first language; surely some of us need to speak their languages.
Stay tuned as we cover the following questions

in the coming days…

2. What does learning a language really amount to?
3. What’s the best way to learn a foreign language?
4. As an adult, can you learn a language the same way that you did as a child?
5. Some ads promise instant/magic results?
6. How long it will take me to learn a language?
7. I don’t understand grammar; we were never taught it at school?
8. Is it easier to learn a language if I go to the country?
9. Which language should I learn?
10. Are some languages harder than others?
11. So which languages will

I find easier than others?

12. Which is the most popular language?
13. Can learning a language be fun?
Let us know if you have other questions by leaving a comment on our blog…
You can also comment on our Facebook page.
Or if you’re ready to experience language learning feel free to check out our upcoming courses, starting 26 April.

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How you can benefit from learning a second language

Most of us at some point or another have wanted to learn a second language. Some of us have learnt French or Japanese at high school. But most of us are still surprisingly monolingual (around 80% of Kiwis).

Some New Zealanders still think English is the lingua franca of the global village, only to be surprised when they visit faraway towns in Europe, South America or Asia. However, learning another language is useful not only because it opens up great travel possibilities. Learning a foreign language also helps give us an understanding of and appreciation for people that are different from us. Your understanding of the world will be enriched by gaining access to resources not available in English.

And as far as careers go, you don’t have to be an aspiring United Nations diplomat to learn a second language.

In our global village today there is almost no career that you could enter where second language skills wouldn’t come in handy at some time.  Even the big metropolitan cities – New York, London, Paris, Sydney etc. – which were once homogenous – now have sizeable populations of people who speak English as a second language. Being able to say on your CV that you have attempted to learn a second language would certainly make you come across as someone who is adventurous and serious about understanding people from other cultures. If you’re already doing business with people who speak a foreign language, you should at least be able to say a few words in the language of your business counterparts. You will no doubt win their respect, and in time this will translate into business deals.

Before you book your air ticket for that

trip to Europe or Asia this year, consider learning the local language to enrich your holiday experience.

Euroasia Language Academy offers programmes in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. Call Cedric now on 0800 387627 or visit www.euroasia.co.nz for information on courses starting 26 April in Auckland and Christchurch.

For those of you super-busy people, there are two additional options:

  • if you are keen to learn as much as you can within a short timeframe, consider the 2-week Fasttrack 2 programme, starting 13 April,
  • if you can’t make it for class every week at one of our centres, you can still sign up for the online language buy propecia 5mg online uk course – delivered live by a language teacher from our centre in Auckland.

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