Learn To Speak French Fluently – And Get Out Of The Rat Race

For those of us who find ourselves spinning so fast that our life seems but a blur, we need to STOP and think about where we are and where we are heading. For those of us whose days blend into each other so much so that we can’t distinguish one day from the next, we need to STOP and think about why each day of our life is the same. For those of us who find it difficult to do the things we always wanted or said we would do and never do them, we need to STOP and think about why we say things we want to do but never do them. For those of us who are so afraid to take the first step off the Island to change for the better, we need to STOP and ask ourselves, what are we afraid of? As the renowned American poet Maya Angelou says, “Life loves the liver of it.” Are you a ‘Liver’ of Life? You can use a unique thing such as learning to speak French fluently to enrich your life because it will expose you to experiences you would not have otherwise.

Robert Byrne states that, “The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” We seem to live purposeless lives in our modern world. Life is about change. The ‘liver’ of life embraces change and remembers that we all have only one life to live and that time waits for no one. We all know this but so many of us live like prisoners trapped in our own quicksand of excuses and regrets. You have to realize that the answer to change is you. You can change your life and your world. Why couldn’t you learn French and have that as a small purpose to take you onwards and upwards towards change. And why not learn how to speak French online instead of going to a language school? Remember that you must live in the present moment and live each step, big or small, difficult or easy, painful or joyful, and gradually you will discover that you can achieve great things such as the ability to learn French fluently. Even if you find a means to learn French the easy way or attempt to learn French quickly at an immersion school in France, you will have to do the work. One step at a time you can get off your Island. Change is as subtle as learning to speak French.

Why learn to speak French fluently? It can be the catalyst that can accelerate the rate of change in so many aspects of your life by opening the doors to other cultures, peoples and lifestyles. When we are in a different environment we feel more alive and aware of ourselves especially when being exposed to another culture. What a refreshing change it would be to experience and discover the French countryside, the wine regions of Bordeaux, the cafés on the French Riviera, the landscapes of Provence or the white-sanded beaches of Martinique. Think of the many amazing French-speaking countries and cultures that are waiting for you to explore to lose yourself or reclaim yourself.

As William Lyon Phelps wisely states, “The fear of life is the favorite disease of the 20th century”, I think this ‘disease’ is prevalent in the 21st century. This article is just a whim, a ‘message in the bottle’ for those of you who are willing to take the courageous leap into the ocean of life to wake up to life and feel the waves against your skin and taste the salt water on your tongue. Yes, change can be as elementary as learning a language such as French. Ultimately it boils down to you. You have to take charge and decide to take the first step and the many steps that follow towards self-fulfillment and a sense of purpose. Stop making excuses and start tomorrow. Now is the time to become a ‘liver’ of life. Now is the time to learn French fast to get off your island and join the rest of the world.

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Spanish Proverbs – How A Native Would Say It

Spanish proverbs came about just like any other proverb. Leaders, rulers, and writers would write catchy phrases about good judgement decisions widely accepted as common sense. They wrote simple and trendy phrases so they could easily be remembered. Here are some of the most common proverbs in Spanish.

A juventud ociosa, vejez trabajosa.

(To leisurely youth, laborious old age.) “Enjoy it while you’re young.” may be another translation. This means that when you age, you aren’t as agile in the future to do what you once could. Any elderly person will testify to that.

Acabándose el dinero, se termina la amistad.

(Running out of money, the friendship ends.) Find out who your real friends are. Basically a lot of people only like you because of what you have to offer them. (Escape from loneliness, you give them money, you’re good company, cars, a job) Very few people love you for who you are unconditionally.

Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.

(Shrimp that sleeps, is taken by the current.) You snooze you lose. Sometimes when you put things off too much, the opportunity vanishes.

El diablo sabe más por viejo que por diablo.

(The Devil knows more because he’s old than because he’s the Devil.) With age comes experience. The more you live the more you learn. You learn something new every day. All of these are close to the meaning of the proverb. Most people that are wiser are so because they’ve been around longer, not because of a gift of wisdom.

En boca del mentiroso, lo cierto se hace dudoso.
(In the mouth of the liar, the certain becomes doubtful.) Don’t cry wolf. If you lie once, people might have a hard time believing you if you tell the truth.

Gato escaldo del agua fría huye.
(A scalded cat from cold water runs.) When people learn lessons through experience they think they know all aspects and angles of the lesson. Some people have seen a homeless person use money for handouts so they assume that all homeless will buy drugs. Just like the cat learned that hot water burns so now it thinks that all water will burn.

La mejor palabra es la que no se dice.
(The best word is the one that is not said.) Sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all. If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. That’s the idea.

Más vale poco y bueno que mucho y malo.
(It is worth more little and good than much and bad.) Something’s better than nothing. You might not have a lot, but too much could be a bad thing. Too much of a good thing is bad. Moderation in all things. These are all translations for this proverb.

Mejor solo que mal acompañado.
(Better alone than poorly accompanied.) It’s better to walk alone than with bad company. You’d never want to be around someone who makes you miserable. You’d probably rather be by yourself.

Poco a poco se anda lejos.
(Little by little one goes far.) By an inch it’s a cinch, by a yard it’s hard. The race of a thousand miles begins with a single step. A journey begins with a single step. Take your tasks little by little. You’ll see that those little improvements and accomplishments add up quickly.

If you want our complete list of Spanish proverbs go to http://www.learn-podcast-spanish.com/spanish-proverbs.html.

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Review of Top Ways to Learn Spanish and Why You Should Do It

Today, Spanish is spoken by more than 400 million people worldwide. It now ranks 3rd, right behind English and Mandarin in terms of its global usage. Apart from its impressive global expansion it’s also makes a hit in the US.

The vast border to the south of the United States explains why it has become so popular over the years. Within the Americas it has becoming the second official language of the business community.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re probably you eager to find out about the learning process.

If you reside within the U.S you might want to start the learning process in St-Paul, Minnesota, which is the home of the Rojah Spanish Language social community network. The organization offers their helping hand to individuals who are thinking of traveling to a Spanish speaking country.

It is very important for you to take time and outline your action plan when it comes to learning Spanish. Take into consideration the amount of time (hours) that you can dedicate to learning Spanish on a daily or weekly basis . You should be conservative in your time estimates, it is always best to go ahead of schedule than to fall behind.

Avoid distraction and postponing when it comes to learning Spanish, pick the time lines and stick to them. Keep in mind that the more you try to apply what you learned, the faster your long-term memory will store the information. With enough practice, you will be able to pull out those phrases and words you’ve memorized, to the surprise of everyone, anytime, anywhere!

For best results you should find a study partner who can correct your pronunciation in a supportive way, if you prefer to study alone then practice by pronouncing the word out loud and be critical to your speech in the beginning because badly pronounced words will get stuck in your long-term memory and might become a habit.

Being able to better communicate with your Spanish co-workers or learning it as a gift to you Latin partner, any purpose is good to learn Spanish, keep your eyes on the ball while you’re practicing, it will help you achieve the goal faster.

Try to learn mexican spanish it’s also considered a lot of fun .

Shop around for the best method to learn Spanish, it will determine how quickly and easily you will learn the language and with the least amount of frustration. Put a lot of emphasis on the reason for learning the language. If you choose to learn more Spanish in order to pass the AP Spanish Language examination it will take you considerably more time and effort than learning it to have fun on a date with a Spanish speaker.

If you choose it for AP purposes, you are looking at long and tedious hours of studying. As for the second choice all you might need is a Spanish Language booklet, comfortable recliner and some classical music.

The best way to learn Spanish is the one that you prefer, you can use a variety of different tools such as: books, tapes and CDs, self-learning applications or even studying online. The choice is yours but it needs to be suited to your individual needs and abilities. It is of a paramount importance that you research these different techniques and methods. Find the most suitable one and stick to it, it will bring you sweet victory in no time.

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Seven ways French is easier than English

Native English speakers are notoriously poor at learning other languages because by comparison other languages are notoriously more difficult than English. Well, not quite. Some years ago I learned Swahili (the national language of Tanzania), which I found to be embarrassingly easy.

True, few native English speakers are ever likely to want to learn Swahili, but rather German, French, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and some other European language. Admittedly, in many ways these are more difficult than English. However, by zeroing in on their difficulties, we can lose sight of the numerous aspects where they are in fact easier than English.

I live in Brussels, Belgium. One of the national languages here is French (the others are Dutch and German). I speak French fluently. I won’t say that it was easy to learn. However, I have discovered at least seven ways in which French has English beat hands down.

Actually, this shouldn’t really be so surprising. I would wager that every language, including those as far removed from English as Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, Malayan, etc., have aspects about them that are simpler and more logical than in English.

But to make the point, let’s stay with European languages, and notably French.

You may be asking yourself: How can French possibly be easier than English? After all, isn’t French afflicted with genders (masculine and feminine), which English isn’t? Doesn’t it have more conjugated forms than English? More than one way of saying “you” (tu, vous)? Three was of saying “the” (le, la, les)? And a spelling system whose complexity virtually defies imagination (even worse than English)?

All true–and all too obvious. However, if we look at aspects of the language not so obvious, we make some remarkable discoveries. For French, here are seven of them (there are others).

1. No tonic accent

Most people, and certainly those who have yet to master another language, are largely unaware of how seriously difficult their own native language could be to a foreigner. As a native Anglophone, you probably find that English is quite easy to pronounce. But the fact is, French is even easier.

What! With its nasalization, trilled “r” and other difficult sounds? Yes, and I can prove it!

First, it is important to understand that no sounds, in any language, are inherently difficult to pronounce. If they were, they wouldn’t exist because the native speakers never would have accepted them into their language in the first place.

Learning foreign sounds is never easy; French speakers learning English have a terrible time with the “th” sound in words such as “the”, “they”, “through”, “throw”, etc. Because there is no equivalent sound in French, they have great difficulty in mastering it. But it certainly isn’t impossible. Just as it may be difficult, but certainly not impossible, for you to master unfamiliar sounds in French.

Where French pronunciation has an undeniable advantage over English (and most other European languages) is its virtual lack of a “tonic accent”.

Tonic accent simply means that certain syllables in words are given more stress than are others. For example, “difficult” is pronounced “dif-fi-cult”; the first syllable carries the tonic accent. It could just as easily be pronounced dif-fi-cult”, which is what the Spanish prefer (dif-fí-cil). Or even “dif-fi-cult”.

Technically, the tonic accent does exist in French, but it is very hard to hear it. For example, in English we say “un-i-ver-si-ty”. In French, this is “un-i-ver-si-té”, with no apparent stress anywhere (except perhaps very lightly on the last syllable). Likewise with “rest-au-rant”, which in French is “rest-au-rant”. And so on. Thus, you never have to guess where the tonic accent should go, so you can never make a mistake.

As a native Anglophone, you have grown up with the tonic accent, so you might not immediately recognize what a relief this is. However, if you have had any dealings with foreigners speaking English, you know that if they put the tonic accent on the wrong syllable, you might not understand the word at all. By foreigners, I don’t necessarily mean non-native English speakers. If you are British, try conversing with an American or Australian, and you are likely to have the same problem. And vice versa.

I once had a British friend in Brussels. All the native Francophones agreed that he had great mastery of French grammar and vocabulary. The problem was, when he spoke no one understood what he was saying. He simply couldn’t let go of the tonic accent. As a result, the Francophones could hardly grasp a word he said.

2. Gallic Impersonality

A. Use of “on”

For Anglophones, imbued with the idea that French is a very personal language (the so-called “’language of love”), few things are more surprising than the frequent use of the very impersonal “on” (pronounced ohn). By contrast, Francophones learning English are surprised to discover that English has no equivalent of “on”, so they have to search all over the place for substitutes.

Actually, this is not entirely true. English does have an equivalent: “one”. But it is seldom used. The Queen uses it: “One has considered the matter carefully” rather than “I have considered the matter carefully”. Moralists use it: “One should not kill”, “One should be ready to fight for one’s country”, etc. University professors speaking about arcane subjects use it: “One can clearly see this in the fossil record.” In almost all other circumstances, it is studiously avoided.

French uses “on” without the slightest embarrassment. In fact, using it avoids a lot of embarrassment. Familiar habits and patterns of thought are often hard to break, so at the beginning you may find using “on” rather strange, especially in sentences such as “On s’aime beaucoup” (we love each other very much). However, you will not be able to deny its usefulness.

For example, a key problem in English is avoiding “genderism”. English as a language does not have genders, but English speakers do. And they are very aware of it. This is the explanation for the very odd use of the plural pronoun “they” as if it were a singular.
Example: If someone studies hard, they will succeed.

Why do we make this apparently illogical switch from the singular pronoun “someone” and the singular verb “studies” to the plural pronoun “they’? Because otherwise, it would be necessary to say “he will succeed”. However, the sentence clearly is not directed only to males. Alternatively, it would have been necessary to say “he or she will succeed”, or “he/she will succeed”, which are cumbersome. French has no such problem. “Si on étudie bien, on réussira”.

B. Use of possessive adjectives

Here is another example of how Gallic impersonality avoids genderism. Consider the sentence: “Everyone who studies hard will see their effort rapidly rewarded.” In French, this is: “Chacun qui étudie bien verra son effort rapidement récompensé.“

In English, although we start the sentence with a singular subject and verb, we finish it with a plural possessive adjective (“their”). In French, the sentence remains singular all the way through, as it logically should. This is because “son effort” can mean either “his effort” or “her effort”.

“Son” is indeed classified as a “masculine” possessive. However, in French the term “masculine” has nothing to do with the nature of “chacun”, but only with the nature of “effort”, which is a “masculine” noun. The sentence could just as easily have been written: “Chacun qui étudie bien verra sa dépense d’effort rapidement récompensée“. Now the possessive adjective “sa“ is “feminine”, which again has nothing to do with the nature of “chacun”, but only with the nature of “dépense”, which is a “feminine” noun.

The inherently impersonal nature of French grammar automatically precludes a lot of “political incorrectness”, whereas in English we can achieve this only through some rather illogical and inelegant grammatical contortions.

3. Use of infinitives

A major problem most foreigners face in English is the correct use of infinitives. As a native speaker, you probably never realized that infinitives could be a problem. After all, an infinitive is just an infinitive.

Well, not quite. English infinitives in fact are very unusual compared to French infinitives and those of most other European languages. This is because French infinitives are unified, while English infinitives are separable. For example:

1. French: manger

2. English: to eat

The English infinitive can be used with both parts (“to eat”), which grammarians call the “complete infinitive”, or only the second part (“eat”), which grammarians call the “incomplete infinitive”.

The problem is, in many cases this is not optional, but required. For example: “I need to eat something” (complete infinitive), but “I must eat something” (incomplete infinitive). So what’s the difference? Why in the first example is the “to” necessary and in the second not only isn’t it necessary, using it would be incorrect?

In French this problem never arises. “J’ai besoin de manger quelque chose” and “Je dois manger quelque chose”. Simple, isn’t it. Just imagine if French worked like English. You would constantly be making choices about which form of the infinitive to use—and in many cases you would be wrong.

4. Use of definite articles

Use of the definite article (“the”) in English presents pretty much the same problem as use of the infinitive (see above). In other words, you constantly have to be making choices about when to use it and when not to use it. French is much simpler.

Really! Doesn’t French have three definitive articles (le, la, les) compared to only one in English?

Absolutely! But the problem is not deciding which definite article to use. Rather, it is deciding whether or not to use any definitive article at all.

In French, you retain the definite article much more frequently than you do in English. Thus, you have considerably fewer decisions to make, and therefore considerably fewer opportunities to make mistakes.

Example

1. “I like cats” (cats in general)

2. “I like the cats” (specific cats, not necessarily all cats)

In French, both statements are rendered “J’aime les chats”, so no decision about whether or not to use the definite article. You distinguish their meanings via the context in which they are used.

5. No distinction between “a” and “one”

The words “a” and “one” are the equivalent of “un” in French. Fundamentally, these two words mean the same thing; however, “one” is more precise, so it adds emphasis. For example:

 I have eaten in a Japanese restaurant
(at least one, perhaps more)

 I have eaten in one Japanese restaurant
(only one, no more)

Both of these sentences are rendered in French as “J’ai mangé dans un restaurant japonais.” As with the definite article, you distinguish the meaning from the context, or by purposely adding intensifying words such as “ne . . . . que” or “seulement une fois”.

 Je n’ai mangé qu’une fois dans un restaurant japonais.

 J’ai mangé seulement une fois dans un restaurant japonais.

Many Francophones speaking English frequently make the mistake of saying ”I have eaten in one Japanese restaurant” when they really mean ”I have eaten in a Japanese restaurant”. As an Anglophone speaking French, you will never make this mistake, because it is simply not possible!

6. Simple and progressive (continuous) tenses

English makes frequent use of progressive (continuous) verb tenses, whilst French almost never does.

The progressive tenses are formed by two verbs: the helper (auxiliary) “to be” and the “present participle” (-ing form) of the other one.
Examples: she is eating / elle mange; we are talking / nous parlons; they are running / ils courrent.

English uses progressive tenses to distinguish between the general time period when an action takes place and the exact moment that the action takes place. French generally does not make this distinction, but rather leaves the interpretation to context.

In English, if you say “I eat” when you mean “I am eating”, or say “I am eating” when you mean “I eat”, you are committing a serious error. Although progressive tenses technically exist in French, you can largely ignore them. In short, no such error is possible!

7. Converting verbs into nouns

Because of its fondness for progressive verb tenses, English has a characteristic way of converting verbs into nouns, i.e. using a verb as the subject or the object of a sentence.

In French, and many other languages, you simply use the infinitive: Marcher est bon pour la santé. You can do the same thing in English: To walk is good for health. However, the preferred form is: Walking is good for health. To Anglophone ears, “walking” is more dynamic than “to walk”, i.e. it seems to give a better picture of what is happening.

This may very well be the case—in English. But there is no such distinction in French.

The grammatical term for the -ing form of a verb when used as a noun is “gerund”. The “gérondif” also exists in French, i.e. “marchant”, but it is virtually never used to replace an infinitive. So you have no choice. The correct form is “marcher”, because it is the only form. Simple, isn’t it?

Halt! Enough!

Do you feel that that all this talk about the “simplicities” of French is beginning to look like camouflage for its manifest difficulties? To a certain extent, you are right. However, the purpose here is not to hide French’s difficulties. But to minimize them by highlighting those aspects of French that are not so difficult—and are in fact really quite easy.

By rejoicing in French’s simplicities rather than focusing on its complexities, learning the language can be made more rapid and more enjoyable than you might have expected. The same is true of other languages.

I don’t mean that by focusing on the simplicities, learning languages will suddenly become easy. Learning a language is never easy, French or otherwise. But it can certainly be made rather less difficult.

Philip Yaffe is a former writer with The Wall Street Journal and international marketing communication consultant. He now teaches courses in persuasive communication in Brussels, Belgium. Because his clients use English as a second or third language, his approach to writing and public speaking is somewhat different from other communication coaches. He is the author of In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing and Speaking (Almost) like a Professional, available from the publisher (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com). Contact: phil.yaffe@yahoo.com, phil.yaffe@gmail.com

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The Full History of Sign Language

The history of sign language is littered with shocking events. At several points in history, some not long ago, deaf people were strongly oppressed. At one point, they were even denied their basic rights. How their language, sign language, was treated during these oppressive times is directly related to why the deaf place such a high value on sign language today.

The first person to make a claim about deaf people was Aristotle. He theorized that people are only able to learn by hearing spoken words. Deaf people, then, were seen as unable to be educated.

Deaf people were denied their basic rights because of this claim. They weren’t allowed to marry or own property. The law actually labeled them as “non-persons.”

During the Renaissance in Europe, the claim was finally challenged. After 2,000 years of believing that deaf people couldn’t be educated, scholars made their first attempts to educate deaf people. This point in the Deaf history was the beginning of signed language development.

The Beginning of Deaf Education

An Italian Physician named Geronimo Cardano recognized that to learn, you do not have to hear. He found that by using the written word, deaf people could be educated.

In Spain, Pedro Ponce de Leon around the same time was educating deaf children. He was a Benedictine monk and was successful with his methods of teaching.

Juan Pablo de Bonet was inspired by Pedro Ponce de Leon’s success and used his own methods to teach the deaf. He was a Spanish monk and used earlier methods of teaching the deaf that included writing, reading, speechreading, and his own manual alphabet. Juan Pablo de Bonet’s manual alphabet represented the different speech sounds and was the first known manual alphabet system in the history of sign language.

Until the 1750’s, organized education of deaf people did not exist. Established in Paris by Abbé Charles Michel de L’Epée, a French priest, was the first social and religious association for the deaf.

There is a popular story that has been retold throughout Deaf history about Abbé de L’Epée. The story claims that while L’Epée was visiting a poor part of Paris, he met two deaf sisters. The mother had wanted them educated in religion, and she wanted L’Epée to teach them. L’Epée was inspired to educate them after he discovered their deafness. Soon after this encounter, he devoted his life completely to the education of the deaf.

In 1771, Abbé de L’Epée founded the first public school for the deaf. The name of the school was the Institut National des Jeune Sourds-Muets (National Institute for Deaf-Mutes). Children travelled from all over the country to attend this school. The children who attended the institute had been signing at home and creating a sort of “home sign language” with their families. Abbé de L’Epée learned these home signs and used them to teach the children French.

The signs L’Epée learned from his students formed the standard sign language that L’Epée taught. More schools for the deaf were established and the children were bringing this standard language home to their communities. This standard language became the first standard signed language in Deaf history and is now known as Old French Sign Language. More and more deaf students were becoming educated so this standard language spread widely throughout Europe.

Abbé de L’Epée established twenty-one schools for the deaf and is known today as the “Father of Sign Language and Deaf Education.”

Abbé de L’Epée is also often credited with being the inventor of sign language. This is inaccurate. Sign language was invented by deaf people. Even before they were formally educated, deaf children were signing with their families using home made signs. However, Abbé de L’Epée was the first to bring together these signs and create a standard sign language to educate the deaf.

Abbé de L’Epée claimed that sign language was the natural language of the deaf. However, a German educator named Samuel Heinicke thought different. He supported the oral method of educating deaf children. Oralism is the term used for educating the deaf using a system of speech and speechreading instead of sign language and fingerspelling. Samuel Heinicke taught his students how to speak, not sign. While he spoke, he had his students feel the vibrations of his throat.

Oralism was the first major roadblock after all of the positive advancements with the history of sign language. Abbé de L’Epée is known as the “Father of Sign Language” and Samuel Heinicke is known as the “Father of Oralism.”

American Sign Language

American Sign Language is traced back to 1814. Dr. Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, a minister from Hartford, Connecticut, had a neighbor named Mason Fitch Cogswell. Cogswell had a nine-year-old daughter named Alice who was deaf. Gallaudet met Alice and Gallaudet wanted to teach her how to communicate.

Gallaudet did not really know anything about educating a deaf child. So, he raised enough money to travel to Europe to learn their methods of deaf education.

Gallaudet met Abbé Roche Ambroise Sicard who was Abbé de L’Epée’s successor and the head of the National Institute for Deaf-Mutes in Paris. Gallaudet also met Jean Massieu and Laurent Clerc, two accomplished teachers of the deaf from the same institution.

Gallaudet attended classes with Sicard, Massieu, and Clerc at the Institute. He studied their methods of teaching and took private lessons from Clerc.

Preparing to return to America, Gallaudet asked Clerc to join him. He knew that Clerc would be instrumental in starting a school for the deaf in the United States. Clerc agreed to travel with him back to America.

The American Asylum for Deaf-Mutes (now known as the American School for the Deaf) was established in 1817 in Hartford, Connecticut. This was the first public school for the deaf in America.

Deaf people from all over the U.S. travelled to attend the school. Just like at Abbé de L’Epée’s school in Paris, children brought signs they learned at home with them. From these signs and the signs from French Sign Language that Gallaudet learned, American Sign Language was created.

A Deaf College

In 1851, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet died. However, his two sons, Thomas Gallaudet and Edward Miner Gallaudet succeeded him and continued work in deaf education.

Edward wanted to establish a college for the deaf, but the funding always stopped him. In 1857, though, Amos Kendall donated acres of land to establish a residential school in Washington, D.C. called the Columbia Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind and wanted Edward to be the superintendent of the school.

Edward accepted the offer, but still wanted to start a college for the deaf. So, he presented his idea for a deaf college to Congress and Congress passed legislation in 1864 allowing the Columbia Institute to grant college degrees.

The Columbia Institute’s college division (the National Deaf-Mute College) opened in 1864. In all of Deaf history, this was the first college for the deaf.

The National Deaf-Mute College was renamed in 1893 and again in 1986 to the name it still has today-Gallaudet University. Gallaudet University was the first and is still the only liberal arts university for the deaf in the world.

Oralism versus Sign Language

Sign language was spreading widely and was used by both deaf and hearing people. However, supporters of oralism believe that deaf people need to learn how to speak to be able to function in society.

The Institution for the Improved Instruction of Deaf-Mutes was founded in New York in 1867 and the Clarke Institution for Deaf-Mutes was founded in Northampton, Massachusetts. These schools began educating deaf children using oralism only. If that wasn’t bad enough, these schools encouraged all deaf schools to use only the oralism approach as well. The oralist methods of teaching speech, listening, and speechreading spread quickly to schools across the nation.

Alexander Graham Bell was one of the strongest supporters of oralism. In 1872, he established a school in Boston. This school trained teachers to use oralism to teach deaf children.

Bell established the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf, Inc. in 1890. This association is now called the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf.

From 1880 to 1990, the sign language versus oralism debate intensified. Meeting in Milan, Italy in 1880, the International Congress on the Education of the Deaf met to address this issue. Many leaders in education attended this conference that is now known as the Milan Conference.

Oralism won the debate at this conference and Congress then passed a declaration stating “the incontestable superiority of speech over sign for integrating the deaf-mute into society and for giving him better command of the language.”

Because of this conference, the use of sign language in deaf education declined drastically over the next decade. Some oralism activists wanted to eradicate sign language completely.

By 1920, 80% of deaf children were taught using the oral method. Teachers of deaf children were once 40% deaf and 60% hearing. By the 1860’s, only 15% of teachers of the deaf were deaf.

Outside of the classroom, however, sign language was still widely used. The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) was established in the U.S. and supported the sign language method of deaf education. The NAD argued against oralism saying that it is not the right choice for the education of many deaf people. They gained support and kept the use of sign language alive during this time.

Amid this great debate, William Stokoe, a hearing Gallaudet College professor, published his claim that proved American Sign Language is a real language. He proved that ASL is a language separate from English and that it has its own grammar and syntax.

American Sign Language was then finally seen as an important national language.

Congress issued the Babbidge Report in 1964 on oral deaf education that stated oral education was a “dismal failure.” This quote dismissed the decision that was made in Milan.

In 1970, a movement began that did not choose between signed or oral education. The movement was called Total Communication and attempted to mix several methods of deaf education. Total Communication gave deaf people the right to information through all possible ways. This method of teaching can include speech, sign language, fingerspelling, lipreading, pantomime, computers, pictures, facial expressions, gestures, writing, hearing aid devices, and reading.

The changes that have occurred throughout the history of sign language makes sign language and the lives of deaf people what they are today. Deaf people have experienced great hardships as well as great achievements to bring sign language, the language of the Deaf, the respect that it deserves.

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Learn English 101

English competency is very important not only to excel in school, but also to succeed in business. Effective English communication is very much valued by companies and businesses, although few people can really maximize their use of English.

Learning English is not just about expanding your vocabulary or making flowery sentences filled with metaphor and poetic statements. The English language may be one of the first things you learned as a kid, but mastering the language takes a lot of practice and commitment. Every now and then, you have to brush up on your English skills to use the language clearly and effectively.

Studying Grammar

Proper grammar is the backbone of effective English. Many people tend to expand their vocabulary without learning how to use words properly, and arrange them together to create a coherent thought. It may embarrass some people to learn the basics of the English language all over again, but the best writers and speakers always brush up on the essential elements of English. When studying grammar, always keep the following pointers in mind:

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Fastest Way to Learn Chinese

Learning Chinese fast is all about learning the language as quickly as possible, while maintaining proper grammatical understanding. This means that in order to truly Learn Chinese in the quickest time possible, you really need to have access to the best resources and the best tools available so you don’t waste any time when you’re in the learning zone.

We are firm believers in a three step plan which is a very basic outline to Learning Chinese (you can see step 1 above). Basically, the three step plan is an extremely streamlined process for the learning of Chinese which works exceedingly well. Here is the three step plan for your reference:

1. Use a quality Chinese course to learn a solid foundation of knowledge. Use the proven techniques and experience of Chinese course teachers to learn a strong base of knowledge. This will allow you to learn the basics of the language enough to be able to Speak Chinese confidently after just a few weeks.

2. Get out and talk to fluent Chinese speakers to get the most real world practice. To build both confidence and knowledge, it is vitally important to actually talk to fluent Chinese speakers as much as you can. This will give you more experience and knowledge than a Chinese course ever could.

3. Keep speaking Chinese for at least 30 minutes every day. To keep improving on what you’ve learned, make sure you practice your Chinese every single day. As a little rule of thumb, make sure you practice for at least 30 minutes.

Now, using this for Learning Chinese fast is pretty easy. Because this plan is all about giving you the correct knowledge and information exactly when you need it, it not only builds your knowledge exponentially, it also means that you learn in sequence. In essence, your learning is streamlined because you don’t have to go back and repeat things. It’s all laid out on a plate for you, which means you’ve just got to go through it properly in order to Learn Chinese quickly.

In order to use this plan to Learn Chinese in the fastest way possible, here are some pointers which you should utilize:

•Make your Chinese practice into a routine which you perform every single day. This routine should mean that you use your Chinese course at around the same time every day and/or practice your Chinese at the same time every day as well. This will help your learning because not only does it provide consistency, it also helps you to remember what you learned previously, hence stopping the need to go back and repeat lessons.

•Take everything the course says as truth and work through it like a robot. The more you question what the course says, the more sidetracked you get, which means the longer it will take you to Learn Chinese. Everything in Chinese courses has been put there for a reason, by qualified professionals, which means it must be true. Just remember that and power through the course as fast as you can!

•Practice any Chinese you learn with real people. This may sound obvious to some, but you really need to get out there and start talking with people in Chinese if you’re going to make any sort of headway with your learning. Doing this will not only build your confidence but will also help you learn some fun slang and colloquial phrases, too.

•Don’t be afraid to try new things. Learning Chinese is something that takes time and dedication. We’ve given you a simple blueprint of what we would do to Learn Chinese, but there’s definitely nothing wrong with trying new techniques or methods!

The general motto of this article is basically the fact that you can seriously improve the speed by which you Learn Chinese, simply by sticking to your guns and focusing on getting to where you want to be in the quickest time possible.

The main thing is to get started with a Chinese course and get learning the basics before anything else. If you want to constantly improve and progress, you’ll want to get a foundation of Chinese knowledge and skills all sorted out in your mind before you try and build on that knowledge.

To begin Learning Chinese, why not take a look at our Chinese course reviews to find the best Chinese course for you?

We’ll assume the fact that you’re reading this article means you have some interest in Speaking Chinese and we’ll further assume that you’re prepared to put some effort into it because Learning Chinese requires some work. It can be fun, it can be easier and faster than you probably thought, but if you want to learn to speak Chinese fluently you’re going to have to give it some time.

How much time? Well that really depends on you. The popular approach now – which is successful for good reason – is the immersion technique. Get a Chinese book, go to Chinese classes, and get some kind of Chinese Learning CD or MP3 so you can study on the move. Some even suggest osmosis – learning while you sleep – by playing Chinese Language audio programs through an earpiece.

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The road to a perfect international language

by Philip Yaffe

Some time ago, a friend and I decided to try to establish guidelines for building a “perfect language” that ultimately could be adopted as the world’s common language. We did not intend to create such a language. We just wanted to lay down standards against which any candidates for this high office (living, dead or artificial) could be objectively judged.

Our primary criterion was that it should be easy to learn.

We started from what we called the Facility Principle: What you don’t have to do is always easier than what you do have to do. We wanted to find out what is really basic to language, i.e. what elements are fundamental, what felements are secondary, and what elements are entirely unnecessary. This we would use to judge how close existing languages came, or how to create an artificial language that virtually everyone could rapidly learn and use.

Our method was to identify what elements could be removed without fundamentally damaging a language’s capacity to communicate. To ensure that we would not “over-intellectualize”, we decided to test our ideas by finding at least one language, living or dead, that did not possess the element we thought could be safely deleted. If we found such a language, we would know that this feature truly wasn’t absolutely essential. Between the two us, we were fluent in or had working knowledge of Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swahili, so these were our reference points.

We started with irregularities. Few people would argue that irregular verbs are fundamentally necessary in order to communicate, so our perfect language should have no irregular verbs. Does such a language exist? Yes, Swahili has no irregular verbs. If you can conjugate one verb in that language, you can conjugate them all, and in all tenses.

We also looked at irregular spellings. Clearly, a phonetically spelled language would be easier to learn than a non-phonetic one. Just consider all the endless hours French-speaking school children spend with their “dictées” and English-speaking children spend with their “spelling bees”. Although they are disguised as games and competitions, their real purpose is to help children master the thoroughly chaotic misuse of the alphabet in their native tongues.

Does a phonetic language in fact exist? German comes very close, and so do Italian and Spanish. Swahili, however, is fully phonetic. If you can say a word in that language, you can spell it, and if you can read it, you can say it.

We also immediately dismissed noun genders; English lives without them very nicely. What about pronouns? They too are not fundamental; in Italian and Spanish they are hardly ever used.

We even discovered languages that make no distinction between singular and plural. At first, we had difficulty accepting this because singulars and plurals just seemed to be so basic. However, eliminating them makes perfect sense.

Why should a language constantly distinguish between one of a thing and two to infinity? To say “I see a dog” clearly means that I see only one of them. But to say “I see dogs” is undefined. It could be two, ten, twenty, a hundred, a thousand, a million, etc. Some languages define “singular” not as one, but one, two or three. “Plural” then means anything from four to infinity.

By establishing this set of considerations, did we create an ideal blueprint for producing a clear, concise, easy-to-learn universal language? Actually no. We thought we did; however, it turns out that the Facility Principle has a fatal flaw.

When we consulted a linguist during our investigations, he pointed out that it may be possible to eliminate a grammatical feature in a language only because it contains another feature that compensates. But this would not be true of all languages. Thus, eliminating something from Language A because it adds nothing to communication could be crucially important in Language B, where its absence would damage communication.

We were not discouraged, but we decided to change direction. Despite the flaw of the Facility Principle, we still felt that irregular spellings had little to recommend them. However, since we could not necessarily eliminate them based solely on the Facility Principle, we looked around for another principle that would allow us to exclude them. This we called the “Comprehension Principle”.

The Comprehension Principle states: What is not important for communication in the spoken language should be even less important in the written language.

This is only common sense. When we are in a conversation, we must understand what the other person is saying instantaneously, and vice versa. We cannot stop every couple of seconds to have something repeated to be certain that we have correctly grasped its meaning. If we did, conversation would be impossible.

When we read, if we have a problem understanding something, we can always look at it again and study it, which is not the case when we speak. It therefore seems logical that the written language should be simpler and more straightforward than the spoken language.

In English, French and some other languages, it is just the opposite. The written language is very much more complex than the spoken language. According to the Comprehension Principle, all of the things in the written language that are not in the spoken language are not necessary for communication. Therefore, they can be considered merely decorative and expendable.

This brings us back to phonetic spelling.

If a word is not written the way it is pronounced, what purpose does it serve? Very little; in fact it is counterproductive. As argued by no less an authority than Voltaire (1771): “Writing is the portrait of the voice; the more they resemble each other, the better (L’ecriture est la peinture de la voix; plus elle est resemblante, mieux elle est.)”

Nevertheless, it is amazing how ferociously some people will defend chaotic spellings. One of the principal arguments is that current spelling is a “conveyor belt of culture”. Thus, we spell “pharmacy” with “ph” to remind us that the word is derived from Greek, and we spell “farmer” with an “f” to remind us that this word isn’t. But why should the way we write a word reflect its origin? Language is for communication; it should avoid useless complications such as non-phonetic spelling. “Phonetic” itself should be spelled with an “f” as it is in Dutch, Italian and Spanish. Its Greek origin is of interest mainly to linguists but it shouldn’t be imposed on the rest of us.

When the written language loses touch with the spoken language, it also loses touch with reality. Even the august Academie Française now permits elimination of the “accent circumflex” (the little hat) in many words where it serves only to remind us that in Old French there used to be an “s” in the word which is no longer there. It is also introducing numerous other reforms to make the language more consistent and less of a barrier to clear communication.

One article I read opposing spelling reform in English concluded with the startling statement: “Spelling is beautiful. Believe it”.

Spelling is not beautiful; it is a tool. As with any tool, loading it with useless complications can only reduce its effectiveness, not enhance it. In writing, the only thing that is beautiful is a well-structured, well-crafted text. Judging writing by how well the author masters chaotic spelling is like judging a painting by how well the artist works with defective brushes.

If the language-proud French can reform their spelling, surely we English-speakers can do likewise. And the sooner, the better.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in good writing and good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His recently published book In the “I” of the Storm: the Simple Secrets of Writing and Speaking (Almost) like a Professional is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium (storypublishers.be) and Amazon (amazon.com).

For further information, contact:

Philip Yaffe
Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0)2 660 0405
Email: phil.yaffe@yahoo.com,phil.yaffe@gmail.com

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Why Learn German – 8 Benefits of Learning German Language That You Just Cannot Ignore

A global career: Knowledge of German increases your career opportunities with German and foreign companies in your own country and abroad. The proficiency helps you to function productively for an employer with global business connections. For example, learning german in mumbai is an essential requirement for all employees – right from staff to managers to senior executives of German and multi-national corporations with operations in mumbai and India. A Basic requirement for promotion and growth in many such companies, especially heavy industries, is that one atleast learns to speak german.

An invaluable skill for business executives, IT professionals and entrepreneurs: Knowing the language of your German clients or business partners improves your relations and therefore your chances for effective communication and success.
· India’s IT professionals are increasingly finding projects/assignments in Germany where comfort with the local language is a key success factor. Thus a major career move for business executives, IT professionals and managers is to learn german language.
· Get comfortable in Europe: German is among the most popular language in Europe. In many of the countries neighboring Europe as also in greater distances, German has and continues to be a popular spoken language. Thus, Benefits of learning German extend way beyond Germany or German corporations/companies!

Opportunities to study/work in Germany: Germany awards a generous number of scholarships and other support for studies in Germany. Working holiday visas are available for young foreigners from a range of countries, and special visas are offered to skilled workers and professionals. Learning German thus opens up yet another opportunity for advancement in career. In fact, a number of German study abroad programs reward applicants significantly if the applicant is well-versed or has working knowledge of German. At our
German language courses in mumbai. an increasing proportion of students have been students seeking a career through German education. This is just the beginning of the career benefits of learning German.

Opportunities for exchange: A wide range of german exchange programs exists for both school and university students between Germany and many countries in the world. Thus, you could gain an easy cutting edge over others who have not learnt German!
German is the second most commonly used scientific language: Germany is the third largest contributor to research and development and offers research fellowships to scientists from abroad. Thus learning German will open you vistas for you in the area of science and technology too. The need for scientific, technological and engineering talent with german language skills has been growing steadily across the years.

Communication: Developments in media, information and communication technology require multilingual communicators. One in ten books is published in German, and a wide range of important websites are in German. Knowledge of German therefore offers you extended access to information.

Tourism and hospitality industry: Tourists from German-speaking countries travel wide and far, and are the world’s biggest spenders when on holiday. They appreciate to be looked after by German-speaking staff and tour guides. This is yet one of the benefits of learning german! At our
German language classes in mumbai, we bring in hands-on exercises to train you the mastering german and knowing the German culture. German Books, novels, CD and movies are used to make the classes entertaining and well as learning filled.

On a lighter and interesting note: German is the language of Goethe, Kafka, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven. Indulge in reading and/or listening to their works in their original language. Learning German provides you with an insight into the way of life, and the hopes and dreams of people in German speaking countries, broadening your horizon.

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The Importance of Ear/Vocal Training While Learning English Pronunciation.

Language is a system of systems operating simultaneously. English pronunciation involves meaning-differentiating sounds, meaningful sub-word pieces (e.g., prefixes and suffixes), words, phrases, and entire interrelated chains of ideas, as well as the speaker’s emotions and attitudes — all being signaled at the same time.

The goal of the second-language learner must be to produce this complex, simultaneous interaction of systems, moment by moment, and the best way to do that is to hear it all actually happening and then, provided that you have good ear/vocal feedback, you can train your muscles to articulate the right sounds, ever more closely approximating the entire language performance of a native speaker.

Sounds: Systematic repetition training is crucial in identifying the English sounds that differ from those in one’s own native language (or identifying those that are simply not in the first-language inventory) and in focusing particular attention on the differences. If, instead of the English pronunciation of certain sounds, the learner substitutes a similar sound from his/her native language, he/she can completely obscure the meaning or confuse the native-speaker listener. Further refinement of an accent consists in learning to hear and reproduce the actual English pronunciation instead of substituting the most similar one from one’s native language.

Contractions: Native speakers plunge ahead so rapidly that English pronunciation typically contracts certain sounds (not just the traditional written contractions), and the non-native listener must be alert to these. He/she must be able to immediately hear them and identify them with the uncontracted versions.

Again, the familiarity is a matter of hearing the likely contractions and understanding them in context.

Interference: There’s so much noise that accompanies speech that you would be surprised at how little of what someone else is saying actually reaches your ears. That’s why simply hearing common collocations of words, especially idioms, will enable you to understand and reproduce the “noise-free” versions.

Phrases and Pauses: Along with the English pronunciation of individual sounds and sound sequences (and their contracted versions), the learner should pay careful attention to the way native speakers group words into phrases, for, e.g., grammatical reasons, emphasis, or place in a conversation. Repeatedly listening to frequent word groupings and patterns of word groupings, as they’re actually articulated, will teach the second-language learner where to expect pauses, how to use them, and the kinds of words-groups are typically included between pauses.

Accentuation and Intonation: The relative loudness/softness of each syllable in the English pronunciation of a word — so easily, rapidly, and intuitively articulated by native speakers — must be learned and, to the extent possible, duplicated by the astute second-language learner. It’s not that the accentuation of a word changes its meaning — rather, the accentuation pattern of the word is determined in part by its structure, and the absolute loudness or softness of one syllable or another is further influenced by emphasis and intonation patterns in the larger sentence. Rather than memorize complex rules, the easiest path to reproducing the native speaker’s performance is listening and repetition.

The same applies to the longer intonation patterns that identify statements, questions, requests, and all manner of speaker implications and emotions. These are simultaneous with the word-level accentuation patterns mentioned above and, once again, must be heard in context in order to be successfully duplicated — and finally learned to the point of replication.

Language is a lot of things going on at the same time. And the best way to learn them is to hear them and to develop the ear/vocal connections that enable the second-language learner (or even the dialect speaker) to replicate them all, the way native speakers do.

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