Woman determined to learn 13 languages in three years

Ellen Jovin, who runs Syntaxis, a company that teaches writing skills and email etiquette to employees of Fortune 500 companies, is trying to learn 13 languages in all over the course of three years, and lingering no more than three months on any particular one.

Her lessons are not just about sitting in her apartment at the Ansonia listening to language tapes—though she does a lot of that, too. For example, to learn Italian she traveled to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx and volunteered at an Italian deli. To learn Arabic she got a job at the Arab American Association of New York teaching English to women, many of them in hijab, in Bay Ridge.

She has also created her own system, which starts with hours of listening to language tapes while stretching, running in Central Park, even while trying to fall asleep. “I have a hard time sleeping,” she said. “One thing I discovered with this project is if I play a lesson it will relax me and I can go to sleep. I’ll be on lesson 16 and I’ll wake up on lesson 18. Read More...


Survey finds Americans fear lack of multilingual skills may cost them high-paying U.S. jobs

In a May 2010 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “An issue that affects our ability to compete and collaborate on the world stage (is) the need to increase the foreign-language fluency and cultural awareness of all our students.” According to a national survey conducted by Wakefield Research and commissioned by Rosetta Stone Inc. Americans share Secretary Duncan’s concern. More than half (58 percent) of Americans fear that high-paying U.S. jobs will be filled by workers from abroad in the next two decades because of the country’s lack of foreign-language skills.
Americans do not consider their lack of foreign-language skills as solely their own challenge; it is also a challenge for the nation. Roughly half of Americans think the lack of foreign-language proficiency has put the U.S. at an economic disadvantage compared to its foreign counterparts. This perception has become a reality. In its Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011, released last week, the World Economic Forum finds that the U.S. has become less competitive, falling two positions to fourth place, behind Switzerland, Sweden and Singapore. Read More...


New social network reflects today’s multilingual reality (XIHA)

Helsinki-based XIHA claims to be this planet’s first truly multilingual social network. “Multilingual” in that you can view all content in up to 56 languages and counting, while you enjoy the user interface in 42. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter also offer content in many languages.
XIHA (pronounced “see-ha”) stands out from the social media pack in several ways:
* Multilingual, not multi-language.
* Instantaneous cross-language social networking.
* Harmonization of machine and human translation.
* Payment for multilingual content created by professionals. XIHA’s translator profile values domain expertise and creative writing ability over translation skills. However, to its credit, it pays translators actual money. This strategy will enable XIHA to avoid repeating the experience of LinkedIn, which became the target of outrage when it encouraged translators to offer their services on a volunteer basis.
* A user base with extreme geographic diversity. According to its marketing materials, XIHA community members live in more than 200 countries.
* Recognition that multilingual is the new monolingual.