Project Vesto

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It’s been a very busy month at Loogla HQ!   Last time we wrote about the entrepreneurial climate in Nevada.  Today we wanted to share our enthusiasm at having been selected as one of twelve finalists for Project Vesto, “Nevada’s Next Generation Business Competition” with a grand prize of $100,000!  We’re thrilled and honored to have been selected.  We’ve poured our hearts, souls, and savings into building Loogla, so the opportunity to win such a prize is not only a fabulous opportunity, but a lifeline for a product that has the potential to change the way people learn. 

We will have more information about voting soon, and will be tapping lots of shoulders. If you think education matters, stay tuned.  We’ll update with the voting information and want you to come show your support, vote for us and help our language and literacy project win $100,000!  Loogla has a big dream that you can help make come true.

 

Language Learning Myth Debunked: Is speaking is the best way to learn a language?

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How many times have you heard someone tell you that you just have to speak in order to learn another language?  That we’re supposed to learn just like little kids do, and need to just speak for it to come naturally?  It is a piece of advice that is repeated constantly in the language learning world, but this philosophy is flawed.  Adults naturally apply their structural understanding of their mother tongue to learning a second language, and thereby make a lot of errors when starting out. In spite of mistakes, and although they’ll never be mistaken for a native speaker, with a little extra work most people can become at least conversational, if not fluent, speakers of a new language.

So, is the best way to learn by speaking?  Obviously you will never really learn a language if you don’t speak with other people, and the mistakes that someone learning a language makes is simply part of the process, but it’s important to remember that speech is a form of imitation and the very best way to imitate is to both listen (to what is being said, in addition to how it’s being said) and to read what has been written in your target language. 

Reading is actually one of the best ways to incorporate vocabulary while digesting new grammatical structures that will help you to not only understand some of the nuances of the culture you’re studying, but it will fill in the holes in your understanding and give you with new ways to express how you think and feel.  The more you read and incorporate this information, the more confident you will begin to feel.  Anybody who has been in an immersion environment knows how frustrating it is to try to speak but not feel like they are able to really just be themselves! 

Read about what interests you.  This way you can accomplish not only your language goals, but you can learn about the things that impassion you at the same time.  Personal engagement is one of the best known predictors for success in a foreign language, so choosing the things that spark your mind will mean that your interest won’t just dry up after reading so many boring passages that are irrelevant to your life.  Ultimately when you are able to speak with more confidence you’ll already have the vernacular you need to talk about the things you care about!

Never be shy about speaking, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Speaking will actually help to expose the areas you need to work on with vocabulary and grammar, and can be a hugely motivating experience.  However, if you find that verbal communication is painfully difficult, if you stutter and stop and become completely flustered in trying to find the right word it’s ok to back off your “talk training” and go get more input.  Continuing to speak may simply reinforce bad habits, unless you're talking with a trained professional who can and will correct you!  If you decide to take a break and go back to reading and listening, the new input will furnish you will the increased vocabulary and understanding of how real natives actually talk that will actively help to improve your working grammar.  Don’t forget to write in your target language!  Reading, writing, and listening are the cornerstones to building the successful foundation of a language that many fantastic conversations may be built upon. 

Good luck!!

 

 

Tienes hambre? Subtle differences can really affect meaning.

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We´re back for another installment of Misunderstanding Mondays. 

In Santiago there is a popular destination called Mercado Central.  It´s a beautiful old factory-type building that has been converted into an open-air den of seafood restaurants with fish mongers and vegetable stands along the periphery.  Because there are so many restaurants, competition is fierce and each one tends to employ one or more agressive head waiters who duke it out with each other to win diners in their chairs. 

A foreign exchange student with basic Spanish skills, we´ll call her Liz, went to the picturesque mercado to take some photos.  She was approached a few times but told the buzzing waiters that she wasn´t hungry and just wanted to take some photographs.  Much to her consternation, more and more men continued to approach her, asking her to their restaurant and talking to her, but she kept trying to brush them off, insisting that she wasn´t hungry.  They KEPT coming, and kept coming, in spite of her increasing annoyance and insistance that she didn´t want any food and was only there to take pictures.  By the end of 20 minutes she was so frustrated she just started yelling at all of them, and eventually had to give up on taking photos and stormed out.

The following week she relayed this story to her Spanish teacher and was asking whether it was a cultural thing that these men just wouldn´t leave her alone.  Turns out when she tried to brush them off what she thought she was yelling, "no tengo hambre" turned out to be "no tengo hombre"!  Whoops!  Apparently there were a lot of takers, and Liz was blushing for a week thinking of herself in the middle of the market yelling, "I don´t have a man!!  All I want is to take pictures!" This lessons serves to not only mind our p´s and q´s, but our a´s and o´s as well.  Do you have a story about trying to communicate when learning a language, but doing so badly or to an unintended but humorous effect?  Write to jenpeck@loogla.com and we´ll publish it. 

Suerte, chicos!

 

(Whether you ´tiene hambre´ or ´quiere hombre´ will determine which you see in this photo.)

La hiprocesía sigue

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Here's a great example of "hipocresía" and "contradicción" in action from the Argentine governement. Both of these words are considered cognates and are easy words to learn since they're a simple shift from their english versions 'hipocracy' and 'contradiction'.

These two cognates in particular are relevent in this case because the Argentine goverment has put a ban on importations (of books, electronics, etc.), making it exceedingly expensive to buy and maintain electronics within Argentina, yet Vice President Amado Boudou has tweeted this concerned and sympathetic message to the people with his imported iphone.

Beneficios de la bicicleta

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There is a growing love for riding a bicycle in the world, and with increasing congestion on the roads and air pollution, it's easy to see why!  Practice your spanish with some more reasons to love your bike!

Todos son buenos, pero "Sientes como que vuelas" es mi razón favorito.  No olvides tu casco!

What a difference one letter makes

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Pay attention to spelling, as sometimes one letter can make all the difference! This fabulous play on words is the name of a mattress store in Bariloche, Argentina.

 

La colcha de tu madre... Get it??

Nos gustan mucho los preservativos!

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Hot off the miscommunication presses, our Misunderstanding Monday story! I wonder if this is what ol' Gladys was imagining?

Misunderstandings and miscommunications when learning #Spanish are all too common.  Because in Spanish there are lots of words that are cognates of words in English (such as proposition = proposición), plus there's the simple (funny, lazy) habit of many English speakers to put an 'o' at the end of a Spanish word.  Here's a funny story thanks to Angela Seita:

So one day I was talking with the 70 something year old woman, Gladys, I was living with about food in America.  I said something along the lines of "Comemos muchos preservativos en Estados Unidos". Her jaw dropped and she about keeled over from a heart attack. I went on to explain "it's not fresh". Little did I know that "preservativos" meant condoms in Argentina so I was basically telling her we eat a lot of rubbers!"

If Angela had used the word "conservantes" instead of "preservativos" ol' Gladys wouldn't have batted an eye.  Have you ever had a miscommunication in another language?  If you want to share or have your story featured, please send an email to jenpeck@loogla.com and we'll publish it!

Regional dialects

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If you’re thinking  of traveling somewhere to do an immersion course in Spanish, one of the key things to think about is the predominant accent spoken inyour preferred destination.  Argentina is a popular place to come and take classes, largely because Buenos Aires is a bustling city with thriving arts culture, famous parillas and fabulous ice cream, and of course the lure of the tango (which helps work off the extra calories).  But one thing that isn’t usually a consideration when choosing Argentina is the accent! 

It’s very helpful  to know, and something to consider, that when you come to Argentina that the people in Buenos Aires speak what they consider Rio Platense Castellano and their most definite peculiarity in pronunciation where the double l (ll) is pronounced as a “shh” sound instead with a soft a rather than the “yuh” sound used in so many other latin cultures, and even outside of Buenos Aires.  For example, lluvia, the word for rain, is pronounced ‘shoe-via’.  Pollo is ‘po-sho’ instead of ‘poy-o’.  If you can incorporate the “shh” into your accent in Buenos Aires (and try to drop a che or two) you’ll be quick on the path to earning points with the locals.