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.

 

Nevada edutech, Ves.to, and Startup of the Month

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Loogla is Western Nevada's startup of the month.

It seems there is no shortage of incubators worldwide and creative approaches to putting wind in the sails of innovators these days.  Nevada, long known for its business friendly climate, is increasingly getting onboard and cultivating a startup scene.  The Loogla team recently participated in an exciting program to promote entrepreneurship in the state.  It's known as Project Vesto (http://ves.to).  As an edutech company, a thriving ecosystem has been part of our decision process for the future direction of the project, and it's heartening to see our home base rising to the challenge.

There are those who say that startups outside a typical startup city like the other side of the hill in The [Silicon] Valley or New York face a burdensome disadvantage.  While those established regions have a leg up on the business life-cycle, they are also astronomically expensive places to live, which may have a chilling effect of risk taking to those living on the margins.  There is something powerful to be said for bootstrapping a company in a region like Reno.  The will exists, the money is getting there, and if anyone understands what it means to roll the dice, it's Nevada.

Creator of Project Vesto, Daniel S. Herr, will be announcing finalists this Friday, March 14th. Team Loogla will be there, and win or lose, we're enthusiastic about to playing a part in helping to grow opportunities in Nevada.

p.s.  We are honored that today EDAWN, the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, named Loogla as their Startup of the Month.

 

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!!

 

 

Tomar vs. Llevar: Language Precision

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Once again, we’re back with the very important topic of language precision. Check out our previous blog on language precision for information on verbs that mean “to ask”. This week, we’ll be discussing a couple of verbs that mean “to take”.

Remember that precision of language is very important, and is an easy way to get those subtleties of meaning across. Making a point of being precise can set you apart from other non-native speakers, and can really help your understanding of others.

In English, we use “take” in many different ways. You can take a bath, take a book and go to the park, take someone to school, take a pen out of your backpack, take someone’s coat, take a taxi…the list goes on. In English, it’s appropriate to use “take” in all of these cases. But in Spanish, the meaning might be lost if you just use “tomar”. So when do we use tomar?

Most of us know that in Spanish, tomar is used in many cases: tomar bebidas, tomar sol, tomar el autobus. Its meaning ranges from “to imbibe”, like a drink, to “to pick up”, like a book off a table. For the most part, tomar is used to mean using or taking possession of something. So in the cases of bebidas, sol, pastillas, autobuses, and tiempo, you are using the item.

Where it gets tricky is in uses of tomar that seem to cross over with other verbs, like llevar. For example, you would use tomar if you are taking an item and then going somewhere: tomó la mochila y fue al parque. In this case, you are taking possession of the backpack, then going to the park. In this example, we use tomar because the sentence is not explicitly expressing “to bring (with you)”, which would be llevar, but instead is separating the action of taking the backpack into your possession and then going to the park.


The meaning of tomar is subtle here, so make sure to look at plenty of examples of tomar being used, and if you’re unsure, try searching for the phrase online.

Being really comfortable with tomar and llevar can have many benefits, one of which involves your understanding on a deep level. Take, for example, this phrase: llevar a tomar una decisión.

Knowing what you know about tomar and llevar, can you figure out what the phrase above means?

Can you find any other examples that would remain ambiguous if we didn´t have a good grasp of the difference between tomar and llevar?

Misunderstanding Mondays

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Here's a good one for our Misunderstanding Mondays. In 1977, Braniff Airlines launched an ad campaign advertising their new leather interiors. They encouraged people to fly with Braniff by using the slogan "fly in leather". Because they had many flights to and from Spanish-speaking areas, the advertisements were eventually translated to Spanish. Braniff promoted their new leather seats by telling Spanish speakers to fly “sentado en cuero”. Spanish-speakers had quite a laugh at this; the phrase means "sit naked" in Spanish slang. When the company decided to market to Spanish speakers, they neglected to identify the colloquial meaning of cuero, and didn´t specify that the seats were leather, and not that the customer would be seated in their own "hide"!

Interestingly enough, this is the same company who had a campaign called "the Braniff Air Strip", which portrayed a female flight attendant removing several layers of clothes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmPLgv7TVOA

How do you think they could have corrected their "sentado en cuero" ad to prevent the misunderstanding?

Spanish Language Precision: Preguntar

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Being precise with your Spanish is one of the many small things you can do to improve your understanding. Achieving a better grasp of the subtle meanings behind everyday words is a great place to start, and it can really maximize your ability to gain more out of poetry, songs, movies, and literature.

Preguntar is a very common word in Spanish, but what exactly does its meaning encompass? Where can it really be used effectively, and when is it better to find another word instead?

Preguntar means loosely "to ask", but the underlying meaning is "to ask a question" or "to ask about something". In the case of "Le pregunto la hora" preguntar functions quite nicely. But what about asking for forgiveness? Asking someone to come to dinner? These are two cases where preguntar will not suffice.

So what should you use in those cases?

For starters, let’s look at our options. Pedir also means "to ask", but in a way that suggests you are asking for something. Invitar means to ask but is a cognate with English "to invite".

So in the cases above, you could use pedir when asking for something like forgiveness, and invitar for asking someone over to dinner: pido perdón; le invito a mi casa.

When looking at a poem such as "Pido silencio" by Pablo Neruda, knowing that he is not asking silence a question and that he is asking for silence will help you understand the basic meaning of the poem. But on a deeper level, you can also make the distinction that he is not begging for silence (in which case he would have used rogar) but simply and calmly asking for it.

In a song by Edgar Lira called "Yo le pregunto", knowing that preguntar implies asking a question can really help your understanding of the lyrics:

Yo le pregunto a la historia quién fue aquel
Que partió el tiempo en donde estoy
El antes y después de él
Si dice que no existió
Yo le pregunto a la psicología
Si me puede explicar
Como doce hombres sin valor
Cambiaron de una forma radical
Después que resucitó

Knowing that preguntar means to ask a question, we can understand that he is asking "history" and asking "psychology" for answers to questions.

Working on your language precision is one of the best ways to get you closer to fluency, and it can be a very rewarding process as your abilities increase.

Tienes hambre? Subtle differences can really affect meaning.

Posted by jpeck | Filed under

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??