July’s Chatterbox: Language Learning News and Research

Pimsleur Approach • EntertainmentComments (2)

Welcome to July’s Chatterbox! We’ve got all the important language learning scientific developments, advice and latest news, as well as a blog we love and a heads up on the best online competitions of the month. Enjoy and feel free to chip in with your suggestions for the Chatterbox!

The Science of Language

July ChatterboxThe worlds of science and science fiction come ever closer together with the development of Google’s Project Glass, its new attempt at “wearable computing.” Hot on the heels of the announcement was a British developer, who developed an app he says could mean real-time translation of foreign languages.

News ‘n’ Views from Around the World

The Council of Foreign Relations posted this rallying cry on the importance of foreign languages for the US’ economic competitiveness, while the Wall Street Journal reports that law firms are hiring a flurry of foreign-language speaking lawyers.

Meanwhile, the Adobe blog busts the myth that language support should be limited to the official languages of a country, and to illustrate part of their point, here’s a nifty infographic on languages of the web.

In endangered language news, language experts say that 64 of Mexico’s Indian dialects are at high risk of dying out. It was also Maori language week from July 23- July 29: if you’d like impress the next New Zealander you meet, here’s 100 Maori words every New Zealander should know!

July also saw the 125th anniversary of the first Esperanto book. Ingrid Piller wonders whether Esperanto really could be useful as an international language here.

A recently published study hypothesizes that the length of a country- not its width- is linked to linguistic diversity. The study found that long, thin countries like Chile have higher levels of linguistic diversity than countries such as Russia. Intriguing!


We’ve launched our new Arabic resources section of the website. It’s packed with vocabulary guides, grammar guides, games and useful links- Have you checked it out yet?

This month, we also discovered the TED Open Translation Project, which offers subtitles and transcripts of hundreds of TED talks- a great and educational supplement to your lessons!

If you’re traveling to Italy, you should check out Wanderlust’s guide to the infamous Italian hand gestures here (Warning: Some of the gestures are a little colorful!)

Sometimes, you just need to get back to basics with your learning: Here’s a direct, easy approach to giving your language learning a turbo boost!

Although we might like to, we can’t learn every language in the world, so these free iPad apps may come in useful while abroad.

Finally, our favorite piece of learning advice this month comes courtesy of Dr Paul Pimsleur and… Jerry Seinfeld?!


Think that writing a story in Spanish, Hebrew or Arabic is an impossible task? How about 100 words? The Museo de la Palabra in Spain has launched its third annual “Flash Fiction” competition, entries for which must be 100 words or less. Entries from all over the world in any of the above languages- or English- are accepted and you could win $20,000!

UK residents can enter a Lonely Planet competition to win a trip for two to Jordan, while US residents can enter the novel Tom Tom Map Paradise Project competition- Just fill out a form and you could be mapping the Seychelles!

Best Language Blog

Our favorite language blog this month is Lexiophiles, which covers everything from travel and study abroad, to unusual cultural customs, to foreign word origins to cheesy pick up lines. You’re bound to spend more time on this treasure trove of linguistic fun than you’d planned!

Did You Know?

The global spotlight is on the London Olympics for July and August, but did you know that the official languages of the Games are French and English? All signs and announcements must be in both languages- and a third language if the Games are hosted in a country that speaks a different language.

However, London will feel right at home with this linguistic diversity- Over 300 languages are spoken within its city limits, compared to 200 in New York!

Finally, congratulations to all you Mandarin learners: According to super-swimmer and Olympics star Michael Phelps, “Learning Mandarin is even harder than winning eight gold medals in the pool!”

2 Responses to “ July’s Chatterbox: Language Learning News and Research ”

  1. Bill Chapman says:

    You link your readers to Ingrid Piller who concludes that “Esperanto speakers want to establish strong, multi-faceted and reciprocal international relationships.” That’s quite true, but your readers should not suppose that Esperanto speakers are opposed to the learning of other languages. On the contrary, an interest in Esperanto often leads to a heightened interest in learning other languages.

  2. Sugel says:

    One of the legendary characters who figured in my childhood was my great grandfather William Henry Robinson. Although he died long before I was born I felt as though I knew him. My father often spoke about him in an affectionate and loving way, regaling us with tales of William Henry’s voyages as a seagoing shipwright and how, despite having had no formal education, he taught himself the basics of several foreign languages and used these skills to speak with foreign ship captains when he was chief sanitary inspector of the Port of Belfast. What made the deepest impression on me was the fact that he had learnt to speak Esperanto. As a child I always loved this word. Its musical and mysterious resonance awakened in me a sense of great curiosity and conjured up a radiant Utopia where people of different cultures and backgrounds lived happily together and where barriers of language didn’t matter.

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