Thursday, January 12, 2017

The New Year is a Great Time to Learn a New Language

FTC disclosure:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade.  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

When I was in college, I attempted to learn both Spanish and German. I was not successful with either venture.  However, that was before the days of computers everywhere, and cell phones were a rarity that you usually only saw in movies.  It is now easier than ever to use a smart phone to assist with educational contest, taking a class, or studying.  Add to that wireless technology such as the U.S. Cellular data network that allows us to stay connected no matter where you are, and you can have the ability to further your education nearly anywhere.

Smart devices such as the iPhone 7 and the iPad are becoming a growing trend in learning.  Part of this reason is they provide something that traditional education cannot -- information fed to you in small pieces.  Being able to take a moment to study no matter where you are -- in line at the grocery store, waiting to be called at a doctor's office, or even at the laundromat -- you can receive a small bit of information and use that time that would otherwise go to waste.  I am considering going back to school and have been using my phone to study for the entrance exams and it's amazing how many extra minutes of studying I can pick up throughout my day!  Because 65% of smart phone owners never leave their device at home, it's a way to have study guides always with you.

I decided a few years ago I was going to learn Hebrew. My experiences with foreign language in college left me wondering if it was even possible to learn another language.  After a trip to Israel in 2006, I felt illiterate when the street signs only showed Hebrew and Arabic, so I decided I wanted to learn a language that had a whole different set of letters than the English alphabet.  I bought some books and began to study on my own.  When I completed the series of books, I pretty much stopped learning because I didn't know where to turn for more practice.  Video wasn't popular on the Internet at that time, and podcasts hadn't been heard of.

Fast forward to now -- I subscribe to both videos and podcasts about learning various languages (including Hebrew.)  I can access content online such as TV shows from other countries.  Duolingo has a number of languages you can learn, and they recently added Hebrew.  A friend who sat in front of me in my freshman English class in college was a U.S. immigrant, and he said how he learned English by watching cartoons, then soap operas, the news, and sitcoms.  He said each type of show had a different type of vocabulary, and his English was flawless!  So watching videos does work!

Another great trick is to change the settings on your phone or tablet to your new language.  Using your GPS on your phone will quickly help you learn directional vocabulary that will help you getting around in the country you plan on visiting.

There are also translating apps, such as iTranslate, or if you are looking for something more specific, you could try the German English dictionary and translator by BitKnights LLC or the Pleco  Chinese App. When I taught English in China one summer, I wouldn't leave the flat without a pencil and paper in my pocket because haggling was such a way of life there, and since I didn't speak Chinese, I needed to be able to write down numbers to buy anything from a street vendor.  How handy would it be to use the calculator app on your iPhone these days!

Because I sell online, there is an occasion where I might get a message from someone in another country in their language.  I don't speak any language enough to message a seller about an item in their language, so it's totally understandable to me.  I use Babbel or iTranslate and I have had successful transaction using those to write a message to my buyer, hitting translate, and then sending the translated message to the interested person.  It might not be perfect, b
ut it gets the job done and two people without a common language can communicate!  Technology is so amazing!

Because I have been to 13 countries, I do have friends around the world.  Another trick I have for translating things is just ask if I need a short translation or if it's something important.  (A friend needed some adoption papers written in Chinese translated for her.)  I once was baking a cake for a friend after six months in another country and I asked someone on Facebook how to write "Welcome Home, John" in that language.

Smart phones have made the world even smaller, and with that we can learn things so much more easily than we used to.  Gone are the days of me as a child walking to the library and checking out a book and record set of "Learn Italian the Easy Way".  Now I can just use an app or watch a video and be exposed to the video instantly!

U.S. Cellular offers a free Parent / Child agreement printable that you should seriously take a look at. So many times using a cellular device safely, wisely, and courteously is a difficult conversation, but it doesn't need to be.  Just click the button below for your FREE printable about talking to your child about smart phone and Internet safety.

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