Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Street-Smart Language Learning's most popular posts in 2010

As we head into 2011, I thought I'd take a quick look back at which 2010 posts you, the readers of this blog, read the most over the past year (well, actually since April when I added Google Analytics, but who's counting?). Without further ado, here are 2010's ten most-read posts on this blog:

10. Anki + RhinoSpike = Utter awesomeness: Copy and paste MP3's URL and Anki does the rest. An explanation of how Anki, a spaced-repetition learning system, can automatically add audio recordings from RhinoSpike or any URL to flashcards.

9. Rosetta Stone teaches Michael Phelps grammatical gender in genderless Chinese. One of my personal favorites, watch an eager-to-please Michael Phelps flub being a paid sponsor for Rosetta Stone.

8. Are high school students wasting time learning foreign languages?, covering a few articles on how ineffective high-school and college language learning is in the U.S.

7. Double your learning with practice + exposure as compared to practice alone, discussing the research that led to that conclusion.

6. Get audio recordings of any foreign language text for free, which explains how to get free audio recordings using RhinoSpike.

5. Getting to Grammar: Learn grammar through an ad hoc spaced-repetition system. An explanation of my ad hoc spaced-repetition system for learning grammar.

4. Use music, TV, movies, radio and the internet to ingrain your target language in your brain. A guest post by Susanna Zaraysky, where she explains some of the tips from her book, Language is Music.

And a drum roll for the top three, after the jump...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Google Goggles: Take a pic of words, convert to text and then translate using Google translate

After Benny mentioned Google Goggles in the comments of my post on QuestVisual's Word Lens app, I decided that I was going to have to check the app out.

The basic idea behind Google Goggles—at least as far as language learning goes (it does a bunch of other stuff too)—is that you use your smartphone's camera to get a picture of something written, which the app then converts to text and lets you translate via Google Translate. Due to its apparent limitations on the use of Japanese, I unfortunately didn't find it to be very useful.

Friday, December 24, 2010

How to say "Merry Christmas" in 10 languages

My daughter and I decided to tackle "Merry Christmas" in 8 languages (Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish) in this video:

The song you hear in the background is of course Feliz Navidad by José Feliciano, with lyrics in Spanish and English.

And because no one wants to learn how to say something from a non-native speaker, and because I needed two more languages to round out to 10 (the above plus Korean and Russian), I went ahead and got recordings from native speakers on RhinoSpike, which you'll find after the jump.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Point your iPhone's cam at text and get an immediate in-image translation

If any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, I've got some language-learning magic for you (via Master of 500 Hats). QuestVisual's Word Lens app for the iPhone allows you to point your iPhone's camera at text and it's automatically translated to another language - in your iPhone's screen right before your very eyes, as if what you're seeing through the camera were actually written in the translated language.

My words don't do it justice. Behold:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wanna be a CEO? You'll need to speak at least two languages

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) thinks you're going to have a hard time becoming a CEO, but those of us who can speak a foreign language will have a leg up. From CBS Money Watch:
The BLS projects that there will be 5,500 fewer CEOs by 2018. To boost your odds, consider Rosetta Stone; CEO candidates should be fluent in at least two languages, says Patricia Tate of the BLS. So if you speak Spanish, Arabic, or Chinese, félicitations.
I'd say that they're dead on about the economic utility of languages, but I guess CBS didn't get the memo that Rosetta Stone alone is pretty unlikely to make you fluent.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Lyrics to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town" in Chinese 圣诞老人进城的歌词

A little bit ago I pointed you to a collection of Chinese Christmas songs, but noted that I'd been unsuccessful in tracking down the lyrics. Well, a Chinese friend of mine (谢你啊!) helped me track down the lyrics to the Chinese version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town (圣诞老人进城). So, without further ado, here they are:

嘿小朋友,你不要怕Hēi xiǎopéngyou, nǐ búyào pàHey, kid, don't you worry
圣诞老人进城了Shèngdànlǎorén jìn chéng leSanta Claus is coming to town
带来礼物,带来欢笑Dàilái lǐwù, dàilái huānxiàoTo bring presents and to bring cheer

赠送给你小朋友Zèngsòng gěi nǐ, xiǎopéngyouHe'll give you presents, kid
爱学习乖宝宝Ài xuéxí guāi bǎobǎoGood kid who loves studying
礼物给他一大包Lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāoHe gives him a sack of presents
礼物给他一大包Lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāoHe gives him a sack of presents

The two stanzas repeat a bunch of times, and at the end they repeat the last line of the first stanza a bunch of times.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Are video games hurting your learning?

That looks like it might be the case. From the New York TImes:
The researchers looked at how the use of these media affected the boys’ brainwave patterns while sleeping and their ability to remember their homework in the subsequent days. They found that playing video games led to markedly lower sleep quality than watching TV, and also led to a “significant decline” in the boys’ ability to remember vocabulary words.
So video game use up, vocab retention down. Definitely not good for a language learner, but I'd like to see what happens when that video game is in your target language. That could very well turn these results on their head.