Monthly Archives: May 2013

Beware, Speaking a Foreign Language on an Airline may be Hazardous to your Health!

If this incident is true, then language speakers beware! What is the world coming to?!

Article from, May 26, 2013:

They weren’t drunk, nor were they fresh from a big sports victory. These Russians were kicked off their flight, they say, just for speaking Russian.

The six were headed to an anniversary party in Las Vegas last Thursday, reports 10News, when an airline worker aboard their Spirit Airlines flight approached them prior to the plane’s departure and escorted them off the plane.

“He just said, ‘This row needs to get up and leave now,'” said Sana Bitman, one of the passengers removed from the flight. “It was humiliating to be treated that way.”

Airline employees maintain the group had been talking too loud and ignored requests for them to lower their voices, though the Russians say they never heard any warnings.

Per Voice of Russia, they say they were speaking at a normal volume. A separate employee later indicated the stewardesses may have been intimidated by the group speaking a different language.

The group was given a full refund, notes CBS Las Vegas, though they missed their party in Las Vegas.

UPDATE: Sunday, 3:00 p.m. — A Spirit Airlines spokesperson issued the following statement to The Huffington Post regarding the incident:

We are conducting a complete review and reaching out to the customers. Our preliminary review shows that the customers were asked to deplane for loud and disruptive behavior.


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Foreign Language Study in India

From, May 27, 2013:

It’s not all Greek and Latin, but much more. The youths of the city are showing a bent for many foreign languages.

“I like learning new languages. I don’t intend to study abroad but knowledge of a foreign language is always helpful,” says Hadley D’Souza, a student of St. Aloysius College. Hadley is learning French and has expressed a desire to learn Arabic, Spanish, Hebrew and Latin. So expect to hear more bonjour, guten morgan and buenos dias — good morning in French, German and Spanish.

And why not. As Larkins D’Souza, co-ordinator, Alliance Francaise de Mangalore, says people now have a more global outlook and foreign languages provide an edge in employment opportunities. For example, BPOs can get contacts with French-speaking countries and in six months Canadian visas will require a compulsory A2-level certification. For Edward Mascarenhas, 49, who is associated with the U.N. Mission in the technical field, learning French is a job requirement as his next assignment is in Africa where French is widely spoken. He says that although the pronunciation is a bit tricky, it’s “not bad”.

Varadaraj Nayak, a private German tutor, says that students seeking higher studies abroad and dependant-spouse visa applicants constitute most of his student population.

He says most engineering students prefer Germany for higher studies as it provides inexpensive and top quality education. Nitin Immanuel, who studied automotive engineering in Sweden agrees. “Studying in a country with an established industry definitely helps university students as they invest a lot in research.”

Rajni Lobo Patrao, a private Spanish tutor who worked with a Bangalore-based IT firm for eight years, says that people aren’t aware of the scope of Spanish, which is spoken in about 28 countries.

Alliance Francaise and The Moegling Institute of German language are the only two official centres of foreign languages in Mangalore. There are private tutors like Mr. Nayak and Ms. Patrao but many who are interested aren’t aware of such classes.

Nobert Lobo, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, St. Aloysius College, says the knowledge of foreign languages opens up many employment opportunities. As the environment now is both multicultural and multilingual, a person who knows a foreign language will make a better colleague and a better employee.

No demand: VC

T.C. Shivashankara Murthy, Vice Chancellor, Mangalore University, says the university do not offer master’s course in foreign languages because there is no demand for it.

“But if there are 15 students, we are willing to prepare the syllabus and regulations, and send them to the government for approval,” he says.

Dr. Murthy says a group of teachers had approached him with a proposal to form a foreign language association but all future plans depended on student response.

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Following By Example: Public Officials Should Learn Foreign Languages

How many public officials do you know who can speak a language other than their own? Not many, I think. I agree with Mr. Steed. It would be to the benefit of public officials to communicate with foreign counterparts in a different language. Maybe it will improve diplomacy? The following article reflects the views of William Steed in, May 26, 2013:

Teachers love enthusiastic students who want to learn, and Australia’s language teachers are no different. A group of language advocates has called for Australian politicians to set a good example and learn Asian languages. Will Steed explains.

It is no new thing to call for more people in Australia to learn languages. This time, the call has a narrow target: the politicians who manage our country. As much as we might not like to admit it, we, as a country, think of our politicians as a certain sort of role model – though perhaps only in some domains. When they endorse an idea, whether good or bad, other people tend to start liking that idea. When they shun an idea, others follow suit.

The Language and Cultures Network of Australian Universities (LCNAU) has called for the politicians to set an example and learn Asian languages. If politicians are seen publicly using Asian languages, they say, it will encourage others to put in the effort to learn them also. The opposite is also true: when politicians do not use other languages in public, it suggests that it is not important to learn and use other languages.

Kevin Rudd provided the example, and it was a source of reactions from fascination to ridicule to apathy. Since he took a back seat role, few, if any public figures in Australia have used other languages publicly.

The call from LCNAU is specific to Asian languages, but in reality, any language use by public figures (be they politicians, media, or just plain celebrities) is good for the cause of demystifying monolingualism. What is important is that Australians learn that speaking, reading, hearing and writing other languages is not magical, nor is it impossible. Learning a language well can be difficult, but it is worth the effort.

Australia has a wealth of linguistic potential in its immigrant communities and their descendants, indigenous communities, and those who have studied languages in school and university, but their potential is hidden away. People speak all sorts of languages in their homes and in their acquaintance, but it rarely becomes public language. Even when employed to use their language skills, they work in the background. With the example of public figures themselves using language skills in public, others, young and old, have a better reason to put in the effort to learn a second language, and less reason to be suspicious or in awe of those who have done so.

Foreign Languages, Monoli

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2013 Annual ACTFL Convention

Teachers of Foreign Languages: Don’t forget to register for the upcoming ACTFL annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, November 22-24, 2013. Details on the convention can be found at

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Bridge to Award Scholarships for Americans to Learn Portuguese

From PR Web, May 25, 2013:

Bridge will award 25 intensive Portuguese scholarships at the NAFSA international education conference in May of this year to encourage foreign language study in the U.S.

Over thirty years after the publication of the book The Tongue-Tied American: Confronting the Foreign Language Crisis, the majority of Americans still remain monolingual. In his remarks to the Foreign Language Summit held at the University of Maryland on December 8, 2010, U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, pointed out that “The United States is a long way from being the multi-lingual society that so many of our economic competitors are”, stating that only 18% of Americans report speaking a foreign language. This is not surprising considering the following statistics:

Only 25% of elementary schools in the US offer foreign language instruction
Only 18% of American K-12 students are enrolled in a foreign language course
Only 16% of four-year US higher education institutions require that all of their graduates study a foreign language.

The de-emphasis on language learning in U.S. education has become a hot topic in the field of international education, most recently evidenced by The Forum on Education Abroad’s organization of a Fireside Dialogue on the role of language learning in study abroad. The weekend event consisted of rigorous debate by leaders in the language field about the role of language learning in education abroad and importance of having foreign language skills for success in today’s globalized world.

“It seems that everyone in higher education is talking about cultural competence as an essential skill for the 21st century, yet few Americans seem to recognize that learning a foreign language is a direct pathway to developing intercultural skills.” states Lisa Rooney, Vice President of Teacher Training and Education Abroad at Bridge, and one of the invited participants in the Dialogue. “For some reason there exists a disconnect between the two.”

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), on the other hand, has identified the connection between language learning and the development of cultural competency and global awareness, and in conjunction with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, has even created a 21st Century Skills World Languages Map that illustrates the intersection of the core subject of world languages with essential skills for the 21st century. P21 recognizes that “Language education not only contributes to students’ career and college readiness, it also helps develop the individual as language learners take on a new and more invigorating view of the world. This is what makes the language student a 21st Century skilled learner!”

In order to bring more attention to the American language deficit at the upcoming annual NAFSA conference in St. Louis, MO, the largest conference for the field of international education, Bridge has decided to award 25 intensive Portuguese scholarships for study at their school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. When asked why the language chosen was Portuguese, Bridge responded that learning Portuguese is becoming more and more important for many reasons, especially for the business world, as highlighted in a recent article published in Language Magazine.

Bridge has also partnered with Brazilian universities in order to promote the study of Portuguese, including the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado-FAAP in Sao Paulo, one of the top universities in Brazil to offer extensive Portuguese language and Brazilian history and culture programs. When asked why students today should learn Portuguese, FAAP’s Academic Coordinator for Language and Culture, Professor Silvia Burim, pointed out that “Portuguese is the third most spoken European language in the world […], the sixth most spoken language worldwide, the fifth most spoken language on the web and the third most used language on Facebook. The search for Portuguese courses has grown significantly due to Brazil’s position in the economical world scenario.”

“We hope that awarding 25 scholarships will put the spotlight on the importance of language learning in general, and Portuguese study specifically, amongst leaders in international education, but we know that there is a lot more work to be done.” Rooney stated. “We invite others to join Bridge in our advocacy efforts, with the ultimate intention of molding a new America that is no longer tongue-tied.”

About Bridge: Founded in 1983, Bridge Linguatec, Inc d/b/a/Bridge is a world leader in language education abroad. An international company with headquarters in Denver, Colorado, and affiliate centers in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile, Bridge offers a wide spectrum of language related products and services, including language training and immersion programs, teacher training and development courses, language testing, translation and interpretation services, international student recruitment and cross-cultural travel programs including international service learning, internships, language study and teaching English abroad.

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England’s Higher Education Council to Boost Language Learning

From, May 21, 2013:

From August 2013, a consortium led by the University of Southampton will deliver a three-year programme which builds upon the achievements of the Routes into Languages activities [Note 1] by stimulating new ideas and partnerships to address the challenges arising from reforms in schools and higher education.

The new programme will encourage greater collaboration between universities, schools and employers, with the aim of raising aspirations and attainment of students in secondary schools and higher education. Activities will include events, the appointing of student ambassadors and sustained interventions such as programmes of languages in context and a national language-related Spelling Bee competition. There will also be a focus on increasing participation in work and study abroad, and promoting career opportunities and employability for language students.

Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, said:

‘Modern language skills are highly prized by employers. This additional funding will help thousands of prospective students learn more about the opportunities available, to gain a competitive edge in a global economy.’

Chris Millward, HEFCE Associate Director, said:

‘We are very pleased to continue our support for this important programme to raise demand from young people to study modern foreign languages. Employers have consistently highlighted the importance of languages and intercultural skills within a globalised labour force. The new programme’s activities will complement our recent funding settlement for the year abroad by promoting language-based studies, and study and work abroad, to students in all disciplines’.

Professor Mike Kelly, Director of the Routes into Languages programme, said:

‘I am delighted that we shall be able to build on the remarkable achievements of Routes in promoting the study of languages. The HEFCE investment will facilitate a unique programme of collaboration between more than 60 universities across England, working with hundreds of schools and thousands of students. The new programme, co-ordinated by the team at the University of Southampton, will make a real impact on the take-up of languages and of opportunities to work and study abroad’.

Professor Jim Coleman, Chair of the University Council of Modern Languages (UCML), said:

‘HEFCE’s initiative underlines the enormous importance of language study in this country, and UCML’s members enthusiastically welcome this renewed support. University language departments are totally committed to championing language learning in schools, to maximising outward mobility and to increasing the take-up of languages by students in all disciplines. We are renewing language curricula and expanding access to provide graduates with the full range of capabilities which the job market demands. HEFCE’s backing helps us enormously in achieving these goals – this is a great day for languages’.

HEFCE is continuing to support modern foreign languages within its programme of support for strategically important and vulnerable subjects (SIVS) [Note 2]. Following advice from the SIVS Advisory Group [note 3], HEFCE is considering how collaborative provision may sustain the modern foreign language supply in higher education, despite the continued decline in applications to modern foreign language degree courses.

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Birmingham, Michigan, Public Schools May Lose Foreign Language Requirement

What a terrible idea to eliminate the foreign language requirement in high school! What are these officials thinking?!

Art Aisner in Birmingham Patch, May 15, 2013:

Hoping to free up more options for students when it comes to high school electives, the House Education Committee recently approved two bills in Lansing that would eliminate the foreign language requirement for graduation.

The Birmingham Public Schools requires two high school credits of foreign languages, where one of those can be earned at middle school, said district spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson.

The district also notes foreign languages as an important aspect to any college admission process in its College and Career Planning Guide, according to the district website. The competitive, highly-competitive and most-competitive college admissions screeners require two years or more.

The World Language Department of Birmingham Public Schools offers German, French, Japanese, and Spanish with a mission to enable graduates to participate more fully in the global economy and job market.

By eliminating the two-year foreign language requirement, the proposal hopes to give students not headed to college more vocational options in school, but the Michigan Department of Education opposes the bill, according to the Detroit News.

“Students, regardless of post-secondary plans, will benefit tremendously with at least one additional language to be competitive in the global marketplace,” spokesman Martin Ackley said in the report. “World languages is essential for all of our students.”

House Bills 4465-4466 would also modify required credits in physical education, the arts, career and technical education, science and math, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

The bill awaits a full house vote.

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