Why We’re Giving Away Our Language Technology

Posted on 20. May, 2015 by in Company News, Language Learning

According to Ethnologue, there are about 7,100 living languages spoken around the world right now. Unfortunately, only 100 or so languages receive any commercial interest. So, what about the other 7,000?7000LP

There are people and organizations out there who care deeply about learning and preserving the other 7,000 languages. We at Transparent Language care deeply about teaching and promoting them. That’s why we launched the 7,000 Languages Project back in 2013. By bringing together their language expertise and our technology, we’re creating compelling language-learning courses in dozens of underserved languages, from Balinese to Ojibwe.

So why are we simply giving away our technology to these partners? Our CEO, Michael Quinlan believes that “losing a language is like pulling out one more thread from the human tapestry. It flattens our cultural landscape.” We trust that saving a language preserves a part of who we’ve been and who we are.

Hear more from Michael and see what happens when we put our technology in the hands of experts and advocates for less common languages in his TEDx Talk given in March 2015 at TEDxTacoma.

To learn more about the 7000 Languages Project, including how to become a partner, please visit: http://www.transparent.com/about/7000-languages-project.html.

The ABCs of Language Learning: Transparent Language Online Alphabet Courses

Posted on 18. May, 2015 by in Company News, Language Learning, Product Announcements

Learning the alphabet of an unfamiliar language can be as easy as A, B, C… literally! In the completely redesigned Transparent Language Online, you can dive right in to a new language, regardless of its writing system, with the help of our alphabet courses. Letters are quite literally the building blocks of a language, so alphabet learning is the most obvious way to build a strong foundation in your new language.

russian alphabet course

Master the Russian alphabet in our new and improved alphabet courses!

Sure, you can learn to speak a language without learning the alphabet, but in this day and age, communication relies just as much on writing as it does on speaking, thanks to e-mails and text messaging. At the earliest stages, familiarizing yourself with a new alphabet allows you to sound out words on road signs or product labels. As you progress in the language, knowledge of the native script gives you an all-access pass to everything from native literature to e-mail communication.

Even learners of Latin-based languages can benefit from studying the alphabet, of course. Sure, the Spanish alphabet looks a lot like the English alphabet, but did you know the Spanish “j” is pronounced like an English “h”? Our alphabet courses are designed to help you master the spelling-to-sound relationship through a suite of activities supported by native speaker audio. You can practice matching the letter to its sounds and vice versa!

japanese alphabet course

Learn both Hiragana and Katakana in our Japanese Alphabet Course!

Before you can transition to learning more advanced concepts, including vocabulary and grammar, you must have a strong grasp on the alphabet. Singing the alphabet song in another language, while super fun, isn’t quite going to cut it. Our full-length courses are designed to help you retain the letters and their sounds in the long run. And according to some of our happy customers, it’s working:

“I felt that [the Alphabet Learner activity] was the first that really challenged my retrieval skills.  I liked how it drilled me more on the letters I got wrong.”

“[The Recognize and Say It activity] was the best exercise for me, as I can usually choose correctly when given a multiple choice, but when I have to come up with the answer from scratch is when I truly know I have learned something.”

Take an assessment at the end of the course to see how well you know the alphabet!

Take an assessment at the end of the course to see how well you know the alphabet!

Believe it or not, Transparent Language Online is the only language-learning program on the market to include full-length courses to introduce you to do the alphabet. Do yourself (and your language skills!) a favor and try out our alphabet courses in the free trial of Transparent Language Online. Courses are currently available in Arabic, Armenian, Chechen, Dari, Farsi, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Iraqi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Mongolian, Punjabi, Pashto, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Urdu, and more, with more on the way!



Losing Your Mother Tongue? Good!

Posted on 13. May, 2015 by in Language Learning

Itchy Feet: Diminishing Returns

When I first moved abroad, I’d heard the tales, as I’m sure you have: the stories of foreigners or expats so immersed, so integrated in their new home culture, so saturated by the foreign language that they actually began to forget their native tongue. Now that, I thought, is brilliant! Surely, these talented language learners must be operating on a level beyond mere fluency—their adopted language has actually begun to displace their mother tongue, seeping into every corner of their subconscious brain like a glorious multilingual parasite.

Oh, what I would give to play host to such a parasite myself, but alas! It could never happen to me. I’m an English native speaker, after all, and it’s simply not possible to escape English for long enough to start actually losing proficiency in it—certainly not in Europe, and certainly certainly not in Berlin, where some days I hear more English on the streets than German. I’d have to migrate to small Dorf and rent a Zimmer from an elderly Frau and her dachshund before my English began to suffer.

Or so I thought.

I recently took a C1 course in German, but I never took the test, so I’d say I’m at a comfortable B2 / uncomfortable C1-level. By some definitions, that’s fluent, but I’d call it borderline at best. It’s certainly nowhere near mother tongue-level, which I believed it would have to be to displace my English. I speak plenty of English throughout my day, as a good portion of my friends are either English native speakers or I don’t know their native language, so it’s not like I’m out of practice.

And yet, recently, I’ve been finding myself unable to produce certain English words.

It’s not quite as bad as the comic above, but in several conversations recently I’ve been at a loss. I know the word I’m thinking of exists, and I know I used to know how to use it, but there’s simply a glaring black hole in my brain where this word used to be. It’s as though my English vocabulary occasionally puts up a “Gone Fishin’” sign, and I’m left to grapple with rephrasing it.

It’s an experience I have all the time in the languages I’m learning—I learn a word, then don’t use it for a while and forget it, and I have to relearn it, or at least be reminded of it. But in English? That’s never happened before. This is scary, wonderful new territory for me. My only guess as to the cause is the aforementioned C1 course. I gorged myself on new vocabulary during that course, filling my flashcard app to the brim every evening and drilling them into my brain every morning. I guess my brain can only take so much. Or perhaps it’s temporary, and in a few weeks my German and English vocabulary can learn to peacefully coexist. Wouldn’t that be nice?

How about you? Have you lost bits and pieces of your native tongue as you cram more interesting languages into your noggin?