Play Ball… En Español!

Posted on 31. Mar, 2015 by in Events, Language Learning, Product Recommendations

Fear not, sports fans. We may be wrapping up the Multilingual Madness Tournament, but baseball season is just around the corner.

This year, the Major League Baseball season will not commence with an international game as it has in previous years, so we’ve taken it upon ourselves to add a little international flavor to opening day! What better way to kick off America’s pastime than by learning some baseball terminology in the most widely used second language in the country?

Originally created for a professional baseball organization, these Spanish baseball lessons have a little something for everyone. Baseball fans and Hispanophiles alike can enjoy beginner lessons on basic game vocabulary and game rules. Those looking for a bit more of a challenge can use this intermediate lesson on baseball procedures.

spanish baseball

So gather your amigos, throw some hamburguesas on the grill, and prepare for the big game… en español! And of course, “¡Pleibol!”

Interested in using this technology in your own classroom? Want to bring language learning to your customers or employees? Learn more about Transparent Language Online for schools, libraries, corporate organizations, or simply contact us!

Not Improving? Wrong.

Posted on 30. Mar, 2015 by in Language Learning

Itchy Feet: Benign Ignorance

My stepfather, Stan Hirsch, is a professional blues guitarist. His story is so classic it’s almost cliché: when he was ten years old he mowed lawns and raked leaves to save up money to buy his first guitar, and when he got it, he decided he wanted to be brilliant at playing it. He wanted to be able to play anything on that instrument. He’s been playing ever since—every day for 56 years. One might think he’s reached his goal; he can indeed play just about anything, and some even consider him the best blues guitarist in America. Yet still he practices at least four hours a day, every single day, and not just because he loves it. He wants to get better. He wants to be the best he possibly can.

Whenever I got frustrated with something I was trying to do, feeling like I wasn’t getting any better, he would say “that’s just how it is.” Learning any kind of skill puts a weird distance between your self-awareness and your abilities. The more you work at something, the less apparent your progress becomes—to yourself, anyway.

It’s much like when someone you know gets a puppy or kitten or has a child. You’ll probably notice this creature balloon in size every time you see it. “Amazing!” you remark. “Last time I saw you, you were only thiiiiis big!” But the owner or parent just shrugs. “Really?” they’ll say. “I didn’t even notice.” The same illusion is at work here. Our close perspective prevents us from seeing what’s changed. The progress is so minute we can no longer see it.

But every day, that kitten is getting a little bit bigger, and every day, my stepfather is getting a little bit better at guitar.

So it is with you and your language learning. At the beginning, you’re improving in leaps and bounds—today you can say “hello” and “what’s your name,” tomorrow you’ll tell time and ask directions! But the more you learn, the less obvious your progress becomes, until you become all but blind to it.

When that happens, you need an outside perspective to break the spell. Sometimes it’s a break in the pattern (“hey, the ticket seller didn’t immediately switch to English that time!”), or it could be a new situation (“I’ve never had to use that word before, but it just came out of my mouth like magic!”). Sometimes it’s just the simple pleasure of ordering a beer and absolutely flabbergasting whoever you’re with (see above comic).

Whether you practiced 100 vocab words today or just five, whether you talked to 25 people today or just two, whether you gave a rousing speech at a banquet hall or just ordered a couple brews in the local watering hole; you’re always getting better.

How about you? Are you finding progress difficult to notice, or do you still get a kick out of every little improvement?

Transparent Language Library Spotlight: Jacksonville Public Library

Posted on 25. Mar, 2015 by in Language Learning, Product Recommendations, Reference/Usage Tips

In 2011, things got a little brighter for the Jacksonville Public Library system in sunny Jacksonville, Florida: they subscribed to Transparent Language Online, providing their customers free language-learning resources in more than 80 languages.

Inspired by his friends’ New Year’s Resolutions to learn a new language, Eric Soriano, a member of the library’s e-services team, began developing classes for library customers: “Learn a New Language for the New Year”. The class was offered several times throughout 2014 as a way to introduce customers to Transparent Language Online, including a demo of the features, a guide to signing up for an account, and time to explore the online learning platform independently. Turnout was decent, but trailed off throughout the year.

To better leverage the resources in Transparent Language Online, Eric collaborated with fellow e-service specialists Kat Minor and Flory Martinez to create language-specific classes. In December 2014, Jacksonville Public Library launched a 3-part French course, and a similarly structured Spanish course kicked off in January. The reaction was so exceptional that the library actually added 5 additional laptops to their classrooms, which already seat 15 students. Even with the additional support, the library had to turn away some interested customers.

Kat Minor gives an overview of the different features of Transparent Language for the French class.

Kat Minor gives an overview of the different features of Transparent Language for the French class.

According to Eric, customers are thrilled with the classes, particularly that access to Transparent Language Online is free to anyone with a library card. “Our instructors also like the language learning approach of the product in integrating culture. So we made sure to make that a big part of class. They like the discussions on French cuisine, Spanish telenovelas and for the last class, we  even did an interactive dance session using the steps of Merengue—a popular Latin American dance.”

Flory Martinez shows a video of a Latin American delicacy as part of the cultural immersion portion prior the start of the class.

Flory Martinez shows a video of a Latin American delicacy as part of the cultural immersion portion prior the start of the class.

They’re not stopping there. Believe it or not, Jacksonville is the largest city by area in the United States, so the branches of the Jacksonville Public Library have a lot of ground to cover, literally. To meet the needs and interests of such a large community, the library is expanding their language courses to new branches in new languages, including:

If you’re in the Jacksonville area—lucky you! Be sure to stop by your local library branch and sign up for your free Transparent Language Online account. Not in Jacksonville? We partner with hundreds of libraries throughout the country, so give your friendly librarian a call and let them know you’re interested in a Transparent Language Online account!