Practice what you preach, right? For professional linguists and casual language learners, we preach reviewing early and reviewing often, so we’re take our advice and looking back on our year.
What have we been working on?
- CL-150 Cohorts: To help professional linguists sustain and strengthen their language skills, we’ve expanded the CL-150 Cohorts. Learners can enroll in a CL-150 Cohort and receive a weekly sustainment lesson in their target language, at their proficiency level, that works on any phone, tablet or laptop. Lessons are created based on current, compelling, and professionally relevant current events. In 2018, we created Cohorts in 17 languages, most of which offer lessons at ILR 1+, 2, 2+ and 3.
- CL-150 Phrase of the Day: Professional linguists strengthening or sustaining their language skills with the CL-150 can now subscribe to the Phrase of the Day service. The Phrase of the Day is created for professional government linguists by professional linguists. High-level, domain-specific phrases, collocations, and idioms are sourced from agency and inter-agency publications, policy journals, local news articles, and other authentic sources. Phrases are supported by native speaker pronunciation, example sentences, and occasional culture and grammar notes and serve as a compelling reminder to engage with the target language every day.
Transparent Language Online Updates
- ESL Materials: Our most requested language? English! To better support the schools and libraries who serve large ELL populations, we are continuously adding to our English learning materials. In 2018, we added:
- American Citizenship Test Prep: Created with the input of ESL professionals and public librarians, our American Citizenship Test Prep course is designed with the goal of preparing test takers to comfortably answer all 100 civics questions. More than that, the course is intended to truly teach learners about the American government, history, and culture, including key vocabulary words.
- Advanced Conversations in English: The Advanced Conversations in English courses are the most advanced materials among our English offerings. They were created for high-intermediate to advanced English learners—both students and professionals—who are interested in business and medical topics and want to work with more complex texts, speech patterns, and cultural nuances. Advanced Conversations in English contains 16 hours of study (16 topical units) covering three main topics: medical, finance, and sales and marketing.
- English for Thai Speakers: An English Essentials course for native Thai speakers is now available, covering essential survival topics including greetings and introductions, asking for help, dealing with money, and going shopping. The course is also available for native speakers of 26 other languages—more information on the available languages and other available ESL materials can be found here.
- Introduction to Latin: While not one of our most requested languages, there was a lot of excitement at ACTFL 2018 about our new in-depth Latin course. The Introduction to Latin course is a two-parter: Introduction to Latin Vocabulary and Introduction to Latin Grammar. The vocabulary sections introduce basic but essential grammar topics, syntax, and morphology and ease the learner in while teaching as much of the most common and useful vocabulary as possible. The grammar section of the course includes one corresponding grammar lesson for each vocabulary lesson. The grammar lessons cover most of the basic topics that would be covered in a first-year Latin course, including declension, case, conjugation, plurals, and more.
Where have we been working?
We serve schools, libraries, government agencies, and individuals around the world, so naturally our team does a bit of traveling.
This year our team traveled to 15 states to meet with and present to language teachers, professional linguists, librarians, and others who share our passion for language teaching and learning. Highlights included a very busy booth at ACTFL, the American Library Association, and Public Library Association Conferences (did you know most public libraries in Ohio, Iowa, Tennessee, and many libraries in other states offer free access to Transparent Language Online?)
What’s been on our minds?
How to Learn and Teach Language More Efficiently
Whether you are a professional linguist or just a casual learner, it can be hard to make time for studying and practicing a language. That’s why we put a lot of thought and research into how we present and teach language.
This year, we’ve been thinking about how to teach alphabet more efficiently, so learners can get to “the good stuff” faster and maintain that early motivation that learners feel. We believe integrated, content-agnostic alphabet learning achieves exactly that.
Balancing time spent on vocabulary vs. grammar has also been front of mind. Ideally, every learner should strive to build both a large vocabulary and a strong foundation of grammar knowledge. But where to begin? Studies have shown that, of all the factors contributing to language proficiency, vocabulary size is by far the single most significant factor, accounting for anywhere from 50% to 70% of proficiency gains depending on the language and the skill being studied. In 2019, we’ll be making improvements to our Learned Vocabulary system to help learners build—and maintain—their vocabulary.
Of course, vocabulary alone is insufficient. In our language training programs, we continue to have students practice and master vocabulary outside of class, arriving in class prepared to use and expand on that vocabulary through contextual, communicative activities.
Emphasizing Language Education in Schools
In a STEM-focused world, we’ve been thinking about the need to emphasize languages as a relevant, critical skill for young learners. We kicked off 2018 with a blog post called Sorry STEM, Google just made the case for more foreign language education, which has been circulated to more than 100,000 members of the language community this year. We cited a Google employee study that measured the most important qualities in Google’s top leaders—surprisingly (or perhaps not), the most valued skills were not tech skills but soft skills like communication, empathy, critical thinking, and understanding others’ perspectives. Those are all byproducts of language learning!
It’s no secret that the US faces a serious language deficit, which may be worsened by the national emphasis on STEM in the last decade. As an enabler of success in STEM fields, we are pushing for more parity between language and STEM in schools.
Ready to learn with us in 2019? Find out more about what we do at Transparent Language and how our online platforms can help you reach your language goals.