Expand Your Horizons

I’m going to say like I’ve said many times before…learning a new language opens doors.  Not only does a new language open doors, but it really broadens your horizons by giving you a larger cultural vocabulary and new experiences. 

We all know that learning a second (third or fourth) language is almost necessary with today’s global economy.  The internet has made instant global communication possible so now people in the business realm are working with many others from different countries and cultures.  All the more reason to begin language lessons now–whether you’re a seasoned business professional, someone just entering the business arena, or a student getting ready for exams–acquiring those second language skills can be extremely helpful!

I’m here to help with conversational lessons, getting prepared for meetings, or studying for your exam!

Book today!

los taxistas

It’s about that time….you know what time I mean…election time.  Well, Election Day is some nine months away but we get to hear about all the candidates, all the scandals, all the snide remarks….etc. And I will be the last one to give away my political views, but I do remember where I was this time four years ago.  I was in Cordoba, Argentina…studying abroad and only hearing news from the U.S. every few weeks.

And where did I hear most of that news from?  The taxi drivers.  They knew more about the American political system and government than the average American (sad, but true).  Almost every time I jumped in a taxi, the driver would begin a conversation…”¿De dónde vos?”  And once he found out I was an American I was grilled on my political views and knowledge of the candidates.

I was very intrigued by some of the conversations I had in a taxi cab and probably one of the best wasn’t about politics at all but about the American people.  Once while riding in a taxi, the driver asked me about where I was from in the U.S. and the states that I’d visited.  When I replied that I had only really been up and down the East Coast he asked, “Why is it that Americans can send their children to other countries when they haven’t avidly traveled their own?”  I have to admit I was struck dumb by his response.

At first I thought, well the U.S. is so big…and I only know a handful of people who have been to every state.  But in reality, Argentina is almost as long as the U.S. is wide and practically everyone travels all over the country by bus.  So, I guess the truth is (that most) American kids (and adults for that matter) do travel but we don’t have an extensive transport system…and only a vague concept of geography.  You can disagree with me, but ask a high school graduate to name all the capitals of every state and where to locate them on a map…better yet try other countries…and then we’ll talk.

After all my musings, I realized that the driver had a truly valid point.  So, as much as I wish I could be studying and romping around another country during this election period, I am thankful to be home and see it as an opportunity to learn more about the candidates, the economy, and government.  Thank you Mr. Taxi Cab Driver!

If I Had Six Months of Freedom

Backpack

If I had a six-month break from my life and access to some resources…I would travel. I would love to go back-packing in Latin America or Europe. Latin America is closer to my heart (I spent six-months studying abroad in Argentina) so that would probably be my first choice.

During my study-abroad experience (which I wouldn’t take back or change for anything) we ran into several people from the U.K., Australia, France, Germany, etc. who were doing just this–traveling for six-months or a year. I remember at that time of being so envious (yes it is a vice, but I have to be honest). Studying abroad has it’s advantages–obviously you’re completing your degree while experiencing the country, but you are in a classroom for the majority of your stay.

The idea of escaping your hectic life and meeting so many people along the way seems like such a romantic idea to me–and a true learning experience. The truth is we met more people traveling during our breaks in Argentina than we did during school. (I guess that would be pretty obvious!) So…if I had six-months to do whatever I pleased I would grab a backpack and a friend and head out for a trek!

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la inundación

Right now we’ve been getting (it seems like) almost a solid week of rain and grey days.  I guess the one good thing I can say is that it’s been nice and mild so far.  Anyway–these wet days remind me (in a way) of some of the rainy days I experienced in Córdoba, Argentina. 

In Córdoba, when it rains, it pours–literally.  I arrived in Argentina in early February 2008, the end of the Argentinean summer and we had a few days of really heavy rain.  So heavy that almost all the streets were flooded and taxis refused to drive on the streets because they didn’t want to get stuck in the river of water.  Yes, you could probably jump out the taxi window and go for a ‘not-so-refreshing swim.  I don’t blame the taxi drivers for not wanting to drive in that (taxi drivers are a whole other story).  Unfortunately, on one of the first river-street nights my friend and I decided to go to el cine.  We obviously didn’t realize how badly the streets would flood.  So, a taxi came to pick us up, then halfway through our trip to the theater the driver decided the roads were too bad and he told us to get out of the taxi.

Lesson Learned:

So, after (forging the river) walking back to our respective houses we decided that going out in the rain in Argentina was not such a good idea.

At least the rains in the southeast haven’t been as severe this week and hopefully my friend the sun will return soon!

The Impact of Learning a Second Language

I recently found a great article about the impact of a second language education on a student’s intellectual development.  The article entitled, Impact of Second language Education on Intellectual Development, Student Achievement, Socialization and Economic Potential of Student and Province”  states that there are 5 areas where a second language education has brought a significant change.  These areas are: 1) Intellectual pontential, 2) Scholastic Achievement, 3) The student’s first language, 4) Citizenship, and 5) Economic potential. 

Not surprisingly, children who begin learning a second language at a young age develop better reading comprehension skills, problem solving skills, and social abilities.  In addition, the second language enhances the child’s native language and could also contribute to a “multilingual capability.”

I’ve also learned through my own experience that learning a second language (or multiple languages) decreases chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s later in life.  A few years ago I worked as a Senior Caregiver for a company in South Carolina.  One of my clients at age 93 had a comparably sharper mind and wit than her peers–a blessing her daughter contributed to her mother’s knowledge of 5 different languages. 

The lesson of these stories teach is that it’s important for you to learn a second language–if you start young it will keep your mind younger longer AND if you haven’t started yet, it isn’t too late!  Make learning a second language part of your New Year’s Resolution!

Remember with S.T.A.T. Project your first lesson is always free!

Happy New Year!