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Jo Kay - Email me!
Based in: Wollongong, NSW, Australia
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Friday, January 20, 2006

Learning Languages Online and Multi-lingual stuff:ED

Learning Languages Online

Lately, I've been downloading Mp3s from Chinesepod.com in an effort to learn a little bit of Chinese, and also to gain some inspiration for some of the podcasting I'm hoping we might do @ the Illawarra Institute in 2006. I've also used Chinesepod.com as an example of great podcasting in many of the workshops held at the TLRU in late 2005.

I'm really enjoying the free service from Chinesepod.com. The podcasts are very engaging, entertaining, funny and informative; and I really like the fact that I'm hearing native speakers from Shanghai, rather than an English or American accent.

Anyway, a few days ago Michael Nelson over @ Live and Let Learn wrote a great post about learning German via podcast @ Deutsche Welle, which inspired me to look a bit further into the 'learning languages' tools and services that are available online.

All I can say is WOW! I discovered some reeaallly interesting stuff......

Learning Dutch

My Mum's family came to Australia from the Netherlands in the 1950s. (You can read about it on the HREOC website.) So, I've learnt some dutch from my family. (especially my Oma, pictured on the right) However, I have to admit my vocab is pretty sad, and my speaking skills even sadder. All is not lost tho! I can learn Dutch @ the following sites:
I also found some interesting Dutch vocab software for free download.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a conversational type site for learning dutch, nor any podcasts. Perhaps I need to teach Oma how to use iTunes and my audio recording tools!! ;-)

Learning Japanese

With all the fabulous Japanese Anime out there to watch, Kabuki to see, Bonsai to grow, Japanese Mythology to read, and awesome Japanese gadgets to buy, I'd love to learn some Japanese.

Anyway, I searched around a bit and found lots of interesting resources including:
  • Free Japanese Lesson! provides some great info on Japanese characters, but its lacking in the audio department.
  • MIT Japanese Language Program is pretty good - this is course material from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and includes both notes and some audio files.
  • Tokyo Cube - the language activities here are a little limited, but this site is also full of cool stuff about Japanese culture.
Learning French

I learnt French in Year 7 at Highschool, but I didn't enjoy it much and dropped it as soon as I was allowed to so I could spend even more time in the computer labs and art rooms! Maybe that was because the French teacher taught us from a text book written in 1963!

If only we'd had S├ębastien as our teacher, I'm sure I would paid much more attention!! ;-) Check out The French PodClass.

This blog is well organised and includes all sorts of goodies including Podcasts, exercises and transcripts in PDF format and even some Vocab videos in Mp4 format! I like the way S├ębastien includes 'musical breaks' and movie reviews in his podcasts too - French music is so cool!

Learning Russian

My step-grandmother is Russian, (pictured right with my Opa) and I love listening to her speak Russian with her daughter and sister. If only I could understand a word or two!!

There are some great resources for learning Russian online. My favourite find was A Spoonful of Russian by Natalia Worthington, who says she wants to create love for the Russian language in my listeners and motivate them to learn more! You can listen to her podcasts via Odeo. There's also an interesting interview with Natalia about why and how she podcasts on The World.org. (Also includes a bit about her experience of Hurricane Katrina and losing her house...she's on leave from podcasting while they rebuild!!)

So much to learn, so little time/ bandwidth!! ;-)

There are lots of other great sites for learning other languages including Italian, Farsi, Spanish, Portuguese and Korean, to name but a few.

Multi-lingual stuff:ED

If you click on the little flags now appearing at the bottom of every post on stuff:ED, you can read my posts in a range of languages. Cool huh!!?

After reading about Leigh Blackall's initial attempt at implementing translation tools on Teach and Learn Online using Google Translate, and his subsequent success using WordLingo, I've finally got my act together and have implemented WordLingo on stuff:ED.

For the geeks out there - there are some great instructions on how to implement WordLingo on Blogger available @ Digital Inspiration. (Sooo easy! Go on - implement it on your blog too!! ;-p)

Anyway, I'd be really interested to hear from any native-speakers of French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese have to say about the quality of the translations that WordLingo spits out.