It was a pretty busy week and weekend with many language learning wins!
With Zoom on the rise, parents like myself who are working from home can show up more (virtually, of course).
Last Week’s Language Learning Wins
On April 23rd, 2020 (Thursday) I attended a FREE virtual language learning conference hosted by Chatterbug. Donations went to the World Health Organization in its efforts against Covid-19.
Founders and CEOs from big language learning companies such as Lingoda, Babbel, LingQ, and Tandem were all there. Including Chatterbug, many of the companies are based in Germany (hence the GmbH instead of LLC).
Learning about Cultural Differences in Languages
Lots of great ideas and stories about language learning were brought up by both attendees and speakers. I found Lingoda’s CEO Michael Shangkuan’s insight into the difference between Japanese, Spanish, and German very interesting!
To give a quick recap of what he said, Japanese is an S-O-V (Subject-Object-Verb) language. Therefore, you have to be a good listener and wait until the end of what a speaker is saying to get the gist of the conversation.
On the other hand, English, German, and Spanish are S-V-O (Subject-Verb-Object), which, and I’m just paraphrasing, allows for more interruptions.
He also mentioned a grave translation mistake committed by an interpreter for George H.W. Bush back in the 90s when the U.S. was negotiating automobile trade with Japan.
そうですか “Sou desu ka” or Is that so? was mistakingly construed as meaning yes. Long story short, there was some confusion about whether Japan was going along with the U.S.’s trade deal.
But every Japanese language learner knows that it’s the equivalent of saying “uh-huh” or “mm-hm” in a conversation.
The Japanese language is really big on these utterances, otherwise known as 相槌（あいづち）”aizuchi” or giving responses (lit. hitting your partner).
Why? Well, as Michael said, listening is taken very seriously in Japanese culture!
There were many more wonderful examples like these but I wasn’t in and out of the presentations because I had to take care of my one-year-old son Chris.
But I’m glad I stuck around to the end because I got a great answer to my question about technology and multilingual parenting.
New Japanese Blog Project
Then I had a discovery call on Friday with a new client. We discussed some language learning SEO for their Japanese language blog! Very exciting stuff that’s right up my alley.
I’ve been very much on edge about finding work during these difficult times. With my husband being at home more, financial pressure is really coming down on me.
For everyone out these days that’s struggling, please keep going. My freelancers, my furloughed workers, everyone. One day at a time.
And seek community. I’m so happy I did for the language summit that I went to over the weekend.
Sisters Only Language Summit
Lastly, on April 25th, 2020 (Saturday), I logged onto the Sisters Only Language Summit. I found out about the event through Black Girls Learn Languages, a site founded by Shahidah Foster (Language Bae). It’s a great resource for black women studying languages. Language Bae also runs a Facebook group.
So what was the summit all about? A celebration of languages with presentations geared towards enriching our sisters.
This event was the boost I’ve been needing for learning languages as a black woman.
It’s obvious that there aren’t many spaces that celebrate or focus on the black experience for learning languages. This is something I’ve come to understand as a “marketing thing.”
But the desire for representation goes so much deeper than that.
Tamara Marie from Learn Spanish Con Salsa, Desta Haile from Languages Through Music and LeDonna J. from Discovering Languages all talked about language learning from the perspective of a black woman. It was unbelievably refreshing.
The summit itself was just one of those miracles I didn’t know I needed in my life until I got it.
Diving into the Last Month of April
And so we dive in to the end of April!
Q2 is still in its early stages. I’ve been thinking a lot about my business goals and my language goals, which coincide a lot.
I want to pick up on German.
But then I remember I still have to focus on Spanish and Japanese.
So, balancing it all takes some work. But hey, I’m sure there’s a Japanese site out there for learning German! I actually like watching anime with Spanish subtitles now so I’m keeping up with both languages.
Stay creative during quarantine! There’s always a community out there willing to embrace language learners from all walks of life.
Have a great week.