The Winter Games – Languages at Sochi 2014

sochi 2014This year, the Olympic Winter Games will be the held for first time  in the Russian Federation – the Soviet Union hosted the 1980  Summer Games in Moscow. The host city Sochi has a population of 400,000 people and is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region in Russia. [Read more…]

Happy Chinese New Year 2014!

night-life-new-york-chinatownHappy Chinese New Year to all of our readers!

Chinese New Year took place on 31st January this year, but the biggest day for celebrations in the UK is today, 2nd February. London’s Chinatown is set to hold the best New Year event in the country, with other big cities such as Birmingham and Manchester to follow suit.

2014 marks the Year of the Horse, with 2013 being the Year of the Snake and 2015 the Year of the Goat. This represents the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and the years cycle on a 12 year rotation.

Chinese New Year is typically celebrated in China with large family meals. It is also traditional to clean the entire house to make way for the good luck that will come with the New Year. Some people also give gifts of money in red paper envelopes to signify wealth, prosperity and good fortune.

In countries with a significant Chinese population, it is normal for Chinese New Year to be a public holiday to allow families to get together and celebrate.

Each of the days of the New Year celebrations is dedicated to a particular activity. For example, the first day is about welcoming the deities and scaring away the bad spirits with fireworks and firecrackers. On the 13th day, people eat a vegetarian diet to cleanse their bodies from the preceding days of festivities, while the 15th day, or the Lantern Festival, marks the end of the New Year celebrations.

Food is traditionally meat, fish and a series of vegetarian dishes eaten on different days of the New Year festivities. A hot pot often forms part of the reunion family meal to represent the coming together of the family, and dumplings are eaten as it is thought that the preparation represents packaging luck inside the dumplings.

If you have been celebrating Chinese New Year, we would love to hear all about it.

Find out more about cultural celebrations around the world>>

Check out our calendar of world events>>

Fashionistas: it’s time to learn a language

If you’re pursuing a career in fashion, it might be time to put the sewing machine to one side for a while and instead get yourself acquainted with a new language.

Wannabe fashionistas are being advised to learn another language to boost their chances of success in the truly global fashion industry. Whether your designer of choice is Chanel, Prada or Elie Saab, you will need to brush up on your language skills to get a major advantage in the fiercely competitive fashion workplace.

With suppliers and brands based all over the world, it isn’t enough to rely on English anymore. If you find yourself having to communicate with a factory in China or Bangladesh, impeccable conversational skills will be a must – but you won’t always be able to use English. Many clothing manufacturers aren’t based in cosmopolitan cities, and English may not be commonly spoken.

Furthermore, the most dedicated fashion followers travel all over the world to catch the biggest shows, to pitch their designs to the most famous fashion houses and to find the perfect materials for their next big project. It’s seriously impressive if you can hold a conversation with some of the industry’s most influential figures in their mother tongue.

It is just important to be able to communicate effectively in creative industries, such as fashion, as it is in scientific career paths. To fully express your visions and plans, you will need to broaden your vocabulary so that you can hold conversations with clients and win the admiration of others in the industry. With linguistic skills under your belt, you could quickly find yourself becoming indispensible and a crucial, well-respected member of the team.

In any career which involves a lot of travelling and communicating with colleagues and clients in other countries, strong language skills are highly beneficial. If you’re short on time, an online language learning course could be the perfect way to hone your ability, or you could browse our selection of language courses for business to help you conduct meetings and interact in a professional manner with your fellow fashionistas.

Read more about the importance of languages in the fashion industry>>

Find the perfect language course for business>>

Celebrate Chinese New Year 2014!

p_nightlightnewyorkchinatown2small

31st January 2014 is the start of the Chinese New Year.   This year is the Year of the Horse.   Start afresh and learn to speak one of the most important languages in the world – Mandarin Chinese. We introduce our top 5 ways to learn Mandarin, featuring some of the best and most innovative language providers in the world. [Read more…]

‘La Grande Belleza’ wins Best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes

This Sunday saw the Hollywood Foreign Press Associations annual celebration of excellence in film and TV – the Golden Globes. Glam celebrities lined the red carpet before collecting their awards. And of course Language Advantage was keeping a keen eye on the Best Foreign Film category.

‘La Gerande Belleza’ from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino beat off competition from ‘La Vie d’Adéle, Chapitres 1 et 2’ (Blue Is the Warmest Color) from France, the Danish film ‘Jagten’ (The Hunt), ‘Le Passé’ (The Past) from Iran and from Japan, ‘Kaze Tachinu’ (The Wind Rises) .

After thanking the Hollywood Foreign Press and his friends and family, the director concluded his acceptance speech by saying: “Thank you to Italy. That’s a crazy country, but beautiful. Thank you very much.”

An exploration of the contradictions and beauty of Rome, ‘La Grande Bellezza’ was the big winner of last year’s European Film Awards, taking home four gongs – for best European director, actor, editor and best film.

Learn to speak Italian with Language Advantage>>

Shop for Foreign Language Films>>

Interactive European language map

Do you ever find yourself wondering how to say common words in other languages? Do you know how to order a white wine/ vin blanc/ hvitvin/ valkoviini on your next holiday? What if you need to know when the next train/ næsta lest/ prossimo treno will be?

This fantastic interactive European language map is your new best friend if you’re already planning your travels around Europe for the year. Simply type in a one- or two-word phrase and Google Translate will give you that phrase in the vast majority of European languages to make travelling a breeze.

James Trimble of UK Data Explorer was interested in the shared lexical etymology of Europe, and created this map for a quick at-a-glance guide to those languages with shared origins. However, it’s also great for those of us interested in learning not just one language, but many. That’s certainly something we like to see at Language Advantage!

Explore the interactive European language map>>

Take a course in your favourite European language with Language Advantage>>

What is Icelandic linguistic purism?

Iceland is a small country located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between Scandinavia and North America. With a population of around 320,000 with more than two thirds of its inhabitants living in the capital, Reykjavik, its native language, Icelandic, is a little-spoken language, especially outside Iceland itself.

Icelandic is subject to strict linguistic purism, meaning the Icelandic government takes a strong interest in replacing foreign loanwords with newly created Icelandic words. These are usually derived from Old Icelandic and Old Norse, and the goal of the movement is to prevent any non-Icelandic words from entering the language; hence, ‘purism’.

This idea is rooted in sociolinguistics. Language is intrinsic to our sense of cultural identity, and this is particularly true of the geographically isolated Icelanders. Icelandic is a highly unique language, bearing only a passing resemblance to its closest existing relatives such as Norwegian and Danish. By retaining as much of the language as possible, Icelandic is better prepared to preserve the rich history and culture of the island and its people.

The approach taken by the Icelandic government is in direct contrast to governments of English-speaking countries. English has always been a melting pot of other languages, with its history stemming from Latin, French, the Nordic languages and the Germanic family, amongst others. English has adopted much of its lexicon from other languages, and as such we enjoy a rich and varied vocabulary, and with it, a complex system of rules for grammar and pronunciation.

An example of the creation of a new word in Icelandic is ‘sími’, the word for ‘telephone’. This is an old, previously disused word for ‘long thread’ which was pulled out of history and reused for the somewhat similar concept of a telephone. The disparity between Icelandic and other languages is clear in this case: in Spanish, it is ‘telefóno’; in French, ‘téléphone’; in Norwegian, ‘telefon’; in Irish, ‘teileafón’.

In Iceland, English is a compulsory language, and virtually all young Icelanders will be fluent. However, this example of linguistic purism highlights the importance of learning new languages, as learning a language such as Icelandic could hold the key to unlocking a whole new culture and its fascinating history.

Read more about the relationship between English and Icelandic>>

Learn Icelandic with Language Advantage>>

Could Russian language teaching end in Latvia?

Latvian schoolchildren may no longer be required to learn Russian, the language of neighbouring Russia, in changes proposed by the children’s ombudsman of Latvia.

In measures to create ‘a more homogenous society’, Juris Jansons suggested that learning Russian may be causing problems for children who are already struggling to grasp their native language.

More than a quarter of Latvia’s population is Russian, and Russian is the most widely spoken minority language with more than a third of people living in Latvia speaking Russian at home, including those who are not originally from Russia.

So, with Russian such a prevalent language in Latvia, why has this change to the Latvian curriculum been proposed?

Jansons’ main arguments for ending Russian language education in Latvian schools centre on a lack of proficiency in Latvian by Russian-speaking teachers in the existing bilingual teaching system, where up to 40% of lessons may be taught in Russian. There are also concerns that non-Latvian parents may struggle to help their children with homework, meaning these children lack the Latvian support they need to succeed in the country.

In 2012, a constitutional referendum was held in Latvia to decide whether or not Russian should be adopted as the country’s official second language. The matter was overwhelmingly voted against with almost three quarters of voters rejecting the prospect.

However, rejecting Russian as an official second language does not mean that it does not play a significant role in the lives of Latvian natives. With so many Russian speakers in Latvia, it is at the very least useful for children to learn this language to enable smooth integration of Russian communities.

Russian had previously been an official language of Latvia, which may explain the ombudsman’s reasoning. Language holds strong cultural significance for many people, and by having children focus on the country’s native language it could create a renewed cultural pride.

What do you think of the measures? Do you believe that this will benefit schoolchildren in Latvia in the long run, or will it be harmful to the relationship between Latvian and Russian communities?

Read more about the decision to end Russian teaching in Latvia>>

Learn to speak Russian with Language Advantage>>

Learn to speak Latvian with Language Advantage>>

Romanians and Bulgarians to join the UK workforce

Romanians and Bulgarians will now be allowed to freely move to the UK as immigration controls have been lifted.

Until now, there have been restrictions on workers from the Eastern European countries coming to work in the UK. However, now these controls, which have been in place since 2007, have been removed, it will be possible for workers from these countries to live and work in the UK.

It is hoped that Romanian and Bulgarian workers will contribute to the UK economy through employment and expenditure. Wages in the UK greatly exceed those in Eastern Europe, attracting quality workers to the UK.

However, many MPs oppose the move, calling for a further five year extension to the immigration restrictions for people from these countries. They say that the UK is yet to recover from 2008’s recession and that it will put unnecessary pressure on the limited job vacancies for UK citizens.

Workers from the UK have the freedom to work almost anywhere in the EU. Migration in the EU is not uncommon, with Spain and France among the most popular destinations for UK citizens seeking work abroad.

Common job roles for immigrant workers in the UK include labouring, table waiting in restaurants and kitchen roles, though it is hoped that good salaries in the UK will attract skilled workers from these countries, including doctors and lawyers.

Opponents of the lift in immigration controls say that as many as a quarter of a million Bulgarians and Romanians could enter the UK in the next five years, but the Bulgarian ambassador has predicted that just 8,000 Bulgarians will seek work in the UK.

Anyone living in the UK has the opportunity to work in many other countries in the EU, and for many jobs it is vital that the worker learns the native language of their country of choice. With the addition of Romanian and Bulgarian workers in the UK workforce, it may also be beneficial to learn Romanian and Bulgarian for smoother integration in the workplace.

Read more about the lifted restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian immigration>>

Romanians and Bulgarians will now be allowed to freely move to the UK as immigration controls have been lifted.

Until now, there have been restrictions on workers from the Eastern European countries coming to work in the UK. However, now these controls, which have been in place since 2007, have been removed, it will be possible for workers from these countries to live and work in the UK.

It is hoped that Romanian and Bulgarian workers will contribute to the UK economy through employment and expenditure. Wages in the UK greatly exceed those in Eastern Europe, attracting quality workers to the UK.

However, many MPs oppose the move, calling for a further five year extension to the immigration restrictions for people from these countries. They say that the UK is yet to recover from 2008’s recession and that it will put unnecessary pressure on the limited job vacancies for UK citizens.

Workers from the UK have the freedom to work almost anywhere in the EU. Migration in the EU is not uncommon, with Spain and France among the most popular destinations for UK citizens seeking work abroad.

Common job roles for immigrant workers in the UK include labouring, table waiting in restaurants and kitchen roles, though it is hoped that good salaries in the UK will attract skilled workers from these countries, including doctors and lawyers.

Opponents of the lift in immigration controls say that as many as a quarter of a million Bulgarians and Romanians could enter the UK in the next five years, but the Bulgarian ambassador has predicted that just 8,000 Bulgarians will seek work in the UK.

Anyone living in the UK has the opportunity to work in many other countries in the EU, and for many jobs it is vital that the worker learns the native language of their country of choice. With the addition of Romanian and Bulgarian workers in the UK workforce, it may also be beneficial to learn Romanian and Bulgarian for smoother integration in the workplace.

Read more about the lifted restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian immigration>>

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25549715

Romanians and Bulgarians will now be allowed to freely move to the UK as immigration controls have been lifted.

Until now, there have been restrictions on workers from the Eastern European countries coming to work in the UK. However, now these controls, which have been in place since 2007, have been removed, it will be possible for workers from these countries to live and work in the UK.

It is hoped that Romanian and Bulgarian workers will contribute to the UK economy through employment and expenditure. Wages in the UK greatly exceed those in Eastern Europe, attracting quality workers to the UK.

However, many MPs oppose the move, calling for a further five year extension to the immigration restrictions for people from these countries. They say that the UK is yet to recover from 2008’s recession and that it will put unnecessary pressure on the limited job vacancies for UK citizens.

Workers from the UK have the freedom to work almost anywhere in the EU. Migration in the EU is not uncommon, with Spain and France among the most popular destinations for UK citizens seeking work abroad.

Common job roles for immigrant workers in the UK include labouring, table waiting in restaurants and kitchen roles, though it is hoped that good salaries in the UK will attract skilled workers from these countries, including doctors and lawyers.

Opponents of the lift in immigration controls say that as many as a quarter of a million Bulgarians and Romanians could enter the UK in the next five years, but the Bulgarian ambassador has predicted that just 8,000 Bulgarians will seek work in the UK.

Anyone living in the UK has the opportunity to work in many other countries in the EU, and for many jobs it is vital that the worker learns the native language of their country of choice. With the addition of Romanian and Bulgarian workers in the UK workforce, it may also be beneficial to learn Romanian and Bulgarian for smoother integration in the workplace.

Read more about the lifted restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian immigration>>

Learn to speak Romanian with Language Advantage>>

Learn to speak Bulgarian with Language Advantage>>

The state school Latin revival

Latin is making a comeback in British schools at the moment as hi-tech methods are used to re-introduce it to the classroom.

Latin has been phased out in the majority of UK state schools, tending to be taught mostly in private schools in the present day. However, with iPads being used more extensively in classrooms, Latin is suddenly becoming more accessible to educational establishments across the country.

There was an increase of around 15% in the number of children being entered for a Latin GCSE (or equivalent) last year – no mean feat when many language GCSEs are in decline.

iPads and other classroom technologies help get around the lack of teachers trained in the art of Latin and other extinct languages such as Ancient Greek – pupils can be taught via video link by experts in the languages, and sophisticated apps can assist them with their translation abilities.

Lectures are being streamed from Cambridge University Classics courses, so pupils can learn Latin even without a teacher being present to teach them.

Interestingly enough, Michael Gove’s compulsory primary languages initiative will allow ancient languages such as Latin to count as the compulsory language taught in schools from 2014 onwards. It remains to be seen how many schools will take advantage of this, but it is interesting that this is to be an option at all.

There has been a lot of support for the learning of Latin in recent governments, and it will be interesting to find out whether the increase in uptake of Latin will continue with increased funding and wider opportunities to learn the language even in state schools.

The Romance languages are derived from Latin, and it can provide a useful foundation for those wishing to learn French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese. Learning Latin can also help language learners understand the way languages work in general, and it is still used in areas such as science, botany and medicine.

Read more about the way technology is being used to aid Latin language learning>>

Learn Latin with Language Advantage>>