The New York Times brings us an interesting story about the amazing variety of languages found in New York City and the efforts to save or record the endangered ones.
Listening to (and Saving) the World’s Languages
We recently came across an issue that a faculty member was having issues with students using Arabic in Microsoft Word on their Mac computers. When they type words, the characters do not connect like they should (each letter was separate). In our search to find out why this was happening, we found out that Microsoft Office no longer supports Arabic properly in their latest Mac version. We did find two open source word processors where the characters were not separated, AbiWord and NeoOffice. Both worked great but NeoOffice was able to open .docx files and AbiWord only opened .doc files. To check out the software (free and open source) click on the link below:
A student worker of mine recently recommended a site that she uses for her Chinese course. It’s an English-Chinese online dictionary called Nciku. What’s great about this site is that not only is it a text dictionary, but it also has tools like audio, the ability to practice writing, and even create mp3 lists of words with the English and the Chinese definitions. There is even a Q and A section where you can ask native Chinese speakers questions about words. If you want to create vocab lists or take practice language tests, all you need to do is sign up for a free account with Nciku (you don’t need an account to use it like a normal dictionary). If you would like to learn more or would like to try out this site, click on the link below:
An article in the Guardian by Mike Solly, a senior lecturer at the UK’s Open University, about using Second Life to teach ESL describes some of the benefits of using Second Life for second-language teaching. Second Life encourages role-play, a technique often used in second language instruction, and allows for what is called in the article, ‘character driven learning’.
“I now believe that one of the real educational strengths of SL as a learning platform is this ability to adopt a persona and become anyone you like.”
PhraseBASE is a service where you can learn a foreign language and also practice it with native speakers of that language. Some of the features are free on the site, like learning phrases or using the E-Phrasebook Flash cards online. Some of the free services you need to sign up for to access the service (like the online flash cards). To use the full language lessons feature, you need to make a payment online. To check out PhraseBASE, click on the link below: