All posts by Ewa

London in November – Bilingual communities in the city

London in November – still blessed with warm weather and proud of its charming parks with vast lawns of dark green grass covered in heaps of golden leaves. Winter season is fast approaching with festive decorations in the streets, Christmas traditional fairs and ice-skating rinks, where you can hear skaters talk in dozens of different languages. London has become a second home for many immigrants who, by starting their lives over in a new country, entered a totally new social network formed by the majority of ‘natives’ and minority communities, all of which live by certain rules, also rules governing their modes of communication. Continue reading London in November – Bilingual communities in the city

Where did my German go? – Language forgetting

Born native speaker of Polish, she started to learn English in elementary school. German followed in high school and she successfully passed her A-level exams in Polish, English and German. It seemed that her path was set for life, when she decided to continue her education at the faculty of Applied Linguistics, with specialization in foreign language teaching and translation studies of English and German. One could expect that after graduation she would end up either in rainy London or in the city hosting Oktober Fest, but alas! she marched south, getting herself a job in the capital of the ancient world – Rome. Continue reading Where did my German go? – Language forgetting

Humans are born bilingual!

According to some research, we are born with an innate ability to speak more than one language.

The psychologist Janet Werker (University of British Columbia) studied newborns and their ability to discern different languages. The study proved that monolingual babies were able to discern between languages at the ages of four and six months, while bilingual babies kept that ability till 8 months after birth.

Her latest study shows that bilingual babies are more sensitive to linguistic behaviour than their monolingual peers. What is the study about? Read on: Infants Raised in Bilingual Environments Can Distinguish Unfamiliar Languages

Topic for today’s discussion…

This is quite a common picture of my work day: I log on into the system and the calls start arriving. First, an engineer from Aberdeen requests a new flight booking to Luanda. Then, an Italian travel arranger from Florence calls to modify an existing trip for one of her passengers. She speaks English to me and Italian to her colleague at the other desk. I am checking the availability of the new itinerary and listening to their conversation at the same time. When I am done, I inform the travel arranger of the cost of the new flights and she discusses with me the remaining details. After a few minutes we both realize that we switched to Italian, quite unconsciously. We are a little embarrassed and amused at the same time and this will be the anecdote of the day for both of us. Continue reading Topic for today’s discussion…

Sink or swim

My dad has always had his own ideas about our education. When he decided to teach me to ski, he took me to the largest ski slope in the area, we got uphill and … I found myself going down with the speed of a sky rocket. Aaaaaa!!!! It took me ten years to put the skis back on my feet. When he decided I should brush up on my English, he sent me to Hastings, England, where I stayed with an English host family for 3 weeks. I was 14, my English very basic, I found myself abroad alone for the first time in my life. It was not so terrible after all, but this method of total submersion is called the „sink or swim” approach for a reason. Continue reading Sink or swim

A Pole, English, and French guy got lost in a desert…

How many times have you heard from an Englishman, in reaction to your kind question: ‘Good morning, how may I help you?’ – ‘Yes, I wonder if you can….’

Probably the most irritating sentence you can hear first thing in the morning. Continue reading A Pole, English, and French guy got lost in a desert…

Color perception in different languages

Remember the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis?  It argues that the words we use dictate how we see the world. According to this view, language and its categories influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behavior, like say how we perceive colors.

Now you can actually test how you perceive and remember colors. Take a simple test. You will be shown three colors. First you are going to think of an object that you associate the color with. Next you will simply name the color. Finally, you will be asked just to look at a color and perform a completely different task right after.

Ok, I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I won’t say anything else. Just try it for yourself!

Click on the link and follow the instructions:

Test on perception of colors, objects, and things

(designed by The Online Research Consortium)

From a language teacher ‘s diary

Dear Diary,

Sometimes I ask myself if anything that I do makes any sense. What is my goal in life? Where do I go? What is the purpose of my existence?! Yesterday I had a lesson with Robert. He seems unable to remember to use articles in front of nouns, although we have practiced it for ages now. It is still: ‘I went to cinema to see film’. I have used all my language teacher tricks of trade: explanation, examples, drills, comparison, I pleaded with him and threatened him…. Nothing seems to work! Continue reading From a language teacher ‘s diary