Language Links: French habits, English countryside MOOCs and sustainable economics

French habits, English countryside MOOCs and sustainable economics

Each Monday, I publish a list of articles about language and language learning. Let’s keep it fresh!

5 Things for Adults who Learn a Foreign Language – “Older brains are like the Library of Congress” so we must train ourselves to retrieve information.

5 French Habits that Scare Foreigners – Why you should still speak bad French and how to deal with arguments, weird food and la bise.

Literature of the English Country House – a Downton Abbey kind of MOOC. Be ready to embark on a historical journey through literature and notable country houses through, a new MOOC provider based in the UK.

Forbes published an interview with Duolingo CEO, Luis von Ahn. Here are two takeaways from the article:

I believe that to have sustainable impact, you have to have a model that generates sustainable economics. For me the important thing is getting capabilities to large numbers of people who need them—for free—and having a sustainable business model behind that whose monetization strategy is neither exploitive nor is it charity.

We looked at the different theories of language pedagogy when we started out, and we discovered that they’re like diets: There are thousands of them, they’re not well supported by data, and they all contradict one another. But working at the scale of millions gives us the advantage of being able to engineer better teaching methods quickly. For example, we might look at our data and see that a lot of people are having trouble learning how adjectives work. So we posit that maybe we should teach adverbs before we teach adjectives.

 Image: View of the Gardens of Villa Medici by Michel-Martin Drolling (1811 – 1816) from Rijksmuseum.

Is wine still wine in Europe?

An interactive European language map, developed by James Trimble of UK Data Explorer, is making the rounds on the Internet lately. Trimble is using Google Translate as a tool to find out translations of a word from English into 30 other languages spoken throughout Europe.

The examples used by the translator are as linguistically flat as “banana”. You guessed it, it’s still a derivation of “banana” no matter what language you’re choosing. So I tried “beer” after being disappointed that “wine” translates just as similar as banana. I guess it’s all about priorities.