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ZERMATT, SWITZERLAND – WHAT A PLACE

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International flights into Switzerland usually arrive at either Geneva or Zurich airports.  Geneva is the second most populous city in Switzerland.  It is also a global city, a financial center, and a worldwide center for diplomacy.  As I looked around I could pick out people from Japan, China, India, Italy, France, Germany and many other countries.  Listening to them speak was a real treat … a melody of languages.  Both of these airports are very convenient to traveling to Zermatt, Switzerland, a gateway to the Matterhorn.  But don’t miss taking a little time to visit the azure blue lakes; Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne with their castles.  Then it’s on to the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s most famous mountain of 14,692 feet; the mountain that movies have been made about.  It is located in the Penninie Alps on the border of Switzerland and Italy.  In German “matte” means “meadow” and “horn” means “peak.”   It is the tenth highest peak in Switzerland.
There were seven of us, four adults with three children, in our Honda Odyssey making our way towards the Swiss Alps.  The morning was sunny with a few white billowy cumulus clouds making their way lazily across the wide expanse of blue.  The road was very straight most of the time with a few curves intermingled.  Looking out the window, we saw green fields dotted here and there with acres of yellow flowers that looked like sunflowers.   The beauty took my breath away.  It was so picturesque, just like in the travel magazines I had seen.
Off in the distance, I could see mountains rising up from the green plains we had been traveling through.  At last I could see them … the Swiss Alps.  This was the home of Heidi, my favorite childhood novel.  I can still remember some of her adventures.  Her grandfather lived here and cared for her in these wondrous mountains.  The Heidi book is among the best known works of Swiss literature and well worth reading to your children.
As we drove into Zermatt, a beautiful, little tourist town at the foot of the Alps, we parked our car on the outskirts and walked from there.  No cars or big tour buses allowed in the village.  The train stops here and goes no further. This is one of the great ski and climbing centers in the world.  This deep valley is nestled between two steep, sculptured mountains.  The air is crisp and clean with an Alpine flavor.  Summer flowers drape themselves from each building along the way.  Its cobblestone streets and pathways take you back in time to a simpler way of life.  It is beautiful.  It is exhilarating.  It is special to be here; to see this great mountain and walk the cobblestone streets of Zermatt.
The Matterhorn is truly a magnificent mountain.  A dream comes true, just to be here.

TRAVELING TO CHINA

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I was waiting at gate C 5 to board my flight.  It was supposed to leave in 10 minutes.  The announcement blared loudly over the airports’ PA system, “Flight 4659 will be delayed and will not be boarding for 30 minutes.  We are sorry for the inconvenience.”   I had a connecting flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong.  What if I missed it, I thought.  What will I do?

In 30 minutes another announcement and another delay, this one said we would have another hour delay before boarding.  Frustration started to set in.  By the time I boarded and got on my way, I knew I would miss my connecting flight.  We found out that are delay was caused by Air force I,  It was landing at the San Francisco Airport and so they closed it down to all incoming flights.  That was so exciting.  Oh the joys of International travel. 

I was on my way to Guangzhou, China via Hong Kong to look for new items for our business to sell.  I was to meet a business associate in Hong Kong who would take me to our hotel that night or should I say in the middle of the night.  We were to meet with a couple businesses the next morning and then catch a train on to Guangzhou.

When I finally got to Hong Kong, it was about 2 a.m. and my business associate was nowhere to be seen.  I did not have a phone number to call him or an address of where to find him.  All I could do is stand around and hope he came.  I waited for over an hour before he showed up.  Imagine being in a foreign country in the middle of the night not knowing anyone, where to go, or what to do.  Not the best scenario, I would say.

I am glad to say all worked out.  We did meet up, make it to our hotel, our meetings, and caught our train.  Canton Fair here we come!  Guangzhou used to be called Canton due to the Europeanized names being used by the English Colonies but has since been changed back to its Chinese name.

My trip was successful despite my frustrations with the airline.  I saw some great places, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Yiwu and Shanghai.  It is unbelievable the capabilities that the Chinese have in manufacturing goods.  The industry of the Chinese people is amazing.

Have any of you had frustrations or stories of interest with your International travel?  We would love to hear about them.

ORDER PLEASE

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The other day at lunch I ran into a friend at McDonalds’s.  As we were waiting in the order line, he said, “I feel like you need to know Spanish just to make an order.”  As I looked at the pretty girl at the cash register she looked like she could be Mexican.  As we got closer, she sounded just like the two of us and I could detect no accent.  She sounded like a plain, old Utahan.    Her English was perfect … according to anyone from Utah.

As I have reflected on the statement of my friend, I realize that I have frequented many fast food businesses that hire a lot of Spanish people, some with heavy Spanish accents.  This also includes hotel, resorts, restaurants and many other service related businesses.  Years ago I read an article about a person who hired a lot of people and he commented that he found his best employees were immigrants.  He said they worked much harder and were more loyal than the people born in the United States.  So when he was looking to hire, his preference was to find someone wanting to work that came from another country.

A few years ago, a man from Mexico worked for me.  He was well educated, loyal, honest, resourceful and a very hard worker.  Whenever I gave him a job he did it fast and he did it well.  I just pointed him in the right direction and let him go at it.  He could do construction work; painting, electrical and you name it.  He could do it all.  As we worked together I found he could even repair my automobile whenever I had a problem.  I found he could do anything and everything I needed done. 

One day I asked him how he had learned to do so many things.  He told me his father owned an auto repair business and he had learned to repair engines and do body work as he was growing up.   Then he went to a University in Mexico City and received a Civil Engineering Degree.  I found he could do almost anything I needed done.  He was an invaluable employee.  It took me about a year to find out who he really was.

The one thing I have not told you is that he spoke hardly any English and I spoke hardly any Spanish.  We made a great team.  We resorted to the use of sign language, pointing, drawing and things like that to communicate and sometimes an interpreter.  I found he could read English if I gave him something written down.  He could follow diagrams but he couldn’t speak the language.  The very sad thing is that I paid him a menial wage and no one would pay him anymore because he could not speak English

Eventually he went back to Mexico feeling he could make a better living.  What a disservice we, as a country, are doing to these immigrants that come to our country looking for the American Dream.  These bright, motivated, industrious people could be valuable assets to us … if only we would require them to learn English so they could be more functional.  We have wonderful ESL language courses that are easy to us and cover many different languages for people coming here to find their American Dream.

THE WHY OR WHY NOT … FOREIGN LANGUAGE

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What do you think?  Is learning a foreign language an important area of study for you?  Why or why not?  Tell me why you are interested or not interested?  Let’s compare feelings for those for and those against learning a new language.  It could be our own personal survey.  If you know another language what are the benefits you feel you have over those who don’t know one?  Do any of you who don’t know another language feel left out of anything?

A businessman I was talking to yesterday was telling me that when he was younger he joined the U.S. Navy and had traveled to most of the ports in South America during his term of duty.  He started dating a lovely girl from Peru.  She spoke English and the romance carried on until they finally married.  They now have two handsome boys … twins.  He said, “Is it hard for someone my age (42 year) to learn Spanish?”  “We get along fine until my wife’s parents come to visit, they only speak Spanish, and I would really like to be able to talk to them.” 

I know how he feels.  My son married a girl from Chile and her grandmother came to stay with them for quite a while.  She is one of the most kindly, gentle lovely ladies I have ever met.  But she spoke no English.  Our conversations went something like this.  I would call on the phone.  She would answer.  I could hear Spanish coming at me at about 100 mph, understanding nothing.  She would stop.  I would say “chow” and the conversation was over.  Many times I wanted to be able to communicate with her … but I don’t know Spanish well enough.

I talked to a fellow the other day who wanted to know what Russian courses I would recommend for a girl from the Ukraine to learn English.  They were to be married in the next month.  She is coming to the U.S. and wants to be able to talk with him.  I don’t know how they ever got together, he didn’t tell me that, but my thought was that it would be a good idea for him to learn some Russian himself.

An elementary principal I know told me about the Chinese immersion course they have at her school.  I asked, “How do the kids like it?”  She said, “They love Chinese.  You can’t believe how fast they have picked it up.  They spend half of their time learning in English and the other half in Chinese.”  Can you imagine learning and speaking Chinese?  Wow!

The state of Wyoming State Legislature is working on legislation that will mandate two foreign language courses be required and passed for anyone receiving a scholarship to their state colleges and universities.  We all ought to follow this to see what happens.  Apparently there are some of their state government representatives that feel this is very important for their scholarship students.

As our world gets smaller and smaller and we go places faster and faster it would be a good idea for all of us to learn an additional language or two, just so we can find the bathroom, restaurant or get on the bus.

Get a Brain Boost By Learning Something New

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I just read a statement: Get a “brain boost.”  I thought, “That’s interesting.”  I decided that that is something I could use.  Yes, my brain does need boosting.  That’s for sure!

Some people try to get a boost from a cup of coffee, a coke, a piece of chocolate cake or just a plain old chocolate.  At least these are ways we go about trying to boost ourselves physically.  But a “brain boost!” what’s that?

This intrigued me enough to continue reading the article.  Here are some of the things it said:

Get a “brain boost” by learning a second language.  In 2004 the BBC News told of a study conducted by the University of London of some of their bilingual students.  Their findings were that these students had evidence of advanced learning and their brains were more stimulated.  There have been other studies indicating that by learning a second language a person can delay dementia with the possibility of keeping their brains functioning better for a longer period of time.

I think what this article is trying to tell us is something like this:

With all of the information we have today about exercising our bodies, scientists are finding there are many advantages to “exercising our brains” as well.  Many of us are content to let our TV’s, radios, CD’s and IPod’s do the programming for us.

There is an old computer saying, “Garbage in, garbage out.”  If we look at the brain as our computer and the decisions we make on what we put into it as our operating system, we need to decide not to put so much “garbage in.”

Anyway, give it some thought.  I have decided to do a better job with my brain.  I definitely need a “brain boost” … just in case.

Learn a New Language with Pimseur Method.com.  Available on CDs and Downloads.

DINING THE FRENCH WAY

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            French Cuisine is as popular as the poetry or French arts.  Pastries are a big part of French cooking.  But the most famous part of Italian cuisine is the use of cheeses and wine.  French cuisine basically originated from its own culture.  That is why there are a number of restaurants all over the country.  Here is a quick list of some of the most recommended restaurants for the travelers going to France: 

            58 Tour Eiffel  It is located on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower.  Its name is derived from its height, 58 meters above the ground.  The menu includes smoked salmon, blinis and sweet mustard cream, royal green asparagus tips au naturel and smoked duck breast.  Their cheesecake is one of the best in town. 

            Palace Elysee  The trademark of this restaurant is their friendly staff and nice service.  The cuisine is also outstanding.  It is the result of the collaboration of two Chefs where one focuses on the main course and the other on the pastries.  The recipes are authentic, as well as the products.  The presentation is great.  Palace Elysée attracts an elite set of customers with its stunning interior design and first class French menu. 

            Chez Juliene  A perfect representation of French dining is the charming and exquisite restaurant Chez Julien.  The interior of Chez Julien is chic but with a retro feel.  It is also designed for stylish crowd of diners who appreciate high-end French dining.  Foie gras, frog’s legs, rack of lamb and Chateaubriand with fries are some of their specialties. 

            Lasserre  This restaurant is fine dining at its best.  Its roof can be pulled back for a view of the sky when the weather allows.  The classic menu is comprised of the likes of macaroni with black truffles and foie gras, roast Turbot with fresh almonds and rosemary, Noirmoutier potatoes or tenderloin sweetbreads and preserved cheek of veal with morel mushrooms, cos lettuce and truffle jus. 

            Chez Catherine  This restaurant is owned by one of France’s top female chefs, Catherine Guerraz.  They have high aims for their cooking that’s why they only use the best seasonal products.

Recommended from their menu are their raviolis in a cream and mushroom sauce and then follow it up with a perfect sole meunière or the pan-fried steak served with the crispy French fries.  Chez Catherine also has an excellent wine list.  They have a wide and varied choice available.  But because this restaurant is of really high standards, expect it to be pricey. 

If I were you I would learn to ask your taxi driver how to get to a restaurant and maybe even the bathroom … in French.  Try one of our free Pimsleur Method French lessons.

           

CHALLENGES OF LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE

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            Learning a language that is not your native language is undoubtedly challenging.  There is no other way to learn it than by starting from scratch.  At the beginning, you might experience times where you will become discouraged.  Remember it is not an easy task to start something new.  But there are a lot of benefits from learning a new language.

            Make your language a part of your everyday life.  Using the language on a daily basis is one of the ways to help make the language more natural for you.  In order to learn it, you have to immurse yourself in it. You can watch TV, or movies, or listen to a radio station or music, or read materials in your new language that are of interest to you.  It is very important that you familiarize yourself with the language and it should be done in such a way that it becomes a part of your everyday life.  And when it comes down to studying, it is very important that you do it regularly and religiously on a day to day basis.

            Study the words.  Vocabulary is a most important component in any language, no matter what the language may be.  When you have already familiarized yourself with the basics, and understood the meanings you can now have a deeper understanding of the vocabulary.  Try to use new words in phrases and sentences.  This helps you to understand the word more deeply by working it into a whole web of meanings.

            Learn the proper pronunciation of words.  This can be challenging when you’re reading them.  This is why it is very important for you to hear how certain words are pronounced.   Learning how to pronounce a foreign language can be a difficult task but not impossible to attain.  People will understand you better if you pronounce the words correctly.  This is why a top rated audio course, like Pimsleur Method, is so important to use as you are learning to do this.

            Learn the correct grammar.  It is not enough that you know the words and their meanings and that you know how to pronounce them.  The challenge comes in learning that a language doesn’t end there.  Learning the grammar of a language is very important so you will be able to know how to formulate sentences properly.   This is the only way you can learn to construct and make effective sentences as you have conversations with native people. 

            Be patient about making mistakes.  There is no other way to learn a new language without being willing to make some mistakes and making some errors.  People may even laugh at you as you are trying to learn.  Accepting this fact that you will make mistakes will be of help to you as you correct those mistakes.  You have to have a positive mindset about your practicing your new language, instead of being upset about it.  “Laugh and the world laughs with you.  Cry and you cry alone.”  Learning a new language is never easy but can be a lot of fun if you approach it right.  You need to persevere and you also have to be patient.  Practice, practice, practice … and you will succeed.

LEARNING A NEW LANGUAGE EFFECTIVELY

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The ultimate goal in learn to speak a new language is to learn to begin think in that language.

To think in a language means not only to be fluent in that language and to know it well but something else even more fundamental is necessary.  It means you don’t have to “translate” any more.  You come to know the meaning of foreign words and sentence without turning them back into English.  After all, you don’t read English by translating it; that is to say, you don’t turn words into other words to understand them.  Rather you have associated these words with objects, events, and qualities so that they have direct meaning to you.  This is what you should work toward in studying a new language.  When you achieve it, you’ll understand the foreign words and use them without thinking at all English.  Your mind will see the words as pictures automatically.  As a consequence, you’ll save yourself a lot of time going from your new language to English and back again.  You’ll be a master of the language, which is your real goal anyway; and that will give you great satisfaction and you will feel like you really know it!

Indeed, learning a foreign language can be a frustrating task.  So, to help you learn languages effectively here are some tips that will surely help make you a pro

  1. First study and learn the pronunciation of your chosen language

Pronunciation is the way a language is spoken.  Inaccurate pronunciation will result in misunderstanding and misinterpretation.   Put in mind that you’re learning a new language and it’s you need to be patient, attentive and thorough with this initial pronunciation challenge since you will be learning to speak with a native accent.  This is why an audio language course by Pimsleur Method is so important.  You will be hearing and responding to a native speaker to help you with this area.  You put into practice the hardest sounds and the most difficult sounds with recurring training each day in each lesson as you move along.  As you progress, you will become more and more confident in your learning and speaking of the language.

  1. 2.     Observe proper stress, native intonation, and rhythm of common, short social sentences

Don’t be self-conscious in imitating the proper intonation of the language you are learning.  Start by focusing on listening to repetitive phrases at least 10 times. Making use of audio and even video resources will aid you in your learning process.  Afterwards, talk to yourself (maybe in front of the mirror) and say some words and phrases along with the audio.  This is probably one of the best ways to learn a language effectively.

Listen to audio books

Select an audio book in your new language with a topic that you think might be interesting to you.  This will greatly assist you in your listening skills.  Keep on listening to brief sections of 30 seconds to a minute until you believe that you have an absolute understanding of the what the audio book is saying.

  1.  Study the grammer 

Grammar in learning a new language is a device for speeding your mastery of the language.  This is perhaps the most significant element of the language aside from the vocabulary. “I eat many potato yesterday” can deliver a thought but not the proper message because of your poor grammer; however the proper English is not like this at all, and this sounds phrase would make people laugh.  Grammar is very important and should be taken seriously, otherwise, you might sound like you are all mixed up in your new language.   

  1. Listen to news broadcasts and look for channels to practice with in your preferred language

This is essential to be a pro with your chosen language.  Watch and Listen as much as you want to to movies in the language with or without subtitles.  You can also listen to newscasters.  This is the easiest way to absorb the proper enunciation of a language.  It is just as important to spend your time listening to broadcast and make sure to take note of how they drop their jaw in pronouncing the words properly.

  1. Practice!

With enough practice and listening to native speakers, a person can learn to use a new language properly in the proper form without knowing any grammatical rules.  By following the above steps you can learn quickly to use the words and the endings of the word in their proper order without as much practice.

Good luck with your new language!

FUN FACTS ABOUT THE SPANISH LANGUAGE

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            More than 500 million people around the world use Spanish as their local language.  Aside from Spain, countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela also use the Spanish language as their official spoken language.  In addition to these countries, it is also widely spoken in countries like Canada, Morocco, the Philippines, and the United States. 

            Among the Romance languages, Spanish is the most widely spoken when we take into consideration the number of its speakers, and the number of the countries it is being used.  In Spain itself, there are two major dialects.  The Andalusian and Castilian, many say these dialects speak the purest forms of Spanish.  While in other continents such as North and South America, many more dialects exist. 

            Spanish may vary in terms of pronunciation and use of words between country to country where it is the dominant language. But these differences are not so great that its speakers, no matter where they are from, could not still understand one other when they converse.  For example, Spanish in Spain and Spanish in Latin America is spoken with very little difference.  This difference was brought about by the colonization of the Americas, where the most recognizable influence is the use of native terms in Latin America and a different pronunciation as well.

             In terms of vocabulary, the Spanish language is basically of Latin origin, although there are big difference with its counterparts like French and Italian.  Some words in other Romance languages begin that with f, begins with h in Spanish.  Another characteristic of this language is that the letter b and v are indistinguishable, whereas the letter h is silent.  In addition to that, Spanish has a few words that are of Greek origin, there are also have silent letters to contend with. 

            A lot of people choose to learn Spanish as a new language since it used so wide and it is the most common first language in the Americas.  Because the birth rate in the Spanish-speaking world is higher than among many other people whose first language is English, Spanish can be expected to remain as one of the easiest languages and the most common to learn in the coming years.  If the economies of Latin American countries continues to develop, there will be a big chance that Spanish will gain even more in importance in the world of business and in business communication as well.            

 

MAKE LEARNING A LANGUAGE EASY

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Because you must walk before you can run, you cannot start right off thinking in a language, especially when you must proceed at the relatively slow pace of that of the typical foreign language college course.  You must begin thinking in English and translating foreign words into and from English to your new language. Only gradually can you abandon translation and come to think in the language.  But until you begin to think in your new language … you don’t really know it. 

In the very first weeks of a course in a foreign language, students nearly always translate word for word.  That is all right for the kind of elementary sentences you get in this stage, but it won’t do at all when the going gets tougher. Yet many students persist in this word-for-word translation throughout the entire study of a language. For a language like Spanish this is less likely to get you into trouble (because the grammar and word order are so much like English) but in other languages like Latin and German, it does not work so well because the word orders are quite different from the English ones. A second-year student in German can easily get lost trying to find his way word for word through the seemingly impenetrable thicket of a German sentence.  For the German word order is so different that it makes little sense, you must learn to think in the German word order and get a sense of the sentence as a whole before you look up the specific words you do not know.  And even when you are concentrating on specific words, you must keep in mind the relationship between words.  The over-all meaning of the word is very important for you to be able to translate them properly. 

You will discover yourself that this is the only way you can translate complicated sentences.  If you are doing no better than word-for-word translation, you are in trouble and you will need a lot of help.  We cannot tell you exactly what your difficulties will be since they will be different for different people. One frequent difficulty, however, is that the student who does not have the basic elements of the vocabulary, such as relative pronouns or irregular verbs, memorized, will find that it will be very difficult.  It needs to be something that comes naturally and if it doesn’t, it will be very difficult.  If you don’t know the syntax or word order well enough to be able to tell where they are in a sentence you have more problems.  This is particular difficulty for students of German. Thus in a sentence like Haben Sie den Bauer gesehen, der auf dem Wagen sass? (“Have you seen the farmer who sat in the wagon?”), a badly confused student may try to translate der as a definite article rather than as a relative pronoun.  An example of a parallel problem is in a French sentence like Elle a recu les fleurs que lui ont envoyees des amies (“She received the flowers that friends sent her”), where the unobservant student may read the objective pronoun que as the nominative pronoun qui thus making the sentence make no sense.   By looking over the whole sentence structure and then by relating the words to one another, you would not make a mistake like this. 

In your favor, a good language from PimsleurMethod will make it a much easier adventure and you will have success.