La Big Vic "Musica"
by josh keller · Published · Updated
La Big Vic have all the credentials for music fans to instaltly either love them or hate them. Featuring the vocals/strings of the girl who writes the trendy East Coast blog Visitation Rites, the band seem pre set with a group of influential friends who are going to pave paths of gold for them to walk right into indie rock moneyville. Luckily for them, they aren’t half bad. The tracks on their debut record Actually, out now on Underwater Peoples (another reason to love/hate), are shimmering dream pop tracks that meander at points and are razor sharp at others. One of the more hazy moments is the 10 minute long album closer “Musica,” which you can stream below. Like a stoned trip down a lazy river of reverb and twitchy effects, the song never really takes off from its initial lacsidasical start, but it represents the chilled out pop that the group do so well on the record.
Learning the language.
Online January 1, 2012 | Ojala, Marydee [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] * See what your public library can lend you. That saves the price of buying a language course you might not finish (pun intended). I later discovered that my local public library owned one cassette-tape-based course for Finnish, but it had gone missing. Given that cassette tapes are no longer state of the art, it might have been permanently “borrowed” by the last owner of a device that could play the tape. here pimsleur approach review
* Look into an immersion language course in Finland. Since my nephew holds down a responsible job, has a wife and small children, and lives in the U.S., this was not an option.
* Investigate language-learning software programs. My nephew had already thought of this. He had discovered that the “Big Cheese” (his phrase) of language learning, Rosetta Stone Ltd., does not offer Finnish. Latin, yes. Finnish, no. Plus, Rosetta Stone recently discontinued offering Danish, Thai, and Welsh.
STARTING MY LANGUAGE QUEST My quest, then, was to find what is available through libraries, what you can acquire on your own, and how various language-learning software products compare. The first portion of this quest depends on the type of library. Public libraries have long included language learning as part of their collections. This frequently attracts the casual learner, possibly prior to a trip outside the country, either as a holiday or on business.
Academic libraries add language-learning materials to their collections to support courses offered by their parent institutions. In the corporate world, language learning should precede a work assignment in another country. Companies vary on policies about whether they provide language-learning tools for employees or whether the incipient ex-pats are on their own.
I was helped in starting my language quest by the fact that my nephew’s plea arrived as I was heading off to several library conferences. That gave me the opportunity to cruise the exhibit floors and investigate possibilities, particularly those with a library bent. I quickly discovered that although Rosetta Stone exhibited at earlier library conferences, it decided a few years ago to pull out of the library market. Some libraries that purchased Rosetta Stone language products retain these in their collections–you can generally find them listed in WorldCat–but most have moved on to other sources.
Companies now targeting the library market include Livemocha, Mango Languages, and Rocket Languages. In addition to the library, there are language-learning icons, Pimsleur Approach and Berlitz Languages, Inc., as well as Rosetta Stone. Additionally, Transparent Language’s Byki has a library program, although it did not exhibit at any of the library conferences I attended. Even library stalwart Gale, part of Cengage Learning, has a foot in the door with its Powerspeak Languages, but the target market for Powerspeak is K-12 schools.
ROCKETING TO LANGUAGE LEARNING Access to the language-learning packages is authenticated with your library card and any other information determined necessary by the subscribing library. It has the obvious advantage of being available 24/7; it’s not restricted to the opening hours of the library. Since by its very nature, learning a language requires sound, it’s useful to be able to use Rocket Languages in a private place where your verbal interactions with the program won’t disturb others. The alternative is headphones, but those only work for listening, not speaking.
The parent company of Rocket Languages is Libros Media Ltd., which was founded in early 2004 in New Zealand. It partnered with Vienna, Va.-based Library Ideas, LLC, creator of the Freegal music collection and Freading ebook collection, to distribute the language-learning software to libraries, frequently as part of the subscription to Freegal.
Rocket Languages bases its learning on interactive audio courses that encourage students to engage in conversations about ordinary things that would happen in daily life. Additionally, there is a culture component so that you learn the correct pronunciation and grammar and the basics of local etiquette. Rocket stresses that learning another language should be fun. To that end, it incorporates games into the learning experience. The games require downloading a file.
ROCKET DASHBOARD In 2012, Rocket Languages introduced a dashboard structure as the homepage for each language. Circles at the top track progress in interactive audio lessons, language and culture lessons, and survival kit. Overall proficiency rates a separate circle. Interactive audio lessons concentrate on what you would need to be able to say as a tourist–introducing yourself, booking a room, traveling, eating in a restaurant, and buying food. The survival kit includes knowing numbers and names of countries.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Progress is determined by quizzes. I found these to be somewhat puzzling because, although they were couched as “how would you say” a particular phrase, the multiple-choice answers focused on how you would write the phrase. From a library perspective, Rocket Languages can offer the rudiments of language instruction with the advantages of unlimited multiple simultaneous usage and unlimited downloads of the audio files. There is no DRM (digital rights management) applied to the downloads, another advantage for libraries.
MANGO SMOOTHIES If you’ve visited the exhibit halls at the American Library Association or Special Libraries Association conferences, you may have been enticed into the Mango Languages (www.mangolanguages.com) booth by the offer of a cooling mango smoothie. Its language-learning offerings are equally healthy.
At its website, Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Mango Languages boasts that “We currently serve one in five North American libraries.” Those libraries run the gamut from public libraries to elementary schools and from community colleges to universities. Government institutions form another large market for Mango, with subscribers in many U.S. government agencies, including Homeland Security, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and most branches of the military. It also invites personal subscriptions. In business since 2007, Mango Languages describes itself as a cross between Silicon Valley and the United Nations.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Mango Basic exists to provide a quick introduction to both essential vocabulary and culture. For a more in-depth approach, but still not total fluency, look at Mango Complete.
For libraries, Mango offers instruction for English speakers in 34 languages: Arabic, Cantonese Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dari, Dutch, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Nor wegian, Pashto, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, and Vietnamese. It also offers English-language courses for speakers of Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Cantonese Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese. Mango also sells personal subscriptions, but for fewer languages. Library pricing is based upon how many languages you want to offer and the usage requirements of your userbase.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] The list of languages is interesting because when I asked at the booth about the availability of Finnish, I was told Mango didn’t offer it. It does seem, however, that Finnish is not a language offered in the personal version.
TALK TO THE MANGO Like Rocket Languages, Mango concentrates on conversations and is available 24/7. Its objectives are to make sure its students can greet people, make small talk, ask for directions, negotiate basic transactions in stores, order meals in restaurants, do currency translations, ask people to slow down when they speak, thank people, ask for help, and other ordinary tasks involved in visiting another country.
Mango calls its methodology Intuitive Language Construction, designed to “simulate the way people learn when actually surrounded by a foreign culture through practical conversation.” Sample conversations display in English, and then you hear the word or phrase spoken in the other language as the written display turns into the phrase in the other language. For example, in German, you would see “Good morning,” then, as the German speaker pronounces it, the phrase on your screen would change to “Guten Morgen.” Other components of Mango Languages’ courses include interactive phonetic spellings, semantic color mapping, literal translations compared with understood meanings, grammar notes, cultural notes, memory-building exercises, voice comparisons, and reviews of vocabulary and phrases. You can download lessons to your computer or MP3 player. It’s organic learning rather than rote memorization, and it emphasizes spoken language over written language. If this is what you or your clientele want, Mango Languages is definitely worth a taste.
CAFFEINATED LANGUAGE LEARNING I am unclear about the relationship between beverages and language-learning company names, but Livemocha (www.livemocha.com) certainly brings caffeine-inspired energy to the party. For one thing, it boasts of more than 11 million “members” in 196 countries. What exactly are members? Apparently everyone who signs up for Livemocha, even if they only look at it once, is considered to be a member.
It partners with Pearson Education, Inc. for ESL material and HarperCollins Publishers for bilingual dictionaries and other language-learning materials. Based in Seattle (that might account for the coffee nomenclature), Livemocha has been around since early 2007. It stresses “reciprocal learning,” which is based on an information community of people who are both learning languages and teaching languages. You earn Mochapoints for your involvement in helping other Livemocha members improve their speaking and writing abilities.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Livemocha offers many of its basic courses for free. It also has Travel Crash Courses for those traveling in the very near future. Languages include Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mandarin Chinese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (both Brazilian and Portuguese), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, and Swedish. My only gripe–and this goes to my basic instincts as a librarian–is that Livemocha does not list the languages in alphabetical order. There are also some discrepancies in the information it discloses on its website. The page for libraries, for example, says at the top that it offers 38 languages, but further down it references 43 languages. So, Livemocha, which is the correct figure?
LIVEMOCHA COMMUNITY As an individual user, you can sign up either at the Livemocha website or through Facebook. You are first asked which language you speak and then which language you want to learn. Then you tell Livemocha whether exploration or proficiency is more important to you, whether you can spend some time learning a language or if your need is urgent, and whether your preferred practice method is conversation or study.
* They’re here to help you–Friends will help you remember vocabulary words you forgot in school, correct your writing exercises at 2:00am, and give you encouragement when you pronounce things incorrectly–because they’re your friends!
* They make learning a language fun–Get to know new friends by starting with simple subjects–where you live, what you like to eat–and you’ll be getting better at the language while you get to know people around the world!
In addition to the community aspects of language learning, Livemocha has flashcards, quizzes, audio recordings, and written essays. More than the other language-learning programs, Livemocha relies on its community for learning and teaching. If you’re comfortable with trying out your burgeoning language skills by talking with native speakers, then pour yourself a cup of Livemocha.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] THE BIG CHEESE My nephew probably thinks of Rosetta Stone as the Big Cheese of language learning because it advertises widely and frequently sells its software in malls and airports, particularly airports with flights to places where you might need to know another language. The fact that its boxes are yellow might have influenced his thinking as well. In business since 1992, Rosetta Stone went public in April 2009.
The 30 languages available from Rosetta Stone include Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Dari, Dutch, English (both American and British), Farsi, Filipino (Tagalog), French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Mandarin Chinese, Pashto, Polish, Russian, Spanish (both Latin America and Spain), Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Urdu, and Vietnamese. in our site pimsleur approach review
Rosetta Stone uses what it calls Dynamic Immersion as its method for teaching languages. It tries to “surround learners with language, so they begin to think in their new language, instead of translating.” Using presentations of sounds, images, and text, Rosetta Stone encourages people to learn language as a child does, by intuitively grasping meaning rather than memorizing vocabulary.
It also has a game called Prospero in which players see a visual clue and then use their grammar and pronunciation skills to dig for buried treasure on a desert island. Prospero is available for American English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish.
PIMSLEUR The Pimsleur language-learning method has been around for decades. It was developed by Paul Pimsleur (1928-1976), a professor who specialized in how children learn languages.
From his observations, he devised the Pimsleur Method (that’s a trademarked term, so only Pimsleur, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., can use it). On its website (www.pim sleur.com), the four key principles of the method are explained as Graduated Interval Recall, Principle of Anticipation, Core Vocabulary, and Organic Learning.
Pimsleur has 45 languages in its repertoire, some of which are a bit surprising, such as Ojibway, Eastern and Egyptian Arabic, and Swiss German. You can request a language if you don’t see it in the list–Finnish would be one of those. Pimsleur also has an extensive group of English as a second language offerings. Nine levels of instruction exist, ranging from Quick and Simple (eight lessons on four CDs) to Pimsleur I (30 lessons/16 CDs or MP3s, and a booklet or PDF). You can extend to Pimsleur IV which has 120 lessons.
BERLITZ Berlitz (www.berlitz.com) is the oldest language-learning company of the group–it’s been around for some 130 years. Now owned by the Japanese company Benesse Corp., it still offers classroom instruction in its 550 offices around the world. You can also learn in a Berlitz virtual classroom or via self-paced online courses. Berlitz says it offers instruction in more than 50 languages. Berlitz language packages, first on cassette tapes, later on CD, have adorned library shelves for decades.
Its well-developed corporate programs train executives about to be transferred from their home countries and once they are situated in the new country. In this respect, it differs from the tourist approach taken by many of the other language-learning programs. Although it has educational value for the casual learner, if you tell Berlitz you want to learn a language for business purposes, your program will include business vocabulary and culture.
BYKI Owned by Transparent Languages (www.transparent.com), Byki (www.byki.com) says it takes a “declarative” approach to learning languages, focusing on vocabulary over grammar. It has a Word of the Day that shows up in your inbox once a day and lists of flashcards that let you hear and see words online.
Byki has 70-plus languages, more than any of the other products covered in this article. It offers Afrikaans, Albanian, Altai, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Belorussian, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Buriat, Chechen, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dari, Dutch, Estonian, Farsi, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Kazakh, Korean, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Luxembourgish, Macedonian, Malay, Mirandese, Mongolian, Nahuatl, Norwegian, Pashto, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), Romanian, Russian, Scottish, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Tagalog (Filipino), Tajiki, Thai, Turkish, Turkmen, Tuvan, Ukrainian, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Zulu. To be honest, I had never heard of some of these languages, and neither had my spell-checker.
However, Byki’s library package contains only 15 languages. It offers the instruction on a USB stick, as an audiobook, that libraries can lend to patrons. I find it somewhat disturbing that Byki advertises an “affiliate program,” where it asks, “Do you have a web site? If so, you can start earning money today by joining the Transparent Language affiliate program.” Would cash-strapped libraries put a link on their websites to generate sales for Transparent Languages, earning commissions on sales?
CHOOSING AMONG LANGUAGE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES For libraries, the first question to be considered is whether to get into the business of providing language-learning software. Is this part of your core mission? Does it align with your parent organization? If this question is answered in the affirmative, the next question would be content. Are there specific languages people who use your library want or need to learn? In my nephew’s case, Finnish was the make or break language. On the other hand, if it’s German, French, or Spanish, you are free to choose from any of these products.
What if the answer is negative? Your organization doesn’t support your investing in these types of programs. However, you still have user demand. Your users, at that point, may need to spend their own money to acquire products on their own, which is where Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur come into the mix.
Other considerations include delivery mechanisms. Language learning has moved from CDs to the web. The interactivity of the internet not only facilitates vocabulary building and grammar correction, but it also helps with instantaneous feedback, the pronunciations of words, and communications with other students. It would seem obvious that language learning on your phone would be the next step. Some of the companies mentioned in this article have products available on mobile devices, while others are moving quickly in that direction.
[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] Pricing is always an issue, but I found it difficult to nail down exact pricing, as many of these companies were touting sale prices with no indication about how long the sales would be in effect. Plus, if you’re involved in consortial buying, those prices will be individually negotiated.
LEARNING STYLES Research into styles applicable to the learning of other languages is hardly a new phenomenon. The ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) database has several thesaurus terms you can use to find this research, such as Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning, Bilingual Education, Conversational Language Courses, and Whole Language Approach. There are tens of thousands of documents classified under one or more of these subject headings.
Today’s language-learning software programs recognize many different learning styles and incorporate visual and audio elements. They’ve also gotten social, with communities being built into the learning experience. Because of different learning styles, you may find that some people in your organization respond better to one product than another.
All the products reviewed here support a casual approach to language learning, in that they assume users simply want to be able to get around in another country. They are not designed for those who want to hold a conversation with colleagues about their shared professional expertise or who need to understand what is being said at a technical conference.
These language-learning tools are more of the starter variety and, as such, perform reasonably well. Whether you add these to your library collection or subscribe on your own, you’ll want to choose the software package that offers the languages you want and teaches them in a style conducive to your learning proclivities.
Kiitos etta luit tama artikkelin (Thanks for reading this article), as my nephew would say if he had actually learned Finnish.
ENDANGERED LANGUAGES [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] There are other ways in which the internet affects language learning beyond simply learning some rudimentary phrases in another language in preparation for being a tourist. It’s a powerful force for the preservation of languages that might otherwise die out.
Rosetta Stone, for example, has an Endangered Language Program, which is trying to preserve languages that are in danger of dying out, such as Inupiaq, Mohawk, Navajo, and Chitimacha (www .rosettastone.com/global/endangered). Schools use Rosetta Stone to teach children languages that could become extinct if not used.
UNESCO maintains an Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger (www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/en/ atlasmap.html). It is regularly updated and is part of UNESCO’s attempts to raise awareness of and help preserve these languages.
The World Oral Literature Project, based at the University of Cambridge (U.K.), is a pilot project to crowdsource indigenous languages that might be in danger of extinction (www.oralliterature.org). The project includes both textual information and sound recordings.
Marydee Ojala ([email protected]) wishes she were vastly more multilingual than she is.
Writer / co-founder