3 Reasons to Learn Mandarin

Mandarin is one of the major dialects in China with over seventy percent of the population speaking the tongue. Across the globe, Mandarin is the most spoken language, with over one billion people communicating using this language. Apart from China, some of the countries where a considerable part of the population knows how to speak the language include Taiwan, Singapore, Mongolia, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and South Africa. Indeed Mandarin is becoming one of the most influential and important international languages.

If this is not enough of a reason to convince you to learn Mandarin, then the following might change your mind.

· Commerce and business

The Chinese economy is growing steadily at a relatively rapid pace. There are plenty of businesses and job opportunities in China. Likewise, many nations throughout the world have established good trading and working relations with China. For instance the U.S. has, for some time now, been importing Chinese goods which are much more affordable. It has also been outsourcing services from China and establishing businesses in China. In other words, the Chinese economy is becoming a woken giant.

If you want to succeed in dealing with Chinese business counterparts or work for an international company with offices in Asia, knowing Mandarin is one of the best steps you can take. Mandarin is the business language, hence, knowing how to communicate in Mandarin will not only let you convey your ideas properly, but also help you get the confidence of your Mandarin-speaking colleagues. Learning how to speak Mandarin gives you the edge to take on numerous commercial and financial opportunities.

· Sharpens the mind

It has been proven in many scientific studies that knowing more than one language is beneficial to the intelligence as it stimulates the brain and improves comprehension and learning skills. It has been demonstrated time and again that people who are bilingual do better in standardized tests than individuals who only speak a single language. Furthermore, the development of dementia, like Alzheimer's disease, is slow or not present at all in persons who study different languages; more so when learning Mandarin. Some say that Mandarin is a difficult and complex language with its thousands of characters, tones that give different meanings to the same words and different rules in grammar. However, this complexity may just be the reason why the brain is honed to its optimum capability.

· Beneficial to future generations

If you do not want to do it for yourself, then do it for your children or grandchildren. With the population of Mandarin-speaking people continuously ballooning and the Chinese economy and power constantly growing in strength, knowing Mandarin is more important now more than ever. You would want to prepare your children for the future. When you know Mandarin, you can teach them the language, hence, giving them the advantage of knowing a language that might just be the next most language of the world.

There are many more benefits from learning Mandarin. These should be enough reasons to overcome any reluctance in tackling the language. You may find it hard at first, but that is only in the initial stages. Besides, Mandarin is not really difficult, it is just different.

Daniel C Howard is a language teacher living in Asia. He has over a decade of experience teaching all ages a variety of subjects. For free info and lessons on Mandarin Chinese, please visit his blog here.

You can also sign up for a newsletter full of free language tips from Daniel's many hours in a class. And as a bonus, stay updated on all the new information on http://www.learnmagnificentmandarin.com/.

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Spanish Courses Reviewed - Rocket Spanish

Have you recently decided you want to learn Spanish? You're now you're looking for a beginner's Spanish course to take you through every step of the way? Well look no further because Rocket Spanish is, in my opinion, the best course on the internet to learn Spanish as a beginner. If you are looking for a Spanish course which improves all areas of your Spanish simultaneously - that is Spanish speaking, listening, reading and writing - then Rocket Spanish is the course for you. In this review I will try to be as objective as possible and analyse how exactly you can use Rocket Spanish to improve, and why the course has had such acclaim from Spanish learners around the world.

The course structure

So first of all you probably want a Spanish course which guides you through in a clear and structured fashion. The premium Rocket Spanish course does this extremely well. There are 32 cultural based lessons where you can listen to Spanish conversation and build your Spanish listening ability. You also get transcripts of these lessons which are helpful in the very beginning but the lessons are always very clear, practical, and also interactive to encourage your Spanish speaking to improve. They also last only 25 minutes so you remain concentrated throughout the course.

There are also 31 grammar lessons - these again are very clear if slightly less interesting (but grammar is very important so just ignore any course which tells you otherwise). I still check back over some of these because they explain Spanish grammar in an illustrated and easy to understand manner.

Along with these there are great range of interactive games and quizzes so you can monitor your progress and really immerse yourself in the Spanish language.;

The 'extra' software

The extra software with a Rocket Spanish premium course is probably worth the price of the course alone. The MegaVerbs software allows you to get on top of verb tenses using a programme of games and exercises to help recognition and memorisation in an enjoyable way.

The MegaAudio software does the same for listening - this allows you to complete listening exercises designed specifically to allow you to understand Spanish in context. You will still have to do a lot of practice to reach Spanish fluency but the course helps you to hear and translate over 1000 Spanish words - this means you'll be listening to spoken Spanish and actually understanding what's being said in no time.

The MegaVocab software has been the most useful tool for me. The course has loads of loaded vocab themes loaded into their specially designed exercises to aid memorisation. However the real value of this Spanish vocab software is that it remains useful as you improve. You can add your own words for input into the programme so you can keep using MegaVocab to memorise vocab even when you reach advanced level.

Additional Support

The additional support I received with Rocket Spanish also surprised me - for that price I would have been happy if it had taken a lot longer for my queries to be answered. However the highly knowledgeable teachers respond very quickly and failing that there are loads of friendly forum members always ready to help.

Value for money

The real advantage of Rocket Spanish is the incredible value for money you receive - the only course I've found that equates in terms of quality is Rosetta Stone however, with the discounted Rocket Spanish price, this is over five times as expensive for the full course. The Rosetta Stone product is more professional in appearance and marketing but there is no upgrade in terms of quality so I'd save yourself some money.

What level do I finish at?

Once you complete the Rocket Spanish course there is no stopping you - you are already at an advanced Spanish level equivalent to AS or A2 level in the UK depending on the work you put in. However you also have all the tools to allow you to keep progressing and reach fluency in no time.

Go to http://topspanishtips.weebly.com/the-3-best-spanish-courses-online.html to get your 67% discount on a Rocket Spanish course. You can also try Rocket Spanish for 6 days for free to try before you buy.

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Around the World in 100 Words - Five Language Apps for the Business Traveler

If you're a business traveler and a frequent flyer to international destinations, you understand that English can take you many places, but it can't always get the job done. Learning a few phrases in the languages of your foreign business associates can make your experience in their country more pleasant and score you extra credit points.

Too busy to read a foreign-language phrase book or attend a language class before your next trip? Language-learning apps are your solution. Compact and mobile par excellence, these highly engaging applications can accompany you in your travels and help you bolster your language skills at your leisure.

Let's take a look at five free mobile apps that you can combine to acquire foreign language skills on the road and on the fly:

1. Byki

Quick, essential phrases in Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Taglog are at your fingertips with this app. Rather than delving into extensive vocabulary, Byki is strong in teaching everyday greetings across several languages, with the multiple-destination traveler in mind. In three easy steps, you can master everyday cordialities that will take you across Europe and Asia.

The first step involves reviewing the flash cards, which come with images and native speaker audio. In the second step, you see the target language and come up with the English translation. When you've got the gist of the vocabulary, the third step is to translate from English into the foreign language.

Byki has also compiled a database of vocabulary around key themes such as beverages. Want to know how to order a beer in every country you visit? This is the app for you.

2. Busuu

Where Byki offers breadth, Busuu provides depth. Available in Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, French and German, Busuu has a similar interface to Rosetta Stone in terms of exercises and format. Native speaker sound, illustrations, colorful flashcards, dialogues and audiovisual quizzes make for an engaging and active learning experience. Students are rewarded with Busuu berries at the end of each level.

Another great feature is that Busuu allows you to review your mistakes. You can acquire vocabulary pertaining to a variety of themes, including work, sports, days of the week, body parts, telling time, dates and seasons, family members, numbers, colors, meals, directions, pets, geography, clothes, fruits, vegetables and more.

3. Vocabology

This vocabulary-boosting app is designed for the daily language apprentice. It allows you to get a word-of-the-day in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French and English from a variety of sources. Because repetition is often the secret to retention, Vocabology uses the word of the day in multiple contexts, including an addictive quiz.

4. Flashcards Deluxe

One of the best ways to commit all of this vocabulary to memory is to review it throughout the day. This app allows you to create your own deck of flashcards with words you come across in your studies and to import decks from the shared library. You can personalize the backgrounds of the cards, add photos and sounds from your smartphone or from the app's website, modify font size and colors, set up a slideshow and flag cards for more intensive review.

As you go through your cards, you signal your responses as either correct, incorrect or "strong correct" (meaning no need for further review). The program then schedules the cards in spaced repetition as a function of these responses so that you don't under-study certain words and over-study the ones you have mastered. Using the Leitner card order option, you can also focus solely on the cards you've gotten wrong recently. Spend ten minutes with this app every morning when you wake up and/or at night when you go to bed for optimum retention.

5. Radio/Newspaper apps

As your familiarity with the language increases, you can begin to immerse yourself in the culture of your travel destination by listening to the national radio stations and reading local press articles. If you are traveling to Spain, for example, download the RNE app, Radio Nacional de Espana to listen to any of the six national radio stations, andEl Paisto enrich your vocabulary while reading up on trending topics, current affairs and popular culture. Unlike mobile sites, these radio-streaming and content apps are perfectly adapted to your particular smartphone platform and therefore supply an optimized interface. You don't have to sort through several web pages to get where you want - in one click, you can stream the radio station of your choice, as effortlessly as if you were flipping channels on the highway in Spain. And in one click, you can read news articles in a format carefully tailored to your smartphone screen.

The rapidity of speech may be intimidating at first but if you undertake this exercise regularly, you'll soon be amazed to find yourself deciphering fragments of conversations and recognizing the vocabulary words you have acquired.

There are hundreds of other interesting language apps out there but with these five alone, you can build a comprehensive and personalized program for foreign language acquisition. So how much time do you need to devote to this in order to see any tangible results?

Remember that we are not talking about fluency here (though multilingualism is a fantastic goal), but rather elementary communication in the context of international business. One school of thought makes the argument that you can get by in a foreign country with a lexicon of 100 words. With 100 words at your disposal, you are able to comprehend some of what is said around you, express your essential needs and ask basic questions. A pocketbook vocabulary of 100 words will allow you to order wine for your table at a company lunch, ask when your clothes will be dry-cleaned, inquire as to the best cup of coffee near your hotel and get directions to a local pharmacy.

And if you're armed with 100 words, you're less likely to be taken advantage of by that taxi driver who mistakes you for a novice and opts for the extra-long route to the hotel. Your ability to communicate in the local language, albeit on a rudimentary level, will place you in a different category of tourists or business travelers, one that is treated with more respect. You will also derive more satisfaction from mundane tasks like checking out of your hotel, since everyday interactions such as these become opportunities to practice your newfound vocabulary in context.

So next time you're on the road-lugging around your suitcase, smoothing the wrinkles out of your suit, and struggling to get some shuteye - explore these apps for hours of distraction (even relaxation!) and acquire new language skills in the process. We're sure that doing so will broaden your horizons and deepen your appreciation of the cultures with which you do business.

Acclaro is a global translation and localization firm that helps the world's leading brands succeed across cultures. Acclaro offers a full range of services for creating and maintaining multilingual marketing campaigns, websites, documents, software and much more. From Asia to Europe and the Americas, Acclaro gives clients a local voice in global markets.

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Breaking the Language Barrier

Breaking the language barrier, ergo, finding a way to get to know to know each other and have common ground is a fast track to World Peace. Communications technology has shrunk the globe, but there remains one large boundary to all this togetherness: language. So far, businesses can only spread as far and as fast as they can find people speaking a common tongue.

Developing and designing a universal language for all, the complex "Esperanto" was designed with great hope. There are estimated to be between 3,000 and 8,000 different languages spoken around the world; they can be considered as a great source of division among human kind. On top of the tremendous differences in morals, values, religions, politics and customs, people coming from different countries must also communicate and work around those divisions in separate languages.

"A universal language would help ease some of that tension and push the world closer towards peace and unity. LL Zamanoff agreed with this so strongly that he created Esperanto, a language designed to be learned as a second language by everyone in the world."

Esperanto was derived from many different languages with the purpose of making it as easy to learn and use as possible. The vocabulary was taken predominantly from the Romance languages. For example, the word Esperanto means, "one who hopes," coming from the French and Spanish words for hope, esperer and esperar, respectively.

Esperanto was a good idea that did not work. First, because of its complexities, mostly designed to fit everyone with their own personal national traditions.

Also suggested was sign language; every nation has its own sign in which they alone understand. In much the same way that geographical or cultural forces isolate populations and lead to the generation of different and distinct spoken languages, the same forces operate on signed languages and so they tend to maintain their identities through time in roughly the same areas of influence as the local spoken languages. This occurs even though sign languages generally are not related to the spoken languages of the lands in which they arise. In fact, the correlation between signed and spoken languages is much more complex than commonly thought, and due to the geographic influences just mentioned, varies depending on the country more than the spoken language. That alone does not work, as only the people of that nation would understand. It was also suggested that universal sign would never work because of linguistic relation to the spoken languages of other lands.

In the intellectual field of science surely through the computer, teaching different nations one sign language that works for everyone is not only possible it is probable. Consider Bill Gates and the computer that he visualized many years ago. Mr. Gates has a heart of gold desiring to assist people with just about everything. Imagine genius' like him, putting their highly intellectual head together to come up with One Language-One People. "They" a few experts say it cannot be done. IBM et al., says, "Yes we can!" The multinational currently has 100 staff working on an internal project named "n.Fluent " that offers instantaneous translation across a variety of platforms.

Because today's sign languages are used according to the languages and dialects of differing nations, it is a good beginning. However, it does not cure the language barrier. One Universal Sign Language developed internationally, one that everyone and anyone in the world can understand has all the indications of functioning beautifully and fluently when learned. Think of it, visiting another country and using the Universal sign, nothing misunderstood, a closer bond with all people in the Spiritual Matrix, the Network of Souls.

Everyone on this planet is incredibly important to the goals of Mother Earth, especially in unearthing avenues to communicate and to love one another. One Planet - One Language - One People.

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History Of The Ukrainian Language And The Development Of Ukrainian Translators

From the beginning of its identification as an important and individuated area of the world the Ukraine has been a real melting pot of different cultures. The country is uniquely positioned in such a manner that it stands close to a few different powerful and influential cultures. Most notably the Ukraine is in direct contact with the Slavic nations of the north and directly accessible to the modern Middle East more to the south. These two different cultures formed the earliest influences on the region, which congealed influences from Turkey, Iran and the Slavic nations of the north. This conflicted space was eventually claimed and held by the Slavic nations and the language during this period connects clearest to older Russian. This Slavic language was really set into place by the fact that the written work of the region adopted it.

Ukraine then deviated from the Russian-flavored influence for a time when the region fell under Lithuanian and Polish rule. Both of these nations imparted a large degree of influence on the Ukrainian language and in time on Ukrainian translators, especially the Polish who made it all but necessary for higher ranking Ukrainians to learn and primarily adopt the Polish language. This was further strengthened by the widespread adoption of the Polish Catholic religion during these years, which helped spread the Polish language throughout both the religious and educational orders within the Ukraine.

As the Polish empire and its influence on the Ukraine began to fail the Russians reasserted their influence upon the region. There was even a linguistic split where a significant number within the country spoke Polish while the rest spoke Russian, imagine the effect this would have on Ukrainian translation services in the future. Traditional nationalism didn't play a large part in the Ukrainian character during this time. Such nationalism began to rise later in the nineteenth century, but was subjugated by the Russians fiercely, as they eventually incorporated all of the Ukraine into their empire.

Russian subjugation of the Ukrainian state and its language continued throughout the Russian Empire, and the language primarily existed within the rural regions of the nation until the Soviet Union rose and allowed the Ukrainian language to spread once more. While there was a regular back and forth throughout the years of the Soviet Union, in general the Ukrainian language was allowed to be used by a significant amount of people, and after the fall of the union the Ukrainian state instituted the Ukrainian language as the official tongue of the now-sovereign nation from where several Ukrainian translators are sourced today.

As you can see from this the Ukrainian language was developed over a long time under a wide variety of competing influences. Due to the fact that Russian was the strongest of these influences throughout the life of the region it's unsurprising that to this day Russian and Ukrainian are often considered to be near interchangeable languages, where understanding one usually results in the ability to understand the other.

Charlene Lacandazo is a marketing executive for Rosetta Translation, an international full-service translation company in London, UK.

Rosetta Translation specialises in Ukrainian translation, as well as interpreting services all over the world.

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Spanish Language Learning - Where to Start?

Learning a foreign language like Spanish has become easier than ever than before. The Spanish language has become increasingly popular and as a result there are a brilliant range of Spanish language resources available on the internet. It is now possible to immerse yourself in the Spanish language using only a computer with internet connection. In this article I provide a few places for you to get started learning Spanish online.

Learn how to communicate with some basic Spanish.

Basic conversation is a good starting point to learning Spanish. There are loads of videos available online to help you learn phrases to meet and greet such as hola, adios, buenos dias, buenas noches for example. These first lessons also include basic conversational phrases like 'how are you?' - '?como estas?'. Obviously these first lessons are there to inspire you to learn more about the Spanish language and a basic building block on which to build. This is made a lot easier by the huge amount of Spanish language lessons of this kind online although I would say speaking at this level is a lot better done in the classroom.

Learn some basic Spanish vocab

This is the next step for most Spanish language courses. There are loads of relevant lists online to learn the very basics of Spanish vocabulary - I would recommend playing Spanish language learning games to immerse yourself in the vocab from the beginning, as well as writing your first basic Spanish phrases and self-testing. I would recommend Real Spanish and Spanish Dict as two sites to help with this stage. The normal Spanish vocab areas covered at the start are the numbers, colours and parts of the body.

Learn some basic Spanish grammar

It also helps to learn at least the basics of Spanish grammar at the beginning of your Spanish language learning. Study Spanish is a good site to help learn about the basic construction of sentences in Spanish (ie. adjectives following nouns in the majority of instances), the agreements of masculine and feminine, and the punctuation and structure of questions and answers to basic Spanish questions.

Invest in a beginners Spanish course

The easiest way through all this is to purchase a Spanish course online like Rocket Spanish. This course takes you through step by step from the very beginning and develops all areas of your Spanish simultaneously. The lessons are clear and there is always good support on offer if you do get stuck (something you don't get with a non-virtual Spanish course)

Take it one step at a time

Finally remember to take it one step at a time - you won't be fluent after a few weeks and it will take a lot of hard work. If you enjoy the language learning experience and immerse yourself in as much Spanish material as possible you will get there eventually though.

Go to http://www.topspanishtips.weebly.com/ for a collection of the best Spanish language resources online. The website is a brilliant guide to find those resources you'll need is whether you're just starting out learning Spanish or at a strong level already.

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Foreign Languages Could Slow Down the Effects of Old Age

The benefits of learning a foreign language are not new; economic, social, educational or cultural arguments abound. For instance, being able to communicate and negotiate in another language may make new international markets accessible to a company. Socially, it can improve relationships, foster inclusion and enhance understanding within mixed-origin communities. Culturally and educationally, your experience of the world becomes richer and more stimulating.

What about medically, and from a health point of view? Scientific bodies carry out regular research on this topic and an article published in The Times in February 2011 caught my eye. According to recent scientific research, bilingualism can slow down the symptoms of ageing by boosting brain performance, and can particularly delay the onset of dementia or Alzheimer's by five years on average. These are the results of a research study recently published by Ellen Bialystock, a psychologist at York University (Toronto, Canada). Bilingual people are found to be able to cope with the disease for longer. Bialystock compares the brain to the petrol tank in a car, and more precisely the safety, or reserve, tank. The more the brain is stimulated, the better the 'cognitive tank' gets, and manages to keep you going for longer. Regular switching between two languages seems to do exactly that - strengthen your brain potential. The research now focuses on whether brain size changes as a result of bilingualism.

Bilingual children should also be better at multi-tasking than their monolingual peers. Another study (by Judith Kroll, a psychologist at Penn State University, United States) shows that bilingualism boosts multi-tasking and prioritising skills. According to this study, multilingualism does not confuse the brain and does not hinder cognitive development.

We often hear how our ageing population is putting a strain on NHS resources. If these scientific findings are indeed true, wouldn't this constitute an extra argument for the promotion of language learning? The government is very good at telling us how much fruit, vegetables, salt, sugar, fat and alcohol we should or shouldn't consume, and how much physical exercise we should include in our daily routine, so how about guidelines on cognitive aspects of our lives to regularly top up our brain reserve, e.g. how many crosswords and sudokus we do, how many books we read, and how much of our compulsory education we spend on learning foreign languages, and subsequently as a life-long component of our daily existence? Food for thought anyway...

Visit the authors website Business Language Services Ltd or leave a comment on the blog.

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