Monday, January 30, 2017

Languages in the News: January 2017

As it's the end of the month, it's time to look back at some of the best language stories from around the web.

Our first two articles are from the Oxford Dictionaries blog. There was a fascinating article on how current languages affect dead languages, which you can read here.

The second article from Oxford was on mistakes made by those learning English as a foreign language. If you're looking for ways to improve your English and avoid some of these mistakes, read the article here.

Our next stories are from The Guardian. The first is a fascinating podcast on universal grammar which you can listen to here.

There was also an interesting piece on some English words that you either really hate or use all the time. For Justin Myers' list of words that he thinks should be banned, click here.

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Did you really think we'd get to the end of the month without a story about the new US president? Vox reported on a linguistic analysis of how President Trump speaks during press conferences. If you want a better understanding of his speeches, read the article here.

Atlas Obscura had a fantastic article on Canadians and the word "eh". If you'd like to find out what "eh" does, why Canadians use it, and where it comes from, you should read the article here.

The BBC also brought us an article on how babies can remember their birth language. If you'd like to find out more, you can read the story here.

The last two articles we loved were from Fluent in 3 Months. You should definitely check out some excellent reasons to get involved with the German language here. Finally, there was a great article about spies and languages! If you ever wondered how spies get so good at an accent so that nobody knows they're foreign, read the article here.

Was their any other language content this month that we missed? Tell us about them in the comments below!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why You Need Specialized Court Interpreters by Lucy Justina

Interpreters mediate conversations between two people speaking in different languages. They have to have a thorough command of both languages and understand what is being said. They also have to quickly communicate the same idea to the other person and carefully choose the right set of words.
Interpreters are quite different from translators as they work in real time and don't get the chance to review their output! 

Interpreters are needed for many different situations. However, you may need a specialized interpreter for specific jobs. Here are some essentials for any court interpreter: 

Language Skills

This is the minimum requirement for any interpreter. A knowledge of both languages and some general vocabulary. In addition to the general vocabulary, court interpreters also require an understanding of the vocabulary used in court. Any deviation from the true legal meaning could pose a huge problem in the court proceedings.

Court interpreters also have to conduct sight interpretation. This is in when legal documents written in one language are read out by the interpreter in another language. 


A lot of confidential information is disclosed during legal proceedings. This means that court interpreters are required to observe a strict code of confidentiality. Interpreters shouldn't ever disclose any of the confidential information they hear in the court outside of it.


The documents and words spoken in the courtroom are very important. Interpreters should interpret accurately, clearly, and never expand or reduce content as they see fit. Wrongly or partially-interpreted content can hugely affect the outcome of the proceedings.

It is the interpreter’s duty to convey exactly what is being said and not read between the lines. This is  only only if they remain detached from both the parties involved in the case. In order to offer unbiased interpretation, the interpreter should avoid meeting with the parties before or during the proceedings. They shouldn't even consider the ruling of the case.


Since a court interpreter's job can be very different from that of a regular interpreter, it's essential that they complete the appropriate training and are certified. There are court certifications, training accredited by judicial bodies, and many institutes that offer both training and certification for court interpreters. Court interpreters must be both qualified and certified.

A court interpreter needs to know much more than just the two languages they interpret. Finding the right one will make your life so much easier.

Lucy is a freelance blogger. She likes learning by doing new things and sharing her knowledge through blogs.

Monday, January 16, 2017

5 Unusual Ways to Learn a Language

Most people know the traditional ways to learn a language like studying grammar and practising speaking either with natives or in a classroom environment. However, there are plenty of other ways to learn languages that you might be overlooking. Here are a few of my favourites.

1: Change The Language on Your Devices

Nowadays it's very common to have mobile phones and computers. If you have one of these devices, you should definitely make sure that your phone or computer are in the language that you're learning.

Wine bottles always have some
text on the label. Now you have
an excuse!
2: Always Read the Label

If you've moved to the target country and are going for full immersion, don't forget that almost everything you buy is an opportunity for exposure to the language.

3: Eavesdrop

While it's not very polite, if you hear anybody speaking the language you're trying to learn, you should probably try to listen to them. If you're confident, it might be your opportunity to even strike up a conversation.

4: Subtitles

You should already be watching as much TV as possible in your target language. However, if you can't find programming in the target language, you should at least get the subtitles in your target language.

5: Play Games

Either video games or board games are great for learning foreign languages. Focus on role-playing games which tend to have either a lot of text or dialogue and rely on you understanding information in order to progress. You can also try playing social board games, such as werewolf, which involve a lot of speaking.

Do you know of any unusual ways to learn a language? Tell us your ideas in the comments below.

Monday, January 9, 2017

5 Tips for Learning a Language in 2017

When it comes to bucket lists and new year's resolutions, learning a language is one of the most common. We're already over a week into 2017 and perhaps you're starting to struggle with your resolution of learning a new language. Whether this is your first attempt at learning a foreign language or you just feel like learning another, these tips should help make 2017 a success!

1: Want to learn the language

If you can, pick a language that you find interesting. Think long and hard about why you want to learn the language. If you have no interest in the language you're learning, you'll end up fighting an uphill battle. Learn about where the language is spoken, its culture, and the people who speak it, this should help you become interested in learning the language.

Libraries have internet access... and books.
2: Practise reading

There are plenty of online resources, webpages, and retailers where you can get reading material in almost any language in the world. Find articles and literature in your target language and get reading! Remember that there are also tonnes of online dictionaries and forums of other language learners for when you get stuck.

3: Train your ears

Fully immerse yourself in your target language by listening to it as often as possible. Living in a country where the language is spoken is a great way to do this. However, it's not often feasible for people to move to learn a new language. Instead, try listening to the radio, podcasts, music, or audio books in your target language either while at home or on the go.

4: Find people who speak the language and talk to them

This is probably the most beneficial of our resolutions. However, it's also probably the difficult to achieve. If you live in a fairly large city, you might be able to find speakers of the language, teachers, or classes. Otherwise, use the internet to reach out to speakers or teachers of the language you want to learn.

5: Set achievable goals

If this is your first time learning another language, don't expect to be speaking like a native any time soon. Everyone learns a language differently and progresses at different rates. Get to know how quickly you learn and work to your strengths. Try something simple that you can do when you begin and when you get into your rhythm you can begin to challenge yourself.

I hope learning a language in 2017 is going well! If you have any other suggestions, feel free to add them to the comments below!

Monday, January 2, 2017

The Best of 2016

With the new year in already under way, here are our favourite language news pieces and our favourite posts from the blog!
Best of the Web

(Jan Thijs/Paramount Pictures)

(Jan Thijs/Paramount Pictures)

Best of the Blog

If there were any news stories you think we missed, tell us about them in the comments below!