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Internet Regulator Approves Multilingual Web Addresses

The internet regulator Icann has voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow non-latin-script web addresses. This means that  you could have domain names in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts.

This move is set to transform the internet and will be the most complicated code change in over four decades.

Icann were set up by the US Government in 1998 to oversee the development of the internet. The US Government eased its control over the non profit body last month after years of intense criticism. They signed a new agreement which gives Icann independence for the first time since it was set up. The agreement came into effect on the 1st October and this puts it under the scrutiny of the global internet community.

In some countries they have already introduced solutions to the language barrier, setting up alternatives to the standard Latin-script. This allows users to enter web addresses in their own language. However, these are not internationally approved and do not work on all computers.

The BBC suggests that it will most likely be Chinese and Arabic script, followed by Russian that are the first non-Latin internet addresses.

Icann said it would accept the first applications for IDNs by 16 November, with the first up and running by “mid-2010”.

According to the BBC Icann president and CEO Rod Beckstrom said “Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based. So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread.”

Teaching in The Inuit Language

The Inuit, a group of native peoples living in Canada, have a graduation rate of only 25%. Obviously, something has to be done. But what? After studying the issue for more than two years, The National Committee on Inuit Education has concluded that one of the most important strategies for improving the graduation rate among Inuit children is bilingual education: teaching them in both their native language, Inuktitut, and either French or English, depending on the region of Canada.

Mary Simon, the leader of Canada’s national Inuit group, told the Globe and Mail that:

“We need to do much more to get the graduation rates up in terms of our kids who aren’t getting through school…We need to implement an era of new investment. I call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fulfil the words of his speech from the throne to make Canada’s North a cornerstone of its agenda and … do something truly significant for the next generation of Inuit.”

According to a UN study published in 2008, indigenous children tend to do better the longer they are taught in their native language. Plus, there is ample evidence to show that the current system is not working. A 25% graduation rate is simply not acceptable. Read more

New Guinea’s Languages Fall Silent

The tiny island of New Guinea is a hotbed of linguistic diversity. Though the island is only 462,840 square kilometres in size, approximately one sixth of the world’s languages are spoken here. More than 1,000 languages have been counted on: around 800 in Papua New Guinea and 200 on the side of the island controlled by Indonesia.

Still, language death is a problem even here. According to China Daily, many New Guinea languages are in danger of going extinct, especially those spoken by smaller tribes. For example, anthropologist Yoseph Wally told China Daily that based on his experience, on the Indonesian side of the island:

“It’s Indonesian more and more. Only the oldest people still speak in the local dialect,” he said. Certain languages disappeared very quickly, like Muris, which was spoken in an area near here until about 15 years ago.”

In fact, the same factors that created New Guinea’s linguistic diversity are what make many of its languages so vulnerable. Steep mountains and almost impassable terrain kept tribes isolated from each other, encouraging each to develop their own unique language. However, that means that many of New Guinea’s languages were spoken only by small groups to begin with, and when it comes to keeping a language alive, there really is strength in numbers. Read more

Where to get free foreign language fonts

Foreign language support is required for any kind of digital translation, for both individuals and business e.g. foreign artwork design, websites & document translation. Due to the prevalence of translated material, numerous varieties of fonts have been designed over the years to support the needs of foreign communication.

Certain languages use very different character sets that will not be supported by most of the traditional English or Latin based fonts. Before searching for or downloading a new font, first check if one is already available on your system for the language you require. Sometimes the font you require might be stored on your operating system’s installation disc or just requires activation via the settings on your computer. The more recent the operating system, the more likely it will have extended support for a wider variety of languages.

If you are still unable to find a suitable font for the language you are working with, these websites have a good selection that incorporate support for almost all major languages. They can be accessed for free via the following links:

Once you have downloaded a font, simply drag and drop them into your system’s font folder. The font will then be installed into your system ready to use.

In most cases languages using Latin based alphabets can be used in virtually any computer application, without requiring any added features or facilities. When working with fonts for languages that use non-Latin or extended Latin based alphabets however, you may require additional software and keyboard layouts to properly make use of them and ensure they display correctly.

Due to the limited number of font styles or typefaces available for certain languages, you may have to visit a number of sites to seek out one that fits your requirements. The sites provided should be viewed as a starting point as you will find that certain styles or font families are only available commercially.

multilingual content marketing strategies

4 Multilingual Content Marketing Strategies Worth Stealing

Experts agree: Multilingual content marketing is the future, and the future is now.

But content marketing can be hard to get right, even in one language.  Not just any content will do. You need content that attracts attention, provides useful information, builds relationships, and helps potential customers learn to trust you.

How do you do that in multiple languages? Here are 4 multilingual content marketing strategies worth stealing from brands that have been successful:

Unbounce’s Winning Multilingual Content Marketing Strategy: Hire a Local Marketing Ambassador

Unbounce is a landing page and conversion marketing platform that helps marketers build, test and optimize landing pages. The company relies heavily on content marketing to grow their English-language business. They have a popular blog, a robust social media presence and a treasure trove of resources for marketers.

In 2015, they began expanding into the German market. Naturally, there’s an excellent post on the Unbounce blog about the process they used. One key recommendation: Hire a local marketing ambassador. 

Unbounce’s Ben Harmanus uses his knowledge of the local area to select content to translate from English, position it appropriately, and build Unbounce’s German language community on social media.

As Unbounce’s  Stefanie Grieser put it, “The day a brand gets a local ambassador is the day they truly become a local player.” Read more

Young Interpreters

Today teachers in Britain have to cope with young children who have very little or no grasp of the English language. It is understandably difficult for the children who often misbehave due to the language barriers they face.

A school in Devon may have the answer. They have encouraged a small group of their students, many of whom came to England from foreign countries, to act as interpreters helping the new students to fit in.

Students in the group like Newsround Press Packer Angela have learnt basic language skills to help those with limited English in their class. Using a range of tools like picture cards, hand gestures and a basic language prompt sheets they are able to help the new student to fit in, learn English and therefore help improve their overall education.

It is so nice to read about young people being positive about language and helping each other to learn new skills, developing those skills for the future.

Learning languages in the United Kingdom is no longer very popular. Perhaps this is because to learn to read, write and speak a new language is very difficult and everyone speaks English so why should they bother. The latter is a common misconception believed by many adults and children.

The key to getting kids into languages seems to be to start teaching them at a young age, right when they begin learning in their first year at school. After all our first 3-4 years at school are probably the most progressive after that we are building on knowledge we already have. Children learn so quickly at that age reading, writing, basic maths and science skills why not teach them basic language skills as well.

With advances in technology most schools are now equipped with computers which could also be used to aid learning. In previous years children were often encouraged to write to a foreign pen pal. With access to the internet children could now talk to students in a foreign country via a web cam. Multimedia tools make the experience of learning a language much more fun.

Let them try out different languages, they might find one more interesting or fun to learn, which may retain their attention into adult life. Learning a language could make them stand out from the crowd when they start working.

In today’s multicultural business environment the ability to speak a foreign language is a huge advantage. It would be great to see more schools across the United Kingdom using students to help foreigners learn English developing each child for the better.

The Language of Golf

Golf is a terrific sport and great way to meet interesting people. To help you get out there and start playing I’ve prepared a quick A to Z of some of the language you’ll hear on the course.

Action: Backspin on ball causing it to stop dead or spin backwards.

Albatross: 3 under par on one hole.

Approach shot: Hitting the ball to the green.

Birdie: 1 under par on one hole.

Bogey: 1 over par on one hole.

Divot:    The piece of turf that flies out when a shot is hit on the fairway.

Dogleg:  A hole where the fairway turns to the right of left.

Double Bogey: 2 over par on one hole. Read more

Teaching Language With Twitter

Your mental image of a knight probably includes weapons like a sword or a lance. However, a university professor in the United States just earned a knighthood using more modern weapons, specifically Twitter, Facebook and Skype.  According to WACH, a local Fox News affiliate, Dr. Lara Lomicka Anderson will be knighted by the French government for incorporating these technologies into her foreign language classes.

Dr. Anderson teaches French to students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She is being made a Chevalier of the Order des Palmes Academiques for her innovative teaching techniques that include the use of tools like Twitter as well as international travel. As Dr. Anderson explained to WACH,  “One way I do that is through a partnership with a school in France located outside of Paris, and we use all of these technologies to promote a collaborative partnership among students.”

The two schools partner so that the US students can learn French and the French students can learn English. Each student is assigned a partner from the other school. Social networking technologies like Facebook, Skype and Twitter become the glue that hold these partnerships together, giving students a convenient way to practice languages with each other.  After a year’s worth of study, the American students then travel to France to meet their study partners “in real life.”

The Ordre des Palmes Académiques was instituted by Napoleon Bonaparte  to reward those who “advance the French language.”  This won’t be the first award Dr. Anderson has received for her work- according to a press release from the university, she was also awarded the National Award for Excellence in Technology by The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language and Cengage Learning in 2008.

Welsh Language & Culture Festival

This past weekend, on July 30th, Wales kicked off its annual National Eisteddfod in a field in Wrexham. If you’re not from Wales, you may be asking yourself: What, exactly, is an Eisteddfod?

Basically, it’s a yearly festival celebrating Welsh language, literature and culture. Originally, it was a gathering of bards, where poets and musicians came to test their skills against one another. The first such event that we know of was held by Lord Rhys of Cardigan in 1176.

Today, the National Eisteddfod not only includes poetry, literature, dance and musical performances, but also features exhibits devoted to science and technology and booths where Welsh artisans can peddle their wares. The location changes every year, but it is always held in the countryside. The main fairground is known as the maes. Read more

5 Secrets to Learning a New Language

Learning a new language is a fairly common goal, but it can be difficult to accomplish. To help you gain proficiency in the language of your choice, we’ve rounded up the following language learning tips and secrets from real people across the web:

Just Do It (Talking, that Is)

Benny Lewis, who speaks 8 languages fluently and runs the “Fluent in 3 Months” blog, offers this simple tip for beginning language learners as the core of his “Speak from Day One” language learning course: “You just need to speak it. Speak it regularly, speak it confidently, and speak it immediately. The more you speak, the quicker you will improve.”

This is easier said than done, of course. You have to be willing to sound like an idiot. That’s why immersing yourself by traveling to a country where that language is primary is so effective: speaking from personal experience, the only thing worse than having a cashier at an Italian market give you the stink-eye while you try to ask to use the telephone is being stranded at said market because you can’t call your ride. Being in another country forces you to get over your awkwardness and social anxiety.

Even if you can’t travel, though, it’s easy to put this tip into practice. Just find a native speaker, and check your dignity at the door.

Actively Watch Movies

When Lifehacker writer John Smith was learning Spanish, he enhanced his skills by actively watching movies in Spanish-at first with English subtitles, then with Spanish subtitles, and finally with no subtitles at all. He explains his process here. The advantage is that it gives you a “chance to hear a more diverse set of voices saying the same things, and all the while it is reinforcing the basics of the language, the bread and butter phrases that are used the most.”

Know Thyself

Michael Erard, the author of a book on “hyperpolyglots” (people who speak many languages), recently told Time Magazine that one thing the hyperpolygots he interviewed had in common was that “they know how they learn, so they don’t waste time with methods that don’t work for them. An example would be knowing that social interaction is a problem and saying, ‘I’m going to spend time with texts.”

Persistence Pays Off

Another common characteristic of hyperpolyglots? Per Michael Erard, “they don’t give up.” Trying to pick up a new language can make your brain ache, especially if it’s not closely related to the language you already use. Keep trying until it “clicks.”

Learn Passively

This tip also comes from Lifehacker: Modify the environment around you so that it helps you learn your new language passively. That means labeling as many of the objects in your house and office as possible, and also changing the settings on your computer and your phone to make them speak the language you’re learning.

Do you have any other tips that make it easier to learn a new language? Share them in the comments!

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