How to learn a language without leaving your house!
Brushing up on your Spanish? Want to master Chinese? Whether you're still isolating or just have some downtime over the holidays, there has never been a better time to learn that foreign language that has been on the to-do list.Orla Neligan maps out the best ways to master it without having to leave your house.
Set goals, build habitsLike anything we want to master, language learning is best when broken down into manageable, achievable goals. There’s no point declaring your wish to be fluent by this time next month if you’re going to fall at the first hurdle and give up entirely. Ask yourself what you want to achieve and by when and build it into each day. Phil McGowan, director at verbMAPS, recommends setting yourself a tangible goal such as being able to read a foreign newspaper or magazine article without having to use a dictionary. But choose ones that you like; if you don’t normally pour over Cranes Today or Fashion Doll Quarterly, you’re not likely to enjoy it in a different language.
Learning the basics in order to get around is the first step ©PictureNet/Getty ImagesThe basics"Are you allergic to llamas?" isn’t likely to be top of your phrase list, so memorising words you don’t necessarily need can be a waste of time, not to mention dull. Although there’s more than 170,000 words in the Oxford English Dictionary, a native speaker will only use approximately 10% of those words. Studies have shown that the most common 100 words in any language account for 50% of all spoken communication. You can get the basics from fluent-forever.com which has a list of more than 600 words to make yourself understood in any language, organised by theme for easier memorisation.
DeconstructingFamous hyperpolyglot (multilingual speaker) Cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti was purported to be able to speak 72 languages, and that was in the 1700s. His method? Learning the Lord’s Prayer in every language meant he was able to synthesise the language’s natural rhythms. Author and life hacker Tim Ferris, who speaks five languages fluently, uses a similar hack: 12 simple sentences that deconstruct and expose much of a language.
“I eat the apple; John gives me the apple; it is his apple – these sorts of sentences allow me to understand the architecture of any language: past tense, pronouns etc,” explains Ferris, who keeps those sentences at hand on one page so he can refer to them regularly. According to Ferris, what you study is also more important than how you study: you’ll get more from a few hours if you study common high-frequency words. He recommends committing to using 10–20 flash cards per day, available from sites like ankiweb.net.
TVNative South American Major League baseball players have famously cited the TV show Friends for their English proficiency. Similarly the Spanish telenovela, with its repetitious plots and overt emotions, has often been used to bridge the gap between textbook speak and how people actually talk (if you can handle the melodrama). But if a good chunk of your time is spent bingeing on Netflix, you could be learning something from the comforts of your sofa while also enjoying movies like Cinema Paradiso, Cable Girls and Goodbye Lenin, with its LLN (Language Learning with Netflix) tool that allows viewers to watch foreign movies with subtitles both in the original language and English, pausing automatically to help the listener to absorb the language they are trying to learn.
Who says learning needs to be difficult? © Rokas Tenys / ShutterstockLanguage appsIt’s unlikely you’ll be writing novels in French but a few minutes a day on language apps like Duolingo or Babbel will teach you basic conversational phrases. Since its launch in 2012, more than 30 million people have downloaded the free Duolingo app which delivers lessons through gamification challenges.
“Learning a language is generally a marathon, not a sprint,” notes Michaela Kron, lead PR manager at Duolingo. “Everyone is at different levels and there’s a big misconception that fluency is the end goal when, in fact, learning a language doesn’t mean learning everything. We use AI to respond to your individual responses and make it fun.” Automated feedback when a learner makes an error makes it easier to understand your mistakes, and the 13 courses also offer helpful tips. “To get the most out of Duolingo, we recommend making language practice a daily habit,” says Kron, who also suggests using the Duolingo stories and the podcasts for Spanish and French learners as parallel learning tools.
Tune inIf learning while you do the dishes appeals to you multitaskers then Irish polyglot Benny Lewis suggests streaming foreign radio stations via TuneIn to fully immerse yourself. Podcasts, too, cover a variety of topics and speaking styles. In particular, the News in Slow offered in French, Italian and Spanish is slow enough to give you a chance to gain an understanding of current news topics without getting too frustrated. Similarly Slow Chinese and Slow German are great for beginners and Coffee Break Languages breaks the usual ‘listen and repeat’ format with more casual lessons that feel like you’re going for a coffee, but still developing your language skills, confidence and cultural knowledge to boot.
This could be all you need to get you started © Alexeysun / ShutterstockDaily routines“Use every opportunity to get exposed to the new language,” says Russian TED Talk translator Olga Dmitrochenkova. She suggests labelling every object in your house in the language of your choice, read kids’ books and newspaper articles in it, watch subtitled TED and TEDx talks, try resetting the language on your phone and your browser and talk to your pets or answer family members in your target language. “These simple things can really help you learn new words right away.”
Go nativeFor perspective and feedback, nothing beats speaking to a native. Now you can do it without leaving your sofa thanks to online platform italki.com, which connects students with teachers around the world through one-on-one lessons, at your own pace and schedule. The guided conversation is done through Skype or FaceTime sessions and rates are low (from US$10/€9 per hour). You can also avail of the 30-minute trial lessons on sign-up, allowing you to explore different teachers without the commitment. If you prefer more of an out-of-body language learning experience, you can join the three-dimensional world of Second Life, where a mix of ‘avatar’ teachers from schools such as Cyprus Chat and LEO will guide you through a range of simulated ‘real life’ situations from shopping in a supermarket to more adventurous pursuits like auditioning for a movie. Who said learning a language was boring…
This article was originally published in March 2020 and last updated December 2020.
This article was sourced from lonelyplanet.com
WASHINGTON — The unofficial theme of the 75th United Nations General Assembly, which certainly looked and felt different, was the response to and recovery from COVID-19.
The unprecedented crisis has cast a long shadow and disrupted ongoing development efforts, which were already falling short of what was necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres told Devex the world now faces two potential scenarios: one in which wealthy nations step up to provide additional financing for the global south, particularly through debt relief and ensuring access to a vaccine, or one in which the world’s poorer countries are left to go it alone.
Leaving the world’s poorest on their own could cause an economic disruption lasting five to seven years, with dramatic consequences for global financial systems, Guterres said.
That would undoubtedly have a dramatic impact on development and the agencies and organizations that provide aid. Devex asked five experts how COVID-19 could reshape development and change their organizations. Here’s what they had to say:
Achim Steiner: In dark times, ‘people find the strength to think about tomorrow’In the short term, the development community will “come under far greater stress,” especially when it comes to funding, said U.N. Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner.
The U.N. has had to beg member states just to pay their regular budget contributions, and the overall development finance system’s response has fallen short, he said.
“So inevitably we will all come under scrutiny — first of all, by the people in the streets who will say: ‘Where are you? International community, where is solidarity when we need it?’ But then also by those who will ask themselves: ‘Are the institutions and are the means by which we resource our international institutions as a backbone, as a global safety net, as a humanitarian response capacity — are we dealing with them adequately?’” Steiner said.
COVID-19 response a tale of two UNs, UNDP chief says
UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner shares his thoughts on the COVID-19 response, the inaction of the richest countries, and what can be done as the world reflects on the crisis during the high-level week of this year's U.N. General Assembly.
The General Assembly has asked Guterres to develop a number of recommendations that would help countries “refocus on what is it that we actually need the United Nations for in the year 2030 or 2040,” he said.
While this is a difficult geopolitical moment, Steiner said he is convinced that most people do not question the need for the U.N.
“It is sometimes in the darkest moments of history where people find the strength to think about tomorrow. And I think we are exactly in the midst of that moment,” he said.
A few years from now, this crisis may even result in reempowering and reinvigorating the U.N., Steiner said, adding that it may even provide the mandate for deeper reforms that some believe are long overdue.
“They need to grow out of a consensus that we want a strong, effective, credible, and functional U.N. And that, at the moment, is really something that has not been there,” he said. “We take the United Nations for granted. We use it when we need it, but we actually don't invest in it and we don't govern it as a responsible international community. And that has hurt the organization.”
Sibylle Sorg: ‘Discouraging’ funding implicationsCOVID-19 has meant mounting funding needs for ongoing humanitarian crises and new disasters such as the explosion in Beirut, the locust plague, and the pandemic itself. Despite the unprecedented need, underfunding has become a regular feature, said Sibylle Sorg, Germany’s director general for crisis prevention and stabilization, post-conflict peace building, and humanitarian assistance, at an event last week.
Some important donors have reduced their funding levels in 2020, which has “sent discouraging signals, not only to those suffering, but also to the many humanitarian partners who work under exceptionally difficult circumstances on the ground,” she said.
“The very small number of donors providing the major part of humanitarian assistance worldwide has always been challenging. In the light of skyrocketing needs, however, this is getting completely unsustainable. We can’t put more and more responsibility on fewer and fewer shoulders,” Sorg said.
The top 10 humanitarian donors need to collectively reach out to new potential donors to get them to contribute, and they should commit to increasing funding or at least maintaining 2019 levels, she said.
The humanitarian system will likely continue to be stressed to its limits in 2021, and national budgets will continue to be under strain. “Burden-sharing and outreach are even more important to secure a more resilient humanitarian system,” she said.
“We take the United Nations for granted. We use it when we need it, but we actually don't invest in it and we don't govern it as a responsible international community.”
— Achim Steiner, administrator, UNDPRonald Cohen: ‘It's not enough to keep throwing money at old ways of doing things’While the amount of official development assistance is likely to fall at a time when it is critically needed, a shift in financial markets may be accelerated by COVID-19 and could bring a different type of funding, Ronald Cohen, chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing, told Devex.
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Subscribe“COVID is accelerating the momentum in the impact space because it's obvious that governments are going to be cash-strapped with huge amounts of national debt on their backs coming out of this crisis, at a time when they're going to see a huge peak in the social challenges they face,” he said. “There is going to be no way for governments to emerge sooner out of this crisis and in better shape to create a fairer, more sustainable world than to bring companies and investors to deliver solutions.”
While more investors are expressing an interest in impact investing or sustainable investing and financial institutions are beginning to coalesce around standards, governments will need to play a role in making this shift in investing come about, Cohen said.
“Governments have to be active here, and they can't get bogged down into fighting the health crisis and not worrying about the type of economy we're going to have when we emerge from this,” he said. “We have to change our economy. It's not enough to keep throwing money at old ways of doing things. We need to bring impact alongside profit to drive our economies.”
Sarah Cliffe: ‘Good outcome and a bad outcome’The pandemic could continue to have long-term implications for development trends, even once the coronavirus becomes better contained, Sarah Cliffe, director of New York University's Center on International Cooperation, told Devex.
Cliffe expects that an eventual COVID-19 vaccine will not provide a “silver bullet” and that COVID-19 “will be with us for some time,” she said.
There is 'enough common ground' to revitalize the UN, but it still won't be easy
Governments agreed to recommit and upgrade the U.N. during the General Assembly this week. Despite a jump in public demand for international cooperation, the pandemic and rising nationalism are two challenges to progress, experts say.
“I think that we could see a good outcome and a bad outcome from this,” Cliffe said. “So the bad outcome would be that the system becomes overwhelmed. There are no more resources. There are some resources spread more thinly and constant pooling of attention from crisis to crisis.
“The good outcome, I think, would be that we use this shock to the system to think that there are a small number of really key issues that we've been refusing to grapple with in the last few years.”
The issues that require more attention include inequality — on the rise before COVID-19 and now exacerbated as a result of the pandemic — and the interconnectedness of health and social systems.
The pandemic also poses additional risks, including a rise in political instability and conflict over the coming months and years. The global economic contraction during the pandemic increases the risk of conflict, and a number of elections scheduled for 2020 have been postponed to 2021, she said.
Amina Mohammed: Those with resources ‘need to look outwards’While COVID-19 has in some ways paused “everything,” it has not stopped climate change, the need for poverty alleviation, or “all the issues we had when we shaped the agenda for the SDGs,” said Amina Mohammed, deputy secretary-general at the U.N., at a World Economic Forum event last week.
COVID-19, therefore, should only reinforce the need for the SDGs as a framework, and the goals should be front and center in any response, she said.
Mohammed called on the world’s richer countries, those which have spent trillions on their domestic stimulus packages, to step up and support poorer countries.
UN chief: 'We are in trouble, and we need to change course'
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres tells Devex Editor-in-Chief Raj Kumar that the pandemic has revealed deep fragility in the world — and leaders are falling short of a unified response.
“The spending has to be global,” she said. “Everyone needs a stimulus package and spending to happen right now so we don’t reverse those gains.”
That spending must be targeted at reducing inequalities and a recovery that is greener, provides better jobs and education, and helps the informal sector through technology, she said.
“As we look at the spending, those with the resources are looking inwards, and quite frankly, if we need a global response, they need to look outwards,” Mohammed said. “The oxygen mask has been put on your face and you’re breathing really well. Many others are not. The knock-on effects of the lockdown has been a socioeconomic crisis. So I think, working together with G-20 [Group of 20] leaders, they have to open up that space and make more resources available.”
Amy Lieberman, Catherine Cheney, and Michael Igoe contributed reporting to this article.
Article sourced from devex.com/news
Written by Adva Saldinger
How to reignite Africa’s growth and avoid the need for future debt jubilee
sourced from Brookings
In ancient times, debt jubilees were customary after wars or dramatic events. By wiping out debts, these jubilees sought to avoid polarization and social tensions. Today, the massive dislocations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic provide justification for the international community to countenance such a debt jubilee—especially for poorer countries, such as many of those in Africa.
Except for a few flashpoints, Africa has mainly been spared the type of massive sickness and death from the pandemic experienced by millions of people in Asia, Europe, and North and South America. Yet, Africa stands to incur the most serious economic and social consequences of the pandemic.
Both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) forecast a sharp decline in aggregate growth because of the global health crisis. Africa is set to experience its first recession in about two decades. When you take apart these aggregate forecasts and examine individual sectors, it becomes obvious why Africa stands to lose the most. Economies of the continent are heavily dependent on... to finish reading the article, click here
Impact of pandemic could be felt by world’s poorest for years to come, international development secretary tells MPs - sourced from The Guardian
UK secretary of state for international development Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA
The coronavirus pandemic threatens to undo 30 years of international development work, with a bleak picture for the world’s poorest, the international development secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, told MPs.
Giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the effectiveness of UK aid, Trevelyan said her biggest fear was that the secondary impact of the health crisis would be felt by the world’s poorest for years to come.
“We have before us a health crisis, a humanitarian crisis and an economic crisis which threaten to undo 30 years of international development work,” she said. “The devastating impacts are already being seen both at home and abroad. My personal profoundest concern is that the secondary impacts will be felt for years to come for the poorest, most disproportionately affected.”
“The reality is that no one if safe until we are all safe..." to finish reading the article, click here.