Adding another language

19 06 2011

Foreign language learning has never been a topic to grab headlines. Especially not in English-speaking countries where monolingualism is rampant, premised on the rhetorical question – “Why learn another language if  the rest of the world is busting its gut learning English? Fair enough, perhaps, but the question over-simplifies the reasons/motivations  behind the endeavour.

In the space of 24 hours, I came across two pieces that feature foreign language learning. The first was in The Sydney Morning Herald, in the weekly Education Section, where in a part-serious, part- whimsical article, the writer describes and critiques his personal experience of a course he undertook to learn (notoriously difficult) Mandarin in 48 hours.  Check it out at:

Later in the same day I was sent an article focused on the lucrative value of adding a language to your skill set. Caution – a year from now, the list may be different. Check it out at:

While we’re on this topic, anyone wishing to become engaged in language learning could do worse than to follow the blog of Dr Gary Birch, now retired, from Griffith University, Queensland. Gary, an applied linguist, is also a great communicator. Note that the one does necessitate the other: there are loads of applied linguists who are poor communicators, and loads of good communicators who are not applied linguists. Gary is both, his blog tells it all, candidly, and with humour. But what I most like about Gary’s blog is that it/he doesn’t pretend  learning a language is easy. It’s called  Second Language Mentor. How to Learn a Second Language. Check it out at:




2 responses

19 06 2011

“When the pupil is ready, the master will appear.”
I love this quote and I strongly believe that finding the right mentor as well as becoming a responsible learner is very important in second language learning. There are many other contributing factors, too but these two are definitely are the most important ones.
Thank you for sharing your findings Prof. Ruth.
I am taking Prof. Beatty’s discourse analysis course at the moment. It is very interesting. Yesterday, we had a very fun Tutorial, we had to analyze different poems and find modals, synonyms, antonyms, hyponyms, relexicalizations, and so on. I very much enjoy finding them…
Last term I took Prof. Ellis’ Research methods course. He is very smart and organized. I learned a lot from him.
This week I have to transcribe a ten minutes conversation for our EDU 530 course. Prof. Nunan stops by at times, too. He shares his knowledge and made me laugh because by the time I tried to give an answer to Prof. Beatty’s question he posted his answer seconds before mine…We were thinking Prof. Nunan is taking his MA again…
Anyway, we miss you and I hope to see you teaching us again, soon.

19 06 2011
Gary Birch

Thank you so much Ruth for your very generous remarks about my blog.

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