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    Meet Daniela: Showing Her Students the “Real Italiani”

    by  • September 4, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Daniela is one of the volunteer teachers who does more than just teach the language, she immerses her students in Italian culture:

    “Buongiorno! My name is Daniela Enriquez and, despite my Spanish last name, I am Italian. Since 2011, I have been involved with GLN as a teacher of beginner level Italian. My first teaching experience was in 2009. At that time, I was studying Hebrew in Jerusalem and decided to take part in a language exchange program through which I taught Italian to an Israeli girl who was teaching me Hebrew. The experience was so fulfilling that when I came to D.C. and heard about GLN, I decided immediately that I had to get involved.

    My goal is to show my students that even thought Italy has great food, wine, and soccer players—Italian culture includes much more than that. I love to teach the history of my language, how it developed from Latin and ended up with hundreds of different dialects, and how it is strongly connected to the essence of Italian culture—expressing itself through songs, dances, ceremonies and gestures. In order to fulfill my goal, I try to involve my students in the many Italian cultural activities that D.C. offers so that they meet “real Italiani” and have opportunities to test out their new language skills.

    GLN gave me the opportunity to teach my language in the way that I love—through culture and fun!—by supporting me with new innovative ideas and its great team. During my classes we enjoyed singing, dancing, learning about art, Italian holidays & gestures accompanied by dialogues, a little bit of grammar and a lot of vocabulary and common expressions—all according to the GLN philosophy. Over the course of these classes, I saw the progress of my students and was proud of them. In the meantime, I was positioned to see my own culture from a different point of view, through my students eyes, and—why not?—love it more than before, all while forming new long-term friendships.”

    Meet Connie: An Interview with GLN’s Intern Extraordinaire

    by  • August 25, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments


    Connie Hyder, GLN Intern Extraordinaire.

    Why did you choose GLN for an internship?
    I went to a college where students spend 3 1/2 of their 4 years abroad, and in my travels I discovered a real passion for language and linguistic anthropology. As a recent grad, I was looking for a way to continue to work with languages without having to go into the teaching or translation, and so I found GLN. GLN’s vision to connect and empower people through language and culture, thereby promoting an understanding of linguistic and cultural diversity and aiming to form connections across those divides, really appealed to me, along with the fact that GLN is the only language school I know of that consistently offers classes in less-commonly-taught languages.

    What did you learn from the internship?
    I learned a lot about the administrative side of language education, as previously I’d only been familiar with how the teaching side works. It’s been inspiring to see the passion and energy devoted to promoting the mission and vision of the organization, whether it’s through outreach or program evaluations or even figuring out the classes each semester. That’s probably been my favorite part of my experience at GLN–working with the people involved in keeping this organization running. Since GLN is essentially volunteer-run, it’s especially admirable to find so many people who are enthusiastic enough about GLN’s cause to devote a great deal of their free time to keeping it running. For example, whenever I discuss GLN with people outside of the organization they’re always struck by the fact that all of the teachers are volunteers. I think it really says a lot about the people who work here that a teacher’s main reason to teach is purely their passion for their own language and culture.

    What’s in store for your future?
    This fall I’ll be beginning a library/information science internship with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and helping them out with their One World, Many Voices: Endangered Languages and Cultural Heritage project. I also plan on applying to grad school in fall for a Master’s in Library and Information Science. That might seem kind of odd given the amount of energy and time I’ve devoted to language study, but honestly it’s driven by exactly that. I’m considering pursuing the Archives/Records Management concentration because, through my experiences at school and at GLN, I’ve come to understand the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity and, in today’s rapidly globalizing world, the importance of preservation as a method of promoting and honoring a group’s heritage.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share?
    Interning at GLN is a great experience, especially for those interested in language or international education, and it gives you the chance to work with a fantastic group of people!

    I truly enjoyed my time at GLN, and I hope to see you all at G-Fest in September!

    Interested in an internship at the GLN? Click here for more information

    By Dint of Phrases: 12 Old Words That Survived Through Idioms

    by  • August 24, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments




    Arika Okrent talks about 12 English words that are only still in use due to idioms in this recent post for Mental Floss.  The full list of words, most (if not all) of either Old English or Old French origin, includes “eke,” “deserts,” “sleight,” “wend,” “dint,” “roughshod,” “fro,” “hue,” “kith,” “lurch,” “umbrage,” and “shrift.”  With respect to “sleight,” which is only used through the idiom “sleight of hand,” Okrent writes:   

    “‘Sleight of hand’ is one tricky phrase.  ’Sleight” is often miswritten as ‘slight’ and for good reason.  Not only does the expression convey an image of light, nimble fingers, which fits well with the smallness implied by ‘slight,’ but an alternate expression for the concept is ‘legerdemain,’ from the French léger de main,” literally, ‘light of hand.’  ’Sleight’ comes from a different source, a Middle English word meaning ‘cunning” or ‘trickery.’  It’s a wily little word that lives up to its name.”

    If you are taking a course with GLN, do you know of any words in the language you are studying that are primarily used in idioms?  Do you know of any English words that could be included Okrent’s list?    


    Inspiration through Tradition: Saki Mafundikwa Talks About African Writing and Graphic Design

    by  • August 15, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments


    Textile printed using the adinkra technique.

    In this conference video from TED.com, Saki Mafundikwa, founder of the Zimbabwe Institute of Digital Design, discusses the need of African graphic designers to rely more often on local tradition for inspiration in their design work.  Mafundikwa argues that instead of looking away from African heritage for ideas, native designers should learn to appreciate the creative output of their ancestors.  He cites ancient African alphabets above all, such as Adinkra symbols (from Ghana) and Nsibidi (southern Nigeria), as a significant example of what African designers are capable of accomplishing.



    Meet Keiko: One Student’s Journey from Mexico to Paris to DC and GLN

    by  • August 6, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Keiko is not just a student GLN, but also one of the dedicated volunteers who help make it all possible:

    “Born and raised in Mexico, I graduated from the University of Arizona in 2002 in Political Science and a double minor in Latin American Studies and French, and later on got my Master’s Degree from Université Paris 1-Panthéon Sorbonne (Paris) and L’Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Toulouse). My student years and the experiences that followed, illustrate my drive for travelling and immersing myself in foreign cultures and languages.

    Between 2005 and 2010, I worked in the human rights field at the Geneva-based World Organization against Torture (OMCT) and the Mexican Mission to the United Nations. I also gained substantial experience in the field of capacity-building and technical cooperation through jobs at various international organizations, including the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC), the International Trade Center (ITC) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In 2010, I moved to Washington, DC, to take on a job within the Embassy of Mexico.

    While trying to strike a balance between my professional and personal interests, I found out about the amazing work of GLN, and did not hesitate for one second in exploring ways to be part of the Network. As both, a student of Chinese and a volunteer for the Outreach team at GLN, I am able to combine two of my greatest passions: learning languages and connecting people. I am grateful to Zarko and Julian for giving me the opportunity to live the GLN experience in more than one way. I hope that I can continue to be a part of the unique vision and legacy of GLN.

    My favorite word in a foreign language is papillon (French for butterfly).”

    Meet Fabiana: Sharing her Pasión with the GLN

    by  • August 6, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments

    Fabiana is one of the gifted and amazing volunteer language teachers at GLN, and this is her story:

    “Any student in my Nearly Native Spanish class can tell you where I am from– Venezuela! I grew up in Caracas, the bustling, dangerous, valley-city that is the capital of Venezuela. I love everything about the country: the music, the dancing, the geography, the people and of course, the language. I love sharing my love for Spanish and all things Latin and Venezuelan with my students. I have been teaching at GLN since 2007 and often run into former students in DC (some of them have become my good friends). It is infinitely rewarding to know that there are people walking around DC that speak Spanish just a little bit better because of GLN and volunteer teachers like me. One of the things I most enjoy teaching to students is beautiful Spanish words. Llover, merienda, mariposa and alabanza are some of my favorites.”

    Serbo-Croatian: Are the Linguistic Varieties Becoming More Distinct?

    by  • August 1, 2013 • Uncategorized • 0 Comments


    On occasion of Croatia’s new status as a European Union member state, Asya Pereltsvaig discusses the history of languages within the Balkan region in this article for GeoCurrents.  Focusing on the influence of dialects in shaping languages within the region, she also elaborates on how in most cases, ethnic and religious identity, rather than geographic boundaries, is the strongest factor in determining where a language is spoken.

    Another topic discussed by Pereltsvaig is the two national standards of language that developed in Croatia and Serbia.  Although both standards were developed using similar methods, she highlights certain areas where they do not overlap.  She writes:

    “The two national standards still differ in their pronunciations, vocabulary choices, and sentence structures.  For example, ‘the Croats followed a policy of purism in issues of vocabulary, while the Serbs were largely concerned with remaining true to the vernacular language (Greenberg, pg. 47).’”

    Contrasting with examples of Serbian vocabulary, she goes on to provide examples in standard Croatian that rely on “native” Croatian words:

    “Examples include the Slavic-derived zračna luka (literally ‘air harbor’) rather than aerodrome, munjovoz (literally ‘lightning vehicle’) instead of tramvaj ‘tram,’ osposoba instead of kvalifikacija ‘qualification,’ and so on.  Standard Croatian retained native names for calendar months, whereas standard Serbian uses the Gregorian januar, februar, mart, and so on. The Croats play nogomet (literally ‘foot-throwing’), while the Serbs play fudbal ‘soccer.’”

    Pereltsvaig concludes by questioning whether or not the Balkan trend towards standardization will continue, making the various languages less mutually understandable for the region’s inhabitants.  As an alternative scenario, she suggests that Croatia’s European Union membership may reverse this trend.