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Language learning: facts and myths

paź 30

The world is becoming more and more global: we are getting connected more than ever and for the first time in history we can communicate with almost everybody. With emoticons and short video apps such as snapchat it is easier than ever before. However, communication is not only based on graphics but also on the most basic tool humans develop to talk to one another: the language. And if you want to be a part of a “global village”, at one point you may need to learn a new language. Here are some facts and myths about the entire process.


1. Learning a new language is expensive. Myth!

Let’s face it: If you want to surround yourself with expensive dictionaries, encyclopedias, foreign books and if you plan to visit countries where that language is spoken at least once a week, then maybe you will have to spend that money. But if you really want to learn a new language, you have a tool right in front of you: a computer with an Internet connection. There are plenty of free online learning platforms. Plus, you can listen to native speakers’ pronunciations on YouTube. There are youtubers who even teach language online, such as English with Lucy (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz4tgANd4yy8Oe0iXCdSWfA). All for the price of your Internet access.

2. I am too old to learn something new, especially a language. Myth!

Whoever told you only a child can learn something new is terribly wrong. As long as you are willing to learn there is nothing to stop you! You can always adjust the pace of learning to your own tempo. Who said that you have to learn everything in a week? Baby steps are still going to move you forward. It is all up to you.

3. I can take only a written course and still be fluent. Myth!

Well, not quite. Language is a complex system that not only requires a theory, but pretty much also a bit of practice. You can learn grammar and vocabulary, but you will always need to speak up. That is why it is a good idea to learn the language with native speakers. The proper pronunciation of the language is vital for proper learning. Don’t have a fellow native speaker to talk to? You can always find one on Youtube and listen to that person in addition to your language learning.

4. Why would I learn a language if everybody speaks English? Myth!

It may seem so, but according to language specialists, only 20% of the world population speak this language. Well, that doesn’t sound like a majority! That is why it is still a good idea to learn a different language. Why don’t you try Spanish, French or even Chinese? Wouldn’t it be great to visit a foreign country and be able to speak their language?

(MW)

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Why do we love Autumn so much?

paź 07

Let’s face it: everybody loves to stay at home under the blanket and watch Netflix. Everybody loves to walk around with those crunchy, colourful leaves floating almost everywhere. Oh, and did I mention pumpkin spice latte? But why are we so excited with October popping out of our calendars? Well, it looks like there is more science to it than we may think.

It all starts way back in our lives. As children we associate Autumn with many exiting things and as adults we are likely to follow the pattern. A recent studies show that seasons are very important to humans. Seasons give you structure and pattern which the human brain is designed to love. Furthermore, we tend to give meaning to many special occasions that start with autumn and end with a New Year’s Eve, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Our memories just make it all unique and fall is just the beginning of this very exciting part of a year (source: https://www.huffpost.com).

What is also worth mentioning, humans are designed to love coziness as it brings us comfort and a sense of safety. That is why a warm blanket, a cup of coffee or a hot chocolate are a great excuse to just stay on a couch – what a perfectly spent evening! Let’s not forget about the dream -like a background composed of colourful leaves and that very specific smell of autumn we all love and cherish.

Apparently we are all raised to love autumn and everything this particular season brings. So don’t feel sorry for buying that extra cozy sweater and another cup of pumpkin spiced everything – it’s in your nature! And let’s just not forget that Christmas is just around the corner : )

(MW)

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Tourism in Balkan Countries

wrz 10

Have you ever wondered what it is like to go for a short holiday to the former Yugoslavia countries? For the past few years I have had the impression that it has become really popular among tourists from Poland so I decided to give it a try too. After visiting Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, I collected many memories and observations, and I believe some of them can be really surprising.


As far as I can tell, many people think about these countries only through the prism of the Yugoslav Wars (1991-2001). The wars are still a fresh memory for most living people there and if you would like to experience local attitudes to this horrible past you can always visit museums of war and genocide (I can recommend one in Sarajevo). Memories of war also have a more controversial side because the history can be an attraction for visitors from all over the world who had never suffered from war. Because demand creates supply, one can buy a souvenir ball pen made of bullets and take part in a tour to the bombed out buildings.

Despite all of this, the Balkans can offer you much more. The first thing that I noticed were the breathtaking landscapes. Going South you can marvel at more and more beautiful views. A large part of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro consists of the Dinaric Mountains made of limestone. Their dramatic slopes surround the cities and are situated along most of the roads which makes driving through Balkans a perfect experience. When approaching the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro one can marvel at how the mountains there go directly to the sea. If you want to take the perfect picture you should go to the Uvac River in Serbia or to the bridge over Tara River in Montenegro.

If you travel to improve your knowledge of different cultures in the former Yugoslavia countries, you can also experience the ethnic and religious diversity. Orthodox and Muslims, Serbs, Bosniacs, and Montenegrians live close together. Because of that, you can experience a specific mix of European and Arabic culture. Overlooking a Balkan cityscape you can see churches and mosques built close to each other. If you want to buy some souvenirs, go to the market and have a look at its colors. What is surprising is that at every single market one can still find real handcrafted metal, ceramic, wood objects and tapestries, which makes all of them less kitschy than most of the European souvenir shops.

The best way to experience Balkan culture is to try local food. A part of the menu common in all the countries is grilled meat, for example Cevapi (simillar to Arabic Kofta) and Pljeskavica (a flat piece of meat) which they serve with French fries and a very small amount of vegetables. If you would like to get some vitamins you can always order the Szopska salad – consisting of tomatoes, cucumber, pepper, onion and salty white cheese. When making a stop in Montenegro I would recommend trying more usual Mediterranean food like squids or prawns. The best place for dessert, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an Arabic pastry shop. There, you can eat extremely sweet baklava cake or other sweets and drink traditionally served tea or Turkish coffee.

In all these countries people speak different dialects of the Serbian language, which are very similar, but after the breakdown of Yugoslavia they were made official languages – Serbian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. They each use different writing systems , either Latin or Cyrillic. If you want to see how specific this situation is you can look on the labels of products – you can read exactly the same description three times – twice in Latin and once in Cyrillic.

For people who love sightseeing there is much to do. In Serbia you can visit monasteries (Sopocany in Novi Pazar) and strongholds (Petrovaradin in Novi Sad, Kalamegdan in Beograd). If you enjoy the Roman Empire period then I recommend that you to go to Eastern Serbia and see the ruins of Roman cities and military camps. For those who like to combine sightseeing with a little bit of hiking and pretty views, Stari Ras in Serbia and Stari Bar in Montenegro are must sees. Kotor in Montenegro and Mostar in Herzegovina are still lively and touristic cities where you can find both picturesque old towns and nice pubs and cafes for visitors and locals alike. To experience big city life one should go to Beograd and Sarajevo which, despite remaining evidence of the Yugoslav Wars, seems to have normal capital-city lives.

I have not counted, but as far as I can estimate more than 50% of tourists in the countries I have visited were Polish, especially in Montenegro. Do you have any idea why Poles like to travel to the former Yugoslavia so much? Locals have noticed the development of tourism in this region for sure. Many of them speak communicative English, but what surprised me the most was the restaurant in Stari Bar (a very beautiful Middle Age settlement and stronghold located in Bar, Montenegro) where I met a Polish-speaking waiter! Additionally, in many touristic places (maybe except for some in Bosnia and Herzegovina) you can pay for your meal or souvenirs in Euros. Accommodation infrastructure is good too and I can say that in most spots one can easily find a comfortable place to stay at a very nice price.

What kind of travel will let you discover the Balkans in the best way? I recommend a road trip! The more time you have, the better! Many travel bloggers describe trips for which you would need about three weeks. Of course it is possible to go there for a shorter time, but you have to be aware that you would have to spend more time in the car than at all those beautiful places. And I should know, it is really hard to leave some spots, even if you know you have much more to explore.

(AM)

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Learning a Foreign Language? Do These 5 Things Everyday

sie 12

Lucy from Britain, shares her native English with the world via her channel on YouTube called English With Lucy. In numerous videos, she offers tips and comparisons such as „American vs British Expressions and Phrases” and „5 Things Native English Speakers Never Say!”. However, I found her video „5 Things You Need to Practice Every Day” to be extremely useful and informative for anyone learning a foreign language. Here are the 5 things Lucy wants you to practice every day:

1. Follow an audio soap-opera (15 mins)

In her video, she describes a specific audio-only soap-opera that offers 15 minute episodes. While short, audio-only stories are ideal for listening practice, not every language will offer this. You may need to find other options. While learning Polish, for example, I began watching a popular TV serial called Przyjaciółki. The main priority is to find a story interesting to you that follows the lives of the same characters over a long period of time. In this way, you will develop context for future events and actions involving those characters.

2. Participate in a language exchange (1-2 hours per day)

Lucy suggests that you find someone who is learning your native language who is a native speaker of the language you want to learn and that you should exchange with them. This is also called Language Tandem. Sometimes it can be hard to organically meet such a person so there are online services that will help you find a partner. The goal here is to spend an equal amount of time speaking in each language that you want to exchange, the one you are learning and the one you are sharing.

3. Daily word goal (x-words per day)

In order to improve your vocabulary in your target language, you must consistently strive to learn new words. You can set a goal of learning a specific number of words such as 10 per day. Or you could meet this goal through the use of topics or themes such as learning vocabulary related to Travel, Economics or History. Another way to approach this goal would be to target words in grammatical categories such as Adjectives, Nouns or Verbs.

4. Daily planner (x-sentences per day)

Get yourself a dedicated yearly planner where you can write a short journal entry each day. Use the new vocabulary that you learn each day to write a few sentences. Having a planner solely for foreign language learning will help you stay on track of your daily goals and will allow you to see the progress that you make.

5. Daily translation [x-paragraph(s) per day]

Choose any written format (news article, book, magazine, advertisement, letter, etc.) and translate it. Lucy recommends that you choose a subject or topic that is interesting to you and that you may like to speak about. Once you have passed the basic beginner level, it would be good to set yourself the target of translating at least one paragraph per day. Then you could work up to translating one page per day. The focus for this task is to read and translate into your own words. A pro tip is to stick to the same topic for a week and record each new word/phrase you learn. Review daily.

As you can see by the highlighted words throughout these tips, they are designed to give you daily practice in each major aspect of language fluency which include a foundation of Vocabulary in order to Read, Write, Listen and Speak the target language. Even if you can only manage to implement these tips a few times per week, you would be well on your way to foreign language proficiency. You can do it!

(SNS)

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksYCNuctkmQ

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Is our office ecologically friendly to the environment?

lip 29

Atominium works with translators who are skilled in many different languages and located all over the world. Because these workers can choose their living and work spaces, it allows both them and Atominium to be more ecologically friendly to the environment. How so? Well, when people are able to work from home they have options not always available to workers in a typical office setting.

For one, there is no commuting involved. Less carbon emissions are released into the atmosphere when people can choose to stay home. Working from home also allows huge savings regarding the fast fashion industry which is known to be the second most polluting industry and uses a lot of water resources. Home-based workers do not need a specific wardrobe and they certainly do not need to keep up with fast fashion trends. They can choose to buy less clothes and to repair and reuse those they already have.

Companion animals are known to reduce stress levels and contribute to happiness. Animals are not permitted in office settings but having one at home offers stress relief and contributes to a healthy lifestyle when you take frequent breaks – to walk a dog for example.

These days, online workers have access to eco-friendly tools like green website hosting and digital storage options which allow for less paper and office supplies to be used. A lower demand for these types of products will lower the speed at which deforestation is occurring

A home-based worker has more flexibility to choose a wide variety of Earth-friendly actions which may be dictated to them in an office environment. Actions such as abiding by the famous mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. This mantra has even been expanded to close the consumer lifecycle of goods and is now: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot.

Working at home allows for more time to cook meals instead of ordering fast-food and take-out. This can drastically cut down the amount of single-use plastics that end up in the environment and the oceans. There is also complete control over the use of utilities which can be more appropriately adjusted depending on the weather.

While there are pros and cons to any working situation, working from home can obviously be eco-friendly and it is up to each individual to take full advantage of such opportunities to do their part to protect the environment. Think about what other individual actions and habits contribute to a greener planet.

(SNS)

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