Fluency in 11 Languages

Twenty-year-old Alex Rawlings has won a national competition to find the UK’s most multi-lingual student. The Oxford University undergraduate can currently speak 11 languages – English, Greek, German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Afrikaans, French, Hebrew, Catalan and Italian. Entrants in the competition run by the publishers Collins had to be aged between 16 and 22 and conversant in multiple languages. Alex drew on all his skills in this video to tell BBC News about his passion for learning languages and how he came to speak so many.

The End of Molasses Classes

The End of Molasses Classes, by Ron Clark

A schoolteacher with the heart of a parent, Ron Clark has made it his mission to make a difference in the lives of all of our children. His first book, the million-plus copy bestseller, The Essential 55, offered students and teachers dozens of practical ideas to achieve classroom success, ranging from accountability to practicing good manners to demonstrating industriousness and respect. In The End of Molasses Classes, Clark provides 101 innovative and classroom-tested ways to lead our children to greatness and build schools full of passion, creativity, and energy.

These 101 solutions capture the magic, the success, the heartbreaks, the mistakes, and the triumphs of Clark’s own groundbreaking school, the Ron Clark Academy. These practical, ground-breaking, and powerful methods are specifically geared towards parents who want more for their children; teachers who need strategies for helping every student achieve success; and communities who hope to uplift every child and improve the education of our next generation.


Krashen’s German Lessons

Stephen Krashen says:

“We acquire language in only one way, when we understand messages, that is when we obtain “comprehensible input.”  Thus, we acquire when we understand what people tell us or what we read, when we are absorbed in the message.  More precisely, we acquire when we understand messages containing aspects of language that we are developmentally ready to acquire but have not yet acquired.”

In the very old but still very insightful video below, he demonstrates in German why comprehensible input is better for learning a language than total immersion.

Babel No More

Babel No More: The Search for the World’s Most Extraordinary Language Learners, by Michael Erard

If you’ve ever tried to learn another language, you know how much time, energy, and brain power is required. Imagine a person who can pick up languages very easily. Someone who can navigate our world’s multilingual hullaballoo. Who can leap language barriers with a single bound. Who can learn without effort and remember indelibly. Such people aren’t parrots. They’re not computers. They’re language superlearners.

Michael Erard searched for these people, and when he found them — in history books and living among us — he tried to make sense of their linguistic feats and their mental powers. His book answers the age-old question, What are the upper limits of the human ability to learn, remember, and use languages?

Rick Steves on the Value of Travel

After spending 4 months a year for the last 30 years living out of a suitcase, Rick Steves reflects on the value of thoughtful travel. Sharing lessons learned from Iran to El Salvador and from India to Denmark, Steves tells why spending all that time and money away from home has broadened his perspective, enriched his life, and made it clear to him, as he says in his talk, “Fear is for people who don’t get out very much.”