Hear Ellen speak at one of her upcoming events
In this talk at the Larchmont Public Library in Westchester, Ellen spoke on how adults can go about picking up a new language by pursuing it on their own time, at their own pace, and in their own way. Language skills offer real benefits — from professional and cognitive to community and familial. No matter what you may have experienced with language-learning in your high school classes, it can actually bring real joy and real rewards to the later-in-life learner. Ellen's website (i.e., this one!) and your library's resources can help you!
In this 92nd Street Y course, students reviewed commas, semicolons, colons, dashes, and various verb and pronoun problems. They untangled syntax and tackled unfounded grammar superstitions that had haunted them since childhood. Attendees learned to find and fix mistakes common in adults’ writing and speech, with the larger goal of achieving greater precision, control, and authority in oral and written communications.
At the Bozeman Public Library in Montana, Ellen gave a well-attended talk, "How to Learn a Language on Your Own," to a group of library patrons and other adults interested in acquiring or brushing up on their foreign-language skills.
At the NECTFL 2017 conference in Manhattan, Ellen gave a talk entitled "The Modern Polyglot Movement: Motivated Students & Autodidacticism." This annual event serves teachers of all languages, from kindergarten through the university level. The talk description was as follows: "Today in their free time, motivated students of all ages are active in language groups on Facebook, WhatsApp, and a variety of other online arenas. On Facebook, for example, students as young as 13 flock to many thousands of groups — for polyglots, French, Russian, Chinese, Slavic languages, Swahili, Lakota — everything! Children from around the world chat multilingually, watch music videos and TV series from other countries, and share language tips while developing international friendships. Through a better understanding of these thriving extracurricular linguistic activities, teachers can more effectively engage, challenge, and inspire students of varying abilities and interest levels in their classrooms."
In a world flooded with language materials, polyglots tend towards omnivorousness — and long-time product reviewer Ellen Jovin is no exception. In a talk in Greece entitled Language Utopia! One Polyglot’s Product Fantasies, Ellen described instructional shortcomings as well as strengths in learning materials she has tested over the years, drawing on a broad selection of publishers and including scientifically unproven analytical techniques such as the Fun-to-Fluency Ratio. For all who have ever really loved or hated a language product, this presentation offered opportunities for catharsis while also exploring, quite seriously, how specific product improvements could actually increase language-learning in an interconnected world. Ellen's talk was part of a two-day language extravaganza in Greece attended by hundreds of multilingual language lovers. Visit the Polyglot Conference website for information on the next one, to be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 2017!
At Farmington Community Library outside Detroit, Ellen gave a presentation entitled "Learning a New Language in the Age of English." The event organizer and sponsor was Mango Languages, a Michigan-based company that provides learning materials for scores of languages to libraries throughout the U.S. Amid the global spread of English, learning a new language remains a tremendously relevant and valuable undertaking. It can also be great fun! During her talk, Ellen, who had by this time studied 20 foreign languages on her own, discussed some of the obstacles that get in the way of foreign language study, how to overcome them, and the very real benefits of doing so.
In this audio interview, Ellen talked with Mango Languages, a Farmington Hills, Mich.-based company that furnishes libraries across the country with language-learning materials for dozens of languages. The conversation covered Ellen's love of language and her circuitous route back into language-learning as an adult. You can read more about Ellen and listen to the interview here.
At the third annual Polyglot Gathering in Berlin, Ellen gave a talk entitled "A Philosophy of Polyglottery." In it she discussed the state of the modern internet-abetted polyglot movement. From the outside, language enthusiasts are sometimes viewed as odd birds, with the degree of perceived oddity highly correlated to the degree of enthusiasm. But what do these word nerds look like from inside the movement? What are some of their characteristics, what are their habits, and what might befall this language-loving lot in the years to come? The talk is available for viewing on YouTube.
With the accomplished English polyglots Richard Simcott and Alex Rawlings, Ellen organized the first Polyglot Conference to hit North America. Over a period of two days at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea, some 425 multilinguals, linguists, and linguaphiles heard talks from speakers including the inventor of the language Dothraki for the HBO hit Game of Thrones, the scholar Loraine Obler, New York’s own acclaimed teen polyglot Tim Doner, the head of the Endangered Language Alliance, linguist-writer John McWhorter, linguist-writer Michael Erard, representatives of major language-learning publishers, and more.
Over lunch at a meeting of this Rotary Club on Staten Island, Ellen gave a talk entitled "New York as Language Lab: How to Learn a Foreign Language on Your Own." She spoke about the five years she has spent relying on teach-yourself resources and the people and neighborhoods of New York — the world's most multilingual city! — to help her learn languages. She also dispelled some common language-learning myths (no, you are not too old!), and offered advice on how other busy adults without time or inclination for classes can acquire skills on their own.
Ellen gave a talk entitled "Polyglottery at Work: Beyond Translation and Teaching" on the first day of the 2014 Polyglot Gathering in Berlin, Germany. For people who love language, one major challenge is how to incorporate that love into their working lives. You won’t find a lot of "Seeking Polyglots" ads on job sites, so how can you take your multiple languages into the workplace and use them on a daily or at least regular basis? Such a quest often requires a creative, entrepreneurial spirit. Teaching and translation are wonderful but well-known options, so this talk explored other, less conspicuous opportunities for polyglots to maximize their use of multiple languages in their professional activities. The reality is, if you can make money while using your language skills, you will have way more time to devote to them!
Contemporary American culture seems to hold language skills—whether in one's native tongue or a foreign language—in rather low esteem. However, language skills are far more central to people's professional success and general well-being than is commonly believed. This talk, entitled, "Language, Money, and Power" addressed the intersection of language, money, and power as part of a "Together with Dewey" event series at the Greenpoint Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.
In a talk entitled "Hebrew and Arabic: Tales, Trials, and Triumphs of a Solo Language Learner," Ellen recounted some of her linguistic adventures and misadventures trying to acquire Hebrew and Arabic skills without benefit of an instructor.
Ellen gave a presentation about her linguistic travels through the wildly multilingual city of New York and discussed language-learning strategies for busy adults without time or inclination for classes.
For an audience of library patrons in Greenpoint, Ellen told stories of trying out her Italian on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, exchanging language skills with Arabic-speaking women in Bay Ridge, and practicing more than another dozen languages around town (and also via scores of language-learning products!).
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