You are currently browsing the ebooks blog archives for November, 2011

Aprendre català amb mi!

Last year I visited Barcelona for the first time. We fell in love, the city and I. All that gorgeous Gaudí. And the tapas and cava. The astonishing El Mercat de la Boqueria (see pics in my blog post). And the tapas and cava. And those sensuous narrow cobblestone streets…all leading to tapas and cava.

Well! We planned to rendezvous again, Barcelona and I. And I want to speak her language, so I’ve been trying to motivate myself to brush up on my high-school Spanish–but I just haven’t been able to get myself to do it. Then it hit me. I don’t want to speak Spanish. I want to speak Catalan. That sensuous soft slur of Spanish and French.

Trouble is, Catalan lessons aren’t easy to come by. So I took the first step by going to to compose a challenge to a Facebook friend to learn Catalan with me. Now to find some good lessons… Any suggestions out there?

How to Learn

Last night I was chatting on the phone with Mr. Multilingual, and he mentioned a website he thought I’d enjoy: I like learning. And I like learning about learning. Just ask my friend the gnosiologist. So this afternoon, while I was supposed to be working, I took a little learning fieldtrip instead.

What did I find? What didn’t I find! is overflowing with learning resources–memory improvement tips, learning styles inventories, tutoring, and rivers of articles. And a list of “Top 101″ websites. Feeling learning-curious, I clicked on “Best Educational Websites.”

This led me to a delightfully sundry list of learning resources, of which I’ll give you a sampling: “Free online speed-reading software designed to improve your reading speed and comprehension.”

Nine Planets: “An overview of the history, mythology, and current scientific knowledge of the planets, moons, and other objects in our solar system.” “Use your computer to display a stack of “virtual cards” that contain information about a certain subject. Just like flashcards, you can review the information at your own pace, discarding the cards you’ve learned and keeping the ones you still need to review.” “An automated proofreader and your personal grammar coach. Check your writing for grammar, punctuation, style and enhance your texts.” “Study guides, exercises, and tips for students, grades middle school through adult, provided in 37 different languages.”

Wordsmith Writing Coaches: “A tutoring co-op dedicated to serving the needs of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students struggling with big writing tasks.” “ offers brain training exercises that work. Regardless of your age, Lumosity can make you smarter and more mentally fit.”

And , of course, our very own “Video, audio, and software courses for learning over 100 languages. Contains the world’s largest list of radio stations in many languages to help you learn your language faster.”


Cleopatra, Queen of Polyglots

This week I’ve been engrossed in a biography of Cleopatra, Cleopatra: A Life, by Stacy Schiff. Apparently, Cleopatra was credited with speaking nine languages: Egyptian, GreekLatin, Syrian, Arabic, Persian, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Troglodyte, an Ethiopian tongue. According to Plutarch, Troglodyte sounded “like the screeching of bats.” I’d like to learn that one…