Showing posts with label Rosetta Stone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rosetta Stone. Show all posts

Celebrating the Holidays between Hemispheres

Madrid, Spain / Melbourne, Australia

It’s that time of year. Wherever you look, across the globe, something is in the air. Maybe it’s the lights that brighten our otherwise-familiar streets or the sound of the cheerful music that can’t help but bring a neighborly smile to our face. We call it the “holiday spirit,” but what does that really mean? I don’t think it’s possible to reduce it to words. It’s a feeling, an ideal, and its magic is found in our individual interpretations. My own feelings of the holiday spirit involve two very different experiences.

Growing up in Miami with my family divided between Madrid and Melbourne wasn’t easy, but the holidays meant we would be reunited again. Each year my parents would swap between the two cities for the holidays and my most cherished memories come from these visits. Maybe that’s why December is my favorite month. I feel the holiday spirit right from the very first day and I know that whether it’s Madrid or Melbourne this year, I’m going home.

Madrid, my birthplace and home to my father’s side of the family, is extra-special at Christmastime. I close my eyes and I can see La Gran Vía lit up in all its glory and the Christmas markets that pop up around the city. I feel the crisp chill in the air. If I’m lucky, it’s snowing. I remember the first time I ever saw snow—my brother and I burst through our grandparents’ front door and danced in the street. I don’t even think we even grabbed our coats.

And then there’s the food! I can almost taste the churros and chocolate that my cousins and I would eat every Christmas Eve sitting by the fireplace, and a leg of jamón serrano taunting me at the entrance to the kitchen. Every year at the beginning of December my dad buys a jamón. Throughout the month we nibble away, sneaking in bites each time we pass it. By Christmastime it’s halfway gone, but our appetite for it endures. This time of year in Madrid is magical, and it doesn’t end then.

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The holiday spirit continues until January 6th, el Día de los Reyes Magos, when our “Santa Claus” comes in the form of one of the Three Kings. While many people around the world are thrust back into reality just about as soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, Spaniards still have another week of fantastical escape. New Year’s Eve itself has its own unique tradition in Spain where we count down by eating 12 uvas (grapes) every second for the last 12 seconds of the year. Eating 12 grapes in 12 seconds is no easy feat, but for the talented (or crazy) few who make it through, 12 prosperous months lie ahead. Warning: this is not for the faint of heart.

My joyful memories of the holidays in Spain are shared with those in Melbourne, Australia, where the other half of my family lives. But these memories are warm—literally. December in Australia is summertime and the holidays are spent at our family home at the beach. When we were kids, my cousins and I would sleep in beds on the verandah (porch) and wake up to the sounds of the waves and the seagulls ready for breakfast. On Christmas Eve we would leave cookies and milk for Santa to snack on when he came down the chimney, then head to our outdoor beds, where we’d leave an empty pillowcase at the end of our beds, in the hopes that it would be filled with presents by morning.

Christmas Day here has its own traditions that go back long before I was born. Every year the entire extended family comes over for a huge lunch: a typical British Christmas meal (as part of the Commonwealth, Australians have adopted many British traditions). The main course is always turkey with gravy, but with an Aussie twist of fresh salads, our world-famous local mussels, and refreshing appetizers to fight the heat. Dessert is a meal that has been in the works for months! Normally around the end of the August, my great grandmother would begin preparing the annual plum pudding by preserving the medley of fruits that would be combined to make the cake. (Don’t worry, the extremely high alcohol content prevents the fruit from spoiling.) Then on the 25th of December even more brandy is poured over it and it is lit on fire and paraded through the dining room. This extravagant but wildly unsatisfying dessert for a child is salvaged by the very old coins hidden in every slice. I’d enthusiastically rummage through my piece for extra pocket money and leave the rest on my plate.

Perhaps even more traumatic than a preserved cake is the annual ocean swim race coordinated by my uncle immediately following the meal. His enthusiasm for this tradition persists even as we’ve gotten older and the number of participants willing to participate has increasingly declined. Race or not, the day always ends at the beach, in our special little spot on the sand. The same spot that we’ve been going to for over five generations. To passersby, it may not seem like much, but to us, it’s everything.

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When I think of the “holiday spirit,” family is the first thing that comes to mind and I’m sure that many of you would say the same. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that it doesn’t matter where we are, what language we are speaking, what holidays we are celebrating and how we celebrate them. What matters is who we choose to celebrate them with. That’s the holiday spirit.

Learn Spanish or English with Rosetta Stone.

Nathalia Ramos is a film and television actress. She has a degree in Political Science from the University of Southern California and works part-time as the Social Media Director at Berggruen Institute. She was born in Spain, speaks fluent Spanish, and is learning Vietnamese. 

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10 Gifts with a Conscience

As you begin to tackle your holiday giving goals, it makes sense to be thoughtful about buying green or socially conscious gifts. Not only does it show you honor those on your list for whom activism may be a priority, but it also enables you to use your hard-earned dollars to give a little back to the broader community.

These gift recommendations focus on ways you can incorporate a little extra giving back into your holiday budget to make both your loved ones and the world at large a little brighter this season.

Get Involved

1. Make a donation to a charity.

Before you donate money to an organization, make sure it’s aligned to an issue that’s important to the person on your list. This charity site not only allows you to search for organizations by focus, but it also rates them according to their business approach and how much of your donation goes toward the cause.

2. Everyone wins with charity-inspired lotto cards.

These fun stocking stuffers are scratch lotto tickets that let you splurge on providing basics to people in need. From clean water to literacy, you’ll feel like a winner when you make a difference in the lives of others this holiday.

Get Gifts with a Purpose

Social activism - holiday gifting

3. Handmade jewelry with a cause.

These artisan keys become necklaces and are repurposed and made by people in Los Angeles who are transitioning out of homelessness. You can customize each key with a word that carries meaning for the recipient and conveys that this gift carries both a personal and a societal impact.

4. Take a stand for clean water.

Our daily lives aren’t often shaped by the struggle for basic necessities, but many people living on other continents are profoundly affected by the quest for food and clean drinking water.  Private donors already cover fifty percent of the cost of these stylish expanding phone grips and phone stands, so 50% of the profit provides clean water to people in need.

Get Green

5. Solar chargers for the environmentalist.

Solar energy isn’t just the future—it’s our present. Give the gift that keeps on giving with these solar chargers that have enough juice to power a small tablet or smartphone through several hours of normal use.

6. Getting off the grid with a monthly homesteading subscription.

If you’ve got a survival enthusiast on your giving list or a budding homesteader, this subscription box will be a perfect solution. From gardening to wilderness supplies to foraging instruction, this subscription provides the gift of self-sufficiency.

Get Empowered

7. Learn a language.

One of the best ways to gift with a conscience is to find ways to increase tolerance around the globe through common connections like food or language. Rosetta Stone offers 24+ languages to choose from with dynamic lessons that help language learners speak up for themselves.

8. Support women entrepreneurs around the world.

Empowering the disadvantaged is an incredible gift, and your shopping dollars can go a long way towards helping women entrepreneurs in other countries. Fair Trade Winds sells handmade crafts from women around the world who are striving to make their dreams come true.

Get Thoughtful

9. Carefully curate a gift that matters.

Stumped on what to give this holiday? Packed with purpose can help. They create customized gift boxes based on carefully sourced products so your giving can have maximum impact.

10. Give the gift of music.

Music is a universal language, but not everyone has the luxury of enjoying it. Your purchase of these highly rated, premium headphones, earbuds, or speakers helps give back with hearing aids for those in need worldwide.

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Gifts for the Savvy Traveler

If you’ve got someone whose bucket list and Instagram feed is the envy of friends and family, this gift guide is for you. From airport comfort and packing convenience to opportunities to travel without leaving the comfort of your couch, these gift suggestions for globetrotters will kick-start your holiday shopping.

While you probably can’t afford to gift that travel enthusiast round-trip airfare to this year’s hip destination, you can still feed that enthusiasm for adventure with thoughtful gifts that go the extra mile.

1. Safety and style folded into one infinity scarf

This infinity scarf will definitely work overtime for the savvy traveler. Stylish and soft, it sports a hidden pocket with plenty of room for your boarding pass, phone, maps, keys, and other valuables.

2. Adapt your electronics to the destination

The traveler on your list may have an odd assortment of these adapters, but they’ll appreciate the convenience of having a compact, universal set that fits easily into a carry-on and works in more than 150 countries around the world.

 

Get traveling.

3. Cocktail kits make you feel like you’re traveling first class

First-class is an indulgence that’s out of reach for many, but you can still bestow the gift of superior cocktail service with these kits. Each one is designed with carry-on friendly ingredients, so you just have to add alcohol and a mixer offered by the inflight beverage service to get the best sip in economy.

4. Give the gift of Airbnb

Airbnb is the go-to in many countries where savvy travelers are looking to get authentically local, reasonably priced accommodations. Grab your world explorer a gift card that’s good for stays at various Airbnb properties across all seven continents and in 196 countries.

Get hungry.

5. Get savvy about street food with this guide

One of the best parts of experiencing other countries through travel is developing a taste for the cuisine. This guide covers the rising popularity of street stalls and food trucks in cities across the globe and helps travelers find great eats on a budget.

6. Give a subscription to a taste of the world

If your ambitious traveler is a bit short on funds, you can still give the gift of exploring the world from the comfort of home. This box brings various authentic cuisines and snacks to your door courtesy of a carefully curated subscription.

Get local.

7. Sound like a native with the gift of language

Before you go, it’s important to know a bit of the language. Rosetta Stone offers lessons in more than 24+ languages with learning software and an award-winning mobile app, so language learners can fit being bilingual into their busy schedule.

8. Bag this gift to practice sustainable travel

Luggage space is a precious commodity for travelers. Make it easier to bring those souvenirs home with these compact, collapsible stuff bags that help make the most of the space you have. Made from 100% organic non-GMO cotton and 100% recycled plastics, this company donates 100% of their profits to environmental education initiatives around the globe.

Get memories.

Savvy Traveler Rosetta Stone

9. Grab that Insta-worthy shot with iPhone lenses

Smartphone cameras have improved dramatically in the last few years, and these days, many people don’t bother taking a more substantial camera on their travels. Help that smartphone pull double-duty with specialized lenses that are perfect for capturing wide-angle landscape shots or up-close, drool-worthy food photos.

10. Scratch the next trip off the bucket list

There’s something incredibly satisfying about crossing something off your list, and that’s especially true for travelers and their bucket lists. Make it even more appealing with this scratch map that’ll help your savvy traveler humblebrag about their bucket list adventures.

 

Disclaimer: Recommendations published in this guide are for general information purposes only and should not be considered product endorsements. Rosetta Stone does not profit or have an affiliate relationship with any of the companies whose products are included in this guide.

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The Best Gifts for Busy Professionals

The holidays can be a hectic time, and for many busy professionals, they’d really like the one gift that’s difficult to give—time. While you can’t wrap-up stolen minutes, you can focus on gifts that help the hard-working folks in your life take a moment for themselves.

From stress relief to efficiency, these products give back something precious we could all use a little more of. It’ll feel good to know your gift will give the opportunity to take time off and focus on making memories with friends and family this holiday season.

Get Efficient

1. Give the gift of a clean house

If there’s one thing busy people will appreciate, it’s one less thing on their lengthy to-do lists. Tidy serves various metro areas across the United States with a network of cleaning services designed to take care of the mess, so they don’t have to.

2. A little Lyft goes a long way

Lyft recently expanded its coverage area and 9 out of 10 Americans now have access to the ride-sharing service in their area. Grab a gift card for that business professional who is always looking for a ride to the airport or a hassle-free evening commute.

3. For those who need to recharge on the go

People who work in business, technology, media, and more all have one thing in common—their battery life is always in short supply. Give the gift of working on-the-go by keeping their smartphone or other devices charged and online with those powerful bullet batteries.

4. Give the gift of caffeine

For some busy folks, caffeine is a lifeline that gets them through a hectic day. Make it just a little easier by bringing artisan coffee from Blue Bottle to their doorstep with a monthly subscription box. You choose 3- or 6-month subscriptions or tailor your own gift subscription to choose the types of coffee and delivery frequency.

Get Challenged

5. Be creative with online classes

It may seem like adding one more thing to a packed schedule is a bad idea, but this may actually force some dedicated creative time that’s badly needed. Craftsy has a menu of online classes to choose from such as knitting, cooking, and even art classes, all of which can be taken from the comfort of your own home in pajamas.

6. Give the gift of bilingualism

If your ambitious friends or family members are looking to advance their career, or just want a new hobby, the gift of language will be much appreciated. Rosetta Stone has more than 24 languages to choose from, with an award-winning mobile app.

 

Get Relaxed

7. Green up their workspace

If they’re going to spend lots of time at the office, might as well make that desk as appealing and comfortable as possible. After all, it’s a home away from home. This desk planter accomplishes that with multifunctional space that includes room for succulents or ferns up top and pens or other tools below.

8. Put their feet up for some pampering

Make sure your busy bee schedules some time to indulge with a spa gift card. Spa Finder has a network of quality spas and retreats across the United States that serve as little oases where your loved one can get a mani-pedi, facial, massage, or spend some time soaking in the quiet of an undisturbed hour or two.

 

Get Practical

Holiday Gift Guide for Professionals

9. Roll up with the gift of cord control

One thing all busy professionals who are plugged in have are a lot of devices and thus, a lot of cords. Help them keep track and avoid a tangled mess with this travel roll that keeps cables secure and in one place so they don’t get left behind at home or in hotel rooms.

10. Smooth clothing wrinkles

If you’ve got someone on your nice list who travels often for business, this handy steamer is going to be a gift that gets plenty of mileage. While some shirts and skirts can be easily ironed, there many garments like expensive suits or formal dresses that are best smoothed over with steam.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Give Rosetta Stone

Suddenly feeling stuck about what to give during the holiday season? Sure, you have choices—multicolor blenders, air fryers, wool caps, dog raincoats—but gifting a new language is really special. Discover why they’ll love it:

1. A new language boosts confidence.

Unlike those bleached jeans… speaking multiple languages never goes out of style. They’ll pronounce each new word perfectly, and confidently, when chatting with the locals.

Conversation with Rosetta Stone.

2. Rosetta Stone is built by experts.

Some language learning apps use crowdsourcing to build their program. Our team of linguists supervises the creation of every language course, from Spanish to Japanese, so you know you’re learning the right way.

3. It’s portable.

Rosetta Stone on Mobile

Things get busy. Whether they’re on a trip or just commuting to work, progress syncs on the cloud, which means they can pick up where they left off.

4. It’s trusted.

For over 26 years, top organizations have turned to Rosetta Stone for their language learning needs.

5. Gifting Rosetta Stone is just, well, easy.

We’re not saying that you’re lazy. You just don’t like schlepping, shipping, or lugging around bulky gifts. Giving Rosetta Stone is as simple as a few clicks.

 

Give Rosetta Stone now.

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Holiday Giving: A Guide to the Best Gifts for Parents

 

When the holidays roll around, it’s often parents who find their hands full, hustling to get gifts for little ones and spreading holiday cheer. If you’ve got one of those busy holiday ambassadors on your shopping list, you may have found it difficult to discern what would bring a little magic into their hectic lives.

While a vacation to a tropical destination and a fantastic babysitter might be a bit beyond your budget, here are some gifts that are within your power to bestow that’ll make a busy parent’s holiday a little brighter.

 

Get sentimental.

1. Preserve memories with a photo box

Preserving photographs and mementos from the last family vacation can be a challenge. That’s why photo boxes help gather all your memories in one spot, protecting the entire experience for decades of “do you remember when” sessions.

2. Gather those family recipes into a cookbook

While you may not have relished Mom’s meatloaf recipe as a kid, when adulthood comes calling, you’ll probably be eager to dig it up out of the archives for posterity. Gather family recipes into a cookbook that can serve up memories for generations to come.

 

Get practical.

3. Noise-canceling headphones always come in handy

A house full of noisy, boisterous kids is both a blessing and a challenge. Get ahead of the noise with headphones designed to give busy parents a few moments of blissful silence.

4. Get a warm welcome with this monogrammed doormat

When it comes to active households, a robust doormat is always appreciated. This one goes the extra mile by adding the personal touch of the family monogram.

 

Get thoughtful.

5. Show you care with smoke & carbon monoxide alarms

Protect the people you love with fire protection systems that connect to other smart home devices. Chances are, especially if it’s an older home, the house is probably not outfitted with the latest home safety gadgets designed to provide the maximum amount of early warning. It’s a practical gift for parents that shows you know what’s important to them.

6. Make a calendar of those Insta-worthy moments

You’ve seen the adorable pics plastered all over social media, but now these priceless shots can be admired every day of the year with this customizable calendar designed from Instagram posts.

 

Get outside the box.

7. Discover ancestry with genetic testing kits

Give the gift of family tradition and heritage with a genetic testing kit that can trace lineage. Some of the more advanced kits even provide health profiles that might flag risk factors and offer insight into genetic conditions.

8. Deliver the gift of healthy meals to their doorstep

Most working parents struggle to get a home-cooked meal on the table every night. Make that job easier with a meal subscription service that brings recipes and local ingredients right to their door. The less time parents spend shopping for and preparing meals, the more time they get to spend enjoying the family.

 

Get a gift for the group.

Gift Guide for Parents - Rosetta Stone

9. Give the gift of language

Being bilingual is a gift everyone can benefit from. Not only do those who speak a second language have more professional and personal opportunities, but they also may experience cognitive gains like increased creativity and a better ability to multitask.

10. Lend a hand to the whole family with Echo & Alexa

When you’re juggling things in the kitchen, a personal assistant is invaluable. That’s why the whole family will love a gift like an Echo or Dot that brings Alexa and all the help she can give into the home. From voice-activated shopping lists to games for the kids and weather and emergency reports, Alexa can be the best friend any family ever had.

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History and Hebrew in Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv, Israel

I feel fortunate to have had a multicultural upbringing, not only at home but also in my community. Believe it or not, growing up as a Spanish, Australian Jew was not that unusual in Miami, Florida, a city filled with Latinos of every color, religion, and ethnicity (my best friend is “Jewban”––Jewish/Cuban––and she’s not unusual either). After-school Hebrew class was just another fun, extracurricular activity, like soccer or dance, and Judaism for me was more an assortment of traditions than a religious belief system. When I was 13 and many of my friends were studying for their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, I was out in LA studying scenes for auditions. I never really thought much about my Hebrew school days once I had officially moved out to LA until recently. I was reminded because I was planning a summer vacation to Israel and I always like to learn a little bit of the local language before I travel somewhere new (OK, and because I had what one might consider an unhealthy obsession with the Israeli TV show, Fauda). I ordered Rosetta Stone Hebrew and set a goal to practice every day until I left. I was instantly shocked at how easily the Hebrew I had learned to read so long ago came back to me. But these daily lessons shed light on the fact that for so many years I had been reading text with no comprehension. (This is normal for many American Hebrew school students as getting bar or bat mitzvahed only requires that you read the prayers, not speak the language.) For the first time in my life I felt a desire to discover more of this ancient language and my own Jewish heritage that it embodies.

As soon as I touched down in Tel Aviv I became obsessed with reading everything in sight. “Look,” I would shout out to my friends, “I can read that! I remember!” I’m sure I drove them all a bit mad, but it was thrilling to connect to the country in a way that I never expected I would. Each day brought new adventures and lessons. Israel is such a fantastic place to visit because it really has everything––it’s full of history and diverse cultures, but also has beaches, excellent restaurants, and wild nightlife. In Tel Aviv we loved visiting the old markets in Jaffa, making friends on the beach, and trying to tick off every restaurant from a long list of “must go-tos” from friends. Another day, we rented a car and drove to the Dead Sea, the lowest point on Earth. This body of water is so salty that no living creatures inhabit it. Visitors famously float to the surface when they bathe and cover their bodies with its mud for a skin treatment that would rival any Beverly Hills spa!

Learn Hebrew - Dead Sea, Israel

Learn Hebrew - Dead Sea

On our way back to Tel Aviv we stopped at the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem for lunch, possibly one of the most captivating places I’ve ever visited. A war correspondent I know put it best when he described it to me as “…a den of intrigue, full of spies, diplomats and foreign correspondents.” That’s what it feels like when you’re there. The history of this hotel is legendary and worth reading about when you have the time. However, the current political situation between East and West Jerusalem is tense, to say the least, and residents of the city are both physically and emotionally divided by it. As an outsider it was easy for me to enjoy all the wonders Jerusalem had to offer, but the complex reality of daily life was always in the back of my mind.

My favorite part of the trip came two days later when we returned to Jerusalem with our tour guide, Avi, to visit the old part of the city. The Old City is divided into four quarters: Jewish, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian, and Avi took us through all of them. It blew my mind to think that such a small physical area contains the holiest of sites for so many. I was grateful that Avi showed us all four quarters and taught us a bit about the history of each one of them. I left that evening eager to learn even more, but also saddened when I thought about how little we’ve evolved since those ancient days and how much intolerance still persists. It was then that Avi told me something I would never forget: the only way we humans can achieve progress in life is to break the shackles of the past that are holding us back. We must learn to forgive and find ways to move forward.

Learn Hebrew - Jerusalem

Visiting these cherished places of the past I learned more about who I am in the present and who I want to be in the future. I wasn’t aware of it before, but my Hebrew school in Miami shaped so much of who I am today and I’ve carried it’s lessons of tolerance, openness, curiosity, and (surprisingly) Hebrew with me ever since without even realizing it. Learning to read Hebrew once seemed like a pointless endeavor, but I now understand we were taught it because it carries knowledge that has been passed down to us, from one generation to the next, for over 3,000 years and with that comes a sense of duty. Life is always changing and nothing lasts for eternity, but if we all take a moment to reflect on the traditions and ideas that have stood the test of time, we may discover that we have more in common with one another than we thought.

A little more on the Hebrew language.

I decided to dive in to this history and quickly realized that the story of the evolution of the Hebrew language over the last 3,000 or so years is as long and complex as the story of its motherland. In a nutshell, Hebrew fell out of common usage around 135 CE when the Jewish diaspora spread out of Israel across Europe and other parts of the Middle East. The desire among this diaspora to return to their homeland started to gain popularity in the 19th century amidst growing anti-Semitism. The unimaginable horrors of World War II and the Holocaust turned desire into necessity. A common language was a critical step in order to create a national cohesive identity between the Arab/Mizrahi Jews and the Eastern European/Ashkenazi Jews and establishing the State of Israel. Thus began the Hebrew revival of the modern era, largely led by the newly arrived immigrants from across Eastern Europe. This was no easy feat. Having been utilized in little more than religious practices for centuries, a vast amount of modern vocabulary was lacking in the Hebrew lexicon. Oftentimes, these mostly native Yiddish speakers had no choice but to directly translate Yiddish words into Hebrew. The Yiddish influence on the language affected everything, from the grammatical structure of the sentences to the pronunciation, to the words themselves and the way they are used. Many Hebrew idioms for example come from Yiddish expressions that would have made little sense to non-Yiddish speakers, such as the Mizrahi’s who came from the Middle East.  For example, the Israeli greeting Ma nishma? (lit. ‘What is heard?’) is a calque or literal translation of the Yiddish Vos hert zikh?

What is Yiddish?

Yiddish is the language of the Ashkenazi Jews of Central and Eastern Europe. It’s a ‘fusion language’ that is mainly Germanic, but also combines elements of Slavic, Semitic, and other languages. At its peak, in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust, there 11-13 million Yiddish speakers worldwide, making it the most widely spoken Jewish language. 85% of the approximately 6 million Jews who were killed in the Holocaust were Yiddish speakers, which led to a massive decline in the use of the language. Today there are an estimated 1.5 million Yiddish speakers.

Some fun facts.

  • It is one of the 10 oldest languages still spoken today. Like Chinese or Farsi,  a native reader today could read ancient texts from 10th Century BCE about as easily as a 2018 New York Times bestseller.
  • The speed at which Hebrew became adopted is incredibly rare. The language went from 10 Hebrew speaking families in 1900, to 34,000 by 1916-1918, to roughly 9 million a century later!
  • Ancient Hebrew is a Semitic language, as is Arabic. Because the written language hasn’t changed, Israeli Arabs have an easier time learning to read and write. However, because the modern spoken language was adapted by European language speakers, Israelis of European descent find it easier to speak. For instance, Ancient Hebrew is a VSO Language: the verb comes first, a common feature of Semitic languages. Modern Hebrew is an SVO language, where the subject comes first, like in most European languages. Because Ancient texts do not have punctuation, the language was adapted to reflect the syntax of the revivalists. This site does a nice summary of the differences between Ancient and Modern Hebrew if you’d like to learn more.
  • Morphology: The way that words are formed and fit together is the same in biblical Hebrew and modern Hebrew. Though vocabulary has obviously expanded since ancient times, most of the new Hebrew words are created from the original Hebrew roots and placed into the templates, creating a new modern meaning related to the ancient root meaning. For example, the word for computer, מחשב (“machshev”). It come from the root letters חשב (ch-sh-v), with the meaning of “think.” So you could say that “machshev” literally means something like “Thinking device”.
  • Yiddish words used in English: glitchmavenmishmashtushklutz, bagel, schmooze, shtick, shvitz, schlep,
  • Hebrew words in English: golem (an artificial human being), Kosher (Root is in the Hebrew word for ‘right’)

Try Rosetta Stone Hebrew today.

 

References

Eastern Yiddish at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)

Hagege, Claude: On the Death and Life of Languages

Solomon BirnbaumGrammatik der jiddischen Sprache (4., erg. Aufl., Hamburg: Buske, 1984), p. 3.

Strazny, Philip: Encyclopedia of Linguistics, p. 541

 

Nathalia Ramos is a film and television actress. She has a degree in Political Science from the University of Southern California and works part-time as the Social Media Director at Berggruen Institute. She was born in Spain, speaks fluent Spanish, and is learning Vietnamese. 

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From New Delhi to New Haven: My Hindi Journey

New Delhi, India

After three plane rides, around 48 hours of cumulative travel, and some suspicious-looking curry on my flight, I finally stumbled into the Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Airport around noon. As I soaked in the heat and swatted away my first of the mosquitoes I would come to know all too well throughout my time in India, I was emotionally preparing myself. My heart pounded. I knew that right on the other side of the sliding glass doors over in the arrivals terminal my new bhai, mata-pita, and dadu-dadi (brother, parents, and grandparents) were eagerly waiting for me.

My name’s Luke, I’m 16 years old, and in that moment I was readying myself to spend two months in Madhya Pradesh, India, living with a host family through the State Department-funded National Security Language Initiative for Youth program. My new home fell in Indore, India, a “small city” of around two million, smack dab in the center of the country.

My journey with Rosetta Stone began around two months prior to departure, when I first learned I would be spending the summer abroad. Determined to wow my host family with all that I would learn before even arriving, I couldn’t wait to get started on my Hindi! For around eight weeks, I put in around half an hour of practice just about every day –– whether I was munching on cereal in the mornings or procrastinating on homework, I always had Rosetta Stone open! That’s the beauty of it… the work you put in really doesn’t feel like work at all!

Taj Mahal - Learn Hindi

It all paid off in the end. There was nothing quite like the moment I met my new family for the first time, the way my nerves vanished the moment my host mom met me with a smiley namaste! As they carted me through the city to the neighborhood I would soon call my second home, the entire clan beamed and applauded as they asked me questions and I responded… in Hindi!

It’s truly surreal to experience the type of progress that Rosetta Stone enables. It’s easy to lose sight of how much you’re learning sometimes, especially in the moments when you’re struggling over vocabulary or totally lost on a new grammar rule. But when you just go for it and speak, unwilling to let the potential of making mistakes (which is inevitable, trust me!) get in your way of trying, it’s amazing to see how much you’ve learned! Rosetta Stone gave me the confidence I needed to start speaking Hindi from the moment I walked through those airport doors and took on a new country and culture for the first time.

What I quickly found is that speaking the language enabled me to connect with my host community in a way that truly would not have been possible otherwise. My host mom explained to me that Indians infrequently see foreigners make an attempt to learn their language, and that it’s such a pleasant surprise to see travelers making an effort. It was a phenomenon that I experienced each day while abroad, from the smiles that lit up faces when I asked for directions in Hindi to the shopkeepers who beamed as I asked for prices in their first language. Those were the moments that made all my work worth it.

When I boarded my long-haul flight back to the States on August 18, I was sure that, at least for now, my Hindi journey had ended. I was wrong.

Flash forward three months … I’m landing in the tiny New Haven, Connecticut airport after almost a full day of travel. I’m exhausted as I load my suitcase into my Uber’s trunk and stumble into the backseat. Yet, as I climb in, my eyes are immediately drawn to an almost-missable figurine of the Hindu god Ganesh-ji on the man’s dashboard.

“Kya aapko Hindi aati hai?” [“Do you know Hindi?”] I asked.

The man is thrilled! He replies with an enthusiastic “Mujhe bilkul Hindi aati hai!” [“I absolutely know Hindi!”] and begins to ask me questions on everything from how I got started with the language to what I’m doing here in New Haven. What I originally anticipated to be just another typical Uber ride, with little interaction between driver and passenger, quickly turned into an opportunity not only for me to practice some Hindi, but also to engage with someone I likely wouldn’t have if language hadn’t brought us together!

As we pull up to my Best Western, the man helps me with my luggage and asks if he can shake my hand. He tells me that ever since immigrating to this country from Nepal over 30 years ago, no one outside of his Desi community had ever spoken to him in his mother tongue.

I originally wanted to learn another language because I wanted to explore the world. And I did! Hindi opened up a whole new country and culture for me to experience. Yet the greatest gift my Hindi journey gave me was a new way to interact with my own community.

At the end of the day, you don’t have to travel across the globe for language learning to be worth it. The most important connections that a new language brings may be far closer to home than you expect.

Luke Tyson is a student in Pennsylvania studying Hindi with Rosetta Stone. 

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Homesick for My Home Away from Home: Colombia

Cali, Colombia

I took the red-eye flight from LA and arrived in Cali early in the morning feeling rather exhausted and grumpy, as one would expect. My deliriousness instantly evaporated when I was greeted at the airport by an old friend bearing buñuelos (basically fried, doughy, cheesy corn balls––amazing, I know). He drove me to set every morning 5 years ago and still remembered my favorite Colombian treat! I couldn’t find the words to adequately express how touched I was. “Bienvenida de regreso a Colombia Nathalia. ¿Qué tal su vuelo? ¿Se siente cansada?” This is a formal way of saying, “Welcome back to Colombia. How was your flight? Are you tired?”

I first traveled to Colombia in 2013 to film a movie that shot in Bogotá. Always up for an adventure, I was thrilled at the opportunity to work and live somewhere new. Within days of arriving I had fallen in love with all Colombia had to offer––the lifestyle, the food, the music, but most of all, the people. Since then I have been back to Colombia many times and I feel a part of me is Colombian now––even my family in Spain tells me I speak Spanish with a Colombian accent! I’ve made many great friends over the years and a few weeks ago got to go back to celebrate the wedding of one of my dearest friends. It was another unforgettable experience in my home away from home.

In most other Spanish dialects, the tense of tú is used in conversation with most people, so it would sound like “¿Qué tal tu vuelo? ¿Estás cansada?” But Colombians generally are the most formal of the Spanish speakers and use usted for speaking to almost anyone, even a close friend or family member. Therefore, in Colombia you will find that most of the verbs are conjugated for usted. Conjugations can be one of the trickiest aspects of learning Spanish. In English we typically only conjugate verbs to identify singular vs. plural nouns (e.g. I sing, he sings, they sing). And these verbs remain the same regardless of the formality (i.e. We would address our best friend or our teacher in the form of “you”). To conjugate for usted in regular verbs, you drop the ending and add -a or -e, verus for you add -as or -es.

Here are two examples:

Usted habla/ hablas.

Usted come/tú comes.

As well as being very formal, Colombians tend to use less slang and fewer colloquialisms than spoken in other Spanish dialects, so I find them to be the easiest to understand. That’s not to say they don’t add their own uniquely Colombian touches––words like listo (used to imply something is understood, whereas in Spain I use it to mean ‘I am ready’) and chévere (when something is ‘cool’ or ‘good’) are as Colombian as buñuelos!

 

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Finally got my hands on some buñuelos. Yum!

Why is Colombian Spanish so formal?

I wanted to learn more about why Colombian Spanish is so formal, so I started to dig deeper. It is difficult to pin down the exact origins of the different Spanish dialects across the Americas, but the history can offer us clues. As I learned while writing my Mexico City blog, it is likely that the first colonizers of Mexico came from Andalusia, not Castile. The first conquistador to arrive, Hernán Cortés, was a rebel who led his own expedition and only sought support from the Spanish Empire after his colonization of the Aztecs. Colombia, on the other hand, was discovered by Alonso de Ojeda while on an official voyage commissioned by the Spanish Crown. These closer political and financial ties could explain why Colombian Spanish evolved to resemble its mother tongue more closely. Another likely explanation could be that the natives living in Colombia at the time of the Spanish conquest, most notably the Muiscas and the Taironas, did not utilize a writing system nor were they politically unified, unlike the Aztecs. The inextricable link between speaking and writing seems to be a clear indicator as to why the Aztecs’ Nahuatl language is so predominant in Mexican Spanish today, whereas Colombian Spanish is far less influenced by its native languages.

Shortly after freshening up at the hotel I went to meet the rest of the group also in town for the wedding at a local restaurant nearby. Having come from all around the world, we were all meeting for the first time. Of the 10 in our crew, there were people from Colombia, Venezuela, LA, New York, and England. Everyone had spent time living and studying abroad in countries spanning every continent. Amongst the 10 of us there were 9 languages spoken––some from birth and others learned later in life. We had an interesting conversation on the origins of language and names. For one, why was Colombia named after Columbus when he never actually stepped foot there? (I looked it up afterwards and there is not a specific reason as to why.) Someone else mentioned that he finds it funny how Americans from the USA refer to themselves as “American” when in fact Americans are people across all the Americas (named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci). It was a very international crew to say the least and we enjoyed sharing stories of our experiences and travels. Through our diversity we found commonality.

Another highlight of my trip was going to eat lunch at Crepes and Waffles with my new Colombian friend. Crepes and Waffles is a popular chain all across Colombia and in other countries in South America and Mexico. When I lived in Bogotá I would eat there often. What I didn’t know was that this massive chain (84 restaurants in Colombia alone) remains privately owned and was just recently granted B-Corp status, officially making it a social impact business. Their restaurants only hire women, predominantly single mothers, giving women in a male- dominated and religious society employment opportunities. They also make sustainability a priority, sending employees to rural areas and small-time farms who often don’t have access to larger markets and incorporating the ingredients they find there into their menu, rather than the other way around. It is incredibly inspiring to see that you can have a successful and profitable business that still does good for the world and it is no surprise that the birthplace of a restaurant like Crepes and Waffles would be in Colombia. The horror and brutality the country has experienced over the last few decades––its internal conflict has been one of the longest lasting in history and only recently came to a historic end––could explain why Colombians are some of the most politically aware and socially conscious people I have ever met.

 

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Women entrepreneurs are on the rise in Colombia.

All across Colombia you will meet people from all walks of life who will share personal stories of their experiences during the conflict, are prepared to answer even the most uninformed or cliché questions thoughtfully, never condescendingly, and are eager to show off their beautiful country and all it has to offer. They care deeply about their land, fighting to protect their small piece of the Amazon from big business and supporting campesinos (farmers) and minority communities. I had conversations with Colombians who were very concerned that one of the unintended impacts of the recent peace deal was that it now opens a path for special interests, generally illegal logging and large-scale cattle farmers, to take over path into jungle land that was previously FARC territory. For them, the well-being of their country and their land trumps ideology.

On my last day in Cali, once the festivities had passed and we all started to go our separate ways, I took a moment to myself. Sitting out on the balcony of my hotel room, I looked out at the view of this tropical paradise and wondered what it was that kept me coming back to this magical country. I thought about my friends, both old and new, and the beautiful memories I have had over the years. I realized that buñuelos and salsa music aside, what I love most about Colombia is Colombians themselves. They make me want to be a better person, give back to my community, and treat everyone with kindness and love. Colombians have figured out the magic recipe for making the most out of life––they live large, eat well, and dance all night, then wake up the following day greeting everyone they pass with a smile, thinking about the next problem to solve. They are eager to learn and share knowledge and always do whatever they can to leave their treasured little spot on Earth better than it was when they got there. We should all be a little more like Colombians.

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Through the Lens: Festival of the Dead across Japan

​Andrew Faulk, a photographer partnering with ​Rosetta Stone​, shares his images and thoughts from ​a journey to the ​Obon ​​​festival, where citizens of Japan honor their loved ones who've passed away.

​Incen​se on the grave.

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During Obon, the smell of senko incense fills Japanese houses and cemeteries. Throughout Obon holidays, relatives gather in homes and in cemeteries, praying for their ancestors' spirits to return. Here, recently lit incense fills a cemetery in Mitaka, one of Tokyo's wards.

Shimokitazawa Awa-Odori Festival ​lanterns.

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Shimokitazawa’s Ichibancho shopping district comes to life in mid-August with its Awa Odori festival. This image is a multiple-exposure of the festival's chochin lanterns (the lantern itself is an important part of Obon, calling ancestors back into our realm and then used again to lead the ancestors back to the grave).

Female Awa Odori dancer smiling.

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Awa Odori is a traditional dance festival made up of many groups of choreographed dancers. Here, a jovial young dancer claps to the beat of the taiko drums.

​Yukata being tied. 

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A girl helps her friend tie the bow of her yukata, the cotton dress worn throughout Japan in the summertime. With high temperatures and humidity, the traditional garb is one way to beat Japan's summertime heat.

Male Awa Odori dancer in street.

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Troupes of choreographed dancers and musicians dance through the streets, typically accompanied by taiko drums, shinobue flute, and the kane bell. Performers wear traditional obon dance costumes, and chant and sing as they parade through the streets. While the Awa Odori dance originated in the southern Tokushima Prefecture, many cities and neighborhoods throughout Japan have adopted the dancing tradition as part of the Obon celebrations. Here, a male dancer flows through Shimokitazawa's streets.

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5 Reasons Why You Should Learn French

5 Reasons Why You Should Learn French

Interested in learning a new language, but unsure about which one is best for you? With over 7,000 languages out there today, it can be overwhelming. We’re here to help you evaluate which language is right for you. Here are five reasons why you should consider learning French.

1. It's widely spoken outside of France.

While France is the country that most people might think of when it comes to the language, it’s actually spoken by about 60 countries around the world. That’s plenty of foreign destinations to practice your new language. Additionally, French is recognized as the official language by 29 countries. Those countries include Belgium, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Monaco, Niger, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo and Vanuatu.

2. The stunning travel locations are endless.

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Claude Monet’s garden. Giverny, France.

With that many countries to choose from, your French travel itinerary is going to be a great one. If you need a few ideas to help get your bucket list started, here are some of our suggestions:

  • Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France
  • Stroll through the gorgeous streets of Old Québec and speak French with the locals.
  • Matterhorn (French: Mont Cervin) mountain in Switzerland


3. It's a career asset. 

It’s true, being able to speak a second language can be incredibly helpful when it comes to your professional life. Learning French can be an advantage for finding a job with many multinational companies that are using French as their working language. Recognize any of these French brands?
  • Louis Vuitton

  • Cartier

  • Evian

  • Garnier

  • Givenchy

4. In the mood for romance? 

If so, this could be the language for you. French is known as one of the most romantic languages in the world. We conducted a worldwide survey to identify the world’s most romantic language, and a whopping 60% said French. Additionally, 59% said that je t’aime was the most romantic way to say “I love you.” Time to brush up on that accent and set the mood for romance.


5. Further immerse yourself in French culture. 

While learning French, you can take advantage of immersing yourself in the unique culture that surrounds this language. Read famous novels in their original text. Listen to French podcasts/music or watch French movies/shows to further immerse yourself without having to travel abroad. Take a moment to admire famous masterpieces by French artists, or test your culinary skills with some classic French recipes.

Convinced? It’s easy to get started with Rosetta Stone.

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10 Greetings in French That Aren’t Bonjour

Even if you aren’t familiar with French, you probably know a few words that have fallen into common usage in English. In addition to tasty terms about food like hors-d’oeuvre and bon appétit, English speakers have also adopted chic, fiancé, and French concepts like déjà vu. Moreover, you’re likely to know one of the most common greetings in France—bonjour.

While you may be able to pronounce bonjour with passable success, you shouldn’t rely on this greeting for every situation. Bonjour means “good day” and is most often used from morning to dusk. Instead, you’ll want to choose a greeting that fits the context of the situation depending on the time of day or the company you’re keeping.

In addition to becoming a more confident speaker, there’s another really important reason to become familiar with more French greetings. In France, it’s considered rude not to say hello every time you enter a shop or when you first begin a conversation with a local.

Brush up on these ten French words or phrases that’ll get you beyond bonjour.

​1. Bonsoir 

If it’s not day, it’s night and that means you should switch from bonjour to bonsoir. Bonsoir means “good evening” and is typically used after 6 p.m. or dusk. You shouldn’t, however, confuse this word or use it interchangeably with the next greeting on the list.

​2. Bonne nuit 

Bonne nuit means “good night” but, despite the literal translation, most of the French don’t use it as a greeting at night. Bonne nuit is something you’d say before you go to bed to signal to others you are retiring.

3. Bon après-midi

This is “good afternoon” and while it’s used less often, bon apr​ès-midi can be a nice change of pace if you’ve gotten comfortable with bonjour. Be warned it’s typically not used at the beginning of a conversation. Many French speakers use bon apr​ès-midi when they are saying goodbye, akin to the way English speakers use “see you soon.”

4. Salut

There are pretty strict rules about when to use salut. This is an informal greeting and because it’s considered so casual, salut should only be used as a greeting between close friends.

5. Quoi de neuf?

This French phrase translates into “what’s up?” and can be used as an informal greeting. As you might suspect from its English equivalent, quoi de neuf is slang and should also be reserved for friends and family.

6. Allô?

Speak French - Allô

The French version of hello is infrequently used and only in very specific circumstances. You’ll most often hear the word when you pick up the phone or hear others talking on their cellphones. Allô is something the French will say to determine if someone is on the other end, but not a greeting they’d toss out in a face-to-face conversation.

7. Coucou?

If salut is informal, coucou takes it a step further. This is another casual greeting that translates loosely into the equivalent of “hey there!”. As you can imagine, French culture might consider shouting this down the street to be uncouth, so it’s slang reserved for specific situations.

7. ​Bienvenue

Bienvenue means welcome, and it implies that you are the host welcoming someone into your home or space. It might be something a concierge (another French word commonly used in English) says to welcome you to a hotel.

8. Enchanté

The phrase seems to embody the French culture, or at least the romanticized version of it. Enchanté is a warm embodiment of “nice to meet you” and translates as “enchanted” or “charmed.” It’s a response that expresses delight upon meeting someone new and can get your conversation started on the right foot.

10. Comment ​​allez-vous

Comment ​​allez-vous is the formal version of “How are you?” or “How is it going?” If you wanted to say the same thing informally, you could use the phrase Ça va? or “It goes?”.  Confusingly, Ça va can also be a response to “How is it going?” so, like most languages, context is king.

Learn more helpful French words and phrases with Rosetta Stone. Get your first lesson free when you download our Learn Languages app for iOS or Android.

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