cunning linguists

One of the benefits of working for a federal agency bureau responsible for training diplomats in more than 60 foreign languages–especially considering my specific responsibilities include management of the multimedia language labs and the recording studio where we produce the digital audio for our language courses–is the exposure to and, theoretically, learning of additional languages. In practice, I’ve been much too busy to apply any time or energy to picking up new or even brushing up my old (French and Russian) languages. I had hoped to enroll in an early morning Spanish class last month, but wasn’t able to make that happen. However, I’m hopeful that now I may actually be able to take advantage of some opportunities to at least familiarize myself with Spanish and Portuguese.

For the Spanish, we’ve just released our new online Spanish Express course, so I’m thinking about using the CD to teach myself.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese section is working on recording the audio for a new Continental Portuguese Basic course; I had volunteered months ago to assist by recording the English instructions. I hadn’t heard anything in the meantime, so I assumed they’d found someone else. Last week, however, I ran into the course coordinator in the hallway, and asked her about the course and discovered they were just about to begin recording and were still looking for a male English speaker; they hadn’t asked me because they’d assumed I was too busy to help out. I told her that I’d be willing to make the time. So today the project started with the section’s supervisor doing the English for the first unit; on Thursday I’ll start recording the audio for unit two, and have offered to do as many of the future units as they’d like. Just from overseeing the recording today, I’ve heard my first initial dialogs, and can say “good day,” “how are you,” “fine,” “it’s a nice day,” and “yes, it is.”

Coincidentally, Jeff–the namorado–is enrolled in a Portuguese language course right now as well, albeit Brazilian Portuguese. So he’ll be able to help me practice the Portuguese I pick up as I work with the native speakers to record the Continental Portuguese Basic course. We’ll just have to stay aware of the subtle differences between the two regional variants.

I ended up staying two hours late to cover for the time I’d spent in the recording studio–though I can also rationalize that time in the studio by noting that as the manager for that area, this is an opportunity to be more aware of how the work there is being done–but I really don’t mind. The recording adds some novelty to break up the mundane and somewhat boring–albeit stressful merely from the pace and sheer amount–tasks that usually fill my day. I had also offered to do the same for the Russian section when they produce their new Ukrainian and Russian courses this quarter, and this has reminded me that I need to follow-up and make sure that section still knows of my interest.


One thought on “cunning linguists

  1. Her name is Rio

    Just now as I was talking to myself–yeah, I do it all the time, though I prefer to think of it as “talking as if someone were there,” ’cause it’s not like I have a complete conversation with myself; that…

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