learning languages with the Tandem app

So I’m all about the pen-pals when I’m learning languages. Here are the reasons:

  1. Free!
  2. Easy…there are apps!
  3. I’ve made some AMAZING friendships that began as language pen-pals!

My first pen-pal was the old-fashioned type…through snail mail! I was in 5th grade and it was an opportunity through girl scouts to write with another girl scout in England. I remember that is was the coolest thing when she sent me a little photo of herself and I sent her a homemade friendship bracelet. We wrote to each other off and on for some years, but you know, in growing up and all that, we lost touch. Actually, I should totally try to find her old address and send her a letter. I’m gonna do that. Now I’m excited.

Anyway, I picked back up the pen-pal bug when someone mentioned it to me as a way to help me learn Italian. I joined a website called conversation exchange and met several native Italians who were learning English. We started emailing each other and I actually met one of them in person in Italy a few years ago. It was super cool and we still Skype and keep in touch.

About a year or so ago, I came across another platform for pen-pal meetin’…an app called Tandem. It’s super user-friendly and has many cool extra functions other than just a way to find new pen-pals and text and video chat them. You can search for pen-pals based on which languages you are learning and which you speak, specifying if you are a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or native speaker. The app gives you suggestions on statuses for your profile. These are conversation starters that help you connect with like-minded language learners. One I see often is, “Let’s talk about where we will be in 10 years.” So…some are kind of deep, but there are lighters ones like “Who wants to discuss our favorite movies?”, among others. You can also search others by categories that you’d like to discuss: like food, hobbies, art, etc. Also, if your are texting with someone, there is a cool feature that allows you to easily correct what your pen-pal wrote if it wasn’t grammatically correct. It allows the other person to quickly and easily see their mistake and understand the correction. Disclaimer: sometimes I take it a little too personally if the pen-pal I’m speaking with uses this feature too much, haha. Just saying.

Another awesome feature of the app is language tutors. There are certified language teachers that you can access and have video chats with for lessons of various lengths. They cost $5 for 20 min, $10 for 40 min, $15 for 60 min, and $22.50 for 90 min, BUT the first 15 minutes with each tutor is free! I’ve had two lessons for Spanish and Italian and have had great experiences with them. Very caring and professional. And about the cost, $15 for an hour every couple of months or so isn’t that bad of a deal. I like the idea of learning the language on your own and then checking in with a tutor for some speaking practice and native speaker pointers every so often. That way, you really learn a lot in those 60 minutes!

Well, that’s all I have to say here. Tandem app is free to download and use! BTW, I’m totally not getting paid for this and have not been contacted by Tandem in anyway for writing this post. I was just realized that this is starting to sound like I work for them or something. Nope, just a satisfied user! Oh gosh that sounds bad too…

Un bacione,

Layne Alyssa

medical Spanish in the ER

I’m four shifts away from being done with my ER rotation! It’s been a rough transition not only due to the 12 hours shifts, but also based on the fact that it is my very first rotation…and there is so much still to be learned! In addition to all the medicine stuff, knowledge of medical Spanish is a MUST in the ER I work in. I would say half to a little more than half of the patients I see are Spanish-only speakers. Translators are super easy to call, come super fast, and are super great where I work, but with that high of a Spanish-only speaking population, nothing beats whipping out your skills the moment when you get a negative after you ask “Do you speak English?”. And even more than that, it adds a level of trust and rapport between you and your patients. It’s more comfortable for them to speak in their native language to you than through a translator. This becomes particularly important when the patient is being seen for a difficult or vulnerable issue. I get that sometimes it’s just not possible to get all that you need from an interview if your Spanish is not top-notch, but I have seen it make all the difference for me just to try at least to speak a little Spanish.

So over the past 2 and a half weeks, the confusing mix of Italo-Spanish that comes out of my mouth when I try for Spanish has greatly improved. I’m fairly competent at this point at taking a history and doing a physical exam in Spanish. I have problems when the patient tends to ramble or is having difficulty straight answering the question I’m asking or if they have difficulty slowing down their Spanish. But I’ve got my questions down pat. It’s also difficult for me if I try to explain the treatment plan, but I suppose that will come. It’s been a lot to learn the medicine and to try to speak Spanish at the same time, so there are times (usually towards the end of a tiring shift) where I just call the translator. The great thing is most of my preceptors speak medical Spanish, so when we go in to see the patient together, we don’t have to re-call the translator. I think if I worked there for 6 months I would probably be set with the Spanish. Although I think I’ll get a fair amount of the Spanish-only population in my other rotations over this year.

I have found generally that it’s MUCH easier to learn a language for the medical knowledge compared to learning the language in its entirety. Which totally makes sense, I know, but I didn’t think about it until I started experiencing it. Here are some phrases that have helped me immensely at my time in the ER so far. I’d highly recommend these for anyone about to start rotations or starting to practice in a place with a high number of Spanish-only speakers. They are more or less in order of how they are needed. Hope it helps!

Hola. Me llamo ____. Soy una estudiante. Voy a hablar con usted, entonces hablo con mi jefe, y volveremos juntos. ¿Está bien? Hello. My name is ____. I am a student. I am going to talk with you, then talk with my boss, and we will return together. Is that ok?

¿Porque se llega a la sala de emergencia hoy? What brings you to the ER today?

¿Cuándo empezó? When did it start?

¿Dónde está el dolor exactamente? Where is the pain exactly?

¿Cuándo fue eso? When was that?

¿Cuánto tiempo dura cuando sucede? How long does it last when it happens?

¿Cómo es el dolor? Punzante, agudo, una presión, ardor, disparando? How is the pain? throbbing, sharp, a pressure, burning, shooting?

¿Ha hecho algo o tomado medicamentos para che sea mejor? Have you done anything or taken medication to make it better?

¿Se le puede ayudar? Did it help?

¿Hay algo que lo hace peor? Does anything make it worse?

¿Se va el dolor en otro parte? Does the pain go anywhere else?  

In una escala de uno a diez, donde uno es menos dolor y diez es el mayor dolor, que numero es su dolor? On a pain scale from one to ten, where one is less pain and ten is the most pain, what number is your pain?

¿Usted tiene nausea, vomito, mareo, dolor en el pecho, palpitaciones, falta de aire, dolor de cabeza, dolor o sangre cuando orina, estreñimiento, diarrea? Do you have nausea, vomiting, dizziness, chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, pain or blood when you urinate, constipation, diarrhea?

¿Ha estado hospitalizado alguna vez? Have you ever been hospitalized?

¿Ha tenido alguna vez alguna cirugía? Have you had any surgeries?

¿Tiene otros problemas médicos? Do you have any other medical problems?

¿Toma algún medicamento? Do you take medications?

¿Fuma? ¿Toma alcohol? Do you smoke? Drink alcohol?

¿Tiene alguna alergia a medicamentos? ¿Cuál es su reacción? Do you have allergies to any medications? What happens when you take it?

PE

Voy a empezar el examen físico. I am going to start the physical exam.

Voy a escuchar a su corazón y los pulmones. Respire normalmente. Respire profundo, por favor.

Acuéstese, por favor. Lie down, please.

Echese hacia adelante. Lean forward.

Usted necesita algo para el dolor? Do you need something for the pain?

Eso es todo. Voy a hablar con mi jefe y volveremos. Gracias. That is all. I will talk to my boss and we will return.     

Un bacione,

Layne Alyssa

 

 

foreign film review

Bonjour à tous!

So I wax and wane on foreign films. I really enjoy watching them and it’s like my favorite category when watching the Oscars (does that sound snooty? I really don’t mean to sound snooty.) However, sometimes it can get a little tedious reading the subtitles when you are in a mood to relax (does that sound too third world problem-ish. Well yes, I think it definitely does.).

Side note: I actually really love subtitles. Much of the world uses dubbing, and while it’s more convenient to watch dubbing compared to having to read the subtitles, the best way to watch a movie is in the language it was written in, right? Even if you can’t understand it. side note to this side note: really this is an over-generalization that all the rest of the world uses dubbing and I also gloss over historical elements of why countries use the dubbing/subtitle/cinema translation system they do. All that is for another post! Moving on…

But there are occasions, especially when I am in the middle of one of my “learn ALL the languages” binges that I love watching foreign films. I will spend like an hour or two on Netflix or Google just to find THE best foreign film in whichever language I am in the mood for.

Quindi, in the past few weeks I’ve been in said mood and have watched two foreign films: Corazón de Leon and L’Auberge Espagnole. The first is an Argentine movie in Spanish and the latter is a French movie with parts in French, Spanish (it is set in Barcelona), and English too.

The purpose of this post (or posts, might make this a regular kind of posting topic!) is not to give the plots away, but to suggest movies that will help you learn your desired language (I mean, in this case, if one of those desired languages is Spanish or French.) Additionally, I watched them without subtitles, so I probably couldn’t give you a plot summary anyway (ideally, that was a joke. I mean, of course I understood every word in every language…uhh.) But below you will find a language learning tailored review for what I learned watching these movies and maybe what I didn’t learn too! Enjoy!

Corazón de Leon: This movie is ADORABLE. Hilarious, sweet, and with a good message, all at the same time. It’s all in beautiful Argentine Spanish, which I find to be one of the easier forms of Spanish for non-native speakers to understand. This is a romantic comedy, so it is nice for Spanish learners since the plot easy to follow and actually pretty predictable (like most romantic comedies). There are several scenes when the female lead feels strongly about her words and speaks rapid fire Spanish with no hope of me understanding anything (I watched those scenes like 3 times each and still got nuttin’). But other than that, my intermediate Spanish brain really enjoyed it!

L’Auberge Espagnole: This gem is from 2002. I had never heard of it, but my husband knew the Italian translation of the title and remembers it. I LOVED this movie because it had parts in all my favorite languages (except Italian, although there was an Italian character who said a bit of Italian parolacce, which I am very well-versed in). What I really liked about this film is all the different cultures represented in it. The “auberge espagnole” is actually an apartment full of foreigners in Barcelona, all living together in (somewhat) perfect harmony. I also liked that they switched languages throughout the film so many times. Sometimes I didn’t even register which language they were speaking. Maybe they start speaking Spanish after speaking English for a while, and I didn’t even realize they have switched. Ahh, so cool. Love it. 

Et voilà! Let me know what foreign films y’all are watching too, whether it be with subtitles or without! Or for language learning or just for fun! Also, don’t be discouraged if you feel like you don’t understand a lot while watching a foreign film in the language you are learning. Just try is the key! I have no idea what is going on when I watch a lot of these films, but I ALWAYS, however small it is, learn something.

Un bacione,

Layne Alyssa

 

Siri, your free language tutor

siriphoto

You have a language tutor who can help you with your pronunciation in your pocket RIGHT NOW…in questo momento, a’ ce moment, en este momento! It’s siri! This language learning tool was recently brought to my attention and I really think it is a great idea. This is particularly helpful with pronunciation.

Because if Siri can’t understand you, you’re doing it wrong. Sorry for the harsh delivery.

Wondering how to do it? Just pull out your iPhone (or I guess another smartphone/device/tablet thingy that has someone who talks to you that is not a real person), go to the “settings” app, hit “general”, “siri”, then change the language to whichever language you would like to practice in quello momento. Then, you just talk! You can write out questions in your chosen language before hand and read those, write out questions in English (or your native language) and translate those in yo head, or just freestyle the whole thing, man.

One advantage to doing this exercise is you can talk or ask questions to Siri and see if they understand you, tweaking (or scratching it all!) your pronunciation as you go. Another advantage is you can see how much you understand of the response and actually even kind of carry on a strange little conversation, if you want. Own it, this is a step closer to one day being like, “Hey you are French? Well alors, je parle francais aussi!”. I mean, how cool would like be, right? Also, you can even leave your phone in said language and use said language from here on out to set your alarms, reminders, schedule events, call yo peeps, and anything else you can think of.

Just in case you need a little inspiration, ecco some example questions for you. Some are serious, some are not. Some are translated into Italian for those of you learning it, some are not:

  1. What time is it in San Francisco? Che ore sono a San Francisco?
  2. What is the weather like in Berlin? Come e’ il tempo a Berlino?
  3. Will it snow today? Nevica oggi?
  4.  What is your favorite animal? Qual e’ il tuo animale preferito?
  5. What is the meaning of life? Qual e’ il senso della vita?
  6. Tell me a story. Raccontami una storia.

Let me know how this works for y’all, you little lovers of languages.

Un bacione,

Layne Alyssa