I'm always amazed at how different cultures are in regards to greeting each other, and yet have similar nuances. Consider the "hongi" -- a Maori style greeting where you press your nose and forehead to the other person, as if you're doing an Eskimo kiss. There's much more meaning to this Polynesian greeting than meets the eye. "Hongi" means...Continue reading



Photo courtesy of www.whitewolfpack.com

How to greet someone in Maori, Polynesia

I listen to 50 languages pretty much everyday. I think this app is awesome. It's available on both iPhone and Android version. I use it on my iPhone to listen on downloaded audio and on Android tablet, I check the text and how words are pronounced.


My only beef with 50 languages is that you can only download one audio language at a time. This means if you want to listen to Japanese audio and switch to Spanish, everything will reset. This makes the app less bulky, but also less convenient on the part of the learner. You would have to download the files every time you switch to a different language.

What attracted me to this app is the ease of use and the amount of information you can learn from any given situation. Let's see: You have vocabulary, phrases, trivia, word lists, etc. But again that's the catch: Everything is formulated, so you're only learning from rote memorization at first. A few games come handy to retain what you learned, but it doesn't work well enough to keep it in your brain for a really long time. For $10, it's not such a bad app to try. Remember that when it comes to learning, any method to pique your interest is better than no method at all.

If you want to check out 50 languages, here's what I and other learners wrote on Amazon

Review: 50 Languages App

While I believe many people try hard enough to learn a language, nothing beats immersion. Being familiar with previously strange words cannot happen overnight. Nor does memorization alone help, because the brain just doesn't work that way.


Immersion involves breathing, living and doing what you're trying to learn. Sometimes I call it geeking out. It's almost like an obsession.

In order to immerse myself in something I don't usually hear, I put on my bluetooth headphones and listen to language audio everyday. It makes it so much easier than sitting down inside a classroom. While I study when I get a chance to sit down, I listen when I'm constantly on the move.

My best investment so far has been the GLCON® GJ-02 Gold Stereo wireless bluetooth 4.0 BT. It has A2DP capability, which, unlike my previous bluetooth earpiece, lets you stream from any bluetooth device within a reasonable range. I actually wrote a review of this device on Amazon.

With this unobtrusive earpiece, I walk around with my iPhone loaded with audio that I have converted on iTunes. Very simple method. It's like I'm just hearing everyday conversations from various parts of the world without having to sit down and stop what I'm doing.

I'm too much of a multi-tasker and because I'm busy, I'm able to find a way to immerse into languages effortlessly using simple technology. Where do I get my audio materials? Keep reading. 

How to immerse yourself in language effortlessly

It will surprise you to know that as of today, there aren't very many Japanese language learning apps that resemble what Duolingo does. However, there is one that I started using, and I have to say it's a totally different way of engaging your brain. It's called Memrise.



Memrise is an app that I'm currently using on an Android tablet. It's geared towards beginners with an option to upgrade to Pro on certain activities that you may want to avail. Memrise is fun if you want to learn a language in a fast-paced,  no-pressure way. The only downside is you have to have internet connection, just like most other language apps.

I'm not so much a big fan of creating "memes" that seem stupid at first in order for me to remember certain unfamiliar words. For example, ijou desu becomes "eat your desk" because they sound somewhat similar, but guess what, this method actually works sometimes.

To be able to plant seeds and grow them into a tree full of knowledge is what makes learning a language worth the while. Every time a plant grows, you get a sense of achievement. That's the way the Memrise app was set up, apparently.

Memrise lets you grow your own language tree

Who says you can't OFFICIALLY dance during a jazz rehearsal? Stephanie decided to show off her skills (not the first time, as you will soon discover) and give it up for the nightly band at the plaza. 


New Orleans beckons everyone to learn to love music, and party to the music we did!

This article is part of Marie Puddu's series on "24 Hours in New Orleans."

Jazz rehearsal