Free thoughts on language learning

Discussions on learning Spanish, English and other language issues. Occasionally, we may stray from language learning topics if there is something that catches my interest.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

End of Year Language Tidbits

As we barrel towards the end of another year let's look at a couple of fun items in the news.

1. For you Francophiles, Francophobes and even the few Franc-ensteins among you there was a fun article on the BBC's site on Mastering French manners the hard way. The poor author of this article had a painful set of experiences that taught her lessons in cultural differences. Apparently there's even a name for the psychic trauma caused by this French culture shock, "Paris Syndrome". For those who enjoy the taste of "Schadenfreude" (defined here) this article is a tasty treat. For the rest, a cautionary tale.

2. An African Grey parrot is reported to be able to use a vocabulary of 950 words and form new sentences that have a grammar. In reading these reports it's always my impulse to be a bit sceptical but what appear to be facts, versus interpretations,suggest this a truly extraordinary bird. The bird is supposed to have learned the word "fly" and conjugaged it as "flied" to indicate the past tense. The existing literature on language use by animals makes it clear that humans did not just pop into existence with the exclusive ability to use language. If you enjoy reading about this topic as much as I do here's an older article from on parrots and language acquisition.

If you are not already using one of our courses at you can still take advantage of the holiday sale that lets you save $14.00 off of any course. (See the prior posting on this page!) Browse our courses and lock in that savings today!

Have a Happy & Healthy New Year!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last Minute Christmas Gift

Save $14 on all language courses at

Have you procratinated and now you're scrambling for a last minute X-Mas gift? Not to worry! You enroll your friend or loved one in a course in two shakes of a reindeer's tail AND get a huge discount to reward you for waiting. (Talk about reinforcing bad behavior...)

When you click Enroll the next page lets you enter a discount code that saves you $14 off any course at So what's the secret discount code?

TEACH1 (all upper case please - our server is very sensitive)

Enter TEACH1 and the next page tells you the cost of your course minus $14.00. What's not to like?

Go right to the Parlo Course listings page

Type special foreign language characters easily:

This site addresses the problem of typing foreign characters into a document without awkward keyboard combinations or special software. It's a really simple site that lets you easily edit text with special characters and then you just copy and paste them into whatever document you are using. It has this tool for French Italian Spanish German IPA (English) Polish Portuguese Czech. This is a site worth bookmarking

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Log in problems? We think we've fix'em!

Hi All,

Just wanted to drop a quick note to all that the log in problems we've had recently should be all cleared up. My first and wrong impression was the the parlo web server just needed to be re-booted. That worked at first but didn't address the real problem. The log file in the database had become too large. We have address this problem and as far as we can tell all is working smoothly again. If anyone notices that something is still amiss please leave a comment here or write to support (at) to let us know the problem. Thanks and have a happy, healthy holiday season!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Contemporary Spanish Language

Our good buddies at Yabla (come on - Parlo HAS to like a company named Yabla) have a newsletter for those studying Spanish that we think is well worth the read. This one discusses the lyrics of a music video they have on their site. I've said it before and here's another try: this is a terrific way to study Spanish.

Spanish is the official language of Puerto Rico, yet a large portion of the population knows English, so bilingual puns play to a wide audience. Case in point, the lyrics to this cynical song by the band Polbo:

Yo era el as de las nenas, cuando tenía dinero.
Ahora sigo siendo el as/ass, en otro idioma, tú sabrás.
I was the ace of the girls, when I had money.
Now I'm still the ace/ass, in another language, you know.
captions 13-6, Polbo > Yo era tan cool

Like its English equivalent "ace," the Spanish as is both a good poker card and "a whiz" at something. The pun on as / ass works in this song because the two words are pronounced essentially the same way, with a soft "s" (unlike the word "as" in English, which is pronounced "az").

One more note regarding the bilingual audience for Yo era tan cool. The word "cool" is obviously borrowed from English. But one could argue that cool is going the way of "OK" / "okay" or "ciao" / "chau" / "chao" as a word that crosses linguistic barriers. We googled "es cool" (in Spanish) and more than 100,000 web pages came up. Cool, ¿no?

Try Yabla along with Parlo's Spanish courses - the best of both worlds! These make truly easy X-Mas gifts so what are you waiting for?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Free Spanish and English Courses - December

For December 2006 at we are going to make our English 3 and Spanish 1 available at no charge. That's free language audio, free grammar free vocabulary. All gratis! If you can put in an hour a day you can finish the course in a month. If you do not finish it we're convinced you will want to buy it so you can finish it at your own pace. Here's how to use your free Spanish or free French course. Go to

Interactive English 3
Password: parlo

Spanish 1
Password: parlo

(Please don't change the passwords or you'll prevent others from using the course until we change it back to "parlo" Thanks!)

PARLO'S NEWEST FEATURE: We are adding free English and foreign language video content every week so go to our Cultures page and click in Spanish or English (so far) you can watch free videos to practice your listening skills.

Yabla (a Featured Partner) offers video content with native language captions, translation captions, a "Slow Play" button and more!
Yabla ESL - English Language Videos
LoMasTV - Yabla's Spanish Language Videos