Posts Tagged ‘spanish’

Former Minnesota Twin Brian Dozier’s trading card on eBay.

Both Asakiyume and I work with Spanish-speaking students who are learning English, but she has gone above and beyond in her efforts. She learned Spanish on Duolingo and began listening to Spanish songs in order to connect better with high school students.

I know that Tina, who’s in one of the classes where I volunteer, is getting impatient with me for not doing the same after four years, but if I decide to learn a language, it’s going to be Swedish. So I can understand what Erik is saying to my grandchildren.

Barry Svrluga reports at the Washington Post about a baseball player who was more like Asakiyume in this regard.

“Brian Dozier had 4,900 major league plate appearances, and only 482 of them came with the Washington Nationals. When he retired from baseball last month, he did so as a Minnesota Twin, the team that drafted him, developed him, brought him to the big leagues and made him an all-star.

“And yet in Washington … Dozier is best remembered as the shirtless dude from Mississippi, … crooning reggaeton lyrics in … Spanish? …

‘I think we, as Americans, need to take it upon ourselves to say, “Hey, these guys are going to be playing for a championship just like us, and you need real camaraderie to make that happen, and in order to have that, we need to take it upon ourselves to learn Spanish,” ‘ Dozier said. …

“[Baseball is] a team sport, and in some ways — ways as undeniable as they are difficult to pin down — team dynamics matter deeply. Baseball players spend ungodly amounts of time with one another, from early in the afternoon until late at night, on buses and planes, in hotels and restaurants (at least when there’s not, um, a pandemic), for eight months of the year. They come from backgrounds both affluent and poor. They are Black and White, American and Asian and Latino.

“That last part, it’s important. According to data released by Major League Baseball, nearly one in four players on 2020 Opening Day rosters or injured lists came from a Spanish-speaking country. That would affect any company trying to get its employees to work together, so it has to affect baseball teams.

“ ‘There’s so many times where things have gotten lost in translation,’ Dozier said. ‘Just small stuff, on the field, off the field, in the dugout, in the clubhouse. And all you need — it could be one word. An expression. It could be anything.’ …

“Long ago, when he was in the minor leagues, … he decided to learn Spanish.

“ ‘There were so many great guys that I became friends with, but I really couldn’t break that real true friendship barrier,’ Dozier said by phone last week, ‘because you couldn’t really communicate in the way that you need to communicate in to have that real bond.’

“Dozier had no experience with Spanish, but he took up Rosetta Stone, the language immersion software, and began teaching himself after ballgames and on bus rides. He learned the basics, but there were issues.

” ‘Rosetta Stone kind of taught you the proper way to speak Spanish,’ Dozier said, ‘but not the slang you use in the clubhouse.’

“During one of his offseasons in the minors, he played winter ball in Venezuela. Around that same time, he met Eduardo Escobar, who was new to the Twins organization. They didn’t know they would play seven years together. Still, they made a decision: make each other better.

” ‘I taught him English,’ Dozier said. ‘He taught me a lot of Spanish, just how to communicate day in and day out and stuff like that. I took it upon myself to start reading books on planes and bus rides just to kind of teach myself more. And then obviously the best way to learn it is being around it every day and actually using it.’

“A funny thing then happened for Dozier: He became friends — close friends — with many of his Latin teammates. Go figure. Escobar, now with the Arizona Diamondbacks, missed the beginning of a team meeting last week to call into Dozier’s retirement ceremony. ‘I call him one of my best friends to this day,’ Dozier said.

“[Major League Baseball] has come miles and miles in fostering a more welcoming culture for its Latin players. Most clubs offer some sort of Spanish instruction, and MLB has mandated that each team designate an interpreter so players who aren’t comfortable speaking English can conduct interviews and therefore convey their thoughts and personalities to largely English-speaking fan bases.

“But Dozier’s approach is the right one. Why not meet teammates where they are, making them comfortable rather than demanding they conform — or at least allow them time to develop? …

“Dozier took the time. And now, even though he was in Washington for just one season, his imprint remains here. Not because of much that he did with his bat or glove. But because when the Nationals celebrated their postseason victories, there was Dozier — bare-chested, in the center of a group of Latin players — crooning the song ‘Calma’ by Puerto Rican star Pedro Capó, which became the Nats’ anthem.”

More here.

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Photo: American Theatre
A scene from “Mentiras Piadosas,” by the troupe Los ImproDucktivos. That’s the audience watching from behind the Venetian blinds.

Theater people keep thinking up new ways to create work that moves you in an immediate and intimate way and that attracts new audiences. We’ve written about theater in taxis in Iran and dramatic productions conducted one-on-one, among other experiments.

Now from Spain comes micro theater, 10-minute plays that allow you to stand in the same room with the actors.

Felicity Hughes writes at American Theatre, “On a rainy Thursday night in Madrid the bar of Micro Teatro Por Dinero is packed with a young crowd of theatregoers waiting to catch a short performance in one of the five tiny rooms in the venue’s basement. When our number is called, we’re led into a small dark room where the audience sits pressed up against each other sardine fashion on tiny stools.

A door is flung open, immediately breaking the fourth wall as a distressed young man stumbles in and sits down on my knee in floods of tears.

“ ‘Never before has there been a theatre so close, so intimate, and so open — there are no preconceptions, no limits, no censure,’ says Miguel Alcantud, the inventor of micro teatro, an abbreviated form of theatre. …

“The concept has since become so popular that the Micro Teatro Por Dinero franchise has been sold to venues in 15 different cities around the globe, including Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Lima, Lebanon, even Miami. …

“ ‘The cost of putting on a show is very small, and we change the program every month,’ Alcantud continues. ‘We don’t mind if the piece works or doesn’t work, because we’re always putting something new on. The commercial success of a single show doesn’t matter so much.’ …

“ ‘You feel as if you’re breathing alongside the public and they’re breathing with you,’ says [Juan Carlos Pabón, a Venezuelan actor]. ‘We’re dealing with a lot of emotion inside a scene and a lot of attention. There’s not as much artifice, so it’s a tough discipline; the public are really concentrating on you, and notice the good along with the not so good.’ ” More here.

The director in Miami says audiences seem to prefer comedies to dramas. I can see why. If you are going to be that up close and personal with strangers, you probably want keep things light.

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John is a great source for articles on cutting-edge technologies. He sent me this one Thursday about using plants to make electricity. The students in Spain who designed the technology are nothing if not ambitious. Their goal is to have the whole world covered in trees making electricity. You can watch their video, below, or bear with me as I channel Google Translate’s English rendition of a Spanish blog post.

, at Blog Think Big, says, “Thanks to Bioo system, created by the students of the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Ramón Llull University with the startup Arkyne Technologies, families could cover their basic electricity needs through 10 × 10 meters of vegetation panels. But how?

“The prototype initially created by the students of the UAB is a plant in a pot that lets you charge a mobile phone. According to the explanation for the 4YFN space last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the system ‘generates power 3-40 watts per square meter from some vegetable panels and a biological battery that takes energy waste (matter organic) that plants need not despise.’ [Oops: that has to be Google. Shall we change it to ‘plants don’t need’?]

“Thus, the device is able to steadily produce electricity through a self-supply system. In addition, according to the engineers, the operation does not affect the plants and is economical.

“Students are betting on a ‘smart city’ concept that allows people using Bioo buy or sell electricity. The goal, in addition to developing these systems in homes, [is to extend them to] agriculture or green roofs of public buildings.”

Maybe you better watch the video. But there’s more here, if you read Spanish.

Video: Bioo Lite

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The plaque quotes the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, 1875-1939: “Wanderer, there is no path. the path is made by walking.” (The shoes are part of the sculpture.)

The line is metaphorical, of course, but I like treading a physical path with lots of photo ops while I’m working on the other path. It helps me think.










































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After work yesterday, I went with a colleague to observe a parent-engagement program organized by Lawrence Community Works (LCW) at the Oliver Partnership School, in Lawrence, Mass. I had long been interested in LCW’s use of circles to build a sense of community among strangers of very different backgrounds.

Lawrence is what is sometimes called a Gateway City, meaning it’s always been a gateway to the U.S. culture and experience for new waves of immigrants. It currently has a large Spanish-speaking Dominican population and foreign-born and native-born residents from all over.

The parent night was the third in a series. In the first two, facilitators had helped the participants to come up with agreed-upon ground rules (come on time, no cellphones, respectful attention to one another) and to choose an “obstacle” that they would like to address related to their children’s life at the school. They had selected recess, which is only 10 minutes. (Lunch is 15 minutes.)

Everything was conducted in both Spanish and English.

As the evening was getting going, Tony told me his children love school. He believes a good education is vital. He wishes he had more. He did learn Spanish and English in addition to his native Portuguese. The languages help him in his job working with troubled youth, a job he loves to go to every day.

In a warm-up exercise, we stood in a circle and stated our name, followed by our favorite fruit and the name and favorite fruit of everyone who spoke previously. It was fun and a great equalizing experience as anyone can be good at that and anyone can struggle with it. The people who went last had about 20 names and fruits to report and did really well despite language differences.

To discuss the recess issue, we separated into two groups — those who felt comfortable speaking English (which included the two teachers in attendance) and those who felt comfortable speaking Spanish. At the end we came together with the results of our investigation of three questions: why having a longer recess is important, why it might have been set up that way, and what parents themselves could do about it. (Asking the administration’s help was to wait for a joint meeting in June.)

I won’t make this post much longer, but I do want to say that I thought the way this was handled was very good. Parents appeared to feel that their opinions were welcome and that they could accomplish something. Continued engagement with them will be important as the work is a piece of a much bigger project by LCW that aims to help parents get skills for jobs. Unemployment is a serious issue in a city where many of the people are poor, have not had good educational opportunities, and are still learning English.

Photo: Family literacy night at the Oliver Partnership School in Lawrence, Mass.

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In Sweden, mangata is the word for the roadlike reflection the moon casts on the water. In Finland there’s a word for the distance reindeer can travel comfortably before taking a break: poronkusema. A terrific German word that people familiar with Concord, Massachusetts, will appreciate is Waldeinsamkeit. What do you think it means? Yep. “A feeling of solitude, being alone in the woods and a connectedness to nature.”

National Public Radio staff say:  “Just as good writing demands brevity, so, too, does spoken language. Sentences and phrases get whittled down over time. One result: single words that are packed with meaning, words that are so succinct and detailed in what they connote in one language that they may have no corresponding word in another language.

“Such words aroused the curiosity of the folks at a website called Maptia, which aims to encourage people to tell stories about places.

” ‘We wanted to know how they used their language to tell their stories,’ Maptia co-founder and CEO Dorothy Sanders tells All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.

“So they asked people across the globe to give them examples of words that didn’t translate easily to English.”

I loved this report. You will, too.  Read more at NPR, here.

Art: National Public Radio, “All Things Considered”

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