On January 23rd, Greeters gathered at One Centre Street to listen to Greeter Ellen Jovin, a devoted foreign language lover. Ellen will take any visitors out, so long as they don’t speak English.
A “grammar freak” all her life and a freelance writer as well, in 2009 she decided to study “a whole bunch” of foreign languages and write about the experience.
Today she has an award-winning website, Words & Worlds of New York, and she’s been studying a foreign language every day since 2009. She is now on her 19th foreign language, each one giving her a “window into another culture.”
Ellen was adamant about learning at her own pace and in her own way. She is not fond of the “immersion approach” used in programs like Rosetta Stone, or in teaching where they “throw you into a classroom with no English spoken at all!” She doesn’t like being tied to a schedule and says there are hundreds of language-learning resources that do include some grammatical explanations in one’s native language, especially for beginners.
Ellen also suggested learning the grammar of a language – Barnes & Noble has a Practice Makes Perfect series for those who love grammar – and routledge.com/languages is great for rare languages like Swahili. In addition, on the internet you can find many free learning tools, such as Memrise for vocabulary acquisition.
Ellen has made quite a name for herself in the language-learning field. She is a founding principal of Syntaxis, a communications skills training firm in New York City, and she’s been featured in the Wall Street Journal and other publications.
A self-confessed “language addict,” Ellen admits she stays up too late because she’s obsessed with learning. When she finally gets to sleep, she dreams about past participles