Russians Do Smile

Russians are known not to smile much. In particular, they do not smile at strangers or people who are not close to them. They consider this as impolite. I and my wife witnessed this culture-shock first-hand when we dealt with the Russian parents in our after-school program. For a while since we took over, they […]

Serving the Russian community

Another 7 months have passed since my last post. Time flies. Last few months have been really life-changing to me and my wife. We have opened a school. My wife has this dream of opening a Montessori school for many years. We are not rich and don’t have much experience running a business. So for […]

Las Escuelas de Inmersión en Francés

(This is a “Spanish Friday” post. Here is the English version, according to the Fish) Tracy en Latinaish.com ha tenido una buena idea: “Spanish Friday“. Así que voy a escribir esta entrada en español. Hoy Roxana decidió no enviar su hija a una escuela bilingüe, porque había algunos problemas. Es muy decepcionante para Roxana. Siendo […]

Languages and Business Opportunities

This morning I and my wife went to a Chinese café for breakfast. Somehow they offered free Chinese newspaper. I looked for the headline expecting some specular world event to unfold. To my disappointment, the headline read “華裔移民第二代 喜中西合璧婚宴” (2nd-generation Chinese prefer Chinese-Western fusion wedding banquets). It also showed the photo of a businessman who […]

Languages Spoken in Toronto

After more than a year of waiting, the data finally came out last week. Statistics Canada released the language-related statistics of the 2006 census. Here are the top 20 languages “spoken most often at home” in Toronto, my home town, and their corresponding head-counts and percentages: English – 2746480 (55.31%) Italian – 185760 (3.74%) Chinese, […]

The Language of Good

Since I have joined so many language exchange websites, I am quite used to receiving language exchange requests from time to time. Back in September, I received yet another one. But this time it was a bit unusual. First of all, she was a native French speaker (bilingual French/English to be exact) asking for a […]

The Doctor’s Office

This morning, I needed to call the doctor’s office to reschedule my daughter’s appointment for next week. From the other side of the line came a female voice: “The doctor’s office…” Both receptionists speak Cantonese. I usually speak to them in English when booking appointments. But today for some reason, I felt like speaking Cantonese. […]

Correct Pronunciation

Imagine someone threatens to sue you for pronouncing some words differently. This actually happened last month in Toronto. A group of Cantonese language enthusiasts held a press conference, complaining the news anchors of some Cantonese channels for adopting a pronunciation standard known as the ‘Correct Pronunciation’ (正音). They also started a petition letter: “As native […]

Popular or Official?

We often choose a language to learn based on its usefulness. But how can we actually measure it? Last week, I was involved in a rather fierce discussion in a language forum. Someone was planning to move to Toronto and wanted to learn some Chinese. He was wondering which language he should pick, Mandarin or […]

Langauge Tutors in Toronto

Traditionally, serious language learners would need to live in a foreign country for several months or even several years, in order to dive in and submerge into the other culture. I believe there is a much more convenient way for those like me, who live in Toronto, Canada. Toronto is one of the few places […]

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