Categories
french

Tongue twister: Why learning French in Brussels can prove tricky | The Bulletin

Language-wise, there’s a yawning gap between my pre-moving-to-Brussels fantasy and the awkward, stuttering reality. In my imagination, I’d be thrown into the deep end of la langue française, and would switch effortlessly into survival mode. Following my rapid immersion I’d be having scintillating conversations over artisanal cheese counters, dropping in clever colloquialisms at social events, and telling jokes in French by the end of year one.

In reality, three years in to my Brussels move, despite going to numerous classes, my aptitude for the city’s most commonly spoken language still languishes shamefully beneath the O-Level I scraped in 1988. Why? I have a litany of excuses that I trot out with embarrassing regularity. Am I alone?

As a freelance journalist I spend most days working solo, in English. My husband is, unhelpfully, English. Day-to-day interactions in French are mostly limited to transactions in shops or cafes, and even then the answer often comes back in English, like a slightly discouraging boomerang in the face. I’m sometimes even greeted in English before I’ve opened my mouth – do I walk British too?

I default to seeking out Englishspeaking friends, and avoid opportunities to form bonds with local like-minded people because I feel self-conscious that my French is so poor. And so the vicious circle continues.

I wonder how, with limited time between work and other commitments, one can break that cycle. No right-minded Frenchspeaker would currently choose to spend an evening listening to me mangling their beautiful language and practising stock phrases on a loop. “Je m’appelle Paula, je suis écossaise, j’aime marcher, cuisiner et jouer au tennis” only gets you so far. (I don’t actually play tennis, but I’d probably pull it out of the bag to fill the silence.)

The desire is there and I’ve taken three language courses. I dutifully completed the exercises and homework, then packed the books away and returned to my actual life, which involves very little French quotidien (see what I did there?) and few opportunities for genuine, sustained, practice.

I might be a bit lazy. I should listen to French-language radio and watch TV, but in the evenings I want a quick fix of news and entertainment and will do anything to avoid wading through it in French. So I return my head to the sand and switch on the BBC, where I can truly comprehend every painful, exasperating twist in the Brexit debacle. It’s clear I need help.

But here’s a proper, less self-pitying, excuse. Many people I’ve met share my view that Brussels is not really the ideal place for language immersion. If ‘unimmersive’ was an actual word, I’d use it for Brussels.

One of the things many of us love so much about the city is also our linguistic enemy – it’s just too damn international. With around one third of the population being non-Belgian, it feels like you’re just as likely to hear Spanish, English or Portuguese in the streets as you are French or Dutch. So many people speak English, it’s too easy to let the months and years slip by without improvement.

And I hate to admit that the multilingual nature of the local population, and of the international crowd, is intimidating. Only now do I appreciate why it was easier for me to learn Spanish in the past, because I was in an environment where few people spoke English and it felt like a level playing field on which we could all practise together, chuckling at our efforts and mistakes.

So perhaps it’s time to take this a little less seriously. Start cracking jokes in Delhaize, delivering witticisms at the cheese counter… if you happen to hear me, please have some compassion and laugh along.

This article first appeared in The Bulletin summer 2019

This content was originally published here.

Categories
spanish

Rafael Nadal: ‘Roger Federer is trying to learn Spanish’

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal held the first two places in the ATP ranking continuously from July 2005 to August 2009 and are the only two men in tennis history to have finished 6 seasons in the first two places of the ranking. Federer was number 1 in the world for a record of 237 consecutive weeks between February 2004 and August 2008.

Nadal, five years younger, conquered the number 2 position in the ranking in July 2005, keeping it uninterrupted for 160 weeks before being able to unseat the rival from the top and conquer the throne in August 2008. On July 6, 2009 Federer regained the top position in the world ranking, and then relegated it to Nadal on June 6, 2010. The two tennis players met 40 times; Nadal leads head to head for 24-16.

Their 2008 Wimbledon final was lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts. Their 2017 Australian Open final was one of the more highly anticipated major finals in tennis history, in part due to the relevance within popular discussions on their placement in greatest of all time listings, coupled with that fact that they were both already in their 30s, which is usually when most male players are on the decline or have already retired. Other matches considered particularly notable include the 2006 Italian Open final, 2007 Wimbledon final, and 2009 Australian Open final, with each match going to five sets.

In the Twitter post, a fan asked Rafael Nadal what would be easier for him to teach Roger Federer – the Spanish language, fishing, or cooking. “The easiest thing to teach him would probably be fishing. After speaking with him, I know that he likes to go fishing with his kids to the lake so he probably has some experience with this. Roger is trying to learn Spanish, he has tried speaking sometimes but I don’t know about cooking. He has never cooked for me before so I don’t know about his cooking abilities.” 

This content was originally published here.

Categories
mandarin

Writing in Chinese Characters: 10 Tips for Teaching Young Children of How to Write Chinese Characters

Writing in Chinese seems like the hardest skill to master, especially for those are not attending any Chinese schools.

But we should not give up on this important skill.

What can we do to help our children start writing Chinese characters?

Today, I would like to share 10 Tips for Teaching Young Children to Write Chinese Characters: from pre-writing activities, recognizing Chinese characters, involve in reading, to using different media for practice, and teach the right stroke order.

There is also a 6-page of Chinese Practice Sheet FREEBIE for you to download at the end of this blog post, so you can start teaching your kids writing in Chinese characters right away.

The post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you. If you make a purchase through a link. See the Disclosure for more details.

* Please scroll down to download a Freebie.

Working on copybooks, completing heavy loads of penmanship homework, and memorizing different passages and paragraphs for dictation was part of my life growing up in Hong Kong.

No one likes learning this way, but, sadly, it seems like this is the only way to learn how to write in Chinese. This problem is always causing headaches for students and their parents.

I know there are no shortcuts for my own kids when it comes to learning Chinese writing: repeated practice is the key.

However, can I make it a more pleasant and bearable experience?

Homeschooling allows me to help each child to learn at their own pace, and to reinforce their learning with different methods, games, and materials.

Today, I would like to share some tips on how I teach my kids to write Chinese characters, and these tips work for both fluent and non-fluent parents.

10 Tips for Teaching Young Children to Write Chinese Characters

Tip #1: Prepare for Success

With pre-writing activities, recognizing Chinese characters, and be your child’s example

Pre-Writing Activities

There are many fun ways we can help our children prepare to write.

To help them strengthen fine motor skills and gain more confidence, your child can prepare to write with pre-writing activities.

For example

  • Scissors skills
  • Shaping play-dough
  • Helping with chores
  • Coloring & painting
  • Tearing paper into shapes
  • Using a tweezer to pick up small objects
  • Using clothespins to clip things together.

* If you want to learn more about pre-writing activities, you won’t want to miss this article from Teaching Mama.

Start Recognizing Basic Chinese Characters

There is no way to learn writing without exposure to Chinese characters. The best and easiest resources are books.

Pick some Chinese books that are clear, big, and easy to read so your child can recognize them easily.

Any type of reading material with any simple Chinese characters will work too: such as flashcards, posters, Chinese labels, photos, and decoration.

The more Chinese characters your children get to see every day, the easier it will be for them to learn how to write them.

Be an Example

Having a role model is essential for children because they love to do what their parents are doing.

Imagine how powerful it will be for your children to watch you practice writing Chinese or calligraphy.

What a great message you are sending to your child by being their example.

Tips #2: Recognizing Chinese Characters’ Structure through Reading

Recognizing Chinese characters always go first, then writing after.

  • Pick out some common words that often appear, read it again and again. After that, you can cover the words and test your child.
  • You also can tell them a little bit about these characters by explaining its meaning, radicals, and strokes.
  • When you are learning a new character with the same radicals or meaning, connect them together, so your child will know how those characters are related, and the differences between them.
  • It’s ok to read bilingual books with both Chinese characters and English in the beginning. However, my kids usually end up focus on reading English instead of the Chinese, so I decided not to read bilingual books, and their Chinese reading has improved since then.
  • Even if you are non-fluent speakers,  don’t avoid reading Chinese books with your kids. Try to follow along with some audiobooks first.

I know it’s difficult for a lot of people to find simple beginning Chinese books, and not everyone can afford that ship them oversea.

I created some Chinese Children’s books that are affordable and easy to make, so you and your child can start learning Mandarin/ Cantonese with them.

As an adult, you can learn much faster than your children, so you will be able to keep up with them.

Tips #3: Use Different Media to Practice Writing

Growing up my teachers only allowed us to use pencils to write because they wanted to make sure we used the correct hand position for writing in order to ensure we had good handwriting in the future.

I’m sure because it’s easier to erase and make corrections.

However, I have learned so many other fun ways to practice writing after I became a homeschooling mom.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Do you know other ways for kids to practice writing in general?

Tips #4: Correct and Teach the Right Stroke Order

Following the correct stroke orders with exactness is important for developing good handwriting and memorizing characters.

When you follow the incorrect stroke order, it is very hard to correct it later.

If you do not know or remember how to write a Chinese character, it is important to look it up and learn the correct stroke order when you have your child to practice.

Here are some useful tools that I found:

Standard Writing Chinese Guidelines and Stroke Orders

This blog provides a clear picture of all the different types of strokes and the standard guidelines of writing in Chinese.

Even if you don’t know anything about writing Chinese characters, this site will help you learn the different types of strokes, and find the different patterns while learning to write.

Look it up in the Dictionary

This online Chinese-English Dictionary from Arch Chinese allows you to type or copy and paste any Chinese character you want to learn into the search bar.

It will then give you useful information like definition, radical, animated stroke order, stroke count, antonyms, Pinyin, Jyutping, and more.

As you learn more Chinese characters, it will get easier to learn from others.

You will start to see how characters with a similar structure, stroke order, and radicals are related to each other.

This will help you and your child a lot as you contine to learn more Chinese characters.

Tip # 5: Find the Similarities and Differences between Characters

Identifying differences is a basic preschool skill, and it is also a very important skill for them to learn Chinese characters.

As you know, Chinese characters are like building blocks with different parts.

Some characters are built and formed with a left and right part, others are formed from top to the bottom, and some are made from outside to inside.

If we can help children find the similarities and differences between Chinese characters they are learning, it will make more sense to them and help them solidify their knowledge of the Chinese language.

From Radicals

Many characters share a radical, and this often means they have a related meaning.

For example

The words with the mouth radical “口” usually have meanings related to actions we do with our mouths:

From the Formation itself

It’s easier to find and group the same formation together whenever your child is learning new characters.

They will see the similarities and differences between different Chinese characters.

For example

These are the most common formation you will find.

Tip #6: Provide Real-life Reasons to Learn and Write Chinese

It’s important to provide real-life reasons for kids to learn Chinese and its culture because they are going to learning something different than their friends.

I don’t think being a successful businessman or having a good future is a good enough reason to motivate children to learn.

These are the parents’ reasons for having their children learn. If you and your child don’t have a good reason for studying Chinese, now is a good time to think and talk about it together.

For me, the biggest reason is my kids are able to communicate with my parents who don’t speak and write English. T

hen, of course, I would love my kids to embrace who they are from, and open their eyes while they are learning about other cultures and languages.

When we first told our oldest child that she is half Chinese, she was so confused. We tried to tell her that’s why we speak both Cantonese and English, why her grandparents look and speak differently, and why we moved from the U.S. to Hong Kong.

Even though she didn’t completely understand, this knowledge changed her life. Now she knows who she really is, why she is in Hong Kong, and why she is learning two languages. She has started to embrace both languages and cultures in her life.

For my children, their family is a real-life reason to learn Chinese. They can use their Chinese to write birthday cards, love-notes, letters and emails to my parents.

Additionally, if they want to read messages from their grandparents, my kids must know how to read Chinese too. These real-life reasons have helped motivate my children to learn Chinese more seriously.

I know not everyone has the same reasons for having their kids learn Chinese, but it is important to have good reasons that will motivate your children.

What are some of your reasons for your kids to learn Chinese? 

Tip #7: Practice Writing Often

There is no short cut to learning to write in Chinese. Your child must practice and practice, but you should not force them to practice, and the amount of practice should be age-appropriate.

I would say the best way to encourage your child to practice is to have consistent practice time each day.

You could even make a progress chart for your child to check off each day, and they can earn a reward when they complete the chart.

My two youngest children usually go to bed first, so I have about an hour of alone time with my oldest child.

During this time, she picks a quiet activity she wants to do, and I add about 10-15 minutes of writing time to that activity.

For example, I might pick a few Chinese characters from the book we read or some important sight words she needs to learn, and I will teach her how to write those characters.

I also encourage you to practice with your child too.

It’s easier to work hard when someone is doing it with you. Your child won’t feel alone or discouraged if you are practicing with them.

Plus, this will help you understand what your child is going through, and you may come up with easier or better ways to help your child practice.

Tip #8: Give a lot of Praise and Encouragement

We all know having positive feedback is one of the most powerful tools to motivate us to do hard things.

We also know writing Chinese characters is much harder than writing the alphabet. Children will struggle when learning to write Chinese, so we need to encourage them to keep working and praise their efforts.

It’s okay if their handwriting isn’t perfect or the stroke order is incorrect. When they finally master one character, celebrate with them.

Do a silly Chinese dance or simply give them hugs and kisses. They deserve it!

Tip#9: Make it a Family Thing

“Why I am the only one learning Chinese?”

“Why do I have to learn Chinese if there is no one using this weird language here anyway?”

Have you ever heard this complaint from your child? When children are struggling to do something difficult, they like to know that someone else feels the same way.

If you are alone teaching Chinese and don’t have any Chinese neighbors, friends or family, don’t forget about your own family! Get the whole family involved in writing activities like:

For Example

  • Sending letters, notes, and messages in Chinese to each other
  • Create labels in Chinese and put the labels around the house together
  • Have competitions of who remembers the most Chinese characters, or who writes the most Chinese characters, etc.

Here are other Ten Best Activities You Can Do as a Family to Enhance Chinese Learning.

TIP #10: Avoid Comparision and Follow Their own pace

It is so easy to worry about our kids’ progress by comparing how many books they have read or how many characters they know how much other children can do.

To keep this from happening, set your own goals and design a plan to accomplish them. You and your child should focus on reaching your goals at your own pace.

Freebie: Chinese Practice Sheets

I have created 6-page different Chinese practice sheets that you can use.

Some with boxes on the whole page, some with an area to draw pictures, some can practice writing with or without the box, etc.

It’s perfect for ages 3 and up to elementary kids.

In the comment, let me know which tip(s) do you find useful for you?

What next steps are you going to do to help your kids in writing Chinese?

You Might be Interested:

You Are Not Doing it Alone

Join my Facebook support group to meet and get connections with parents and educators with the same goals.

The post Writing in Chinese Characters: 10 Tips for Teaching Young Children of How to Write Chinese Characters appeared first on Fortune Cookie Mom.

This content was originally published here.

Categories
english

Amazon Alexa Gets MyPedia Skill to Help Students Learn English | Technology News

Amazon Alexa has acquired a new MyPedia skill aimed at helping students learn English. The MyPedia skill brought to Alexa by Pearson India can be used by learners of all age groups who want to work on their knowledge and understanding of the English language. MyPedia skill can be used on Amazon Echo smart speakers, Echo Show smart displays, and Alexa app on smartphones. Users will simply have to say “Alexa, open MyPedia”, or “Alexa, I want to learn English” to start learning.

The new MyPedia skill in Alexa can prove to be helpful for the students who are staying at home for longer durations during the ongoing lockdown. MyPedia uses stories, fun facts, trivia, quizzes, and rewards to involve learners in an engaging manner so as to increase their interest in the English language. Learners can benefit from the new skill as it helps them go forward at their own pace and increase their imagination.

“The combination of interactive learning and the simplicity of voice interactions with Alexa will make this a fun experience for users of all age groups”, said Amazon India executive Puneesh Kumar in a statement.

Additionally, MyPedia Reader storybook has also been launched by Pearson on Amazon Kindle. This book has stories by students who have written them on the basis of their own aspirations and experiences. The book is expected to help learners become more imaginative and learn the English language better.

Pearson says on its website that MyPedia is a learning ecosystem aimed at improving the way teachers teach and students learn where they integrating learning tools in a well-designed and scientific manner.

This content was originally published here.

Categories
french

Meghan Markle Brushing Up on French – Meghan Markle Is Now Learning French on Top of All of Her Other Royal Responsibilities

Meghan Markel shared one of her personal hobbies during a recent appearance – read more here.

This content was originally published here.

Categories
english

Learn English Grammar: The 4 Conditionals · engVid

Learn English Grammar: The 4 Conditionals

Test your understanding of this English lesson

How many conditional tenses are there in English grammar?
Which of the following is an example of the zero conditional?
Which of the following is an example of the first conditional?
Which of the following is an example of the second conditional?
Which of the following is an example of the third conditional?
If it’s warm and sunny tomorrow, we _____________ swim in the sea. (1st conditional)
If you didn’t eat so much late at night, you __________ sleep better. (2nd conditional)
If he had worked harder at school, he __________ got a place at university. (3rd conditional)
The zero conditional is used for:
The second conditional is used for:

Thanks for the good explanations. All 4 conditionals – important for me to see it on a view. A little strange to use the simple past in the second conditional.

Monday, April 13th 2020

Thanks teacher Gill. I will do my best to the next lesson.

Monday, April 13th 2020

Learn English for free with 1540 video lessons by experienced native-speaker teachers. Classes cover English grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, IELTS, TOEFL, and more. Join millions of ESL students worldwide who are improving their English every day with engVid.

more lessons

This content was originally published here.

Categories
spanish

BBC hire Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero to teach Spanish lessons for homeschooling service | London Evening Standard

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero will host Spanish lessons for children as part of the BBC‘s new homeschooling service.

The coronavirus lockdown has forced the closure of schools throughout the country with parents having to devote their time to teaching their children from home.

The Argentinian, who has lived in the UK for nine years following his move from Atletico Madrid, will put his bilingual skills to use to help children in their distance learning for BBC’s Bitesize Daily programme.

The content will be available on TV and online starting from Monday, April 20 to mark what would have been children going back to school after the Easter holidays.

Aguero’s lessons, which will include counting numbers, will run for two weeks and the 31-year-old, a father of one, said he is “honoured” to do his bit.

“It’s a tough time for children at the moment, and also for parents trying to keep them focused on their education from home,” he said.

READ MORE

“The BBC are doing brilliant work to help and I’m honoured to be able to play a part.”

Aguero will be joined by other celebrities such as Eastenders star Danny Dyer (history), Professor Brian Cox (science) and Sir David Attenborough (wildlife) in being recruited to take on the role of stand-in teachers.

There will also be a maths and English lesson every day for different age groups, daily education podcasts and programmes on BBC Four on weekday evenings to support GCSE and A-level courses.

Find out more about BBC Bitesize and see all of their learning resources here. 

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Categories
mandarin

How to Learn Chinese Fast – Best Tips To Improve Your Language Skills

Before you begin

Update: We’re republishing an updated version of this article, which was originally published in 2012.

This article introduces my plan to learn Chinese fast, where “fast” doesn’t mean that I hope to learn how to speak Mandarin within two months. Conversely, I intend to optimizing my time and efforts to learn Chinese by only studying an hour per day.

My goal is to be able to read Chinese newspapers, understand a talk show and have a “normal speed” conversation with any Chinese person. I want to achieve this purpose within one year.

Chinese is the sixth language that I’m learning so this plan is based on my past experience.

Also, I’m a big fan of SRS (spaced repetition software). If you are just starting to study Mandarin or you never heard the word “SRS” before, you should definitely keep reading!

My plan to learn Chinese

Commitment

I’m a lazy pig. However, when I pay for a gym I can easily motivate myself to train three times per week. So I thought that I could use the same strategy and I bought a Chinese course.

This is also what Napoleon Hill suggests in his book “Think and Grow Rich“, which is probably the best book that I ever read on goal achievement.

The idea is that we will only pursue our goals if we have invested some resources on them (time, money, face and so on). For the same reason, I also decided to make a public commitment and monthly update my progress on this website.

Immersion

I’ll watch at least two hours of Chinese television per week, hopefully, a good movie. I’ll upload the lessons of my language course and some Chinese music – so far I only got a couple of albums by the Fenghuang Chuanqi – on my iPod.

I will speak with local people in Chinese even when they try to switch to English (my Chinese is bad and people often get bored). This doesn’t include working time, as I have to speak English at work.

Context

If “sugar” then “sweet.” If “fire” then “smoke.” Our brain recalls information by generating connections. This is a well-known concept among the people that study memory.

This means that when we try to memorize Chinese characters one by one, we are slowing down our learning process. We can learn much faster by studying short sentences that provide a specific context for the characters.

I’m not saying anything new. I found this concept over and over again and this is the way kids learn a language. Also, Chinese characters change their meaning according to the context.

As an example, take the characters 小 (which means “small”) and 心 (which means “heart”). If you put them together you obtain the Chinese word 小心, which means “be careful.”

This is not an exception. It’s just how Mandarin works: changing the order of the addends you’ll get a different result.

By now it should be obvious to anyone that studying the Chinese characters one by one isn’t so effective. However, there are still a lot of people that choose to do so (I’ve been there too).

Memorize the most common 3,000 Chinese characters

I’ll use a free software called Anki to learn and revise Chinese characters through flashcards with a clever scheduling called SRS.

In order to exploit the “context” rule, I downloaded a deck of flashcards called Mastering Chinese Characters, which is composed of 14,000 sentences.

Smart.fm, the company that released it (you can download it for free once you installed Anki), claims that the deck contains the 98% of characters used in newspapers.

This deck mostly contains sentences so I can learn these 3,000 characters in the right context.

This should allow me to learn the WORDS used in the newspapers. Again, a Chinese word is often composed of two or three characters.

UPDATE 30/11/2015: The decks I was using aren’t available on Anki anymore; however there are plenty of decks to choose from on the Anki Database.

How to learn mandarinAnki’s screenshot: you can see how the flashcard for a question (on the left) and an answer (on the right) appears.

Evaluate my results

In order to achieve any long term objective, we need to set measurable short term goals. My weekly measurable goal will be to learn fifty new flashcards per day, to complete a lesson of my Chinese course and watch a Chinese movie in Chinese.

Also, I’ll try to talk in Chinese as often as I can. I may modify my goals if, after a while, I find them too easy or too difficult.

Frequently asked questions

How can I learn Chinese fast?
The best way to learn Chinese fast is to attend a course where you start and learn the basics from a Chinese teacher. They can provide you with a curriculum that helps you to learn the most important grammar rules and words in a chronological order.

Besides, they will help you to pronounce words and tones correctly, which is crucial to be understood. When you have learned the basics, you should start speaking with Chinese people earliest possible and further develop your language skills by expanding your vocabulary.

Is there an app that can read Chinese?
Yes, there’s a handful of applications that can instantly read and translate Chinese by using your smartphone camera and a scan-function. One example is Waygo, which can help you do this for Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

Another example is Pleco, one of the most popular dictionaries and tools in the market. The same as it goes with Waygo, you simply hover your phone over the text using your smartphone camera and the application pick up every word.

How fast can you learn Mandarin?
It depends. Generally speaking, you should spend at least 3 – 6 months to be able to have basic conversations with Chinese people. If you want to become fluent and perhaps look for employment where Chinese language skills are mandatory, be prepared to spend at least 2-3 years learning the language.
What is the best program to learn Mandarin?
There are plenty of applications available, as shown above. Thus, it’s up to one’s personal preferences and taste to decide which application is the best. Many claim that Anki, Pleco, and Skritter are the best programs to learn Chinese. You should try the applications available to see which one suits you the best.
How can I learn Chinese free?
Learning Chinese for free is easy and you don’t necessarily need to attend classes, even if that will result in more work on your side. First of all, you can learn the basics by buying books and watching videos on YouTube, for example.

As mentioned, there are also many useful applications available. A great way of improving your speaking and listening skills is to visit local language meetings. Here, you can become friends with Chinese who are often more than willing to help you speaking Chinese on a weekly basis.

Can you become fluent with Duolingo?
Not really. Duolingo can help you learn the basics, but you will need more resources than that to become fluent.
Is Hello Chinese free?
Yes, Hello Chinese is freemium and a great application if you want to get access to free resources and materials. It also comes with a paid version where you get access to more teaching materials. The premium plan costs USD 6.99 per month, USD 12.99 for 3-months, or USD 39.99 per year.

This content was originally published here.

Categories
french

For Syrian Refugee Yasser Al Asmi, Learning French Was Exactly What Made Him Feel Canadian

Yasser Al Asmi always has a smile on his face. Not because his life is perfect or because his pain is healed, but because he is alive — and safe.

After escaping the war in Syria with his family two years ago, the Moncton High grad went from seeing gunshots on his porch to scoring a special Canada Day invite from the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

#OutstandingCanadian: Yasser Al Asmi arrived in Canada two years ago with his .parents and three siblings. In two years, he has mastered English and French and has just been presented with the prestigious Roméo LeBlanc scholarship at the University of Moncton. #CanadaDay#cdnpolipic.twitter.com/EiZjs4bKRY

— Mélanie Joly (@melaniejoly) July 1, 2018

The 18-year-old was recently awarded the renowned Roméo LeBlanc scholarship to the University of Moncton, where he’ll study in French as a pre-med student starting in the fall. The scholarship, which will cover his full tuition fees, is given to the student with the highest grades from an anglophone high school in Atlantic Canada.

But it’s the community in his new home in New Brunswick that he credits with helping him gain the confidence to push himself further.

“Everybody in Moncton is your friend,” Al Asmi tells HuffPost Canada. “These are the people that helped me recover from what I saw back home.”

In Syria, Al Asmi came straight home after school, and didn’t leave. “It was living in constant fear all the time. Every day.”

Yasser Al Asmi

Yasser Al Asmi receiving the Romeo LeBlanc scholarship from the mayor of Moncton, Dawn Arnold, during his graduation ceremony.

When Al Asmi came to Canada, he advanced from Grade 10 science to Grade 11 chemistry in the first month of school and taught himself French along the way. By watching popular French YouTubers like Cyprien and using Duolingo, Al Asmi picked up the language in his spare time. He says one of his dreams is to be a polyglot.

“I could not accept being in a situation where people would be speaking the national language and I would not understand it,” he says. “I felt like I had to do that. I had to do it as a new Canadian.”

He says learning a national language shouldn’t even be a political debate. “It’s cultural capital.”

Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Canada’s minister of health, appeared to agree, sharing her enthusiasm for Al Asmi’s achievement on Twitter when his scholarship was announced.

Two years ago, Yasser Al Asmi arrived in Moncton not speaking a word of French. This fall, he’ll start at a French university on a full scholarship.

On Canadian Multiculturalism Day, I salute Yasser (and so many others) who make Canada great. #MultiDayhttps://t.co/kLCJBYIiNc

— Ginette Petitpas Taylor (@GPTaylorMRD) June 27, 2018

On a February night in 2016, Al Asmi, his parents and his three younger siblings arrived in Montreal before moving to Moncton two days later through the Liberal government’s resettlement program. Launched in 2015 to settle more than 40,000 Syrian refugees in Canada, the current impact of the massive undertaking is getting some flak from Saskatchewan’s immigration minister and the federal auditor general.

For Al Asmi, Canada already feels like much more of a home than Jordan, where his family initially fled to while escaping violence in Syria.

“Canadian winter is nothing like we imagined,” he recalls. But he soon learned that if there’s one thing more Canadian than snow, it’s complaining about the snow. After school, his neighbours would help him shovel the driveway so he’d have enough time to finish his homework.

Yasser Al Asmi

Yasser Al Asmi at the beach in Shediac, New Brunswick.

“Our neighbours are really an extension of my family,” he says. He credits them for his love for lobster, which they frequently bring over in exchange for falafels. During their first summer in Moncton, Al Asmi’s family spent many afternoons by the beach in Shediac, N.B., dubbed the “Lobster Capital of the World.” The small town takes its title seriously — recently reclaiming the record for the world’s longest lobster roll.

The aspiring doctor can’t wait to start university. While he’s always dreamed of becoming a cardiologist, he says he’ll give himself some time to learn everything from history to world religions, too.

He’s thankful for his supportive parents, who have kept his spirits up while he adjusted to school in Canada.

“They don’t speak English yet but that doesn’t mean they can’t express how proud they are,” he says. “I just want them to see me succeed.”

This content was originally published here.

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Video: Mike Patton Joins Anthrax Members for “Speak Spanish or Die” Cover

Anthrax’s Scott Ian and Charlie Benante have been cranking out covers from their homes while on quarantine, among them a reunion of three-quarters of the original Stormtroopers of Death lineup (with Dan Lilker on bass) for a rousing performance of the band’s 1985 anthem, “Chromatic Death.”

Ian, Benante and Lilker have again teamed up for a Stormtroopers of Death song, and this time they’ve added a very special guest: Faith No More / Mr. Bungle / Fantomas / Tomahawk / etc. frontman and savant Mike Patton, who steps in on vocals for the retired Billy Milano on a reimagined version of the title track from Speak English or Die, the appropriately dubbed “Speak Spanish or Die.”

Patton didn’t get the memo that you’re supposed to record these things with your phone oriented horizontally, but we’ll forgive him this trespass because he nails the song. Watch below! Patton and Ian previously teamed up on the track at the Mr. Bungle reunion shows earlier this year.

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