Saturday, 3 September 2016

Top 5 reasons to learn a language

September has arrived!  I cannot believe how fast this summer flew by.  However, I am so excited for my favourite season - fall!

September is a month of change.  It brings a new season, new fashion (yay!), and for many new learning opportunities as they begin another school year.

Even if you're not a full-time student, this is the time of year where new learning begins!  Full-time courses, part-time courses, on-line courses, you name it - the time is now.  Which is why I thought this would be the perfect time to let you know why it's important to learn a new language!

I often hear people say how they wish they knew another language, or I hear them wondering if they should be exposing their children to second language learning.  Learning another language is never a waste of time.  There are many benefits to second language learning, and I'm here to tell you five of them!

1. Cultured Individual

"A different language is a different vision of life." - Federico Fellini

Fellini couldn't have said it any better.  Knowing another language opens up another world - music, books, art, politics, food, the list goes on and on.  It helps you to see things from a native speaker's perspective.  Sure, you can always opt for google translate instead, but as a language teacher, I often stress that sometimes certain words just cannot be properly translated.  There doesn't exist a perfect translation in another language because that word or phrase embodies the culture to which it belongs.  Language and culture go hand in hand.  If you commit to learning a new language, you will inevitably learn where words come from and how they are used in a society, which will allow you to better understand the true ideas and meanings behind the words.

2. Travel

Knowing the language of the country you are visiting will no doubt make your travels easier.  Not only will you be able to navigate better, but knowing the native tongue will allow you to better connect to locals which can open up a world of opportunities.

I've always felt that knowing another language is having a pass into a secret society.  When you speak to individuals in their native tongue, you get to know them on a more personal level; there is a certain exchange of trust that occurs.  In my own travel experiences, specifically in Italy and France, I have often seen a distinct switch in the behaviour of native speakers when they realize that I can communicate in their mother tongue.  You can see in their eyes that I have changed from "just another tourist" to "one of them."  This look is usually followed by advice on the best places to go that only locals know about, or perhaps a drop in price of an item if I'm at a flea market trying to make a purchase.  And let's not forget the sweet satisfaction of those moments when locals ask, "Where are you from around here?" followed by a look of shock, mixed with respect, that I was able to fool them into thinking I was "one of their own." (hee hee!)

3. Employability

In our globalized world, languages are definitely valuable.  Yes, many around the world speak English, but many also do not, or may prefer to handle business in their native language.  Therefore, the more languages you know, the more attractive you will seem to potential employers.  Most individuals are more comfortable when conversing in their mother tongue, so if you have the possibility to speak to clients in their native language, you can be a cut above competition.

Aside from extra confidence and comfort, an article from The Economist points out that you can actually earn more for your extra language knowledge.  According to statistics, certain languages pay higher bonuses - so pick your courses well! (haha, just kidding!) 

4. Brain Health

There has been much research published on the brain benefits of second language learning, including that released in an article from The New York Times.  The article highlights the positive effects that second language learning has on the brain such as, improved cognitive skills and protection against dementia.  Further research, like a  University of Chicago study, proves that second language usage allows individuals to make decisions with less bias.

While it is recommended to learn languages at an early age, fortunately research reveals that these positive brain benefits can apply to late learners as well, through active use of the second language.

5. Meet new people

Just think, the more languages you know, the more cultures you can interact with!  That opens up a world of possibilities when trying to make new friends, meet new work clients, or find the love of your life.

Don't forget the fact that conversing to someone in their native tongue creates a whole new dimension in the relationship.  As Nelson Mandela famously said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understand, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."  

There are a variety of good reasons to learn a new language. I just barely scratched the surface here! The most important thing to remember is that you need to be patient when learning a new language. It takes time and practice.  It also takes passion!  Being truly engaged with a language and it's culture, will definitely aid in the learning process!  

Friday, 17 June 2016

CHIN Radio turns 50!

This upcoming weekend marks a very special occasion, and no, I'm not talking about Father's day (although that's also a very special celebration as well!)! This weekend features one of the biggest celebrations of multiculturalism, The CHIN International Picnic!

This event, which is held in Toronto - specifically in the "heart of Little Italy" this year on College St. - is celebrating it's 50th year, along with the radio station who holds the event, CHIN Radio/TV International.  This golden anniversary is very special, as it marks the hard work and determination of the station's founder, Johnny Lombardi, in celebrating cultural diversity in Canada.

Born in 1915 to immigrant parents, Giovanni "Johnny" Barbalindardo Lombardi, rose from rags to riches becoming a self-made millionaire and the recipient of many awards and medals in his lifetime, including the Order of Canada. 

As a young boy, Lombardi often suffered for being Italian, as the culture was frowned upon in Canada at the time.  Often being ridiculed, and even once turned away from a public pool due to his ethnicity, you would think that Lombardi would have renounced his heritage. Instead, Lombardi grew up celebrating his culture fiercely and eventually became known as the "unofficial mayor of Little Italy" in Toronto.

Before he earned that title, Lombardi earned many other accomplishments.  From a young age, Lombardi's determination and vision set him apart.  As a child, he studied music and taught himself to play the harmonica, the bugle and the trumpet.  His efforts gained him many gold medals - the firsts of many acknowledgements. He always loved music and the theatre, and would often go to the now non-existent, SHEA's Theatre, in downtown Toronto, hoping to catch a glimpse of the performers on stage.  At age 10, Lombardi began studying music with the Boys "K" Club and Columbus Boys Club, which were service clubs for underprivileged children.  In the years that followed, he joined various bands, and even formed his own, all the while working odd jobs.

In the 1930s Lombardi got his big break playing as lead trumpet for the Benny Palmer Orchestra in London, Ontario.  He held this position until he joined the army in 1942, where he served as sergeant and entertained the troops with his trumpet.  He received many decorations and honours throughout his service and was invited by the Prime Minister of Canada in June 1994, to attend the 50th Anniversary commemoration of the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy.  His passion for the arts never swayed as he even stayed on for an extra year after the war was ended to direct entertainment for the troops waiting to go home.  He was one of the last Canadians to leave Holland in 1946.

Upon Lombardi's return to Toronto, he opened up a grocery store.  He decided to offer imported specialty Italian foods in his store, capitalizing on the ever-growing Italian immigrant population in the Toronto area.  One year later, Lombardi invested in another bright idea - he bought a weekly one-hour time slot on CHUM Radio, where he advertised for his store and played music tailored to the Italian community.  This marked the beginning of what would be known as the leading multicultural radio broadcaster in Canada. 

Throughout the 1950s, Lombardi's impresario career flourished as he organized various concerts throughout the city featuring Italian singers from Italy.  While he continued to produce radio programmes on CHUM to promote his supermarket, concerts and community events, he then started a record label entitled, "Bravo Records and Music," to promote Italo-Canadian singers.  

On June 6th, 1966, Lombardi's dreams of owning his very own radio station came true, as he applied for a multicultural radio station and launched CHIN Radio.  The offices and studios were first housed above the supermarket, before eventually being moved into the building across the street near the intersection of Grace and College Streets.  Today the station broadcasts in over 30 languages, with stations in both Toronto and Ottawa.

In 1966, Lombardi also launched the CHIN International Picnic - "the world's largest free picnic."  Since the Canadian Bureau of Broadcast Measurement would not report on an audience that was neither English nor French, Lombardi used the picnic as a way to prove to advertisers that his station had an audience.  With attendees in the hundred thousands over the years, Lombardi definitely proved his point!  The picnic was first hosted on the Toronto Islands and then at the Canadian National Exhibition until 2014, after which it was moved to College St.

It is clear that Johnny Lombardi was unlike any other.  His passion, energy and enthusiasm for culture was unparalleled.  He was a pioneer for multiculturalism in Canada, long before it became official policy of the nation, as he truly enjoyed celebrating and bringing together the beauty of various ethnicities. He definitely lived up to his title of "Great Communicator," as he had a special way of reaching audiences through various mediums. 

As a graduate of communication studies, a singer at heart, a writer, and an educator, I can definitely say that I can greatly relate to this amazing man, who proves that one can excel in many areas in life when one puts their mind to it.  His fervor and zest for life and the art of communication is so very inspiring!  Although Lombardi passed in 2002 at the age 86, his legacy thankfully lives on for future generations through the hard work of his family and the many individuals who are part of the "CHIN Famiglia.  As a past employee of CHIN Radio/TV International, I can honestly say that his spirit can be felt throughout the building and the continued work of the station. He is definitely smiling down from the heavens and saying to all, "You are doing a buona jobba!"

Congratulations CHIN Radio/TV International on your 50th anniversary!  
Cheers to 50 more!

The CHIN Picnic runs from June 18th - 19th.  
Visit for more details.

(images via / via / via)

Friday, 6 May 2016


Hello all!  Hope you've been keeping well! Happy to return to the writing screen, as always!  

With beautiful weather finally upon us, I look forward to sharing with you in this post some interesting spring home decor ideas.  I've rounded up a few inspiring images, specifically for your living room decor, just in time for your spring gatherings!  The images all depict light and airy spaces, which are perfect for this time of year!  


(photo via Amber Interiors)

(photo via Decoholic)

(photo via Apartment Therapy)

(Photo via My Domaine)

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

VLD Italian 101 - Proverb 6

This instalment in the VLD Italian 101 Series serves as the perfect reminder to enjoy life and make every minute count! This message is especially fitting after a special weekend filled with Valentines and Family Day celebrations. 

Hope you all enjoyed time with your friends and loved ones!

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