I once wrote a simple story about a boy who was extremely hungry. He came upon a house and upon entering, found a glass door behind which there was a table full of food. Hanging squarely from the middle of the door was a sign which read, “FREE FOOD.” The boy sensed his opportunity.
There was but one problem – the door was locked.
The boy pulled and pushed on the door. He knocked and called out for someone to open it. But all was for naught – the door would not open.
The only thing that would open the door was a key, the key the boy did not have. The boy grew despondent but in throwing his eyes to the ceiling with a desperate prayer for help, he noticed hanging from a nail above the table, a key.
The key was locked inside the very room in which the food was found.
The boy lowered his head and returned to the street to resume his search for food.
The table of food in the story represents a nearly endless supply of amazing, free resources for learning the English language. The locked room represents the Internet. And the key, the key hanging so neatly behind the locked door, represents the English language, the main language of the Internet. There is no access without the English language.
In my four years in Turkey, I often asked parents about their children’s English language classes and how their kids were doing in their studies. Nearly every parent I talked with wanted more for their kids and were frustrated with the national education system that – much like foreign language courses throughout the world – seemed a waste of time and energy.
Their kids weren’t learning English. Those peers who were fortunate enough to have money for private classes or a private school learned English. Everyone else learned how to say, “How are you?” and little else.
And yet while most families in Istanbul have the Internet, few had ever ventured into its depths in search for free, quality language learning resources. In order to do so required a key – the English language.
This seems unjust leaving countless millions locked out of the opportunities that learning English brings. Ghandi once famously said,
You must be the change you want to see in the world.
I’m not Gandhi and I don’t have any grand scheme to bridge this divide and provide the key which would unlock opportunities to English language learners around the world, but I do have something.
My goal with my writing – both on the blog and in my guides – is to provide information and resources that will help regular people become independent, self-directed language learners. There are many who write more eloquently than I and others who provide more resources but I am doing my best to help everyday language learners like myself.
But I write in English.
Most of the language learners of the world are locked out. And I don’t like that.
That’s why I started Project I-586. My goal is to see my writing translated into as many languages as possible so that those that have not yet learned English can have access to new ideas and resources about language learning – my ideas at least.
And that’s also why I’ve invited native language bloggers to steal my blog. Feel free to take any post on this site, translate it into your native language and share it on your blog so that those who are working to learn English (or another language) can learn from what I write here at EDLL.
And finally, that’s why I am working to have all of my guides translated into other languages and why I’m giving all the digital copies away for free.
I’ve started with my shortest guide, The Everyday Language Learner’s Guide to Sustaining. Working with some great friends, this short manifesto of motivation has already been translated into French, Polish, Spanish and Turkish. I’ve also recently put together the Turkish/English and the Spanish/English parallel text versions, a plan I hope to complete for all translations of Sustaining. (read about parallel texts)
But the Guide to Sustaining has always been free.
My Guide to Getting Started on the other hand, is one that I sell from my site. The translated versions of the Guide to Getting Started have been started in Turkish, Polish, French and Spanish. This is the guide I am most excited to see completed as it lays the ground work for independent, self-directed language learning. This is the tool I wish to see in the hands of English language learners around the world. The English version will still be sold at my Everyday Language Guides site, but I’ll give away all translated versions.
I want to unlock the door to opportunity!
I would like to be able to give away translated copies of my guides to people of all languages and I’d like to see them translated into YOUR native language too.
But I’ll need help. The translations completed thus far have been done by those interested in helping spread the word. They are bloggers, language companies, teachers and friends and they have given a generours gift to all of us.
You can get involved too. Here’s how.
Spread the Word
The first thing you can do to help is to spread the word. Share any of the translated guides found above on your Facebook pages, through Twitter and by emailing them to your friends.
Translate and publish any of the posts from The Everyday Language Learner on your blog in your native language. The Learn Real Polish blog has done this already with several posts, including a Polish translation of my Using Parallel Texts blog post.
If you have a blog, write a review of one of the translated guides so that more learners can hear about them.
If you’d like to see one of the guides translated into your native language, gather a team of fellow native speakers and I’ll give you each a free copy of the English version to work from to translate the guide. I’d love to see the guides translated into hundreds of languages.
(Sustaining is about 5,000 words, The Guide to Getting Started is about 20,000 words)
I am excited to offer translated and parallel text reading material for language learners the world over. These resources work both ways of course and learners of French, Spanish, Polish and Turkish can benefit from using these translated versions as well. Just click on one of the links above.
This is one small way that I hope I can help those around the world learning languages and especially those who are learning English.
Will you help?
Ready to get serious about learning another language?
"Aaron consistenly pumps out top quality language learning advice and motivational posts,
and is probably one of the best sources of encouragement you'll come across."
-Donovan Nagel, The Mezzofanti Guild