The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #19 January / February 2016
In Others's Words
In Others' Words
Brian Powers
by Erik Zidowecki
January / February 2016 | 

This month, we got a chance to talk with Brian Powers, creator of the blog "Languages Around the Globe". He talked to us about his beginnings and where he wants to be going, along with his thoughts on blogging and more.

How did Languages Around the Globe come into being? What is the main message or goal, if any, of it?

 

I used to work as program coordinator for a literacy/TESOL company in Connecticut called The Literacy Volunteers of Eastern Connecticut. I met a lot of really fascinating learners from around the world and quickly found that I was more interested in learning their languages than I was in teaching mine. Probably not a great quality in a teacher, but I digress.

I turned to the Facebook language and linguistics community to try to pick up on more information or tips and tricks that I could perhaps apply to my work and eventually it turned into something I found myself embroiled in quite thoroughly. In August 2012 I started my own FB page, Languages Around the Globe, as a fun sort of hobby thing. It served as a great way to keep me interested in what I did and learning about the things that mattered while contributing to a more multilingual world in some small way.

LATG was nothing more than a Facebook page for about a year and a half. In Spring 2014 I began writing down thoughts that I had about various language products and experiences during my own learning projects. Realizing that I had already developed the perfect platform on which to share this content LATG more or less immediately launched into a reasonably well-read site owing to an existing following.

It was never my intention for things to go as far as they have but since then I've more or less turned LATG into something of a full time job. It's incredibly rewarding, tons of fun, I get to spend all of my time learning languages and meeting awesome people from around the world.


Do you find blogging a gratifying experience, or do you feel there is now too much competition in the blogsphere?

The great thing about blogging, especially in a niche such as languages and linguistics, is that for the most part there really is no competition. That's not to say that there aren't other bloggers. Actually there're quite a few. It's a very well populated niche. The thing about language blogging is that it's not a competition. I'm not selling a product, what I do is readily available for free. We more or less help each other out, promote one anothers' content and function as a really diverse web of writers, learners and enthusiasts. It's extremely gratifying.


Are there any blogs, websites, podcasts, video channels, etc., that you like to follow or have inspired you in your own work?

I try to keep up decent relations with other enthusiasts in the niche. LATG is one of the founding members of something called the Digital Language Collective (DLC). It's something of a "cool-kids-club" for language writers, vloggers, and others who have made languages their online profession in some way. It's a fantastic way to keep up on everyone's latest content. The list of pages and sites that I'm a fan of is extensive.

Early on though I was inspired a lot by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and linguistics publications such as Geocurrents.


Do you have any professional training or education as a writer which helps you in your blogging?

As a writer I don't have any specific training beyond that required of those in an academic setting. I studied cultural anthropology as an undergraduate and as with most scientific fields there is a certain degree of literacy that needs to be presented for one to be taken seriously. I took writing courses during my studies as they were required.

Beyond that, I suppose I've always read a lot, something I think will naturally impact one's writing skills in a positive way.


It is probably a cliche question, but what got you interested in languages, especially considering you are in the USA, which is stereotyped as the monolingual country?

I've always been interested in languages. This passion didn't really present itself in me until after finishing my undergrad studies, but if I think back on it, it was always there. While I was in school I on more than one occasion attempted to pursue linguistics coursework, but my university did not offer a degree program. I settled for anthropology, which I love and also attribute very much to my interest in language learning and linguistics as a scientific field.


Are any members of your family or friends as you were growing up interested in languages as well?

Not really, unfortunately. My sister took Italian courses during her own university studies, but she never speaks any of it around me. She gave me all of her textbooks but beyond that nope, my friends and family are more or less monolingual.


What would you like to see LATG become in the future?

Well I'm moving to Germany in March of this year. Preparing for this move and then of course getting settled in a new country is really taking its toll on my schedule, and I expect it will continue to do so for the next few months. There has been a reduction in activity recently, but I'm making an effort to turn that around and hope to be back in the saddle as soon as possible, writing, reviewing and of course learning.

I never got into this for the money but in a perfect world it would be great to be able to fully support myself through my activities with LATG. It's the perfect scenario, you know? Earn enough money doing something I absolutely love that also allows me to travel, work on my own time and keep my mind engaged.

I'm hoping to return to grad school in Germany once my German language skills improve to an adequate level, so stay tuned for lots of articles about that! I'm hoping to pursue a field related to the work I've been doing and would love the opportunity to tie LATG to my studies.

Whatever happens, it's going to be awesome.



You can find Brian at Languages Around the Globe (latg.org)


 
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In Others's Words
Writer: Erik Zidowecki

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.

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