The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #30 November / December 2017
The Opportunity to Succeed
by John C. Rigdon
November / December 2017 | 

So, what does a child refugee from Nicaragua who speaks no English and a lady visiting the Netherlands to promote her site for language learning have in common?

The answer is Kendal Knetemann, the passionate visionary behind LingoHut. As a young girl, Kendal was forced to leave her native Nicaragua and come to the United States to escape the war there. All alone in a foreign country where she did not know the language.

"I know the difficulty of being forced out of your home. I was 13 years old when I fled Nicaragua's civil war. I came to America alone; these were incredibly scary times for me. I could not communicate with the family that took me in. I could not explain my needs, nor share my fears; I was scared and alone. That is exactly why I developed LingoHut; to help others not feel so alone."

As she learned from experience the true issue in learning a new language is not the technical issues of grammar and vocabulary, but the problem of understanding the spoken words and phrases and the euphemisms and slang phrases we take for granted.

Kendal grew up to become a teacher and taught Spanish and English language skills for 27 years before retiring from that job to pursue her dream. The lessons she learned became the seed of the idea for LingoHut, and the site launched 2012.

Her objective – "to develop a free interactive lab to practice pronunciation and articulation of useful everyday vocabulary.”

Her dream was to help a few dozen or maybe a few hundred people learn a new language, never imagining that the site would reach hundreds of thousands and become one of the premier sites online for language learning - ALL FREE.

"I would love everyone to have the opportunity to succeed in their new environment, no matter where you come from, what your social status is or what language you originally speak. is free to everyone. It is interesting to see where people visit us from and what language they are learning. On any day, Serbians and Albanians are learning Italian and German; Dutch enjoy learning French; Vietnamese study Chinese and endless other combinations.”

When I caught up with Kendal via Skype, I was expecting the call to come from Colorado and couldn't figure out why she was giving me times which didn't fit with my Eastern US Time zone. She explained that she and her partner, Phillipp, were in his native Netherlands promoting the launch of the new LIngoHut design.

The new completely revamped design is even easier to use than before, but more importantly, Phillipp, a software engineer, has devoted a lot of time and expertise to make the site load quickly and work efficiently on phone and tablet devices.

This led to a lengthy discussion of the future of LingoHut and Kendal's mission.

Kendal, in remembering her struggle to locate and utilize resources and considering the situation of most of the developing world, she decided that LingoHut should be kept FREE and as broadly useful as possible. The site now supports most of the major languages and many of the minor ones (in terms of resources). Regardless of your native language and the target language you want to learn, you should be able to find your combination there.

Three key elements form the basis of LingoHut:

1. Terms and phrases that help in everyday life, particularly job and career.

2. Lessons are developed and checked by native speakers

3. Sound clips recorded by native speakers with studio quality

This all makes for an excellent learning experience and one that you can count on for accuracy.

LingoHut is growing. As time and resources allow, Kendal intends to add more languages which require finding people who are experts in two or more languages who can translate and record the sample sentences and phrases.

A particular focus is on providing resources for refugees and displaced people groups. A recent focus on Syrian refugees brought about a section on Arabic language resources with the help of a professor in Homs, Syria.

The development and maintenance of a site like LIngoHut require resources. Kendal is looking for corporate sponsors to sponsor particular languages. Contact her to discuss the details.

John C. Rigdon has authored a number of books on the American Civil War and is the manager of the web site, Research OnLine, ( the premier site for researching Civil War ancestors in the Civil War. His titles include the Historical Sketch and Roster Volumes (1100 plus titles) and a dozen volumes in the "We Fought" series focusing on particular battles and commanders. Additionally, John works in translation of materials in several languages and maintains the website,

John resides in the foothills of the Appalachians outside Cartersville, GA. where he enjoys gardening and aquaponics. You may reach him at

The Opportunity to Succeed
Writer: John C. Rigdon
Kendal Knetemann: Baby with quote

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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