Category Archives: iGlobal

With so many great tools on the web, this new category will put all of the ones I’ve found in one place.

Friday Global Giving: Become a Rosetta Stone Supplement

I feel like this week I’ve been reading all kinds of posts about the growth and maintenance of languages. Moment Matters wrote a great post about Mandarin being the new global language. I also really enjoyed Loving Language’s post this week about the importance of the US becoming a multi-lingual nation. Yet even as there is push for learning and protecting languages, English remains in the highest demand by language learners due to it being the coined “global language”. For this reason, teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways for native-English speakers to live abroad with a legal work visa and a little money in their pocket. For anyone interested in exploring  the life of teaching English abroad, there are some great examples in the blogging world. Some of my favorites include:

  • Quinn in Morocco – she teaches English to children in Morocco through the Peace Corps
  • Our Dear Lady Expatriate – has been teaching English for several years, first in South Korea and now in Cambodia
  • Travel Thayer – an English teacher in an elementary school in South Korea

But teaching English is not limited to those of us that want/are able to live abroad. As I’ve worked with the refugee community in Oklahoma City, I’ve realized that for non-English speakers living in English-speaking countries, their needs for language training is extremely great. And there are tons of opportunities for us to help meet this need in our own hometowns. Here are just a few:

Teach in a Classroom Environment

Many religious groups, libraries, and non-for-profit organizations offer English as a Second Language courses. These courses typically meet once a week and are led by a certified TEFL instructor. If you are not TEFL certified, you can often still volunteer in the classroom helping the students with excises and practice conservations.

Serve as a Language Partner

If you prefer one-on-one interaction, becoming a language partner may be the best fit. This is a great way to build a relationship with a recent immigrant and can be mutually instructive if you are willing to learn the native language of your partner. If you prefer to do this virtually, The Mixxer is a site that helps match you with a language partner anywhere in the world.

Become an Online Language Coach

If you’re unable to find a language partner program or ESL course to volunteer in, another easy  opportunity is to volunteer online. Organizations like I Want to Learn English train volunteers to help English language learners practice their skills and ask questions. All you need is a computer and internet.


While Rosetta Stone is certainly a helpful tool for a newly settled immigrant to learn the language, there is nothing like having a real person to help with pronunciation and context. If you’re looking for a way to give back and volunteer for the new year, helping someone learn English could be an ideal choice.

For more information on teaching English, check out this guide done by Colorado State University: Teaching Guide: ESL Volunteer Guide. It is a well-done resource.


Meet Up and the Girly Book Club

Last night I did my first Meet Up event in OKC. If you’re not familiar with Meet Up, it is probably one of the easiest ways to meet new people who share your interests. Looking for a language group in your city? Go on Meet Up. Want a group of women to go to the theater with you? Meet Up is where you can find them. And if a group doesn’t already exist, you can always make one yourself. Now I will admit that some cities have more vibrant Meet Ups than others but it is fairly wide-spread. I just found Meet Ups in Rome, Buenos Aires, and Shanghai. Any poker players in Shanghai? They have a Meet Up.

For my first OKC Meet Up, I joined a lovely group of women for the Girly Book Club. The Girly Book Club was actually started in London by a woman named Erin. The London Club now has over 1400 members and regularly packs out. Erin decided to spread her vision and as friends moved to new places she asked them to bring the club with them. In addition to the OKC Girly Book Club, groups have also started in Denver, Melbourne, Nashville, New York City, San Francisco, Toronto, and Wellington. Each club reads the same book every month with recommendations coming from all the clubs.

I have to say that last night was one of the most enjoyable experiences as a new person to OKC. It first started with an email from Laura, the OKC host of the group. She welcomed me personally, introduced herself, and told me exactly what to expect. When I arrived at Full Circle Bookstore (an incredible local bookstore), I got my name tag and bought a drink from the little cafe. When I sat down, I was immediately engaged in conversation. The group of 32 was a great mix of women between the ages of 20-60. It was split between locals and transplants from around the country. After everyone introduced themselves, we talked about the book The Night Circus (one of my favorites). Various people asked questions and almost everyone chimed in. There was no talking over each other and everyone seemed genuinely interested in what others had to say. By the end of the evening, I felt sure that this was a group I’d like to return to. And while I didn’t leave with a new best friend, I think it is a place I can connect.

So I’m pretty excited to say that this time next week, I’ll be global from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Hubby and I are taking our first ever trip abroad together to celebrate the end of all his medical training and our move to Oklahoma. To plan for the trip, I asked for some advice from one of my favorite blogs, Travel. Culture. Food. Here are some things we plan to do!

Speaking Italian

Last weekend I met a friend in Little Italy to roam through the farmers market (this is where I bought that cursed peanut butter). We ended our shopping with a drink at one of the local restaurants and I was pleasantly surprised to find that our waiter was actually Napolitano. Because it’s not often that I find native speakers in the U.S., I immediately started speaking to him in Italian asking where he was from and why he moved to the U.S. He answered back in Italian for a couple sentences, but then quickly switched back into English and explained everything he said to my friend. He also lightly scolded me that it was not polite to speak in Italian when not everyone present could understand. I’m sure I turned red. Perhaps I should have kept my Italian to myself, but the interaction did get me thinking.

Little Italy’s Farmers Market

In my two months working on this blog, I have not even mentioned language learning as a part of being global from home, mostly because I’m not doing it. I am ashamed to say that I was an Italian Studies major in college because my Italian has definitely suffered from disuse.  After encouragement from my boss, multiple bloggers’ posts, and the Italian waiter, I’m on a mission to revitalize my lost language skills by spending thirty minutes every day.  Here’s what I’m trying to commit to:

  1. Speak out loud to myself in Italian in the car on the way home. (I’m hoping people just thinking I’m talking on Bluetooth)
  2. Spend time every few days looking up words I don’t know. (I had a journal in Italy that I would write down words that I didn’t know the equivalent and then I would look them up every night. It worked great for me.)
  3. Order and read some Italian children’s books. (I once tried reading Harry Potter but that was a little difficult. I mean, how often do I need to know the word for witch or cauldron in Italian?)
  4. Find a language group in OKC once I move. (I’ve checked on Meet-Up but haven’t found one yet. I may have to start one up.)
  5. Practice vocab and grammar on Live Mocha. (I started a few weeks ago and for free, it’s pretty good.)

I’m looking for other ways to keep up my language. If you have any tips, please share!

I may need to brush up on these too.

Cup of Local Sugar

With Florence being the top study abroad location for American students, I tend to try to veer my advisees as far away from it as possible.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Florence is great, but I’m pretty sure the Florentines and the Americans would benefit if the city were a little less populated by U.S. college students.  However, not all students heed my advice, and many still decide to go.  Some isolate themselves to the American culture, but some really do engage and find a way of making Florence a true Italian cultural experience.  Recently one student told me that she was able to really discover Florence through an organization called Cup of Local Sugar.

Cup of Local Sugar’s goal is to find knowledgeable and welcoming locals who can help the curious traveller better understand their culture. Started in Italy, the locals are mostly in Europe but are slowly spreading across the globe.  Locals provide experiences in one of the following categories: coffee abroad, explore, move, play, or taste.  These experiences go on the COLS website and then visitors can sign up to participate and schedule the time that works best. COLS does a good job of vetting both locals and visitors to make sure it is a positive experience for everyone.

When I heard about this organization, I was immediately intrigued and completed the application to become a local in San Diego. I didn’t hear from them for a couple of weeks but last Monday they contacted me to set up a Skype interview. In the interview they asked my reasons for applying, what would be some things I would recommend someone doing in San Diego, and then just asked me to tell something about myself. (I told her I was 4’11″…it was the most interesting thing I could think of.) The interview lasted about 35 minutes and was fairly laid back and comfortable.  At the end, she told me they would get back to me soon.  As of Saturday, I am officially a Cup of Local Sugar Local!  Of course I haven’t actually met with any visitors yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

If you are interested in showing visitors your country or are about to travel somewhere and would really like the local experience, check out Cup of Local Sugar. And if you’re coming to San Diego, be sure to sign up for a coffee abroad with me, Elise B. (my sweet experience should be posted in a week or so).

First Postcard through Postcrossing

A few weeks ago a student introduced me to after I told her about my love for postcards.  (I shamelessly try to bribe students to send me postcards from abroad.)  Postcrossing is a postcard swap, unlike regular pen pals. There is no reciprocation between members (unless desired). It allows you to mail your postcards all over the world and receive postcards from all over the world.  In the past two weeks, I’ve sent postcards to the Netherlands, Russia, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, and Canada.  But yesterday, I received my first one from New Zealand.  If you are a stamp collector, love to give/get mail, or just interested in an international exchange, this is a great way to do it.  Check out a few of my postcards that I’ve sent and my first arrival!


This is the one I just got!


Start sending your own postcards by signing up for an account at

That is Very Pinteresting

Have you gone pinsane with Pinterest?  They finally have created a social media tool that I LOVE and I have gone a bit wild with pinning over the past few months!  Pinterest has given me inspiration for internationally themed parties, recipes, and destinations.  Click the pictures below to check out some of my favorite travel-themed Pinterest sites for vacation ideas, books to read, and incredible global photography.  Don’t have Pinterest?  Post a comment and I’m happy to send you an invite!

100 Places to Visit Before I Die

  BootsnAll Indie Travel


The Purple Passport

Conde Nast Traveler

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