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  • 7 best free language learning sites

    Learning a language has a multitude of benefits including making us smarter, building our multitasking skills, improving our memory, and making us more perceptive. In order to aid the development of this important life skill we have compiled a list of top websites for language learning.

     1. Busuu

    As well as winning the the BETT Innovator Award, TechCrunch Europe Award, Busuu has also been named ‘Best Education Startup in Europe’ by EdTech Europe. It has an international community of over 50 million native speakers and is available in 12 languages. The content is curated by an in-house team of educational experts and teachers and the site provides you with personalised feedback on your exercises via an integrated chat feature.

     2.Duolingo

    Duolingo provides language lessons in 13 languages with speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges at different levels. You can instantly see which answers are correct and set new challenges to help further your progress. Duolingo helps you stay on track by recording how many days in a row you use it and allowing you to earn points from your progress. Teachers can also track students’ learning.

     3. Learn a language

    Learn a language offers interactive audio/visual Learning Lounge to assist you in learning a foreign language. There's also a Lingo Dingo game to help learn a language online. The site includes important phrases like greetings, survival expressions and slang words in 19 languages. 

    4. FSI Languages Courses

    Foreign Language Institute courses were designed by linguists and have high-quality learning materials. They were developed by the United States government and lessons are available in 48 languages.

     5. Open Culture

    Open Culture offers a repository of free resources in 48 languages. Resources are curated on a regular basis. 

     6. Erasmus Plus Online linguistic support

    There is a specific tool available for Erasmus Plus participants, the Erasmus Plus Online linguistic supportThis tool is available in six languages and it is specifically designed for participants in mobility. These courses are developed to assist beneficiaries to improve their language skills before they travel to their country of destination. Students are required to undertake a language assessment and need to have been selected by their sending institutions before they use the tool.

    7.Memrise

    This site uses ‘mems’, which are mnemonic flashcards that use your pre-existing knowledge to help remember new vocabulary. The Portuguese mem for “yo quero,” for example, showed a man in a shop saying to the helpful clerk, “you care! Ohh!”

    Happy language learning!

    Sources: https://ec.europa.eu  and http://www.telegraph.co.uk 

     

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  • 10 Techniques to Instantly Reduce Stress

    Stress can appear in our lives at any time with varying levels of intensity. It could arise from a conversation you have or get triggered from an event that takes places. Stress can even emerge after a slow build up, with one event pushing you over the edge. No matter how it’s caused, the fact is consistent stress in our body is not only detrimental to our health; it’s also preventable and unnecessary.

    Physiologically, stress exists as our body’s response to life threatening situations. When we feel endangered, our nervous system responds by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This is our body’s way of protecting us through the “fight or flight” stress response. In emergency situations stress can help us stay alert, energetic, and give us superhuman strength to get out of danger.

    Once the threatening event is over, our body is designed to return back to its natural calm and relaxed state. Although life-threatening situations are not as common in Western Society, what is common is for people to be constantly living in “flight or fight” mode. Staying in this mode over extended periods of time can cause health problems such as nervous system disorders and fatigue. This in turn can create ongoing anxiety as we are constantly on alert waiting for a crisis to happen at any time. For a lot of us, entering the office switches our body into a life-threatening state.

    Next time your chest gets tight or you feel overwhelmed, try these techniques for instant relief.

    1. Focus on your breath
    Your thoughts are directly related to your breath. If you have a tight chest, worried thoughts, or feel anxious, chances are, you are breathing too fast or shallow. Slow down your breath to balance your mind by inhaling for a count of 5 seconds, hold your breath for 5 seconds, and exhale for 5 seconds.

    2. Cool down
    Cooling down your mind and body re-balances your energy and allows you to take action from a more centered place. An ancient yogi technique to cool down your mind and body is shitali pranayam. Open your mouth slightly, curl your tongue and allow it to slightly protrude past your lips. Breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose. If you can’t curl your tongue, inhale through a round O mouth instead. Try this technique for 2–3 minutes.

    3. Pause
    If you react too soon during stressful situations, you may say or do things you later regret. Unless you are in an emergency situation, your response can often wait at least a few seconds. Transform the pattern of immediately responding to taking the time to pause, breathe, get calm, and gather yourself. Then respond verbally or by taking action.

    4. Get out in nature
    Getting out in nature has an instant calming effect. Whether you choose to sit on a beach to hear the waves crash, walk through a lush green forest, listen to the sounds of a nearby waterfall or hike up mountains, just get yourself outside and allow nature to put everything back into perspective.

    5. Mindfully exercise
    Exercise releases natural adrenaline and endorphins that make you feel good. Add more mindfulness to your workout by focusing intently on the activity you are doing. Observe your technique and how it makes you feel. Get connected to your body. This workout window allows you to get fit and even take a break from your stress. Head outside and run or cycle, hit the gym, or attend a yoga class. Working out during your lunch beak also allows you stay more focused and calm when you return to work.

    6. Take a cold shower
    Hydrotherapy is a precise and sophisticated science with a multitude of benefits for your body and mind. As well as reducing stress, cold showers open up your capillaries which when returned to normal push the blood back to your organs. This causes a flush effect in the heart, kidneys lungs and liver. This process stimulates the healthy secretion of the glandular system, which leaves your skin radiant and keeps your blood chemistry young healthy. Remember to start with outer extremities—feet, hands, and arms.

    7. Put on relaxing music
    Everything is made up of energy including both our bodies and music. Music has the power to instantly transform your energy whether that’s by lifting you up or pulling you down. Choose music that is uplifting in tone, lyrics, and beat so your body’s energy can match this higher energy frequency. Positive music also helps create more positive thoughts.

    8. Give gratitude
    Whatever you are stressed about is just a thought pattern or belief. You’re ultimately in control of your thoughts (even if it often doesn’t feel that way). Two people could be in exactly the same situation and only one could feel stressed because they have a negative thought pattern. So take a break from worry or panic and make a list of what you are grateful for in your life—whether that’s having a roof over your head, living in a nice city, having a vehicle that gives you freedom etc. List around 10 things.

    9. Visualize success
    Prevent your mind from imagining the “worst case scenario” or “what if” by visualizing and focusing your whole attention on what you want to bring into your life, not the fears of what you don’t want. Remember where your attention goes energy flows, which means you can’t afford to spend anytime engaged in picturing what you don’t want.

    10. Drink a green smoothie
    Get a natural mental boost from the phytochemicals of green vegetables. Smoothies are a great way to gain all the nutrients from vegetables and fruit as all the content remains in the drink. Green smoothies can also help strengthen your immune system, eliminate unhealthy cravings (which can cause more stress), and give your brain more energy. Try kale, spinach, ginger, and lemon with a touch of banana and blueberries.

    Source: lifehack.org

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  • 5 Places to learn Online for Free

    According to neuroscience professor Ken Kosik, adult education, or specifically engaging in challenging new learning experiences, encourages brain plasticity. And plasticity is associated with flexibility, innovation, and joy.

    Equally as compelling, continued learning has been shown to protect your brain from developing diseases like Alzheimer's.

    Finally, in today's charged political climate, it's worth noting that an educated populace has always been shown to withstand challenging times more effectively.

    Here are a few ways to get educated this year, quickly and powerfully:

    1. Coursera

    Take classes from universities like Stanford, Penn, Duke, or Yale without the $60,000-plus per year price tag. Coursera offers over 1,500 courses from over 145 university partners.

    Courses usually include videos and coursework like online quizzes monitored by a professor. You can search by topic or university.

    Sample classes:

    • Positive Psychology: This course looks at research findings in the field of positive psychology as well as practical applications that you can put to use immediately to help you live a "full and meaningful life."
    • Become a More Effective Manager: Learn how effective managers assess performance and use coaching to create clear expectations and accountability, as well as how to have powerful conversations that get results.
    • Securing Digital Democracy: Learn about the potential security risks of electronic and internet voting. This course covers the past, present, and future of election technologies.
    • The Making of the U.S. President: A Short History in Five Elections: The course description says: "As Trump takes office as 45th president of the U.S., this course explores presidential elections in historical perspective.... It tells the story of key campaigns, and by doing so it investigates how politics changed over time--and how understanding the past sheds light on the current campaign."

    2. Alison

    If you're an entrepreneur or a globally-minded businessperson, you'll love Alison, a U.K.-based learning hub. It's got classes in English, French, and German, with practical courses on everything from American copyright law to nonprofit fundraising. Sample courses:

    Completion of a course grants you "certification," a British designation.

    3. Academic Earth

    The advantage of Academic Earth is that it creates curated playlists, collecting relevant lectures from different courses around a specific topic. Sample playlists:

    It also has interesting and occasionally entertaining video electives, such as:

    4. 99U

    With the tagline "Empowering the Creative Community," 99U is kind of like TED for entrepreneurs only: Its focus is heavily on creativity, innovation, and business development. Sample lectures:

    • Why Unrest Is Gold for Creatives: "In an era of upheaval and crisis, creative expression takes on new urgency.... For those creatives feeling discontent in these fractious times, it's a reminder that the simmering feeling of anger can be best used to issue a call to action and serve as a tool for change."
    • How to Beat the Imposter Syndrome Feeling: "Approximately 70 percent of us will experience a period of self-doubt at least once in our lives. Rebuild your confidence using these five strategies."
    • Paola Antonelli: Rejection Is a Sign You're Onto Something New: "Your creative work can make the world a better place. But only if you allow yourself to shock, disgust, and--yes--even fail."

    5. Udacity

    If you're serious about learning how to code this year or need to bone up on computer science or math skills, this clean site is ideal. It includes an icon next to videos to let you know just how advanced a course is, so you can start with an easier one if you're new to a subject. Sample courses:

    • Android Basics Nanodegree by Google (beginner): "Get a solid grasp on the basics of foundational programming skills used in creating mobile apps."
    • VR Developer Nanodegree (intermediate): "Virtual Reality is the future of creative content. Job opportunities are skyrocketing, making this the perfect time to launch your career. Built by Google VR, Vive, Upload Collective."
    • Self-Driving Car Engineer Nanodegree (advanced): "In this program, you'll learn the skills and techniques used by self-driving car teams at the most advanced technology companies in the world. Built by Mercedes, Nvidia, Otto, Didi, BMW, McLaren, NextEv."

    "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school." --Albert Einstein

    Source: inc.com

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  • U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa response to Ethiopians Visa Quota to USA

    "We have seen questions on Facebook about a quota system for Ethiopian visa applicants.

    Last week, the President of the United States initiated a review of national security procedures which applies to visitors and potential immigrants from seven countries.

    Ethiopia is not among those seven countries and Ethiopian citizens are not addressed nor affected by the President’s executive order.

    The U.S. Government remains committed to facilitating legitimate travel for international visitors. In fact, in 2016, the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa issued more than 18,000 non-immigrant visas, with the majority to Ethiopian applicants.

    For more information on the recent Executive Order or on the application process for U.S. visas:

    https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en.html"

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