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Travel letters: The lessons travel teaches

Plus, a foreign language, simplified

January 02, 2011

After returning home from a four-month stint abroad, I picked up the Sunday Times, excited about reinstating my weekly ritual of reading all my favorite sections (in English!). When I saw the title of Leon Logothetis' article, "Revelation Road" [Dec. 19], I knew that what I was about to read could provide solace to my ever-growing longing to return abroad.

The points he made about how powerful a teacher travel can be summarized so well what I had feared I would never be able to explain to my friends and family. He is right; travel teaches one to troubleshoot, resolve conflict, to take control of one's own life and to gain a strong sense of patience and tolerance. The lessons I have learned abroad have taught me things that have not only changed the way I think and act now, but I am confident they will stay with me long into the future.

I am only 20 years old, but I am confident that my experiences abroad have not only helped me mature today, but will also serve as a powerful tool in my future.

Hayley Van Hiel, Pasadena

I loved Logothetis' article. As a mother of three young children, one of my major goals is to share the exhilarating feeling of travel — the insights gleaned, the joy of discovery, etc. I'm planning to take them to a small, quaint town in Mexico for four months, and you can imagine the underwhelming response from our families. Still, I am excited, and it was awesome to read his article to remind me that there are others who echo my thoughts.

Amy Conroy, Silver Lake

A foreign language, simplified

I found Terry Gardner's survey of language programs, "The Gift of Gab: An Investment" [Dec. 19], interesting and useful.

I would like to direct readers' attention to an innovative methodology, championed by scholars and linguists for more than three generations. It is the simplification theory of languages, which maintains that beginning second-language learners will learn to communicate quickest if within a 15-week, 12-hour course they concentrate on building vocabulary, with a minimum of simplified, regular grammar, and then acquire the standard grammar in a second semester.

This novel program, called Transitional English, is designed for speakers of Spanish and can be viewed, as well as used, for free at

Since its inception at the University of Kentucky, the system has been successfully used in Europe and in America with industrial workers, with California literacy classes and with Latino students at the Community Education Center of Pasadena City College.

Transitional English is an alternative for learning the language. It was intended to serve as a form of universal speech but has been found to serve as a model for beginning simplified language courses in any of the world's 6,909 idioms.

John Lihani, Transitional English & Global Dialects Inc., Pasadena

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