Can Anyone Learn a Language?

Are you one of those people who has tried to learn a language, but can’t seem to become fluent or even remember the vocabulary? Are you someone who believes that learning languages as children is easier and adults are just out of luck? Do you wonder if anyone can learn to speak a foreign language?


Then keep reading.


But first, why should we learn a new language at all? Being bilingual or a polyglot can increase brain power and benefit you at work. Persons who know more than one language have a 5-20% higher salary than monolinguists. Learning languages also opens you to new worlds and cultures.


Now, the science. There are many parts of the brain that control, regulate, and remember different things. During early years, children learning a language will process the information using the side of their brain associated with motor control. Essentially, they are remembering it as a series of breaths and facial movements.


When adults try to learn a language later in life, they process information using their higher cognitive function. Essentially, relying on memory rather than natural motions. This higher cognitive function is something that only develops later in life.


The use of different parts of the brain for learning does not put one group at an advantage over the other. Despite how our brain changes, those changes do not diminish our ability or capacity to learn. Does this mean everyone has an equal natural capacity to learn a language? Not quite.


There are many factors that determine how easy it will be to learn a language. Notice I didn’t say “if you can learn a language.” Everyone can learn a language with enough determination. (More on that later.) Your language learning capacity is about 16% due to your IQ. Another 10% can be attributed directly to your musical abilities. Studies suggest that the largest contributing factor to language learning is the mode in which you learn.


Remember, kids use the motor control section of their brain to comprehend and process a new language. They remember by forming the words with their lips and tongue. Adults rely on memory, the higher cognitive function. This may explain why you can understand a language better than you can speak it. This would lead to the conclusion that, biologically, learning by constant speaking and listening is the best method.


Really, there are many methods of language learning available, and each will have a variable level of success with each person. There is no way to say one language learning style is objectively better than the rest. What works for an auditory learner won’t be effective for a visual learner. Even if they are using the same part of their brain to process the information. Plus, some languages are naturally more difficult to learn, despite your cognitive power.


However, there is still a distinction between learning through immersion and learning through study. Those who focus solely on immersion may pick up a language with their motor function side of the brain because they are constantly trying to speak it.

But using this method may also cause misunderstandings in the grammar and syntax of the language. While pouring over textbooks and vocab cards may help you speak a language better, they are often not the first choice for learning a language for fluency in speaking.


The real answer to the question “can anyone learn a language” is YES! No matter the circumstances, age, or method, with enough determination and practice, absolutely anyone can learn a language. Persevere, stretch yourself, and you’ll find fluency in no time.


Don’t have time to learn a language? Call Access 2 Interpreters for your interpretation and translation needs. Our workers have the best training in the industry to ensure the best service for you. Call today!

New Year’s Traditions From Around the World

There isn’t a single person on Earth that doesn’t experience the new year, but people celebrate it in different ways around the world. From eating traditional foods to wearing specific colors of clothing to picking up potatoes (no joke), New Year’s Eve rituals are designed to bring luck and foretell tidings of the coming year. If you want to increase your good fortune in 2019, try one of these festive ideas from around the world.

Make sure you have a handful of grapes at your pocket if you’re partying in Spain. It’s tradition to eat one grape at each stroke of the clock at midnight for luck during the 12 months of the coming year.

If you visit Columbia on New Year’s Eve, expect to see people running around with suitcases. No, they’re not heading out on vacation. People carry suitcases for the day or around the house in the hopes of having a travel-filled new year.

The Danish people greet the new year by smashing their crockery against the doors of family and friends. This is a symbol of friendship and is thought to banish evil spirits away from the home. The more broken china you have on your doorstep come morning, the more popular you are.

To ring in the New Year, Finland residents pour melted metals (usually tin) into a container of water. As it rapidly cools, the metal hardens into a freeform shape. The shape it forms is meant to foretell what the coming year will bring.

Scotland likes to start off the new year on the right foot—literally. People invite family or friends over to their home and the first person to cross the threshold will be holding a gift. The tradition of “first-footing” is meant to bring luck into the household for the coming year.

The calendar has come full circle and people in the Philippines celebrate with everything circular or round shaped. Whether it’s eating rounded fruits and pastries or wearing polka dots, round shapes are thought to symbolize coins and wealth. The more roundness you celebrate on New Year’s Eve, the more money you will have in the coming year.

Brazil, along with many South and Central American countries, believes in the power of color. It’s a New Year’s Eve tradition to wear colored clothing, usually underwear, to represent what you want for the coming year. Red brings love, yellow brings wealth, and white signifies a longing for peace and happiness.

The Greeks celebrate the new year with a special break or cake called a vasilopita. This treat hides a coin or trinket inside. Each guest is given a slice (handed out from eldest to youngest) and whoever finds the coin in their piece wins a gift or money. In some traditions, additional slices are cut and placed aside to symbolically serve Jesus, Mary, or a particular saint being celebrated.

If you’re in Peru, go and stock up on potatoes. Peruvians lay three potatoes under a chair on New Year’s Eve. One is peeled, one half-peeled, and one is whole. Whichever potato is randomly chosen (without looking) at midnight will symbolize the financial fortune of the chooser. A peeled potato is bad news while the whole potato indicates forthcoming wealth.

Whether you try one of these fun traditions or make up your own, Happy New Year from Access 2 Interpreters!

October Holidays Around the World


October is unofficially known as the start of the “holiday season;” countries all over the world are holding festivities to celebrate a wide variety of holidays. From Mother’s Day in Malawi to Armed Forces Day in Egypt, there are any number of holidays to observe this October.


On October 3rd, you can throw up your hands and give a shout for Gaecheonjeol, also known as National Foundation Day. This South Korean holiday celebrates the founding of Gojoseon, the first Korean state, in 2333 BC. It was declared a national holiday in 1909 and the date was finally fixed on October 3rd in 1949. On this day, the Korean people are led by the head of state in a prayer service dedicated to the founding gods and the gods of the harvest. Afterward, they eat a traditional soup called Seolleongtang made from ox bones and cuts of beef.


October is Thanksgiving time, if you’re in Canada that is. Not to be outdone by Americans, our neighbors to the North have their own version of this holiday celebrated in October. The first Thanksgiving in Canada was observed in 1879 as a chance to give thanks over the many blessings bestowed on the Canadian people. The festivities and foods include parades, football games, and lots of turkey and pumpkin pie.


One of the most popular holidays in October is Oktoberfest. On October 12th, 1810, King Ludwig I married Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen and threw a party to celebrate in the fields (Wiesn) outside the gates of Munich. Oddly enough, the main attraction at this celebration was a horse race, not beer. In fact, beer didn’t make an appearance at Oktoberfest until 1892. Today, Oktoberfest has turned into a 16 to 18-day festival with over 6 million attendees who drink close to 7 million liters of beer each year.


In Thailand, on October 23rd, the people celebrate King Chulalongkorn Day. You may know him better as King Rama V, the fifth monarch of Siam. Born in 1868, he ruled (officially) from 1873 to his death in 1910. During his reign, he enacted several major reforms in education, military, and the railway. He is also responsible for abolishing slavery in Siam; a feat he accomplished without any bloodshed. The Thai people celebrate this holiday by placing wreaths and gathering around the various statues and monuments dedicated to this forward-thinking monarch.


Ever heard of the country of Nauru? It’s a small island in Micronesia that today hosts a population around 10,000. However, the native Nauru people have come close to extinction twice, with total populations falling below 1,500–considered the minimum needed to sustain a sub-population or race. To celebrate their twice miraculous return from the brink of extinction, they celebrate Angam Day on October 26th. In Nauruan, Angam translates into “celebration” or “coming home.”


Of course, you can’t mention holidays in October without mentioning Halloween. This holiday traces its roots back to Ireland and the ancient festival of Samhain, celebrated by the Celts to mark the end of the Harvest. The tradition of dressing up in costume to go trick-or-treating started in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales around the 16th century, but it wasn’t adopted widely in the US until the 20th century.


In between pulling your sweaters out of storage and ingesting pumpkin spice everything, take some time to celebrate all the amazing holidays around the world this October!

The Major Difference Between Interpretation and Translation

Access2Interpreters has been serving the Columbus area for over 13 years. We have staff trained in interpretive services for over 250 languages and dialects, and translation services for over 90 languages. While many people use the words interpretation and translation interchangeably, there is one major difference between them: interpretation is performed verbally while a translation is written.

When you look beneath this simple difference, you will find that the skills and knowledge for each are vastly different. It’s important to have the right person when you need to transform words and ideas clearly from one language into another.


Translation is done via the written word and makes use of reference guides and dictionaries to ensure accuracy. Translation is usually a one-way system, with the translator typically translating from a source text into their primary language.

Although a translator does not need to have spoken fluency in a language, they do need to have an in-depth knowledge of the vocabulary, grammar, spelling, colloquialisms, and cultures of both languages. Capturing meaning and hidden depth in a literary or academic paper requires finesse and thoughtfulness. Translating technical documents requires precise knowledge and analytical skills. All translators should be subject matter experts in the type of text they are translating.



Interpretation is the act of translating verbally from one language to another. It is performed on the spot and without the use of reference materials or dictionaries. Interpretation requires elevated fluency in both languages. There are two types of interpretive services.

One type of interpretive services is simultaneous interpretation. This occurs when an interpreter repeats each sentence immediately after it is spoken. Not only must the interpreter translate the sentence in their mind, accounting for cultural references and technical language, but they must also speak it out clearly and audibly. On top of that, they need to be listening for the next sentence and interpreting that mentally, all while speaking the previous sentence. If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is.

Consecutive interpretation occurs when the speaker communicates several sentences or paragraphs at once before stopping to let the interpreter translate. A consecutive interpreter must be an excellent note taker as it is difficult for even the best minds to memorize whole paragraphs of lines to repeat to an audience.

Neither translating nor interpreting are about literal word-for-word conversion of one language to another. Both require an understanding of subject matter, a high degree of skill and proficiency in writing, listening, and speaking.


If you need translation or interpretive services in Columbus, call us today!

Interpreter Spotlight: Christopher Farhat

Interpretation can be a challenging but rewarding field of work.  Many of our interpreters work with us part-time, on top of their other responsibilities, such as parenting, or classes.  Others, like Christopher, plan on making a full-fledged career out of the interpreting profession.  Although Christopher has only been with us for a few months, he has already established a reputation as one of our hardest-working and most ambitious interpreters.  I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about how his time with Access is helping him work toward his future goals.  Check out what he had to say:

Q: How did you learn about Access, and why did you choose to work with us?

A: I already knew about the company through my mother, who already had been working for Access as an interpreter since September 2016.  First and foremost, I thought it would be a great avenue to get into the linguistic field.  I really like languages.  I’ve had a strong interest in languages since I was a kid, but I didn’t know how to get into a profession where I could use them actively.  Straight out of high school, things were rough, and even though I was consistently working (in great positions too!), I would not have been able to keep it up my entire life.  In the midst of this chaos, my mother made the suggestion that I should go to Spain for a year and learn the language thoroughly, and then I could become an interpreter.  So, I went to Spain for seven and a half months, where I lived with family, and really focused on learning the language, as well as field specific terms, just to be an interpreter, and so far, it’s been working out much better than anything else.

Q: Is there a history of working in language services in your family?

A: Almost none of my family actually lives in the United States.  Most of them live in Israel, Spain, or France.  Working in language services is something that’s specific to my immediate family, but it stems from a history of exposure to other languages, and a simple need to communicate.

 Q: Were you raised bilingually?

A: Not at home, but my siblings and I would go back and forth between Spain, France, and Israel every summer as children.  My extended family there may have been able to speak a little English, but mainly spoke Spanish, French, Arabic, and Hebrew.  So, as I just stated about my family, there’s just been a long history of exposure to languages, and spending extended periods of time around them definitely gave me a strong exposure to and attraction towards languages.

Q: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in the field, and what strategies do you use to overcome them?

A: For me, the diversity of assignments can be a little challenging.  Not necessarily the diversity in itself, but more so the fast-paced switching of gears mentally when getting out of one assignment and jumping right into a completely different situation immediately after.  You could be finishing up a simple school assessment one second and find yourself rushing to the emergency room to talk about something really serious the next, and you have to have all that vocabulary on-hand, to use at a moment’s notice. 

Additionally, you could go into a situation that may seem completely routine and easy but then turns immediately into something extremely serious, or even great. You could encounter Drugs, abuse, life expectancy issues, or even, on the other end, things such as deliveries, getting to tell people for the first time about their child, or delivering great surgery results.  Those are the things that make the job extremely difficult, yet what make the job more than worth it.

For me, the best strategy to be sure that I’m always ready for anything is constant preparation: Constantly drilling myself and expanding my vocabulary, so that eventually the words that I only have to deal with occasionally now become second nature.  That definitely helps with simultaneous interpretation.  Simultaneous interpretation takes a certain mindset.  There’s no time to process, it almost becomes automatic, like you enter a different level of consciousness, and sometimes I don’t even realize I’m talking, because you have to focus on everything else being said in the room, and you can’t break that focus to search for words.  Really, just training yourself and reviewing new words every day and night goes a long way.

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to become an interpreter?

A: Make sure that not only you really understand your languages, but that you also understand other people’s language.  By that I mean, sure, you need to constantly study and know your terms, but it’s more than that.  You need to portray things according to individuals and the setting you’re in.  You become the voice of whoever you’re interpreting for, and really understanding that person goes a long way toward accurately conveying their language.  The challenging part about this is that you have to deduce all of that only having had a moment’s interaction with a person. You have to understand everything from the language to the culture from that small interaction, and it is absolutely essential that you do understand the culture to interpret effectively.

Most of your experience with this comes from the field.  Besides that, constant training is really the most effective method of preparation for becoming an interpreter, and even after you become an interpreter, it’s an ongoing process.  You’re always in a constant state of learning and training, which never really ends.  That is one of the things I love most about being an interpreter.  Language is one of the things where you can constantly get better at and learn things about, even in your native tongue.  It’s how you become a better interpreter.

Q: What are your long-term goals for working in interpretation?

A: Well first, I want to become medically certified.  There are great resources to get one started and completed with certifications.   I, after that, want to get legal certification, in order to diversify my experiences.  These are shorter term goals though. 

Eventually, I want to get involved in UN interpreting, but for now that’s further down the road.  UN Interpreting is a fairly specific niche, but it is top of the line. The hardest, most elite, and on point interpreting is done at the UN.  The interpretation which takes place there could literally start wars if not executed correctly. While the cases there may not always involve extremely delicate topics, the consistency and accuracy necessary remains the same. That’s what I want to push myself to do.

To me, interpretation is an ongoing process of self-improvement, and being able to diversify the work I do now and get more experience across different fields is just a step toward achieving my larger goals later on.

Q: What are some of the most valuable skills you have learned so far during your time with access?

A: Like I said, I studied specifically for this, to become an interpreter.  But even after that, there is a jump from being fluent in a language, to using it for interpretation.  There is a major shift toward being accurate in the time frame given.  That’s something you can only practice and get better at in the field.  I, of course, was already fluent before starting with Access, but after starting, things just changed.  When I lived in Spain, people would talk to me in Spanish or English, and I would always just reply in Spanish by default.  Even then, since starting with Access, my comfort with the language has grown immensely.  

Q: Do you have any other final commentary you would like to share?

A: I just want to say, I’m enthusiastic about interpreting.  Even if I work all day and all night, I would never say “I hate my job”.  I would say that interpreting is easy, but hard.  I get paid to talk to people.  It’s awesome!  I love to talk to people.  As an interpreter, you have to be on top of it all the time.  It’s tough.  There can be no hesitation.  But this is what I love to do.  Although you can’t get very personal with people, I get the opportunity to meet people all the time with different experiences.  Being able to touch different cultures, it’s one of the best things about interpreting.

Christopher isn’t joking about working all day and all night either!  He is one of our most active interpreters, and often volunteers to take emergency assignments overnight and during the weekends.  Working as a freelance contractor gives our interpreters the flexibility to work as much or little as they want.  If you are inspired by Christopher’s story, and are interested in joining our team of interpreters, please head over to our “Interpreter Application” page and submit the form so we can get you in to the office for an interview session!

Mother’s Day Around the World

Mother’s Day Around the World

Muotermother. Mater. Mētēr. Mātṛ. Madre. Mère. Mama. These are just a few of the many ways “mother” is said around the world. Mother’s Day is traditionally a day to celebrate moms, mother-figures, and true female mentors with thoughtful gifts and loving words of gratitude. This year in the United States, Mother’s Day will be celebrated on May 13th, a tradition celebrated every year on the 2nd Sunday of May.


The American celebration of Mother’s Day in its modern form stemmed from Anna Jarvis, a female activist who founded “Mother’s Day Word Clubs” to help teach local women how to properly care for children. She later organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day” to encourage reconciliation between former Union and Confederate soldiers. Just a few years later in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson announced Mother’s Day as an official holiday. Today, Americans celebrate their mothers and mother-figures with flowers, chocolate, candy, special gifts and meals shared with family members. Mothers are not just honored throughout the United States, but worldwide, as well. Here’s how Mother’s Day traditions are celebrated in 5 other countries:


Fête des Mères

In France, Mother’s Day celebrations mirror those of the United States, where revelers bestow cards and flowers upon their mother-figures and share family dinners. In 1950, a French law established the fourth Sunday in May as “la fête des mères.”



In China, Mother’s Day traditions coincide with filial piety, an ancient Chinese virtue that stresses the importance of respect towards parents and elders. More generally, people in China practice filial piety by being good to and taking care of one’s parents, while also practicing good conduct towards parents and strangers alike to honor their family and ancestors. The holiday is celebrated on the second Sunday of May, when festivities, including gift giving, occur.



Queen Sirikit, Thailand’s current queen and greatest mother-figure, is honored and celebrated in August, which is the month of her birthday. Many traditional Thai celebrations and festivities occur during this month to honor the Queen and all mothers in Thailand. Fun fact: the Thai go-to gift for mothers is a Jasmine plant.


የእናቶች ቀን

While Ethiopia officially celebrates Mother’s Day on the same day as the United States, this country has another even more popular holiday celebrating motherhood, called Antrosht. This multi-day celebration occurs during the fall, when families gather to sing songs and host large feasts.


Día de la Madre

Mexican traditions take Mother’s Day very seriously. In 2012, Manuel Gutierrez, president of the National Association of Restaurateurs, declared Mother’s Day the busiest day of the year for Mexican restaurants. While flowers, food and celebrations are a must, the day also typically includes lots of music, singing, and Mariachi bands, who serenade mothers with the song “Las Mañanitas.”

Thank You to Our Access Academy Instructors

Thank You to Our Access Academy Instructors

Our awesome Access Academy instructor received these kind notes and gifts from one of our most recent sets of interpreters to graduate from the program. We look forward to seeing them put their skills to use in the field!

To learn more about our interpreter orientation program, head over to the Access Academy page, or learn more at one of our group interview sessions by submitting an application.

Access Academy Orientation Instructor Thank You Gifts


Spring Traditions from Around the World

Spring Traditions from Around the World

Plunging temperatures, gray skies and snow flurries have us dreaming of Spring, and it can’t come soon enough. It’s true, Punxsutawney Phil, Pennsylvania’s beloved groundhog, saw his shadow this year and quickly retreated back into his hole to brace an additional six weeks of winter weather. By tradition, had he not seen his shadow, he would have predicted an early spring. Only in America would we allow a legendary groundhog to predict the weather every second day of February, more commonly known as Groundhog’s Day. Punxsutawney Phil may have predicted a longer winter this year, but that won’t stop us from celebrating Spring traditions as seen around the world.

Thailand – The Songkran Water Festival

The Songkran (Sanskrit word for astrological passage) Water Festival marks the Thai new year (April 13-April 15), where people flock to the streets to participate in water fights. The throwing of water, in fun and friendly ways, is a traditional sign of respect, well-wishing and the washing away of bad luck. The more water, the better!

Scotland – Whuppity Scoorie

In Lanark, Scotland, children run laps around the town’s bell, known as the Kirk, on the first day of March until the clock strikes 6PM, which symbolizes the break of silence during desolate winter days. This tradition is so old that its origin is still unknown. Some believe Whuppity Scoorie came from a festival that was intended to rid of winter or evil spirits, while others believe it celebrates longer days that allow children to play outside longer.

Bosnia – Čimburijada

Crack an egg at the crack of dawn with Bosnia’s spring tradition, Čimburijada. Translated to the festival of scrambled eggs, thousands congregate in Zenica, Bosnia every March to celebrate the arrival of the spring season. An egg symbolizes new life and March symbolizes a new season; therefore, mass amounts of eggs are cooked and served to those who come together to share a meal.

Japan – Hanami

We typically associate the spring season with the blooming of flowers and that’s exactly how the Japanese celebrate spring with Hanami. Hanami is Japanese for flower viewing and is an annual tradition of enjoying the blooming of foliage, especially the Cherry Blossoms, after the winter weather subsides. A spectacular and rare sight, the announcement of Hanami is carefully observed, since the blossoms only last a week or two. Said to have begun in the late 8th century, the event was used to welcome in the new year’s harvest and marked the beginning of the rice planting season.

Poland – Marzanna

The welcoming of spring is celebrated in dramatic fashion in Poland. Dolls, called Marzanna, are made of straw and decorated to symbolize the cold, dreary winter. The dolls are then paraded through the streets as they make their way to a river or other body of water. The dolls, are then tossed into the water and drowned. The drowning of the Marzanna symbolizes the end of winter’s wrath.