Inventor’s language learning program builds communities, aids businesses
DENVER – (Aug. 9, 2017) – All he wants to do is bring people together in the interest of world peace.
Contact: Steve Krizman
James Archer of Aurora, Colorado, parlayed his success in inventing software and kitchen gadgets to spend his “early retirement” designing a way to help people become conversant in another language. After three years of bringing communities and workforces together, using his ShareLingo program, Archer now is taking the idea global.
His new book, Beyond Words, A Radically Simple Solution to Unify Communities, Strengthen Businesses and Connect Cultures Through Language, was released this month on Amazon http://bit.ly/PR170809. It already has become a best-seller in categories such as Sociology of Race Relations.
Archer also has launched an online version of his language learning program – iShareLingo (www.isharelingo.com ) – that makes it easy for English-speakers and Spanish-speakers to link up and teach each other their languages.
“People always tell me they would love to learn another language – usually Spanish,” Archer said. “Often they have taken Spanish in school, or bought a program like Duolingo or Rosetta Stone. What they’re missing is the opportunity to practice face to face with a native speaker. Yet immigrants, who are desperate to speak English, face the same problem finding a practice partner. ShareLingo provides the platform for that one-to-one interaction. It brings people motivated to learn together – and by teaching their native tongue to another, they pick up the new language quicker.
“Over three years of doing this, I’ve seen people — who never would have met each other otherwise — become friends,” Archer said. “They develop an understanding of the other person – and that’s as much about cultural discovery as it is about learning new vocabulary words.”
Abram Palmer, a ShareLingo participant, said, “It’s like a club in which everyone grows together.”
Brian Langenfeld, another participant, said, “From my experience ShareLingo is about as close to attending a language school in a foreign country as anything I have experienced in my local community.”
Metco Landscaping, a 600-employee operation along the Colorado Front Range, had English-speaking safety officers and crew chiefs take ShareLingo classes with their Spanish-speaking workforce. Greg Ritcher, the company’s chief of training, said the classes had several benefits: Safety improved, fewer mistakes were made in the field, and turnover was reduced in both the English-speaking and Spanish-speaking workforce.
“We were able to get our accident rate from 13 percent higher than the landscaping industry standard to 17 percent below average. That not only means lower worker compensation insurance rates for the company, it means workers suffer fewer injuries – and when they do, they are less severe.”
Ritcher believes the program has helped Metco build loyalty among the H2B visa workers they recruit each year from Mexico. That loyalty translates to a more reliable workforce year after year.
The ShareLingo program has been embraced by groups that are building community and awareness of immigration issues. Claudia Escobedo, a patient navigator for Denver Hospice, meets weekly with Lauren Dorn, who does refugee resettlement for Lutheran Family Services. Escobedo, who picked up English after arriving in the U.S. from Mexico in 1996, said the ShareLingo language learning program has helped her improve her ability to speak to families on a more emotional level. Working with Dorn has speeded up her language learning because, “I feel more free about having a personal teacher. I don’t feel embarrassed when I make a mistake – there is no shame in being corrected as we correct each other.”
Dorn, who minored in Spanish at Colorado State University, said she never achieved fluency because she did not have an opportunity to practice. “ShareLingo makes the learning process more exploratory. It challenges you to figure things out. You’re your own teacher and your partner is your teacher. It has given me more confidence to speak Spanish to native speakers.”
Escobedo noted that ShareLingo is more affordable than any other language learning program she has tried. The cost for face-to-face classes, which meet two hours weekly, breaks down to about $10 an hour.
The new online platform will include pricing that ranges from $100 for a series of classes to $39 for a monthly membership.
Dorn said she has gained more than Spanish fluency. “This has helped Claudia and I to get to know each other on a personal level. It’s really the essence of humanity.”
And that’s Archer’s ultimate goal. “I am committed to breaking down barriers between cultures. ShareLingo’s mission – our WHY — is so people who meet together this way become friends, and are not afraid of each other. We talk a lot these days about the need to open dialogue. Well, here’s a way to do that, that also happens to be fun and personally rewarding.”
ShareLingo ( http://www.sharelingo.org/ ) helps connect Spanish-speakers who want to learn English with English-speakers who want to learn Spanish. It has helped people who have tried to learn a second language over the last hurdle, by making it easy to practice with a native speaker.
Participants have reported the program has super-charged whatever other language training they have done in the past or are currently doing (for example, following a Rosetta Stone program and using ShareLingo to get more practice time in). Participants have a range of interesting and compelling reasons to learn the other language: to better communicate with family, to get ahead at work, to get more enjoyment out of travel, etc. Some businesses have contracted with ShareLingo to improve communication among employees and with customers, and to develop more cultural awareness.
ShareLingo is a “social enterprise,” meaning it is for-profit, but with a mission — like Tom’s Shoes.
Video: How ShareLingo works in English: http://bit.ly/PR170809B
Video: How ShareLingo works en Espanol: http://bit.ly/PR170809D
Video: Estrella TV interview en Espanol: http://bit.ly/PR170809C
Pew Center research on Spanish language in the U.S.: http://bit.ly/PR170809E
Spanish speakers in the U.S.
- Most spoken non-English language in U.S.
- Most popular second language