Douglas County Sentinel - Friday, November 19, 1993

Speaking of the future

- Students are ahead of their time in learning a new language -
   By Kerry Jackson, Staff Writer
        Sixty Chestnut Log Middle school students are doing something
no other students in the nation are doing - they are learning an
international language of the future.
        Called Glosa, the language was developed in the 1940's by a
math professor who noticed the potential for the language.  Though its
vocabulary is voluminous, its heart consists of 1000 words that can be
mastered in a few days.
        "I find it very simple,"said Klaus Langkilde, who teaches five
Glosa classes at Chestnut Log Middle.
        One would expect him to easily master the language, though.
After all, when he finished school in his native Denmark 20 years ago
he was able to speak five languages.
        But the beautiful simplicity of the language was evident in
one of Langkilde's classes Thursday.  "This fellow, today was his
first day," said Langkilde, pointing to a new student, "and he had his
hand up several times in class."
        "It impresses me.  It makes me think, `Hey, it works.'"
        Langkilde began teaching Glosa last year to sixth-grade gifted
students.  This year, he has three seventh-grade (second year) classes
and two classes of beginners in the sixth-grade, all students from the
school's gifted program.
        "They are ahead of their time, that's for sure," Langkilde said
of his students.

        Since it is only about half a century old, Glosa is a baby
language.  Currently it is not being taught extensively outside of
China and Africa, said Langkilde. "Here in the United States, as far
as we know, this (Chestnut Log Middle) is the only place it is being
taught," he said.
        Langkilde is not alone in his view that Glosa is easy to
master.  Literature on the language claims it "is the easiest and most
accurate language you will ever come across."
        Familiarity is one reason behind the claim.  All Glosa words
are from Latin and ancient Greek, languages that have had far-reaching
impacts on many modern languages, including, surprisingly enough,
        It is so familiar that much of Glosa can be interpreted into
English wothout a problem.  Mi pa visita u teatra. If that sounds
like, "I visited the theater," that's because that's what it means.
        Many Glosa words look exactly like their English counterparts,
except for minor spelling differences.

        Another appealing feature of Glosa is its lack of what other
languages consider grammar.  Instead, about twenty words are used to
express plurals and tenses.
        "Initially, the students like to use English grammar.  They
want to translate straight from one language to the other," said
Langkilde. "But they pretty soon find out this (Glosa) is much easier.
I don't even have to point it out to them."
        And it will also help them in college when they sit down to
learn a foreign language.  Travelling internationally could be greatly
eased as well.
        "Let's say they go abroad.  They would be able to communicate
with the French, spanish, Italian, anybody in Europe," said Langkilde.
        Advocates of Glosa believe the new language will eventually
spread internationally at some point and maybe even become the
official language for international agencies such as the United
        "I sincerely believe so," he said.  "It was introduced to the
European Parliament a few weeks ago.  They now spend 50 percent of
their budget translating their material to other languages.  If they
could use one language, they could save a tremendous amount of money.
So they can see the benefit of this."

        He also expects it to spread in education "once students and
teachers hear more about it."
        Langkilde comfortably teaches Glosa to an enthusistic group of
students at Chestnut Log.  They are "hyperactive, but it's all about
learning," he said, and that is enough to make Langkilde's job an
enjoyable task.  When he asks for Glosa translations of English
phrases, he gets the reaction all teachers want from their students:
hands shoot skywards, mouths open, emitting long oooohhhs, and feet
begin to tap under the desks.
        "I'm fortunate to have these students.  They are so eager to
learn," he said proudly before adding, "I think it's great because I
learn from it myself."

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