The Foreign Service institute, the school that teaches diplomats languages, has free courses available. These courses were developed with government money and are old enough (before 1989) to be in the public domain. Although dated, these courses include texts (in pdf) and tapes (in mp3), all ported to the Internet by a wonderful non-profit group. Via BoingBoing. The site was mentioned by LifeHacker and so too many people tried to download at the same time. When the servers are available again, you should check it out, or even Czeck it out. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
Ken, over at What Japan Thinks, is doing a great job of deciphering polls and consumer studies in Japan. Today he looks at what people regret telling lies about. First comes Rich, then comes being able to speak English. Be careful about stretching the truth. It can get you in trouble.
This is 4 minutes of your life well spent. Watch and listen how a wonderful Aussie woman explains how social media works. Love that accent, and the way the video is put together.
The folks over at Say it Visually have more like this too.
Adam Gray and Marcos Benavides have collaborated on a textbook of mysteries for language learning called Whodunit.
Published by Abax, this is one of the first creative Commons textbooks available. You can download it and pay what you think is the best price (shades of RadioHead or Pearl Jam). After reading through the very interesting mysteries, I decided I would use it in 3 of my classes. I am most curious as to how it works in an average class in japan (at ShowaELC) and how it is different from my exceptional students and University of Tokyo. Will keep you updated, but this looks like a great text out of the box, easy to use and thorough. The paper edition comes with additional audio to round out the experience. I am going to have my students use both versions (paper and pdf), so they can get the entire experience. I will be adding supplementary materials to my Moodle on this topic as well, with 2-minute and 5-minute mysteries, and a tutorial on how to write a mystery.
Over at Mashable, they report that Google is adding translation to their new (still in development) Goggles, which can recognize objects and words. Designed for a phone with a camera, it is a great way to get information.