Impressive, free (and dated) JLU’s language learning resourcess

The Joint Language University (JLU) provides free downloadable language courses. I have stumbled upon them while searching for the Portuguese learning resources, and I was pleased to discover more languages.

The JLU Free Language Courses

An graphic elements in a dated JLU language course
A picture in a dated JLU language course

If you point your browser to the JLU’s address you will open a page with the following language courses: Albanian, Belarusan, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Chinese Mandarin, Czech, Dari, Dutch, Egyptian Arabic, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Haitian Creole, Hungarian, Indonesian, Iraqi Arabic, Korean, Maranao, MSA, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Syrian Arabic, Tausug, Thai, and Vietnamese.

The courses vary in quality and extent. For example, the Portuguese course contains several books and audio resources, while the Serbian is much smaller and lacks audio. The Russian resources are extensive. The Arabic courses are impressive, with EgyptianIraqiSyrian and MSA. But, there is a catch.

Free courses, but dated language courses

Portuguese course sample page
A Portuguese course from 1960s, created on a mechanical typewriter

The good thing about the JLU free resources is that they are, well, free. Not so good about them is that they are very dated and, form the point of view of a general learner or speaker, overly military (due to its origin and purpose).

Some of the materials are from 1960s. For example, the Portuguese course was created in 1968 (the PDF is scanned mechanically typewritten content, and the MP3 is converted from tapes). The Portuguese language underwent several orthographic reforms in the meantime, which the JLU course renders more of a research material than a learning material.

I assume that “dated” is a relative term for some languages, but it is up to a learner (or mentor) to give the final judgement. However, a half of a century is a lot in terms of a current and relevant learning material. The methods in language teaching have also been updated since 60s.

The JLU language courses listed in this text are not modern, but they can be useful to linguists and language enthusiasts (even though some courses are incomplete). You can have a look at their other public materials here, but be ready for not so friendly web interface.

Asking questions with the verb “mean”

Asking questions with “mean” can be confusing. Let’s dive into the explanations.

Question form with ‘mean’

This is how you construct a question with the verb mean:

What does ‘auxiliary’ mean?

Don’t use: What means ‘auxiliary’?

Preposition ‘by’ in questions with ‘mean’

If you form a sentence like “What do you mean by ‘auxiliary’?” you are asking about the sense of the word (“Could you please explain the meaning of ‘auxiliary’ in this particular context? Does it refer to ‘grammar’ or ‘production’?”).

“What do you mean…?”

One more thing. If you form your question with “What do you mean (by)…” you might be expressing protest or annoyance. For example:

  • What do you mean you aren’t using private cloud computing? (Forbes)
  • What do you mean by waking me up at this time of night? (Swan)

Here’s a text about the noun mean/means (this above is the verb).

Reference: Swan pp. 329-330


Grammar: will have + past participle

Construction of will have and past participle is rather interesting. It is used to “express certainty or confidence about the past” (Swan 622).

Examples of will have and past participle

A student is given this sentence to rephrase by using WILL  (taken from Spotlight on CAE):

Paul said he would call April to tell her he’s not going to the party, and I’m sure he has.

Rephrased using WILL:

Paul will have phoned April to tell her he’s not going to the party, because he said he would.

The meaning: the speaker is fairly confident that April was told he would not come to the party.

Let’s see some other examples and rephrase them quickly:

  • Dear Sir, You will recently have received a form… (We are sure you got that form.)
  • I wonder why we haven’t heard from him – do you think he won’t have got our letter yet? (I am fairly confident he did not get the letter.)
  • We can’t go and see them now – they’ll have gone to bed. (I’m sure they fell asleep.) [All three examples are taken from Swan.]
  • That means workers will have received a total 9pc pay rise in the past three years. (We are quite certain that the rise was 9pc per worker.) [Irish Independent.]
  • If, like me, you are a BHP Billiton shareholder, you will have received a handsome 192-page shareholder circular last month …. (If you are also a shareholder, you got the same circular last month.) [Forbes]

That’s an interesting use of a modal!