Samuel Huntington, First President of the United States (Photo credit: Tony Fischer Photography)
Interesting thing to think about happened in the last 24 hours. In the U.S. Elections, Barack Obama we re-elected as the President of the United States. Now I don’t intend to write about any of the politics around that, but somehow I was able to connect that moment last night to language learning and in the most round about way, it’s weird. I guess my brain functions in a weird way or I like to connect the dots differently than others. Never the less, I still made a connection in the most round about, yet powerful (for me at least) way. So let me bring you into the inner workings of my mind.
Somebody will always be disappointed
The thing with elections is that somebody, and in this case close to half the country, will always be disappointed. If Mitt Romney would have won, it would have been there other half, but even though he didn’t, it doesn’t change that half the country will be disappointed. If you are on the losing side and the person you voted for doesn’t get elected, what do you do? The only thing you can do, which is make do with what you have been given.
This reminded me of a common phrase used by my children. My daughter taught it to me, actually, after she learned it from a teacher in school. The phrase is “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.” There is power in the simple phrase. You can not control the cards you are dealt. You do your best with what you have. Making a fuss about it, will lead to know where.
How does this apply to learning a language?
Simple. In a perfectly ideal world, you will instantly be transported to live and work in the environment which uses the language you want to learn. At the same time you will have all the free time you need/want to study what and how you want. Wouldn’t that be great?
For most of us, that is not possible. I don’t have the time and/or resources available to push myself into an immersive environment. I don’t even have time to schedule a Skype call with any regularity. I mostly have the time I travel to and from work. So I could complain about my language learning situation as something horrible or I can do as my kids say: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!”
My kids living life
When was the last time you heard a word in your native language you didn’t know before? What did you do? Did you write it down, create a flash card, or something else like that. When you heard an expression, slang, or other colloquialism in your native language how did you start using it? I think the answer is pretty obvious. Your native language is just a part of you and so when you learn new things you just assimilate them! (No mentioning of the borg you trekkies!)
The point of this blog is not to tear down the use of flash cards or other such things to help you learn. What the point of this post is to emphasis the importance of making the language a part of you. I am going to admit, the idea for this post didn’t come from me. It came from the recent post over at thepolyglotdream.com. Susanna Zarysky recently guest posted a post about the secret to learning a foriegn language
What is the secret?
According to Susanna, Continue reading
You know you are a parent when you watch more kids programs than “adult” programs(No, not those kind of adult programs, shame on you.) That’s ok though. Some of my favorite movies are considered to be children’s programs. One classic movie that I have always loved is Mary Poppins. She is the original Nanny Mcphee (I love that movie too). Despite Dick Van Dyke’s weird English accent in the movie, her messages stick out today as important for all of us to learn.
The one lesson that Mary Poppins teaches that sticks out to me most is that, “… a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.” The point being that even undesirable things, when made to be fun, can become much easier to complete. Mark Twain’s classic book, Tom Sawyer, Tom learns a very similar concept when he “tricks” the neighbor hood boys to whitewashing the fence for him. He tricked them into thinking it was a fun desirable thing to do and they happily paid him in childhood trinkets to do it.
Tom made one other observation that has stuck with me since I read it. He noticed that as soon as something becomes “work” or something you “have to do” it is no longer desirable. He noted that people would pay good money to get their own team of horses to drive, but hate having to get paid to drive a team horses for work.
So how does this relate to you learning spanish?
Learning anything new, especially another language, Continue reading
I talked about this earlier in my Spanish Friday post, but my Spanish is so not up to snuff that I thought it merited a proper post. Being a full-time worker and then coming home and being a full-time Dad, you can get pretty busy. It makes finding a good time to study at home pretty rare indeed.
The other interesting thing about having children is that despite having SKY TV(satellite television provider), is that the TV is typically only set to one of 4 channels 90 percent of the time: Disney Junior, Nick Junior, Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. In New Zealand Disney Junior and Nick Junior have their own Channel, so it not uncommon to come home at night and see the TV on Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, or any other such program. They may not even be watching it, but left it on while they went to go play cars or Barbies in the other room.
When I come home, I try to do what I can to help clean up or help cook something so that my wife and I can have some sanity. It is also very common that my wife, being the wonderful person she is, has cleaned the house and is moments away from putting dinner on the table. How she does it I will never be able to understand. In fact, she said that if she died I am not allowed to become a stay at home Dad, because I am so bad at it. At those time, It is quite likely that I will sit down to a wonderful few minutes of Imagination Movers or the Cat in the Hat.
Man that’s got to be boring right?
It could be, but recently I have started to make things more interesting. Continue reading
As I said in one of my recent twitter posts, when my father-in-law offers to take me and my family out on his boat for 1 day it really means 3 days. It was great, though! We went to three different islands and swam at each one. One of the nights, My father-in-law, a family friend, and I went out and fished for 3 hours and caught 17 beautiful snappers (I only caught two of them) and then we had homemade fish and chips the next day for lunch. Loved every minute of it. The boat really makes an impromptu vacation fun, despite it being three times as long as I thought.
With all that happening, I bet you thought that I didn’t do any spanish study the three days I was gone. Not only did I do spanish study, I did at least 30 mins each day. I turned out for me to take me new Christmas present out for a drive. What present was that? Bueno, Entonces….
What is Bueno, Entonces…
First of all I want to mention that not only Continue reading
Hello world, I hope that the New Year is treating you well. So far it has treated me well(all two days of it) but there is one thing that has not been too great for me. You see, I have found one of the most hindering and difficult sources to language learning during the holidays: free time. I was given 2 weeks off(unfortunately unpaid) for the Christmas and New Years holidays. You would think that would make this language learning thing easier. Well I can testify now that it has been the worst thing in the world.
More free time is a hinderance?!? How can that be?
When I am working, I know exactly which moments I could steal and turn into language learning opportunities Continue reading
I don’t know how much I will be able to post during this christmas weekend, maybe a few tweets here and there, but for the most part I will be enjoying my christmas and family. I am also not planning on being able to get much Spanish learning in, this is where my 15 mins a day comes in handy. Before I go completely incommunicado, there are a few random thoughts I have had over the past few days.
Input and output will always progress at differently.
My ability to understand Spanish Continue reading