Ups and downs of Language learning
Crazy, crazy, busy week. I’ve been doing projects at work and almost all my time has been devoted to them. I love the projects, but it has meant a lot of things have been put to lower levels, including this blog. I’ve missed it a lot. There is so much good that comes out of this blog. I truly do hope that I can help others learn languages. I don’t try to give false expectations on what it does and doesn’t take as a language learner, but I hope to give small advice and encouragement.
All that said, this blog helps me more than I think I help others. It helps me organize my thoughts, set a game plan and be accountable for what I say I am going to do. I’m not always successful, but I hope this blog helps keep me going even when things get the hardest.
Since it has been almost a week since I have been able to be on to write, I thought I would give a little summary of the ups and downs of my week. Despite not being able to write, I have had many an opportunity to feel good and bad. So here they are.
Despite my business, I have kept a solid learning routine. Continue reading
Words have a power all their own (Photo credit: Lynne Hand)
This week, I’ve had a little bit of an accomplishment. It’s nothing large, but I did finish the Destinos Telecourse. Not a real easy thing in that there are over 50 episodes, most of which are all in Spanish. I do feel happy to know how it ends and to say I finished it.
By finishing it, I am now left me without a regular thing to listen to. So I’ve been searching and I found my self back at lingq.com. For those who don’t know Lingq.com, It is a website with an extensive library of audio and transcripts to go along with them. All the words can then be either marked as words your know, or one can create a “lingq” with the definition for review later. As I was using the website, I was reminded of some important things that we need to know when we are learning a new language.
The words we “know” are not the same in everything
Lingq.com likes to make a big deal out of the words you “know.” Continue reading
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!”
Image from Wikimedia.org
Lately, I’ve had to make some decisions. Not really complicated ones, but decisions were necessary none the less. These decision would have an impact on this blog so I thought I would share them with you now.
To Esperanto or not to Esperanto?
This is about the question I posed a few days ago about bringing Esperanto back. Continue reading
Language (Photo credit: Jan Marlyn Reesman)
Last post I talked about which languages I’m not learning next year. This means that there only 3 left that I could be possible learning. Once again, for full disclosure, I’ve already chosen the language. I know which one I learning, I just trying to build a little drama around the pick I guess. On that note, don’t forget to take the poll on which language you think I will learn next.
Also on the right you will notice a big old count down calendar. Thanks to a comment that was left of my fake post, I realized I had the year in wrong and now it’s counting down properly. Not only are there 3 languages left, but there are 3 months left. 3 months to get as fluent as I can. So I have reprioritized myself and set some goals to get me through the next 3 months.
More Speaking off the cuff
I have spent a good deal of my time, inadvertently practicing my speaking in a very structured manner. Continue reading
Image from Wikimedia commons
In high school, I was pretty lazy. I was plenty smart, and I’m not saying that as a brag, but I was lazy. For example, I took the ACT (SAT of the Western United states) without studying and got good enough score to get into a University. I never took it again, because of that. I also knew how many “easy A’s” I could get and their fore how many C’s to get so I would get B average.
When I went to University, something about paying for it myself, made me grow up and I got an A- average. The study habits a created in University has helped me as I now learn Spanish on my own. I learned how to “study everywhere” and to take advantage of the minutes of free time I find. It has been a fantastic experience to go to University, but one thing I learned there held me back for a while.
How could it hold you back?
When at University, I learned not to accept less than the best I could possible do. Continue reading
Repentance (Photo credit: Moh Tj)
I went to church today and no I didn’t have anything specifically about repentance, I do think about it. For me church is a fantastic opportunity to go and think about what I messed up on and to recommit myself to doing better. No I will probably fail again, but no one is perfect. The important part is to get up when we fail and start again with a new commitment to keep going. This is what repentance means to me.
What does this have to do with language learning?
I’m not turning my blog into a sermon. I was thinking about how this applies to language learning as well. Continue reading
Last week was Thai week. It was great. I listened to Thai TV, especially a very interesting hour all about Taxi driver’s not legally being able to reject passengers without a valid reason, and I read and practice speaking in Thai. It’s great to have this monthly vacation from Spanish. Eventually you work yourself so hard you get frustrated and you wonder if you are making any progress. Today, I felt my Spanish is the best it has ever been, and I did not actively learn Spanish for over a week!
Despite last week being about Thai, I still found a fantastic tool that I want to share with you to help you learn Spanish. What is this tool you may ask? It’s a website called Duolingo.
What is Duolingo?
The best way to answer that is to watch this video:
It’s a win/win situation. They get more people to translate, which the more people who translate, the better their translation is, and you get to learn Spanish. Functionally it is a great program. If this was your only method of learning Spanish, you would be lacking a lot. As a complement to your other programs out there, it is great. You can test out of subjects and levels you already know, which lets you move on quicker to the subjects you don’t know as well.
The vocabulary builds on itself, so you need to learn basic animals and clothing before you learn colors. Why? Because you will be taught using sentences such as gray elephants drank water or I have a red hat. So you are constantly reviewing old vocab as you study new ones. Don’t worry if you learned plumo instead of bolígrafo. It will accept any answer for “Pen” that exists.
Four more months!
As of this month, I only have 4 more months of Active Spanish left. I really need to get down and push myself hard. I have turned my Google Chrome immersion tool to “fluent” so that it translates whole paragraphs now. I sometimes feel like I am way off, but I know that If I push myself hard enough I will make my goal to be basically fluent in speaking by the end of the year.
So four more months and you will hear me Speaking a new language. What is that language going to be? It’s one of those 4 on the right. Which one would like to learn? Vote now and share which one you would like to learn.