I have been enjoying a holiday in Mexico to practice my Spanish but I’m also getting a sampler of German and a sprinkling of Russian in addition to the Mayan language.
When you are relaxed it is much easier to retain information and when you speak the language the locals are much more likely to recommend their favourite places and dishes to you. Local knowledge is key as always. Travel agents are good but they can’t possibly have been everywhere or know everything. The internet is no substitute for experience here.
This is Eduardo who I had a chat with as he has previously learnt some Russian and was currently learning German. He had progressed quite well for only having spent 6 months on the language so far. Being from this area he had already mastered Spanish, Mayan and English. He liked to travel a lot to the point each year he would spend 3 months working away but regretted the fact that he always had to do it solo. He admired the fact that me and my husband Sam could share our adventures together.
This is a new technique that I have learnt that helps to address what is usually lacking in your language studies if your an introvert like me and really dislike talking to people.
You need to get hold of some clear audio (an audiobook) that is at your current level.You also next to get hold of the corresponding text (e and physical is the most beneficial but you choose which is the best for you).Next you need a recording device, there is one on your phone.
When choosing your text make sure that the subject matter is interesting to you otherwise it will not be as useful to you and you will be wasting your time.
Have the text in front of you and listen to the audio at the same time.
If you are someone like me this is quite difficult because I absorb information at light speed. I’m not really reading but seem to pick up the gist as quickly as a sponge sucks up water. (Most of the time)
In this example though we are going for pronunciation practice here. So we’re trying to assimilate as much of the sound in terms of its physical qualities. By that I mean it’s intonation, spacing, pitch, rhythm, accent, emotion etc as possible. All of the different components are important here to get an authentic sound which is what we are aiming for.This is so that we can repeat it into the recorder as accurately as possible. This round is on a phrase by phrase basis.Then we try to repeat as much of it as possible listening to the audio recording from the beginning again. This is so that we can get a flow to the whole piece rather than isolating each sentence.Next we are going to compare our recorded speech with that of the prerecorded speech to check for differences.Finally we repeat the process until we cannot distinguish our own speech from that of the recording. (This maybe optimism as you may get bored if this doesn’t happen quickly).
Again if you are like me, your reluctant to listen to your own voice recordings because what you hear doesn’t sound anything like you think you sound. It’s sounds pretty awful as it’s weak, pathetic and indistinct a bit like a newborn mewling kitten.
This is the link if you wish to learn Russian from Max its creator Shadowing.
If you have been following my blog you will know that this approach is next to impossible to apply in Greek. I have recently found audio books on YouTube but I have had to separately purchase the e and physical books from Amazon. It took quite some time to arrive as even though they were on Amazon UK, it had to be shipped from Germany.
I have started to follow a lady on WordPress un petite bibliophile (this platform unless your reading this on my fb page) who reviews Greek children’s books in Greek. However, without access to the texts themselves; they are of limited use to me for this particular technique. They are simple children’s books but they can still teach valuable concepts. I like to use them for grammar and reading practice. It helps my comprehension and understanding having her texts there to consult.
If you wish to watch and listen to the worlds most expressive Russian check out the above video. It’s a simple story with questions afterwards. There are subtitles to help you out as well as pictures and his actions.
This is a very informative video that I came across on YouTube about how to progress through the different learning levels. Turn the subtitles on because he is Russian but he speaks using the words that are closest to English. He makes more sense than most Russians but that might also be because he is talking about something I’m very interested in.
Don’t be afraid to spend money on items that will benefit your life.
As a child I never really wanted anything but I was heavily controlled on what I could spend my money on. I usually bought collectibles when I got the chance which was the reasoning behind the lack of access to money. There is always more things to get as part of a set so the temptation never ended. I know this sounds contradictory but having money meant you could spend it yet with so many options what do you spend it on? Do you save it to get something more expensive in the future? If you were like me it just stayed were it was as you were not interested in anything. This doesn’t teach you the value of money as you need to make mistakes by getting the wrong things which I did much later. All you know with the method I employed is that your totally uninterested in the material world.
This in itself is a much better mindset than any you could cultivate as an adult. However I’m now so adverse to spending money that I will go to extraordinary lengths to get something for free. Even if I know it’s really good and something that I really want. Hence I looked for and read The Power of Now online for free. I have also listened to the Little Prince for free on YouTube. Another book that has been very useful is Ultra Learning that I listened to on Audible and read as part of my mailing list. These are titles that have benefited me greatly so far but because I tend to only read books once I’m reluctant to purchase more dead weight as it could be termed.
Nowadays I have more money than when I was a child but not enough to cover the needs and wants of an adult. Since I’m hopeless at earning money I have had to cut back severely on what I do spend my money on. I have always enjoyed spending time on my own and entertaining myself with various Introvert activities yet this doesn’t complete a person. Needing to socialise on a regular basis is expensive so this further increases the time I have to spend indoors to account for this. Being an adult is demanding in many ways yet I’m still stuck one foot in childhood as that’s what Autism is. The gap between your chronological self and autistic self ever increasing as you age.
As an effort to assuage this problem I am offering my first fictional book A life of Halcyon Days for free for the weekend as well my first language learning book How I learnt Greek. Please write a review if you enjoyed reading them.
The best way to learn a language in my opinion is with the ease of a child. By that I mean don’t approach it head on. Don’t get bogged down with grammar, declension tables or memorising lists of vocabulary.
To effectively learn a language you need to engage your unconscious and sub conscious minds. This is where our creative powers reside and the majority of our brain power.
Communication is mostly done unconsciously. This is where body language comes in and Freudian slips of the tongue. This is challenging behaviour for a child to control but relatively simple for us unless we are under duress, in a new scenario.
A child will interact with his environment absorbing everything and gradually processing it into a shape that takes the form of words. However, before this children will express themselves in art. Even Picasso knew that the still resides an artist within every adult yet it has been obscured by becoming an adult.
Children have no innate sense of fear so this allows them to explore and practice language without worrying about the implications of what they are saying. This is how we get such phrases as “out of the moths of babes”. The honesty of children gets lost as we learn to say white lies, to sugar coat our words or simply to say the opposite of what we mean entirely out of politeness. This all builds up to prevent us from being able to communicate in a foreign language.
We are often reduced to the linguistic level of a child when it comes to second language acquisition and this frightens us. We are scared of the unpeeling of ourselves and the vulnerability that we now exhibit since we are no longer able to mask our true feelings.
In order to master our linguistic abilities we need to learn to appreciate ourselves for who we were, who we are now but also who we wish to become in the future. We can’t change if we don’t know that we need to in the first place.
Have you had to do any “unprogramming” of yourself to learn how to live a better, more authentic life for yourself?
This is a common phenomenon that we all face if we like to read. We also like to collect books as there is nothing quite like settling down to read our latest find. However life frequently gets in the way of this so we forget where we are. This may cause us to neglect the half finished book in favour of something shorter or easier to read. This does not help when we are forever acquiring more books as they all seem so interesting!
I am a terrible hoarder when it comes to books as I just have so many. They cover a variety of subjects as you never know what mood your going to be in when the reading bug strikes. This is why challenges like the GoodReads reading challenge is useful. You can decide how many you are going to read in the year and then next year your goal is to beat it. It’s gamification to try to incite you to read more and to do it quicker as it’s now a competition. Although this is one you will never win since there is an infinite amount of books out there and your time is rather more finite.
In order to make this more achievable I suggest you utilise the Ultra Learning technique as proposed by Scott H Young. This was today’s free book on a Blinkist but I have been a fan of his for many years. This lists the steps that you need to follow in order to be able to do all that you want to in a day. If you are follower like myself on his email list; you will get access to the first chapter for free. There are other benefits like early access to courses too.
Are there any common problems that you have faced and found a solution to?
This word is gaining in popularity at the moment as an antidote to the perfection that is put forward by over manipulated images. Instagram is responsible for a certain manufactured look that teens feel they need to conform too. Authenticity is lacking in our media at the moment. Social media is dictating too much of our lives so we need to step back and look at what is really important to us. Self awareness and meditation are other buzz words of the moment. They tie in with the previous craze for Pilates and more recently yoga. Wellness retreats are another idea that has sprung up to take advantage of our interest in self care.
Vulnerability is about openness and showing the world who we really are when we are not in the limelight. So many of us “put on a face” to show the world akin to a women’s makeup routine. This takes effort to do and shouldn’t be an absolute certainty before we can show ourselves in public. The neuro diversity movement that is currently gaining strength is all about being who you really are on the inside. Not hiding your genuine self because you have been taught that this side to yourself is unacceptable to society at large. This also encompasses the trans gender movement as well as gay rights. A person should be free to dress how they like, love who they want to, have a relationship with them and also to have a family. At the end of the day this is what everyone wants and they are all entitled to it as we are all human.
One of the major mistakes you can do when starting to learn a foreign language is to translate everything back into your native language. This means there will always be a delay in your speech. It could also mean lots of errors are introduced due to different grammar, possession, word order etc.
If you learn pronunciation first before meaning then you will learn what you are reading in your target language rather than your native language. This will help enormously with your comprehension and communication.
However when learning a language like Greek, finding something with subtitles to go along with your audiobook is like finding a needle in a haystack. YouTube has plenty of music videos, audiobooks, news reports, chat shows etc but very rarely do they come with closed captioning. Overdrive is an app that you can use to get access to digital resources from your local library but they don’t tend to have foreign books. They have umpteen language courses but if you want something relaxing you are again stuck. Overdrive allows you to have multiple libraries stored in your app so you have access to a wide variety of resources and they have a new app called Libby too. This however does not fix your problem. So I suggest going onto EBay to buy a Greek version of Harry Potter to go along with the audio book that is on YouTube. Victoria Hislop is another idea along with Nikos Kazantzakis and The Little Prince.