How to learn like a child as an adult

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?

Best wishes

Angela

The to be read pile

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?

Best wishes

Angela

Vulnerability

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.

Best wishes

Angela

Marcus Aurelius – Roman philosopher

He is very famous as he wrote a set of rules for living a more organised and therefore peaceful life. He also happened to be a Roman emperor so this was quite crucial for him to get everything done on time. He has much in common with Seneca and Stoicism in this respect. So the 2 are often read together to see how they compare and contrast.

A major point that Marcus mentions is to live your life as though you are going to die soon. While this may sound rather morbid and counterproductive; it is in fact sound advice. You are now motivated to do the most important things in life and that is to spend time with your family, friends and enjoying yourself by indulging in hobbies. You are no longer exclusively focused on hard work.

Marcus is part of the group of stoic philosophers that include Seneca the younger, Cato and Epictetus. There all from around the same time but with widely different viewpoints due to their unique lives. This helps enormously as you will always be able to find something useful since they will most likely have experienced it.

Best wishes

Angela

Krashen’s Hypothesis (on language acquisition) and what I think is it’s relationship to the difficulties present in Autism

This is in fact a group of 5 hypothesis (sorry about that), that were formulated by Stephen Krashen in the 1970’s and 80’s. These are to do with Second Language Acquisition and Educational Psychology. This is rather in depth and technical at times so your going to have to bear with me on this one. It’s an important theory that I have just come across due to it being promoted by Luca Lampariello. He is a Italian polyglot and teaches languages for a living.

The 5 hypothesis are as follows,

  • The Input hypothesis
  • The Acquisition Learning hypothesis
  • The Monitor hypothesis
  • The Natural Order hypothesis
  • The Affective Filter hypothesis
  • Input hypothesis

  • This says that you learn best when the language you are exposed to is slightly above your current level so you can understand it but it requires growth to properly comprehend it. You therefore need what is termed Comprehensible Input.
  • There are some corollaries or additions to this which I will now explain.
    1. Only practising talking, means that while you will be able to communicate, you will not necessarily be able to write as it is writing that encodes language into our brains far stronger than any other message. Hence when we need to remember something we write it down.
      When you have enough reading material of an appropriate level or Comprehensible Input you will learn grammar far better than through direct grammar teaching. This has been proven by the famous Hungarian polyglot Kato Lund but also by the Canadian Ling Q founder (language app) and noted polyglot Steve Kaufman.
      The way you are taught in a classroom is quite often different to how you learn naturally so a gap becomes apparent which results in lopsided learning that isn’t particularly useful. Any one who remembers there high school french classes can probably attest to learning innumerable things to pass tests but nothing useful that you could actually use in a real life situation.
  • Acquisition Learning hypothesis

  • It says that in the Acquisition Phase you acquire language simply by being around others that are practising a language. This is a subconscious process so you are not aware you are actually learning anything. If the language you are absorbing is above what you are currently able to comprehend ie it’s not Comprehensible Input; it will sit there until you have sufficient knowledge to be able to use it. Also see the explanation of Natural Order Hypothesis 2 headings below.
  • The Learning Phase is conscious awareness of learning and it’s when you are taught in a formal manner. It is the learning of rules and the framework that enables you to construct language in an appropriate way. It can seem quite abstract initially with just an outline. This is essential however as we will see in the next paragraph.
  • The difference between the 2 is important because the Acquisition Phase is much easier and more natural as it’s how you learned your first language. However when we get older we tend to use the Learning Phase for Second Language Acquisition. So this means, we struggle to gain adequate knowledge in order to make our wants and needs known. This discourages us from learning; as we feel we have regressed to an early stage of childhood. When we had to cry to get attention since we didn’t have the linguistic means to say anything.
  • It also showcases the fact that if you learn through Acquisition you will speak like those around you which may not be grammatically correct and could include a lot of slang. This will make it harder for you to learn other languages as you are unaware of the underpinnings of your own language. If you Learn it’s more likely to be grammatically correct and without slang but you will most likely sound very unnatural and robotic. This grounding however will make it easier to learn other languages as you already have a linguistic structure in place.
  • Monitor hypothesis

  • This says we use our existing language base to correct ourselves hence we say something incorrectly “….” and then realise what we were supposed to say and say this “….” is what we actually meant. This means that in theory adults are better than children as they have built up more of a base but it also explains why children are happy making mistakes. They are generally unaware they are doing so.
  • The difficulties inherent in using the Monitor will now be explained.
    • As the Monitor (think of a computer scanning your speech before you say it), requires you to analyse form (grammar and syntax) and meaning (semantics) at the same time; this can result in conversation slowing to a crawl or even completely stopping while the conversation is digested. I’m certainly one of these people. I think a lot of autistics are also prone to it. This is perhaps why autistics talk in such a strange way. We understand the grammatical rules but not the meaning because that often morphs to fit the situation. This affects not only our first language but any others we may learn. This is how you can come across people who while having been born and bred in the UK; prefer and sometimes even move to where they can speak French (Daniel Tamnet autistic polyglot with Savant syndrome), Greek (occasionally myself), or any other language including made up ones like Klingon or Elvish (many introverted geeky people).
      When Writing you often have all of the time in the world, so you can utilise your vocabulary to its full extent. This ability is enabled as you have no outside influences competing for your attention. This shows itself frequently in that autistics often prefer to communicate in written form as opposed to verbally like the rest of the world. This can be electronically in the form of instant messaging, email, blogging see an example here – How to have a basic conversation in Greek with common phrases or in older times writing letters, poetry, or even a book! See examples here My author page.
      As a result of this, while we (Autistics) may Know the Rules; we don’t don’t have sufficient processing time in conversations. We will therefore resort to talking about topics we know about without us requiring to consciously think about them. We don’t want to slow you down but we simply cannot listen and reply at the rate you do.Language variation.
  • From what I’ve seen of Neurotypical (anyone who doesn’t have Autism) conversations; it involves lots of talking, not a lot of listening and a lot of forgetting so you can say the same things repeatedly and nobody minds as they were never paying attention on any of the previous occasions anyway. So inefficient and illogical as it wastes so much time and effort.

    • We are more than linguistically capable of holding a conversation. Maybe even more so than yourselves, as you’ve never needed to prove yourself. As we struggle for the correct words to respond appropriately, we appear immature and tend to get treated as children with patronising and condescending comments. We (I) have very good hearing as these are usually whispered or muttered under the breath in an attempt to discreetly “badmouth” us. These are also delivered in tones that while are acceptable when you are still a chronological child, become infuriating when you get older both chronologically and mentally. The problem is the more you stay with people your comfortable with (because they induce less panic and anxiety), the more they want you to stay the same so you don’t grow. This is why we leave our parents. Otherwise we probably never would.
      Since so much of communication can’t be learned from a book, Autistics struggle greatly with this. Which is why you will frequently see us talking with our hands when we can’t get the words out quick enough. If Italians, Greeks etc can get away with it, why not other cultures like English too?
  • Natural Order hypothesis

  • This says that while we all learn at more or less the same speed; the time it takes for us to be able show this knowledge in an adequate scenario varies greatly so it seems that others learn much quicker.
  • Affective Filter hypothesis

  • This says that the learner receives too much negative impact from their environment and this impedes their ability to communicate. Their emotions and mood interfere with their processing capabilities. This is brought on by anxiety, low self esteem or boredom due to lack of interest. Carrying on from the Monitor hypothesis this sounds like Autism 101 or a basic introduction to Autism in case your unfamiliar with that terminology. Our affective filters or “emotional states” are always up if we are distressed and nothing gets through them as there like the most impenetrable firewalls you have ever come across. For an example of this in action see here Brain, Mouth and Me.
  • According to Krashen the filter/(force field etc) struggles to come down
    1. If your expected to speak too soon therefore not allowing enough silence for information gathering and processing (all the time in pretty much every conversation ever) and
      Your corrected too soon (yes this is me totally with so much baggage from my childhood it’s unreal).
  • Reading about all of these hypothesis makes total sense to me as I have been struggling a lot with my language skills recently. I have also been wondering why I cannot perform when I have the necessary prerequisites to do so. Hopefully the blocks have now been removed since they have been discovered.

  • Additions and Critique

    Additions

    According to Wolfgang Butzkamm (linguistics professor) and John A Caldwell (2009), while you need comprehensible input to understand the language around you, you also require dual comprehension. This means that you need to understand what something literally translates to as well as what they are actually asking you. This happens so often to me in English, Greek etc and I’m pretty sure this is another facet of Autism. We get the words but not the meaning hence our literal sense of humour. It’s witty and intelligent as it involves wordplay but deviate from the established standards and were lost.

    Critique

    The above hypothesis are critiqued by some (but Wikipedia is unable to say who Grrr) for saying that there is a gap between acquisition and learning – the acquisition learning hypothesis but as this not an area that can be proven it is left in the air so to speak. I know there is this gap because I can acquire language but it does not necessarily mean I have learnt it. It’s like saying memorisation and learning are the same thing. Just because you can repeat something does not mean you can use or make use of it.

    Conclusion

    I like the idea that language learning is heavily dependent on the mood of the learner and other factors like intelligence, memory etc are nowhere near as important. If a learner is under some kind of stress than the learning will be impaired just like if they are unwilling to learn in the first place. This shows that the environment that a learner is placed in, subject to and how it affects them is more important than any other factor when it comes to language learning.

    How to talk to Autistics

    How to educate Autistics

    How to learn Greek

    How to improve your Greek

    How to learn any language

    Greek life

    A Life of Halcyon Days

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Some of my own artwork

    I thought as a nice follow up I would share some of my paintings with you.

    Nidri bay in watercolour
    Nidri bay in watercolour
    Vliho bay watercolour
    Vliho bay watercolour
    Vliho bay
    The sunset over the Princess Islands. Watercolour
    The sunset over the Princess Islands watercolour
    The sunset over the Princess Islands.
    On Nidri hill watercolour paint
    On Nidri hill watercolour paint
    On Nidri hill.
    Dimosari waterfall acrylic paint
    Dimosari waterfall acrylic paint
    Dimosari waterfall.
    A mountain goat I walked acrylic paint
    A mountain goat I walked acrylic paint
    A mountain goat I walked.
    The view of Nidri bay from high up.
    A view of Nidri bay from high up acrylic paint
    The view of Nidri bay from high up.

    What do you all do besides blogging?

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Vasilis Tsitsanis reblog

    Another famous Rebetika player Vasilis Tsitsanis. For another rembete see here Markos Vamvakaris.

    For general and local music information check these out,

    For more examples of my work in other areas see here Series links.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    How to have a basic conversation in Greek with common phrases

    Υα! Hi

    Φίλε μου male friend

    Φίλοι μου friends mixed

    Φίλη female friend

    Τι κανείς? How are you? literally what are you doing?

    Τι κανείς μωρε? What are you doing mate?(jokily)

    Εισας καλά? Are you alright?(jokily)

    Που πάμε? Where have you been/what have you been doing? (Depends on context)

    Πάμε! Let’s go!

    Τι νέο? What’s new?

    Έλα ρε! Come on now mate!

    Έλα τωρα! Come on now!

    Τι κριμα! What a pity!

    Να ´στε καλά Be well!

    Υιασυς Bye

    Shop talk

    Μπορεί να βοηθεια σας? Can I help you?

    Ορίσετε Welcome (to our shop etc), here you are (give money for item etc)

    Τι θελις? What do you want?(an alternative to how can I help you or in addition)

    Ποσό κάνει How much?

    Έχετε …. Do you have ….

    Δεν έχει We don’t have (whatever you asked for)

    Θέλω ένα …. I want ….

    Ναι yes (can be polite in acknowledging you said something but still carry on with job and otherwise ignore you)

    Ναι, ναι, ναι, Yes, Yes, Yes (Much more likely for them to do whatever you just asked)

    Μάλιστα formal yes like employee to boss or meaning indeed

    Restaurant talk

    Έτοιμες Ready? (Asking If you have decided on what you want to drink/eat)

    Πολύ νόστιμο Very tasty!

    Κάλι ορίζει! Good appetite!

    Άμεσος! Immediately (never happens and is more of a joke with English people)

    Γριγορο Quickly (another joke)

    Βειβαιους! of course (can be a joke)

    Σίγουρα. Sure (not a certainty again)

    Ακριβώς! exactly!

    Κάτσε κάτω sit down

    Φεύγω! Leave! (What you say when your bothered by animals, sellers slightly rude)

    Being direct is not rude in Greece like it is in the UK. Hence you wouldn’t normally say I would like in Greece. They don’t stand on ceremony as the saying goes meaning they are quite informal when shopping. They do however like to chat which is why the tasks are completed with as few words as possible leaving space, time and energy for conversation in order to revitalise them throughout the working day. It’s very hot right now so conservation is key.

    These posts are very useful to remind me how much I have learnt, improve my confidence and spelling. It’s also to try to anchor this into my brain so I use it in conversation in daily life. Also it’s because I can’t sleep and prep work for my next conversation which failed last time.

  • My books to help you speak Greek
  • My posts to assist you in speaking Greek

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Pavlos Santorinis

    Pavlos Santorinis

    https://greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/pavlos-santorinis/
    — Read on greatestgreeks.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/pavlos-santorinis/

    This man has achieved so much that his work deserves to be promoted more.

    He is the first part of my Famous Greeks series.

    Other series include Greek poets, authors, Musicians, Rural villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Mikis Theodorakis

    Since he is such an influential figure in Greek musical history I decided he needed his own post. Here is the link to the Rebetika post that I did earlier which inspired this.

    Mikis Theodorakis wrote the musical score for the most famous Greek movie Zorba the Greek and as soon as you hear it you know what it is. For those that don’t know it’s called Syrtaki and it’s based on old Cretan dances. It’s that kind of recognition that Mikros Theodorakis has that makes him such a legend.

    He has the most extraordinary collection of music, theatre productions, books, ballets, film scores and operas that he was coordinated on with such famous names as Angelos Sikelianos and Nikos Kazantzakis leading there expertise to assist him. I could go on but then this article would never end.

    His personal details are here Mikis Theodorakis.

    It seems to me that these series of posts are documenting the history of British involvement in Greece during the 1930’s and afterwards. I am featuring all the major players and since this is a critical part of Greece’s history just after the war of independence in 1922; it’s rather fitting as all of my interests are coming together. Literature, language, history, culture, the arts.

    Yes you could say I have slight bourgeois tastes in things. Except my interest in Russian things but Greece and Russia are more connected than most people realise due to shared religious history, language and culture.

    As a result of that idea I have decided to allow my hyper connected brain to link everything together to its heart’s content. Yes its a bit of a mixed metaphor but it brings colour into my writing I believe.

    Mikros Theodorakis is part of the Music and Musicians series.

    The music of Ancient Greece

    Rebetika

    Other series include Greek Poets, Authors, Musicians, Famous Greeks, Rural Villages in Lefkás and Foreigners who have become interested and or benefited Greece in some ways. All the links can be found here Series links.

    Best wishes

    Angela