Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I Don't Update this guy anymore :( But you can always go here:

...these are some of the places where I might be found..

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Simplifying Life

I’ve found myself to be on a bit of a simplification kick lately. I find that with all the information on the internet, and everything we as a society can get our hands on we’ve sort of fallen into a trap of too much information. Now I’m the last person that would say that the internet is bad, and that Twitter and Facebook are bad. I love both websites and I use them often. They’re great for practicing foreign languages, getting quick headlines, and staying in touch with friends.

I find that taking in all of that information has its negative effects too. Take for instance language learning, there are so many options on the internet and if you use peer to peer programs, there is so much software and material to download and take in. Also there are many polyglots and people who have mastered certain foreign languages that all have their own methods. I found myself reading and studying more about ‘how to learn a language’ than actually learning the languages, which was miles away from my actual goals. I can study linguistics in school if I want to learn about languages, but I want to learn them and know them. So it seems to me the best and simplest way is just to input as much as I can into my brain and the internet can help me immensely. I of course use Lingqs tools and though I’m mostly studying Polish and I don’t have a lot of reading/listening tandems, I use lingq to read and studying as much vocabulary as I can, and I read everything. My biggest problem in life is that I’m too interested in everything. You name it: sports, history, politics, culture. It’s just all too much to keep up with. So I read and I listen and I do it a lot and it’s simple and it works.

What else in my life have I simplified? Well how about working out? Keeping myself fit and strong, has always been one of my biggest goals. I’ve spent thousands of dollars on gym memberships books and supplements and hundreds of hours on the internet, and in books and magazines reading and reading. I’ve decided to simplify it all. I’m going to eat lots of protein and vegetables and fruits, and do push ups, sit ups, jog, and play basketball whenever I can. I just simplified it instead of wasting time and worrying about all this crap about what I should eat and tracking protein. I found a simple push up plan on and I’ll follow it.

Another one of my goals is to build a family and great strong relationship with my wife. Now I could bury my nose in all kinds of self help books and try all these tests and whatnot… But why not just spend time together doing things we both like to do? It seems simpler and better to me.

Other goals? Opening a wealth management-financial planning practice? Finish school, that simple. Anyway you get the picture. I’ve needlessly cluttered my life and my thoughts with things that are complicated and things that make reaching my goals difficult. Maybe you don’t have this problem. I did, but I don’t anymore.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Cultural Weightlessness in Language

I respond to a good video made by polyglot Steve Kaufman here:

I'm the first comment.

It involves something Mr. Kaufman calls Cultural Weightlessness in learning languages and he touches on other subjects involving assimilation with a culture and how some cultures resist assimilation. Very good video, it isn't only about language learning.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Goal Number 1

It's becoming clearer and clearer that fun is the most important thing you can do to lead a joyful life. Now of course, a lot of hard work comes along with that. You can't have fun until you've covered the basics of life: home,food ect.

A relationship is just a microcosm of life in this case. You have to have a continuous source of fun, throughout the living and learning about each other, through out the hardships and victories, you always have to find fun. That's what me and wife are learning now. We've been together only two years and now some of those normal things that were 'just apart of our personalities' need to be re-evaluated.

Here's an example. My wife is a driven woman. When she has a task, she wants it done and she focuses on getting it done. I'm a bit more relaxed. When I'm packing I can play, I don't worry about forgetting something because to me, whatever it is I might be forgetting isn't worth the extreme amount of worrying. Now me and my wife are finding middle ground. I'm trying to get more focused on certain things and she's trying to lighten up. We're working towards a goal, that is to have fun with each other throughout it all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to KNOW a Language not Just Learn a Language Part 2

You can read part 1 here.

As you could see from part one this is an in depth language learning strategy. One with no frills and a lot of commitment. It’s not for everyone, but it’s the one I follow to reach my goals. I do believe you can get a lot from self-study and that’s what this program, for the most part is. I do however, think you should seek out conversation times with others who speak the language to practice some of what you’ve learnt and to practice common colloquial phrases. Part one was really just there to introduce you to the sounds and give you some speaking practice right away, while at the same time giving you an intro to the grammar you’ll be getting in depth with in the future. The second part is where we start getting really serious. The recommendations here should be followed pretty closely, there’s no fudging here. By finishing certain things in step one you open yourself up to more serious things in step two.

First though lets go over some quick notes with step one. If the language has multiple Pimsleur parts, go ahead and get through them all if you’d like. Pimsleur again is really just something you’re doing in the shower or while washing the dishes, but it couldn’t hurt to do the lessons when you’re getting other things done. Also, and reading the grammar are perpetual, meaning you keep doing them. When you’ve finished the grammar book, start it over and continue to refer to it whenever you need it. It makes great bathroom material.

I know this stuff is expensive and I know some people just download these programs, but I recommend buying them though, because these people have worked hard to make these tools. The last note: Stay balanced, you want to do about an hour a day but make sure you’re not doing one thing way more than everything else.

Let’s get started.

The First Workbook Step 2 Part 1

After you’ve got through twenty to thirty percent of the grammar book, you can buy a work book. I prefer to buy something a little lighter. We don’t want the difficult grammar workbook yet. Normally, for workbook number one I look for something with a lot of vocabulary, some dialogues on CD and some light grammar. We’re trying to supplement your conversation skills and ease into the grammar. I recommend something from the Teach Yourself Series.

The Second Workbook Step 2 Part 2
After you’re about 20 percent done with the first book it’s time to find yourself another workbook. Your best bet is to find something that specifically sells itself as a grammar workbook. Sometimes this means buying a college textbook, sometimes it doesn’t. Once it's been bought, dive into it, refer back to your grammar book as much as you need to.

Assimil Series Step 2 Part 3
The Assimil series is your best tool to really know the language. I would start Assimil after finishing the first level of Pimsleur. The problem with it, is that it’s mostly for language learners from France. If you’re language doesn’t have an English version it’s no problem, we can easily adapt it. Assimil, when it’s time to start is something you do EVERYDAY. The other things you need to just keep balanced, finding time in the shower, or while on the toilet. Assimil though: EVERYDAY. If at this point you can devote two hours a day on your new language you’ll be in the best position. One full hour of Assimil and another hour with the other tools.

If you were able to buy an English version then go ahead and follow the course, do the exercises and follow the ‘layered strategy’ I describe below. If you get stuck with the course for French native speakers, you’re going to have to sit with a dictionary and your grammar book to figure out what’s happening and why it’s happening. After translating and understanding the grammar it’s time to shadow.

Shadowing is done in 15 minute bursts. The super polyglot who moderates this


is more or less the creator of the system of shadowing. Here’s basically what it entails, you walk at a fast pace in the woods or in your home and you listen to the dialogues through earphones the whole time, repeating what is said out loud. At first you shouldn’t hold up the text, you want to try to get it down without it and after a few tries without the text start periodically shadowing while reading the text out loud. That’s the gist of shadowing, it sounds stupid but with Assimil’s dialogues, which are short but contain a lot of new grammar and vocabulary, it’s helped me greatly. Also, you can’t argue with the guy who developed it, he knows give or take 20 languages.

Assimil needs to be used in a layered fashion, meaning do a new lesson everyday, repeat yesterday’s lesson, do a dictation of the lesson from seven days ago, shadow the lesson from 21 days ago, and dictate the lesson from 28 days ago. I like to shadow a random lesson every other day, whether it’s new or not, to keep me on my toes. If you decide to do a random lesson periodically and it’s old don't worry it’s okay you get extra practice and then if it’s new that’s okay too, you get to get a feel for the language and some of its sounds without having your nose in a dictionary.

So that’s the second layer of steps. The stuff here should keep you busy for up to a year, but keep at it! Keep charts and keep track of your progress, not only in language learning but in everything involving becoming a polymath. I’ll post something here after this language tutorial is done about keeping charts and some of the strategies I’m employing.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

How to KNOW a Language not just Learn a Language Part 1

Here are my detailed steps to really getting to KNOW a language. This system is for someone like me who really wants to KNOW a language rather than just be able to drink a beer with someone and talk about the weather. I've spent years now researching, taking into account the advice of accomplished polyglots, and running down my own roads of successes and faliures. A couple notes before we get into it: I think a tutor is good after you get a feel for the language. If you start from day one you'll be wasting a lot of money learning how to say "dog". Also, I don't think Rosetta Stone is really necessary since there is already a flash card program worked into this program that's free.

The first step is a four parter. Now, this will look like a very narrow plan but in reality it's very lenient in certain areas, especially if you already have an understanding of language in general. If you don't have any kind of understanding of language or the language is very exotic from anything you've studied before then I'd recommend following it closely.

Sept 1 Part 1 Start a Pimsleur Course

This first step can be skipped if you already have a lot of experience in language learning or you're past the beginner stage of your language. I don't skip it though completely for two reasons. Number one is I learn some common phrases right off the bat and number two is I get to here how the language sounds immediately and get to understand some of those sounds. What I do is just skip through the lessons maybe doing every other one or starting later in the course, which is of course against the law of Pimsleur, but this is a guide to KNOWING a language and we're just using Pimsleur to get an idea and feel for the language. So even if you're a beginner with the language the good thing about using Pimsleur my way is that you can just do it in the shower and not be so militant about when, where, and how like the course would like you to be. Pimsleur is definitely not priority number 1 when wanting to KNOW the language.

Step 1 Part 2 Go to

This site is set up by a polyglot who really knows what he's talking about. However, rather than paying any money for the lessons you should just do the free lessons the site has available. Lingq is unfortunately pretty new so only the main world languages are available. As long as you're learning Spanish, French, German or a few others Lingq is great. The way it works is you read a dialogue you find 'lingqs' which are words you didn't understand which become flash cards for you, then you download an audio version of the dialogue and listen to it. Well listen to it A LOT. So this means in line at the store, in the car or anywhere else, and when possible you should shadow and speak along with it. Periodically find a new dialogue create lingqs and listen, listen, listen!

Step 1 Part 3 Buy a Grammar Book!

I know grammar's boring. But to KNOW the language you'll have to KNOW the grammar. Don't worry though, I'm not saying to studying and memorize grammar rules. Remember this first step is to get our feet wet and to get and overview of the language. So just read it and try to get an abstract understanding. Don't do any close studying or memorizing of any rules. Eventually you're going to run into a form in your reading or listening and you're going to go back to it in your grammar book and slowly make it more concrete in your understanding of the language. In my opinion though it's good to start right from the beginning just to get the feel. A grammar book is important the same way Pimsleur is important except that Pimsleur can be skipped and with the grammar book you need to plug through it.

Step 1 Part 4 Michel Thomas Method

This method gives a good overview of the grammar mixed in with the spoken word. This system gets you saying long sentences pretty fast, but like in Pimsleur you're not going to get the large influx of vocabulary. Again though your feet are just getting wet for the more intense stuff. You will however, get a lot of main verbs and main verb forms thrown at you which really helps with all the reading you'll be doing in the next steps. Michel Thomas is very important but to a certain extent it can skipped through too, but I still think you should get yourself through it because along with the other three parts it will really help you with the next steps that involve a lot more attentive listening, reading, and writing.

So that's the first step, if say you've decided that you were going to KNOW German and only know how to say Danke. The next steps will be covered in other blogs. Always make time to journey....

One Goal is Getting Bigger than the Others

I think I've become a bit addicted to one of the goals and have started forsaking some of the others. I've been so taken up with learning languages and reading about learning languages and finding the best language learning programs and strategies that things like my health goals and even the finance goals haven't been getting much attention. This of course will have to change. In the near future I'll write a post on what I'm doing for the language learning goals and how I'm studying but after that I need to calm down with studying about learning and retaining a language. I also need to adjust my goals for language learning. With all that said it's time to find a gym, write a post about nutrition and another about a work out plan. Also I need to reevaluate and get more detailed with my finances.

The other piece of the puzzle that has been totally forsaken is the art goal. It's true I'm busy studying and learning languages but I need to make time for that outlet even if it's in a bar with a beer, the writing must be done. I don't like to really count the writing I do in my English class because I don't really get to choose what to write. The other two things I've done virtually nothing about is learning the guitar, I haven't even read through a book on the basics yet, and my travel journal, I have a journal but I haven't written anything in it yet about traveling and where I've traveled, all that's in there are some German exercises I did awhile back. So that's the way it stands now, I gotta buck up or shut up if I want this journey to continue.