Tag Archives: languages

New Beginnings: Language!!

You should have known that this would come up, right? I mean, I am an Applied Linguistics student who is teaching a language, working hard to master a language, and overall, I think that there are major benefits for EVERYONE to learn a language (psychologically, culturally, socially . . .) But, this post isn’t from me. I did an interview with my friend Aaron over at the Everyday Language Learner. (By the way, his last post was really great, especially for any of you out there working on language number 3 or more!!) Aaron is now living in the States, but had been in Turkey for the last several years, so we’ve been able to connect over a shared love of Turkish and languages in general. If you are working on studying a language, I highly recommend checking out Aaron’s website and resources.

But now, onto the interview!! (And hopefully this will inspire any of you monolinguals out there to get working on a language!!)

———————

1. How many languages have you studied?

I studied German for a year in university but it was futile.  I learned very little because at the time I put forth little effort.  Four months after graduating from university though, I took a trip to Mexico with some friends.  We decided to move to Tijuana in order to work with the urban poor alongside a church there.  That started my journey into Spanish.  I am largely self taught though I did take one week long course about seven years into learning Spanish.  I am now trying to resurrect my Spanish.  It went into hibernation when my family and I moved to Turkey and I began learning Turkish.  So German, Spanish and Turkish.  I speak Turkish the best.

2. What has been your motivation for learning the languages that you have studied?

My main motivation has always been the fact that I was moving to the country where the language is spoken.  I had to learn Spanish and Turkish.  That is perhaps the main reason that German didn’t work out – I needed to graduate but had no plans to use it.

3. What is your favorite thing about learning a language?

Getting to know people in their language is my favorite thing.  Most of the relationships I have with Turks are ones that would not exist if I had not learned Turkish.  So for me, it’s all about the relationships.  Of course language are fascinating in and of themselves and I love that there are words in Spanish and Turkish that express ideas in ways that just can’t be expressed in English.

4. Would you advise people who are living in their native country to learn a second language, even if they might not use it much? Why or why not?

Absolutely.  There are countless reasons to learn another language and vast opportunities to use a language.  We live in a super connected world where borders are becoming more and more meaningless. People are moving around like never before and learning another person’s heart language is perhaps one of the greatest acts of kindness anyone could do.  I suppose I write that mostly to monolinguals in North America.

5. What do you think is the most important thing to do at the on-start of learning a second language?

Find or create a reason to learn the language.  Everyone I know thinks learning another language is a good idea, but unless there is a specific, tactile, present reason for learning it, most of us will quit.  Nobody works hard for a “good idea”.  It’s an abstraction.  You need to understand why you want and need to learn the language.  If the desired outcome is clear, the rest will fall into place.

 6. What are your three favorite resources to help in language learning?

The Internet has completely changed the playing field for language learners.  Ten years ago you needed a teacher to learn another language if only because the teacher could provide you with resources.  But with the Internet, nearly every language on the face of the earth is available to learn.  So the first resource is the Internet and sites like LivemochaLingQ,DuolingoRhinospike and Lang-8.

The second resource I love are what I call password phrases.  These are phrases that you get translated into your target language that allow you to investigate the language, to ask questions, to become an independent language learner out in the community of native speakers.  You can read my post about these here.

Another favorite resource is the use of handcrafted audio.  The basic idea is that the learner write regularly – stories, journals, retellings of events.  With a native speaker, the learner then gets all of his or her writing corrected to make sure it is all grammatically correct and makes sense.  Then the native speaker would read the writing while the learner records it for later listening.  When I create handcrafted audio, I try to pack in all the new words, expressions and grammar forms I am learning.  By writing and recording several of these every week, a learner can begin to build up a library of listening material that has samples of everything that he or she has learned.  It’s a great resource for increasing both depth and breadth of learning.

7. Do you think that anyone can learn a language? What characteristics or disciplines do people need to develop in order to successfully learn a language?

Everyone can learn another language.  Two thirds of the world are multilingual – if everyone else is doing it, it is because it is a natural, God-given ability.  No excuses about “not being good at learning languages” allowed.  The main characteristic needed is perseverance – you just have to stick with it.

8. What encouragement or advice do you have for people who have gotten down the basics, but feel stuck at making further progress in their language journey?

Increase your level of need.  Everyone learns a language to just above the level they actually need to survive.  In order to move forward, you need to increase the need.  Put yourself in new situations.  Sign up to give a speech.  Sign up for a class at the local university.  Wanting to get better is rarely enough.  Put yourself in situations that require you to improve.

9. What are your future language learning goals?

Right now I am working to resurrect my Spanish.  I’ve been solely in Turkish for the last five years.  Spanish is in there – I still understand a lot – but whenever I try to speak, Turkish comes out.  So I am trying some things to see what it takes to get my conversational Spanish back to where it was and at the same time, I continue to work on my Turkish.

10. What are three small steps that people can take this year towards their language learning goals?

First I like to encourage everyone to create a list of five to ten time sensitive, convenient activities that they can do in five minutes or less to engage with the language.  Everyone is busy so you need to manipulate the system in your favor and take advantage of the small chunks of time that present themselves throughout your day.

Second would be to begin to build a learning environment that works in your favor.  If you drive to work everyday, let the only CD’s in your car be of music or books or podcasts in the target language.  Surround yourself with the language so that it’s easy for you to get into it.

Finally, I’d say make a plan.  A goal without a plan is just wishful thinking.  Make a plan to learn the language.  Think daily, weekly and monthly.

——————-

Aaron, thanks so much for your thoughts and ideas!! This post has been encouraging for me, personally, and I hope it is encouraging to others out there. Again, if you are hoping to start working on learning a language, you have to check out Aaron’s resources at everydaylanguagelearner.com. You won’t be disappointed!

Kolay gelsin!

Buena suerte!

Καλὴ τύχη!

New Beginnings: Resolute Resources

Perhaps one of your resolutions this year was to spend less time on technology, which in my opinion isn’t a bad a resolution! But, at the same time, I think that there are some technological resources available to help you achieve more of your goals this year. I want to share just a few that I have been either looking at or using recently.

1. Exercise

My favorite resource for staying fit so far in 2013 is POP Pilates on Youtube (for girls!). What I really like about this is that there is a wide range of videos that are simple, upbeat, a good workout, and of different lengths. I did complete a month of Insanity earlier this year (which consisted of about 40 minute workouts), and I had stopped that because I simply did not have the time. So, I figured that if I wanted to do something sustainable, I needed to start short. The Pilates videos range from 10-30 minutes, and they do not require any equipment. So, if you are looking for something to get into to help build a habit of working out, I really suggest checking out this channel!!

2. Faith

I had really wanted to find a way to motivate myself to read my Bible more in 2013, and I have really been loving this app from iTunes. Faithlife allows you to connect with other people and follow a Bible Reading plan together (you can choose from several available reading plans.) The app shows you where to read each day and marks when you have finished. You can also add notes and share them with your community group. On top of all of that, there are a lot of in-app resources like pictures, videos, free books, etc.

3. Language

This app is awesome!! Duolingo is one of the best language learning apps I have ever seen. I have really enjoyed it so far for refreshing my Spanish, but I am hoping to start French very soon as well.

4. Social Networking

Maybe this isn’t a goal for you, but I know for myself, I want to get better at keeping up with blogs and twitter for professional development purposes as well as for work on my own blog. So, the app that I have been really enjoying for this purpose is Flipboard. Flipboard takes the blogs, tweeters, RSS feeds, and Youtube channels you follow (as well as other popular or trending topics) and puts them into a beautifully designed layout that is really easy to read quickly and gives you easy access to the original articles as well. If you have an iPad, I especially recommend it as the iPad app is really nicely laid out and useful.

5. Goal-setting

This final resource I wanted to share was one that I stole from my friend over at the Everyday Language Learner. I have actually just signed up tonight, so I can’t give an in depth review yet, but it looks like a pretty cool program. The program is called AskMeEvery. Basically, you sign up for an account, and then you enter questions that you would like to be asked every day. They can be yes or no questions, but they can also be numerical questions. For example, I have entered these questions:

  1. How many pages did you read in Turkish today? 
  2. Did you do pilates?
  3. Did you read your Bible?

You set the time, and every day at that time, the program will send an email asking you those questions. You simply reply to the email, and the program can keep track of your statistics and chart them out over time. I will have to see how the program works out for me, but it sounds like a great idea!

What resources are you using to help yourself achieve your goals this year? I’d love your suggestions!! Leave them in the comments below!