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tower of babble


i'm the one in the lower left, reading the rock

i am not in the habit of making new year's resolutions. i figure that i'm good enough at disappointing myself throughout the year, so i don't really need to pile on the motivation right from the start.

that said, aside from the usual assortment of things that i want to accomplish, there is one skill i have long wanted to acquire and i've decided that this will be the year that i do so. 

this is the year i learn more languages.

i already speak english [obviously] and french, but i have always wanted tolerance more. i took a year of german in high school, which means that i knew enough to ask german-speaking people if they spoke english or french. but, this year, yes i shall learn new language skills and there is no chance that i will disappoint myself in this regard. 

i can say that because i actually started on this project almost a month ago. this modern age allows me to download an app to my phone [duolingo, in case you were curious], do short language lessons in my own every day [or else duo the language owl becomes disappointed in me, and disappointing an owl is just so much worse than disappointing myself] and then allows me to post something accessible to the world talking about doing this. it's all very meta. and sophisticated. especially the part where i'm typing this up in bed wearing a nightgown, in the company of two cats and a stuffed baby penguin. it's terribly glamorous.

i'm a realist about this self-improvement project; i took more than a dozen years of french classes and live in a predominantly french city and I am not fluent in french, so i know that there is no chance i'm going to become a master of any language i start learning at this point of my life. that said, research on the way that we learn language skills has improved since i was in school and i notice that i am indeed learning at a faster rate than i did years ago, even if science says that my addled brain isn't as capable of absorbing and retaining information as it was at that time. 

thus far, i've started lessons in german and spanish. since i've always been able to recall my german, there are certain things that go faster in that module. on the other hand, there are slight but important differences in the german i learned then and what i'm learning now. previously, i learned from someone who spoke the language from childhood. now i'm learning the language as compiled by numerous instructors and organizations. in that way, my experience makes it harder for me to learn, because i'm trying to impose my fuzzy earlier knowledge rather than just allowing myself to be taught. spanish comes somewhat naturally because of the french i know [romance languages do share a lot of similarities], but the pace at which i'm learning it makes me notice the improvements in language instruction. what i've picked up in a couple of weeks- although structured differently- would amount to a few months in elementary and high school. the catch is that no one is there telling you what's happening, what the rules are, or what needs to be done; if you really want to learn, you have to analyze the examples given and draw conclusions from them. 

of course, i have become a little concerned that the german module seems bent on teaching me phrases like "are you eighteen?" and "we have your daughter", so it's possible i accidentally started taking german for liam neeson movie villains. but hey, if i'm ever traveling and need to kidnap someone's child to raise money for the flight home, i'll know just what to do. 

also, both language modules insist on teaching me numbers in quantities of cats: 

i have one cat.
i have three cats.
i have forty cats.
i have two hundred cats.

i can say each of those sentences in four languages now, should the need arise, like if i'm trying to make casual conversation with the person i've kidnapped while waiting for the ransom money to be delivered. i can also tell people that my half-brother and half-sister are married, because that's clearly the kind of information i want to pass along.

i'm letting myself make a little headway with the first two languages before determining when to add more. i know that i want to add more, but i haven't determined in what order. [plus, of course, i'm limited to what courses are available.] i do think i'd like to start on something that's unlike the others, which means nothing germanic and no romance languages. after all, there's no guarantee i'm going to be kidnapping people in western europe. please feel free to leave me suggestions. [for languages, not crimes.]

so, bonne année, mis amigos y wilkommen aus den blog more like space for 2016. 

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