Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Keeping the tongue sharp...

Tonight I read a book to my 4 year old daughter in French... and I realized that while I've certainly kept my reading skills up to speed, my tongue has lost some of its agility with my favorite language. By the end of the book, I was getting back up to snuff, but I was tongue tied more than once. Memo to self: Read more French out loud.

Today at work, I heard a distinctive accent and discovered that a Russian works in my midst... and it was all I could do not to sidle up with a kak dela? Suddenly with an opportunity to speak it, a lot of my old Russian came flooding back, and I'm possessed with a desire to pay a little more attention to it. Not MUCH more, but enough. I mean, the brain already has so much of it, it's really just a re-awakening isn't it? Wonder if there is a RussianPod out there?

In my Chinese Pimsleur study, I finally hit a number of words that are the SAME as words I knew before with different "tones", the first of the true "watch out for the tone" words. Also, I've hit the lesson where almost all of the instructions start coming in Mandarin too... which is always a scary part of Pimsleur. I do love that at my stage, a lot of the vocab I'm hitting has come from ChinesePod first, and it's illustrating that the CPod learning is "sticky" just like Pimsleur is. Whenever I say "Tai4 Gue4 le" (the 4 means you sort of shout it with a downward intonation, and the phrase means "TOO EXPENSIVE", I actually hear Ken Carroll of ChinesePod yelling it about a PEN ("bi") in lesson 11 or so.

One of my favorite bits of Chinese is that their verbs encapsulate so much: You don't need to use "is" for a lot of states: "E" (pronounced Euh) means "To be hungry". So "Wo Bu E" means i don't have hunger. In german that's Ich habe kein hunger. 6 syllables versus 3. Chinese is ECONOMICAL.

I'm on a vacation from Spanish and German right now. French, Chinese, and Japanese are my focus (and I might do a little dustup on Russian, just because of the opportunity.) I think that I might be a little disillusioned with German at the moment. I think that if I decided to invest in a few one-on-one lessons with my German teacher friend, I could get re-activated. Before that happens, I have a pretty strong vote from our friend Annika that I should pick up Swedish, however. And we'd be welcome to visit their home in Sweden when they go back there in a year... so that might be a compelling reason.

A natural question: WHEN do I have time to do these lessons? Well, on one-client days, I'm in the car 40 minutes. On 2 client days I'm driving over an hour. Pimsleur lessons are 30 minutes, Chinesepod, Japanesepod, and FrenchByPodcast lessons are 13-15 minutes. So there's car time. At work, there's at least an hour where I'm wrangling spreadsheets - not creative time by any means, This is excellent time for listening, not talking lessons. So that's my DeutcheWelle news or NotesInSpanish conversation time. Reading - there's always before bed, there's always early morning. So just by using "brain downtime" in my day, I have almost an hour of study time every day, if not more. The trade off is that I don't listen to talk radio so much, nor music as much... though there are days when I take a total break from language and just rock out to whatever the iPod shuffle has delivered.

Time for bed now.

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