Tag Archives: language

The Multilingual Desire

Ever since I started using Duolingo to study languages, I’ve had a growing desire to learn multiple languages. There are many languages available on that platform, and it continues to grow.

My experience learning languages started in 1986 when I was 9 years old. I studied French in school until 1994, when I was 17 years old. I didn’t take French in grade 12, but instead challenged the final exam and passed it easily, getting full credit for the class. I was good at it. I had confidence that I could learn languages easily.

In university, I took a class in Japanese and enjoyed it a lot. I did very well in that class, and it helped me a lot when I moved to Japan in 2005. I had full intentions to learn the language and become fluent. I studied it on my own. However, I worked entirely in English. My interactions with Japanese people were with friends who spoke English well, coworkers who spoke English, students who I taught English, and people in shops. It was when I went shopping or out to a restaurant that I was able to use Japanese. As a result, I have no problem going shopping or ordering in a restaurant in Japan. My confidence in speaking Japanese didn’t grow at all. I didn’t speak well enough to have a conversation with my wife’s parents, or even with my wife. My listening improved, but my speaking did not. That’s my fault.

I started using Duolingo to relearn French. I also started doing Esperanto, since studying it has been proven to help people learn other European languages more quickly. I also started learning Spanish.

My studying has stalled recently. I’d like to get myself back into it. I’d like to focus on French and Japanese. French will be useful for future job prospects in Canada, while Japanese will be useful for me with my family and my in-laws. And since we plan to travel to Japan often, I can use it there.

But I don’t want to stop there. I want to get back into studying Spanish, as well as German, Norwegian, Russian, and Irish. My family heritage includes German, Norwegian, and Irish. My grandfather was born in Russia, so a lot of research into his family history has to be done in Russian. I think it would help. And I’d also like to learn Tagalog. I have some Filipino friends, and I think it would be fun to be able to understand what they’re talking about.

Are you using Duolingo? Are you studying a language? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, you can check out my Duolingo profile and add me as a friend.

Help Me Write a Story

I had an idea a couple days ago, and I thought I’d let you help me write a story! Here’s how it’s going to happen. I give you a list of word types, and you respond in the comments with all of those words. I’m not giving you much time to do this, as I’ll be writing these stories in a couple days. However, I’m going to try to do it in a way so that I can’t see what’s been written. It’ll be a mystery to me until I read it.

That’s right, I’m doing a mad lib story! I’ve already written the short story, but now it’s time for you to give me the words. So, in the comments section, please enter the words. Keep it PG? Actually, write whatever you want. Let’s see how silly or crazy this can get. Here are the categories:

  1. name (famous person)
  2. noun
  3. feeling
  4. noun
  5. adjective
  6. verb
  7. adjective
  8. adjective
  9. adjective
  10. adjective
  11. plural noun
  12. verb past tense
  13. verb past tense
  14. noun

I will be doing this all on video, by the way. You’ll see my reaction to the stories as I read them. I’m going to see if I can get someone to just copy and paste them into the story so I have no idea what they are until I read them.

So, let the insanity begin!

Difficulties of Worldbuilding

I love worldbuilding. I’ve created a world, Ariadne, that is an entire planet with many countries, cities, cultures, and of course a large variety of landscapes. But making an entire world isn’t easy.

For me, some things were difficult. I think everyone excels in a different aspect while worldbuilding. Some difficulties are:

Culture

It’s so easy to create a world that’s populated by people from a single culture. But is that realistic? Not at all, especially if you’re looking at an entire world. In fantasy, it’s extremely common to have several cultures. But it’s also easy to copy cultures from other books. To make a truly unique set of cultures is difficult.

Language

If you’re not a linguist, you may have some difficulties with creating a rudimentary language. But it’s not always necessary to. A lot of fantasy novels use a “common language” or “standard tongue” or something like that, and it’s always written in English. That’s fine. But if you want to make a language, then you should probably try to set up some rules. That’s the difficult part.

History

You can’t have some cultures on a world without a history. It’s extremely important to create a history for all of the cultures. It often helps dictate cultural relations. But to create a history that goes back for hundreds or thousands of years is a lot of work. And that can be difficult.

What do you think is difficult about worldbuilding? Let me know in the comments below.

Greek on Duolingo!

Finally! This is one of the languages I’ve been eager to learn. I’ve been waiting for Greek to be released in Beta on Duolingo, and now it has been.

This is going to be a very interesting language to learn. I’ve learned the alphabet, and had to know it in university, but that’s only because astronomers name stars with the Greek alphabet. But it’s also used in equations in math and physics. Even though I know the alphabet, I don’t know how to pronounce much of it. I’ll have to learn that.

Another language coming soon is Romanian. It’s a Romance language, so I expect it to be an easier language for me to learn. And for those who know Spanish, Guarani has also come out.

But I’m anticipating a few other languages that are in development, especially Indonesian, Hindi, Korean, Swahili, and Klingon. That’s right, Klingon. But I’m really hoping to see languages like Tagalog, Arabic, Finnish, and of course, Japanese. And Latin, too.

Anything you’re interested in learning? Let me know in the comments below.

I Think Better than I Speak

Blog posts and vlogs may try to convey the same message, but making them can’t be any more different than they are. I’m doing both. I’m writing this blog, and I’m making videos for the same purpose. I’m just expanding my reach on the internet. However, how I come across is quite different.

Watch this video before reading on. Don’t worry, it’s not long.

Blogging

Blogging allows me to take the time to think about what I’m going to write. My words are well thought out, and I can re-read to edit it. I can make it look and sound good. I sound far more articulate, I use bigger words, I have no pauses. It just looks so much better. It’s also easier for me to do, because the words flow out of my brain and onto the computer. My thoughts are far more well-organised. I think logically, and I tend to use more complex language in my mind. I speak smoothly in my mind.

Vlogging

The potential to reach a larger audience on YouTube is irresistible. I’ve found a much bigger response from people on YouTube for one of my videos than I usually do for a blog post. What I like about doing videos is that you can usually see the real person. It’s not just words, but the actual person speaking. But the problem with making videos for me is that I don’t have the patience to spend hours editing a video to make it sound and look perfect. But when it looks perfect, I don’t sound natural. It’s not how I talk. I’m giving up on sounding like the best speaker on video. Although I taught conversational English for eleven years, and I’ve been able to have extremely good conversations in lessons, when you put me in front of a camera, I don’t appear like a very outgoing speaker. I pause a lot. I have thinking sounds all over the place. But I don’t want to edit those out. One, it’ll take too long. And two, it’s a more manufactured me.

But taking both of these into consideration, I think I sound more articulate in text rather than video. However, I will work on the videos a lot, reach a new audience, and have some great conversations. What videos allow me to do is deliver my message more quickly. And you get to see another side of me. I’m more confident in my ability to write blog posts, but I have the potential to reach a larger audience on video.

If you blog and vlog, how do you feel about your ability to communicate via the two media? Let me know in the comments below.

How Do You Pronounce That?

Have you ever read a book, encountered a word you’ve seen many times and know the definition of, yet you’ve never heard it spoken aloud? This was asked at the Grammarly website here.

Has this ever happened to you? I have a good example of this.

I’d read the word paradigm many times. Basically, it means a model or a pattern. You can read the definition here. But I’d never heard someone read this word out. I’d heard the word spoken before, but I never connected the two. When I saw the word, I always thought, “That’s such a stupid sounding word… para-diggum.”

There are plenty of other words. Hyperbole? Is that a football game? The Hyper Bowl? Or the character Hermione from Harry Potter. Hermy-own? I know how these are actually pronounced, so no problem with those for me. But there are many who don’t know how to say them.

What are some words you knew in printed form, but had/have no idea how to pronounce? Share them in the comments below.

The Teaching Urge – English Lesson Videos

As you probably know, I taught English for eleven years in Japan. It still feels strange that I’m not doing it anymore. I spent more than a quarter of my life doing it. But I have that urge to do something, and I want to make sure I don’t forget grammar rules. I’ve been thinking about what to do, and then it came to me a couple weeks ago: easy one-point lesson videos!

There are English lesson videos on YouTube, of course. But I’m planning on doing something that I haven’t seen (although may exist). I’m going to be doing simple lessons that tackle common problems that people have with English. But the thing is, this won’t only be for English learners, it’ll also be for those who are fluent in English. You see, this is where the writing and editing part comes in. There are many problems that English speakers have with their own language, especially in writing.

This is where you come in. A lot of you are readers and writers. What are some English grammar problems you have? Let me know in the comments below. Your idea will likely become a lesson video!