Sentence Sharing method in language exchanges

As an introvert and someone with aspbergers that’s also a language learner I have the greatest level of appreciation for those who share the struggle of interpersonal communication with others for the purpose of learning (or augmenting) their linguistic ability. I recently came across this method I am choosing to dub “sentence sharing” and I on the whole rather like it.

The methodology is to find someone who is keen of learning (augmenting) their skills in a language you speak fluently/native level and for you to desire the same.

As the title goes you are literally sharing sentences you know to be correct with a translation into the other language, bonus points for sharing voice recordings to aid in pronunciation skills. All you need is a good resource book and a bit of desire to find out some phrases you’d likely use and your good to go.

As with all methodologies there will likely be pros and cons but I think the pros will outweigh the cons for most introverted types.

Pros

Varied usage of the languages Any sentence you have proficiency in both languages in can be used. This is going to give you a greater outlook then only knowing sentences like “what do you do for a living” and “what’s your favourite colour?

No requirement for real-time interaction or even a conversation. Depending on which method you use you can leave each other voice clips (in both languages) for the other person to practise when they next catch a free minute. It leaves you feeling like you don’t have to stress out over international time zones and can pick up on exchanging with a methodology that’s just a bit more relaxed.

Small talk is unlikely to be found and even if it is found its mostly going to be found in the context of “how to say it” rather than “lets discuss me and you” or the dreaded “tell me about yourself”.

Both languages get equal space If it’s done as its intended to be carried out then both your intended language and theirs get equal screen time and air time (assuming you are voice recording). Many of us have experienced those times where one language dominates the conversation using other methods and even if this swings in your favour it’s not entirely equal.

Cons

This will not be for everyone Some people are inherently social and will be looking for a more social means of conducting person to person language exchanges. This might in some ways lower the numbers of people you will be able to do this with. I’d suggest looking for people who are not overly concerned with being social or those who might be seeking higher level proficiency in your language.

Not everything will be useful to you and other bits won’t be useful straight away. I have given and received some sentences that might turn out to be useful one day but not now. However that’s not a problem as even if you only remember a few words you will be one step closer to understanding the syntax of the sentence. Any level of exposure to a language, particularly when you are practising (with the aid of a native) is a step in the right direction.

I quite like this method and think its a breath of fresh air in comparison to the mainstream way of language exchanging. I love the way you will encounter a greater vocabulary with this method and it even has a non real-time element involved as well which can be very beneficial to many.

If truth be told I didn’t find it, It found me but I’m glad it did.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

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Why I’m still on the fence about Gentrification

20150711_152014Gentrification is the term for when typically wealthier people arrive in a neighbourhood and as a result the area changes for what many perceive as better. As a result the feel of the area can change. While change is to be expected as nothing in life remains static not all change is equally as desired. Now I’m 27 and have gained some degree of life experience I have experienced some degree of both sides of the argument for and against gentrification.

Pros

Your hometown will be freshened up and the number of derelict buildings of buildings in a neglected state will start to diminish.

Less undesirable behavior takes place in your town No one enjoys to hear that people are being abused in the street by a group of youths. Rubbish dumped in the street most days a week does not serve to encourage others (including visitors) to treat your town much better. Polite society typically doesn’t tolerate undesirable behavior for long.

More ability to take pride in your town I’ve heard of people who were never particularly proud of the towns they lived in, that’s until gentrification came to town. Now that the local councils are taking rubbish collecting and social problems seriously the town is visibly improving and people who would have never thought of visiting are probably thinking of passing by.

Restoration of older buildings Many towns and cities have buildings that are worse for wear. Gentrification can and usually does restore these to a respectable standard and the locals can be proud that their building is now in a presentable state.

Cons

Loss of culture or character of the town A lot of towns that have been gentrified have had their own subculture or feel to them. Nowadays while these towns look nice they often possess no sense of soul.

Community spirit While its fantastic to see some of the towns past problems disappear this can be at a tradeoff of community spirit. As nice as a new supermarket is, very little sense of community spirit will be found there.

Specific communities can lose their community I have experienced this twice in the city  of London first hand. There’s a Latin/Southern American community in North London I know of fairly well. This community has had to fight more than once to keep it. I also know of a lesbian bar I used to frequent that now is no more. There is only one left in the entire city. If you rely on specific communities like this at all then this is an obvious downside to gentrification.

Increasing rents Even if the cultural aspect manages to remain (or to some degree) many can be forced out due to rising rents and prices of goods and services. Not everyone is a high flyer in the career sense and that’s OK. Some of us a happy being working class and have no true interest or desire for the boardroom or anything remotely similar. However these people can be priced out of their own neighborhood fairly quickly.

The area loses out forever I know that the Latin/Southern American communities building was going to be bulldozed at one time. This was with the intention of building handful of designer shops and an appartement block. A lot of the areas character and charm will be lost and there would be little reason for people to want to visit that area over any other that already has designer shops. No amount of money, no matter how well-intentioned can buy community spirit or cultural identity.

Ultimately I think it can work well at times but only if the local culture and community is preserved (including any specialist or international communities). I am not so keen if there is no effort taken to retain the culture of an area.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Dear Introverts, there is middle ground

20160312_180750.jpgAre parties not your thing, along with most socialite type activities. Do you feel like you really don’t want to waste time at that family gathering with uncles you never had anything in common from the get go? Then the answer is…… watch lots of TV and movies and read till your heart’s content, little need for socialization with people who are not your besties. Hmmmmm or is it?

Here is where I belive some of us have been sold down the river by Introvert positive social media pages. In this day and age there is now a lesser spoken of 3rd option that if used to its fullest ability could provide a level of no fuss socialization for those who are open to it as well as trying new activities.

The answer is Meetup and other websites like it. For those looking to get less screen time or looking for some change of scene once a week (although more times are possible) this is the place to be. It will take some level of knowing what it is you like to do activity wise or at least and idea of what you could possibly find yourself enjoying. Being involved in an activity will cut down the levels of small talk, there may still be some element of small talk but this will be a lot less than at a party or other social gathering not centered around an activity.

Here are some reasons as to why you might wish to seek this sort of option.

Outdoorsy or Active introverts most certainly exist and potentially in numbers greater than the social media pages might have us believe. For someone who’s active and introverted the likelihood of staying indoors is unlikely to be their thing as is small talk. This website provides them with activities like walking in the summer and board gaming in the winter.

Social skills mildly improve By partaking in an activity with other people in a “socially safe” manner it keeps our social skills active and we might even learn a new one or two. While many introverts don’t feel they need as many social skills as the socially keen extrovert there are a few key areas of the social world that are useful to all.

 Personal growth Going to activity related meetups provides a way to get out there with the world.TV and even reading is great, but it can be nice to be with the world.

Moving cities or countries Have a plan to move towns, or even live abroad. With these events you will be able to stand a fair chance of making new close contacts (best friends) and having a social sphere in your new city or country. One way to prevent yourself becoming an outsider unnecessarily.

One of your nearest and dearest moves So you had 2-3 best friends that you could share your innermost thoughts with. Then one has to move city or country. Dayum! With such activities you might make some new besties in time and discover a passion for Karaoke while you’re at it. Get In!

Good for weekend pursuits So its Friday and this week you want to try something different then the usual reading or box set. Maybe that pretty cake baking meetup the other side of town is that low-key answer you’ve been looking for.

Not all socializing is the nemesis of the introvert but endless small talk almost unanimously is. This “new dawn” is there for any of us who is willing and curious enough to take it. There is now a halfway house between pretending to be extroverted and staying in all day, it just might take some of the Facebook pages a while to catch on!

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Alternative Indoor Activities – Board Gaming

Ever wanted a bit more out of life than watching endless amounts of T.V or being glued to Facebook. For those looking to spice up their leisure time with something a little different perhaps board gaming might be a fair alternative.

Practicality If you’re the sort who prepares to “do” even during your free time than board gaming has to be a fair contender. Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a mild or hot climate all year round but its a fantastic option for when the weather is bad.

Meet new people Going to board games meetings as a brilliant way of meeting new people. Many new people turn up to these events periodically and there is always two or three regulars on hand to explain the rules of the games being played.

Get to try many new games and concepts I have so far attended only three meetups but the diversity of games played is something I wouldn’t have imagined. Concepts as simple as card games where you have to play cooperatively to place all the colours in number order to complete board games themed on time travel and competitive play, It does not take too long for you to get exposed to a number of concepts. Three of my favorites are

Dead Men Tell no Tales which is a co-operative game where you are required to take treasures off a burning pirate ship while fighting fires and eliminating deck hands

String Railway, Where you have to grow your railway empire using coloured string and cards. Points are gained and lost over a number of factor of what’s on the card and how the string “tracks” are laid. Competitive play

Forbidden Island, A co-operative play game where the team is required to stop areas of an island sinking before players can attain enough cards to get a treasure. When all treasures are collected all need to be on the helicopter space to leave and win. If the helicopter space is fully submerged (lost) or both the habitats for collecting a treasure then the players lose.

The level of fresh and highly creative ideas is amazing and I’m sure there’s a perfect game out there for everyone. I have barely even started out and I’m sure to see more

Fantastic option for introverts As someone with aspbergers and an introverted personality type* I will always look out for those who struggle socially (for whatever reason) Since there is already and activity present the levels of small talk will be lesser than other settings.

*these are not the same thing

Make friends in the long-term If you are looking for friendships as some of your previous friends have moved out of the area of simply want to have some friends who share in some of your interests it may be possible once you’ve become a regular. By then it’s possible that you’ve bought a copy of your favorite game and the invites might also start coming in at this point for you to get invites to come to theirs to play.

A way to get out even when it’s too cold for the beach Sure it’s far too cold for a picnic in the park or a paddle in the sea, but you can still enjoy all the delights of mother nature while heading to the meetup.

A blast of the past in an unexpected way Many of us played board (and card) games as a child with the family and friends we had at the time. Many of us go through a period of not playing. In due time we find out that many adults enjoy playing board games and not only that but there’s a meetup this week! Sure, the games played are an entirely different animal to the cluedo of days past but the warm feeling of “being round the table” to enjoy a game comes back.

Unplugging Some of us have reasons as to why we would like to limit screen time. If you work in an office for example or have multiple children it might be nice to “get away from all screens” and enjoy something that doesn’t involve them.

For me its only getting started, let the games commence!

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Why keep the T.V on the down low?

20150808_191453.jpgI may be known for a number of reasons, but its safe to say watching lots of television is not one of them. I’m not the only one out there that tries to moderate their T.V intake as many have reasons why they feel that thier focus should be on other activities both career wise and recreational. If you are considering a life of less television here are some good reasons as to why it may be beneficial.

Taking away from people around you The world has many great people in it. By overwatching the telly you are limiting your chances of meeting them, and possibly making new friendships. While those on the screen might be great characters why not forge some experiences of your own with real people. Even the introverts among us can focus on our few closer friends a bit more.

Negative F.M So some programmes are worse at this than others. In particular the soaps and the News broadcasts. The soaps have declined over the years to the point that the “negative plots” have increased and since when did you find a news piece that was positive. While they do exist I’m sure you had to stop and think for a few moments.

Overeating Ever watched something and just got restless from all the passive sitting and then gone to get something to eat to find that before you know it you’ve binged?  Don’t worry I won’t judge as we all have (including yours truly). There are many studies which link television over use with binge eating.

Money The amount of money spent on not only the box itself but TV related paraphernalia is quite high. Many households actually have more TV’s then people and just imagine all the scart leads and miscellany required. Also have you ever rented a DVD to find you didn’t watch it before the return date. I’m sure we all have done it once in our lives. Wow that’s a lot of dough.

Some of us are innately “practical people” I’d often times rather sing (albeit usually in other languages). I’ve found a meeting of board gamers which is a good alternative “indoorsy” activity. Some of us truly are people who prefer to “do” even in leisure time.

Being with nature Isn’t mother nature wonderful? By putting down the remote you will get more chance of seeing different areas of our lovely planet. Even cities and built up areas can have their beauty.

Unrealistic expectations are created In both adverts and the programmes themselves the people are subtly un-natural. I say subtly as they don’t look un-natural per se but how many people do you see that look like these actors on your local high street. All the actors are made up by make up artists (yes even the men) which gives them a look superior to that of the nicest looking man or woman on the street. No wonder our teens have self-confidence issues.

Time Ever caught yourself in that spiral where you’d like to stop watching but you just can’t bring yourself to, and before you know it you’ve watched an extra hour. Once again I’m sure we all have. It’s believed that the average American watches around 34 hours a week. Some of those hours could be better spent on relationships with people or something you’ve really wanted to do.

Advertising is big business. The TV could be playing a role in purchases you neither truly wanted or needed. Adverts are made in such a way that they can tap into your subconscious mind and at least influence your purchasing decisions. It’s no secret that Advertisers will use every trick of human psychology out there in order to make you feel you need that purchase.

Is it always truly relaxing? We have all found ourselves watching something we barely care about. Sometimes we do is as we feel there’s “nothing better to do” and other times to procrastinate, but in those situations we feel neither relaxed nor entertained.

Creativity Have a lot of creative energy? or simply have a desire to be creative just for fun? More time spent consuming is less spent creating. Whether its drawing, paper mache, poetry or music if you have a passion for creativity then the box in the corner of the room might be one of the reasons you don’t embrace it as much as you might have liked.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Lion – An alternative film review

 

So I don’t usually run film reviews but I thought I’d do a review with an alternate twist. As an international adoptee myself I feel this film is the first mainstream glimpse as to what its like for adoptees through our eyes. As it’s a cinematic work there will be some aspects that have been left out and others that could be “overdone” but it’s still a great insight.

Initially called Long Way Home the film shows the protagonist Saroo and his brother Guddu going about their daily lives in Northwest India. Initially raised in a village called Ganesh Talai Saroo and his brother grow up in relative poverty. They conduct some work and Saroo later opts to do some night work despite his brothers pleas that he’s not yet strong enough to do night work.

They take the train and Saroo is already entirely tired. He falls asleep at sundown at the train station bench and when he wakes up the station is entirely empty and desolate. After getting on some derelict train coaches he finds himself on a derelict train to Calcutta. Pleas for both Guddu and to help him off this train are of no use.

Upon arrival in Calcutta he not only finds he cannot speak the language (Bengali). After a handful of nights sleeping rough and getting chased by the authorities he is taken in by a woman (Noor) who seems benevolent at first. She is then calls over a man (Rawa) who takes an interest in Saroo and gives him a “physical inspection” and utters about how he is “the sort of boy they’ve been looking for”. Rawa would be due to return to the flat the next day

Saroo can sense something isn’t right and chooses to make a run for it during mealtime the next day. Rawa is the first connection we have to the adoption agency industry. It’s believed that some of these can use lies and trickery at times in their pursuit of more adoptions, thus creating more money. The fact Rawa lies to Saroo telling him they’ll be going to find his mother is a form of trickery portrayed within the film.

After wandering the streets he is picked up by a man who takes him to the police station. Since they cannot understand his mispronounced village name (Ganestalay) they believe him to be from Calcutta he ends up in an orphanage.

In the orphanage there are is a child who is banging his head against the wall fairly loudly. He is taken away and punished on site. A woman from the orphanage meets with Saroo to tell him that they have distributed his photo around and nobody has came forward. He is also informed that a couple in Tasmania, Australia would like to look after him.

Despite some early timidness and shock he settles in with the Brierleys well and later has a brother (also from India) who is more noticeably troubled called Mantosh. Mantosh would have bouts where he would hit himself in the head while still having cutlery in his hand.

In his adult years Saroo attends a course on Hotel Management. It’s here that after saying about how he was there to make as much money as he could and secure himself a profit (words to that effect). One of the Indians ask him “Where are you from” He later say’s “I’m adopted I’m not really Indian”.

Later himself and love interest Lucy are at a party full of mostly Indians. At this party Saroo notices a food type him and his brother Guddu ate at the start of the film. All the feelings come rushing back and Lucy discovers Saroo in the heavily pensive and depressed state. He tells his friends that he is not from Calcutta but is from a small village. They talk about it a little more and try to figure out speeds of the trains. One of the other girls mentions google maps as a tool. At this point Saroo has reached a point where he doesn’t wish to talk about it.

This stage is usually known as the defogging stage. It’s the point where an (usually adult) adoptee is likely to start mentally untangling the effects of their past and how it’s shaped thier life. We can put a lot of this stuff into the subconscious mind for years and it can sometimes hit us hard when everything unravels.

Saroo has hallucinations of the times back in India in the limited time with his biological family. He also has hallucinations of seeing Guddu in the food court in the shopping mall.
We see that his search has amplified and he has found countless railway stations with a track running across a bridge. Sadly none of these are his village.

This is good at illustrating the wonder of “where are they now”, “what are they doing now”, “do they think about me” and “are they safe”

We see that a whole two years later the search has not been completed and he is still looking. Adoptive dad knocks the door and tells Saroo that he know’s hes dropped out of school and just would like to talk.

Once the majority of the defogging period has happened a natural desire to know ones past and have some form of communication is likely to form in many adoptees.

Later we see Saroo telling adoptive mother Sue about his search. He asks her is she wished she could have children as she’d have had less baggage then with her adoptive Indian sons. We find out that Sue can have children but instead she and John were of a similar mind and wished to adopt from India. At this point he lets her know that he is searching and doesn’t want to appear as ungrateful.

This is a common worry among many adoptees. On one end many would like to open some form of contact with our birth families, but at the same time not wishing to come across as ungrateful to our adoptive families. We often want to know they are safe and know how they are getting on.

After finding his village of Ganesh Talai on Google maps Saroo flies out to India with keen hopes of finding his birth family there. Now a grown man he walks down the same pathways he did as a child. he manages to find his old home but discovers it’s now a pen for goats. Luckily the 2nd person he meets is a bilingual man. He shows the photo of himself taken by Calcutta Police and tells him he is looking for his mother and siblings. The man signals for Saroo to follow and they come across a group of women walking home. One of the older women is his mother

As soon as he show her the picture they hug and cry in each other arms. He meets his now grown sister and he is told unfortunately his brother “is with God”.

We later find that Guddu was hit by a train the same night. Saroo found out that he has been mispronouncing his own name. It was Sheru which means Lion.

Overall I think the film has captured some aspects of the adoption story well. It has given the general populus a first glimpse into adoption. There was not mention of feeling of lost culture which can also be present in international adoptees. However I understand it’s a 2 hour cinematic piece and there will be limitations.

I think that the way the film portrays both Saroo and Mackintosh is excellent. I truly believe every adoptee has a struggle and Mantosh symbolises those who “act out” straight away, whatever pent-up issues he has comes out instantly as anger. Saroo on the other hand has effectively bottled up that side of himself and it all comes out later through the initial defogging at the party. Whether intentional or not the directors have managed to fit in both types of character persuasion remarkably well.

I also found the emotional scenes towards the end to be cathartic. While the film does not substitute as professional adoption counselling shedding some tears of my own certainly did give me a release.

Despite the reunion we learn Saroo (Sheru) returns back to Australia to return to life in the Brierley family.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Want to learn an uncommon language?

20170125_0035221Uncommon languages, or languages less used or spoken on the world stage. Sure we all know someone who has taken an interest in Spanish or French for example. But what happens if you have an unrelenting desire to learn Romanian, Filipino Irish Gaelic or Korean? Well luckily enough this process is far from impossible, however there will be some extra struggles you will come across along the way. Depending on your location some languages might fit this category and some might not.

Here are some useful tips and ideas as to how to best proceed.

Have good and solid reasons as to why it is you have chosen this path. Are you planning on travel to the said country, are you going to do business with the country either on your or their soil, Have you held a burning interest for their culture or even using this as a means and method of reclaiming or rediscovering your own culture.

Personally I’m undertaking Romanian as I was born there (international adoptee) and as part of reclaiming my Romanian national identity feel I absolutely must bear the language. Whatever your reasons may be they must be strongly held reasons as every language learner has doubts at some point in their journey.

Have attainable goals As someone who can speak conversational Spanish and some level of Italian I can safely say that it will be hard to be successful in undertaking any language if you don’t have goals in place. These goals will need to be adjusted as time progresses if you are looking for high proficiency in a language.

My current ones are (at the time of writing) to have a basic understanding of Romanian for a trip to rediscover the country in March/April time and to know off by heart (or close to) the national anthem and football songs (with meanings) by March 26 when the first international match against Denmark is. I can expect these to change as time progresses.

Know what resources are available The chances are there are a lot fewer books, YouTube videos, seminars and language exchange partners should you be seeking a language which isn’t on the top ten of most spoken in the world. When starting out it might be helpful to gain an understanding of all the options available to you and knowing which ones your likely to prefer more.

Internet translators can help. While the likes of Google Translate and Bing Translator might be improving according to their developers claims, there can still be inaccuracies in these. I’d not usually advise a language learner to use something like this, but when resources including native speakers are potentially scarce sometimes you have to use these. Due to a higher likelihood of error its advisable to write one sentence at a time into the translator should you need to use one.

I’d advise that you do not record any translations created by these translators in any language progress journals you might be keeping. I’d also recommend that you be prepared to have a native speaker tell you the more natural way of saying something or even the correct way.

Singing If you have a particular passion for singing this might be a fantastic option for exposure to vast amounts of vocabulary and how words are pronounced. If there are set rules as to pronunciation this will help banish the pronunciation problems early on. The quickest way is to cut and paste the lyrics into a translation software and sing to them while keeping an eye on the general idea of the meanings. Any use of an internet translator has potential for error but it’s a good way of quick exposure to the language and embracing the culture and having fun while you’re at it.

Doing this everyday (if possible) and ditching the translators as soon as feasibly possible will expose you to new words, grammar and verb forms quickly. You will unlikely know how to place some of these in speech in the start but the exposure aspect is second to none.

Take instruction in a non native language Some of us are not new to the world of languages and if you possess a second language it might be an idea to take a flash card course in that language. That way you are keeping that language alive while actively pursuing your new pursuit.

Facebook and social media If you are a keen social media user why not “follow” some groups in your target language. You can keep up with current affairs in the country (ies) where the language is spoken and get to see non textbook examples. Of course its wise to have daily (or as close to daily practise as possible) as well as this.

If you are embarking on a journey of learning a language that is not one of the most common some people may question your judgement. Please understand that 99% of the time they mean well, even if you find their comments to be “unhelpful at best”

I can expect that in due time my proficiency in Romanian may one day be greater than that of my Spanish (most proficient 2nd language I have) as I feel its my language on a spiritual level. There is true and valid reason why I call it my sacred language.

limba mea este în inima mea

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable