La ce te gândește Samantha?

The title means “what are you thinking Samantha” in Romanian. This article is about recording your thoughts as a means of gaining a greater understanding of your target language. I will tell you both why its great to consider and how to do it reasonably well.

Situation
You want a not only a greater understanding of the language you are learning but also wish to be able to have a fair understanding of how to say the things you would need to say in your everyday life. The regularly used vocabulary of each person will differ according to their hobbies, job, social life etc. No two people are alike and this method will tailor itself to each persons needs.

Task
To record phrases you use in your daily life that you would like to know how to say in the language you are learning. For this I recommend keeping a pen and paper close by so you can capture such phrases as you go throughout the day for later translation. I personally aim for about 5 new sentences a day. A record book for keeping the translated sentences is required for not only keeping a vast record over the coming weeks and months but also to provide a neatly kept means of storing these sentences thoughts and to track your progress to allow you to see how far you have come. I’d highly recommend that these books contain no English in order to aid in remembering
what these phrases mean without having to constantly keep referring back to it.

Tips
If you’ve had anything you wanted to say to a language exchange partner, look it up. Whether big or small any form of the language can be recorded from “I really admire Roy Valen in Dark Avengers” to interjections like “oh my word”, anything you are likely to want to say regularly is great for this. Putting yourself in the perspective of someone you are taking to could also provide more phrases should you ever run short of ideas.

If you are using internet translators then its best to not only try one sentence at a time but also be prepared to be corrected by a native speaker at a later point or discover flaws in that translation as your proficiency grows and you get the feeling something isn’t right. At this stage you can analyse this and even correct the internet translations.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

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Non assimilation adoptee lifestyle

Some international and intercultural adoptees can feel a profound loss of their original nation or culture of birth (usually in addition to desires to connect with their birth family or members within it). The reason why some international adoptees feel this way and others do not is not entirely known. This lifestyle or any variation of it can bridge the gap between the disconnect felt.

In a basic understanding the non assimilation lifestyle is a means to live by the values and culture of your original nation in a day-to-day sense, it’s incorporating elements of culture into ones life as much as humanly possible.

There are of course many ways of incorporating elements of your original culture into day to day life in your host country.

Language If your homeland/motherland has a different language to the one you’ve grown up into then it’s a fair idea to learn the language of your motherland and to a fair degree as well. While this is not mandatory not having the language limits your ability to access the culture on an equal level as those who have grown up into that language. However some options are still available should you choose not to.

Singing in the language is good for all both extrovert and introvert personalities and will help garner a greater linguistic understanding. Keeping up to date with the local charts will keep you up to date with what’s new in your motherland

Speak the language at home if at all possible. Not only will you gain some basic everyday vocabulary but you will also be using the same language as your people do and hopefully this will help you gain love for the language of your original culture. This could even become your preferred language in due time.

Make friends with people where you are from One way of gaining a sense of belonging in the real world is to seek out friendships with those from where you come from. Depending on how diverse your local area is there may be some local to you and some may speak the language you grew up into. If not then the internet is an option.

Watching television related to your culture Can typically be done in either the language of your homeland or the one that you grew up into. Typically the amount of TV is going to be far more diverse in the language of the country itself as there will be multiple channels and films made in that country. National Geographic and similar channels may air the occasional programme focusing on your homeland.

Cooking To cook and savour the culinary delights of your original culture is one of the few and accessible means of accessing culture without worrying about languages at all. All that’s required is knowledge of what ingredients to get with some basic to medium cooking ability and voilá. Cookbooks can be obtained for many countries from Albania to Lebanon. Also many recipes can be found on the internet.

Obtain any items that may make you feel happier and more connected Any item that will make you feel happier will do. For some its flags and pennants. For others its cultural dress and items related to special cultural days. I’ve even heard of someone collecting display knives from their origin nation.

Learn the dance styles connected with your culture While this is often a more traditional thing it can appeal to some who already have a liking for dancing and traditional dance styles.

I personally live the non assimilation adoptee life as best as I can and feel more comfortable living this lifestyle then trying to assimilate and be someone who I ultimately feel I am not. I believe this lifestyle or variations of it can truly aid some adoptees in feeling more themselves and for this reason I advocate for awareness the differences of international adoptees so that the world understands where some of us are coming from

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

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

Music, a great addition to your language journey

20160612_004126Hello Dear Readers

While I initially thought of writing this as something that could complement my Role Plays article I realise this can be of easy benefit to everyone and both introvert and extrovert personality types.

I started learning languages back in October 2014 and have been hooked to some degree ever since. I have gotten quite far in my language journey and listening to music in the languages you are learning is a must for a number of reasons.

The first is it’s a fantastic way to learn and embrace the language outside of materials. The natural way language is presented in music. While I’m not against learner materials (far from it) its nicer to have a way of enjoying the language outside of “grammar drills” and to be able to feel as though “you’re not studying at all”.

I would go so far as to say I personally believe music to somewhat be better than television and movies for learning a language. My rationale is that the melody is enough to keep someone interested even if they don’t understand it all or only understand a small amount.

To listen to music effectively you will need to find a genre you like and find tracks of that genre. The “catchy effect” is good for learning new grammar as since its encapsulated in a song which you love to bits and have probably played on repeat.

The only limitation is the tracks you choose must have vocals and quite a lot of them, it’s also preferable that the vocals are easy to hear. I’d suggest in most cases voices that are electronically synthesised and difficult to interpret are not the best choice.

Singing and dancing to the music you take a liking to is another way to make it a part of you and visit language in a way that “doesn’t feel like learning”. Depending on how much confidence/time/other considerations you have this could make an enjoyable experience even more enjoyable.

With a foreign music you will be able to explore areas of another countries culture, perhaps many countries cultures depending on which langauge it is your learning.

In addition a liking of foreign music could potentially get the listener into taking up a particular dance style or instrument involved with more classical genre’s. If you are a learner who is deeply interested in the cultural aspect as well then this is no doubt something to consider.

While listening to music alone is not a substitute for talking practise, its somewhat possible singing might be at least to some level, since you are producing the language. You can talk to people who speak the language you are learning about your newly found interests in music whether you prefer to sing or not.

You may find new genres that do not exist (or barely exist) in your native language. I have come across at least 3 generes  in Spanish that don’t exist in the English-speaking world (as far as I know). These are Ranchera, Cumbia and Reggaeton and there could even be more? Its fun and refreshing to find something entirely new.

The only time listening to music in a foreign language likely will not help you at all is if you haven’t actually studied the language at all. No amount of listening to ten entire playlists in Italian will help your cause if you have not studied Italian for even an hour. This is something that can only be accessed by those who have done at least some studying.

In conclusion I would suggest music does not fulfil every aspect required to successfully learn a foreign language but it does cover a fair few

I’m grateful as to the music I’ve found and I’m confident that I’ve progressed faster with it then I would have done without it.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable

Role Plays, the Amber Nectar of Introvert Language Exchange

20150717_161412.jpgHave you ever been in a situation where you wanted to learn a foreign language and the language exchanges just don’t cut it for you? Are you exhausted from all the endless small talk and introductions that ultimately lead nowhere? Do you also get the feeling”I would like to be challenged, even taken slightly out of my comfort zone? Do you feel that even though you love the languages you are learning you are simply “not an open channel” or are “naturally resistant” to all the small talk?

If the answer is such a profound yes then I might just have stumbled across a workaround for this, a life hack if you will.

I myself am an Introvert and can profoundly answer yes to all of those questions. The question how do I go about solving this problem has been floating around in my mind one way or another for the best part of six months. I’m pleased it has been as the key to Pandora’s box is…..

Role Plays

These are brilliant because like many people on the introvert spectrum I do not enjoy opening up to people I do not know over the internet or endless amounts of small talk. Introverts usually have a naturally reserved quality about them. A role play comes in well as a substitute as you are effectively playing a character for the purpose of learning a language (both yours and theirs) while not actually having to open up to someone you do not know well enough to open up to or want to open up to.

Bonus points for the fact a Role Play has a creative and amateur dramatic element to it.

I remember a time when I had to do one in an unemployement seminar years ago. I quite liked it.

I have tried it recently in a language exchange and I noticed my “resistance to the experience” disappeared. It was slightly annoying that it was only in English with no Spanish at all but the key point is my usual feeling of “resistance to language exchange” was nowhere to be seen.

I’d suggest that should this sound like something you would like to try or do that you state this abjectly and upfront before the exchange. Should you need to have an all or nothing proposition regarding this subject. While this may initially sound harsh I can assure you its not because I’m in the belief that it’s for the betterment that both people should be relatively compatible and neither should feel obliged to language exchange with someone who they are grossly incompatible with. So honesty truly is the best policy all around in this circumstance.

In return the partner can request that you do things a certain way for them. I remember I was asked to explain the workings of the London Underground Oyster card and the Zonal System. This could have been role played but even without a role play element there’s no inner and profound feeling of “resistance” due to the fact that it’s an external subject and is not “small talk”, introductions nor is it asking me to “open up” when I do not feel ready.

I’d also like to state that even though there’s a “serious” and “stay on task” element involved due to the creative and amateur dramatic nature it can be an enjoyable pursuit with relative ease.

The only reasonable limits are your and your partners linguistic understanding. So there’s no point saying you are “one of the lead designers of the Ariane 5 space station” if either you or your language partner simply isn’t at that level. There is no doubt that so long as neither of you go over the top both of you will receive new vocabulary and grammatical understandings in your respective languages.

One thing I have noticed as well is some other language exchangers wish to form a friendship and start meeting people face to face really early on. Should you feel this is too much for you openly say something along the lines of “For the time being I am not looking for friendship or to meet face to face at this stage but may be open to it at a later stage, the language alone is my focus for now”. This means that should you feel a spark with this person you shall be able to pursue it at a later stage should you so wish.

If any of the concepts mentioned here have proved to be a help to anyone (other than myself) then I see this article as nothing less than an outstounding success.

I am a learner of Spanish, Italian and French and one day shall write articles when the time is right for me to do so.

Samantha Eaton

La Reina Razonable (Queen Reasonable)