Archive for the ‘Spanish’ Category

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I continue to struggle with serious health issues, so progress has been much slower than hoped this month. Nevertheless, I’ve tried to keep up with some of my core languages in a hit-and-miss fashion, and have even learned a bunch of new signs which were only recently added to the NZSL dictionary (e.g., Facebook, tablet, Twitter). With regards to dabbling in other languages, I completed a computer game in Spanish, watched some funny German movies and more serious documentaries, and decided to freshen up my knowledge of the constructed language Toki Pona.

Minor Language NZSL

I’m still plugging away at my online resources and have now completed 80% of the Thumbs Up! online NZSL course. Once I finish all the units in this course, I’ll move on to my upper intermediate online resources.

Incidentally, I tried to sign with a deaf shop assistant last month in Safeway, but as she used ASL (which only overlaps with approximately 30% of the core signs in NZSL), I ended up asking her for a “wooden board” in the bakery section rather than “a loaf of bread”. Needless-to-say, I received strange looks… @.@

Minor Language Hawaiian

My big catch this month has been this excellent Hawaiian language resource from the Bishop Museum. Not only does it offer high quality audio in Hawaiian taken from a tour guide menu relating to some of the interesting cultural artifacts on display, but it also includes the accompanying transcripts. Bingo!

As part of another language learners’ forum challenge, I also racked up 500 new words in Hawaiian over the last month. And although much of it seemed to revolve around fishing, seafood, and boat rigging, at least I now know the difference between an ʻaʻama (a feisty big black crab that scuttles over shore rocks) and an ʻalaʻeke (a sandy-coloured little pincher crab that hangs out in shallow water). Wahoo – call me Ishmael!

Major Language Russian

Russian has yet to take off this year, as I’m initially focusing on taking my Hawaiian and New Zealand Sign Language to the next level before hitting the hard slopes with Russian. Last week, however, I was reminded once again how young children’s songs may be cute but not always an easy route to comprehensible input: “Далеко, далеко, на лугу пасутся ко…?” (far away, far away, in the meadow co.. are grazing). :/


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There was a lot going on in my calendar this week, which is no doubt reflected in the scarce hours spent studying or immersing in languages. However I spent a lot of time thinking about my language goals in stolen moments, and how I could organize my time better to accommodate the tasks needed to achieve them, and I hope to implement some of these strategies soon.

Hawaiian (6h)

Friday’s Lā Launa Pū (get-together day) was fun! Sadly there was no kuʻiʻai (poi pounding) this year, but I did get to play a traditional Hawaiian game called ʻulu maika, which involved rolling a flattened stone through distant sticks in the grass, somewhat reminiscent of bowling. I also tried my hand at speaking in Hawaiian to several people, although I completely fell flat on my face when I tried to talk to my previous kumu (teacher) from last term. I think it was from this point onwards that I decided to use my mouth predominantly for other purposes – namely eating all the mea ʻai ʻono (tasty food) on offer!

Irish (1h)

I’m fast approaching Level 8 in Duolingo, and only really twigged today how they present the same phrases in different dialects from time to time. Although a little confusing at first, I think this is a particularly useful feature for people learning Irish.

Russian (1.3h)

Feeling a little disheartened about my listening skills in Russian, I deliberately let the ball drop this week, and indulged in more English speaking series instead for comfort (e.g., Supernatural, Person of Interest, The Walking Dead, Black Sails). Well, they say a little break can often work wonders… o.O

Other (Japanese: 0.1h)

Whilst in the bookstore this week, I picked up a couple of easy readers for French and Spanish, and had to abate a serious craving to start learning Tagalog. I also brought my wife to a fancy Japanese restaurant for her birthday, where we enjoyed our first kaiseki (a traditional multi-course set menu) together. We absolutely loved the combination of fresh and cooked ingredients in each of the courses, their presentation in fine ornate hand-made pottery, and of course, la pièce de résistance, yet another opportunity to try out a few tried and tested phrases in Japanese.

(Total time spent on learning languages this week: 8.4 hours)

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Hours of study this week: 5.0
Total hours of study: 35.3

Magic Island

I got up bright and early to indulge in a stroll around Magic Island this morning, where I let my mind ponder over the Furey Brother’s Irish classic “It’s a long, long way from Clare to here”. And as I relaxed to the sound of the waves crashing around the peninsula, I took a moment to reflect with my wife on how my learning strategies had evolved over the last half a decade.

If you’d asked me how to put my best foot forward in learning a language back then, I’d have probably pulled out a big fat frequency dictionary and feverishly referred to some efficient flashcard system like Anki, solely focused on reaching “Grand Central Fluency Station” as soon as possible. I certainly wouldn’t have dared suggest tackling a new language before reaching a pretty decent level in any former study languages, and the idea of doing just 15 minutes a day would have felt like an abject sacrilege to the gods of efficiency.

Thousands of posts and countless experiments later, and both my approach and attitude have radically changed. I find myself getting to know one big ʻohana (Ha: family) of languages better each day (or at least trying to, as and when time and tide permit), still keen to reach that same Grand Station above, but now with a much more relaxed demeanour, focused more on slowing down just enough to enjoy the vista and deepening friendships along the way, and savour some of those little epiphany moments on what I hope will be a lifelong journey.

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Hours of study this week: 5.8
Total hours of study: 30.3

Language targets.

I’m still not hitting all my targets, but I’m gradually getting there… I threw around a few phrases of Pidgin and discussed Anglo-Japanese bilingualism with a Hawaiian-born taxi driver, and also happened to scare some Russian speakers half to death in an elevator when I asked them (in Russian) to press the floor for my office. I also learnt several new words in Spanish whilst listening to my wife’s Zumba DVD in the background this weekend, and set aside some time to make some Hawaiian parallel texts.

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Hours of study this week: 5.5
Total hours of study: 24.5

I watched Stargate with my wife this weekend, as she’d never seen the film before and was interested in watching the series. Not long into the movie, I jumped up and was compelled to hit the pause button. Hieroglyphics on the screen…and with incorrect translations just begging to be mended beneath them (which is actually part of the plot)…it was all too tempting! I found myself able to translate whole phrases of hieroglyphics and couldn’t help but round off my eccentric performance with a “little Pharaoh” victory dance of delight (much to the bemusement of my Nefertiti). But hey, how often do I get to use my knowledge of Ancient Egyptian in this modern age! 😀

Gate to the stars

Come on Danny boy, you overlooked the 3 lines on that first one…it’s plural!

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Hours of study this week: 7.8
Total hours of study: 19.0

My first week back at university this semester was, in a word, gruelling! I managed to fit whatever spare moments I could into studying languages (lunch breaks, 4 o’clock morning rises, bedtime snacks, etc), but I had so much prep to do for teaching my own class, in addition to tackling 4 new graduate courses on top of this, that it was really quite a challenge. Hopefully next week will afford me more opportunities to study and less overall admin.

I found this Hawaiian dictionary in my local bookstore over the weekend, which ended up being a bit of a silly impulse buy:

"Old Skool" Hawaiian Dictionary

Silly, why? It was only when I peeled off the plastic cover that I discovered it was based on a dictionary that dates back to 1865! No ʻokina & kahakōs, and no English to Hawaiian section either, noooo….this baby’s going back to the shop on Monday! I think I’m going to order one of the dictionaries by Mary Kawena Pukuʻi instead, and will make do with the ulukau online dictionary until its arrival.

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Hours of study this week: 11.3
Total hours of study: 11.3

I officially reopened this project and cut the ribbon on 19th August, after I spent a little time getting used to a new study regime, fiddling around and fine-tuning methodologies, and tidying up or simply getting hold of suitable resources in the preceding week.

Lingua Latina books

Hooray, look what arrived just in time!

Now a week down, I find that everything’s starting to become much easier and fit into place. Studying several languages at once is already proving helpful in terms of learning new vocabulary and grammatical concepts. I have a broader frame of reference to draw on, with which to compare and contrast elements of different languages, and I anticipate that this positive synergy will only grow exponentially over time.

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