Archive for the ‘15 Minutes a Day’ Category


As the more perceptive amongst you may have already noticed, I haven’t posted much over the last couple of weeks. October is proving to be much more hectic than I initially anticipated, fraught with impossible twists and turns. I’m also currently teaching twice as many classes at the moment, and have to complete two big projects for my PhD by the end of this month. So this means every spare minute will be set aside for finishing off academic work this month, and sadly there’ll be no time left for learning languages during this period.


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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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United Colours Of Teango

Project: Learn 10 languages simultaneously by trying to study each one at least 15 minutes a day (Mon-Fri).

Languages: German, French, Spanish, Russian, Swedish, Latin, Irish, Japanese, Ancient Egyptian, and Hawaiian.


  • Can I study several languages at the same time without falling prey to language interference?
  • Is it possible to study so many languages consistently over a longer period of time with heavy work/academic commitments?
  • If I study a mere 15 minutes a day (i.e. little but often), how much progress can I make by the end of a year?
  • How can I stay motivated and not burn out over the long run?
  • Is there a positive synergistic effect that comes from studying multiple languages at once?

Start: 19th August, 2013

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