Pli Esperanto

Karaj amikoj,

Mi estas tre feliĉa ĉar Esperanto estas pli facila ĉiu tago. Mi timis la akusativo sed nun, mi pensas mi ĝi lernos. Mi komencis explori informato pri la Gardanto De La Herbojo. La Gardanto De La Herbojo estas statuo en mia urbo. Ĝi estos la temo de mia prezento je kvar semajnoj. La tempon iras rapide kaj mi devas studi pli.

Ĝis!

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Esperanto

Saluton!

On May the first, I began the 6 week Esperanto challenge. At the end of the six weeks, I must produce a five minute video presentation about any topic. The video will be judged and if I am found worthy, I win a paid one week vacation to any one of 4 or 5 places in the world where an Esperanto convention is being held.

Sweet!

I began this project with optimistic expectations. I began to accumulate vocab like crazy! This is easy because Esperanto is a constructed language and it was constructed from European languages two of which I speak  (Spanish and English if you must know).

Then I ran into the Akusativo or Accusative for those of you who ne parolas la lingvo internacia. It turns out that in Esperanto, there is the accusative case which requires you add a final ‘n’ to the direct object of a sentence. Whaaaaaaat??!! Darn it, grammar rears its ugly head!

So now I have to figure out the direct object in every sentence I utter. On the fly! Sigh! I suppose it is a small price to pay for learning a language with NO irregular verbs and with only 16 rules of grammar.

In spite of this, learning Esperanto has been a blast so far. Without having to worry about irregular verbs or any exceptions at all, I have been able to concentrate on actually speaking the darn thing. And although it is painful to hear me speak Esperanto right now, I can actually say quite a lot for having studied it only one week.

I am looking forward to a life-long affair with Esperanto.

On other matters, I really got to promote this blog. Right now, it’s relegated to the darkest corners of the Internet and no one is reading it. I haven’t promoted it because I felt I had nothing of interest to say yet since I haven’t really achieved fluency on any of the languages I’ve been studying. Maybe that’s just an excuse for my laziness.

Oh well. Ĝis!

From Cool to Clown in 60 seconds

I want to drop a note about a phenomenon that I have experienced recently that I don’t read about anywhere else in the language learning universe. This happens this way:

Somebody (upon seeing one of my language learning resources): “Oh, you’re learning X language! How cool!”

Same somebody, different day (upon seeing another of my language learning resources on a different language than the first time): “Wow, you are also studying X language??

Once again, same somebody noticing me studying yet a different language: “Oh, (eyes rolling) how many languages are you ‘studying’?”

For some reason, learning one foreign language at the time makes you cool but learning many at the same time, makes you a lamer. I don’t get it. It’s not like a go around flashing my references. I study in private as much as possible and I only speak of my hobby to like-minded people.

I know that it will take longer to learn those languages but as I said before, it makes it very interesting.

Thanks you for stopping by!

Some thoughts

When I began learning Japanese my plan was to study Japanese and nothing else. In fact, I had very low expectations for my success. I thought I may be able to learn a few phrases and nothing else. Well, all that has changed in a big way. Now I am messing around with a bunch of languages at one time. They include:
Japanese
Portuguese
Russian
Egyptian Arabic
Indonesian
French
Swahili
Mandarin
Turkish
Romanian, etc

For a while I began to feel a bit like a fake because I wasn’t giving any one language all my time. But now, I’ve come to realize that studying all those languages at one time, make for a much richer language learning experience even if it completely slows down progress in all of them.
Actually, I would say that I give Japanese about 60% of my study time and the rest of the time is divided among the other languages.

Another thing I’ve come to realize lately is that I am settling into a method that works for me. I really like the Colloquial Language series. I also like Teach Yourself and I would really like to try an Assimil course. What I’ve found is that instead of going crazy collecting resources as I did with Japanese and Egyptian Arabic, I can simply go through the Colloquial (or TY) course and learn all that I can from it before bothering with any other resource.

Which brings me to YouTube. YouTube is hands down the best resource we have for language learning. Not only do we have a ton of experienced polyglots sharing their secrets on YouTube, but there are millions of videos in every imaginable language in YouTube as well. That’s what I use for the audio portion of my studies.

I am really excited for the future. I see many young people taking to learning a new language and I hope this trend continues to grow.

Thank you for stopping by!

A very good reason to learn the Arabic script

Learning a language with a script other than the Latin alphabet can be a little scary. Many people opt to transliterate the language rather than take the time to learn the script. This approach works if you only want to learn to speak the language. If you want more however, you just got to put in the work and learn the script.

Scripts like Hangul (Korean) or Cyrillic (Russian) are very straightforward and relatively easy to learn. Others like the Thai abugida take a little more effort to learn and more complex scripts like the hanzi (kanji in Japan) of China can take a considerable amount of time to learn. I put the Arabic script with Hangul and Cyrillic. It looks daunting but once you get into it you see it’s quite manageable.

At any rate, when you begin to learn Arabic (I’m learning Egyptian Arabic) you encounter the root system right away. That is, in Arabic, you build vocabulary around root consonants. For example, the Arabic word for book is kataab. The root consonants are ktb now check this out:

ب (kataba) he wrote
كتاب (kataab) book
مكتب (maktab) office
يكتب (yaktub) he writes
كاتب (kaatib) writer

See how all the words related use the three consonants? Well, I found that it was hard for me to see the pattern using the transliterated version of the word BUT when one uses the Arabic script, the root letters jump right at you. BAM! This is because arabic script uses diacritic marks to mark the vowels u, i, and a and the lines you are writing are mostly consonants. This means that the vowels are sort of out of the way ; thus the root consonants become obvious.

This is a super simplified explanation of the subject of root consonants in Arabic but this makes my point: Learning the Arabic script actually makes it easier to learn the language.

Discuss among yourselves 🙂

Arabic script

I promised myself several times before that I would learn how to read and write the Arabic script. As you may or may not know, I began learning Egyptian Arabic (masry) a while back but stopped because I was drawn in by other languages. In fact, this whole ‘becoming a polyglot’ project has not gone at all like I planned. For one, it took a long time for me to learn how to learn. Once I began to relax and began to discover many different learning methods, I began to audit a number of languages. This took me off course and as a result, both my Japanese and Arabic suffered.

But I digress. I finally returned to my Arabic script book and I have resolved to learn the script once and for all.

Arabic

I think I will be reading the script by Friday.
I am very excited because a few months ago, I bought two books on Masry that are written entirely in Arabic. They were very highly recommended and they cover the language to an advanced intermediate level. Plus, learning the script, opens up Farsi for me.

Cool.

More on learning Japanese

When you start learning Japanese from an Indo-European language (English and Spanish in my case), you encounter a somewhat stiff language. We are assailed right away with the politeness issue. Yes, we have polite level language in both Spanish and English but the way they present Japanese in the books, you’d think you’d get beaten if you don’t use the masu form of the verb every time; and that’s just that. That’s all you get from Japanese learning books; the masu forms. Very little time is spent on the -te form of the verbs and no time at all is spent on using colloquial Japanese; the kind you are more like to encounter in real life.

If you stick with it however, little by little, the stiffness and formality begin to fade and you start to run into more advanced forms of the language and suddenly, Japanese becomes a rich and expressive language, capable of delivering beautiful stories, poems, and songs. It can be as full and complex as English and Spanish are to me now.

This doesn’t mean that I speak that level of Japanese. No, unfortunately I don’t. Yet, lately I’ve become more and more aware that this level of Japanese exists. I’ve always suspected that the Japanese novels I can’t make a lick of sense out of, are full of this elaborate, expressive Japanese.
One book in English that gives you an ample view of that level of Japanese is Making Sense of Japanese by Jay Rubin. Mr. Rubin is a 30+ veteran of the language and he is a professional translator as well. He is more than qualified to show us the Japanese that lies ahead of us and he does it with sense of humor to boot. I highly recommend it.

In other news, the Japanese graded readers are FANTASTIC! I so wish I had run into them when I began learning Japanese. I’d be way ahead by now!

Oh well. Thank you for looking!

Lately…

Lately, my Japanese has began to take shape. I have been acquiring vocabulary and I have found a set of graded readers that more accurately tell me where I am in the language. The books came from http://www.whiterabbitjapan.com, check them out.

Also, I began to tackle Russian. I have been curious about  Russian for a long time but I didn’t acquire the foolish notion that I could learn it until recently. I am glad I did. I’m using the Colloquial series, the Michel Thomas Total Russian method, and this:

Adventures

This book has gotten me further in the language than any course. I love learning with texts and the level of the book is well within my capabilities. I am super stoked because I have some direct experience with learning a language this way and I know where I will be with Russian once I finish this children’s book.

With Portuguese, I hit a small snag when my conversation partner moved back to Brazil. However, hope was renewed when I met an exchange student from Brazil the other night. He returns to Brazil in May so I better hurry.

I have audited Swahili and I think it is doable. Also, I began to look at Indonesian. In addition,I fully intend to tackle Turkish before January is over.

I began the Michel Thomas Total Arabic course again and I was surprised to see that I could still remember a lot. Since I want to start reading I began to practice the script. I should master it in a week. I have new books for Hindi, Punjabi, Romanian and Korean.

Finally, I have to get going with French. I want to be at a comfortable conversational level by the time the Polyglot Conference takes place in October. It will be held in Montreal and New York. I can’t wait!!

All in all, my confidence has increased. I now believe that Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Thai are all doable.

Crazy!

Learning With Texts

Recently, Benny the Irish Polyglot moved his public installation of Learning With Texts (LWT) to a new server. LWT is an application that lets you copy text from a text file and then learn a foreign language using the application.

It may not be your cup of tea but this approach can be used in tandem with other methods or by itself. It certainly appeals to me.

Anyway, as I was reading Benny’s latest post on his blog, He said that LWT is an open source project that can be downloaded from Sourceforge. In other words, you can install your own version of LWT on your computer!

Benny explains the reasons why you may want to install LWT on your computer.

If you are not technically proficient, you can ask a techie friend to help you with the install but the instructions were relatively straightforward.

At any rate, I installed LWT on my computer and I am stoked! You can learn ANY language you want using this method, provided you can get your hands on some text written on your target language (and with the Internet, that is 99.99% possible). I’ll keep you posted on what I find out.

Português novamente

Este fim de semana, eu tive a oportunidade de falar com um Brasileiro. Tentar falar com ele foi uma coisa muita interessante.  Eu percebi que eu não sei muito vocabulario. Esta é uma grande desvantagem para mim. Eu penso que a razão por esto é que eu falo Espanol e eu penso –erroneamente, que eu sei muitas palavras em português. Eu devo de estudar mais!

Eu sinto que talvez eu posso falar português melhor para o final do ano mas preciso estudar mais. Tenho a intenção de dar mais esforço para os meus estudos. É uma grande oportunidade ter a amigo do Brasil para praticar e eu não quero perder esta oportunidade.

Tchau!