|11-Dec-2013||Posted by Sonia Hamilton under French, Languages, Portuguese, Spanish|
I get by in a few foreign languages (Spanish mostly, some Portuguese and French). People’s first response to this is “oh that sounds so hard” quickly followed by “I’m going to learn languageX next year”. As if learning is a language is something you can quickly tick off your bucket list, to be followed by “go sky diving”, “see the Pyramids” and “walk Kokoda”.
There’s always more to learn in a foreign language, and sitting down and doing grammar and exercises is boring. Here are a few tricks I’ve learned over the years:
Music is the easiest one – listen while you’re driving or working and just “pick up” phrases.
But what music to listen too? The latest hip-hop full of street slang isn’t going to help you… I search for “top 100 albums languageX” and start from there. Older ballad-based music is usually best – the equivalent of Neil Diamond or Simon and Garfunkel in English. Sure your foreign friends will wrinkle their nose at your “music for oldies”, but it’s easy to understand.
Foreign films are another good tool, especially when you do want to learn street slang. But the trick is to download the subtitles in the foreign language rather than English subtitles, and slow down the dialogue.
For example, one of my favorite films is Tropa de Elite (Brazilian Portuguese). Lot’s of fast dialogue and street slang. So I download the Portuguese subtitles from subseeker.com, load them into VLC, and set the playback speed to 80%. Instant enjoyable learning.
First thing in the morning don’t read the news in English, read it in your new language; for example I regularly read El Pais or Sin Embargo (Spanish). The good thing about news is that you probably already have a general idea of world news, so you can get the jist of the article even if you miss a few sentences. And the language in most newspapers is usually pretty easy (about year 10 level), so it’s going to be easier than reading a novel.
Learn Related Languages
My languages (Spanish, Portuguese and French) are latin-based languages. So learning in one of these languages often helps in the other languages. For example last night at BJJ training I asked my Brazilian instructor how you say “too late” in Portuguese (as in “you should’ve gone for that armbar, but too late!”). He said that it’s “demorou!”, which is the same verb as in Spanish (demorar). And not a phrase as in French or English trop tard/too late.
Similarly, if you were good in Japanese, Korean and Mandarin would be easier languages to pickup than (say) Russian.
Languages are fun once you get past the boring beginner stuff. All those new films to watch, all that new music, new food, new ways of looking at the world. Happy learning and “que te vaya bien” (good luck in Spanish).
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|21-Jul-2013||Debian, EeePC, Ubuntu|
I recently came across a useful tool while reading The Debian Administrator’s Handbook – debfoster. I use it on space constrained machines, like my venerable Asus eeePC 701 (which is great for travelling). As Raphaël Hertzog and Roland Mas explain: debfoster has a more elaborate… more…
I’ve just got a new MSR Whisperlite International Stove, as I couldn’t find a replacement fuel bottle for my old Coleman petrol stove. The adapter for my old Coleman is the same diameter as the current fuel bottles, but a different thread pitch :-( Here’s… more…
|18-Jun-2013||Golang, Jenkins, Make|
I’ve recently been working on a large Go project, and one of the deliverables was that the project be buildable using Jenkins. I was unfamiliar with Jenkins, and there didn’t seem to be any documentation around on how to build Go executables. Project Structure First… more…
There is already a great article on Profiling Go Programs. However that article only discusses how to profile a standalone binary – what about a library? For example, I’ve been working on the GoSNMP SNMP library, here’s how I profiled it (it wasn’t obvious): Doing… more…
There are many pages out there discussing how to recover an Ubuntu encrypted home directory (see also below). These are merely notes for my future reference; they need tidying at there may be errors/mis-attributions in it. Start by booting from an Ubuntu Live CD. Passwords… more…