Two nights ago I made a huge breakthrough in Dutch. When someone hears a language that they don’t speak, they’ll often think that the person speaking is doing so too quickly. More often than not, the listener’s ears are simply not attuned to discerning the sounds in that particular language. For me, this is no longer the case with Dutch, as my listening comprehension is catching up to my reading: I can now understand the individual words someone is speaking in Dutch instead of just hearing a jumble of sounds. This is a huge step in the right direction, and it came nearly all at once. I was studying my Lonely Planet Dutch phrasebook outside of my calculus class two days ago and found that, when I had come home and started listening to Dutch music, I could pick out individual words. I may not be able to spell them or even know what they mean, but I can’t complain!
Continue reading “My first major language breakthrough”
I spent the day at Orlando Science Center with my friend from Ohio (after leaving the house of my other friend where we had a bonfire the night before). Little did I know that, along with getting some fantastic pictures of the animals on the bottom floor of the place (esPECially the bearded dragon and crayfish!), I would also get a chance to practice my Japanese with real Japanese natives.
After spending time in basically every room the museum had to offer, my friend and I happened upon a Japanese family of about 5-6 people messing around with a specific attraction, one where it was emphasized that if you increase an object’s orbit, it’ll slow down considerably. This was done with a large chrome marble that the family was throwing into orbit constantly. They seemed very happy and approachable, and I had already identified their language as Japanese a few minutes prior, so I jumped in to talk to them. I was still a little shy, so I only said a handful of one-word phrases, but the reaction was incredible! As soon as I said 凄い/Sugoi! (“Amazing!”), they all looked up at me. The little boy present even repeated what I said in the more masculine fashion, which sounds more like “suge”. My interaction with them prompted the little girl to hand me the marble with a big smile on her face! I repeated what they did, and since the way I threw the marble made it take longer to fall out of orbit, I whined 速く/Hayaku! (“Hurry up!/Faster!”) Now they knew that me speaking their language was no accident. The oldest lady there turned to me and said “You speak Japanese?” and I said “A little bit,” returning her smile. Boy, there was a lot of smiling going on! 🙂
Continue reading “Speaking Japanese with the Japanese”
I was able to encourage a friend to begin Michel Thomas’s Language Learning Method today, and he blazed through the first disc of French mere hours after he started it! I’d normally suggest he go a bit slower, but as long as he’s motivated, I won’t get in his way! This made me feel pretty accomplished given that he had a seriously stubborn attitude about language learning beforehand, even calling me overconfident and cocky for thinking I’d be able to speak Dutch this December! All it takes is the right materials to get you started, and once you’ve gained the insight that learning languages is not hard, you’re one step closer on your way to becoming an efficient language learner!
This is a short snippet of my thoughts on the Michel Thomas Language Learning Method, which I use to introduce myself to a language before speaking it with natives. The Michel Thomas method is one I regard very highly. It is an audio software, but don’t let that discourage you! I’ve had my fair share of terrible audio materials before, or ones that were unsatisfactory at best. However, with Michel Thomas, I went through the Japanese course a few months ago, but what I learned I still remember quite well! I love the pacing and the vision is incredibly unique: the teacher really does the majority of the work and you’re just there for the ride and to reap the incredible benefits! This method is how I introduce myself to a language (provided it’s one of the 12 that Michel Thomas covers, of course; I’ll have to look elsewhere for Swedish, for example); I am currently going through the Dutch version and am learning a TON in a very short period of time. After I finish the course, I speak to natives for the rest and continue studying every now and then, especially vocabulary. I 100% recommend this method to ANYONE, esPECially if you’ve been let down by language-learning materials in the past. You’ll learn quite a bit with Michel, but not only that; you’ll REMEMBER it!
Highly recommended! 🙂