Wednesday, November 18, 2015
That’s a word I’ve been hearing since I was a kid. It means that someone is a pain in the butt, but I had no idea what it was in standard Italian. So I figured that I’d try to figure it out...
Monday, September 9, 2013
Hashy Pomme+ Bath Speaker review: Get your target language audio and video in the shower—batteries not included (or needed)
Years ago I bought some crappy $20 shower speaker on a whim, and it's been one of the items in my language-learning tool kit ever since: turn on some audio (music or podcasts, for example) and get some exposure while you're taking a shower.
Unfortunately there was one thing that always annoyed me about that crappy $20 shower speaker: it needed batteries. That meant that every time the batteries died, there'd be some period of time between the battery dying and me finally bothering to replace them that would result in missed exposure.
After that shower speaker breathed its last breath, I got the Pomme Bath Speaker by Hashy Top-In (pretty sweet Japanglish name for a company that's been around since 1929, no?), which is pictured above. It's powered by the device that you put in it so it doesn't need a battery, and I loved it for that, but this too had something that annoyed me: there's no convenient way to skip a track that you don't want to listen to or to adjust the volume.
I went looking for a battery-free replacement and that was when I discovered that Hashy had upgraded the Pomme to the Pomme+, which remained battery free but scratched one of my itches by adding a button that lets you skip songs. Below is the unboxing and a quick demonstration of how it works.
You'll find my full review after the jump, but I'll say right now that I can completely recommend the Pomme+ to get your daily dose of language learning in the shower.
Monday, September 2, 2013
There were basically three things that led to this. The first was those parts of the song that were purely instrumental; obviously if nobody's singing, you won't be getting any exposure to the target language. The second was that some songs use languages other than one of my target languages—most commonly English. The third was that certain songs would repeat the refrain or some other part of the song so much that I wasn't getting any particular value from all the additional repetitions.
That led me to thinking that if there's a way I can skip these parts, I can increase my exposures per minute and make the exposures more valuable by reducing excessive repetition. In theory, I could edit out such parts with an audio editor, but that'd be quite a lot of work and I'm not sure the time spent doing so would result in a net gain. However, if the parts you want to skip are at the beginning or end of your songs, iTunes has a pretty easy way for you to skip those sections on a permanent basis: changing the start and stop times of the songs.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Learners can improve their English vocabulary in the following ways:
- by doing communicative English grammar exercises with daily life content;
- by practicing speaking on various topics;
- by reading various materials in English on a multitude of topics; and
- by listening to audio and video recordings with diverse content.
Monday, August 26, 2013
I'm constantly reminded of this while studying Korean in Japan.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
My suggestions below are suitable for practicing any language and are given of course in addition to indispensable communication practice with native English speakers.
There are quite a lot of ready-made conversational English dialogues on a multitude of topics with authentic natural wording with useful content (and vocabulary) at all levels of difficulty from basic to advanced levels. It's hard and time consuming for learners to create such dialogues on their own, as this would require a lot of imagination about potential content of conversations in various situations and issues of discussions.
Monday, August 19, 2013
And the other bad side-effect of learning from flashcards is that they encourage you to believe in one-to-one translation. They make you narrow-minded and unaware of the language you think you're learning.Assuming that there's always a one-to-one translation between any two languages is simply a patently false assumption. Now that you've been disabused of that notion, you no longer need to worry about flashcards "encouraging you to believe in one-to-one translation".
When you learn a foreign word and an English word together, and burn them together in your mind as a pair, you create the illusion of a world where every language is exactly the same, just with different words. But that world doesn't actually exist.
Now that that's out of the way, we can turn to the more interesting question: how do you deal with words that have multiple meanings in one language or the other? This is a real issue when using flashcards—and when learning languages generally—but hardly one that can't be overcome.
All you need to do is find some way to differentiate the slide of the flashcard that would become the same, and there are numerous ways to do that.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Different students can have different difficulties and problems in learning English. They can make different mistakes in English pronunciation, grammar, orthography, and vocabulary usage.
There is a connection between the native language of a learner and particular difficulties in learning and using English and the kind of mistakes a learner typically makes in English pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary as there is native-language interference in learning and using English.
Monday, August 12, 2013
This is just plainly false. Flashcards that use your native language to explain the meaning of a word in the target language are merely using an associative mnemonic device (namely, a meaning of the target language word in your native language) to connect the word in the target language to its actual meaning. At some point in your learning, you will rely on that mnemonic device to recall the word—that is the point of the mnemonic device, after all—but that will be temporary; as with any good mnemonic device, you'll eventually stop needing the mnemonic device to recall what you want to recall. In other words, translation should never be the end result of flashcard use.
Let's walk through this step by step with an example borrowed from Randy.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
My ideas below may help you practice a language even on your own more comprehensively and productively.
Monday, August 5, 2013
No. And the simple reason is that you can learn them even faster with flashcards than without.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
The actual process of oral communication consists of two integral parts: listening and speaking.
People do not develop listening comprehension skills in English only by watching English movies (films) and other programs on video, on TV, or on the Internet, or only by listening to BBC English, Voice of America, and other radio programs and to audio/video recordings for learning English.
People also listen to and learn different accents and peculiarities of English usage in real-life settings in different English-speaking countries by native-English speakers in terms of pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and style (formal and informal English). Informal English includes colloquial, slang, and dialectal usage.
Monday, July 29, 2013
The second reason—and the one I'll cover in this post—is that they let you learn words that you otherwise wouldn't be able to learn.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Point A is no flashcard use at all. This is Randy's stance. Point B or thereabouts, on the other hand, represents the other extreme: you're using flashcards as your main way to learn a language. When I read Randy's criticisms of flashcards, it comes off to me as if he's throwing those criticisms at someone who's at or approaching point B as their language-learning method, i.e., pretty much the only thing they're doing is using flashcards.
I think Randy's completely correct in that, as a language learner, you don't want your language-learning time to be anywhere near point B. If you simply try to remember a string of facts without every actually applying them, Randy's completely right: you're going to struggle to ever get your speaking off the ground.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
- How to use flashcards the right way
- When to use flashcards
- How much to use flashcards
- Learn more with flashcards than without
- Learn faster with flashcards than without
- Translation is not the end result of flashcard use
- How to deal with the lack of one-to-one translations
In the second of the above-mentioned posts, Randy remarked:
I have a strong suspicion that the biggest advocates of flashcards are people who haven't yet finished learning their first foreign language. And I expect that the number of polyglots using flashcards is extremely low.It's high time that a big advocate of flashcards and polyglot explain why Randy's advice is wrong.
Randy argues, in short, that you should learn only through reading, listening to, writing, and speaking the language (with an emphasis on reading), looking up unknown words as you come across them or learning them from context. My position is that you should learn through reading, listening to, writing and speaking the language and supplement that with flashcard review because that'll allow you to learn more in less time, and each problem Randy raises about flashcards is either incorrect or can be overcome without detracting from your learning.
Monday, July 1, 2013
Japanese, like English, is a pretty flexible language without any overbearing academy (I'm looking at you, France) trying to tell people what to speak. Japanese pretty much sucks words in on a whim and has been doing so for hundreds of years, more or less. Well, some old Japanese dude doesn't seem to like that the language is currently sucking in those words from English such that he sometimes has problems understanding what's being said and he wants to take out his rage on NHK, Japan's national broadcaster.
He's got some kind of complaint about how Japanese is becoming "Americanized":
“With Japanese society increasingly Americanized, Takahashi believes that NHK… shouldn’t go with the trend, but remain determined to prioritize the use of Japanese, which he thinks would go a long way toward protecting Japanese culture,” Mutsuo Miyata, the plaintiff’s lead attorney, told The Japan Times…The fact that the words he's railing against now are Japanese doesn't seem to phase the plaintiff or his lawyer, but the richest irony here is that the words he wants to use instead were pretty much all borrowed from Chinese. So, to protect Japanese culture, let's stop the Americanization and go back to the earlier Sinicization!
Just for fun, let's look at some of these words.
Thursday, June 13, 2013
The main thing that has always made me reluctant to add another language to those I've already started is that, with work, a brood of rambunctious offspring, etc., the amount of time I have to throw at language learning tends to be limited. Well, what with me getting all gung-ho on Korean lately…
I thought it was time that I came up with some kind of systematic way to continue growing my vocab in the languages that I'm not really focusing on at the moment. Given my time restrictions, the system would have to work with a minimum amount of time but pack the strongest punch possible in that time.
I know that Susanna Zaraysky would approve when I decided that music was the answer.
Friday, June 7, 2013
Have you noticed that interpreters have to possess the most thorough knowledge of a foreign language, especially of conversation, vocabulary and grammar? Perhaps foreign learners of English can achieve fluency in English also through oral translation from their native language into English. It is possible to check oneself this way when practicing speaking in English every sentence in ready-made materials with both native-language and English versions. I also believe that the value of oral translation from a native language into English with self-check is underestimated by English teaching specialists for self-study and self-practice of English conversation, vocabulary and grammar. Oral translation practice should cover English grammar, conversation, and vocabulary. Thematic dialogues, questions and answers on conversation topics, thematic texts (informative texts and narrative stories), grammatical usage sentences, and sentences with difficult vocabulary on various topics, especially with fixed phrases and idioms, can be used in practicing English through oral translation from one's native language into English.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
- How do you set up Korean typing?
- How do you type Korean double letters?
- When one syllable has no final consonant but the next syllable has an initial consonant, how do you prevent the initial consonant of the second syllable from being treated as the final consonant of the first syllable?
- How do you turn Korean writing into the corresponding Chinese characters?