Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Stuart's awesome new video!

You have got to check out Stuart's latest post! He's got a two-part video where you can hear him speak in many of his languages. It sounds like he's starting a series of videos.
Behind the Curtain - Stuart Jay Raj: Polyglot Stuart Jay Raj “Language Secrets From a Linguistic Junkie" Multilingual Video Post Episode 1 (2 Parts)

Monday, September 29, 2008

All I need to do - part 2

I wrote a post one month ago entitled, All I need to do is.... In that post I gave away the secret to becoming fluent in a foreign language. But like I said, it is really hard to do.

What do I need to do to put this secret into action? I thought maybe I need to listen to lots of Japanese and that would make it easier for me to make the switch. But that does not work. Just listening to Japanese does not make me think in Japanese. I can listen to Japanese all day long and still think in English about what is being said. I guess I am using different parts of my brain at the same time.

Also, I realize that in that previous post, I didn't make clear what I meant about thinking in the language. I'm not talking about getting past the translating before being able to speak phase. People talk about that a lot. They probably think that anyone who has difficulty speaking is translating from one language to the other before speaking. But that's not my problem. When I speak Japanese I create only Japanese sentences in my head. Because Japanese word order is almost the reverse of English, it would be impossible for anyone to translate on the fly.

So when I say, think in the language all the time, I mean use the language as your thinking language always. That will give you 10+ hours a day of using the language. So if you can do it, you will become unbelievably good in the language. Obviously because of all that practice of thinking in the language! (Now I'm just repeating myself.)

OK, so we know what we need to do, but HOW? I don't have that figured out yet. I'm sure that listening or watching TV shows a lot would help to give you the phrases and way of saying things that you need to know in order to think natural sentences. But in and by itself, I don't think it will change my habit of thinking in English. Anyway, I don't like watching TV because it just feels like a colossal waste of time. I have better ways to waste my time!

Right now, the only way I can think of to make the change is by force. I would have to force myself to think in Japanese. I would have to keep close tabs on myself. I would have to become a "thought policeman."

It's not easy to do. Especially when I'm spending a lot of time studying Chinese. Japanese has no place in my Chinese studies. Since Japanese uses a subset of the Chinese characters, it would be dangerous to mix the two. When I'm reading Chinese, I don't want to accidentally read a word as a Japanese word, which does happen.

Well anyway, this is just a follow-up report to say that I haven't been able to make the transition yet. There is quite a bit of resistance to it. Doing something that feels artificial is no fun.

Maybe I need to act as if there will be some great penalty if I don't do it. Jimmymac wrote a great post called, Motivating yourself more effectively, where he said:

3)Write down all the negative things that would become of you or that you would miss out on should you fail with your goal. My personal motivator is the fear of failure in the eyes of the people I care about.

And a few people attacked him on this point as well as others. But I think it has merit. When it is difficult to make yourself do something and you know that you don't have to do it, then you are, of course, not going to do it. Like I said, there were others who took the point the wrong way. But sometimes you have to do what it takes. If you give yourself a good reason to do it, then you will be motivated to actually do it. You know you are not going to whip yourself or throw yourself in jail, so something like not letting yourself buy a new computer until you reach your goal is a perfectly legitimate motivator. I'm not sure what that something would be for me since I can't buy anything anyway! But maybe I'll think of something. Something concrete works best.

What are you willing to give up if you don't become fluent in your target language?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Polyglots online

A person who can speak many languages is called a polyglot. Polyglots are everywhere! No they're not. Your next-door neighbor is probably a polyglot! Highly unlikely. It's easy to become a polyglot! Yeah right. It takes many years of dedication and determination.

I know of only 3 polyglots online. They are:
All three have English as a native language.

The professor is the most erudite of the three. He is fully capable in German, French, and Spanish. He is able to speak at least 7 more languages with Korean being the best of those other 7. He lived in Korea for 8 or 9 years. Then he moved to Lebanon for two years until bombs started falling. He also has knowledge of dozens of more languages and a huge library of learning materials for all of those languages. His YouTube channel is ProfASAr.

Stuart is an extraordinary polyglot and has made using languages his business. He is a consultant to large corporations and bridges language and cultural barriers for them. He has been living in Thailand for probably 10 years and is super fluent in Thai, a tonal language. He can speak 10 to 15 languages. His YouTube channel is stujaystujay.

Steve is the eldest of the three. He is a former Canadian diplomat turned wood/lumber exporter. He has used languages to bolster his wood business and now has created an online language-learning website. His website, LingQ, is quite useful and I, a member, certainly do recommend it. Steve can speak 10 languages including Chinese and Japanese. His Youtube channel is lingosteve.

If you know of any other polyglots with an online presence, won't you please let me know?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Not for Beginners!

If you are well on your way in one of the following languages:
Mandarin, Cantonese, Burmese, Korean, Vietnamese, Lao, Khmer, Tibetan, Uyghur

You might be interested in Radio Free Asia. If you're a beginner, then just bookmark it and come back later.

Interestingly enough, my computer and browser are displaying the Lao, Vietnamese, and Uyghur correctly, but not Burmese, Khmer, or Tibetan. I know, though, that I have installed fonts for Lao and Vietnamese, but not for the other 3. I think Uyghur might be using the Arabic script. I know nothing about it though, but it looks like Arabic to me.

My browser (Firefox 2) does not display Thai though. And I did have trouble with one Lao site, so that is why I was surprised to see that I had no problem with the RFA site in Lao.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sri Lanka Festival 2008

I went to the Sri Lanka Festival today in Tokyo at Yoyogi. It was very exciting with lots of traditional dances performed for us and there was good food too.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Insomniacs can learn languages too!

It's about 4 am. Let's face it, I'm an insomniac. What am I doing up so late? I went to bed a long time ago but never fell deep asleep. I need some sleep management help. I'm tired. I'm going back to bed. I'm going to fall asleep. That works. If you ever can't sleep, just write a blog post saying that you're going to fall asleep. That kind of suggestion helps hypnotize you into falling asleep. Goodnight everybody!

Monday, September 08, 2008

I upgraded at LingQ

I am no longer a Free member at LingQ. I am now a Basic member. I just upgraded to Basic. I bought a 6-month membership. I received 500 points for upgrading too.

I am getting kind of addicted to LingQ. It needs more Chinese content though, and it still does not parse spaceless languages correctly. We must insert spaces between words so that our saved lingqs will be highlighted. So Chinese and Japanese, the ones I use, are still in beta. Anyways, it needs more content so I uploaded some.

Here is a link to LingQ: http://www.lingq.com/