Like many people, I’ve found myself laid off for quite some time due to COVID. It’s especially bad in California, and especially bad in Silicon Valley, where business closures and lockdowns have been pervasive. I’ve used the time to retool a little bit. In particular, I am now a Certified Life Coach and looking for clients who need to improved their writing for business (blog for that business here). I can, of course, also coach for language learning if anyone needs assistance figuring out what to learn, why to learn and what to do next. I’ll answer a few questions here to start:
What language should I learn?
What language are you interested in? And why? Language learning is brain intensive and your brain is going to want a reason to rebuild the world in another language when the one you have seems to do.
I’ve decided what language I want to learn. Now what?
Why do you want to learn? Knowing will not only help with motivation. It will help you decide what materials. You’ll want to spend some time someplace like Amazon or Book Depository in any case. But you’re searching for titles with the word “conversation” if you just think it would be neat to know some phrases. You also might want to visit Audible or Scribd to look for audio resources. Audible has tons of stuff for sale, including pretty much every Pimsleur and Michel Thomas program. Scribd has books, audiobooks and lots of “document” uploads of older language learning books, in addition to audiobooks, and the monthly fee is fairly cheap.
I’ve picked some resources. Now what?
Language is a habit or practice, more than a body of knowledge. Using it is key to maintaining it. So a few minutes a day is better than one big study session a week. I’m going to make one other surprising declaration: Memorization is over-rated. You’re better off learning little bits and then reading and listening to things, maybe multiple times, so that your brain gets used to language patterns, than you are making your poor brain try to put together language in new ways on its own.
These are my thoughts for those just starting on a new language. But if you’ve been studying and are stalled or just want some insight into what is and isn’t working for you, you can visit Career-Communication.com and set up a free half-hour session to see what it’s like to work with a language coach.
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So, with the new year, what am I up to? Too much! That’s what language addicts do. My current projects for the coming year:
- Picking up a bit of Japanese as I work through a calligraphy manual for the Heart Sutra.
- Using the characters I’ve gotten familiar with as I work through this Primer in Chinese Buddhist Writing available free at the Stanford website.
- Working through the Tibetan Language Pre-Primer: Learning to Read the Short Chenrezik Sadhana, again, to get a better handle on the Tibetan script.
- Continued work on a new book, Introduction to Romagnolo.
- Revising and expanding my Romagnolo Starter Dictionary, including changing all entries to match Adelmo Masotti’s spelling practices.
Note for Sanskrit learners: There are some books out there for Sanskrit that are fairly decent except that the first chapter or two show you the alphabet and tell you to come back when you’ve figured it out, as opposed to actually teaching it. I’m thinking of Perry’s Sanskrit Primer and Assimil’s Le Sanskrit, for example. If you have one of these books, I recommend Hindi Script Hacking. In seven fairly short lessons, it introduces the Hindi script while making you read enough place names and English words that have drifted into Hindi usage that you get comfortable drawing the letters and sounding things out. While it’s for Hindi, not Sanskrit, the transliteration to English is the same, making this a fantastic way to start reading nagari.