And thank you for stopping by my blog. As a part of my language learning journey I was told that starting a blog would help me share my story with others as well as allow me to stay motivated to continue with it whenever it became more difficult than usual.
I decided to use that idea and apply it to the variety of things that I do with my life (which as you can see from the menu above, ranges from a wide variety of topics) so that I make the most of everyday and improve myself more and more.
As for the name, a high school friend of mine jokingly called me a modern renaissance man whenever I was telling him about all of the different things that I plan on learning throughout my life. As he pointed out, during the renaissance, the famous men of the time specialized in everything; art, science, engineering, etc. Therefore my plan is to strive for their level on enlightenment, but just in different categories.
I hope you enjoy my stories, rants, and life lessons. Please share my inspiration and motivation to better yourself everyday.
Well a few weeks ago I posted that I thought I was going to start learning Japanese. But after a week or so trial run of it I realized that even though I was learning some basic Japanese, I was forgetting all my French! I decided this over the Thanksgiving holiday and decided that upon my return to college I would continue to devote myself only to French. Today during French class it really hit me with how much I’ve forgotten and I’m hoping that another break of living alone and intensely studying French will help me get back up to my level.
I have been studying a lot everyday in order to improve my French. My current language learning goal is to be CEFR B2 in French by the end of 2017. The good news here is that I think that I am already there based off of my experiences with my university’s French professor and my italki professor (plus other things like the fact that I just finished the Duolingo French course the other day and I can understand more and more of the TV show that I’m watching through).
So the question now is, where do I go from here?
The end of 2017 would mark 8 months of intensive French learning, and that would leave 8 months until I would start law school (which I’ve been accepted to 2 by the way, another post). [That doesn’t count the extra month that I’d give myself if I started now].
My choice would be Japanese.
But now that leaves the question of do I learn Japanese for 8 (9) months for the hope of getting to that B2 level or do I give myself another 8 months of intensive French in the hopes of getting to the C1 level?
Additionally, if I go for Japanese, how do I maintain this level of French?
As I’m starting to apply to Summer jobs for the upcoming break, I’ve notified an awful trend that constantly pops up whenever I’m applying to companies.
This seems simple and honestly harmless if it would be done by somebody who was somewhat intelligent. If I present that I have a college degree why am I still required to prove that I can read, or do basic math? That’s not even the worst part of the assessment.
The worst part is whenever they need you to answer close to 50+ questions on how much you agree or disagree with questions about your work ethic or if you like working in groups, etc, etc.
I understand that all of this is a “time saver” for the company however, many of those questions are repeated several times and makes me think that it’s just a way for the HR departments of companies to not do anything by looking over resumes and/or calling people for interviews.
That’s another point, if I upload my resume or my LinkedIn profile, why am I still required to type in everything again?
The job market is shit, but that’s because companies make it too hard to get a simple administrative job. I have a Bachelors Degree, a CDL, First Aid/CPR, hell, I’m conversational in another language and it’s still hard for me to find a decent job? Pathetic.
My Marvel watch-through has touched upon another classic, the 2005 Fantastic Four movie. Now I could easily talk about the movie but I have two specific things that I would like to talk about instead, that relate to that movie.
First, after the failed 1993 Fantastic Four movie it’s really not hard to get any better than that because that was just awful. However, I think that this reboot is universally accepted as the best version of the Fantastic Four. The 2015 edition was absolutely terrible and everybody knows it. There’s obvious problems with keeping this reboot as the one needed for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, first, because it came out 3 years before the MCU started; but the biggest one by far is the fact that Chris Evans can’t possibly play both the Human Torch and Captain America.
The second thing I would like to talk about is the massive inconsistencies within the Marvel Universe (no, not the MCU, the universe itself). We have all of these superheros/groups that overlap in location, but not in political atmosphere. This can be seen clearly in the Fantastic Four movie where the heros are from New York and people are constantly cheering out front of their house, showing huge support. They were even all there during the final fight with Dr. Doom. However, in another part of the same city, Spider-Man is constantly hounded by the press for being either a hero or a menace. Daredevil is around too but stays more in the underground of Hell’s Kitchen. The worst part of it all, is that with all the action of superheros in one central location it makes you wonder why in upstate New York that the X-Men are constantly dealing with political dilemmas regarding their rights and how they are being monitored. Why are the X-Men being treated as 2nd-class citizens but yet Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four don’t have any political drama? (And yes, we run into these same problem with the beginning of the Civil War, but we’ll come to that when we get there).
My biggest problem with the movie would have to be the fact that Dr. Doom has video and audio monitoring in the Baxter Building, why? And does the Fantastic Four know?
Well I just realized the other night that my goal to increase my French to at least a B2 level on the CEFR Scale by the end of 2017 is approaching rather quickly, with only 2 months and a day to go at the time of writing this. I decided that I should share with my readers the list of everything I do on a daily basis to try and improve my French.
On My Phone
My phone is where most of my learning comes from, all from free apps.
Duolingo– I do 5 lessons of Duolingo a day because I find that it incorporates the main 4 parts of learning a language very nicely. They have a nice language selection and it’s entirely free.
Memrise– I do roughly 2 lessons of Memrise per day. Their language selection is a lot nicer than Duolingos but their free content isn’t as resounding as Duolingos.
Tinycards– Tinycards is actually made by Duolingo and serves as flashcards to help you remember the main lessons on the main app. They’re a bit slow to get through but it helps with the memorization, at least at the beginning.
YouTube– YouTube is a great help when it comes to immersing myself because I use it to look up songs that I already know, but now in French. I listen to one Disney song and one cover of a pop song per day.
Wikipedia– Reading at least part of one article a day has helped me continue my goal of learning one new thing a day, as well as improving my reading comprehension, and speaking (because yes, I read it out loud on my way to work and get very strange looks).
TuneIn– I listen to at least 5 minutes of a French podcast everyday, entirely for free thanks to TuneIn. It allows you to search radio stations by language.
LingQ– This is another one where the free service is just as nice without having to pay. I can listen to a French speaker from a variety of choices (right now I’m going through some TED Talks) and it has the script so that you can read along.
Anki– This is the phone version of Anki. I’ll talk about the computer version later. With the phone version (which is free on Android) I made flashcards consisting of all the conversational connectors given to me by being a part of the Fluent in 3 Months Program, as well as creating one for any word that I didn’t know or couldn’t remember while trying to think in that language this past July (when I tried to use only French for a month, no, I didn’t write about it, it went well but we’ll come back to that another time).
France 24– This is the news station that I chose, but it’s essentially to attempt to read a news article every morning in that language, out loud.
On My Computer
Anki- With the computer version (also free), I downloaded a pack of premade flashcards called “5,000 Most Common French Words” and I work through about 25 each day.
Rosetta Stone– Yes, I bought Rosetta Stone, awhile ago, but no, I don’t think it’s worth it for the price, but it’s already bought, so I do a lesson a day.
I have two ‘types’ of books that I read per day to help with my French. The first is a book in French (currently Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours) in which I read a few paragraphs and then I read those same paragraphs again, but in my English edition of the same book (Around the World in 80 Days). The other type of book is an instructional book, one that will actually help me improve my knowledge of the language. I read a chapter a day and currently that book is Language Hacking: French by Benny Lewis.
Thanks to a Google Chrome extension called Hola! I can watch Netflix from any region (restrictions apply), but I use this mostly to watch a show that I already know in my target language. Currently I watch Friends.
Now, I have to do some things on the weekly basis instead of daily because they require a time commitment and coordination of schedules (and sometimes payment).
College French Professor- Since I’ve made it clear by now that I am a college student, it makes sense that I live in a college town. Thankfully this means that I have access to the friendly French professor (it probably helps that I’m in her French 3 class twice a week). Her and I meet for about 30 minutes a week to talk in French.
italki– I love italki’s services and have been using them to talk with a French lady (in France) about once a week for 30 minutes. I started out paying $8 for these lessons but after so many months the teacher reduced my cost to $5.
Now with my busy lifestyle I’m not able to do every French language related thing that I’d like every week/day. So whenever possible, I throw a little extra practice in.
Make a YouTube video- not long, maybe 30 seconds to a minute, but you’d be surprised how much talking that is
Watch a children’s movie- language wouldn’t be that advanced and if I have them on DVD anyways, why not?
Write social media posts- Easier said then done. I don’t do much actual written posting on Facebook anymore (unless I’m traveling) and Twitter is already hard with the character limit but it’s enjoyable once you get the hang of it.
Think- I try to think in French in the shower or when I’m walking to work, just to add that extra dedication to language learning.
One topic that seems to be brought up a lot recently is that Congress should have term limits. This topic isn’t just on one side of the aisle either. I have heard both Democrats and Republicans argue for this issue – and not many argue against.
So then, why isn’t it a thing yet?
Well that’s because we assume that the government has our best interests in mind. Yes I know, that’s awfully conspiracy theorist for you. However, the evidence is obvious on this topic.
The main counter-point brought up to me when I say we need to push our representatives to vote for term limits is that they wouldn’t vote for something that will push them out of office. Well that’s the beauty of the system.
You see, if everybody in a district told their representative to push for term limits, and they didn’t, then they should be voted out and somebody who will push for term limits should be voted in. Repeat for all districts.
Except we can’t do that “because this Republican this or this Democrat that”. Maybe we should leave our parties alone and fix the bigger issues in America today, like the rising power of the government to be exempt from their rules, or for them to pass laws that don’t matter thus extending the reach of the federal government in a 1984 style rewrite of rights. Not to get ahead of myself or anything.
The government answers to the people, don’t forget that.
As very few people know, I try to upload a video of me speaking in French to my YouTube channel once a week. Now not only does this not happen every week but they’re also very short and about random things that I think about ahead of time. However, today’s video I did not write a script for and I think I did pretty okay.
All of my pauses or incorrect pronunciations here would be the same of that as somebody who speaks English and isn’t good at last minute speeches (or whatever other factor makes us natives pause and say things like um or uh) and I am only speaking about a simple subject, my French lessons this week, but it is enough that I could hold a conversation which means that my goal of being conversationally fluent (B2) by the end of 2017 is looking more and more attainable everyday.
I realize (after watching it) that a decent amount of mistakes were made. Just something to work on.
Aujourd’hui était mon première privé leçon de français face à face. C’était super! J’ai fais des erreurs bleus, mais ‘oh well’. en jeudi, j’ai un leçon de français sur Skype. Avec deux leçons par semaine, je vais être couramment bientôt!
This upcoming week I have scheduled my first in-person one-on-one conversation practice for my French. My French professor (with whom I’m Facebook friends with) saw that my goal was to reach a B2 level by the end of 2017, and as a result, has agreed to meet with me at least once a week for 30 minute sessions. In her response, she highlighted that she would also see if any of her francophone friends would Skype with me to help with this process. It was also pointed out that she will have me focus on a lot of listening because that was her struggle when she was learning English.
In addition to that, I got some more credits on italki, which means whenever I finalize my schedule I will be able to schedule some Skype French lessons. Finally, after writing this post I am going to the study abroad office to see if there are any francophone students that would like to have conversations with me.
All this practice with people is exactly how Benny Lewis says that languages are learned.
So why am I so nervous to actually talk to people instead of just burying myself in my phone or computer to use some software or TV show?
I consider myself an interesting person.
So why am I so nervous that I have no idea what I’ll talk about in most of these situations. Normally when I’m nervous I don’t shut up but since I’ll be using French I’m not sure what the reaction will be.
No more putting it off though, this is the perfect opportunity and if I pass it up then I have been lying to myself about actually wanting to learn a language.