Here I go, talking to myself again. No, I’m not schizophrenic, I am learning a new language. This time, it is Vietnamese, my first Asian language. Sadly, although San Francisco is home to over 13,000 people of Vietnamese descent, the 11th highest number in the United States, I was unable to find a single Vietnamese language school. The only school I could find was the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center which offers Vietnamese language classes for kids between the ages of 5 and 12. I don’t think being a kid at heart would qualify me. Sigh.
Without a class or a tutor, I am learning Vietnamese exclusively through on-line or pre-recorded language programs. I am using Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, Duolingo and Mondly. I will give you a summary of each program along with what I think are the pros and cons of each.
Continue reading Can You Teach Yourself Vietnamese?
“Are you Greek?” I shake my head. “is your husband Greek?” Again I shake my head. “Your parents?” “Όχι” (no) I respond. “How do you know how to speak Greek?” asks the man working behind the coffee cart. He is making me a φραπέ, an iced coffee drink with condensed milk and Nescafe. “I learned Greek for this vacation. It is a hobby of mine.” He whistles through his teeth and adds a complementary cookie to my order. He winks at me as he hands me my change.
Learning a language and then going on a vacation to a place where that language is spoken has been my hobby for the past eight years. I am not a linguist, just a geek. I love to talk, so adding more languages just seemed to be a natural extension of my gregarious nature. In June of 2009, on the day that the Euro hit an all time low and Greece was in the midst of beginning of the debt crisis, my family traveled to Greece. For twelve months prior to our departure, I taught myself Greek.
Continue reading Greek Sushi
Every year, I make New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions to exercise more, pay off my debt, watch what I eat and save more money. I know some people who make resolutions and some who do not. But at the end of the day, don’t these resolutions end up sounding pretty generic? They are more like declarations of values versus something new and exciting. Last year’s resolutions blur into the previous year’s.
So instead of making resolutions, why not pick a Theme for the year. Project Based Learning is all the rage now in early education. PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge. Cool. Here’s how you pick your 2016 Theme PBL style. Pick a country where they do not speak your language, pick a language and plan a trip. There you go, you have a theme. For me, my theme for 2016 is half Croatian/ half Vietnamese. Kinda sounds like a San Francisco food truck. The plan is Croatia in June and then Vietnam next year.
So now that you have a theme, here are all the fun things that you can spend your year doing.
Continue reading How Learning a New Language Can Set Your Theme for 2016