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I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. ~Oscar Wilde
Most of the time I like to stay in apartments while I’m traveling. I prefer having kitchen access and a washing machine. Sometimes I like having a flatmate or two, sometimes not. One thing is constant, though, I don’t like hotels. Usually.
I have found one exception. I keep finding myself drawn to luxury resorts. I think it corresponds to my recent choice to make sure I take real vacations. As someone who travels as part of her lifestyle, it’s easy to let “vacations” fall by the wayside. My current plan is to take a week off in months with an extra payday, which works out to four week long vacations a year.
While I’m not someone who looks for the cheapest option in any situation, I don’t like to spend tons of money when it’s not necessary. So, when I came across a Twitter ad from Sheradill, I was curious. At first looked a lot like those Earn Credits for Spending Time on the Internet sites that I used when I was much younger and quite broke, before I realized what a waste of time they really are.
I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure. ~Mae West
In the name of research (and rampant curiosity) I decided to sign up and poke around anyway. Turns out, Sheradill is a marketing vehicle for the Hip Hotels Group. They create “deals” at several of their properties, ranging from weekend, to short and long breaks, where you can get up to 90% off the list price. You can search by country, month, or length of stay.
Before we get into the different ways you can practice speaking, I want to talk a bit about nerves and frustration. It’s easy to feel afraid of sounding stupid.
When we start out, our vocabularies are limited, and we need to use simple sentence structures. Unfortunately what we often want to express complex ideas which require wider vocabularies and more complex sentences. To make matters worse, we know we’re going to make (several) mistakes and feel like idiots in the process.
Do It Any Way
Go beyond being afraid. Do it anyway. Sound like an idiot. Though, really, you’re probably the only one judging yourself that harshly. How many times have you heard a non native speaker attempt your language and thought how stupid they were? Odds are, that’s never happened, because we all know how difficult it can be to express yourself in another language.
First, I want to start with the idea that listening and understanding are two different things. Obviously they are connected, but as learners, we’ve got to remember that listening does not mean you’ll immediately understand, no matter how much reading and writing you’ve previously done in your target language.
The first step is really just listening, you’re tuning your ear and brain to the sounds of the new language. Because of the differences in sounds, you’ve got to give yourself time to process the sounds so that you pick up the words that they’re attached to.
I like to start with music, because there’s less pressure. When it seems like lyrics in your native language don’t make sense half the time, there’s less of an inclination to think we need to understand every word immediately and less of a tendency to get frustrated when we don’t. Just try to pick up a word or two at a time, at first.
Last week in this language learning series we talked about ways to practice and improve our reading in other languages. Now, on to writing.
Once again, I’m going to assume you know the writing system of your target language. If not, you’ll need to run some searches, like “touch type (language)” and “writing worksheets (language)”. Here are the ones I like for Russian: Typing & Worksheets. I haven’t found one I like for Hebrew or Hindi, so if you’ve got suggestions, please leave them in the comments.
My absolute favorite site for writing is Lang8. You write in the language you’re learning, post the writing, and wait for corrections. For your first two languages it’s free, after that you can pay for a membership and use it for unlimited languages.
In turn, you also correct other people’s writings. I try to correct three pieces for every two corrections that I receive, because not only do some people not do any corrections, but not everyone speaks a language that others are currently studying. I have been privileged to grow up speaking English, and for me to spend a bit of extra time helping people who are trying to improve their English, seems a small thing.
My Love of Languages
I love learning languages. To the point where I often spend more time playing with Swedish, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, and Russian than I do working. Additionally, I’m looking at Hindi and Hebrew, trying to decide how to bring them into the fold without having to find a mythological artifact to add more time to my day.
I blame the Bobbsey Twins. When we lived in Mexico when I was 11, I read every Bobbsey Twins book our library had. They went on so many adventures and learned a bit about several languages in each book. I would make my own little dictionaries for each book, and that’s where my adoration started.
A lot going on right now. Phew
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: I’ve given up my apartment and put my stuff in storage. Okay, so it’s a little different, last time I had a house and sold my stuff.
Right now, I’m in New Orleans, the Irish Channel district to be specific. I’ve got a couple of big projects I’m working on to keep my busy, of course. Those books I mentioned that were calling to me to be crafted? I’m in process on both of them, with sites coming soon.
11 Pieces of Clothing, 1 Carry On, A Year’s Worth of Possibilities
The first one is Carry On 365, a packing system using 11 pieces of convertible clothing to create over a years worth of non-repeating outfits.I know, it sounds nuts, a year’s wardrobe in a carry on bag. I’ve done the photo shoot and have all the clothes with me here in New Orleans and actually, my bag is 5 linear inches smaller than the standard carry on. So, you’ve still got room for any extras that I don’t carry like a travel dryer or make up. Read more