June 9, 2010

Learning a New Language

I have wanted to study foreign languages again, but have never gotten myself to the point where I devoted the time to do it. Notice I said "devoted the time" rather than "had the time." A lot of people want to do things, and will casually say, "if only I HAD THE TIME do to it." This is the big excuse people make, thinking they are so busy that they cannot devote time to anything other than what they are already doing.

I know...You may be saying, "but Carol, you don't know my life. It is already jam packed with things to do." Yes, I do know that is the case. The question that begs to be asked is this: "what things are you doing each day?"

On Sunday past, our church ran a short video (typically before the message) that was a real eye-opener. It was all amount making good choices with how we use our time. The video consisted of just one man speaking to the camera. He started out saying that we only get 24 hours in the day, and that no matter how much we would like to have more time, that is all that God has given to us. He went on to say that in a given week, we are allowed 7-24 hour days to live out our lives. Of that time, 8 hours is usually devoted to sleep. The rest of the time contains our daily lives -- eating, showering, dressing, working, and other family commitments. No matter what we do, we cannot add one minute to our day. We can only choose how we spend the minutes we are given.

I started to think about that video this week, and the thought occured to me: I waste a lot of time just sitting around and doing nothing. Sure, I do like to sit and think, and I don't count that as nothing (usually I am thinking and meditating on the Lord or His Word to me). But, in truth, I do spend several hours each day doing nothing (watching TV). I try and keep the TV off, but it is there, and it is a diversion for me. I am not a reader, per se, so I don't go and grab a book. I try to limit my computer time because it is hard on my eyes, so that often leads me to sit in front of the TV in the evenings.

I have wanted to learn a new language, but have struggled to find the time for it. I tried it late last year, and actually did pretty well. I am thinking now that listening to CDs in the car might just be the answer. My job, the one I think the Lord has for me, will require about 30 minutes of commute time, twice per day. This is a perfect time to listen to CDs and brush up on my French. I figure if I drive every day for the next ten years, that will give me plenty of time to learn multiple languages. If all I have to do is listen and repeat -- I can do it while driving. I am not big on music, so often I drive in silence. I can do language study this way, I just know it.

Well, that is the plan.

My language goals are pretty simple. I would like to learn enough language to be able to travel in comfort. I simply want to blend into my surroundings and to not stick out like an American tourist. I can do this a number of ways: one, dress like the local population (not too overt, but casual and so you don't look out of place); be familiar with local attractions (know where things are, even if you haven't been there -- yet!); and learn some of the language (enough so you can order off a street vendor or politely ask for a restroom).

I would like to learn French, German and Italian. I have studied French before, and know a little German already. I think Italian should be fairly easy -- I have studied some Latin. I plan on using Pimsleur Language tapes. These seem to work best for me. I have tried Rosetta Stone and Tell Me More, but the audio CDs seem to stick to me better than the visual instruction (and weird -- I am totally visual, but I like the CDs better). Oh well.

I hope to get started on the CDs soon. I can borrow them from the library, but worry about sticking them in my car. I think I would prefer to have my own set -- should anything happen, then it is on me, and not the library's property.

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