Hello!!!

Welcome to my site!

Over the next few months / years I am going to undertake many things in order to improve my personal well-being. I’ve done he college thing, I have the job thing, and I even have the husband thing, but I want to improve my body and mind.

I always thought that I’d figure out health and other things after I graduated. After two years married and with a job, I’m realizing that it doesn’t magically happen. In a time where I’m trying to do everything (wife, career, etc), I have so little energy. I’m always tired and I never get enough sleep. I never get enough water. I’m 60 lbs overweight and I’m only 24. I’ve gained 45 lbs since I started dating my now husband. I need to figure some things out.

What are some of my trials/hobbies/life changes going to include?

-running a marathon (again)
-losing 60 lbs (or more)
-trying a raw food lifestyle
-going vegan
-biking the MS150 (again)
-learning Russian
-getting my masters degree online
-figuring out how to clean/organize our house
-read tons and tons of books
-learn to play the guitar (musical expression)
-learn how to get enough sleep, every night
-become a morning person
-become emotionally independent from food / drinks

So if any of these things interest you, feel free to follow my progress! In a way, I’m doing all of them at once so it won’t be a one after the other type of thing, though I do tend to jump around a bit.

Here’s to a journey or personal development!!!

– Gigi

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Why traditional learning materials are so gosh darn boring

(brought over from my previous language blog)

I realized not to long ago that I love the idea of picking up a “Teach Yourself This Language” book and reading it and grasping the language, or better yet, listening to audio lessons that go with it. The problem? All of these language learning books and audio lessons teach towards the vacation/business traveler! I’m so tired of being taught how to say boy, girl, my name is, where is the embassy, I’m an American, yadda yadda that it’s sickening. And then the audio lessons not only have these dull topics, but also a dull voice. And there’s so much English (and spoken the same pace as the L2!). No need to speak the English part slow! Tell me what it is and quickly move on! And with some personality, please!

I learned a surprising amount of Spanish from SpanishPod.com not because their method was particularly more instructive than any other method, but because I enjoyed listening to them banter in English or in Spanish and the hosts have great, authentic personalities. So many podcasters are just so plain awkward to listen to that it’s painful. The host of SpanishPod are natural and interesting on the mic. I’ve listened to FrenchPod, ChinesePod and ItalianPod, and maybe I need to give them more of a chance, but not even other hosts from the same company are quite as good.

I can learn the word boy just as well from the sentence, “Hey, I think that boy is flirting with you,” as I can from, “The boy is short.” Why do traditional materials insist on spending the bulk of their time with sentences like the second one???

Anyway, so in theory, traditional learning materials are HOW I want to learn, they’re just not WHAT I want to learn. Or from WHO I want to learn it. I’m sure there have to be some interesting, funny personalities in every language. Can’t someone find one and have them make audio lessons?

*Stepping off soap box*

Russian Update #2: New book, new sentences

(brought over from my previous language blog)

14 days into my Russian study.

I got my Penguin “Russian Course” book in the mail today from Half.com. I read all the reviews and it really seemed up my alley for the grammar and general Russian guidance. Grammar is, gasp, one of my more favorite subjects when it comes to languages. And I’m sure that, eventually, you could learn grammar just by seeing enough example sentences, but it’s a whole lot easier to get a base of grammar and then just reinforce that grammar with sentences.

Many say, “Oh, but this four year old speaks perfect English/Russian/Japanese and you can learn the same way!” But, thinking about it, I was still figuring out the right way to spell and write things far into college. This leads me to think that, yes, I can get to a reasonable level just by looking at example sentences over and over, but if I want to converse at a gramatical level higher than 4th grade, I need to study the intricacies of the language.

One thing I find interesting on the Russian language is the lack of prepositions like “a” and “the.” You essentially say, “You doctor…I woman…” and so on. It’s funny! I know Russian grammar is suppose to be all crazy, but that’s just so simple it’s funny to me. Usually my hardest thing is vocabulary since I don’t have the memorization thing down and I think that will be the case here. I’ll just have to work at it!

My new sentences are from the Princeton course that the ex-professor offers as a free download. It comes with dialogs and translations, so I’m just using Audacity to separate the dialogs into sentence chuncks and then add them to my SRS (spaced repitition software), Anki. So far I’m up to 92 sentences. There are about 15 per lesson and there’s about 200 lessons, so it should last me a while on my quest to 10,000 sentences. I’ll start tracking my SRS study stats on the side bar, mostly for my benefit but for anyone else who by chance might be following me. I’m a numbers person :-).

Пока!

Russian update #1

(brought over from my previous language blog)

So far Russian (or Русский!) has been going very well!

I have the Cyrillic alphabet mostly conquered and now I’m working up building the basics like how to say “I” and “you” and so on.

It’s very slow since the alphabet plus the language makes it double foreign and makes the words harder to remember. I have to hear the word over and over and over and then see it over and over and over in order just to make sense of it. I’m hoping this will get better with familiarity with the Russian letters and standard sounds.

I miss how far I was along in Spanish, but I’m sure a few months or a year from now I can get to a good level again in this language. It seems like all it takes is consistent effort and daily study. I miss not being able to half-read things. Oh well! More motivation to study!

Sentences:  69/10,000 (more on the 10,000 sentences method)

Princeton Course: Lesson 3 of SLA101 (A free 200 lesson course offered by a former Russian teacher available in PDF/MP3 downloads)

A new thought on which language to study

(brought over from my previous language blog)

I was talking to my grandma today and my wheels started turning. My plans have changed from studying French to studying both Russian and Portuguese.

  • I have good base in Spanish to make Portuguese relatively “easy” to learn
  • I wanted to learn Portuguese, but did French due to the not wanting to lose my Spanish. But it’s Portuguese I want to be fluent in, so why not study Portuguese? I’ll probably understand more Spanish with Portuguese study than I’ll retain with French study anyway
  • My goal is to be able to translate in the energy industry (where my degree and career are), and there’s not much French in that industry
  • There is a LOT of petroleum interest in Russian speaking countries (Russia, Kazakhstan, etc.)
  • There is also a lot of petroleum interest in Portuguese speaking countries (Brazil, Angola, etc.)
  • Both Russian and Portuguese are less known by native English speakers than French, thus making it more useful skill
  • Russian and Portuguese are far enough in language spectrum that I don’t think I’ll mix them too much. If I do, learning how not to mix them will just be part of the learning process
  • I currently work with two Russian-speaking people and know of one Portuguese speaking person, making now an ideal time to practice 😀

So there’s my thought process behind that one. I’ll now be studying Portuguese and Russian. But as you’ll come to see with me, that could change any minute :-D.

"How to Learn Any Language" by Barry Farber – 5 Stars!!!

(brought over from my previous language blog)

I bought this book yesterday on the bargain aisle at Barnes & Noble and I finished it today. What a wonderful read on language learning! I feel so much better about my love of languages and cultures after feeling the same emotions jump from the pages of Farber’s vivid writing. His story is also inspirational, with his outline of how he came to learn most of his languages.

After Farber’s book, I’m now brushing up on some French grammar (with my “Correct your French Blunders” book), learning basic pronunciation, and adding cards to my flashcard program (Anki). After I get a good base, I’ll try his newspaper paragraph method of learning words and use my iPhone to have my flashcards with me all the time.

So far so good!