Today’s guest post is by Ed, who’s taking part in our uTalk Challenge. After successfully completing uTalk Japanese in January, Ed’s turned his attention to Welsh for February. Here he explains why learning a language is important for everyone, regardless of age.
I am a retired IT Manager aged 66 years. I am married with two grown up sons, one married with two children. My wife still works so I am one of these modern ‘house husbands’, which is fine with me. Other than gardening, ironing, shopping, cooking and cleaning (I don’t do much of the latter), I play golf, help with a local amateur dramatic society (treasurer and occasional performer), sing in our church choir, and keep fit.
Since grammar school I have always been interested in languages and linguistics. I put this down to having had a very good French teacher and an inclination towards role play, hence the amateur dramatics. I also did German at Grammar School, and did Latin ‘O’ level in one year, which I really enjoyed.
In 1970 I travelled overland to India and learn some Turkish and Farsi to help me along the way. Many years later I worked in Dubai for a while and learnt some Arabic. Over the years I have picked up some Italian and Spanish in relation to holidays.
When the opportunity to join the uTalk Challenge came along it seemed the perfect way to indulge my linguistic interests and to “stimulate the little grey cells” and slow down the aging process.
Four years ago my wife and I visited Japan for the Cherry Blossom Festival and I learnt some Japanese. That came in very handy as English wasn’t as widely spoken as I had thought it would be. We loved the country and the people and I found the language interesting, hence my choice of Japanese for my first month.
I think the uTalk Challenge offers a unique opportunity to try out a number of languages that are completely different from English and Indo-European languages in general. It’s a great mental exercise for any one, not just for someone my age. It also means that you can learn something of the language of a country when going on holiday, something I believe shows respect for the people and their culture, and enhances your experience. Better than just buying a phrase book, it allows you to hear the pronunciation by native speakers. You can, as I have done, download the extra topics and choose which one you want to study. You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.
We’re well settled into the new year and we’re all full of hopes and dreams for the next 12 months – learning a new language, getting fit, changing our job, travelling more. Most likely in the first week of the year you were super pumped, ready to drop anything to stick to your main goal(s).
By the time the second week came however, you kind of settled in, relaxed the rules a bit and got back to some of your old habits. When January’s over, your goal will be completely forgotten like it was never there and you’re going to be thinking ‘how silly of me to think that I could learn Spanish’.
That can be one of the ways the future looks. Let’s take a different turn. Lets push through the phase when we want to give up and see what happens. The other road is familiar but wouldn’t it be nice to see what else can happen? What if you did learn Spanish this year? You could read books in Spanish, and you could talk to other Spanish speakers, and on your next holiday in Spain you could strike up a conversation with a stranger and end up making new friends.
Studies have shown that the human brain tends to value immediate rewards more than future rewards. When you set a goal or a resolution you are in fact making plans for your future self and it ‘s easy to imagine how your life can look. But, when the time comes that you actively pursue that goal most people choose immediate gratification and opt to do what they feel like in the moment.
Now that we understand how our mind works, it’s time to find ways to stop this from happening.
- Start slowly and build a ritual. Set yourself to practice for half an hour a day – that’s not too much to ask right? Offer yourself a reward after – if you’re learning a language with uTalk, the reward comes in the form of earning points and we all like to build up to a nice score, right?
- Put aside some of your other tasks. Obviously not work or eating but if you usually browse the Internet while commuting why not replace that with your main goal?
- Keep your eyes on the prize – never lose sight of your motivation. Look at pictures of beautiful Spanish landscapes and imagine yourself having a chat with the locals, or listen to Spanish songs and try to understand the lyrics.
I hope this helps you push through the temptation of giving up and will ultimately get you to your goal. And don’t worry about making mistakes; the only person who loses is the one that gives up, so no matter how slow you are going, it’s still better than if you weren’t doing anything.
And if your goal is to learn a language (or twelve…), there’s still time to join the uTalk Challenge!
Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends in the USA, and around the world! Before we know it, it’ll be Christmas, and then we’ll be into 2015. Time flies!
Here in the EuroTalk office, we enjoy a bit of healthy competition, and with the new year approaching, we’ve decided it’s a good time to take some of our own advice and try learning a new language, using our uTalk app. We’ll all be taking on different languages, and competing against each other to see who can learn the most in the 31 days of January. What could possibly go wrong?
The rules are simple:
1. The winner will be the first person to score maximum points on uTalk in the language of their choice, or the person with the highest score on 31st January.
2. The language chosen can’t be one we already speak.
3. Competitors must start from zero points on 1st January.
4. To join the challenge, we’ll need to have access to an iPhone or iPad with the free uTalk app installed.
If you fancy taking up the uTalk challenge for yourself, we’ll be very glad of the company, so drop us an email with the language you’ve chosen, and we’ll send you over a code to unlock the Essentials upgrade (worth £6.99) so you can get started completely free on January 1st.
And in the meantime why not let your friends know which language you’re planning to learn? (There are 100 to choose from, but don’t panic – you’ve got a month to think about it!)
So far, our competitors include:
Ioana, who’ll be learning French
Nat, taking on Icelandic
Steve, who fancies a go at Thai
Al, tackling Chinese (Mandarin)
… and Liz, who took a while to decide but eventually settled on German.
Wish us luck!
Today’s guest post is from Sian, a British ex-pat living in Turkey, who has some advice for anyone considering moving abroad.
Merhaba. Last year I made a life changing decision and decided that, at the age of 42, I wanted to leave the UK and move to Turkey. After much research, a lot of visits to the vets to ensure my two elderly cats could come, and a lot of packing and sorting out, the day finally came and on April 15th this year I moved lock, stock and barrel to Fethiye (you can follow my story on my blog, To Fethiye and Beyond).
Have I regretted it? Absolutely not. Would I advise other people to give it a try? Oh yes. Is it hot? Like you wouldn’t believe. Would I suggest that they learn some of the language before they came? Definitely. Unfortunately I didn’t follow my own advice and barely learnt more than 3 or 4 words before coming out here. Luckily for me, I armed myself with a EuroTalk Turkish DVD before I left so, yes, I do know a lot more Turkish now than when I arrived – although I still sometimes struggle with the simplest of words, the main one being teşekkürler, which means thanks – for some reason I keep thinking of it as ‘testicular’ which is not going to win me any friends (well, not the right sort anyway!).
Not only is the Turkish language very hard, what with its ‘i’ with a dot that is pronounced like ‘ee’, its ‘l’ without a dot (that isn’t an L) that is pronounced like a ‘u’, its ‘c’ that is pronounced like a ‘j’, while the ‘j’ is pronounced like an ‘s’ (seriously, who thought up this language!)… but the local people here also love to practise their English. You may start with every intention of saying something in the local language but as soon as they spot you they say hello, how are you and your brain just goes to mush and you respond in English.
Mind you, something must be sinking in as I did actually manage to have a conversation in Turkish just the other day. Admittedly it wasn’t the longest of conversations but we’ve all got to start somewhere, haven’t we?
I absolutely refuse to be a parody of a Brit abroad and spend the rest of my life speaking v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y in English to the locals in a slightly patronising manner so I am going to keep on going with the EuroTalk DVD and hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be able to manage an even longer conversation!
And on that note I’ll say görüşürüz and wish you all a pleasant day.
Are you moving abroad? Let us know! We’d love to help you start learning the basics of your new country’s language.