Learning Languages in the Moment
This post is a transcript of a video on my YouTube channel.
Studying English? Here’s the transcript as a lesson to study on LingQ.
Hi there. Hopefully, this is going. Let me see. Yeah. I can’t really see too well because the sun is in my face. Today, I want to talk about learning languages in the moment. This is something that applies to so many things that we do in life. Very often, we’re looking forward to what’s going to happen tomorrow or we have goals of what we want to achieve, but sometimes we just have to focus on what we’re enjoying right now.
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I was thinking of this as I was driving up to Whistler, Whistler, B.C., which is where I am right now. It’s about an hour and 15 minutes from my home. It’s a spectacular place, mountains. I’ll kind of swing this around. Maybe you can see the mountains up there. I don’t know. We’re staying at this unit here for two nights, my wife and I, just to get a little break from being hunkered down because of COVID.
The drive up here is just spectacular. You drive along a fjord, Howe Sound, then you drive inland and you’ve got mountains surrounding you. I might intersperse this video with some pictures, if we take some more pictures. We’re going to play a bit of golf here. It’s very warm. I think it’s like 27-28 degrees. It’s supposed to go up to 32. We’re going to Pemberton, which is another 45 minutes down the road and play a golf course called Big Sky.
I’m driving up here with my wife and we’re listening to a podcast about the Byzantine Empire. So I’m enjoying the drive. I’m enjoying listening to the Byzantine Empire podcast. Why am I listening to a podcast about the Byzantine Empire? Because I’ve been learning Arabic, Persian and Turkish, so I’m kind of exploring that part of the world. I’ve read books now on the history of Persia or of Iran, on the history of Arabic countries prior to Islam, post Islam, the Colonial period and, low and behold, I read a book on the Byzantine Empire, which is something we learned so little about.
All of these things that spring from my learning of the language are things that I enjoy and while I’m doing them, reading in English, I’m enjoying that. But when I’m with the language, if I’m doing our mini stories in Arabic and I’m kind of rediscovering things that I learned and forgot in the sort of mini stories, the simple vocabulary, the basic structures, I get this giddy feeling that I actually understand say the Al Jazeera podcast when they talk about the United Arab Emirates deal with Israel mutual recognition, what that means, tensions in the Middle East and I’m hearing it from someone from the area in Arabic. Although, until I actually start reading it, saving words, looking them up, I don’t necessarily understand that much, but I understand quite a bit of it, so I enjoy that.
I’m not thinking about the day when I’ll be fluent in Arabic. I know I will get there, but I’m actually enjoying the time that I spend with the language now and I think this applies to everything we do. We can turn around and I can look at the trees. Even at my home, I can look at the texture of my pine flooring or a carpet that we bought in Beijing 50 years ago. Or in Hong Kong, I don’t remember. In fact, I tweeted about that.
I think it’s important always to focus on what you’re doing in the moment and it’s really important in language learning because we have to believe that what we are doing is important and enjoyable. You want to enjoy what you’re doing. So if you’re learning a language and you’re saying this is boring, but I’m hoping that some day it will be worth it for me, to me that is not as powerful as I’m enjoying what I’m doing now. This is what I want to be doing. There are all kinds of other things I can do, but I’ll do those later. Right now, I’m enjoying being in my language.
And, of course, what’s so wonderful in today’s world, I thought about this again as I was preparing my trip up here with my wife and, of course, I just finished this book on the Byzantine Empire discussing Byzantine strategy and how they managed to play different step people and other enemies against each other so that they survived for 1,000 years. After all, the Byzantine Empire survived up until 1453. So then I said, well, I wonder if there’s a podcast on this. So I go to an app called Pocket Cast or something like that and, low and behold, there are podcasts on everything.
For example, if I take the word Arabia for Arabic and I put that in the search, I find all kinds of Arabic podcasts, Persian podcasts, French podcasts, Spanish podcasts. All of these things are available to us. I haven’t yet done any research to find which of these have transcripts because I require transcripts certainly in Arabic and Persian to understand what’s being said, but I know there’s this tremendous quantity of material out there. I can actually listen to a podcast in Arabic even without having the transcripts and it’s new, it’s interesting, I pick up certain things and even that is enjoyable.
I just want to emphasize this idea that, obviously, to be successful in language learning you have to believe in what you’re doing. You have to believe that you can succeed. The belief that you will succeed in becoming fluent is kind of projecting into the future, but at the same time you have to find ways to enjoy what you’re doing now because if you enjoy what you’re doing it’s going to come into your brain. You’re going to stay with it. You’re going to put in the time. You’re going to stay positive. You will eventually achieve your goal, if you can enjoy what you’re doing in the moment.
So that’s what I wanted to say about learning in the moment. Bye for now.