May 16, 2010 | Spanish

A VocabuLearn Excursion

I study Spanish vocabulary in Central Park.

This afternoon I did some grammar exercises, but my eyes were still bothering me, so I had to stop after less than an hour. I switched to reading El Diario, which I thought might be less straining, but after about an hour of that, my eyes simply couldn’t take it any longer. 

I decided I would need to do something where I could keep my eyes closed, or at least unfocused. Because I ran out of Spanish Pimsleur lessons a long time ago, my only option was VocabuLearn. I am a little sick of VocabuLearn, I have to admit. There has been a lot of VocabuLearn in my life since last July, and it is kind of repetitive.

VocabuLearn works like this: a voice tells you a word in English, then you come up with the equivalent in the foreign language (so Spanish in this case), and then you are told the answer, which you have a chance to repeat for reinforcement before you are given a new word in English. Or sometimes it works in reverse, moving from the foreign language to English.

Rowers on Central Park Lake Today

I decided the only way I would be able to tolerate doing more VocabuLearn on a sunny Sunday afternoon would be if I went someplace really pleasant, like Central Park. So I did. I wandered over to the Ramble, a beautiful place in the middle of the park known for meandering paths, birding opportunities, and at times—not wholly without justification, based on past observations—gay trysts.

There are tons of tourists passing through there at this time of year. I lay on a rock next to one of the paths, closed my weary eyes, and did VocabuLearn. Park visitors streamed by, the majority of them speaking European languages other than English. I heard quite a few Spaniards through the crevices in my VocabuLearn vocabulary lessons.

After about an hour on the rock, I got up and roamed around the park. I kept the VocabuLearn on the whole time. A few people looked at me funny, but by the time I returned home I had completed about two hours of totally non-eye-straining studying, so I was pretty pleased with myself.

The View from My Rock

Baby Robins Near My Rock

Making Giant Bubbles Near Bethesda Fountain

Bethesda Fountain Terrace Arcade

Percussionists and Dancers

Sheep Meadow

Comments (2)

Rick • Posted on Mon, May 17, 2010 - 2:09 am EST

I enjoy your blog and insights into learning languages. Also the reality of our public libraries as resources, makes me want to donate books and tapes also. Thanks Ellen, and hope your eyes are rested.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Tue, May 18, 2010 - 8:03 pm EST

Thank you so much for your nice comment, Rick! I’m sure your library (and its patrons) would be grateful. Also: my fabulous eye doctor squeezed me in yesterday, and my eyes (and Spanish-studying endurance) are now greatly improved. Thanks again!

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