April 19, 2014 | Review Period

Lazy Language Days of Spring

My Pimsleur Diet was an utter failure. But only so far.

The Pimsleur Diet I announced in March did not go well for me. I did some Pimsleur, but not enough, and I did not lose a single pound. But I am not going to belabor this point, as there are a perfectly sufficient 100 trillion or so diet blogs online, and this will most definitely not become one of them. (I will just quietly do the same thing again this month and see if I get it right this time now that the flowers are a-blooming and the birds are a-singing.)

But while I am on the subject of exercise and language-learning, I want to tell you about an approach used by someone I encountered on the Polyglots page of Facebook today.

European Word Translator Map

European Word Translator Map

First, if you don’t already know about the European word translator map, you should. You type in a word in English, and it translates it into dozens of languages and puts the various translations onto a lovely little map of Europe for you so you can see the linguistic relationships among the various countries. It is a great play toy. (And learning tool as well!)

Anyway, George, the man I encountered on the aforementioned Polyglots page, is a Romanian native who now lives in France, and he uses the translator map in a rather extraordinary way to help him memorize basic vocabulary in multiple languages simultaneously. Here is his process, in his words:

  • I take a list of some dozens of common words.
  • For each word I type it on the Translator page and press enter.
  • I screencapture the image and put it on a slide on a PowerPoint presentation.
  • For some of them I underline with a different color the variants with a similar root, form or etymology to ease memorization.
  • I set the PowerPoint presentation to change slides very slowly, let’s say 3 minutes for each one.
  • I put the computer in front of my treadmill, start the presentation (20 slides, on a loop) and start running.
  • I run for one hour at low speed, staring at the computer screen. At the end I’ll memorize some vocabulary and I have burned some calories.

George kind of blew my mind with this. I enjoy this map a lot, but I tend to want people to hand me prepared learning packages so that I don’t have to work to create my own materials. The thoroughness and dedication of George’s approach utterly charmed me!

Although I personally can’t look at a screen while I run, I do enjoy running across running polyglots with unique and inspiring methods. What a shocking lack of laziness this one suggests.

So thanks, George!

Comments (2)

Susi • Posted on Sun, April 20, 2014 - 2:45 pm EST

Hang in there! My 40 day German News, Politics, and Productivity Podcast Cleanse is finally starting to show some effect.

However, now that the 40 days are over, I’m excited to start the Assimil French/ Pimsleur Japanese diet.

Ellen Jovin • Posted on Sun, April 20, 2014 - 7:03 pm EST

Susi, you gave me such a laugh! Ha ha ha ha! I hope the Assimil-Pimsleur diet goes well. Maybe I’ll spice up the Pimsleur with some Assimil myself. Fusion cuisine! Keep me posted, please. :)

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