October 2, 2013 | Review Period
My Vowels Need Repointing
They are out of whack. Also, I need to simmer down.
My New York City apartment building sometimes requires repointing. I always knew that repointing was some kind of fixing-up process, but I never bothered to inform myself of its meaning, so when I heard the term, I always just pictured men climbing all over the building pointing building parts that were pointing in the wrong direction back in the right direction.
Heading Out for a Run, with Notes on My Arm to Keep Track of My Pimsleur Lessons
Please don’t think I truly thought that was what happened. But it’s what I pictured, and as I have been suffering increasing amounts of language confusion among the various Romance languages, I have repeatedly been struck by this thought: my vowels need repointing! They are all over the place.
Especially with Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian, I am getting confused. So many words sound a lot alike, but just a little bit different, and often the differences lie in the vowels. I often come up with the wrong sound in the right-ish word. I need someone to repoint my vowels.
Since that person really needs to be me, I have a plan that I think will solve multiple problems at once. As I believe I have mentioned, I like volunteering in the New York City marathon in November because it gives me so many language opportunities. I am on a mission to get my Portuguese, Spanish, French, German, and Italian as functional as possible by October 31, my first volunteer shift, and I have much to do. Much!
Therefore, this morning as I drank my espresso and practiced Italian, I considered my strategy. I am getting too confused and too hyperactive. I am studying too much in books, and jumping around too much in a given day from one language to the next, and from one resource to the next. I am seriously using about 40 things at once. I need to solidify the boundaries between languages, and to do that, I believe I need more solid blocks of calm, structured time with each.
I also need more oral practice. I have so many brand new Pimsleur lessons that I have never tried before (part of their new Level 4 offerings for various languages). In addition, Pimsleur is extremely efficient at reviving my skills in languages I have started to forget. The grammar books are a critical part of that process, but since I know quite a lot of grammar already, and since I will be talking to humans at the marathon, not trying to do well on grammar exercises, I have decided to jam through as much Pimsleur as possible in the next couple of weeks, focusing on only one or two languages a day rather than three to five, as I have been doing.
To move that effort along, tonight I went running, accompanied by Pimsleur. I am having trouble remembering what lesson I am on for what language, so before heading out the door, I marked notes on my arm for Italian and Portuguese. Looking down at my annotated skin, I was reminded of how triathletes write their race numbers on themselves for competition. I am not big on either biking or swimming, but if I am studying Pimsleur while running, perhaps that qualifies me as a biathlete at least?
What has made me so hyperactive lately is the glorious array of products to be reviewed, now sitting in an orderly and patient—and yet extremely seductive—fashion in the to-be-reviewed section of my language-learning library. Here is some language porn for the similarly fanatical among you.
Chinese, ESL, and French
French and German
German, Hebrew, and Italian
Italian and More Italian
Portuguese and Spanish
I think I will need longer than I was expecting to get through all the things shown here—through early 2014, I would guess. By the way, I also have electronic products that do not even appear on these to-be-reviewed shelves—invisible learning methods to supplement those that can be seen by the naked eye.
I am excited about the weeks and months ahead. Why I like doing endless grammar exercises, I do not know, but that is my nature, and I am embracing it!