February 4, 2012 | Hebrew

Studying and Overcaffeinated

Project update, plus a pretty silly language-learning ad.

It has been 29 days since my last blog entry and I have…studied.

Multilingual Coffee at Aroma

Multilingual Coffee at Aroma

I really have, and every day. I just didn’t happen to blog about it, because life intruded, and while I love writing about language learning, if you don’t actually do the learning, there is nothing to write about. So the writing is the thing that went out the window.

I feel bad about neglecting that aspect of this project (sorry, Hebrew) and am going to extend my Hebrew unit by a few days to try to make up for it.  

I am at present on lesson 89 of 90 Pimsleur lessons, so nearly done. Many of these have been completed at Aroma, the Israeli-owned cafĂ© I have mentioned previously, which has caused my caffeine intake to skyrocket.

I am with great trepidation planning to stop drinking coffee altogether in a couple of days, because I am already hyperactive enough without adding stimulants, so I will need to come up with another good language-learning beverage accompaniment.

Me at the Jewish Community Center Doing Pimsleur

Me at the Jewish Community Center Doing Pimsleur

It will probably be tea. Maybe Chinese herbal tea, for my Chinese unit?

I have also been going regularly to the Jewish Community Center, known around these here parts as the JCC, but I have to confess, my main accomplishment there has been working out to disco music. I really don’t do too much working out with language lessons anymore, because it’s kind of stressful to try to grow your brain and your biceps simultaneously.

I was surprised to notice a television screen there the other day showing footage from CNN with Hebrew captions; I had never noticed Hebrew programming in the JCC gym before. But the television is close to the ceiling, and I tend to be so oblivious of my physical surroundings that I think it may be some kind of cognitive disability. If someone did a study of people who have lived on the Upper West Side for 10 years or more (which I have), looking at, say, their ability to recognize buildings within three blocks of where they live, I am pretty sure I would score in the bottom 10 percent.

CNN at the JCC with Hebrew

CNN at the JCC with Hebrew

On another subject: a number of people have sent me notes about Michael Erard’s new book on crazily gifted language learners, Babel No More, which came out last month—thank you for the tips! The book is something I am aware of, have read (enthusiastically), and will be writing about very shortly, I hope (but can’t quite promise) tomorrow.

Recently I have been noticing an ad on the subway for the language-learning products of a company called Living Language. 

New York subway campaigns are often multi-poster extravaganzas. Well, “extravaganza” may be an overstatement, since we are talking about things that are placed in the innards of a subway car…so not exactly the status of, say, a half-time Superbowl spot.

Living Language, Promoting Chinese Studies

Living Language, Promoting Chinese Studies

And Selling French, Too

And Selling French, Too

I hate to say this, but I think this campaign is dorky.

One thing I find funny is the way they can’t help sticking all their languages on each poster. The French poster reads, nonsensically, “Learn French on the subway. Claim you learned it in France. (Or German, Italian, Chinese or Spanish).”

Hmm, I Can't Even Understand the Lyrics of Songs in English

Hmm, I Can’t Even Understand the Lyrics of Songs in English

Speaking of ads, the most popular piece I have ever posted in this blog by far was an April 6, 2011, entry about another piece of advertising, for Burlington Coat Factory.

That one has gotten way more comments and traffic than any other entry on this site, though visitors are often motivated by things other than a love of language learning. Not long ago, someone sent me the following urgent query:

I saw a Burlington Coat Factory TV commercial about two dresses: a long-sleeve gold sweater dress and a sleevless Red/White/Black Tonal Sheath Dress and I can’t find the dress in your stores in Albuquerque, NM. Where can I find the Red/White/Black Tonal Sheath Dress? Please answer as soon as possible.  

Thank you, 

Maria (name changed to protect the confused)

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