March 18, 2010 | Korean
Alas, VocabuLearn is dead. Or at least dying.
This morning I left a voicemail message for Penton Overseas, makers of VocabuLearn (and “The Global Language Specialists,” according to the back of the VocabuLearn packaging). I wanted to see if I could get on their mailing list for product updates, though the fact that I could find no evidence of a website suggested to me that all was not well with VocabuLearn.
A short time later, I got a call back, from a somewhat mournful-sounding man who told me the sad news: VocabuLearn is a casualty of global economic disaster.
“In a bad economy, education is the first thing to go,” he said, explaining that Penton is now out of retail altogether. They are currently the distributor for a product called “Your Baby Can Read.” I’m pro-literacy, but if I had to choose between VocabuLearn and reading babies, I would pick VocabuLearn.
How sad that this product will no longer be updated and supported. It’s not a perfect product, but I find it to be earnest and sincere. These are two of the same qualities I appreciate about Pimsleur. The focus in both, though they are totally different types of products, is hard-core nuts-and-bolts learning, which is as it should be, rather than on lazy glamour. In recent years I have seen too many learning products—mostly in the corporate market, where I have more experience—that reflect an emphasis on multimedia whiz-bang gimmicks over content.
I know there is market pressure to be snazzy, and I believe one should take advantage of technological advances, but with wisdom and moderation. I am sick of the emphasis on making products look like TV shows or videogames, often at the expense of meaningful content. Most real learning demands long-term, intensive labor and quiet contemplation (i.e., no exploding buildings, crashing airplanes, or scantily clad cocktail waitresses).
Anyway, enough mourning and griping, and back to fun stuff I have been learning. (Note: I know many people—though fewer nowadays—were taught not to use “fun” as an adjective; I reject the argument against it as a dying one and use “fun,” adjectivally, with full self-awareness and not a little glee.)
So what have I been studying this week? Pimsleur lessons galore, which I keep having to redo up to four times each. One of my favorite new Pimsleur phrases is, “How about Starbucks?” The Korean translation is something like Starbucks-oh oh-tay-oh (though I may have an extra oh in there somewhere).
Other vocabulary I have been studying, in my various books, appears to the left here.
I can’t say that I have yet retained these particular words and phrases—they are just not at the top of my must-be-used list—but I have been amused by them nonetheless.
Plus, I need the writing practice.