I am on a bit of a learning kick right now. I have been impressed with the breadth of materials available online and via sources like Audible, Kindle, Coursera, Kahn Academy, TED, etc. As I think more and more about my current role leading product management for Kindle reader software, I have taken on the challenge of broadening my expectations of what is possible with what we are delivering. I am still circling around the right short answer to “what do you do” but where it is trending is something along the lines of “empowering anytime learning in an age of information abundance.” That’s still a little too broad, but I like the challenge it presents when compared to the more banal “design features for eReaders.”
With that in mind, I have been spending my commuting and training time listening to TED talks, Great Courses, and re-learning Spanish via Pimsleur method. I was rated “proficient” in Spanish in college, but let’s be serious. If I was lost in Spain or Mexico at that time, I would not have found my way home. I might have found my way to the library, and declared that the pen was on the table, but that’s about it.
The Pimsleur course has been pretty amazing, especially considering I never really considered myself a foreign language guy. I think this had more to do with how I was taught. Pimsleur works for me. I tried Rosetta Stone with Spanish, but I just didn’t click with it. However, because of my grade school, high school, and one college year of Spanish, it turns out that my Spanish vocabulary is quite a bit broader than I had imagined. I feel like I am cheating in the “learn a new language” challenge right now.
Before I started with Spanish, I tested Pimsleur with German, as I had no prior knowledge of the language. My best friend is a native speaker, so I did it for a month, and then dropped some German on him. He was surprised at how much I had learned in such a short period of time. He did point out that it was “high German” and quite formal, but good nonetheless. Sadly, German is not a daily part of my life. Not on TV. No books. Magazines. Whatever. Even he suggested I learn a different language. Regardless, it was clear Pimsleur was working for me.
As I move into Phase3 of the Spanish course, I want to start a completely new language with Pimsleur. I don’t want to have any knowledge of the language, the vocab, the sentence structure. Nothing. However, I also want to be able to make some practical use of the language. There are more than enough Spanish TV stations on Comcast here in Seattle. Since Pimsleur is mostly spoken lessons, learning any language not based in the Latin alphabet may prove to be a fruitless endeavor, as I am guessing it would suck to learn how to speak, but be illiterate. I would love to get feedback from the community on that one. It would be nice to build the skill over time to eventually get to the point where I can partake of native language media, but certainly to engage in a native conversation.
Below is the table of language courses available to me from Pimsleur. Cast your vote for what I should attempt to tackle next. My vectors for this decision are: access to media which would allow me to exercise my understanding of that language; access to native speakers here in USA, and of course abroad.
|egyptian arabic||indonesian||swiss german|