Sunday, May 16, 2010

My Second Mandarin YouTube Video: Resumed Cantonese Studies!

Good evening from Singapore!

I am pleased to let you know that I have just shot and uploaded my second video in Mandarin Chinese on YouTube.

Please check out this video:

For those of you who do not speak Mandarin, in this video I am talking about my recent decision to resume studying Cantonese, and about how I became interested in this language.

My only regret is that throughout the video I had to speak exclusively in Mandarin, because I am still way too shy to talk Cantonese in front of my viewers!

Previously, I studied Cantonese off and on for a few years, but only to a limited degree of success. Up until now, in terms of proficiency and fluency, my Mandarin Chinese is far better than my Cantonese, in which I can barely stumble along.

However, I really love learning Cantonese, not least because I love the Hong Kong pop culture, including Canto pop music, and Hong Kong movies.

Phonetic wise, I also love the sound of it, in comparison with some of the other Chinese dialects, including Shanghainese and Taiwanese. To me Cantonese sounds not only music-like, but also downright sexy!

What with my other language learning commitments and all (mainly my French studies), I had not studied Cantonese for quite some time.

But recently, I've decided to take up my Cantonese studies again, simply because I just couldn't resist the temptation!

Given my solid foundation in Mandarin (if I say so myself), I already have an advantage over other learners of Cantonese with no knowledge of Chinese, so if I really put my heart into learning Cantonese, I think I stand a decent chance of becoming fluent in the dialect in the not-so-distant future.

As for my method of learning Cantonese, I am making use of the audio podcast of RTHK's One Minute Reading column, where I can find tons of Chinese texts read aloud in Cantonese by the author of these articles. I download the related audio files from the Internet, and listen to and repeat after them over and over again to improve my Cantonese accent.

I hope my Cantonese can become good enough in the near future, such that I can gain enough confidence to shoot some Cantonese videos on YouTube. When that happens, I will make sure to let you know!

By the way, for those of you who understand Chinese, please do let me know what you think of this latest video, so I can improve myself.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Talk to you again soon!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Learning French Slang at Full Throttle!

For those of you who have not been following my Japanese blog, this is a continuation of the 2 latest posts, in which I've written that my laptop has broken down and that I've been making do with my iPhone for the Internet access.

As my iPhone's Japanese keyboard is also out of order, I am left with no choice but to blog in English, which is something that I'm not really accustomed to do.

Anyway, given that Yahoo Japan's blogging platform has poor compatibility with the English language, I will write my further English posts here. I will resume blogging at my Japanese blog site as soon as my laptop gets fixed.

I've been really busy with my work these past few weeks, but I've somehow managed to stay diligent in my French studies, and I've been hitting the books everyday.

Currently I am studying Dictionary of French Slang and Colloquial Expressions, published by Barron's. I started learning this dictionary on April 1, and so far I have covered the first 95 pages out of the total of 374 pages, amounting to a bit more than a quarter of the dictionary. The number of slang items learned is roughly 1,100 as of today.

Up till now, learning French slang has been an immensely enjoyable experience, and doing my daily learning routine after a stressful day at work really relieves my tension and lifts up my spirits! I can sense that my French is progressing by leaps and bounds (if I say so myself), and this is a wonderful feeling!

I'm determined to keep the momentum going, and I plan to finish learning this dictionary by the target date of July 14.

Talk to you again soon!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My First YouTube Video in French!

Hello again from Singapore! Hope you are having a nice and relaxing weekend.

I am pleased to let you know that I have just shot and uploaded my very first YouTube video in French. Please check out this video:

I've been meaning to shoot this video for the longest time, but I've put it off until today, what with my busy schedule and all.

For those of you who are curious about what I'm saying in the video, I am talking about how I've managed to improve my French over the last seven years, through among other things reading many French books for children, listening to French audio CDs for children, and doing lots of grammar exercises.

I'd be delighted if you could let me know what you think! Please by all means leave your comments, so I can improve myself in the future!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Uncle Polyglot

Bonjour, tout le monde!

Aujourd'hui, j'ai finalement enregistré ma première vidéo en français sur YouTube.

Je suis toujours en train de perfectionner mon français, et je l'apprends tous les jours.

N'hésitez pas s'il vous plaît à laisser vos commentaires pour que je puisse améliorer mon français.

Je souhaite à vous tous un très bon weekend!

Meilleures salutations,

Uncle Polyglot

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Method for Mastering French Vocabulary!

Starting from this week, I am doing a little experiment with a new method of expanding my French vocabulary, using my French CD-Rom dictionary.

I've found this method quite useful and amazing, and so I've decided to share it with my readers.

I call it "the railroad map method."

What I do in this method are as follows:

First, launch the French dictionary "Le nouveau Petit Robert de la langue française" installed on my computer.

Then, randomly pick out a word that I like, and look at the French explanation.

For example, today I picked the word amorphe, and found the French explanation: sans énergie, sans réaction. Furthermore, I found some synonyms of the word amorphe: apathique, atone, inconsistant, mou.

What is amazing about this dictionary is that each of these synonyms comes with its own hyperlink which allows me to click and jump straight to that synonym itself.

What I do in the next step is jump to one of the synonyms (or anonyms sometimes) to find out its meaning, and if this synonym in turn shows its own synonyms, I will jump yet again to find out the meaning of the new synonym, and I will go on and on like this until I reach a dead end.

In the course of jumping from synonym to synonym, I make a point of writing down in my notebook the words that I have learned in the sequence in which I found them.

After doing this for about an hour, my notebook will look like this:

It looks a bit like a railroad map with the name of each station. Each of these words is a synonym of its neighbors to the right and left, and therefore in this chain of words, one word is closely related to the next in terms of its meaning.

What makes this "railroad map" particularly useful is that, it can help you understand and memorize the meaning of these words far more easily than if you pick out the same number of words randomly and try to get them into your head by rote memory.

In fact, moving along the line from one word to another does feel like riding a train, where you see the scenery that is gradually changing from one minute to the next.

In the example shown in the picture above, it starts with amorphe meaning "lacking energy", and along the line you will see words meaning "fading", "flaccid", "smooth", etc, each one with a slightly different meaning from the next. Towards the end of the line, you will see words meaning "disgusting", "stinky", etc, which are totally different from the first word! It's not unlike riding the Orient Express from London to Istanbul.

In the same way as witnessing a gradually changing landscape from a moving train, looking at the "railroad map" and tracing the line of words related to one another will definitely help me retain these new words in my memory. It also feels like reading a story with an evolving plot. Either way, it's a big change from the monotonous memorization of a group of words listed in alphabetical order in a vocabulary textbook.

The only catch with this method is that you need to install this Petit Robert dictionary on your computer (for those of you who are interested, you can get it here at Amazon France), and that your French needs to be at least at an intermediate level in order to comprehend the dictionary explanation shown entirely in French.

I really feel that with this method, the previously daunting task of expanding my French vocabulary has gotten a lot easier, and I am more motivated than ever to study tons of new French words. Hope in the coming weeks I will be able to improve and sophisticate this "railroad map method", so that I can eventually acquire an extensive French vocabulary!

Many thanks for reading this post. Wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My New Year's Resolutions

Hello again from Singapore, and a Happy New Year to all my readers!

I am writing this post today to let you know that I have just made my New Year's resolutions as shown below:

First of all, I will continue to work hard at French this year, and am determined to improve my French to the point where I can read French novels without consulting the dictionary. I intend to achieve this target by means of studying thousands of French words, idioms and slang. I would also like to improve my ability to speak French, by making conscious efforts to form sentences using the words and phrases that I have newly acquired.

Secondly, I've decided to update this English blog more often, so that I can expand my readership overseas. Currently, I am blogging far more frequently in Japanese than in English, and due to the language barrier my readership is basically limited to Japan only. I want to change this situation by taking away this language barrier and reaching out to readers from around the world. Seeing as I cannot speak or write in English as fluently as in Japanese, this will surely present some challenge for me, but I believe that practice makes perfect and that the more I write in English the more comfortable I become in this language, so I've decided to take on this challenge anyway.

Lastly, I will be posting YouTube videos more often than last year, in order to improve my presentation skills, be it in English, Japanese, Mandarin or French. Given that I'm still not used to making speeches, posting YouTube videos is a rather difficult task for me, but luckily the 4 videos that I have posted so far have received some favorable feedback from my viewers, so I'm really encouraged to shoot more videos going forward. I am currently planning to shoot a video in French, so please keep a lookout!

I am determined to make good on my New Year's resolutions mentioned above, and make 2010 another wonderful year for my personal development.

Here's wishing everyone a wonderful new year ahead!