Language Lab

My Russian Adventure

Hitting the Skids

It is one of those make or break moments. I have had many distractions and have neglected my studies.

It is the moment that one comes face to face with Resistance, the greatest enemy to progress. Resistance tells us to take a break when one is not needed. Resistance says that things over there are more important - like watching TV. Resistance is the great liar.

Resistance is also a master manipulator. It whispers "You have time" when time is the only finite thing in the world.

Today, I had a conversation with Resistance over a cup of Pu-erh tea. It was more like a direct speech. See the thing about Resistance is that it always backs down in the face of strength.

I have to end this now. Time to go study.

Patience Now

"Lord give me patience. . . now" Still one of the funniest quotes I ever heard. I probably could have written it as it has been theme in my life for a long time.

Fortunately, openness to newness is also a characteristic and though Impatience and Openness often do battle, there are a fair amount of moments of peace. One was demonstrated here.

I pushed on to find a teacher and pushed hard. Interviews, setting up interviews and the like, all of which produced frustration and disappointment. So I stopped pushing and just decided to let it go.

Enter Alex. 

Alex is a polyglot from Turkey who is fluent in Arabic, Japanese, English, Spanish and the star of the show - Russian. In fact, it was his first language, thanks to his Mom and Dad.

I took a lesson from him and was over the moon. Simply outstanding! Very interesting, funny and intelligent person, his energy and mine mixed. Short and sweet of it, I have a teacher now, most happy to say.

Moral of the story - keep your intention pure and alive. Let the Tao handle the details and everything always works out.

Flowing? Nyet!

For reasons unknown, things are not flowing very well language-wise. Every other area is great but language has not worked out according to plans. My one teacher is no longer teaching and the new one scheduled for today, cancelled due to an emergency. I have a second new teacher scheduled for an interview and lesson about 2 hours from how.

What do you do when things are not flowing?

The answer is simple. Do. . . .nothing. Lack of flow typically stems from too much activity, too much action and/or action that is being forced. So sit back, kick back and allow the Tao to sort things out. When the time is right, all is revealed in its elegant form.

Even language lessons.

​When You Feel Like Quitting

Quitting. It is so easy. You really don't have to do anything except stop doing. You decide. You stop. End of story. Or is it?

Guilt, disappointment, lower self-esteem and an assortment of other "prizes" often accompany quitting. The feelings are truly horrible. You try to rationalize or explain them away. You hang around people who quit and thus can empathize. 

You have admirable excuses - work, no time, the kids, family etc., and deep down, you know nothing of this is truth. It is all part of the "disease" of quitting. 

Stop. Regroup. Take 2 days off. Re-plan or find a new strategy. Get a coach and some people to help you, a support team. 

A year from now you will be a year old. At this time, you either will have done. . . .or will regret not doing. 

The pain of the latter far outweighs the pain the of the former. Take action now that your future self will absolutely love. Give yourself the gift of fortitude and determination and grit.

Common people quit. Be uncommon.

1.4.18.  One of the important aspects of learning a language is to find a good teacher. Now what qualifies as a "good teacher?" I can provide a list of characteristics but at the end of the day, a good teacher is one that you connect with and one that you make consistent progress with.

I had a lesson today with Vita. A very nice, talented teacher but I did not connect with her style to any degree. And so, the search continues.

I have used to find teachers and one thing for certain, at the beginning (learning) phase, do not waste time or money on "community" teachers. GO WITH A PROFESSIONAL. Community teachers may be fine if you have a decent level of skill but most of them (at least the one's I have worked with), do not know how to teacher. They know how to speak and how to correct you. Of course, if you have a baseline, this is perfect.

I am at the beginning phase so this is pointless now.

Yes, they typically are $5-8 on average, more expensive but well worth it.

1.02.18. I have been involved with martial arts since 1985 and have loved virtually every second of training. By far, the best art I have come across is a Russian one called Systema. This is the motivation for my language learning.

Without motivation - a "carrot" - it is very difficult if not impossible to succeed. You have to have a reason and the reason needs to be powerful. "Would you get up at 4 in the morning do to this?" If you answered YES, congratulations, You have already succeeded. If NO, go back to the drawing board and find your "4-o'clock passion."

Following passion, the next in line is a list of resources. Mind you, there are hundreds of apps and various resources and probably thousands of blogs and other sites. Some are great. Some . . .well, let's say if they are taken down tomorrow, the Internet will survive. Some are greatly overrated while others are underappreciated. Who decided which is which?

YOU. What is effective for some may have little value to another. You have to use trial and error to determine which site, app and/or teacher is right for you.

Once you have the motivation and the "tools" you are ready to go.  Some may ask, "What about discipline and willpower?" Neither will get you to the finish line. Passion is the only fuel that has long lasting effects. Discipline will create pain if you are not enjoying yourself. Willpower has a finite life. It is passion that will get you doing. It is passion that will keep you there and move you forward. That is why it is listed first.

Speak from Day 1. Make 1001 mistakes. Be OK with sounding "foolish" or self-conscious, knowing you really cannot speak well. All of this are stepping stones along the way to fluency. 

Stick with it.

I am. Join me. It is more fun when you take a ride with someone.

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