29 May

NEW BLOG! I have been talking about it for awhile now, but now is the launch of my new blog, It’s just basically going to be a more organized way for me to write about my experience with languages, my goals, and my progress. If you like  what I’ve wrote here, you’ll like my new blog better, as I should be posting 2 a week. Some will be similar to old posts, as I’m basically starting afresh, but I’ll be putting in new material and updates soon!


Great German material for intermediate-advanced!

20 Feb

A popular German television show from the 90’s is available on youtube called “Kommissar Rex.” It’s a crime/detective series where a detective, his team, and his German Shepard “Rex” solve a new crime every episode. They’re about 45-50 minute long episodes, and I’ve been watching about one per week. They’re available on youtube with or without English subtitles, depending on the provider.
Also I read a short detective story on that you can find in the German library. Look up: Szene 01 – Die Kommissarin wird angerufen. T * T * * T – Ein Podcastkrimi. Needless to say, my German vocabulary is starting to get more specialized around crime and the law!


Pablo Neruda #2 (Español)

16 Feb

Usualmente no disfruto tanto de leer poesía, pero hago una excepción para Pablo Neruda. El tiene una manera de captar momentos y sensaciones, con los cuales cada persona puede identificar (por lo menos, yo personalmente identifico con las emociones que describe).

Aqui les presento un ejemplo de su poesía, que me gusta bastante.

Poema 20

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.

Escribir, por ejemplo: «La noche está estrellada,
y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos.»

El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oír la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos,
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa,
y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.

American Hockey

15 Feb

St. Louis Blues v Phoenix CoyotesMy heart is still pounding from the shootout win that team USA had over team Russia in Ice Hockey in Sochi. Oshie (plays for the St Lewis Blues) did an amazing job to get the US a shootout win. I played hockey growing up (I wasn’t any good, I made a competitive travel team, but was third line. I was always more of a soccer player).

All that being said, the Russians earned a third goal in regulation that would have given them the win, but the goal was off the pegs. It was an unfortunate turn of events, and I’m glad that it’s not for a medal, because the Russians played great and earned the win, it’s just unfortunate that the goal was knocked off of it’s pegs, discrediting the goal.

I love olympic hockey, and only occasionally watch the NHL. Even though the players love competing in the games, the NHL owners don’t like shutting the NHL down for the games and giving their players up. The NHL glorifies dirty play, and those greedy money grubbers want to make the olympics without NHL players, which would kill the quality of play. If they go forth and due this, I’ll never buy tickets for or even watch another NHL game on TV until they reverse this. Hopefully the players fight this change. The owners previously thought that the olympic games would bring more popularity and attention to the sport, and bring advertising the  NHL. Now many of them are thinking that this doesn’t make up a lot of attention, and isn’t profitable for the league and the sport. 😦 I (needless to say) strongly disagree.

I’m looking forward to more exciting games in Sochi! And with all this American/Russian hockey excitement, don’t forget about the Canadians! They have a great team and will have a great shot at gold.

Paulo Coelho

14 Feb

the-alchemist-gnI finished reading “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho in Portuguese, and I wanted to put down my thoughts on the matter somewhere, and maybe I’ll make a video in Portuguese for youtube… later

Coelho is well-read throughout the world, and is a popular modern Brazilian writer, who often is polarizing due to his philosophy and “spirituality” that some people find attractive and others find off-putting.

“The Alchemist” is a book about a Spanish shepherd, and who has recurrent dreams about a treasure in Egypt, and who decides to travel across Northern Africa to discover this treasure, thereby living his “personal legend.” The ‘spirituality/philosophy’ is that each person has a “person legend” that he/she should live and fulfill to find their true happiness. That everyone’s soul has something that it should be doing to find true inner peace and happiness. This is a simplification, but I’m not going to go into all of the details in a blog post, if you want all the details, you can google ‘Paulo Coelho’ or read one of his books!

I really don’t agree with the author’s world-view. I don’t believe that every person has one ‘true calling,’ nor do I believe that there is only one other person that you were meant to be with and marry. He also believes that people become more enlightened by their experiences and traveling. Coelho shares his philosophy with stories and parables in the story, but when you boil it down to it’s bare bones, that’s what it comes down to, and to me it seems a bit ridiculous. But these ideas are very popular in our post-modernist world, where (at least in the USA), so many people talk about “the importance of traveling” and how you should “chose the job that you love and were meant to do.” As far as the importance of traveling goes, I am 100% against it. Travel if you love it, but if you don’t, save your money. Traveling can broaden your horizons and give you new skill sets, but it doesn’t always. I find more often than not that travelers aren’t any wiser than the average person who lived in the same place, the only difference is that they more readily put on airs over those who haven’t travelled. Ironically these are often the same people who complain about globalism, yet if everyone travels globally, naturally our cultures will mesh and globalism is inevitable!

More often than not, Paulo Coelho fans (in my experience with the author and books) are female, yet I’ve met men who love his books and women who dislike them. I think that he’s an interesting character and is worth reading, especially for foreigner’s learning Portuguese! His language is simple and the books are short. So while I think there are definitely more worthwhile Brazilian and Portuguese authors worth reading, I think Paulo Coelho is still great for expanding your vocabulary and reading in Portuguese.

Confession of a language addict

13 Jan

I tried to stay away from language learning for 6 weeks to focus on a major medical exam, but I find that I NEED to go over language texts or listen to a foreign language in order to feel better during my day. I’m still not studying any language, but every day I review some Chinese characters (5-15 minutes a day), and will either watch a few short youtube videos in a different language or read a short text in German.


Do you have the same problem? While actively studying a language though, this passion is not enough for true progress. This energy, desire, and excitement needs structure and framework to make true progress, however, this passion is the energy, that with solid framework and organization, will lead to fluency and improvements in speaking foreign languages.

Looking back at 2013

29 Dec

Here is a video I made talking about some of my 2013 goals, and how I did (along with my self-evaluation of the languages I speak following the Common European Framework).

I’m going to disappear for the next 6 weeks to study for my board exams. That means no foreign language studying. I know I often talk about “making time” even when busy, but in this case I have priorities, and it’s only for the short term. After these 6 weeks up, I’ll update here and on my youtube what my plans are for future language learning in 2014. I have some exciting plans, so stay tuned!

Too busy to learn languages?

21 Dec


Check the youtubes for my new video. In the video I mention how I have been busy on my medicine, Ob/Gyn, and surgery rotations over the past 5 months, and have had precious little extra time to sit down and study languages. While this has been a hinderance to learning new languages, I still continued to improve the languages that I speak, by living through the languages, which I believe is the key to becoming multilingual while living a busy life. I no longer need to  study French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, or Russian, since these languages have become integrated into my life and what I do on a day-to-day basis. I’m certified to work in Spanish and French in the hospital (which the medical teams and patients that I work with greatly appreciate), and I use Russian regularly, since I have a Ukrainian roommate and many Russian friends. In fact, just yesterday I got my haircut from barbers from the former Soviet Union, and the whole time I was there we only spoke Russian.

Therefore, my advice to aspiring polyglots is to NOT learn too many languages at the same time. I know, this is often easier said than done, and now I sometimes become hypocritical, but all of the languages that I speak well, I focused on uniquely for an extended period of time until I had friends who spoke exclusively in said language with me, I could watch movies, read the papers, and read a novel in the language. I understand that I can be somewhat hypocritical here, but when I spread myself  thin, I do not have the same success.

If you want to be multilingual do yourself a favor and follow the following steps:

1. Pick the language that you need/want to learn the most, and focus exclusively on said language. Plan a trip to a country where this language is spoken within the next 2 years, and work on speaking the language as much as possible. A trip to the country is fantastic because it gives you motivation to reach fluency by a certain degree.

2. Due what interests you in the language. I love film and literature, so I start to learn about popular movies and books from the nation, and choose 5-10 movies and 1-3 books that I want to read.

3. Find people with whom you can speak /write to exclusively in your target language.

The above three steps are assuming you have a beginning threshold in the language. Of course, if you need to start from scratch, you need different advice for the beginning stage, but that’s not covered in todays topic :).

Happy learning and happy holidays!


Goals revisited!

9 Oct

Times have been busy in my life. I’m doing an Ob/Gyn rotation in Brooklyn, with an hour commute, long hours, and this week I’m working nights 5 pm to 6 am (tonight we don’t have to come in until 9 though, hence why I’m writing! Needless to say I’ve been doing little language study, but I still listen to foreign language audio on the train to and from work, so I still am keeping to my goals when I can, while still working hard and studying medicine.

So, a couple of weeks ago I made several goals, accountability is important, so lets see how I did!

1. Look in to/Fill out an application for a bioethics course in Germany/Poland next summer.

SUCCESS: Hopefully I’ll be accepted, if I am, I’ll start studying Polish before I leave to have 5-6 months of Polish study as well as knowing German. The focus of my trip will be to learn about bioethics though, and not language emersion, so I likely won’t use a lot of German/Polish while there, but I always like to know the local language when I travel for whatever reason.

2. Finish writing up a medical case report that I’ve been working on.

FAIL: No time, and this was optional, so I decided to have more free time instead.

3. Watch 2 German movies, 1 German documentary,

Success! Youtube is great for documentaries, my roommate wanted to see Der Untergang (Downfall) and it was on Netflicks, and I saw “Europa Europa” on youtube. I highly recommend it!

4. Have at least 1 German meet-up conversation in the city (maybe 2)

FAIL: didn’t work out 😦

5. Italian practice and Italian movie

FAIL: No italian done, but for some reason my facebook feed is picking up all of the Pope’s tweets/updates, and they are all in Italian, so I read Papal messages  daily in Italian. 🙂

6. 10 minutes a day of Memrise Chinese review (I’ve been sorely neglecting my Chinese character study)

FAIL: didn’t do any work on Memrise. Sitting in front of the computer doing language study has never been my strong suit, but I need to find a way to learn these characters eventually.

7. 3 Pimleur’s Mandarin lessons

FAIL: I did 2 lessons and listened to each twice because some of the vocabulary wasn’t sticking after the first pass. Now I feel better about it.

8. Read 200 pages in Les miserables

FAIL: I’ve read about 75 pages that week.

9. Finish the short story I started writing last month.

FAIL: Socialized and hung out with friends instead.


SO what do we learn from this? It’s that while I didn’t nearly achieve all of my goals, I did achieve a lot, and I believe setting goals is a great way to get a lot done, even if you don’t get everything done that you would like. Instead of squandering this free week and just having full all week, I enjoyed myself and had fun, and I was productive, so that I can feel good about my week and about myself in the end. I found the right work/play balance, and was able to recharge my “batteries” to continue with my next rotation.

Goals for next week! German week!

22 Sep

Hey everybody,

I’m taking a short study break to write a quick post about next week. 

Tomorrow morning I have a major exam for internal medicine, but then after that I have 3 days of light classes, then a 3 day weekend, which means that I’ll have much more time to devote to other hobbies. Now, I believe that it’s good to make unrealistic over the top lists and goals, and then knock off as much as you can in the time. That being said, a list prioritizing what I really want done vs. what I’ll do if I have time is essential.

1. Look in to/Fill out an application for a bioethics course in Germany/Poland next summer.

2. Finish writing up a medical case report that I’ve been working on.

3. Watch 2 German movies, 1 German documentary,

4. Have at least 1 German meet-up conversation in the city (maybe 2)

5. Italian practice and Italian movie

6. 10 minutes a day of Memrise Chinese review (I’ve been sorely neglecting my Chinese character study) 

7. 3 Pimleur’s Mandarin lessons

8. Read 200 pages in Les miserables

9. Finish the short story I started writing last month.


Possible? Absolutely not, especially since I’ll also be working out 4-5 days of the week, maybe play a soccer game, and hang out with friends. However, as time permits, these are the things that I’m going to try to knock out.