Benny Lewis! I have a love hate relationship with him I think. Ok I don’t know him from Adam and I can guarantee that he doesn’t know me. What I am referring to is his Blog. So often the blog gives specific advice that I just can’t and wont do. I wont get into all the details, but I will say this: His advice is great for a single guy who travels the world.
Its something that single people don’t understand about married people and married couples don’t understand about those of us who are married with children: Nothing is just yours anymore.
Your money, your house, your bed, and yes your free time is now shared by your partner and your kids. Do I hate it? No. I got home last night and spent my entire free time sorting laundry, washing dishes, and catching up on heaps of honey do’s. During that time I also had to pull out a plastic daisy that my 4-year-old got stuck up her nose. So my “free” time is not mine, it goes into the family vault and is used up as the family wants it. When I do plan to go out what do I plan? A family outing. Who do I hang out with, other couples with kids my age. This is just what its like as a parent.
Is that ok? Of course I wouldn’t have it any other way, but no I am not going to have meet ups, intercambios, and I am not going to speak in Spanish all day.
So why do you keep reading his blog?
Despite the fact that sometimes what he say gets on my nerves, the other things he says are fantastic and inspire me to go on! This is what I mean by Love/Hate. Its not middle ground with him!
Lets look at this latest post: The only way to get far quickly is to get out of your comfort zone (my typical day learning Mandarin). I love this condescending attitude he has about a typical day of a language learner:
[They] Get up, work, study some vocab in the break, after work get the weekly one hour private lesson, and speak in English the entire time, go home and study for an hour, then go out with your English speaking mates for the rest of the night, complaining about how hard Chinese is… in English. Satisfied that 2 or 3 entire hours of “hard” work mean he’s done his part on the “long road” to speak the language some day. (emphasis mine)
There is more than just this part, but this part gets to the core of my annoyance. First of all I know what Benny is trying to say, but this attitude that people just have this freedom to leave their English speaking world behind, but wont is annoying to me. To leave my English speaking world would be selfish of me. To cut out even a part of that English would be to either cut my work, cut out my family time, or cut my time with my wife. Maybe I am making too much of it, but it still annoys me the attitude of your just not trying hard enough, because you speak English all day!
That said I love and am inspired by that same article! How? Read this:
One reason it will indeed take you years to learn a language is if you make sure you are comfortable the entire time. Stay indoors with software that mostly requires that you just click a few buttons, sit down with a book or go for a pleasant jog with a podcast on, go to a class and let the teacher do all the talking, or do exercises only at the level prescribed to you. Even if you are pouring everything into studying hard, is that really trying as hard as you can? Working hard is not the same as living hard.
In my mind, this isn’t good enough and it’s too academic. The real world presents you with problems and learning opportunities before you are ready. The more you are exposed to them, the faster you’ll be forced to learn.(emphasis not mine, but I agree with them)
I don’t have much more to say about that than what he has said! I have talked about this as well on my post about yin and yang, It’s ok to study structured and preplanned activities, but if you don’t expose yourself to Unstructured unplanned activities as well then your language acquisition is hampered.
My comfort zone
That was a long-winded introduction to the meat of what I was going to say, but that just who I am and to thine own self be true. About two months ago I introduce, correct my spanish. The idea is was that I was going to record stuff and get corrected and post it on my blog. It did work for a while, but I got less consistent in making the recordings and I also got too dependant upon a few very wonderful followers who corrected my spanish for me!
First of all I am going to Change this format! From now on I will be recording things about any and all topics, I will not stop talking about the topic if I don’t know the word in Spanish. I will use English and go on. I want to expose the holes in my Spanish now. Why don’t I just write it out before hand and then try to translate it? Because I am trying to practice my ability to improvise and think in Spanish. I don’t want to think in English and translate.
Second of all I am going to be correcting it myself! I wont post anything until it is corrected and then I will post it for everyone to tear apart. I guess it is becoming Correct my Corrections. I am pushing myself more with this!
Finally I am going to do weekly videos. Spanish Friday is now Spanish Video Friday. Just so you know I am also going to be doing weekly Thai videos for my other blog, but both will be available on my Youtube channel. I have put a field on the right hand side for those who want to send comments or questions about what you would like me to talk about.
There you have it. This is the plan. Its going to be uncomfortable for me and it might before you guys as well, but If you stick with me I will get better soon!