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How to become a successful language learner

20/05/2021

Do you want to learn a new language? Or perhaps improve your command of a foreign language you speak already? Visit Galicia Unveiled for all your needs in English, Portuguese, Galician and Spanish 🙂

First, the naked truth: Your success in learning a language depends on you.

You may think that some people are just ‘good at languages’, but the greatest factor in your success is how much time and effort you are prepared to put in and how effectively you can direct that effort.

Breathe in, breathe out…
Be patient and keep on going!

Learning a language is a long-distance race that requires lots of patience. Just like practising a sport or learning to play a musical instrument, it’s all about doing a bit everyday and going step by step. Practice (repetition) makes perfect!

Sometimes you may think you are not improving, but you are. It happens that, as you are improving, you also realise there are more things you didn’t know, yet the constant effort does pay off when you compare your command of the target language in a time progression.

So remember: Be patient and keep on going. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes (and don’t be shy!). Practise, practise, and then practise some more. Every little helps.

How do you do this exactly?

Babies learn to speak by being exposed to a language all the time. In a way, if one wants to learn a new language one needs exposure to that language. Ideally you’d spend some time in another country but, if that’s not a real possibility, you have to create a “bubble” in that other language where you can “live in” for a while, everyday.

Yes, but how?

→ Attending classes: language classes are essential. Use the classes to ask questions, solve doubts, learn about grammar and general rules that you’ll later “see” everywhere. Actually, you don’t have to take lots of classes if you make good use of your time off-class, but take advantage of your time in the classes by preparing them beforehand.

→ Listen listen listen! Listen to the radio in the target language, watch films in the original version (first with subtitles in your own language, then with subtitles in the target language), listen to music while you sing along (follow the lyrics).
Any auditory input will help in familiarising yourself with the rhythm, intonation and sounds of the language. Each language has its own “music” and it has to become familiar to you. Do not worry too much about understanding everything while you’re doing this. Pay more attention to the voices, the accents, the words and sentences you do understand and how they are saying them.

Talk to yourself in the target language. Actually, you can even record yourself and then listen to the “sounds” you make!

→ Imitate: Like a parrot! Yes! Repeat those apparently weird sounds. If you feel ridiculous when you’re doing that it probably means you’re doing it alright, for you are pronouncing following the patterns of the target language and abandoning the comfort of your mother tongue.

→ Read: You don’t need to read a 500-page novel on the first day, but you can look for information on the internet on topics you like, maybe one of your hobbies. Read short stories, articles, read about stuff you are interested in.
For example, use Wikipedia in the target language. This way you’ll be both satisfying your curiosity (and getting the info you wanted) and practising another language without even realising. Again, it’s all about the simple daily things you can do.

→ Write: It’s ok, it’s not going to be published. Simply write for yourself, think about the grammar and vocabulary you’ve been learning and come up with your own sentences or short stories using that new knowledge. It is the most effective way to remember grammar and vocabulary, as you’re squeezing your brain, thinking in the target language, in the “proper way”. And there’s no rush.

→ Be active, in general. Practise as much as you can. Don’t let any opportunity pass to use the language you want to learn. Make it fun!

Languages are not just a work of art, but an endless source of works of art (Castelao said). Languages are not solely for “communication”, but also a way to express feelings, emotions, complex artistic forms. Languages depict the world around them and convey it to others. In a manner, a language “shapes” the world of its speakers as it responds to the needs and realities of those same speakers.
Therefore, every language – every dialect – has its nuances, its own peculiarities, and it’s important to be aware of that. As a matter of fact, learning a bit about the history of a language and the culture where it originated, or where it is spoken now, will give you a great insight into how exactly its speakers are using it and how the language is evolving.

Do remember to visit Galicia Unveiled for all your language and translation needs (English, Portuguese, Galician and Spanish) – Yours truly will be there 😀

The new madness

02/12/2020

It could be the “new normal”, but for me it’s more like the “new madness” 😅

A project that initially kicked off in May 2016 has just been totally revamped, and this is no other than my very own Galicia Unveiled, for all your Galizan needs 😊

Quoting:

In a nutshell, we offer:
Tourism
: Free walking tours in the award-winning city of Pontevedra. Other (non-free) locations and further services and travel arrangements are available on demand.
Language
: Teaching of English as a foreign language (all levels – online or presential). Conversational Galician, Portuguese and Spanish (all levels). Translation and interpretation from/to said languages. Text proofreading, editing and localisation.
Culture and Geography
: Professional geographical and cross-cultural consultancy. Introduction to Galician Culture (through English). Content creation and writing services.

So now you know what I’m up to these days 😎 Once more trying to connect Galiza with the world and back!

Follow Galicia Unveiled on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Aprendermos da Eslovénia

20/09/2019

Nom há que inventar nada, só copiar o bom que já foi feito.

Venho de estar num lugar onde convivem exploraçom florestal e turística sustentável e respeitosa numha contorna rural viva e com futuro. Tudo o contrário do que fai a Xunta, o nosso suposto “Governo Galego” [sic].

 

Foto 1 (clicar para ampliar): Aldeia tradicional (Stara Fužina) onde se é certo que há muitos apartamentos turísticos estes tamém pagam pola continuidade da populaçom local e o cuidado do ambiente (acontece igual na Irlanda, que é outro caso que conheço bem).
Note-se a mistura de tradiçom e modernidade; “o rural” nom pode ser umha romantizaçom do séc. XIX nem basear-se só em cultivos e gados. Leia-se ao Carlos Ferrás para estes assuntos e para mais comparativas Galiza-Irlanda.

 

Foto 2: Chiringo turístico (tasca/restaurante) no cúmio dum monte onde Heidi perdeu as botas. Nem quero imaginar o que faríamos nós. Bom, sim, nom há que imaginar nada conhecendo o montrulhom de cimento e plástico na lagoa de Castinheiras (Vila Boa, PO) junto a umha mega-churrasqueira de chorar e dar pena. Monumentos ao feísmo. Isso fazemos.

 

Foto 3: Ponto de informaçom dumha rota para caminhadas. Fazer notar que todos os indicadores estám em perfeito estado, em toda parte, e todos os trilhos limpos e indicados, os principais, os secundários e os de terceira categoria onde nom vai nem o gato. Igualinho que na nossa casa [retranca].

 

Foto 4: Festa popular local na que coincidim por acaso, e que sorte tivem! É complicado explicar o nível de civismo e calma que havia, apesar da muita gente e dos muitos (muitos!) litros de álcool circulante. Contudo, nem um problema, nem um lixo no chao.
Só lhes ganhamos a umha cousa: a música folk; o das rancheiras dos Alpes acaba raiando um pouco a cabeça (bem pensado, a dia de hoje nós levaríamos algumha dessas mega-osquestras patéticas ou chunda-chunda por megafonia, assim que melhor calo).

 

Foto 5: Um desses tantos detalhes a comentar que marcam diferença, essas pequenas cousas que demonstram umha sensibilidade real: Parque infantil incorporando umha das “estaçons mitológicas” dum mini roteiro onde retratam e explicam seres e lendas da tradiçom local e repetem, umha e outra vez, a importância do respeito pola Natureza.

 


Foto 6: Ide à Eslovénia / Slovenija. Muito que aprender.

PS. A Eslovénia é 1/3 parte mais pequena que a Galiza (em tamanho e populaçom), viveu a Guerra dos Balcáns do 1991 e um complicado processo de independência há menos de 20 anos e, a dia de hoje, adiantam-nos em quase todos os factores objetivos de progresso medíveis; os nom medíveis e intangíveis som os que tentei explicar.

Ah, derradeira foto de tantas: confluência dos vales Kot e Krma no lugarejo de Zgornja Radovna. É real e nom tem filtros nem photoshop nem nada parecido 😉
Aí vive gente, e vive bem, que combina a tala (controlada, racional e planificada) de madeira e o seu aproveitamento, quatro cultivos e uns quartos turísticos. Tenhem banda larga a toda velocidade e estám plenamente inseridos na “modernidade” num lugar a priori muito mais remoto, “enxebre” e “profundo” que qualquer montanha galega. Até os fodechinchos que venhem de Ljubljana som calmos e respeitosos – algo há no ar desse país…

Visiting Galiza? Well…

03/06/2019

I’m glad to announce the “comeback” of an old idea of mine: Galicia Unveiled.

This is a project specifically designed for anyone wishing to discover this wee country in a very personal way 🙂

It was indeed created back in 2016 under a different premise, and just because of that placed on an hiatus for 2017 and 2018. Yet, fortunately, it has been relaunched again in 2019 with a new approach and strategy.

Galicia Unveiled will offer a unique insight into Western European culture and heritage where the tourist will no longer be just that, but a traveller.
Indeed, it is my intention to make visitors feel and experience this land in the same way I do, sharing genuine stories and references.

So Galicia Unveiled as such is currently offering free (tip-based) walking tours in the award-winning city of Pontevedra. Other (non-free) locations and further services and travel arrangements are available on demand.

Fingers crossed and let’s see how it goes 😀

Do visit www.galiciaunveiled.com for all the info and follow it on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all the news, comments and pics 😉

Defending Galizan language and culture as one

17/05/2019

Every 17th May Galiza rethinks its own precious and endangered language and culture.

It is a specific day – very much symbolic – serving as a reminder of the enormous amount of work to be done during the rest of the year, namely in the field of language preservation.

Some see it as the “Galizan Eisteddfod” … if we were to establish a parallelism with another stateless nation within our context.

But why this day? Well, for that you’ll have to read this short text on Galiza Livre (in English) about this special date 😉