Friday, July 4, 2014

Day 4 - July 4th С Днем независимости

Happy Independence Day USA!

I spent the day with family, playing in the backyard with my nephews, letting them break into the garage and open my books full of language and cultural materials, Barbequeing, etc.

I did take the time to do something entirely UN-American (though I feel like this is one of the greatest weaknesses of the United States) and did some language studies. I worked through Pimsleur Russian 1, Lesson 3 multiple times, stumbling over the combinations of consonants, like "Как вы поживаете?" For my study plan, I did 1.5 hours of speaking, and I listened to almost 2 hours of Russian talk radio. I have found that I'm getting alot more exposure to Russian than I ever did with Indonesian or even still have with Korean or Japanese.

As an interesting note, I have the picture of the 3rd most commonly spoke languages map, obviously focused on the West Coast for today's picture. I think this might be why I'm finding more exposure to Russian. Also, I think that it would be nice if schools would offer languages related to the most commonly spoken languages in their area. I know this means that my beloved High School Japanese classes would give way to Russian. There is another graphic that can be found out there that shows a census breakdown of the entire US that shows something interesting.

This graph shows that if we were to follow a standardized system for education ACROSS the board in the US, then schools would offer "foreign" languages in this order:

Now, if the idea was to go regional, than that would change very drastically. If each US State Education Board concerned themselves with making a unified people within their state, then breakdowns would be different. With the exception of North Dakota, Louisiana, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, most states would have Spanish, but then they would have different 3rd offers, like Russian for Oregon, Vietnamese for Washington, Tagalog for California and Nevada, German for pretty much everything from Idaho to Ohio, with the exceptions of Navajo in Arizona and New Mexico, Vietnamese in Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma, and Arabic in Michigan, then it's pretty much French for the East Coast, except for New York which would have Chinese and Alabama which would have Korean. There's a little Italian and Portuguese snuck in their too, but those would probably fall into the 4th language option category on the East Coast.

An interesting thing would happen, I realized today, if schools were to change to match their areas. Sure, I wouldn't have started with Japanese in high school (I would have probably been in Russian or Chinese), but people would likely be a bit more regional, which wouldn't matter much, since most people in the US tend to stay within their regions anyway. But if people from other regions were to meet up, like say in DC or something, they would be able to more able to represent their region because they would be able to appropriately talk about the multiple cultures there. I mean, everyone knows that Spanish is the second language of the US, but how many people think that Chinese, German and French fight for third? of that Tagalog represents a larger portion of the US than Vietnamese or Italian. Or that in Oregon, the third most common language is Russia.

Anyway, enough of my soap box about education reform and foreign languages in school. Back on the topic of Russian, this app (pictured to the right) is probably one of the best apps I've ever come in contact with. Sure, it gets a little wonky sometimes (name me an app that doesn't get wonky sometimes), but it offers me the opportunity to listen to Russian News or Talk Radio pretty much 24/7. Sometimes, it has dramas, but I try to switch to something with more talking. I think one of the keys to my success, in the end, is going to be this app.

Hope your studies are going well. Until next time. Good Luck with your language studies, friends.

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