Thursday, 28 January 2016

The Challenges of Learning A Language

What Motivates You to Learn a Language? 

Most of the time, it is to communicate with someone. Nothing better than seeing a heartfelt smile when you greet someone in their mother tongue or say thank you. What about answering a question or helping them with something. 

Usually, you start off with ‘caveman’ language like the essentials such as ‘drink’, ‘eat’ or ‘bathroom’. Now you can write a whole sentence in Google translate and see the equivalent in a foreign tongue. But the best thing is to start identifying the individual words and even memorising short sentences.

For me, I had the same book but in two different languages and I painstakingly looked up all the words I didn’t know. I read out the sentences and highlighted important words I recognised so that I could get the point across. It was a weekly effort and it required hours of preparation beforehand. I guess you could call it a labour of love.

Lack of Progress

I’ve got lazy. I don’t prepare beforehand, I don’t look up the words I don’t know and I rarely identify the main points before discussing the article with someone. I mentally beat myself for not progressing.

When I do prepare, I feel confident, I feel enthusiastic, I feel free to answer and comment. New words just pop into my mind magically! Fluent sentences just flow out of my mouth like the lyrics of a song. I can’t help but feel enthusiastic! I’ve got to get back to a better learning routine. I have to make the time. A regular, predictable routine is better than leaving it to chance. 

Working on Cultivating Good Habits

Certainly, having a love for what you do, motivates you to keep hacking away at the proverbial stone until an almost perfect 'David' by Michelangelo is formed out of it. Keep hacking away at it each day and several times a day. The same routine that farmers work at, writers write, mothers mother their children, the construction worker on a house. 

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

My Daily Challenge to Write about 300 Words per Day

Daily Challenge

I promised myself I would make definite changes this year to fulfil my dreams. I want to start writing daily. 

I share some really inspiring TED talks with my students who are learning English. One of them is Gary Slutkin: 'Let's treat violence like a contagious disease', another is Johann Hari: 'Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong'.

I just love these talks because they were tackling almost unsolvable problems. Society and government have been handling those problems for ages in the same way. Actually, some our convictions can be seriously wrong even though we are so sure they are right.

Violence as A Contageous Disease

Gary Slutkin handles violence like it is a contagious disease. First going to the source, getting trained interrupters to talk to the person and deal compassionately with him or her and helping them see there is another way to solve their problem in a non-violent way, then social workers will follow up on them to help them integrate their new way of solving problems or mindset and make it their way of life. They will also identify the second related circle of friends and followers and reason and persuade them too. Gary has been so effective with this method in many major cities in the US and abroad that the percentage of crime and murder rates in these areas has dropped drastically.

The Main Reason for Addictive Behaviour 

Another favourite talk of mine is my Johann Hari who researched about drug addicts and addiction to find out the reason behind these addictive behaviours and how to overcome the problem. He mentions about an experiment about a single rat in a cage who was given a choice of normal or drugged water and it chose drugged water over the normal one every time until it killed itself.

The scientist also observed another rat in a ‘paradise’ cage full of toys, food, other social rats and also gave it a choice of normal and drugged water and it chose normal water over the drugged water every time. As well as observing what happened to drug addicts in Portugal when they decided to take up the challenge of decriminalising drugs, helping the addicts to have a reason to wake up in the morning by helping them get a job and integrate them into society without shaming them or labelling them as incorrigible.

So Johann Hari concluded that addiction not just to alcohol but any sort of addiction can be due to the lack of skills to bond with others especially with family members and those closest to us.

It is surprising that both talks supported one another and reinforced the other too and gave us, my students and me, a completely new way of seeing violence and addiction.

Monday, 25 January 2016

At Cross Roads

Feeling Uncertain 

I really feel I am at crossroads at the moment. Like something is going to happen but the timing is not quite right yet. Like a fruit maturing but not yet fully ripe to fall from the tree. 

Perhaps I need to look within. In silence. ask myself what do I really want. What are my needs? Am I just jumping around putting out little fires instead of focusing on building the log house at the lake or the bamboo one at the beach? 

Climb Every Mountain 

'Sound of Music' 

Climb every mountain, 

Search high and low, 

Follow every byway, 

Every path you know.
Climb every mountain, 

Ford every stream, 

Follow every rainbow, 

'Till you find your dream.
A dream that will need

All the love you can give, 

Every day of your life 
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain, 

Ford every stream, 

Follow every rainbow, 
Till you find your dream

A dream that will need 

All the love you can give, 

Every day of your life, 
For as long as you live.

Climb every mountain, 

Ford every stream, 

Follow every rainbow, 
Till you find your dream.

I just love those words and also the song from the movie 'Sound of Music'! What if love could motivate you every step you make to find and fulfill that dream? Yes, it is possible, many people have done it. So, what is that dream that I want so much to fulfill?

I would like to help others  who have limited incomes and opportunities to live a better life so that they are healthier and more energetic to provide for the families and their children, not just to survive but contribute to a better society.

I want to know how to start a business and employ others to help them provide for their families and have more time for spiritual activities.  

Thursday, 14 January 2016

A Day in the Future

I dream of a world full of magnificent flowers and small iridescent birds flirting from bougainvillea to bougainvillea. 

Flowers of purple, scarlet, white, daffodil yellow, both infinitely small and gorgeously audacious. 

Cooling breezes and the lingering scents of all sorts of perfumed flowers wafting through the invigorating air. 

I am younger now, growing younger and stronger by the day. Everything is a delight! The beauty of nature, the entrancing interaction between endearing people and enthralling lovers. 

Music from singers, guitars, harps, violins, pianos, flutes, and saxophones fade in and out with the breeze. 

The urge to dance to the music quickly springs up from within and I rise up almost spontaneously to run and dance to the beat of the music with my long, light, silky dress complimenting my moves. 

I and my partner join a group of friends, couples and families all gathered for an early breakfast to help build a new house. There is food and music, magnificent animals such as dignified thoroughbred horses, affectionate tigers, playful pandas, cheeky otters, graceful swans and swift greyhounds. 

The horizon stretches out forever and so does the sky with a brilliant blue without a cloud in the sky for now.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

We All Have Our Challenges

Life has its challenges but as you tackle each problem and overcome them, it's satisfying. I'm a global nomad, that's what they call people like me who don't grow up where they have been born and live in a country after a country. People ask me what culture do I relate to, yes Chinese but also English, Sri Lankan, Italian, Malaysian, European, Nonya, there are so many. 

What I want most is to be loved and appreciated. Where I feel that, I feel at home. But it requires effort, you have to give the best of yourself I think. Be positive, up building, helpful, patient. Years have gone by and I really feel happier now than I ever been before. The game changer for me was to learn to love people and take the initiative to reach out to them. I'm made so many nice friends on Facebook, total strangers on the other side of the world, just amazing, to think of it.

I even get to practice my Italian with a person from Italy who is quite dedicated to liking my posts. So nice of her, one of my biggest supporters. How we all want to be liked and appreciated. Such as essential need. To make others laugh, that's awesome!