Want to Test Your Language Progress?

You’re making progress with your language acquisition and feel like you’re grasping it better. However, you’re running out of ideas to keep the learning fresh and you’re fed up of taking mini tests and quizzes.

There is a way.

Take a scene from a film you know extremely well (remembering the dialogue will make the task easier); best to use Youtube because then you can easily replay the scene. Pretend you’ve been tasked with providing subtitles in your chosen language. Grab a dictionary, grammar book and notepad: it should be challenging enough to keep you interested. If you struggle to find ways to translate, then you know you have a long way to go.

I used this scene from Suite Francaise and did well up until a certain point. It showed me that I could translate easier sentences/every day phrases but had gaps in my vocab. Then there’s the enjoyment of watching favourite scenes repeatedly (for educational purposes, of course * wink *).

Give it a go!

Writing the Dream

Don’t be disgusted with, or despise abandoned or rejected stories. They are your training wheels: they are educational tools. That piece of fiction you wrote off as rubbish will push you to conceive something stronger. That novel that was rejected by an agent for not having an exciting opening will encourage you to create punchier first chapters until someone says “yes”.

Keep on writing. Keep on polishing. Keep on dreaming.




Featured Image by Rostislav Kralik.


RebelCaptain a.k.a. Why I’m Emotionally Ruined by Star Wars: Rogue One (Spoilers)

[Re: the featured image. Don’t they look like a couple there?]

Almost a week after viewing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and I still haven’t gotten over the ending of the standalone film in the Star Wars franchise. RebelCaptain is the explosive ship name for Jyn Erso and Captain Cassian Andor that is steadily accumulating libations in the name through fanfiction and fanvids. In changing the ending, Disney has snatched away a happy (for once) ending and has chosen to devastate us – it’s not enough that we were forced to watch Alderaan blow up in A New Hope – with the death of The Ship.

Jyn and Cassian’s scenes together are so intriguing. One is impulsive, the other is methodical. One is a girl of action, the other observes until the opportune moment to act. When they clash, their scenes are not only emotionally-charged, there’s also another sort of heat. Even K2-SO picks up on it when he comments on Cassian allowing Jyn to have a blaster. Jyn and Cassian’s lingering looks morph into giddy excitement for the sh**-bomb they’re about to drop on the Empire, and we joined in on the anticipation. Why wouldn’t we? Both have been screwed over by The Man and want justice; now that they’re over the adjustment period, they’re ready to do it as a team.

Alas, the fans have spoken, and RebelCaptain lives once more in our minds and on our screens. Like Hell we’re going to accept that the two are dead. Nope. Absolutely not. Why should we? You can’t make them all cute and adorable and fighting alongside each other like a true power couple to then have them meet their end before they’ve even had a chance to be a couple!

rogue-one Doesn’t this look like a family to you?? Papa, Mama, sassy teenager.

I don’t buy this: they couldn’t survive because they would have to have their absence explained in the Original Trilogy. Firstly: it was decided last minute that Leia would be Luke’s twin sister. Not a lot used to make sense in Star Wars; things just happened. Secondly: Jyn’s father retired (hid) as a farmer when he was done being Empire Scientist. Jyn and Cassian could’ve decided that their purpose was complete: plans were delivered to kick start the end of the Empire and Jyn had reconciled with her father in a way. I could see them retired somewhere. That’s not being a dreamy, stupid fan. That’s a reasonable conclusion. Thus, fanfiction to the rescue.

Don’t tell me to let go I’LL NEVER LET GO.

Anxiety and Learning Languages

It cannot be expressed enough that anxiety wrecks many things. Want to be an actor, politician, musician or philanthropist-speech maker? You can’t. You have a niggling condition where all your faculties shut down and you feel as if you’ve just sprinted 1/4 mile.

In a way, language is about performing. As well as taking on a different personality when you attempt to speak/think it, you need to engage in conversation in order to acquire it more. As much as I hate to admit it, you can’t just become fluent through muted study with books. Which was why I signed myself up for a language express course in Italian. I was doing well teaching myself, however after 6 months I ran out of steam. Despite having materials to assist with pronunciation, I still felt I needed help from a native speaker.

The first lesson was, as expected, nerve-wracking. I anticipated some speaking but was not prepared for the amount of basic conversational phrases we were pushed to use. But that’s the thing: it needed to happen. I came away from the lesson feeling like I’d gained from being forced to speak. The beauty of the situation was that we were all beginners and we were all (well, most of us) nervous about speaking. We were allowed to look at our notes for help and were allowed to tap out if we were really stuck. Now I feel confident enough to make a mistake because we’re all learning. If you think about it, this awkward on-the-spot situation is exactly what will happen when we go out into the countries of origin for our languages. There’ll be moments where you’re umming and ahing, and that may work in your favour because it alerts the native speaker that you’re a novice; they’ll speak a lot slower and more basically (if they’re not a-holes, that is).

With those points in mind, I feel liberated and free to make mistakes and continue learning. The anxiety I felt in the first lesson is dying down. There’ll always be a bad lesson where things will go wrong, but I’ll have to make my peace with that.

What drives our anxiety is perfectionism and the fear of embarrassing ourselves. Remove those using the understanding that there are people out there like yourself, and you’ll progress much quicker because you’re not allowing yourself to be blocked or limited.

Limiting yourself will not allow you to reach your goals.

Facing Bigotry

We should pity bigots. Our anger and hurt may surge when we encounter them. But we should pity them. Their hate and fear has driven them beyond the reach of humanity and oneness: they will never experience the love and joy felt with connecting with other humans. To say they’re not human would be to dehumanise them, however to label them as barely human would be more accurate. Endless love doesn’t destroy you; abundant hate does that.