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Brad Fitzpatrick

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Germany wrap-up [May. 1st, 2002|07:08 pm]
Brad Fitzpatrick
Time to explain why I came back early from Germany. First off, though, let me say that it totally rocked. The city was cool, I learned a ton, experienced a ton, and every day was an adventure.

So why did I come back? I had work to do. My intentions originally were to work from there, but Internet access wasn't as easy to come by as I'd hoped. Sure, there are crappy net cafes, and the institute's lab, and Judith's house, but they were all either too expensive, too limited, too inconvenient, or some combination thereof.

So I stopped working and just made it into a vacation only.

Well, a one month vacation is enough. I wanted to get back to other things: being free, getting an apartment/house, and most of all: work. It's not that I'm addicted to working (well, that too) but I couldn't let my company go to shit because I wasn't able to respond to important issues/emails in a timely fashion.

Did my German improve? Tons. (well, I think so.. Judith might laugh at that.) But I also found out that the bar (of decency) was a lot higher than I'd previously thought. So while I improved, my percentage of the way to decency (as opposed to fluency) actually fell. But oh well. It was fun.

Coolest thing: listen to a language when you know no words. Sounds like straight gibberish without word breaks. Learn a couple words, a couple constructions... suddenly the same gibberish has tons more structure than what you learned. Constantly I found myself overhearing conversations and understanding perfectly clearly parts, and the other parts being gibberish.

I explained that incredibly poorly. I'm still jet-lagged and I want to sleep. Let's try again. I'm just impressed by how quickly the brain picks up language skills. In my class (which was actually pretty lame, but I don't want to rant), I'd learn something for just a bit, then I'd go out and hear it everywhere right-away, and be able to construct sentences in my head with it, without a problem. My pronounciation sucked, but improved. That, along with being somewhat shy, I didn't talk as much as I wanted.

The best language learners are those that just love to talk and to hear themselves talk, I imagine. I hardly like to hear anybody talk, much less myself, so I think in the long run there's not much hope for me there. But that's okay, because fluency isn't my goal.

I'I just wanted to experience trying to use another language. In the past whenever I saw people casually flip between languages I'd think: what's going on inside their head? Does it take effort to make that switch, or what? It was fun talking with 10 other people from 10 different countries, all with different native languages and using piss-poor German and actually seeing that it worked, and that we were conveying ideas back and forth. It was cool to see how the mind automatically scaled down my ideas onto the biggest most descriptive words it could use. That by itself is just so cool.

I'd go on, but I'm tired. In summary:

I got to think a lot. I'm happy.
And now I get to work a lot. So I'm happy.
And I'll continue to do whatever I feel like whenever. And I'll be happy.

[User Picture]From: dlbags
2002-05-01 07:12 pm (UTC)
The return of the king!
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[User Picture]From: angelicdestiny
2002-05-01 08:40 pm (UTC)


you wont have me rubbing you down with warm scented oils, so how happy could you *really* ever be :oP

send me your address, i have mail for you. if you talk to hawk, get his for me? i have mail for him as well.
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[User Picture]From: adrenalinegirl
2002-05-01 08:50 pm (UTC)
welcome home
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[User Picture]From: graceadieu
2002-05-01 09:25 pm (UTC)

welcome back, Brad

I know what you mean about linguists. My husband and I used to sit at his parent's house and listen in awe to his Grandfather conversing with Larry's relatives and family friends. Grandpa spoke a number of Eastern European languages fluently and was an interpreter for most of the banks in the area of the city where we were raised. He would glide effortlessly, seamlessly from Slovak, to Polish, to Russian. He would sit in the Oyster House in downtown Pittsburgh reading a stack of foreign language newspapers every day, waiting to be summoned to a bank to translate for them.
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[User Picture]From: ellenlouise
2002-05-01 09:27 pm (UTC)
hey, didn't you say you were going to post your pictures?
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[User Picture]From: biok5
2002-05-01 11:07 pm (UTC)
that is one of the coolest posts i've ever read
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[User Picture]From: calliste
2002-05-01 11:18 pm (UTC)
You hardly like to hear anybody talk? How did you survive it with me around all the time? Sorry about not speaking enough German. It was, partly, my fault.
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[User Picture]From: nolegs
2002-05-02 01:25 am (UTC)
Yeah, yeah, yeah... But when are you coming to Ohio again?
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[User Picture]From: whitaker
2002-05-02 08:19 am (UTC)
We need to start a "Bring Fitz to Ohio" fund.
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[User Picture]From: sahrie
2002-05-02 09:40 am (UTC)
The best language learners are those that just love to talk and to hear themselves talk, I imagine.

i completely agree with that statement.
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[User Picture]From: bride
2002-05-02 06:28 pm (UTC)
Welcome home, Brad =) Sounds like a great vacation. Glad to have you back =)

I explained that incredibly poorly

Heh, I understood it the first time =)

The best language learners are those that just love to talk and to hear themselves talk, I imagine.

The best language learners are also those who aren't afraid to sound "stupid" and practice. =)

My Light Bulb Moment®, though, was the realization that language is a tool that represents thought. Language is not a tool that represents another language. Translating everything back to English so that you can understand is a round-about way of learning. I picked up French much faster just feeling the meaning and feeling what sounded right in French without translating it all back first... and, lo, my translation skills also improved oodles.
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[User Picture]From: sjcarpediem
2002-05-03 03:43 am (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean about picking up a language in its spoken environment. Sometimes I think ppl should just stop studying language away from where its spoken.
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