African Languages on My Brain : Day 7

My time in paradise is over. Time passes quickly. I failed to establish the intimacy with Amharic that I predicted. Life’s frustrations find you even in paradise. I know more than I did 7 days ago when I arrived. I developed a system slightly different from the old relationships to maintain this new one. I commit to setting boundaries so that I can study and focus on learning new words. I plan to utilize my resources in a way that expands my opportunities to develop  this new relationship. I can compare it to setting a date night with my new spouse to maintain our relationship without the pressures of daily life interfering with our new bond.

The Muses came to visit at 3:00 A.M. I couldn’t go back to sleep, I decided to amuse myself by connecting Amharic words with the English equivalent. Lemen= Why yellow lemon, Man= Who, Men =How, I seem to be able to remember a lot when there was no one that I needed to talk to. Qurs = breakfast, konjo=pretty. I thought about the time. 3:00 A.M is 9:00 P.M. local time. My brain has wrapped around that concept.  My mind feels lighter and freer. I realize that it needs to be this way when I talk to people who speak Amharic in order to get better.

I am getting too comfortable with the computer games. I need to open my mouth and speak more to native speakers. I have to get over myself. I decide to pack at 5:00 A.M. and have breakfast=Qurs. I don’t know the Amharic words for cereal and yoghurt. Milk comes to mind wetet.

Information that is important or meaningful is transferred to long-term memory. Long-term memory has limitless storage capacity. The more you know, the easier it becomes to add  new information to memory.  Maintenance rehearsal  prolongs short-term memory by silently repeating words until they are needed. Elaborate rehearsal, which enhances the meaningfulness of information, is the most effective technique. One links new information to existing memory and knowledge to facilitate learning.

Watch an infant or young child who learns a new word. They repeat the word over and over to themselves. They take every opportunity to share their new word. When they receive a reaction or response from another person the word is encoded into the brain.

Episodic memory   is the capacity to place facts and events in time and to refer to them freely. Storytellers utilize episodic memory  through the sequencing of events. It is an autobiographical record of personal experiences. It stores life events. Episodic memory is far more plastic than semantic memory, but it also far less reliable and can be distorted by all sorts of distractions including fear, anxiety and stress. Episodic memory is remembering what you ate for dinner two nights ago. Where did I put my car keys? It is affected by age and  can interfere with learning a language. Most adults have memory aides such as an organizer  or telephone and address book to assist  with remembering   key information.  Episodic memory is embedded in semantic memory.

Semantic memory is the capacity to recall  people,  places and things. Semantic memory permits the retention of facts, knowledge and symbolic descriptions. Semantic memory is acquired by rote and assisted by the ability to generalize and categorize. It is detached from personal experience. Semantic memory may be referred to as knowledge. Knowledge is basically  unaffected by time.

Procedural memory is the memory that you utilize to learn how to do things. It includes basic conditioned responses and learned  actions. Performing tasks such as reading music   playing an instrument, playing card games or board games   to skiing, riding a bike or driving a car, utilize procedural memory.

I think about how to combine the two types of memory to learn quickly. I remember my relationships with other languages. I walked 5 miles a day with my Walkman and combined the two skills. I spent time  learning the  computer program and learning the language. I commit to combining exercise with learning languages.

One of my favorite ways of learning language is to listen to music and pick out words that I recognize. The key for me is to integrate learning a language into my daily activities.  I practice speaking the language while I wash dishes. Listen to the language while I drive in my car.  Combine the language with my everyday activities and then I connect the language or recall  the words.

I realize that my mind changes as I learn this new language. I need to focus more. I forget easily. I recognize the structure of the language from listening to my partner speak English more so than from recognition of  grammatical structure from studying the language. It is all information which helps me to acquire a second language.

When I embark upon learning a language, I first utilize bilingual teaching aides. I need to know word meanings . I use the translations. Many words in English have false friends in other languages(words  look similar to English  but have a different meaning). I utilize all the teaching aides  available. America has great curriculum for learning  languages. Bilingual teaching aides, written in English, explain the material and make associations  which enhance the learning process.   Knowing  the word’s meaning gives a reference, which makes it easier and more natural to use new words in the target language. It builds confidence as well as better communication skills. I  travel to other countries with my bilingual teaching aides . Most people cannot explain their grammar or rules of language to a non-native speaker because they don’t share the same reference point.

Americans  analyze everything and I am  American. Learning  languages allow me to expand my English  and  gives me a  larger world view. It complicates  life in my own country. I have knowledge in my head that  is difficult for me to simplify for others. I must organize my thoughts and put information into a context for others to understand.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “African Languages on My Brain : Day 7

  1. Abdelmjid Seghir

    OMG! I learn a lot reading your posts.
    I only there were two type of memory; Long-term memory and short term memory. Now, I know there are more!
    Keep educating us 😉

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