Sunday, November 30, 2014





これは、マルチリンガルの育て方の話です。ハイ、そうです、私のことを育てた体験談。 ぜひ見てみてください!

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pentalingual ramblings 1 - Introduction

(Transcript of the video、以下テロップの書き出し)

Hi everybody, I'm getting quite a lot of requests by emails and on my YouTube site regarding more videos. Uh... I have no idea what to do or what to make... but... I figured why not just ramble.

I'm gonna start something today. It's Saturday November 6th, 1:45PM in Japan. I am in Tokyo.

I'm gonna start this thing called "Pentalingual Ramblings". Yeah, random thoughts, it's gonna be ramblings.

Creo que voy a empezar algo asi, hablando de todo y de nada...y de todo lo que pasa en mi cabeza.
(I think that I’ll start something, talking about anything and about nothing…well, anything that comes to mind.)

(Well…just talking randomly…and adding subtitles to show you.)
Read moreもっと読む

(Everything is ad lib…I wonder where it’s gonna take me?)

Vraiment, j'ai aucune idee comment ca va se passer, mais j'imagine que je vais tout simplement improviser, faire des petits clips comme ca, a gauche et a droite... de quelques minutes.
(I really have no idea how things are gonna turn out, but I guess I’m just going to improvise away, making short videos like this, left and right… a few minutes each.)

J'ai aucun.. eh...j'ai aucun "script" puis eh.. he he... c'est pas facile ca hein..
(I don’t have any…eh… I don’t have any scripts…and eh… wow, this is not easy huh…)

Peut-etre que vous pouvez ecrire des commentaires, eh.. des requests… sur ma page YouTube…
(Maybe you can write in some comments, um…requests…on my YouTube page…)

我會把這個放在我的blog上,公開給大家,看看有沒有(可以)幫我寫comments。或者是幫我寫。。。說不定有你們的requests。。。有甚麼話題啊。看看我們可以談甚麼。。。哇。。。我已經不知道該講甚麼東西。。。chintsai-la (Taiwanese)。。。隨便啦。
(I will put this onto my blog for everyone to see, and see if you can give some comments… or if you have any requests…any topics. Let’s see what we can talk about… wow…I’m already running out of things to say… oh well, I say anything!)

There will be a lot of silences like this I think… but… we can talk about…my book! I’m writing a book.

(This book is written in English. It’s about how kids… well, actually, my book is actually about how I was raised. How one can be raised to become multilingual.)

そして、その中に7つのアイデアを含めて。。。まあ、僕自身が考えているのは、CLAPという哲学というか、philosophyというか、があってですね。クラップとはC-L-A-Pで、Contextual Language Acquisition Philosophyというのがあります。それは、自分のブログにも書いてありますが。
(And in the book, I include 7 ideas… well, what I’m saying is that I have this philosophy called CLAP, which stands for Contextual Language Acquisition Philosophy. I talk about this on my blog also.)

…este…he terminado mi primer libro…bueno, un primer draft…y lo estoy revisando. Tengo un amigo que ha hecho unas ilustraciones, y… creo que lo voy a publicar como un iBook o para Kindle…
(…well… I finished my first book…actually, the first draft…and I’m doing revisions right now. I have a friend who is making the illustrations for me, and…I think I will publish it as an iBook or for Kindle…)

(I really hope I can start selling the book on the iBookstore by the end of the year or early next year… and see if I could start a side-revenue stream.)

En francais…j’ai un copain au Canada qui est entrain de le lire et puis il va me donner des commentaires j’imagine. Lui aussi il a vecu une vie assez multiculturelle, donc…
(In French…I have a friend in Canada who is reading it right now and he will give me comments I guess. He has also lived a very multicultural life so…)

Anyway, this first video will… ha ha…it’s really awkward, but this first video will end somewhere here. It’s really a video to introduce this new series… I hope it will be a new series…

J’espere que ca va continuer longtemps. J’imagine que je vais essayer de faire des series assez frequemment, j’espere… En tout cas, c’est un debut. Ca fait trois minutes que je parle dans le vide. Si la reponse est bonne… de vous, mes auditeurs, ecouteurs, lecteurs… si la reponse est bonne, je continuerais…
(I hope that this will continue for a long time. I guess that I will try to contribute to this series frequently enough, I hope… Anyway, it’s a start. It’s been three minutes that I’ve been talking into the abyss. If the response is good…if you, my listeners, viewers, readers… if the response is good, I’ll continue…)

有很多人根我講用YouTube,用viral distribution非常好,非常的有效率,有效果。看看這幾天,有甚麼樣的response.然後在說把。OK, bye-bye.
(Many people tell me to use YouTube, with distribution becoming viral, it’s very efficient, effective. Let’s see how the response will be in a few days. OK, bye-bye.)
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Life-changing trip to Ecuador
Viaje a Ecuador que me ha cambiado la vida
















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I believe that many of my readers want to learn languages for travel. I think it is definitely a great reason. And I'm sure that we all agree that before you go, if you can learn just enough to communicate at least on a superficial level with the local people, you will likely come home with much more than just photos of monuments and museums. Read more...

In my case, I tried to cram in as much Spanish as I could for about one month before going to Ecuado, where my best buddy Greg was doing a 1-year exchange program with AFS. I learned just enough using methods described previously, and was able to have, as mentioned above, a superficial conversation with the locals. And what did I come home with after a 2-week vacation visiting Greg, staying with his host family? A life-changing experience.

So how did this trip change my life? (Other than picking up the wonderful Spanish language, of course.)

1) I gained a loving and caring family in Ecuador.

In this picture taken in Banos is Pilar, the beautiful mother of 4, two of which are in the photo, Andrea (the cute little 8 year-old in front of me), and Valeria (the preciosa in the arms of Pilar). The dude in the middle is Greg. Not in the photo are many many more who have touched my life in significant ways: Vicente (the father), Pancho (the son), Silvia "la Gorda" (the aunt), Monica (the beautiful cousin), and many other extended family and all of Greg's Ecuadorian and international friends. They have all welcomed me with wide open arms and made absolutely sure that I enjoyed every minute of my stay. Mission well accomplished! I will also forever be in debt to the Granja family for that time I got serious food poisoning (serves me right to eat oyster ceviche in Quito!) and Vicente and Pilar went out to get medicine for me... in the middle of the night! Thank you again from the bottom of my heart.

2) I saw beautiful places in Ecuador accompanied by wonderful people.

Here I am with Andrea at "La Mitad Del Mundo", literally at "The Half Point of the World". Running right under us is supposedly the equator (which by the way is what "Ecuador" means in Spanish), so we had our left foot in the northern hemisphere and our right foot in the the southern hemisphere. How cool is that!

Other places we visited were various places in Quito (including the famous Virgen de Quito (or El Panecillo)), Riobamba, Banos (previous photo), and a beautiful costal village called Muisne in the province of Esmeraldas. The photo below is where we stayed.
In my life, I've stayed in some pretty fancy and expensive hotels around the world, most of which I have no recollection now. But I vividly remember this place, which cost me half the price of Big Mac in the US. Clearly, there is no direct correlation between good times and the price of the hotel. I truly believe it is the people you're with. In this photo are: Greg, Annick, Hitomi, and the legs of... hmmm, Yannic? Jerome?

3) I gained a tremendous appreciation for my own life and learned about important values.

In the following photo that I took from the back seats of family's old Peugeot, you see children living in the streets.
Every time you stop at a red light in Quito, a few of them will come up to beg for money. It just broke my heart every time I saw children like that, and at the same time, they made me realize what a privileged life I was living.

But wait, there's more to be learned. These children, who had essentially nothing, no money, no education, were able to teach me other humbling lessons in life, including family values, empathy, sacrifice, sharing, etc.

One day we were in this fancy little ice cream parlor, nothing from out of this planet, but clearly out of reach for the average Ecuadorian. As it happens often, a little poor kid, must've been 4 or 5 years old, comes in to beg for food or money. Then the waitress, who herself was in her early teens and most likely also from a poor family, had to come out to shew the little boy away from us, the almighty customers. But she knew this boy had probably not eaten for the past 3 days, so while she was pushing the kid out the door, she discretely slipped an ice cream cone (just the cone) to the kid. I think she could have gotten into quite a lot of trouble if her boss found out about her actions. But what a kind and selfless act. And she didn't even know that I was watching. Or at least, she probably was hoping the customers weren't watching.

But wait, there's more to be learned. A lesson from the little boy. If you hadn't eaten for 3 days, what would you have done with the cone? Devour it, right? Not this little boy. He took the cone and just ran straight towards a big tree on the sidewalk. Under it was sitting mom and little sis, probably 2 years old. He hands mom the cone intact, and mom breaks it into pieces. A measly little ice cream cone divided into portions for a family to feed on. Talk about sacrifice, talk about sharing, talk about family love. That scene was to be forever carved into my memory.

So there you go. The trip to Ecuador, which not only served as the trigger and integral part in allowing me to learn Spanish, but also gave me treasures to keep for life, including great memories, life lessons, and of course, wonderful human connections. I feel extremely fortunate to still be in touch with many them (God bless Facebook) and greatly enjoy the occasional emails and chats. I love you all.

Creo que muchos de mis lectores quieren aprender idiomas para viajar. Creo que es definitivamente una buena razón. Además estoy seguro que todos estamos de acuerdo que antes de ir, si uno aprende lo minimo suficiente para comunicarse por lo menos a un nivel superficial con la gente local, regresaria a casa con mucho más que sólo fotos de monumentos y museos. Seguir leyendo...

En mi caso, habia intentado aprender lo mas que podia del español durante aproximadamente un mes antes de ir a Ecuador, donde mi mejor amigo Greg estaba haciendo un programa de intercambio con AFS. Aprendí lo suficiente con métodos descritos anteriormente para tener conversaciones ligeras y superficiales con los lugareños. ¿Y que he obtenido después de dos semanitas visitando a Greg, en la casa de su familia de acogida? Una experiencia que me ha cambiado la vida.

Entonces, ¿cómo este viaje cambió mi vida? (Por su puesto, aparte de aprender la maravillosa lengua española.)

1) Ahora tengo una super cariñosa familia adicional en el Ecuador.

En esta foto tomada en Baños es Pilar, la hermosa mamá de 4, dos de ellos están en la foto, Andrea (la bonita chiquitita en mis brazos), y Valeria (la preciosa en los brazos de Pilar). El chamaco blanquito en el medio es Greg. ¿No están en la foto son muchos, muchos más que han tocado mi vida de manera significativa: Vicente (el padre), Pancho (el hijo), Silvia "La Gorda" (la tía), Mónica (la bella prima), y otros miembros de familia y todos los amigos ecuatorianos e internacionales de Greg. Todos ellos me recibieron con los brazos abiertos y aseguraron que disfrute cada minuto de mi viaje. Misión bien cumplida! También agradesco del fondo de mi corazón a la familia de Granja por la vez cuando tuve una intoxicación alimentaria (nunca mas voy a comer ceviche de concha en Quito!) y Vicente y Pilar fueron a buscar medicina para mí ... en medio de la noche! Muchisimas gracias otra vez.

2) He visto lugares hermosos en el Ecuador acompañado de gente maravillosa.

Aquí estoy con Andrea a "La Mitad del Mundo". Justamente debajo de nosotros es supuestamente el ecuador, así que tuvimos nuestro pie izquierdo en el hemisferio norte y nuestro pie derecho en el hemisferio del sur. ¿No es genial?!

Otros lugares que visitamos fueron varios lugares en Quito (incluyendo la famosa Virgen de Quito (o El Panecillo)), Riobamba, Baños (foto anterior), y un bonito pueblo costero llamado Muisne en la provincia de Esmeraldas. La foto de abajo es donde nos quedamos.
En mi vida he pasado noches en muchisimos hoteles costosos a través del mundo, la mayoría de los cuales no tengo ningún recuerdo ahora. Pero recuerdo vívidamente este momento que pasamos en un hotel que me había costado la mitad del precio de un Big Mac. Así que es evidente que no existe una correlación directa entre los buen momentos y el precio del hotel. Sinceramente, creo que depende de la gente con quién te encuentras en estos momentos inolvidables. En esta foto son: Greg, Annick, Hitomi, y las patas de ... Yannic? Jerome?

3) Hé desarrollado valores importantes y una enorme apreciación de mi propia vida.

En la siguiente foto que tomé de los asientos traseros del viejo Peugeot familial, pueden ver niños que viven en las calles.
Cada vez que paramos a un semáforo en Quito, algunos de ellos vienen a pedir limosna. Me dolía tanto el corazón a cada vez que veía los niños así, pero al mismo tiempo, gracias a ellos, me dí cuenta de la vida privilegiada que estaba viviendo.

Pero esperen, hay más. Estos niños que tenían prácticamente nada, ni dinero, ni educación, me enseñaron otros valores importantes de la vida, como el amor familial, la empatía, el sacrificio, el compartir, etc.

Un día estábamos en una pequenita heladería en el centro de Quito. No era nada de lujo excepcional, pero claramente fuera del alcance de un Ecuatoriano tipico. Como sucede a menudo, un niño pobre, debe de tener como 4 o 5 años de edad, entra a pedir comida o dinero. Entonces la camarera, que ella mismo debe de tener 13 o 14 años y muy probablemente ser de una familia pobre también, tuvo que decir al niño que se aleje de nosotros, los clientes todopoderosos. Pero ella sabía que este niño probablemente no ha comido desde mucho tiempo, así que mientras hacía el acto de empujar el chiquito afuera delante de nosotros, ella le dió discretamente un cono de helado (sólo el cono) al niño. Creo que se habría metido en un buen montón de problemas si su jefe se hubiera enterado de sus acciones. Qué corazón de oro tenía esta muchacha linda! Y ella ni siquiera sabía que estabamos viendo todo. O sea por lo menos, ella probablemente esperaba que los clientes no estaban mirando.

Pero esperen, hay más todavía que aprender. Una lección de la parte del niño. Si no habías comido en tres días, ¿qué habrías hecho tú con el cono? Devorarlo, ¿cierto? No fue el caso para este niño. Tomó el cono y corrió directamente hacia un gran árbol fuera de la tienda. Bajo este árbol estaba sentado la mamá y hermanita, probablemente 2 años de edad. Él le dió a mami el cono intacto, y la madre lo dividió en pedacitos. Un miserable cono de helado dividido en porciones para una familia para alimentarse. Qué lección sobre el sacrificio, sobre el compartir, sobre el amor de familia... Esa escena fue para siempre grabada en mi memoria.

Así que ya, mi viaje a Ecuador, que no sólo sirvió como primera etapa y parte integral en mi aprendizaje de la lengua española, pero también me dió tesoros para toda mi vida, incluidos los recuerdos preciosos, lecciones de vida, y por supuesto, las maravillosas relaciones humanas. Me siento muy afortunado de estar aún en contacto con muchos entre ellos (gracias a Facebook) y me alegre tener noticias suyas de vez en cuando por correos electrónicos y chats. Los quiero a todos.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Invent a story








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During my MBA, there was a course that I took called "The Art of Leadership". I remember in one class, we had a special guest lecturer, who had a background in theater, and the topic of the day was "teamwork". In one exercise, the teacher lined up 6-7 students in front of the class and proceeded to explain how to play the game. Essentially, the teacher decides on a random title and points to one student, who would then have to start inventing a story based on the title. Once the story starts, any of the other students can jump in and take over the storytelling at any time. Read more...

Here, the lesson in teamwork is helping each other and self-sacrifice. It's hard enough to invent a story out of the blue, not to mention being in front of the whole class and all attention is on you. Not many students can start a story and make it past a few sentences. So when the narrating student starts to lose momentum with the story, other students need to step up and take over, putting themselves under the heat instead.

Now, I thought I could take this game and apply it to language learning. Think about it, a conversation with other people in a foreign language puts you in the same emotional state as the narrating student in the game. A given topic is at the center of the discussion, which of course can go in any direction at any time, and you are tense because you need all your attention to understand everything, but you must also find the right timing to jump in and take the discussion in the direction that you want.

So I tried it out on my English students, lining up a few of them in front of the class, giving them a scenario, and just letting them play. Seeing them play is pure entertainment. Sometimes they have a great scenario in their head, but they just don't know how to say it in English. But they would make the best out of their limited vocabulary, and add in a few gestures here and there and somehow move the story forward. And they would come up with the craziest stories, from Snow White fighting Godzilla to submarines going into the human bloodstream. Knee-slapping laughter guaranteed!

I think this is a game that is perfectly aligned with CLAP, in that it simultaneously allows you to improve your English and enriches your imagination.

Language teachers out there, try it out in the language that you teach!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Elderly ladies = best language practising partners




1. 女性であることだけで、お話好きであるだろう
2. 時間のある方が多い。
3. 優しくて、理解力の高い方が多い。
4. 人生経験が豊富。
5. 一般的に若者よりも英語力がない。
6. 少々耳が遠い方でしたら、なおさら良い。きれいな発音、かつ大きな声が求められるので、とてもいい練習になる。(こういう発想はいかが?)


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Some students are very motivated to practise their newly acquired language and are able to overcome their fears to initiate discussions with complete strangers when they go to a foreign country. I admire this kind of courage and believe that it's a big step toward fluency. However, unfortunately it's not easy to meet people who have the patience it requires to talk to students who are not very fluent. For these people, what is important is to move the discussion forward, so they will quickly switch to English and completely disregard the efforts of the poor student. But students, don't be discouraged! I know people who will be very happy to talk to you and let you practise your new language! Read more...

Next time you go overseas and want try out your new linguistic assets on somebody, find old people, especially ladies. Yes that's right, old ladies. These beings have all the attributes of the perfect language practising partner:

1) The mere fact that they are women means that they will tend to like talking. That's a good start.
2) Most old people have time.
3) They are more patient and understanding.
4) They have so much life experience to share.
5) Your chances of meeting an old lady that speaks good English are much lower than if you met a young person.
6) If they have slight hearing problems, that's even better, because you then need to learn to articulate clearly and speak loudly. (How's this for out-of-the-box thinking?)

When I went to Ecuador, my Spanish was still in its infancy. But my buddy Greg's host family, including the grandpas and grandmas spent hours talking with me. When I visited Portugal some decades ago, I stayed in a B&B run by an old couple. I still remember one night, I was watching TV with the old lady, and there was a wedding scene. So she started talking to me about her daughter's wedding and enthusiastically took out photo albums to show me. I had so much fun and practised so much with the very limited Portugueuse vocabulary that I had.