Since I'm home in Cavan, Ireland and would rather be doing things with family this week, I'll take the time off blogging and leave this “best of” post up for the next week. I'm not sure when I'll be home again, since I have a lot planned for 2011 so I want to make the best of my time here!
It's a good thing I'm home too! Despite having the most complicated route home of 3 flights (Cali-Bogota, Bogota-Madrid, Madrid-Dublin; altogether costing my slightly over €300! Not bad!), I'm one of the few family members who made it home from abroad on time! So many flights are getting cancelled due to the weather and temperatures.
Just after I arrived they closed Dublin airport due to the frost, and just after my bus brought me to my town they decided to limit national bus services, also due to the cold and snow! That's quite a different scene from my previous issue a few days ago of running out of t-shirts from sweating so much due to dancing salsa for several hours a day…
I travel a lot, but have never ever missed Christmas home with my family. I'm not at all religious, but if I've learned anything in the last decade it's that friends and family are the most important thing, and it's important to never lose sight of that!
So I hope everyone reading this will enjoy spending the holidays with friends and family! Make sure to come back here from next week! 🙂
Before this year's best posts, don't forget my post from a year ago and make sure to leave multiculural holiday wishes to everyone on Facebook!
My favourite posts
Here are posts that may not have been high trafficked, but they are what I feel are some of the most important things I have written this year and I hope people check them out!
This post outlines some of the main principles that the Language Hacking Guide was based on, which allow me to start speaking and conversing in a language immediately, documenting their application during my first week trying to speak German.
This post discusses a crucial aspect to making progress that I apply to learning languages and other aspects of life: being realistic about what ‘impossible' means. Too many people throw this word around too much and that bogus mentality is what is really holding them back, not a few obstacles that they could indeed overcome if they put their mind to it.
How can I aim to learn so much of a language in just a few months, while it takes others years? It has nothing to do with me being somehow smarter. It's just better use of my time, than people who spend “years” on a language, as explained here.
Most popular posts
This is by far the hugest post of the year on my site, mostly thanks to going ridiculously viral on stumbleupon! It has been viewed well over 100,000 times!
In this post I talk about aspects of how us Irish speak that makes our English unique. If you haven't seen this yet, then definitely check it out to see why so many people like it 🙂
This is another post that went viral on Stumbleupon, about the hack I was using to be able to read Thai aloud as pronounced (not taking tones into account though, since that was a different post) after just a few hours.
Most controversial posts
This post in itself wasn't so controversial (I encourage people to start speaking as soon as possible), but there was immense confusion over my Thai mission with this video as the conclusion.
An incredible amount of people took one look at the video and one look at the domain name and called me quite a lot of not very nice things! Other blog posts, and even an entire ridiculous forum thread sprouted up to proclaim me as a fraud and throw various other insults my way. The experience made me learn to grow thick skin with Internet trolls, which sadly there are many many of!
Of course they didn't bother to read the fact that I spent 3 of my 8 weeks working 65+ hours a week and not leaving the house except for food due to debt problems, and only actually wanted to get by basically in the language. My last weeks in Thailand were very stressful because of how much I was working, and all of this negativity from random people online certainly wasn't helping!
Everything in the video is from one weekend's work – I think next time I go on holiday for a few weeks and only spend 20 hours work on a language, I should make it clear so Internet trolls don't go so crazy!
One big “controversy” of the blog ever since it started is my insistence that natural use of the language be the focus of where learners should put the majority of their time. To me this seems as intuitive as you can get, but academics who have investments in systems that are several centuries old disagree.
A new movement of “input learning” has come about in recent years thanks to the availability of a large amount of passive exposure to languages, that I see as nothing more than the academic approach without the teachers. Studying is studying – let's stop being so oblique and use our languages as they were meant!
Some aspects of studying will indeed help you to improve your level, but others are just wasteful. Actual practice can never be beat as your best tool to make fast progress. I'm very sure of this, but others disagree. Someone even made an amusing video compilation of my disagreements with an input-loving language blogger!
Most fun posts
Going here, you'll get a chance to laugh at my pathetic singing skills, this time in German! (another singing video on the way next week!! 😀 )
This time I actually dress up in a leprechaun outfit and go around Ireland, in an attempt to promote interest in the Irish language. Check the video out for a few laughs!
So, what has your favourite post been? Lots more fun on the way in 2011!
My best wishes to everyone this holiday season! Take care 🙂
And finally... One of the best ways to learn a new language is with podcasts. Read more about how to use podcasts to learn a language.