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Monday, September 15, 2014

U is for Unrealistic {Blogging through the Alphabet}

~not realistic (*wink*); not sensible or appropriate; not able to see things as they really are

A kindergarten will read War and Peace within the first week of the school year.
One individual, with no weapon, can take down an entire Army squadron.
Standardized tests can definitely determine the educational well-being of the nation's schools. 

Those are ones that came to me when this post was started. I asked on Facebook what others thought of 'unrealistic'. Here are their answers:
  • Physically/technically possible but very unlikely.
  • Not based on facts. Not researched.
  • Not real. Trying to think when I have said it or heard it, it is usually paired to goals. As a caution. Making goals or plans that can be achieved, even far fetched, challenging or on the edge, but not unrealistic. (not sure if that's supposed to say "realistic" on the end there...)
  • The thought I might ever run a marathon.
  • My to-do / responsibilities list.
  • Doing the same thing over and over again the same way and expecting a different result when it didn't work the first time.
  • Cleaning out my office while actually typing on Facebook.
  • Na├»ve hopes and dreams. Like cleaning and organizing all the nooks and crannies in my house.
  • Closing my eyes and opening them to find my to do list is accomplished?
  • A world where no one makes assumptions.
  • Our expectations of ourselves and others.
  • When you shouldn't keep on hoping for change and yet you still do.
And my two favorite FB replies:
  • A rested mama.
  • Dinosaurs living in the present time.
That's the "U is for..." entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet, curtesy of my Facebook friends :D Check out Ben and Me for more U entries or search abcblogging. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Fluent Forever {Blogging for Books}

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. See Disclosure/Policies.

ISBN: 978-0-385-34810-2
ebook, 336 pages
Publisher: Harmony
Retail: $11.99

About the book:
The ultimate rapid language-learning guide! For those who’ve despaired of ever learning a foreign language, here, finally, is a book that will make the words stick. At thirty years old, Gabriel Wyner speaks six languages fluently. He didn’t learn them in school -- who does? -- rather, he learned them in the past few years, working on his own and practicing on the subway, using simple techniques and free online resources. In Fluent Forever Wyner reveals what he’s discovered. 
The greatest challenge to learning a foreign language is the challenge of memory; there are just too many words and too many rules. For every new word we learn, we seem to forget two old ones, and as a result, fluency can seem out of reach. Fluent Forever tackles this challenge head-on. With empathy for the language-challenged and abundant humor, Wyner deconstructs the learning process, revealing how to build a foreign language in your mind from the ground up. 
Starting with pronunciation, you’ll learn how to rewire your ears and turn foreign sounds into familiar sounds. You'll retrain your tongue to produce those sounds accurately, using tricks from opera singers and actors. Next, you'll begin to tackle words, and connect sounds and spellings to imagery, rather than translations, which will enable you to think in a foreign language. And with the help of sophisticated spaced-repetition techniques, you'll be able to memorize hundreds of words a month in minutes every day. Soon, you'll gain the ability to learn grammar and more difficult abstract words--without the tedious drills and exercises of language classes and grammar books. 
This is brain hacking at its most exciting, taking what we know about neuroscience and linguistics and using it to create the most efficient and enjoyable way to learn a foreign language in the spare minutes of your day.

About the author:
Gabriel Wyner graduated summa cum laude at USC, where he won the school’s Renaissance Award. His essay on language learning for Lifehacker.com was one of the site’s most read in 2012.

My thoughts {well, these thoughts are actually my daughter's, who read the book much faster than I}:
Well, I haven’t learned any languages yet using the techniques in this book… But I’m working on it! ;)

The book starts out with why you should use the techniques in the book. I tend to like the books that tell you what and how, so at first I was impatient. However, the why’s the author provides were interesting, and he always backed them up with research.

Here are some principles from the book, and a bit of the ‘why’s:
The Three Keys to Language Learning:
  1. Learn pronunciation first. -This involves what you hear, see, and say. Wyner gave the example his experience with the word scheme. When he would read it, he would pronounce it in his head “sheem”. However, he kept hearing in others’ speech the word “skeam”. Later he did find out the correct word-sound relation (it’s “skeam”); but he said he had a permanent ‘gap’ in his mind. Word situations like that are ‘broken’ words. If you don’t learn to pronounce the language you are learning correctly, you could end up with all sorts of broken words, and it will make it harder for you to understand others. Also, you’ll get a cool accent ;) Wyner says that native speakers are happily surprised when you pronounce their language correctly.
  2. Don’t translate. -Learning a new language shouldn’t be like learning a code - you don’t want to have to decipher everything you read or hear. If you try to use as little English as possible when learning a new language, you can begin to understand the words and phrases quickly, without the hassle of translating. You connect the words to what they really are, rather than their English equivalent. You can actually begin to think in that language.
  3. Use spaced repetition systems (SRSs). -”SRSs are flash cards on steroids.” Instead of constantly reviewing and repeating cards, SRSs space out your cards depending on how well you know them. By pushing them into further spaces of time, they test the edge of your memory. ‘Tip of your tongue’ experiences reinforce your memory of words.
These three principles are combined into Wyner’s learning system. The technique is largely based on using flash cards. These flash cards use minimal English; instead, pictures take the place of the definition of a word. This way, you can stop thinking “Egao means smile”, and instead think, “Egao means :)”

After telling you why, Wyner tells you how to make the flash cards that will teach you pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

This book is not a language course. Rather, it is telling you how to make your own language course. So, there is a lot of work for you to do - materials, set up, etc. Maybe that part isn’t so easy; but it’s once you get yourself oriented, know what you have to do, and do it - the learning starts, and it’s fun and easy! By making your own course, it becomes personal, and it sticks in your brain.

Wyner's website, Fluent Forever, has lots of resources to help learn a foreign language. We are using the book and the site together. Wyner is creating pronunciation trainers and word lists for: Spanish (Latin American), Spanish (European), French, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), German, Russian, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Japanese, Arabic (MSA), Hebrew, Hungarian, English, and Dutch (from the site). French is done now and the rest can be preordered. 

We definitely recommend this book for anyone who is truly interested in learning- and retaining- a foreign language. I will say that I would love to have this in print rather than ebook form.

*Disclaimer: I received an ebook version of this book free from the publisher via Blogging for Books for the purpose of this review. No compensation was given. All opinions stated are those of my daughter and myself. See Disclosure/Policies.

Monday, September 8, 2014

T is for Technology {Blogging through the Alphabet}

~knowledge used to create tools, including machinery, and modifications, arrangements and procedures used by humans.

Gutenberg's press was technology. The printed word is technology. The screen that these words come to you through is technology. Language is technology. A pencil is technology.

It's amazing to think of all the different kinds of technology that humans have access. Many if not most people take these for granted. It is easy to forget that the primitive technologies are still technology. Personally, technology elicits thought of digital or electronic gizmos and gadgets; social media; handheld devices that allow connections between different hemispheres almost instantly

It is shallow thinking on my part to only consider those advancements as technology. A wooden spoon is technology. How would we live without technology as we know it today? I wonder often but honestly would not be quick to try to live without these conveniences. 

Below are images that have to do with technology in one way or another that I found in my 'photo album' on this blog. I am sure there are many more that could be included. 

This is the T is for...entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet blog series. You can find other "T" entries at Ben and Me or simply search abcblogging. 

What are some of your favorite technologies?

Monday, September 1, 2014

S is for Self {Blogging through the Alphabet}

~The individual as an object to his own reflective consciousness.

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. ~ Proverbs 3:5-7 (KJV)

Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. ~Proverbs 27:2 (KJV)

Self is the thing. It is all about self. Somewhat recently a photo challenge went out over FB, and probably other social media avenues, to have people photo themselves with the words "I am enough." For who are they enough

There is perpetuate the belief in counseling and psychology that a person needs to improve their self-esteem. They need to see themselves in a better light. It is suggested that the individual put sticky-notes around their house to remind themselves of how much they are worth. "I am worthy of..." "I deserve..."

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. ~2 Timothy 3:2-5 (KJV)

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy...Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will free from you. Draw nigh unto God, and he will draw nigh unto you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. ~ James 3:17, 4:7-8 (KJV)

This is the S is for...entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet. See more at Ben and Me or search abcblogging.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Book Review: Bible Study for Busy Mamas- Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13 {BookCrash}

Bible Study for Busy Mamas: Thirty Days in 1 Corinthians 13 by Pam Forster
ISBN: 9781891206573
Paperback, 99 pages (also available as Kindle ebook)
Publisher: Doorposts
Retail: $8.00

About the book:
It’s not easy, getting into the Word when your house is full of little ones who need you twenty-four hours a day—but this study will help!

Here is a simple but deep approach to Bible study, divided into bite-size portions that will leave you encouraged and excited as you discover that you do have time for meaningful Bible study.

By giving you short study assignments, five to ten minutes per day for thirty days, this book will help you make time to thoroughly study 1 Corinthians 13 and learn about true, Christ-like love.

See sample pages at Doorposts website.

About the author:
Pam Forster has been passionate about Bible study since she was a teenage girl. Doorposts' parenting charts and books all grew out of her personal (and often desperate) Bible study while raising and homeschooling six children. She writes a blog on parenting, Bible study, and encouragement for moms at www.doorpostsofyourhouse.com

My thoughts:
I've followed other "Thirty Days in..." with Pam's online studies (at the blog linked above) and benefited from them. This book is exactly what you find at the same place, but in a small portable, print book. I like to have physical books; the online studies I have a tendency to leave after awhile. They are very helpful but with being busy- and that's who this book is geared toward!- I didn't have the time every day to find the newest post about which book/chapter we were studying. I was often behind. While this book doesn't necessarily mean I won't ever be behind, it doesn't get left out as often as the online.

This is a short book, to the point. It isn't meant to take up a lot of time. It could, of course, if you let it; or if you feel led to drag it out longer. Pam says that it'll take 5 minutes a day- uh, it always takes me longer. First to do the reading (I read or re-read each day), then read what's in the book, then follow the tips. I don't always get all of them because, well, sometimes I only get to do the reading!

Some things that she goes through in this book are:
What Love Is/Isn't
The Future
How Jesus is the perfect example of Love
and lots of others

Some of the activities include:
Always PRAY!
Act out
Think About
And others

She also sets aside some days for catching up or other 'optional' assignments. On some days it will take very little time at all (like those catch-up days when you don't have to catch-up) because she goes through and tells how to do a search online for something particular. In every lesson there are also optional "For your children" assignments/activities.

I like this little book and think it is a good resource to have. I appreciate it as much as, if not more so, the online versions of the study. This is also available as a set "Busy Mamas Bible Study Kit."

Disclaimer: I received this book free for the purpose of this review from the publisher via Book Crash. All opinions stated are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Revised Reading {Goals} List 2014 & On

Going through old posts, clearing up labels, and deleting trivial posts, I found a book goals post from 2012. On Goodreads there is a goal for reading as many books as you set {mine is set to 60 this year}, but I'd not thought in a long time about which books I want to read. There are just so many books and who can read them all?

I decided to just go with a number of books as opposed to particular books. Here are books that I am currently reading:

Forever Dream by Dawn Hartley
The Christian Imagination, editor Leland Ryken
Echoes of Eden by Jerram Barrs
Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It by Dr. David Brownstein
Pursuing Justice by Ken Wytsma
The Stories We Tell by Mike Cosper
10 Books That Screwed Up the World by Benjamin Wiker
Better Policies, Better Schools by Cooper, Fusarelli, & Randall
The Attributes of God by A. W. Pink
Here's Looking at Euclid by Alex Bellos
The Living Page by Laurie Bestvater
Ourselves, A Philosophy of Education & Parents and Children by Charlotte Mason
Keeping the Kids by David Cloud
The Christian's Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall
The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul

My list will undoubtedly continue as I come across books that I want to pick up and at least begin reading. I just received in the mail the book Tables in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey that I've not even cracked open.

Books I have read this year so far include:
I won't list them out here but will give titles for those two books that only have a 'g' on them: Essays on the Life and Work of Charlotte Mason by the Charlotte Mason Institute and Walking with God in the Classroom by Harro Van Brummelen. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Q & R are for Quality vs Quantity & (W)riting {Blogging through the Alphabet}

I have included some outside links that I found to be helpful in this 'quality vs quantity' post. I don't necessarily endorse these external sites, unless stated. Visit/view at your own risk.
Quality vs Quantity & Writing
~age-old (?) debate of which is better: to produce good works, at the risk of only producing a few; to produce many, at the risk of only producing a few good works. 

That's probably not the best 'definition' up there but I'm not going for exact here. And I just didn't want it to get too technical. Since this post is two-in-one, covering "Q" and "R" (uh, don't mind that it isn't truly an 'r' word; it sounds like it and it goes with my purpose here), I thought I'd try to make a point. Whether it's good or not is to be seen.

I'd recently read a book about the writing habits of one particular author (Robert Benson) in which he says to write, everyday, 600 words. There are others who are of the same mindset, whether in writing or other activities (Why Quantity Should be Your Priority). 

Perhaps it depends on what you're going for: practice doesn't make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect. In that sense, quality trumps quantity, don't you think? (Quality over quantity..., and ACT Writing Tips)

Think how many blogs and websites at our disposal. Does that mean that quantity equals quality? No, definitely not. It is my opinion that it is better to focus on quality over quantity in writing. (Now, to take my own advice may mean I write no more!)

Here are some quality blogs (with quality writing) that I personally enjoy and would recommend:

There are doubtless many more that I don't even know about. 

Would you like to recommend some quality over quantity writing resources? It would be most appreciated.

This is the "Q & R is for" entry in the Blogging through the Alphabet. I'll admit that this slipped my mind but I am determined to make it through these 26 posts. Find others' entries by visiting Ben and Me, or simply searching abcblogging. 
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