sábado, 18 de octubre de 2014

How to Learn a Language Like a Kid Learns His/Her Native Language ::

I guess this is the very first post about a hopefully-useful tip in my blog, since most of my posts narrates about my experiences (which maybe considered not-so-interesting by some people)

well, I'm a language freak since I was in elementary school. I love to learn foreign languages and I use several common methods from cramming a grammar book to speaking with native speaker. Not only common methods but also some self-discovered methods. Actually I have no idea about whether someone out there has already used this method or not (most probably yes). But the important thing is that I find this method really works!

We all already know how we learn our native language when we were toddlers. We didn't study the grammar through the books, right? Instead, we learned grammar and all other aspects through repetitively practising with people around us (especially our parents and siblings), and then getting corrected right after we made mistake (if we made any). And the method I'll describe here is quite similar with how children learn their native language

so... How?

Supposed you're already familiar with language X which may be your native language (It doesn't matter if it's not as long as you can understand it well) and you wish to learn or practice language Y which is your target language. First thing you should do is to find a film/ episode of series which is available language X and language Y dub. So you'll have 2 videos of an exactly same film/episode but with different dubbing (in X and Y). For example, you already know English and you want to learn French and use this video for english

and this video for French 1. After downloading them (you can do streaming instead of downloading, but my suggestion is to download), open both videos at the same time with 2 different media players.

2. Play the X language version first just for 1 or 2 sentences, then pause for a while.

3. While the X language video is paused, try to guess how would the same character say the same thing in Y language. You can use dictionary or translator to get some help figuring out the word you haven't known yet

4. Try to pronounce your guess clearly (don't speak only in your mind, involve your lips, tongue, and vocal cords as well)

5. Play the Y language video to find out whether you are right or wrong about your guess you've just made. Stop before the video reaches the scene you haven't seen in X language video (so you can get immediate corrections if you make any mistake)

6. Replay the paused X language video to make another guess and so on

Yes I know perfectly this is such a time consuming and tiring effort. Once I've tried to finish up a movie whose duration of about two hours and this method lasts about 6 hours non-stop. But if you do this regularly (several times weekly for example) eventhough it's only couple of minutes for one try, I'm quite sure you'll start thinking in Y language in several months :)

I don't recommend this for those who are completely newbie in Y language. So, at least you have to know a number of words and expressions as well as basic grammar rules. But don't worry, this method will dramatically increase your vocabulary, your understanding about how grammar works, and even how to pronounce properly.

One advantage worth to note is that you'll also learn the X language. For example, I'm an Indonesian native speaker and I found this method beneficial for my english skill since it's really hard to find movie/series which available both in Indonesian and the Y language dub

viernes, 12 de septiembre de 2014


Hi folks! It's been a ridiculously long time since the last post. Well the point is that I promised a continuation of those posts (titled '2010-2011' yet even the story hasn't reach the end of 2010). But now, I find it's highly unlikely for me to continue writing about those years. Sorry guys, too less memories to write here(

Apparently another consciousness about how writing can improve your language skill brings me back here (yes, I'm talking about my rusty English)

The title stands for International Biology Olympiad, you can find more about it here. I took part on that event which held in Bali last month. No, not as young biology expert representing my country, but as a so-called volunteer instead :)

It was definitely one of best moments in my life, so I would be glad to share that experience in this blog. Here I'm going to write about my IBO 2014 experience in points of highlights instead of chronologically ordered narration as I used to write before

1.   So it all began ..

It started with my previous participation in such International Science Olympiad (IESO 2011) three years ago. It was a momentous event in my life (if not the most) for many reasons: first time going abroad, first time speaking in English a lot, first time getting an olympiad medal (as I told in previous post, the national stage turned out to be a 'zonk' failure for me hahah), meeting and interacting with many people from different countries, backgrounds of culture, and many many more.

I represented my country with other 3 fellow Indonesian students. So, 4 students are sent by each country and students of each country are guided by one student guide. We were guided throughout the event by a staff/volunteer named Francesca Bortoli. She was an awesome guide by the way, we Indonesians were lucky to be guided by her ^^ Taking part in the event, I could look how cool the duties of a student guide are. That's why I dreamed about being volunteer in such International Science Olympiad (ISO) someday.

Three years later, I found out that there would be an ISO going to be held in Bali which was IBO. And they said that an open recruitment for volunteers would be held. Calling back those unforgettable memories of IESO, I decided to apply when the registration began.

I was having an industrial internship in Prabumulih when the volunteer recruitment opened (and that internship was also one of best moments in my life), so I didn't do anything for registration until the registration was about to be closed :P I was required to fill the registration form and make introduction video about who I am and why I'm interested being a volunteer.

A couple of months later, they called me for an interview in Jakarta. And they announced the qualified volunteer sometime in May. I was lucky enough that my name was on the list.

2.    "This is Bali, dude!"

I flew to Bali at second of July and in fact, that was my first time flying to Bali. It actually was my third time visiting Bali which the previous visit happened just about 2 and half months before. Both previous visit was by bus+ferry.

The point is that it was such an honor for me that the organizer covers all of our expenses during our stay in Bali including the air travel ticket. Couldn't be more grateful for all of those ^^ actually when applying I thought that I had to cover the transportation to Bali by myself

We stayed at Aston Denpasar Hotel & Convention Center where most of the event took place. Being lodged in such posh accommodation, I find myself really lucky. We really enjoyed our stay there and although some people had problems regarding the meal, I'd like to say that the days of my stay there are best days of my culinary life hahaha

My flight back home turned out to be an excitement because I flew back home with Airbus A330, a widebody aircraft. Basically It's unusual for an airline to deploy a widebody aircraft for a domestic route. But since it was holiday and Jakarta-Bali is one of the busiest routes, it's quite common for a Jakarta-Bali flyer to find himself in widebody aircraft. Although I was hoping a Boeing 777 It's sure an excitement for me aviation geek like me who never flies domestic flight with widebody before :P

Well, there's no such international event without any excursion to interesting places around the venue. So, we had some excursions to several highlights in Bali. We went to a beach in Nusa Dua, Uluwatu temple, and Bali Safari & Marine Park. Although I had been to Uluwatu before, still, those excursions were really memorable for me.

And here I want to thank the Organizer and our Ministry of Education to make all of these possible. You have my gratitude for letting me have this chance :)

3   Guiding pibes argentinos

As a country guide whose responsibilities are to take care and to guide 4 participants from one country throughout the event, the organizer assigned me to be a country guide of Argentina. I don't know how exactly they decide who had to guide which country but perhaps I was assigned to guide Argentinian teams because at the interview I said that I know Spanish.

Well I can understand Spanish pretty well, but not Argentinian Spanish.

As a pluricentric language, Spanish language has different geographical varieties. They generally can understand each other but the differences sometimes can be extreme. Argentinians are known to speak with frequently dropping some phonemes (especially intervocalic -d- and final -s) which allows them to speak very fast. They also speak with distinct intonation (which said to be more similar to Italian than European Spanish) and different pronunciation of letters than other Spanish dialects (for example: 'yo me llamo' = /sho me shamo/)

That's not all. They use lots of vocabularies that other Spanish speaking people from other part of this world can't understand. Some words are famous to be 'Argentinian'. For example, 'vos sos' is their way to say 'you are' instead of  regular Spanish 'tú eres'

No, it's not that I don't like that lovely accent. Instead, now Argentinian accent is my favourite Spanish accent. Because thanks to them, I found myself easier to speak Spanish with Argentinian pronunciation (although it's not easy to be understood) because it sounds seamless, smooth-flowing, and pleasant :)

I spoke to them (and the other way round) mostly in English since I know English better than Spanish and they speak excellent English (I guess they speak English better than me hahaha). Even some other country guides envied me for guiding a team who speaks good English while theirs maybe doesn't.

Besides their languages, It's quite interesting to be guide of a country which is located further from Bali than any other participating countries there. They had to transit in Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, and Singapore before arriving to Bali. phew

The event was coinciding with FIFA World Cup where Argentina made to final round. Me and some guides asked Argentinian and Belgian teams to go out to bar with us to watch Argentina vs Belgium match and the match ended up in Argentina's victory ^^ Really, it was such a priceless moment to watch international football match with guys from competing countries :) (photo to be added soon)

It's absolutely an awesome experience to be their guide. I really proud that they were one of friendliest teams (if not the friendliest itself) that they got 'merriest team' award. Two of them were awarded with bronze medals and one of them with honorable mention. It's also interesting to learn some Argentinian words from them which are different from Spanish I had learnt before such as colectivo (bus), celular (mobile phone), computadora (computer), remera (T-shirt), che (hey), piola (cool), chamuyero, boludo, pelotudo (jajaja), etc.

4.   "Bis satu!"

Our event involved mass transport since there were hundreds of participants and we had to move from one venue to another. So, we were divided into 10 buses which 1 bus consisted of students from 6 countries, their guides, and a senior guide which took responsibility of a bus

Me with Argentinian students were in bus one since the countries are divided into buses alphabetically. Other teams in bus 1 were Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Belgium. We had real fun while waiting our bus to arrive in our destinations. Some of us were singing, playing, having international chat, making fun of each other, etc. It's really fascinating to be in a bus that consisted of people from 4 different continents.

Another bis 1 guides are with Mela (Australia's, from UI as I am), Ifa (Armenia's, from ITB), Mitha (Belgium's, from UNUD), Duta (Azerbaijan's, from UNSOED), Lilie (Belarus', from UGM), and of course our senior guide Charles from UNPAD. I really enjoyed working with you guys! ^^

5.   Cultural Experience

Being involved in multinational event at which participated students and juries from 61 countries exposed me to an international atmosphere. It allows me to meet, to have a chat, selfies, souvenir exchange, etc with people from various countries. Really exciting even for me as an introverted person

I could finally see and heard in person things (well mostly linguistic things :P) that I learned only from internet before. Such as differences between Brazilian and European Portuguese are, how to write my name in Armenian letters, similarity of Azeri and Turkish language, lack of Russian proficiency among people from some Post-Soviet states, linguistic diversity of Belgium, typical food and beverage from many countries, talking about my favorite Brazilian band with a Brazilian, and many other things that some of them might be considered racist if I write here

Also I've proven what my friend said here http://iamaboundary.tumblr.com/post/34027001915/little-note-lidah-orang-indonesia-dan-bahasa-asing about flexibility of Indonesian tongue. Some Spanish, Polish, and Romanian native speakers said that my pronunciation of those languages is perfect (although I know it's actually not that perfect)

6.   Vy otkuda?

As a language freak, one of the most exciting things about IBO 2014 is that I could hear a lots of foreign languages spoken there. That event was held on summer holiday (well not really summer actually as my country doesn't have 4-season climate) and my target for that holiday was to learn Russian as much as I could. And of course, IBO 2014 was a huge opportunity for me to learn and practice that extremely difficult language as all of post Soviet countries took part.

I frequently heard Russian being spoken during that event, even at one point I heard announcement in Russian when we were Bali Safari theater. And almost every time I heard that language is being spoken by groups of student, I excitedly approach them and ask "vy otkuda?" (where are you from) and then introduce myself, and so on. Actually, having Asian physical appearance and being able to speak Russian at the same time is absolutely not a strange thing. As tens of millions of Central Asian people are Russian-speaking. I even had been mistaken for being from Kazakhstan.

One interesting thing is that there were 3 CIS countries in our bus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus) out of 6 countries total. In addition, there is a student (not from CIS country) who learns Russian in school. So counting me in, almost half of the bus population knows Russian. And I felt really grateful being there since that was a huge opportunity for me to learn & practice Russian.

In short, IBO 2014 had been ignited my passion to learn Russian. It gives me more perspective about how extremely important that language is, since it is spoken by hundreds of millions people from Mongolia in East Asia (although it's not post-Soviet state, almost all Mongolians learn Russian in school) to Estonia in North Europe. It made me realized how still poor my Russian is and there are still many things to learn and improve. Fortunately, some of them are keen on to teach me. Like when I had to go to Nusa Dua to pick up my delegations. I was in the same car with juries from Uzbekistan. They were really excited knowing that I know Russian and then kindly engaged me in Russian conversation. They corrected my speech every time I made mistake. Similarly with some students in my bus especially Belarusian girls (they give me completely new perspective about their country which dubbed as last dictatorship in Europe). They even visited my room and we had Russian learning session there. We still have online conversation thus far, which is a chance for me to practice that lovely language