#53: Duolingo

black and white book business close up

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Language. So many languages to learn, and so much to study and hear about in our short lives. Languages dominate communication, and although we live in a more “globalized” world where language differences are less problematic, if you want to be more cultured, you have to learn more languages. Unfortunately for me, I only know one language, and I’d like to know more if given the chance.

But therein lies the problem. I attribute it to chance, rather than personal initiative. Personal initiative is always much harder to take; it requires motivation, which I don’t always have in large supply. Being motivated and depressed at the same time is difficult to maintain completely. Let’s talk about this a bit, framed around an application I’ve used in the past to learn new languages: Duolingo.

Duolingo, to me, represents my inability to focus on one task for an extended period of time. It showcases, essentially, my ADD in action; when I commit to doing something, but it blows up in my face after inactivity seven to ten days later, that’s my inattentiveness showing up. When I say that I would like to start relearning Spanish, what I really mean is, “I want to commit to a long-term task and actually complete it, and Spanish will be my current endeavor.” You never know whether it will actually pan out the way I hope it to, though it often doesn’t. Here’s hoping 2019 leads myself further in that direction. I want to take charge of myself and my ambitions more, and I want to be focused rather than drowsy, taking initiative on goals that I have rather than watching them fester and explode, like a raisin in the sun.

Pardon the poetic metaphor, but I’m a fan of Langston Hughes!

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#15: The Amateur

gray wooden bridge

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I’m new to so many things. Being new, or a “noob,” can be overwhelming; so much information to take in and master, so many people to meet, and so much reading. But it is also an opportunity to learn, grow, and become something new, to add to your personality or identity. After learning how to write, design, and administer a D&D campaign, I became an amateur DM. Statuses can have a powerful effect over one’s self-perception. The life of an amateur involves going on quests to acquire titles to update your identity with.

Being an amateur is not necessarily a bad thing, and yet in so many ways, we look down upon people who seek learning in their studies. Think of all the times English language learners are joked at or made fun of in media or on the Internet because of their mistakes. Think of how popular grammatical and spelling errors are on “meme pages,” despite being such a common, average struggle. We look down upon the struggling and the average, and yet the average is, numerically speaking, where the majority of us are. A novice at something can be easily discouraged by outside factors, such as being mocked, when what they really need is encouragement, guidance, and validation.

I hate to see people laughed at, even if the intentions are harmless, when the person doing the laughing comes from a position of self-righteous privilege. We don’t usually consider how lucky we are, in the grand scheme of the world, to have been born in a first-world nation, let alone the country whose predominant language happens to be the lingua franca. Only learning one language in school (rather than learning four, if you were born Dutch) disadvantages us, but it also gives us the perception that our language is the most normal of all the rest.

Imagine how difficult it must be for people to learn English, in comparison to you learning Spanish or French or Italian in high school. There is tremendous value in learning languages (which is one reason why I’ve been doing more Duolingo recently; have to stay up on my Spanish studies!), as it puts you again in the amateur’s seat. You are back to being a student again, instead of speaking from a position of knowledge and authority. It can be refreshing to be an amateur every once in a while. Remind yourself what it is like to learn something new again.

Lackluster Words

The

It

To

A

The word “word”

(And its plural form)

Selfish

Independent

Wisdom

Angst

The word “the”

White

Black

Gray

Between

Or “betwixt”

Lackluster

Unimpressive

Meaningless

Mediocre

The word “ordinary”

The word is dry, like a sweltering wasteland

Surrounding a great, untouched library

Unexplored, unlimited, omnipresent.

The world demands your word.

 

 

Improvised

Big birds flying over the sunset breeze

Sick twisted men shouting in the seas

Train track thespians trekking through the trees

Sing-a-long barneys making their own histories

Male model men marching money mysteries

Wroth wrecked warlocks wrestling swiss cheese

Apocalyptic apathy apples aching to appease

Calm cool communists communing with their skis

Rampant red range-rovers readying their PCs

Dead dark dynamite dancing in the disease

Dead dark earth as the whole world freeze

 

**Alright, I want to try to explain this one a bit. I like to experiment with poetry, different styles, moods, schemes, meters. In this one, I improvised the whole thing; as in, I wrote the first line off my head and then had to continue it in a (semi)logical way. It didn’t fit well, but it was fun to do. The rest is up to you. Just continue with your first sentence and with all the sentences you write after it! Try it out. I decided to use a lot of alliteration in this one, simply because it seemed more fun to continue the poem in that way.