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1:42 p.m. - 2012-04-01
We didn't go to the walk because it has been raining all weekend and J is sick.

I discovered I have a painting program on my computer and made a silly get-well card. I also sent my friend Susan (who has sheep) a drawing/painting of pink sheep with John Lennon glasses dancing to a boom-box.

I like that painting program.

I think I'm going to start studying Arabic online. I signed up for a beginner course.

There is a part of me that is sort of embarrassed writing about the fact that I am trying to teach myself a bunch of different languages and speak only French at home -- I am just an American stay-at-home mom in Connecticut, no different than any other white-bread english-speaking stay-at-home mom in Connecticut except that most of them have the sense to stick with what they know. Sometimes I feel like writing in this diary, instead of encouraging me, just documents how far out of touch with reality I am.

The thing is, if I were to try to learn langages in a more legitimate way -- ie in a college classroom, or with a tutor -- it would never happen; that sort of formality is completely out of reach for me. I am never going to have that kind of money or that kind of time -- at least, no time soon.

My language-studying strategy, if you want to call it that, is based on a nugget I got from Dr. Phil: To break a bad habit, you must replace it with a good habit.

I have a multitude of bad habits, such as watching way too much mindless crime TV and reading trashy novels. I replaced that particular habit with watching mindles TV only in french and reading only in French. I have two children who should spend way more time outdoors but didn't, until recently, because I have to physically sit there and watch them so cashy doesn't destroy something or run off or get himself killed. This used to bore me to death but now I do written russian exercises or translations while I'm watching them.

So I'm trying to work learning languages into every aspect of my life. It's more effective than you might think.

So ... I'm already working on French, Spanish and Russian. Why add Arabic? Wouldn't doing too much at one time make me less likely to succeed in learning anything?

I think the opposite is true for me. You can only do something for so long -- study Spanish for example -- before your enthusiasm starts to wane. The Puritanical, guilty reaction to waning enthusiasm is to browbeat yourself and force yourself to keep doing what you're no longer particularly interesting in doing anyway.

A smarter approach, I think, is to do something else! Learning Arabic is nothing like learning Spanish; it's an entirely different world. It's like the difference between golfing and riding a unicycle; both of these are physical activities and that's about all they have in common.

So now I'll have four languages to toggle between instead of three. I hope this will help keep all of them interesting. Doing three at once instead of one certainly has.

The next one I want to tackle is chinese. Someday.



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