5 reasons why trying to understand others will make your life so much happier

Understanding others. This is a quality that only few of us possess and even fewer actually use to our advantage. And understanding is not meant in that aspect where you have to listen to made up stories or unreasonable excuses, it is rather meant that you observe others and then interpret their actions.

Little hints that can mean many different things but all point to one trait of character, that help you understand why a person acts the way he or she does, even though it might be impossible to recognize at first glance. Little things you can find out about them, that they might not even know themselves or would never tell anyone (while sober).

1. You are never taken by surprise

Wouldn’t that be great? Not having to always be surprised by the actions of other. If you pay attention to them beforehand, you will most likely be able to predict something long before it will happen. And in case it is threatening you or the acting person, you will be able to do something about it. A really good way to observe others, is by reading body language.

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But not only body language will give clues on other people’s feelings. The way they dress, their hobbies, their favorite music genre, their list of priorities, etc. all of this gives a great deal of information on the other person. As long as you are observant and process the information they accidentally give you, you will never be taken by surprise.

2. You don’t get overwhelmed by feelings such as hatred

“I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.”
Tennessee Williams

So negative emotions are something nobody likes. Whether it is hatred, envy, frustration, doubt or sadness, they usually only cause confusion and unnecessary conflicts. If you try to understand somebody through observing them, you might get your answers much faster than by simply asking and in the end being served a lie. Communication always has to do with empathy. If you put yourself in the same position and think about what you would do if you had the limited point of view the other person has, then you will find yourself coming to conclusions you might have overlooked previously.

3. You learn to forgive others because you see a little bit of yourself in them

In case you should encounter someone that is bullying you/ treating you badly, you might recognize that they usually have the same problems you do, but process them differently. Take a homosexual individual for example. There are still people out there that don’t know how to deal with their own sexuality, maybe because of badmouthing in the family, maybe because of other factors. If such a person encounters another homosexual individual that might be more open or simply normal about it, he/she might feel challenged by that normality and act abusive in conclusion. The person sees the other as their “bad” part, that they want to hide from others, which leads to the violence.

I’m not trying to say, that we should all forgive our bullies. But knowing this perspective will give us the chance to understand them and later maybe even forgive them.

4. You are never called skin-deep

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Since you always think ahead and don’t just judge people depending on their outer appearance, it is impossible to call you skin-deep. You try to dig deeper than the average person, resulting in a better understanding for humanity.

5. You can avoid mistakes because you have seen others make them

It is possible that this is a rather selfish  reason but what can we do but learn from the mistakes others made. Since you have two different viewpoints on a person through careful observance, you have a better understanding of a problematic. Two viewpoints as in the way you see that person and the way the person sees him/herself. If you now should find yourself in a similar situation you can recall the feeling and perspectives and then conclude what to do next. There might be a back door that you can only see with some distance, and that you only use when you know about it.

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Please tell me if you agree with this list. (^_~)

 

The best way to learn a language

There are two different types of people learning languages. “The Will-Study-Till-Death” and”The Won’t-Study-Ever-and-Figure-Stuff-Out-By-Doing”.

All by themselves, both of these aren’t as efficient as they could be in combination.

The Will-Study-Till-Death

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You learn languages for fun and most likely by studying through grammar books and reading? Then you are this type of person. People that study this way are mostly better with reading and writing than listening and speaking.

The good thing about this way to study is that the language concepts are understood. It is also the only way to learn writing systems that are different from the romance alphabet.

Steps to help you improve:

1. Even though it might be hard for you, try to get a buddy to study with.

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The best choice, would of course be a person that is better than you in the language that you are studying – the best would be a native speaker. If you don’t know anybody that you can talk to, try the platforms lang-8 and italki. There are also others out there, that work in a similar way. If you don’t want to pay the fee to get a professional teacher you can still connect to people that learn your native language and help them with that in compensation for their help.


2. This tip only works for you, if you live in a big city. These kind of cities – especially capitals have a gigantic multicultural and multilingual community. If you don’t know where to find people that speak your target language, try restaurants that sell traditional food of the country that language comes from.

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This tactic doesn’t work 100% of the time, but you still have a good chance that the people making the food actually come from that country. Some times they belong to immigrant families or have just moved to your country out of interest. In any way just try speaking their language to them. What I realized while traveling is that natives usually aren’t that fixated on you speaking perfectly pronounced with the correct grammar. As long as the things you are trying to say are understood, your attempt will most likely be welcome.


3. A great way to meet natives is to be a host on couchsurfing. This gives you the chance to be in your familiar environment while getting to know something new. Also travelers are most likely the best kind of people to meet, since they are usually open for everything, have great stories to tell and will bring the big, wide world in your home. On Couchsurfing people also host meet ups where you also meet people from all over the world.


4. Go travel yourself!!!

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Travel throws you right into the unknown, so you’ll learn so much faster than in your comfort zone. You will meet tons of people, learn about different cultures and a whole new lifestyle. In case you are still considering – GO, it will be the best choice you have ever made!


5. Don’t stop studying. Get that grammar down, there is no way around that.

 

The Won’t-Study-Ever-and-Figure-Stuff-Out-By-Doing

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You are very social and love talking to and meeting new people? This is also the way you learn languages? You hate studying to death? Well, then you are this type. You will most likely be good at listening and speaking while you still have to improve reading and writing.

Steps to help you improve:

1.Keep up the communication and interaction. Since you are basically learning your language the same way as you did learn you mother tongue, you are doing it in a very natural way. Sadly your brain sort of adjusts to thinking in the language(s) we learned first. Because of that, grammar is usually hard to grasp. Since you learn a language mostly trough listening you will have a much faster understanding and feeling for the new language than the previous type though.


2. Spelling!!! Reading and writing is a very important part of a language. Just as you learned it for your first language(s) you will have to learn it for your next as well. In modern society you need it everywhere: to read the menu at a restaurant, for orientation, to read the news, because you want to apply for a job – whatever it is, you’ll need to know it.

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If you really hate studying, try watching YouTube videos. You’ll might also consider reading a book or comic you like in that language.Like that learning how words are written might be less of a chore.


3. GRAMMAR! Please, even though natives might still understand you even though your grammar isn’t perfect, they are still happier (and more impressed) by good grammar. This shows that you have dealt with the language thoughtfully. A website I really love is lingolia (for the languages German, English, French, Spanish and Esperanto.

As you can see what one type lacks, he can compensate with what the other is good at. In case your interested in the topic check out my other posts on the 4 main parts of language learning,  what’s so good about multilingualism anyway and if language learning is for just anybody.

Please leave a comment and tell me whether you agree or disagree with my points.

8 reasons why music should be an essential part of your travel

Everybody that loves to travel, especially by oneself, knows that it would be next to impossible without music. Here I’ve summarized the 8 main reasons why you should bring music along with you.

1. You’ll get bored without it!

My reason number one! I get bored really fast. So if I’m on a plane or hiking up a hill or if I am on a bicycle stage and have seen the same scenery for ages, I will get bored and ultimately lose my energy to continue what I’m doing.

Since this is the thing you don’t want at all, bring some music!!! I can do hours of exercise as long as my ears get blasted with some kind of melody.

2. It helps you understand the culture of another country

When you’re on the road, on the way to a country that is completely in uncharted water, then how about you listen to some music that is traditionally played in that country. Every part of earth has some sort of music it get associated with and that describes it. Trough doing that, you’ll understand the mindset of the people.

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3. You’ll understand people even without words

If your coming to a country of which you don’t understand the language at all, you’ll might find it pleasant if people like to play music, dance and sing. Music is a universal language everybody understands. So if you play a happy tune you’ll automatically seem friendly to the inhabitants of the new country – as well as you’ll feel welcome when they play it.

4. You’ll learn the language much faster

This tip is for everyone that actually invests the effort to learn a language. Music has a melody that is easy to remember. Learning vocabulary or pronunciation through music is the easiest way to get a feeling for that language.

5. Music connects people to each other

Remember festivals and concerts where all the people that have never met before suddenly become best friends. Music leads people of totally different backgrounds to one another and opens the doors to a wonderful experience.dance-145110_960_720

6. Music is it’s own piece of history

Music always tells a story. Maybe the story of a country or the story of a persons life. It is something really personal and revealing. It tells you things that you might have never known without listening to it. So try to feel with the music, it will tell you all its secrets.

7. You’ll less likely feel lonely

This point is really important as well! When you’ve been on the road for a while or you have settled in a different country than you grew up in, you’ll eventually feel lonely. This doesn’t have to show in an unbearable homesickness and thinking back at the “good old times” isn’t something to be ashamed about but wanting to be somewhere else while you are having the time of your life might not be the best feeling. A way, that I though was really good at dealing with this, is listening to some music of the country you’re missing. Especially music in your own mother tongue. This will help you feel less lonely, and more connected to the country you grew up in.

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8. It’s very emotional

Sometimes music needs to give you the final blow. You’re annoyed?- Listen to some heavy metal and hard rock! You’re sad?- Listen to some sad love songs. You want to just relax?-Play some new age music . And need some confidence?- Try rap!

Music can be an emotional roller coaster. The positive part is that you can decide which genre you want to listen to. If you’re having negative thoughts why not listen to something happy and positive. It will save your day!

Are there any other reasons you like to listen to music when on the road? (^_~)

 

8 Tips on how to master the 4 main parts of language learning

Learning a new language can be a positive or negative experience depending on how you do it. To completely have mastered a language you’ll need to be equally good in listening, reading, writing and speaking. Most learners are on different levels depending on their studying routine and their access to learning material.

Think of learning a language as a journey on a stairway. You have to take all the steps or at least every second or third to reach the top. You can’t just teleport yourself to a different level – you have to work hard to improve as you are progressing up the stairs. Here are a few tips that might help you accelerate that process.

Listening

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1. Get yourself some sort of media to listen to.

There are radio and television apps all over the app stores. Even if you’re just beginning to learn a language, simply listening to natives speak, is really important. You will be fluent much faster than everybody who studies books all day, since you will pick up many more words, phrases and just the sound and feeling of the language much faster than them.

2. Love YouTube. It is the best that has ever happend to you!

YouTube is a big community that has representatives of all countries and languages you can imagine. Firstly you will find a lot of native speakers of you target language that will get you used to the casual and colloquial part of the language. Secondly you can find tons of learning videos where people explain their language to learners. From grammar to podcasts to audio versions of Harry Potter books – YouTube has them all.

Reading

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3.Buy books in you target language that you have already read in you native language!

I tried to read Harry Potter in french, which I’m learning at the moment and I was really surprised about how much I understood oder could understand trough the context because I’ve already read the books in English.

4. Read parallel texts

These are really useful. You usually have a page in your language and then a page in the language that you are learning. Like that you don’t necessarily need a dictionary to understand what is going on.

Trough reading you also learn a ton of new vocabulary. Here it isn’t necessary to understand every word. Just look up the pronunciation of your new vocabulary, since it is tricky in some languages and you don’t want to memorize it the wrong way.

Writing

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5. Use platforms like lang-8 to get corrected by natives.

Lang-8 is a website and app, where you can post as you would on a blog. The only difference is that you don’t post in you native language but in you target language. Natives of that language can then correct you text and you can ask them about things you don’t understand. You can also correct texts of people that are foreign to your language.

6. Try out hello talk or similar apps

The principle of hello talk and similar apps is that you can text Natives of you target language as you would text on a normal messenger app. In the chat you have tools to correct the other persons mistakes. In comparison to lang-8 you can here practice the casual speech and you don’t have to write a big text but you’re rather having a conversation in a written form.

Hello talk can also be used as speaking or listening tool since you can also send voice messages. Since you get in contact with natives easy that way, you can also exchange contact information and continue learning over Skype.

Speaking

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7. Try the website and app Italki or similar sites

Italki is a website that helps you connect to native teachers of you target language. The teachers cost money but they can help you understand the grammatical concept or explain things that differ between languages much better than any grammar book. You can also connect with other students that study your language and then you teach each other. Just remember that Natives can’t really explain the grammar of their language to you, unless they are a teacher.

8. Talk to yourself

To become a better speaker of you target language you must actually speak it and here it isn’t enough to only do so at your lessons. Mumble to yourself while doing you work, look in the mirror during you bath routine and tell yourself how amazing  you are, record yourself on your phone and then listen to it and try to detect pronunciation or grammar mistakes.

When it comes down to it, you’ll need to invest a lot of time in a language to be fluent but following these steps might shorten the time in comparison to studying with a language book or vocabulary list. Learning a language isn’t easy, you’ll also need to understand the culture of you it as well. Languages represent an entire nation. It has developed so many little peculiarities that make it so beautiful. So once in a while try to act like a toddler that is being introduced to the magic of communication for the first time. That sparkle is most likely all you’ll need.

If you have any other study tips please share them with me. (^_^) I hope this helps everybody that wants to lean another language and is as passionate about it as I am.

What crossroads and “the boy who cried wolf” have in common!

Language and Speech are rather difficult to translate because every language is not just words and grammar. Language has so many rough edges which is why google translate can’t actually translate!

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There are many ways to prove that language is unique and that it takes some life experience and imagination to understand it correctly.

Take a parable for example. A parable is a short story that has an obvious, literal one and an underlying symbolic, figurative meaning. It comes from Greek and means “comparison”. A parable also is supposed to teach the reader a lesson without actually stating it aloud. The reader comes to a conclusion trough the text.

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The illustrations by Francis Barlow of the fable/ parable “The boy who cried wold”, 1687

A nice example for such a parable is the boy who cried wolf ,a story about a shepherd  boy that tricks the villagers into believing that a wolf is attacking his sheep. When an actual wolf attacks nobody helps him because they think that he is lying again. The moral of the story is that nobody believes liars even when they tell the truth.

The literal meaning of this text would be, the story about the boy and his sheep. The symbolic meaning is, what the moral of the story is trying to state and what the readers should learn while reading the story. This is, that you shouldn’t lie because nobody believes liars even when they tell the truth.

Now you might wonder what all of this has to do with crossroads.

maxresdefault Well, crossroads can also be seen as a word with more than just the literal meaning.

When you see a crossroad you might indeed just think about a different road cutting your’s and that is it!

But let’s think of the underlying symbolic meaning. What opportunities do crossroads give you. In my opinion they give you the chance to change your course and to look at a different direction. The option to turn 90° and to have a different goal.

In my book symbolic as well a literal meaning of speech are important but to understand the symbolic one you have to think for yourself. This is what the author tries to make you do without you even realizing. To understand stories like parables you have to be able to learn at all times and to look at things from a different angle. Like you do at crossroads. The reason the moral usually isn’t included in the parable is because everybody reading it, understands it a little differently and comes to dissimilar conclusions.

What hidden meaning do you associate with crossroads?

 

“It’s raining like a pissing cow”

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The familiar french proverb “Il pleut comme vache qui pisse” is equivalent to the English

  • “It’s raining cats and dogs”,
  • “It’s pouring down”,
  • “It’s really coming down”,
  • “It’s lashing down”,
  • “It’s raining stair-rods”,
  • “It’s bucketing down”,
  • “It’s pissing hard/down”
  • “The rain came down/ fell in sheets.”

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Is studying languages only for the extraordinary?

Whenever I talk to friends or family about my dream of speaking as many languages as possible the typical answer I get is: THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE.

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