Friday, 10 December 2010

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Vid: Rich demos a language learning technique


This is my version/demo of Prof Alexander Arguelles' Shadowing technique. I only started doing this after completing several audio-linguistic courses.

The basics... listen to 1 minute segments in your target language (Spanish) and repeat immediately after the audio. You are literally speaking "over" the audio, so at first it feels almost disorientating. You have to cut up the audio yourself, and you will also need a copy of the book in Spanish and, if possible but not necessary, English.

I do it seated, with headphones. I only have the head-phones on one ear, and the other ear I have open so I can hear myself (important - otherwise you end up thinking you're speaking well when you're not. IE: people who sing with head-phones on).

I slow the audio to about 70% of speed using Windows Media Player. The reason being, the vocab in Harry Potter, at that speed, is just too fast for my level of learning.

To begin with I have the Spanish text infront of me and I literally read and shadow simultaneously. I do this with a specific section until I can "manage" to keep up with the audio easily. After that I translate the Spanish text so that I consciously understand all the words in that segment, then I begin shadowing without the text.

Every so often I record myself, like in this video, to check my pronunciation. Also I occasionally refer back to the text in Spanish in order to make sure I'm not making any consistent mistakes (such as mistaking a Que for a De or something equally simple but important.)

I shadow in 25-40 minute intervals, on average about once a day. I usually do about 3 or 4 different one minute sections. So I'll do one section, on repeat, for about 10 minutes, then another, then another.

Once I'm finally done I chuck any new vocab I've discovered which I like into my Anki deck in a sentance which I'm likely to use. One good recent example is the phrasal verb - "darse cuenta" which means "to give yourself account" literally but really means "to consider" or "to realise".

I've been using this technique for about 3 months. I've noticed a enormous improvement in my pronunciation and speaking, but so far my "everyday" comprehension has not yet gained noticably from this technique. Although on top of this, it has been a great way of "discovering" new vocab.

The "trick" to making this technique work is concentration. You need to focus on the audio, ensure that your pronoucing your words as accurately as possible (there's many "levels" of accuracy which only become clear after continued exposure), and eventually to try to "think" in the target language while also understanding the meaning (this is the bit I'm struggling with).

Usually afterwards the words of the language are buzzing through your head... which is probably a good thing.

Coffee goes well with this technique ;)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Vid: Moving to another country, making a big change in your life, living in Valencia, and teaching English. Thoughts, tips, ramblings...

Decided to knock together a more serious post with some useful thoughts for anyone considering such a move or just any kind of life change. Thought this should be done after the recent extended spurt of jokey/mess-around posts. ;)

Watch out for some horrible editing about 8 minutes in. Not sure what happened there, but it's only a minor glitch so I'm leaving it ...

The background music isn't that deliberate - I just had it on to give me a bit of rhythm to talk along to.. I probably won't bother with that in future posts ...

Saturday, 9 October 2010

"How's life in Spain? THE INTERVIEW - Part 1"


...and they... and they... AND THEY WHAT??!?!?! 

Find out in Part 2.... later... or tomorrow... or basically whenever I can be assed chopping it up and editing it.

Vid: Oh... you think your country does good fireworks? Lol... forget it... try Spain :))

The Spanish know what they are doing with pyrotechnics... Ho..leee...shitt...

Check it out... it's a long vid, the end is definately worth a look because it goes nuts.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Vid: The beach, the beach, the beach! Oh yea! :D

I know I come accross like a bit of a twat in parts of this - guess that's just the beach vibe you know?

Not too sure what an astute palate is by the way... but sounds pretty good.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Vid: Just got plunged hard and fast into the world of teaching...!

I've never given a lesson before... I've never taught English before, I've never seen the text... I haven't even done public or group speaking except with friends.... 

Well guess what happend - day one? No... within 10 minutes of showing up for work... my boss isn't in... just the receptionists telling me what's on the agenda...

Hello my name is Rich - and I'm an English teacher...

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Vid: Now we both have jobs.

This is about the 6th time I did this video due to techincal difficulties so... insert jokes, banter and anecdotes because trust me... they were in the others.

Anyway in summary - LET THE PARTY BEGIN!!!!!!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Vid: Rich says HOLA!

And for those completely confused - here's what I just said but in English:


I decided I would do an update in Spanish, so you could hear what my Spanish is like. I don't know if all this makes sense, because I'm making it right now. 

I know most of the people who view this will not understand it. But in any case, maybe they will find it entertaining (?).

When I make it up, it's hard as you can see. But if I already know what I'm going to say, it's easy. Like this...

(Recites passage from Harry Potter in Spanish (making a few mistakes, doh))

It's easy when I already know what I'm going to say.

Hello my Spanish friends, and see you later!

Vid: (post-dated) French Safari plus Arrival in Spain

These vids are about two weeks ago - but pretty good fun :D Neil (skilled media producer - or something) was meant to do a compilation vid of the Safari but didn't get around to it - so I knocked up a quick cacky one...

Contrary to appearences - no animals were harmed during the making of this video:


Monday, 27 September 2010

Vid: Two weeks in Valencia.

Just want to add as well, I've been meeting Spanish people for language exchanges the Spanish is holding up to be shit hot. Place your bets on fluency within 1-3 months because I am pretty damn confident about this! ;)


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Vid: This morning in Spain...

Vid quality is totally aweful - try not to get freeked out when my face starts melting - it is an optical illusion, I haven't gained some sort of face morphing powers - yet. 

Now... Spanish... press-ups... breakfast... and off to the beach :D

Vid: Hola! Rich from Valenica....

I wrote most of this post a few days ago... I'll be posting a vid from this morning immediately after...



Well here we are in Valencia...

I realise this video has a pretty fucked up camera angle but that probably captures as well my mood after being fucked about by the buearocracy over here so I'm leaving it :D...

Ignore the part about the tour because Neil did that and that's the blog post just before this.

Anyway now we finally have a place to live, residency, bank accounts, and the internet. -

I’m not going to lie and say it was easy to get all that. Actually it should have been, because mainly it’s just us going around to people and saying “here – we have all this money we’ve saved up – you take it and give us x, y and z.” But in reality it isn’t.

The most painful parts have been dealing with the insanely disorganised Spanish bureaucratic system. Queuing for hours on end, day after day, in a long line of discontented eastern Europeans and surrounded in pissed off Spanish police officers. I’m not sure where all the tension comes from – but what you have there is a lot of pissed off people bundled close together in a line for hours on end.

In amongst all that the cops pulled me over for a random spot check in town and give me a hard time for not carrying the paper part of my license. Usually the kind of thing that I wouldn’t mind; but after cracking my head open on Spanish bureaucracy for almost a week and being extremely pleasant to the extremely unpleasant cop, to be perfectly honest it pissed me off big time. That’s the kind of moment where you think – “Fuck this; I’m going back to blighty.”

I wonder if it’s similar for Spanish people who go to Britain, and if so maybe it’s something which countries need to think a little more about. You have these people who come to your country with hopes, dreams, ideas, positivity, and then you treat them with a barrage of red-tape and a definite sense of aggravating authoritarianism (being in that queue felt very much like being back in primary school) which leaves a definite, and I imagine for a lot of people – lasting, bad taste. And we have not had to contend with racism, if you threw that into the mix then I could understand how an economical migrant could very quickly become intensely distasteful towards the golden land they once desired to be part of.

Anyway – time to let all that crap go and move on to the real fun, finding work... and partying on the beach :D

We’ve done next to nothing for our job search so far. The launching bay always seems to look just that little bit better tomorrow with the upcoming x, y or z add-on – ie: getting an apartment, sorting residency, getting the internet, etc. I can’t say how it’s going to go. Any job involving Spanish is almost unthinkable at this moment – even for me, let alone Neil. I can speak pretty well, but comprehension is very difficult – and if a shop clerk who’s paid to help you doesn’t slow down when you say “Más lentamente por favor” then there’s no way in hell a client or customer would be prepared to.

Learning a language is a pretty weird skill when you actually come to the real communication part. Improvement tends to be difficult to see – then suddenly you jump up a whole level. Some conversations are effortless, and some are totally nonsensical. I suspect it depends somewhat on the person you’re talking to – but something it definitely depends on a lot is your mood. If you’re pissed off, scattered, stressed – then it quickly becomes difficult, all the words make no sense and you don’t seem to know any of the words you need to say. But if you’re in a good, focused, satisfied mood then conversation is easy and enjoyable – expressions come out almost as fluidly as your natural language (I’m not exaggerating).

So we’re almost certainly English teachers for the time being. I’ve got a list of schools to contact which I’ll be doing this week. I’m also going to put up some ads for private lessons. I’m not really sure what people expect to get from English lessons – but I would only feel good giving people high quality tuition anyway. So once I’ve got an idea of what a “good English lesson” consists of I’m going to set-aside a regular part of the day to improve whatever I need to so that I can deliver one.


Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Monday, 13 September 2010

Vid: Valencia día dos... la tarde

Vid: Valencia - día dos... el apartamento y el banco

This morning above, this afternoon below. Later I may have one from tonight which SHOULD be celebrations a plenty once we've got the house contract sealed and dealed.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Vid: Valencia - primero día

I realise that bohemian and trendy are usually opposing terms - well in Valencia they are not... the less expensive/cheap area is where the "9-5 pop crowd" go... whereas the "bohemian/alternative quarter" is an opposing mix of pretention and underground.

This over-priced little ditty is actually the compact product of a salt mine....

In the next apartment we looked at we enquired about the salt content. The owner said he didn't use salt and speculated that it was something the restaurants may do because they think foreigners like a lot of salt...?

Friday, 10 September 2010

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The voyage to notre dame! (sort of)

Beware ginger crazies in Marseille

Today we hit up Marseille. We we're going to public transport in - but it all proved too complicated and I didn't feel like drinking anyway, so once again we drove. Driving in this place is a damn nightmare.

A good hour of crawling along later, we went for a wander to find the legendary "notre dame" - which looked absolutely fantastic.


From the peak of Notre Dame

Marseille for two nights!!!!! But there's nothing to do here!!! Woooooooooo!

Well here we are! In Marseille! For TWO NIGHTS!


Well actually we're a good 15 minute drive out of town, the public transport sucks, the beaches have mixed reviews, the nightlife is questionable, and there's pretty much nothing to do where we are.

So errr... yeah.

This is from the moment we arrived... we're getting to have a bit of a "thing" about checking out the hotel room...

Is there a kettle? Is there free toothpaste? Is the air con any good? Or is it just a plug-in fan which uses up another crucially important plug socket...?

 Don't worry... the bed was alright... the slat had just "popped out" and I just "popped it back".

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Riding the globe

OLA! Mis amigos, my good friend Ben has decided to ride the globe!!! check out his blog below
He will be visiting us in Spain around the new year so follow his progress for some cross-blogging perversion you filthy slags...

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Anthrosophy and the Goetheanum

What is Anthroposophy?
All human beings must face the task of having to set their own guidelines for everything they do or think if they want to avoid being swept along by all the material world has to offer. This is the significance and challenge of our time and it often awakens the need for a conscious relationship with the spiritual world. It was Rudolf Steiner's lifetime achievement to develop a method of gaining insight into the reality of the spiritual world akin to natural science in its integrity.

Anthroposophy (awareness of our humanity) encourages individuals to develop an independent spiritual orientation along with impulses in all cultural fields.


Below rich has a few words to say about the Goetheanum and our experiences there >

Travel fever

When you spend a lot of time with a person in a small confine, things get a little Loco :-s

Vid: Stay Cool - Stay Cool

Saturday, 4 September 2010

2nd vid diary

What was that in Switzerland matey?? Anthropo-fil-os-o-fee? - Click here!

Brushing through Germany...

We’re not doing a great job of sticking to Budget. Actually we’re spending about double what we planned, and that’s unlikely to change. So probably we’re going to cut the “holiday” short to 11 days, maybe 10, and hit Valencia sooner than expected.

The truth is if you want to budget hard and you want cheap accommodation then you’re going to be sat in a hotel room 10 miles out of town eating cheap supermarket food – if you’re lucky enough to have passed a cheap supermarket.

On the other hand if you want to pay the city centre parking, or get a bus in to town, and see some interesting sites, maybe have a beer etc – well then the costs rack up.

May as well experience these countries while we’re here rather than staring at the wall of a Belgian/French/German hotel.

Chief Nav Officer Neil has done a good job booking some cheap quality hotels over the next few days. We’re going to be hitting some sweet locations in France and Switzerland.

Movin' through Europe - oh yeah!

Food and drink tastes better in all these countries. No matter how refined a Brit might think their tastes buds are, forget it. The continental euros have a much higher quality of food and drink.

Friday, 3 September 2010

1st vid diary

Middle europe


I don’t have much to say about Ramsgate. It’s like Southport, but with no amusement arcades, fairground rides, and Southerners. Most people around seem to be retirees, dock-workers, and freight. After the 5.5 hour drive I wasn’t really in the mood to seek out whatever good points it might have.

The seagulls are fucking massive. 

On the Ferry to Belgium

It must be a 21st century phenomenon, to get on a car-ferry and think – “wow, it looks just like the ones in computer games.”

It’s mainly truckers. There’s only about another 7 car passengers on here – the place is empty. Security was pretty weak, not at all like at an airport. The guys at the check-point had a half-arsed rummage through the bags we had on top – almost as if he was doing it for show more than actually looking for anything.

But then on the other hand – what would anyone be trying to smuggle out of the UK? The crown jewels?

I’ve just finished compiling my driving rock compilation, which is going to kick 10 kinds of shit out of Neil’s. :D 


Very pretty,  very tasty, very expensive. 

Luxembourg is beautiful.
No idea because we basically rolled up at 8, booked in, went to bed, got up, had breakfast, and got the hell out of there.

Really really pretty. Green. Hills. Forests. Amazing buildings. Old people. French people. German people. Few Belgians.

Found the youth hostel after an hour or so of driving about - it's in the middle of nowhere, but is huge and very pretty. We seem to be the only people here right now.

This feels pretty much like a holiday right now. Got a cheap bottle of plonk from the super-markert and some cheap fruit. We're hitting Stuttgart next.

Sheffield to Luxembourg

Neil's first post

Well I’ve finally caught up to this careering locomotive that has been my life as I’m on the travel train now. Dunno about rich but as soon as I made the decision to travel in the previous summer my life always seemed to be one step ahead of me and although I have enjoyed the experience of sorting out my life in order to make this move happen, lots of sacrifices have been made along the way.
It is amazing to think that one decision to up root and move abroad has changed my life so drastically and the actual power you have with the choices you make is immense and often I feel under appreciated by many people. If there is one thing I have learned is that a simple choice no matter how small can change your life in ways it is often hard to imagine. With commitment to your choices and ultimately to yourself, your able to do the achieve your dreams and it’s a fantastic feeling to experience what you have only previously imagined.
Choices do take resolve as I’ve had to leave so much behind to actually pursue a dream and if I don’t get what I want I’ll hopefully get what I need. I have the fuel to keep me going and that is in some massive part thanks to a awesome cake that I received on my last day of work (picture include) of which I can thank for my rapid degeneration into a diabetic coma. At this stage I would also like to clarify that I am not actually ginger, it again is another choice that I made and yes it may seem odd to most people, even perverse, I just think the curtains should match the carpet.
I’m writing this on a FERRY which is devoid of any life but riches stank ass farts which seem to increase every day, I’m scared for him when he hits critical mass, my gut says this will be in France.
My stay in Ramsgate after a scenic road trip down the m1 was quite possibly the most riveting experience of my life, there is nothing like a desolate port town to bring out the patriot in anyone. I was however very disappointed in the lack of tack on offer about the town, I was banking on England to provided be with my obligatory English beer hat and fake tits and bums. What I will give the English seaside is cracking fish & chips, no matter where you go it’s always that best part of the day.
Looking forward to actually getting in Europe and getting a travel routine hammered down as I’ve got that unsettled feeling at the moment, not quite relaxed and always thinking have I left the oven on, till I realise I don’t actually own one. Hoping its possible get some lunch in bruge before we head of to the hostel in Brussels but will see how the day works out. Need to work out which side I will take in the war between the whites and the blacks before I get to bruge though so gonna sign off for now and have a little think on the captains deck.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Like shaking a bottle of champagne

The closer the leaving day comes - which is Wednesday - the more the world in general pushes you to go. Maybe preparing for 7 months has something to do with that. It feels very much like this whole thing has a life of its own - a fast moving heavy freight train which has been stoked with 7 months worth of coal.

At first it took effort, planning, and work to get moving... and now it's flying at almost top speed, about to bust through the wooden gates into a new country... and when I stop shoveling coal into the Engine for just a moment and look around me I realise that even if I wanted to stop it, I couldn't. It has a life of it's own now.

I had to say bye to someone today who I'm going to miss very much, and more than ever that makes me just want to get the hell out of here now. As if somehow making real physical geographical movement will make it all easier.

I've still got each of my parents to see off too, and then a final meet-up with some of my friends. It's very much like I've got hold of a bottle of champagne in my hands and every time I have to say bye to someone I'm loosening the metal top just a little more.

Until finally - POP! The cork flies out the window, it sprays everywhere.. and you're gone.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Last day of work.

It's been 9 months since I decided to move to Spain, 7 months since I started learning Spanish, and 5 hours since I finished my last day at the I.T job I've had for over two years.

Let me stress this is not a holiday, not a trip volunteering abroad, not studying in a foreign country for a year. This is a full, indefinite move to another country.

Yes, this is "the" car.


Looking back at the amount of work I've put in this year to make this happen is actually quite insane. I've spent around 300 hours learning Spanish - and that is active audio-linguistic learning, not including watching Spanish films, meeting up with Spanish people for "intercambio" of languages (as they call it), reading Spanish websites, listening to Spanish pod-casts, and changing all my facebook, mobile, PC, etc language settings to Spanish.

I've saved almost 50% of my after-tax wage packet. And it's not because I'm paid a lot. I'm currently wearing a £9.99 shirt from H&M, a £4 pair of clearance suit trousers from a nondescript retailer, and a pair of reconditioned shoes which I bought two years ago. I've been eating, for the last 6 months, mainly large £1 bags of apples, £1 bags of raw spinach, 40-50p tins of pinto bins... you get the idea. Healthy, but cheap.

I've studied a 20 hour TEFL course. Never having taught before in my life, apart from a bit of coaching here and there, I'm going to waltz into Valencia and somehow get myself a decent teaching gig. I'm not joking or even being incredulous, I truly believe it's going to be that easy. If I had a language school and I walked through the door, I'd employ myself right away. That's how I know. I've got the drive, the energy, and I'm a native English speaker, and the first two of those things are rare.

Benefits so far

That's one of the things this whole dream/adventure/whatever has really done for me. Driven me forward. I felt a little as if I didn't really know what I was doing with my life before, but I knew I wanted a challenge, something to get my teeth in to.

This has already provided that and more and the trip hasn't even began yet.

Still to do - service the car, photos will be put up of the little Spain-mobile that's going to get us to Valencia, and test-pack the car to see if our stuff all fits.

By the way, we're planning on a little detour through Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, France again, and Andorra... I guess we thought we'd treat ourselves after busting ass for half a year to make this thing happen.

If YOU want to do it...

At this stage, and I must stress the disclaimer that I haven't YET got any proof this is going to turn out to be as awesome as I think it's going to be, if you are someone who has any hidden desires to do this - do not waste another second. Tap into them... really think about it. Start to push yourself a little.

If you think about it a little it'll start to grow, and the moment to act is when it grips you. When you feel that desire deep down start to tug so heavily that you know you have to do something about it.

Once you've got that, then start planning, acting, and doing. Before you have that, don't do anything, because there is no point in even starting this stuff on a whim. You need 100% drive, and that comes from a laser focused idea of what you really want from life.

More to come soon...