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Random Gifts

I woke up and stumbled to the front door to check for packages. I wasn't really expecting one, but you can never be too sure. To my surprise there was a small brown box waiting on the doorstep for me. What had I ordered? I couldn't remember. I walked back inside and tore the package open.

Inside was a book and a board game. Not just any book and board game, though - they were abominations thrust in in front of my virgin eyes. The game was called A Hot Affair and the book was Penthouse: Naughty by Nature: Female Readers' Sexy Letters to Penthouse. Confused, I check the shipping address. Sure enough they weren't meant for me.

They were my neighbor's.

On Learning Languages Quickly

On SEBASTIAN MARSHALL

I had a wonderful chat with Oscar del Ben last week. We swapped some interesting ideas, but one that fascinated me was him telling me how fast he learned English. Given I travel a lot, I was curious as to how he did it. Here's his thoughts -

Hey Sebastian, I think that in order to learn languages quickly, you have to use them. It took me a bit to learn English pronunciation, and I still make many mistakes without knowing it, but the trick is to continue despite the mistakes you make. When I was learning, my girlfriend said that there was no chance for me (bad memory, bad pronunciation), but I didn't give a damn.

Anyway, in my case I had some background from school, even though very little. What worked for me was reading tons of books in English, and then talk with other people via skype.

If you only read books, you'll be able to understand 70% of your target language in one month, assuming it's similar to ones you know (I've never tried wit very different languages). But by only reading you'll have no idea about pronunciation, so I encourage you to listen to music or audio as well. Note that you'll have to get the lyrics of the songs, otherwise it will be nearly impossible to understand, even if you already know the language.

With this, you can get very far, but you'll be missing communication abilities, because you never exercise your speaking abilities. To do that, find a friend who communicates in that language over skype (should be easy if you do english exchange), or practice alone by recording your voice.

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