The holiday season is nearly upon us. Usually I begin to get a bit edgy about the impending free time, and rush off to the library for a swag of books. This year is different because I am already spending most of my time at home, so the extra free time won’t be such a shock. Nevertheless the holidays have a strange feel as shops go crazy, or are closed, and other people become more available, or disappear altogether.
My strategy has been to shop little and early. Most of the gifts are wrapped and ready and I can get on to the more important task of selecting Christmas break hobbies. When I say selecting my hobbies, what I mean is casting my mind about for inspiration, and letting some potential hobbies choose me.
A couple of years ago I borrowed French for Dummies from the library on a whim a few days before Christmas, and unwittingly launched myself on a fabulous year of emersion in the French language. I quickly graduated to the free podcasts from Coffee Break French and in person classes at the Alliance Francaise. It was a great experience, until I hit saturation point and stopped cold turkey. By the time I made it to Paris earlier this year, it seemed that I had already forgotton more than I had learned, but I felt glad of the background I had gleaned on French language and culture.
This year I am being courted by the Spanish language. I had a brief flirtation with Spanish earlier in the year, and set myself up with the Coffee Break Spanish materials, but it didn’t stick. I only made it to lesson 9. However I did read some fascinating books set in Mexico. I have started back at lesson 1 on my podcasts and am already on lesson 3 after one day, so if I keep up the pace I will exceed the last attempt within a few days. Of course it gets much harder after hola and adois.
The reason I like the Coffee Break materials from Radio Lingua Network is that they were developed in Scotland so you get the added bonus of listening to the mellifluous Scottish accents while learning French or Spanish. Mark Pentleton, the creator of the programs, is a born teacher. He makes it so much fun that is worth learning a language just to feel like you are hanging out in class with Mark and his students. (I am not connected with the company, this is a spontaneous outpouring of enthusiasm.)
Whatever you are doing over the holidays, make sure you have a little something special planned for yourself that lets you retreat from the craziness and enrich your own experience.