Monday, January 22, 2007


Language learning is something that I've become quite skilled at. I can call upon huge resources and install regimented training and systems to absorb vocabulary, practice skills for every aspect of a language. This, of course, is even more true for the foreign language that most familiar to me - Chinese.

Two years ago, I resolved to pass the Intermediate Chinese Proficiency test and started an intensive period of self-study. I surpassed my expectations but fell less than 1% short of the highest grade. Since then I've been rather lax and my acuity became rather blunt.

So with new energies I have thrown myself back into language study and am even more regimented than those two years ago. These past two weeks my blurry listening skills have been sharpened to very close to the level they were at the time of the test and I'm recovering copious amounts of past learnt vocabulary and warming them back up. One thing that is always surprising whenever you start to relearn language is that you learn vocabulary that you know that you've never learnt before - and then think how you ever got by without it. In the 9 years that I have been learning and using Chinese, I finally learnt the word for tinfoil.

Whether it was from this sudden change in routines, however, by the previous weekend I was suddenly having trouble sleeping. Every morning I was feeling like repeatedly microwaved crud. This was compounded with a virus of some sort that blighted my work days and wrecked my weekend. Fortunately, the virus symptoms seemed to lessen when I was being sociable (I've always been like that), so I could comfortably celebrate the wedding of Myles and Sufong on the Saturday. Congratulations!

Work-wise, it has been a slow beginning but I have already gained students and once everyone is back working (some are abroad, others are yet to start the training formally for the year), I'll have a busier average work week than last year. And with the zeal I've pursued Chinese, every day has been full-on and satisfyingly tiring.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A new year

After a whirlwind trip down to Wellington, up to New Plymouth and then back home in the space of four days, I'm back at home one day short of my first day of work for the year.

It has put me in the mood for goal-setting:

Goal 1. Get a diary and keep to it.

Amazingly 2006 was the first year that I have managed to use a diary right till the end of the year. This is probably more to do with having so many professional engagements than any other year. Regrettably I haven't got myself a diary yet, and have about 10 different engagements swirling around in my mind - and there is an immediate need to pin them down and get myself into an organised routine.

Goal 2. Get my charitable activities in order.

The plan is to continue my Stroke work, sort out my donation commitments, donate blood at least three times and start either refugee language teaching or migrant support volunteer work. I will give about 100 hours of time and $1000 (including the money paid for Trailwalker).

Goal 3. Get fit, lose weight.

Boy, does that sound like a cliche - but very applicable for me right now. My fitness has dropped away since Trailwalker last year and I haven't done much to retain my endurance and strength. In terms of weight, I now know I've gained 4 kg in the last year, none of which is muscle or additional neurons. I've yet to plan out exactly what my routine will be but with Trailwalker looming, walking is bound to be a big part of it. Cross-training will need to be a part of it. My main goal will be at least to get back to where I was prior to last year in terms of weight and be as fit as I was prior to my second ankle sprain. Finishing Trailwalker will be an intermediate step in the process, not a time to stop extensive physical activity and training.

Goal 4. Re-regiment my language learning.

Last year was the year of learning from non-fiction books. Now I believe I should return to my language studies which have languished somewhat in the last year. Chinese will be the large part of this, but I'd like to add basic Spanish, German and French to that. I'd like to shore up my Japanese, Korean, Latin and Maori.

Goal 5. Consolidate my business.

I'll work to raise a third client and establish a weekly average of 18 hours working hours. I've already identified the industry that I will approach first.

Goal 6. Continue the garden throughout the year.

I'd like to continue the rotation of crops on the small piece of land I'm cultivating. I would like to have a good knowledge of all the crops that I grow and some of the problems that can happen.

Goal 7. Organise things on the homefront.

My books and things are still scattered between my mum's home and my current abode. I will seek to sell off excess books, find appropriate storage for my old stuff and properly move things from my mother's as well as find a place here for the things I need.