As I mentioned in my last post, I'm studying Khmer. I'm finding the process to be rich in life lessons.
My first big challenge has been learning the alphabet. For a while, the letters just refused to stick in my head. There was nothing to attach them to, and it really amounted to trying to memorize random squiggles. I would try to cram them into my brain, and they would just dribble right back out.
I started to wonder how I was ever going to learn the language if I couldn't even master the alphabet. Then it occurred to me - what if I got my hands on a Khmer karaoke video?
In Cambodia, you can't turn around without a Khmer karaoke video playing. In the restaurant. In the bar. On the bus. I suddenly wished that I had bought one while I was there. I was sure the combination of music and words on the screen would be a great learning tool.
As luck would have it, there is a Cambodian video store just south of Seattle (the Pacific Northwest has the 3rd largest population of Cambodians in the US). So now I have two Khmer karaoke videos with both the words in Khmer and the romanized version on the screen.
Sitting with my remote control and dictionary in hand, I watch the video, push pause on occasion, and look up random words. Seeing the letters again and again has started to give me a frame of reference I didn't have when I was just trying to memorize them on their own. And wonder of wonders, they've started to stick! And with much less effort than just sitting and trying to memorize them.
So what's the point of all of this? If what you're attempting isn't working, or it seems much harder than it should be, maybe you need to take a different approach. What are some other options? What are some other ways you could try to achieve the end result you're looking for? Are there other tools you can use? Are there other paths you might take? Are there other people who could support your efforts?
Take a look at all the variables and ask yourself, what could I do differently? You might just surprise yourself.
(Oh, and I just ran across the Khmer equivalent of the ABC song, but I don't think it's going to be much help.)
Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM