An ever-changing life inspired by the pneuma


Iets Nieuws Proberen

Filed under: Dutch — feyMorgaina @ 15:15

Hoi allemaal! Ik wil iets nieuws proberen. Ik ga in het Nederlands bloggen. Ik denk dat dit een goede oefening zal zijn.

Vandaag heb ik gestreamd. Ik heb een beetje Hongaars, Vietnamees, Russisch en Cantonees geleerd. Ik gebruik Duolingo, LingoDeer, Mondly Languages en Ling App. Ik heb ook Words on Stream gespeeld.

En wat ben ik nu aan het doen? Nu ben ik een blogartikel aan het schrijven.

Oké, dat is alles. Ik kan niets anders bedenken wat ik wil schrijven.

Tot later!

Een Canadese in Nederland


Q&A: Get to Know Your Local Twitch Streamer (yes, me!)

Filed under: General,Twitch — feyMorgaina @ 08:28

Q: When did you start streaming and why?

A: My first stream was on December 11, 2019, the same day I signed up on Twitch. It was a short test stream from my PlayStation 4.

The PlayStation 4 always had this “Broadcast” feature. At the time I first got the PlayStation 4, I had other in real life pursuits (if you’ve been on my blog since those days, you’ll know that was taekwondo. I’d still like to get back to taekwondo, but we’ll see). By December 2019, however, I had moved to a different country (big life change, I know, but one I very much looked forward to) and after spending just over two years mostly at home studying Dutch (yes, I moved to the Netherlands), I felt ready to try something different. I’ve been on the internet for years (pre-Facebook and pre-MySpace) and have always been interested in and willing to try new forms of social media. Broadcasting (a.k.a. “streaming”) was different and I felt it was time to try something a bit more interactive (albeit, more public too) than just blogging, Tweeting, using mobile apps, and whatever else I used in the past (I had stopped using Facebook by this time, though I’ve started using it again mostly to help promote my Twitch channel).

There I was one day just taking a break from studying so much. From about a year before moving and for two years after moving, I barely touched the PS4. I needed a break and there were games I had on the backlog (I still have a backlog 🙂 ) and there was that “Broadcast” feature still staring at me. I set up my Twitch account that day and once I figured out how to link the PlayStation to my Twitch channel, I did a short test stream. It was for about half an hour. The stream was never saved though (I didn’t know I needed to turn that option on) and which game I first streamed will for now remain a mystery for my Twitch viewers (although you can find the stats online for that stream, it streamed to the wrong category accidentally – it’s a PlayStation 4 thing).

Q: Why did you continue to stream?

A: It’s like what it says on the About… part of my Twitch channel. “Watch me do the things I love and more”, but also “Streaming is sharing; ‘sharing is caring'”. This is just who I am, I like to share the things I like and love. It’s like that when I go out to eat dinner with people. I want to order them the food I like and love ’cause I want to share it. Although, there’s also this perspective: if the person doesn’t like the same food, that’s fine with me too. That just means there’s more of the stuff I love just for me. 😉

I also figured Twitch’s interactive chatting could be a great way for me to practice Dutch (and other languages). Again, if you’ve been a reader of my blog for a while now, you’d know I’ve been learning Dutch for a while since before I moved to the Netherlands. After about a month or so on Twitch, I checked and found out there was a Duolingo category. I’ve been wanting to make language learning videos for a while now, but I didn’t want to just make YouTube videos. Recording myself practicing speaking Dutch is a good way for me to judge how I’m doing and I could just do that by recording videos and uploading to YouTube, however, the big appeal for me about doing a Twitch stream is the interactive chatting for the languages. My chat is a multilingual chat even if some days my brain goes on cooldown and I can’t even Engl-ish. 😀

Of course, I like to meet people on Twitch. Twitch is social media, and that’s what I like about social media. I’ve met some good people on there already. If I really feel a rapport with some people, it’d be nice to meet them in real life. Maybe even have a gaming night where we can sit, chill, be ourselves (not our Twitch selves, I mean), and have fun (maybe even practice talking in different languages too).

Q: Twitch is a monetization platform. Aren’t you also trying to make money on there?

A: I think everyone would love to make money just doing the things they like and love. So, sure. Of course, I’m trying to make some money on Twitch as well, but it’s not my biggest motivating factor for streaming on Twitch. I just like getting on Twitch and feeling like maybe I’m making a small difference somehow. Maybe someone sees me on there when they’re having a bad day and it makes them feel better. Or maybe just knowing that there’s always something to watch will make someone feel better about life. Who knows? All I know is the not knowing who I’ll meet on Twitch is what keeps me going.

I guess that’s easy for me to say. I’m at a point in my life where not everything is great but things feel relatively stable although my residence situation isn’t permanent and I no longer have fuzzy-headed “meownsters” (a.k.a. cats) running around (they both died after we moved here; and yes, I brought my cats with me when I moved – I’d never leave them behind). As I mentioned earlier, I would love to get back to taekwondo again and I did do some taekwondo training streams on Twitch. Sadly, I need a bigger living space than I currently have or I need to rent space or buy some other space I could use. Nate, my boyfriend and common-law partner, has been very supportive of my die-hard “work to live” not “live to work” personality. In the past, I worked to make ends meet and tried to “live to work”. It wasn’t a great life, although I was trying my best. I even had a job as a law clerk which I loved but circumstances out of my control and my boss’ control changed that. I felt like life was really trying to tell me something. I was doing things wrong. Not that it’s wrong for people to work. It was wrong for me – that whole “rat race”. This was about the time I met Nate. After that, he supported my decision (in fact, he encouraged it) to just focus on my taekwondo training. Without his help, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to continue with the training because of the training fees. Now I’m on Twitch and it feels natural to me (the sharing part, I mean, I don’t think I’m the most entertaining or interactive person on Twitch – I’m more of a “get things done” person than “super chatty all the time” person) like I should’ve been doing something like this all along. It would eventually be nice to make some money on there so I could contribute to the living expenses Nate and I have. Although with Nate, I know this isn’t necessary, it’s just how I feel about it.

Q: You mentioned games (it’s Twitch, so obviously), languages, and taekwondo. What else do you stream on Twitch? And do you have plans for other content?

A: I’ve also done a few cooking streams. I’ve been a bit busy looking for a new home to move to, but when I get a chance to I’ll try to do another cooking stream sometime. Before the coronavirus lockdowns happened, I intended to do streams outside in the city. I moved to Amsterdam and it really is a great city. It’s one of my cities now. 😀 I’m originally from Toronto, Canada and I’ve been to New York City before which just felt like a bigger version of Toronto so I felt at home there in a way. Amsterdam is a bit different than both, but in a way I like and need – needed. I love this city so far. So it’s one of my cities – those cities being Toronto, Amsterdam, and New York City. Don’t mess with any of my cities. I’ll send my NinjaBots after you. (Just jokes from my Twitch channel.) Anyway, yes. I plan to do streams out in the city. I’m not sure how that’s going to work. We’ll see. I’m just not confident we’re not heading into The Corona Years – Year 3.

Q: What’s your streaming philosophy? How do you view Twitch as a social media platform?

A: This is what I said on my Twitter: “A Twitch stream is the equivalent of an open house party in real life where the channel is the streamer’s Twitch home. As streamers, we need to remember that like an open house party, the streams are public and we should conduct ourselves accordingly. (1/2)” ( “(2/2) Viewers should also remember that when visiting someone’s Twitch channel (home), you should obey the rules of that channel and always keep in mind that you may be removed from the premises (timed out) and deemed persona non grata (banned)!” ( That basically sums up how I view Twitch. I also keep that in mind when I visit other Twitch channels.

As for my streaming philosophy, it’s always been simple. I’m awake, I’m dressed, I’m doing something interesting (well, interesting to me) that I want to share, let’s turn on the mic and camera. Though at first for the games, I didn’t really want to use a camera (Nate convinced me to try it) and sometimes I still don’t use a camera. I have days when I’m tired and feeling lazy, but I still want to hammer through more of a game. It’s just much easier for me to concentrate on the game if I’m relaxed and not worried about how I look on camera. In keeping with that philosophy of being “awake and dressed, let’s turn on the mic and camera”, it also means that I like to be able to stream from wherever whenever. I stream from a variety of devices/machines including my mobile phone, Chromebook, the PS4, and the PS5. I feel that if I rely only on my one laptop or that one PC tower to stream, then I’m going to have days where I’m not going to stream ’cause I have to go set up on that laptop or PC tower.

Q: Is that why your streams look… simple?

A: If you mean that I don’t have tons of overlays and sound alerts and such… yes, that is why. I like the simple layout and simple setup. For my language streams, it was starting to take a half hour to get set up. It really cuts into the productive time and not necessarily worth it (in my opinion). My streams are about me and the content. Anything else is just distraction, and I want my viewers to watch the content I’m putting out. The content I’m sharing is stuff I like and want to share and it’s part of who I am. For those paying attention and those who are perceptive, they’ll see that that’s me on there (with or without the camera and mic on – I mostly have the mic on, but late at night I might not) and hopefully they can appreciate that. Plus, I think there’s room on Twitch for just being yourself. No gimmicks. Just me and whatever I happen to be doing. When I’m streaming, I’m sharing part of my life. It’s real not made up. I am who I am.

This is also why I don’t use any special filters on my mic. I have a pop filter attached to the mic, that’s it. I like my streams sounding full of life, even if it means those loud European sirens (they are seriously loud, tons louder than in Toronto) and motorists with loud engines are heard on stream (though I have on occasion just muted the mic temporarily). Also, if I stream from my phone while outside I can’t do much about filtering the sound. It’s going to sound much different than if I was at home with special filters on. For some kind of consistency, I figure let’s just leave it alone. Like I said, I’m sharing my life, loud sirens and loud engines included. 😀

Q: Do you have issues with privacy? How are you handling that?

A: feyMorgaina is my internet personality and has been for years. Sure, I have my private moments. Things I feel don’t need to be shared onstream or even online, but I’m generally a fairly open person even in real life. Though in some real life situations, I may be more reserved. It depends – usually on the people I’m meeting. It’s always felt much easier to be more outgoing on the internet. If you’re wondering about my real identity, well… luckily, no one’s tried to dox me yet. I mostly have to be careful not to dox myself. 😀 But yes, privacy was something I thought about carefully before deciding to stream. I think if you’re real smart, you can probably find me in real life, but I think the average person isn’t going to go to that much trouble. I’m certainly not popular enough. Plus, I did mention taekwondo training, right? 😉

Q: What do you do when you’re not streaming?

A: Lately, it’s been trying to find a new home. Otherwise, I spend time with Nate or just chill and do things I don’t stream like read this book I’ve had on the backburner for ages, watch a movie or TV show, listen to some music. I recently cut my stream schedule back by one day. I’ve pretty much kept a five days a week stream schedule from the beginning, but now I need a bit of a break. I’ve been thinking of getting back into blogging again or maybe sitting down and actually working on a short story. When it comes to writing fiction, I get ideas for big stories, like a whole universe/world, but I think I should try something smaller just to see if I can focus enough to do it. I’ve had an idea for a long time of writing a bunch of short stories for a compilation. Perhaps I just need to sit down and do it already.


This pretend interview was written by Your Local Twitch Streamer, feyMorgaina. Check out her entity-, human-, and LGBT/QIA+ friendly Twitch channel at (Yes, it’s “she/her” ’cause they are the pronouns she’s used to and even if she’s felt “boyish” in the past and did “boy things” as a kid when she should’ve been doing “girl things” and didn’t feel “girlish” at times, she’s never considered herself to be “he/him”. “They/them” is acceptable if you don’t know feyMorgaina uses “she/her”, for example, when she pops into one of your language learning streams and says “Hi” in the language you’re learning. Also, she grew up with LGBT+; hence, the LGBT/QIA+. If there’s any real difference, she doesn’t really know ’cause she thought the + included others with similar experiences and of similar open-mindedness; however the meaning of the + doesn’t seem to be generally agreed on anyway, but it doesn’t matter as she’s always been entity-friendly and let’s just go from there. Okay, entity? 🙂 )


Lockdown protesters need to sit down – at home or in jail.

Filed under: Human Rights — feyMorgaina @ 10:14

“Freedom!”, you cry. “Vrijheid!” Your right to personal freedom and movement shouldn’t trump everyone’s right to stay healthy and to not have to be in quarantine. I guess it’s escaped some people’s minds that when someone has to go into quarantine, that person has to give up their personal freedom and movement. If you get that person sick with an infectious virus, you just took away that person’s right to personal freedom and movement. Freedom is a universal ideal. It’s for everyone, not just you.

Which side of the fence were you on regarding Syrian refugees? Which side of the fence are you on regarding foreigners (like me) and future refugees moving to your country? This is about freedom too.

Please stop using “freedom” as a tool just to get what you want. Stay home. Blijf thuis.

Your local Canadian living in the Netherlands

P.S. What I just wrote applies globally even though I’m thinking about the protests in the Netherlands and my situation here.


Is “Chinese” a complicated/difficult language? (And how does it compare to Russian?)

Filed under: Languages — feyMorgaina @ 20:19

When someone mentions the language “Chinese”, nowadays they are usually referring to the current standard promoted by the Chinese government. That standard is currently Mandarin using simplified characters. However, there are other varieties of spoken Chinese such as Cantonese (considered to be a lingua franca), Taishanese (formerly considered to be a lingua franca; it was the most common variety of Chinese spoken in the Chinatowns of North America – this might be why, in the 1960s, the U.S. Defense Language Institute offered a course teaching it), Shanghainese (also once considered a lingua franca), and Hakka. It is estimated that there are hundreds of varieties of Chinese. For political reasons, some may claim these are all just dialects, even though the varieties are not necessarily mutually intelligible. Based on my own knowledge of the following languages, I’d say Taishanese and Cantonese are closely related like Spanish and Italian, but Mandarin is to Taishanese as French is to Spanish.

When learning a Chinese language, we are really learning two languages – the written language and the spoken language. By that, I mean that the written language does not indicate what the spoken language sounds like phonetically. Even though there are “sound-loan” characters and “sound-meaning compound” characters, we still need to learn the sound associated with the original “loaned” character. Written Chinese is “logosyllabic” and each character represents a syllable. Each character can also represent a word, but other words may be made up of more than one character/syllable. Technically, there is only one writing system for Chinese. However, there are two different sets of characters in the system – simplified and traditional. The simplified characters are so named because they were “simplified” from their traditional, more complex forms. Not all characters were simplified though, which means that some characters are the same across both the simplified and traditional sets. Some examples include 我 (“I”), 你 (“you”), 女 (“female”), 男 (“male”), 水 (“water”), and 火 (“fire”). As mentioned, the standard by the Chinese government is to use the simplified characters. However, traditional characters are used in other varieties of Chinese such as Cantonese and Taishanese. Additionally, even though Mandarin is spoken in places like Taiwan and Macau, traditional characters are used.

When comparing “Chinese” to another language, we should first compare the writing systems.

As mentioned, written Chinese is logosyllabic. Russian uses an alphabet, which consists of 33 letters. That’s only seven more letters than in the English alphabet. Some of the Russian letters look like English letters and are pronounced like in English (e.g. “а”, “о”). Others only look like English letters, but have different pronunciations (e.g. “е”, “р”). If someone has learned a bit of Greek, then some of the Russian letters simply look like Greek letters (e.g., “г”, “ф”, “п”). Once someone manages to learn these 33 letters, he/she can read and write Russian.

For written Chinese, learning about 2000 characters is considered the most basic level. Learning about 4500 is considered to be a decent foundation for reading most contemporary Chinese materials. That is significantly a lot more to remember compared to an alphabet of 33 letters. This is also assuming that we are only learning one set of characters (either the simplified or the traditional; if we are learning both sets, obviously the number of characters would increase). Granted, Chinese characters can be broken down into individual smaller characters, but we still have to pay attention to how the character is composed. Then there are also similar looking characters where the type of stroke makes all the difference. For example, compare the traditional characters 貝 and 見. Both these characters are fairly simple, but both can also be used as components in other, more complex characters. Generally, for written Chinese, we need to be quite discerning when reading and writing.

However, written Chinese is becoming easier to learn because of technology. With pinyin for Mandarin and jyutping for Cantonese, typing Chinese characters is pretty easy because all that is required is the ability to recognize the characters that appear in a table after typing the romanization of the Chinese words (for Mandarin, pinyin romanization is used). Additionally, an English speaker who is learning the Chinese writing system nowadays may not ever need to learn to _handwrite every character perfectly in the correct stroke order_ as was the case before modern computing. Basically, written Chinese _can_ be relatively easy to learn for an English speaker who does not need to be concerned with being able to handwrite Chinese characters from memory.

Before comparing the spoken languages of Russian and Mandarin, let’s first compare Mandarin with Cantonese. Mandarin and Cantonese are fairly easy to learn _if_ one has a good ear for recognizing change or no change in pitch (i.e., tones). Compared to Cantonese though, Mandarin is easier to learn since it has fewer tones (four, plus a neutral tone). In the traditional analysis of tone contours, Cantonese is said to have nine tones, although effectively, it has six tones (in Hong Kong) and seven tones (in Guangzhou) (see “Cantonese phonology”). Regarding the other aspects of pronunciation, for Mandarin the pinyin system is slightly misleading. Technically, what is romanized as “b”, “d”, “g”, “z”, “zh”, and “j” should be pronounced as unvoiced consonants. A common mistake among English learners is to voice those consonants. The same is true for Cantonese – “b”, “d”, “g”, “j”, and “gw” should be unvoiced. It is kind of assumed that over a period of time, an English speaker will gradually learn to devoice those consonants. However, this may not even happen if the learner isn’t even aware of the subtle difference. Mandarin does have a few consonants that are tricky for both Cantonese and English speakers. These would be the retroflex “zh”, “ch”, “sh”, and “r”. All of these should have the tongue rolled back. To my ears, these consonants sound muffled, as if someone is speaking with a sock in his/her mouth.

Russian does have a few difficult consonants for English speakers. Ш and щ seem to be the most troublesome consonants. Although, ш and the Mandarin “sh” are quite similar (see “Voiceless retroflex sibilant”). Ж is not too troublesome if one is already familiar with the French “j”, as in “je t’aime” (“I love you”). Learning stress in Russian words isn’t that different than learning the stress in English words. English speakers are used to words having different stresses, but they are not used to every word having a tone. English speakers use tone completely differently than how they are used in tonal languages like Mandarin and Cantonese. For example, the rising tone at the end of a sentence turns it into a question in English. It may take an English speaker some time to adjust to the fact that the rising tone over a syllable at the end of a sentence in a language like Mandarin does not indicate a question; but rather, a sentence final particle is used to indicate a question (e.g. 嗎). Fundamentally, an English speaker should find a lot more common ground with Russian than with any Chinese language.

In regards to grammar, the type of grammar found in Mandarin or Cantonese is just fundamentally different than the type of grammar for an Indo-European language like Russian. Both of these types of systems have their own complexities and nuances. There may not be noun cases and verb conjugation classes in Mandarin or Cantonese, but there are different categories such as “classifiers” and “particles”. Leaving out a classifier or using the wrong classifier is considered to be poor grammar just as putting the noun in the wrong case is in Russian. Mandarin and Cantonese are also “topic-prominant languages” meaning that the topic of the sentence is placed first in the sentence followed by the comment on the topic. Native speakers of Chinese languages use this “topic-comment” structure quite easily and readily. I can recall my mother (who speaks both Taishanese and Cantonese) saying things like “This dress, my aunt gave me, I give to you”. This kind of sentence structure serves to place a kind of importance on what is said first. In the example with my mother, “this dress” is the most important part of the sentence. If my mother were to say this sentence in any other way, “this dress” would not have the same importance. By choosing to put “this dress” first in the sentence, my mother is indicating how important “this dress” is to her. In English, this would likely be indicated by using emphasis in the sentence (“I’m giving you _this dress_ that my aunt gave me”). In comparing Russian and a language like Mandarin, I’d say it is simply a trade-off between different types of grammar. Neither kind of grammar is easier or harder. They’re just different, and they might just take about the same amount of time to pick up, or not. I think that depends entirely on the individual learning the language. In a language like Russian, declensions and conjugations are about recognizing the pattern of a word and how that word changes; while in languages like Mandarin and Cantonese, the grammar is more about recognizing syntax – the pattern of the whole sentence.

It is interesting to note that the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has consistently listed both Mandarin and Cantonese, along with Japanese, Arabic, and Korean as some of the toughest languages for English speakers to learn (see Language Difficulty Ranking ). Their ranking is based on the amount of time it should take an English speaker to reach a specific proficiency in speaking and reading the language.

An interesting article to read is Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard. “I would say that it takes about three times as long to reach a level of comfortable fluency in speaking, reading, and writing Chinese as it takes to reach a comparable level in French. An average American could probably become reasonably fluent in two Romance languages in the time it would take them to reach the same level in Chinese.” Indeed!


Я изучаю русский язык (I’m learning Russian)!

Filed under: Languages — feyMorgaina @ 00:47

I reached Level 10 Russian!

I still have a long way to go though. Since Russian is significantly harder than Spanish, Italian, French, and Dutch (the language trees I’ve already completed on Duolingo), I’ve been doing quite a bit of the “strengthening” for it (at least three a day). While I was able to finish the trees for the other languages (I finished two trees each for Spanish, Italian, and French – there is only one tree for Dutch) somewhere between level 11 and level 13 (doing little to no strengthening), I think I will be aiming to finish the Russian tree by level 20.

(By the way, Italian is fairly easy to learn once you already know Spanish and French. ^_^)


Learn Taishanese (aka Hoisanva, Toisanwa) – 學台山話

Filed under: Languages — feyMorgaina @ 15:19

我講台山話,未講普通話。我曉少少廣州話。I speak Taishanese, but I don’t speak Mandarin yet. I know a little bit of Cantonese. It’s taken some time, but I can finally type a bit of Chinese. 🙂

Some time ago I mentioned that I had found learning materials for Taishanese. I have finally finished volumes one and two of that material. 😀 The process of going through the DLI Chinese-Cantonese (Toishan) material has been slow-going for a few reasons (the material consisted of hand-written characters and I also had to make notes and flash cards by hand since I could not type Chinese characters at first), but now I should be able to make it through the next few volumes in a shorter time frame (there are seven volumes in total, though the last volume appears to consist of mostly military and political vocabulary).

Once I started learning how to type Chinese characters (using the Cangjie input method), I set up an Anki deck. If you use Anki, you may download my Anki deck consisting of characters, vocabulary, and expressions from Volumes One and Two of the DLI Chinese-Cantonese (Toishan) material. A permanent link can be found on my LEARN TAISHANESE (台山話) page.

I have also created corresponding courses on Memrise. If you use Memrise, you can search under Taishanese for my courses. The direct links to the courses are:

DLI Toishan-Cantonese Volume 1
DLI Toishan-Cantonese Volume 2

Under the Taishanese courses, you will also see a short course called Beginner’s Chinese Characters (in 台山話). This is based off another Anki deck of mine, which is also available for download (permanent link can be found at LEARN TAISHANESE (台山話)).

Now, I’m ready for Volume 3! 🙂



A Small Tribute to “Ai Gu” (Daddy’s Elder Sister)

Filed under: General,Paganism and Spirituality — feyMorgaina @ 23:38

I was just about to get comfortable to study some languages again. Then, I find out my 90-something-year-old aunt died last night. Now, my brain is busy trying to remember something more concrete about her. Most of my memories of her are from my childhood. Those memories are pretty vague. 🙁

This is the aunt who in her 80s would go to the casino by herself. (She doesn’t speak much English from what I recall.) A cousin of mine (my aunt is her grandmother) had told me this. My reaction at the time was “That’s just awesome”. 🙂

Funny enough, the most concrete memory I have of my aunt (who is my dad’s elder sister) is from my dad’s funeral almost 18 years ago. His funeral hadn’t started yet. People were lingering around, then this lady comes in and starts wailing. It was my aunt. I’m pretty sure she startled both my brother and I. Later, my sister told me my other cousin had to tell my aunt to stop because she was scaring “the children” (lol). My sister then told me that the wailing is a Chinese tradition. Someone had to wail at the funeral so that the Chinese spirits could hear. It usually has to be someone really close to the deceased. Because this was my aunt’s younger brother’s funeral, she fit the role for that well.

Now, I’m wondering who will wail for my aunt.

Another Chinese funeral custom is the burning of “hell money”. This money supposedly pays off any spirits that block the passage of the deceased to the underworld/otherworld. I think it is similar to the Greek tradition of paying the ferryman so that the deceased can cross the river.

I wasn’t especially close to my aunt, but I recall her visiting my mom off and on during my childhood. I wish I knew more about my aunt, my mom, my dad, and my other relatives.  I wish I knew what it was like for them to leave their home country to immigrate to a new country. Language barrier and time seem to be the biggest obstacles in that regard.

It’s funny that when a relative dies, no matter how close you are or not (or how much you liked or disliked that person), you feel like a part of you dies with them. I think it’s the connection to the past and to a history that you never knew about that you end up missing. Next time I’m at my mom’s, I’ll have to get her to dig out her old photo albums. Pictures tell so much and yet so little, but they are better than nothing.


Immersion, interactive, or rules-based learning? What’s best?

Filed under: Languages — feyMorgaina @ 08:02

The following is copy of what I posted in DuoLingo’s discussion section. (See


Every few discussion threads, I keep seeing the topic of how best to learn a foreign language pop up. I think I should post some of my thoughts on this issue.

I think it’s been proven so far that the best way to learn a language is through full immersion. However, even in full immersion programs, they explain grammar rules to the school children. My sister teaches French Immersion to grade school children and they stress grammar rules. I was taught French from grade 4 through high school and also through one year in university (I got placed in the advanced university course). For most of those years, I was learning French in as close to immersion as possible. (The program name was called “Extended French”, “extended” because we also took other classes in French, such as history and geography.) They placed a lot of emphasis on grammar and understanding the structure used for the language (because they wanted the students to be literate as well as able to speak the language).

While it is true that during the earliest stages of life a person picks up their first language via experience, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pick up the grammar rules fairly early, especially once someone reaches school age.

The main reason why some “rule-based learners” would have problems with a language is that they simply have not internalized what they’ve learned yet by repeated exposure to the new material (this is part of why immersion works – repeat exposure). What I’m saying is that it’s good for these types of learners to have some understanding of grammar and structure for the language so that they can stop asking “why?” all the time and then they can sit back and absorb the new material.

I wouldn’t exactly call DuoLingo’s method of teaching languages on here as “immersion” or even close to it, although it is interactive. In immersion, students don’t focus on translation. They focus on understanding the language in context. The only part of DuoLingo that is like immersion is the exercises with pictures. In my opinion, DuoLingo should use more of those exercises, but they might be worried about being too close to Rosetta Stone’s model. In comparison, Rosetta Stone is ideal if you wish to learn a language through context only.

However, the minute a language student starts to ask “Why?”, I think it’s good that the students gets accurate and detailed answers.

There are also other classes of language learners to consider: those with previous experience in learning a foreign language as well as those who have an academic or linguistic interest in a language. I think these classes of language learners will be more than ready for the “rules”.

All this being said, I think that no language learning tool is valueless. If learning a language is mostly about exposure to it, then having more than one learning tool and different methods of learning is better than not having any at all.


Language Learning – Working on More Languages

Filed under: Languages — feyMorgaina @ 14:05

My recent study list has been mostly languages – Chinese (Hoisanva aka Taishanese), Korean, Spanish, Dutch, Irish, and Russian. I have yet to add German and Japanese to that.  Technically, I’m bilingual as I’m able to speak and understand English and my dialect of Chinese (which is a weird mix of Taishanese and Cantonese due to my parents’ upbringing). I studied French in the past for ten years (though it’s rusty now). When I get around to studying Japanese, it will be my tenth language! 🙂

I’ve resigned myself to learning Mandarin Chinese at some point, which is quite different from my Taishanese dialect. Cantonese is very similar, but there is still enough differences to Taishanese to make Cantonese somewhat challenging. If one counts Cantonese and Mandarin separately as languages and not just dialects, I might be able to speak and understand twelve languages. 😮

Some links:
Learn Taishanese
Studying Korean 한국어을 공부해요 – Some Sources for Beginners

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