Saturday, 30 November 2013

For the love of languages.

I read an interesting article about language learning back on the island. Apparently less and less children are studying foreign languages in primary school. That’s a pity, I think. Politicians want to give extra points for good marks in foreign languages, points that will be taken into account when applying to upper secondary school. One idea is to focus less on grammar, and more on practical communication skills.

I am language nerd, I am biased. But I don’t think the problem lies in the division into grammar vs. practical skills. There are two things that inspire people to learn languages. The first thing, the most effective, is motivation. If there is a goal, there is a way. However, how many primary school pupils are motivated to learn anything else than English? How many think “oh, I will one day work for the European Union so knowing French might be a good idea”? Very few, is my estimation. And this takes us to the second point. Learning languages should be fun. Because when it’s fun, there is a chance of cultivating a love for language-learning. And when the love is there, it is easier to learn, it’s more inspiring. And let me throw in a wild guess: the result will be better!

The one who loves language-learning, the one who sees it as a challenge to overcome instead of an unobtainable goal, will learn languages better and faster.

As for the grammar vs. practical skills. I have a rule: why not do it properly if you are going to do it at all? There is a reason for grammar to exist. It is the skeleton of the language. If one doesn’t know the grammar, one will never be able to communicate efficiently and properly. Sure, one may be able to buy some cake in Paris, but if this is the ultimate goal of language learning, then I’m at loss here. I once said (yes, please do excuse the fact that I am quoting myself here) “I don’t consider myself fluent in this language until I can describe the exquisite feeling of warm sand running between my toes on a gentle summer evening”.  

What are your thoughts on language learning?

Places: Vienna

It hit me. I have not dedicated a single post to Vienna. One of the imperial capitals of Europe, one of the cities everybody knows. It is a city where history was written, where big decisions were made.

Why not, why didn’t I write about it? Maybe because I don’t like Vienna too much. It’s a city that doesn’t feel very friendly, it’s difficult to get a grasp of it. It’s grandiose, it’s also beautiful. But it’s not for me.

It takes about an hour between Vienna and Bratislava on the train, the perfect day trip. The trip is cheap and comfortable. I have been there several times and will probably go there more times. Maybe it will grow on me once I find those hidden cosy places.

The last time I was in Vienna was a while back (September, October, who can recall with the time flying) when my parents were visiting. We had a nice day walking around. Here are some photos. (some? at least the city is extremely photogenic!!) – We could also play a game: spot the balloons Smile


And a little something. A niečo malé.

How do you define luxury, what does it mean to you? I read some blogs and know some people. whose definition of luxury seems to require expensive stuff, fancy meals and a lot of things. Be as it may, we all have our definitions, our own way to look at life.

As a mini-project (a luxurious life definitely requires some projects – at least in my world), I decided to collect some photos from the past few months which show what luxury is to me. And well, they serve as inspiration as well.


Good food: in this case, a traditional Slovak duck-dinner with duck (duh!), lokse (potato pancakes) and two types of cabbaged. To be served with wine and not to forget – in good company.



A good book. Languages. Knowledge and puzzles.



Morning strolls. Freshness. Colours.



Cities, life, laughter. (here: Vienna]



Vastness, stories told and untold. [here: Schönbrunn in Vienna]



There can be no luxury without coffee, nor without love.

Slovak words of the day: politické spoločenstvo*

Shivers. Cold. Running nose. Those have been the main theme songs this week.  There was also a funny mishap the other day at about 6 am. I was going through a presentation about poverty in Łódź (Poland) when I came across a very familiar logo. It took a good three minutes of racking my brain before I realised what it was: I work for that company. Well. Done. Me.

Remember how I recommended the Bratislava Christmas Market? Since that time I have found myself there a couple of times. Here are some more photos of the place (including funny Christmas decorations and all).



* political community

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Náhodné myšlienky [SK: Random Thoughts]


Just a quick hello.

How are you?

We are planning a trip as next week is going to be a short one, workwise at least.

It’s cold here now, temperatures are below 0.

Finally it’s weekend soon!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Bratislavské vianočné trhy [Bratislava Christmas Market]

If there is one thing I would recommend visitors to see in Bratislava it is the Christmas Market in the Old Town. The Old Town itself is lovely and during the Christmas Market everybody gathers there to have some hot wine (varené vino), a bit of little something to eat and to talk. This year’s Christmas Market opened on Friday and we have already been there twice for trdelník (kürtőskalács) and wine.


Saturday, 23 November 2013

blizkie ,'the close ones'

This week I have entertained myself with reading reports on poverty in Russia and Bulgaria. The perception of poverty in these country makes an interesting read, but it will not be the main topic of discussion today. Instead, it will be the words близкий near, close.

This word appeared in the Russian report and there was something similar in the Bulgarian one, so of course I needed to do a little comparison between my main three: Russian, Polish and Slovak to look for similarities.

  Russian Polish Slovak
  близкий blizki




While we are at it. Say hello to my new friend - привет моему новому другу:


Russian Polish Slovak
сова sowa sova

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Places: Trenčín

After our day in Zilina, we continued our journey toward Trenčín.

Trenčín is a small town somewhere on the railroad between Zilina and Bratislava. When we went there, it was raining and the city was empty of people. More fun for us– getting to inspect the town without anyone around.

As always, the camera was in active use.


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

The Sound of Silence

One thing that has been on my mind lately is that of noise and silence. Imagine the beauty of silence where you can hear your thoughts or converse in a quiet voice.

Why is there so much noise? Is it because people are so afraid of silence and the thoughts they might hear?

Places: Žilina

Wikipedia tells us:

Žilina /ˈʒɪlɪnə/ German: Sillein [zɪˈlaɪ̯n] or [ˈzɪlaɪ̯n], Hungarian: Zsolna, names in other languages) is a city in north-western Slovakia, around 200 kilometres (120 mi) from the capital Bratislava, close to both the Czech and Polish borders. It is the fourth largest city of Slovakia with a population of approximately 85,000, an important industrial center, the largest city on the Váh river, and the seat of a kraj (Žilina Region) and of an okres (Žilina District). It belongs to Upper Váh region of tourism.

A couple of weeks back we went to Zilina, and liked the city very much. Even though the city was empty (it was halloween) and cold, it was so beautiful and cosy. People were more open than in Bratislava. The food was good and the nature beautiful.

Here are some pictures from our trip.


Monday, 18 November 2013

ospanlivá [SK: sleepy]


Sleepy, drowsy head.

Candles lit all around the house. A chat about to start. Writing Christmas cards. Planning life.

My alarm clock sounded at 5.30 am. I don’t have much of a choice these days. Get up early. Study. Drink coffee. Write. Go to work. Go home. Study some more. Analyse. Talk. Watch series. Eat. Hug. And it starts all over again.

This year I get almost two weeks of Christmas holidays. Two weeks of sleeping in and seeing places. I can’t wait.

dôležité veci.[SK: important things].

Language tip: write down a list of things that matter to you. Translate. Memorize.