The elephant in the room. Comprehension


The ‘elephant in the room’  is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being ignored or going unaddressed.

With languages, this is comprehension, and this blog post says it better than I could, but the gist is you can learn to speak a language relatively quickly, but there is no such thing as fast comprehension.

This is so true.

Anyway, with my French (and my resolution this year was to reach a B1 in spoken French), I’ve spent my time so far listening (using Lingq) and reading.

I’ll continue in this way for the next few months.

I read another interesting post on the polyglot dream which (among other things) explains why the author (Luca lampariello) stopped learning Greek. His reasons pretty much mirror my own for putting (for now) Polish on hold.

For anyone who is interested I’ve added a cloze test to the foreign languages sentences. Helpful comments appreciated.

Besos & baci,


What next for Surface Languages?


Here is a list, in no particular order, of what I would like to do or add to on Surface languages over the coming year.

Improve the look of the homepage.

Add five hundred sentences in Catalan, French and Russian.

Add a cloze test to the sentence tests.

Add two arcade learning games to the language learning pages.

Add two more languages.

For you polyglots,  I intend to add some number games – to test your knowledge of the numbers from one to ten in different languages – and the same with hello.

Remember, bis vivit qui bene vivit 😉

Besos & baci,


A new year. A new me. French!


This year I’d like to think that I will be more productive than the last, or in fact any previous years of my life. The fact that I’m writing this at 10.32, so far having achieved nothing today, suggests that this is unlikely.

Well, we are what we are, and we must work with what we are given. I thought I would analyse my early morning mistakes which caused such a drop in productivity, to avoid them next time.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Our dog needs to be walked, and this is how I imagined that the morning would begin. I would listen to French podcasts for an hour while walking him early (leaving the house at 7.30). An excellent use of time, and I would arrive home at 8.30, ready for work, fresh and invigorated  after listening to French and exercising said pooch and myself.

The productivity gurus couldn’t ask for more. New year. New me. More productive.

Back in the real world, it was dark and raining and so I didn’t leave the house until 8 which wasn’t bad going considering the weather. I then got distracted, listened to De Pelicula for 30 minutes, met a friend for coffee, chatted for a while, forgot about French podcasts and arrived home about 9 o’clock.  My fault.  But then my dog yakked up when I cleaned his paws (he does this for reasons unexplained). This doesn’t happen in any article about productivity I have ever read, and is quite disconcerting.

After the necessary shower and change of clothes, I ate breakfast and made coffee, and arrived at my desk ready to start my day at 9.45.This leaves 47 minutes unaccounted for. The internet, my puppies, the internet.


Mental note. Must try harder.

Besos, Baci, and pax for 2016.