I’m not learning Polish

I’m not really learning Polish. I don’t need to speak it, am not moving to Poland and so on. I have discovered that I can’t learn a language without a practical use for it, and I don’t have this with Polish.

But I do find the Polish  language interesting, and don’t want to stop learning the language entirely.

I have decided on a compromise.

And so I’m using Duolingo as an experiment. Each day I do one new Polish lesson, and revise one old one (or two maximum) using the ‘Practice Weak Skills’ button. I’m only learning one a day as I don’t have much time and I’m interested to see how much I can learn in this slow but steady manner.

The time commitment is minimal (ten minutes a day at the maximum) and I am intrigued to see how much Polish I will be able to read at the end of the course.

If this works for me, I can gradually work my way through the languages offered, as a way of satisfying my language wanderlust.

Besos and baci,



I found out that an old friend killed himself recently.

We had lost contact through changing jobs,  career choices and life styles.

He was a good person who faced challenges he couldn’t overcome.

I’ll have a drink for you tonight.

Rest in peace.



To duolingo or not to duolingo

that, my friends is the question.

I’ve been using duolingo over the past few weeks to practice my (extremely) weak Polish. I’d heard a lot about duolingo but never used it.

I can tell you it’s great fun. I can now say (in Polish) :-

Koń je ser  ‘The horse eats cheese’

I also know other useful phrases like ‘I hear voices’ or ‘I am not a woman’.


It is certainly a good and (very) addictive way for building vocabulary, but I’m not convinced that it is much more than this, which by the way, that makes it worth using, when you have a spare moment.

I wouldn’t use it as my primary method of learning a language, more as a fun addition, as the phrases you learn, are not those that you will use in a normal conversation.

Anyway, I’m using it to increase my Polish vocabulary, when I have a spare moment. I like it. It is free, and it is definitely addictive.  I want to finish my Polish language tree!  After that I will use Duolingo for Romanian (when the language is added).

So, to answer my own question, the answer is ‘to duolingo’ but as a supplementary method of language learning,  when for example, you would be surfing the net, wasting time reading blogs and the rest.



Brand management is pernicious


It seems that, UC Davis, a Californian university pepper sprayed students some time back. Don’t worry. It happens. Students. Seat of learning. Pepper spray. These things go together like strawberries and cream.

For some reason, the university is now trying to hide references to the incident. I wonder why?

Quoting from this article in the guardian : “Multiple contracts were with Sacramento-based IDMLOCO, which was awarded its first six-month contract, in June 2014, for the amount of $82,500, for “search engine results management” that involved creating new content to push “negative” results lower in searches”

This is online brand management, and happens all the time.

So why is this relevant to language learning? Well, why do you think that certain big name learning products are always linked to positive success stories?

Could it be … Could it be .. that they are all absolutely brilliant, and will bring you fluency … quickly … effortlessly … and so on and so forth.

Unlike the Queen in Alice in Wonderland, I don’t always believe six impossible things before breakfast.

This, my friends, is often the result of using ‘Brand management’ to manipulate search engine rankings (perfectly legally) to return the information that THEY want you to see.

Sure I’m paranoid. But am I paranoid enough?!



Improving my Italian with Alice nel paese delle meraviglie


I’m listening to Alice nel paese delle meraviglie ‘Alice in Wonderland’ while I walk my dog – who incidentally has just undergone the yearly nasal spray experience. (For those who don’t have a dog, yearly vaccinations include one which is sprayed down the snout of said animal. It is not an enjoyable experience)

So why, you may ask yourself is the famous Moonface, purveyor of fine software,  listening to Alice nel paese delle meraviglie. Isn’t it a story for children? Well, apparently, it is. It is also brilliant, funny, easy to listen to and I’m learning useful words like bruco, giro, riccio and so on.

And full of useful insights:

Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” (said Alice)

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where-” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Besos and baci,