This redditor’s story and approach to rapid language learning blew me away:
I am NOT naturally talented in languages. I took German and Irish (Gaeilge) in school, and barely passed German and had to drop down to a lower level in Irish for a basic university entrance requirement. I have a degree in Electronic Engineering and when I moved to Spain at the age of 21, I only spoke English. I even managed to spend six months in Spain and not learn the language to any useful degree. I’ve given a TEDx talk about my story and what I changed to become the polyglot I am today.
I’ve had a completely different approach since then andcan now speak ten languages and sign American Sign Language. To watch my TEDx talk, and then see me use several of my languages with a native speaker in a spontaneous interview,check out the videos on this pageormy Youtube channel. About six of these languages are genuinely fluent- this would be a European Common Framework level B2-C2, with officially recognized diplomas in several, and the others are various degrees of conversational. So for example, my Spanish is C2 (mastery) and I’ve worked as an electronic engineer in the language, but my Chinese is B1 (conversational, but still hesitant).
I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about my thoughts on how to go about learning a language efficiently.
You’ll want to read his Q&A. Wow. Just, wow. And while you’re at it, don’t miss his TEDx talk.
I love this. More on Claire Brewster:
I have been living and working in London for over 20 years, but started life in the semi-rural county of Lincolnshire. Using old maps, atlases and other found paper, I create beautiful, delicate and intricate paper cuts of flowers, birds and insects. My inspiration comes from nature and the urban environment in which I live and a desire to re-use the discarded, unwanted and obsolete. I exhibit my work nationally and internationally, showing regularly in London as well as other parts of the UK. I have also exhibited my work in the USA and Italy. My work has been published in many magazines including: Vogue (UK and Greece), World of Interiors, Inside Out (Australia) and was featured in the book ‘Paper:Tear, Fold, Rip, Crease, cut’ (Blackdog Publishing 2009)
Reason #527 why I love the Internet: serendipitously finding breath-taking art like this paper-map bird. Thanks, Internet! Thanks, Claire!
Hillel sums it up nicely:
Every new idea in the modern world, every new initiative, just about every effort, public or private, personal or business-related, includes some form of digital expression. Software is the medium for that digital expression. Today, software is everywhere, whether we know it or not. Not just on our computers, our tablets, our phones, and our gaming devices (which could all be the very same object) but in our cars, in traffic lights, and in our thermostats. And in the future, this pervasiveness will only increase — dramatically. Imagine a world where every surface (and plane) is a potential display. Software is the primary language of the digital world we are creating.
Whether it’s a birthday party requiring invitations, selling a house and advertising it on a web page, a new business, a new non-profit, a new curriculum from a third grade teacher, they all generate a need for digital expression. And that digital expression is more often than not sloppy, unfriendly, dumb, and in many cases… insulting. Whether the person with the idea is writing new software from scratch or using existing software to create a digital experience is irrelevant. The time we spend interacting with these creations is only going to increase. And the need for modern and talented technologists and software designers who share a holistic perspective on making these experiences positive has never been greater.
Software is the ubiquitous and universal medium that blankets our exponentially expanding digital world. More software is coming — whether we like it or not. The only question is whether any of it will be any good.
I’m sick. One good about being sick is that I’m catching up on some fascinating ideas and people on Twitter. It’s what lead me to a lively debate between Helen Walters and John Kolko on the future of design education — which is really about the future of design itself; my guess as to why it was such a heated exchange. Wow. I was shocked by how passionately and vehemently Kolko wants to throw visual design out the window. Among other things, he says, “Bauhaus is no longer relevant.”
I’m not a visual designer myself, but visual communication is something I want to gain more facility in. Why? Well, I think good visual design is important in and of itself. But more than that, there’s something my mind craves about getting better at it. For one, I think it will open my mind and ability to be creative in important and good ways. Interestingly, the things Kolko thinks are the new foundation of design —”empathy. Prototyping. Digital literacy. Systems. Fourth dimension. Community. Facilitation. Codesign” — are actually things I have a natural inclination toward and strengths in. But still… I found it shocking how visual design was deemed so irrelevant to Design today. While I don’t agree with him — I do think visual communication is important — his perspective as a brilliant practitioner, thought leader, and educator is worth reflecting on and considering. Here’s a taste of their discussion (btw, they reference an article by Michael Bierut, titled, The Main Failing Of Design Schools: Kids Can’t Think For Themselves.):
Yesterday, Fast Co Design published an essay by Pentagram partner, Michael Bierut, entitled The Main Failing Of Design Schools: Kids Can’t Think For Themselves. In it, the legendary graphic designer, Pentagram partner and longtime advocate of design divides design education into two camps: process-driven or portfolio-driven, and concludes that neither serves anyone in this day and age particularly well.
Modern design education… is essentially value-free: every problem has a purely visual solution that exists outside any cultural context. Some of the most tragic victims of this attitude hail not from the world of high culture, but from the low. Witness the case of a soft-drink manufacturer that pays a respected design firm a lot of money to “update” a classic logo. The product of American design education responds: “Clean up an old logo? You bet,” and goes right to it. In a vacuum that excludes popular as well as high culture, the meaning of the mark in its culture is disregarded. Why not just say no? The option isn’t considered.
It was Bierut’s conclusion that had me clapping my hands in agreement:
It’s the broader kind of illiteracy that’s more profoundly troubling. Until educators find a way to expose their students to a meaningful range of culture, graduates will continue to speak in languages that only their classmates understand. And designers, more and more, will end up talking to themselves.
“85% of Tumblr users post more than 20 times a month on average.”
Why is this? Creativity, yo!
“[T]he creativity is found in [Tumblr’s] most dedicated users. Photographers, designers and musicians can be followed, liked and ’ reblogged.’” …. [David] Karp [Tumblr’s founder] could evangelise on the force of creativity for hours.”"
(I feel so meta posting this in Tumblr :) ).
Inspired by Scott Berkun’s emphasis on building good relationships in his excellent talk on the top mistakes UX designers make, I’ve decided to make public an edited version of my job search “cheat sheet.” I originally drafted it last month in preparation for an interview. Now, in addition to researching the specific company I’m interviewing for, and drafting questions particular to the role, company and hiring manager, I also re-read this writeup. It’s a nice refresher on who I am and what I bring as a person and potential teammate. Particularly helpful to have in my mind when I’m nervous! One of my biggest strategies going into interviews, by the way, is to be myself. I do the research, draft the questions, review what hard skills I can bring to the role, but I put time aside to remember and work on the fact that being myself is one of the most important things I can do in an interview.
It never would have occurred to me that this writeup could be useful to other people except that I left a hard copy on the kitchen table and my roommate happend to see it, then asked if she could have a copy. It’s been in the back of my mind to perhaps share it more widely. Blogging about Scott’s talk prompted me to finally do it. This cheat sheet mostly concerns my soft skills and personal work and UX philosophies (not what prototyping tools I’m most comfortable using, for instance):
What do I want in a company
What do I like about X company
Personal Work Mottos:
Personal UX Mottos:
* I love really listening to people. And am trained in it!
*Good at understanding behaviors and motivations.
* Big-picture strategy, context, and details.
* Connecting the dots: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever—because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.” ~Steve Jobs
* Enjoy thinking through the different elements of what will make a good experience on a website or app.
* Natural ability to see what kind of information would be good for people to interact with and have good ideas on how to present it to them.
I’m eager to learn and absorb everything I can related to UX so that I can get better and better and better and better (into infinity!)
* I’m good at identifying good ideas, but open to being proven wrong. Not forever wedded to an idea.
* Adept at picking my battles, and knowing what are the ideas that are worth advocating for, and really pushing on the things that matter.
Final thoughts: be sure to think carefully through and come prepared to answer the question, “what are your weaknesses?” Also, research the hiring manager’s (and other people who will interview you) LinkedIn profile, website, Twitter feed and whatever else you can get your
hands eyes on. See if you connect with anything that person cares about or is interested in. The point is to make a human to human interaction more possible in the interview. If you end up not getting the job, then at least you’ve made a human connection with someone and gotten better practice for the next one.
[Note: I may be adding to this over time.]