9 Ways to Learn a Language Fast!

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You want to learn a new language, but you don’t have the time or money to go to language classes. You also don’t want to have to wait months to use your language skills. So, how can you learn a language fast without access to a classroom?

By following these 9 methods and you will be bonjour-ing, hola-ing,
and 您好ing before you know it.

#1-Choose the Right Words

Most people think you need to know every word in a language to learn it. This is absolutely not true. Start with the most important words in a language (e.g. “where is,” “please,” “thank-you”), and solidify them in your mind. Learning a language quickly is impossible if you try and memorize its dictionary. You’ll learn more words as you go, and native speakers can always explain new terms to you if need be.

#2-In-Cognate-O

What if we told you that you already know some words in your chosen language? Cognates (words that are still similar in different languages) are helpful to know when learning a new language quickly and can be found with a simple Google search. For example, the French word for “impossible” is the same as the English one, but it’s pronounced a little differently. This makes it easy to remember and gives you a head start on whatever language you’re studying.

#3-Immerse Yourself

Interacting using your chosen language is important to cement it in your head, and this needs to be done daily. However, you don’t have to travel all the way to another country. Watching TV shows or listening to music in the language helps, but it’s even better if you couple that reading it. News broadcasts in a different language should be chosen over TV shows because they have less slang, but either one is still a valuable learning tool.

#4-Chat With a Native

With a communication between countries being easier in recent years, it’s fairly simple to connect with someone whose native language is the one you’re learning. Using Skype or FaceTime for a few minutes each day will allow you to talk with a native speaker who knows the language inside and out. They can also answer any questions you may have about the finer points of learning. Even if you aren’t fluent yet, practicing speaking with someone who is will help expand your vocabulary and grammar skills.

#5-Mnemonics Are Your Friend

Mnemonics is a word association technique that helps you remember certain words using a clever sentence or story. An example of this can be seen in the Russian word for “tea,” which is “chai.” Using mnemonics, you can help you remember the word for “tea” by using this sentence: “I wouldn’t drink that for all the TEA in CHIna.” Both words, in English and Russian, are in the sentence to help you associate them with each other.

#6-Accept Your Mistakes

Language learners often get frustrated when they make mistakes. This perfectionistic attitude can cause them to give up on the language because they feel that these mistakes have stunted them. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mistakes are the human way of learning, and native speakers aren’t going to shun you because you messed up a word or even an entire conversation. Fluent speakers realize that you’re still learning, and they’ll be more inclined to help you than to berate you for your ignorance. Accept that you won’t be perfect right off the bat, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with your mistakes.

#7-Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

If and when you’re able to travel to the country that speaks the language you’re learning, you’ll soon find that tourists are easily identifiable by their own country’s habits, both spoken and unspoken. Make your best effort to adopt the cultural and social norms of a foreign country, but pay special attention to your accent. Speaking Japanese in an English accent not only sounds horrible, but it makes you difficult to understand. Use the proper accent from the start, especially when following step #4.

Personal tip: When I was learning to speak Spanish and I wanted to have a  Mexican accent, instead of sweating over every single syllable of pronunciation, I simply pretended I was a Mexican. You can picture someone, either famous or known personally and play like you are acting a role starring them. Example, Selma Hayek or Marion Cotillard (French).

#8-Have Goals

Learning a language quickly is a relative term unless you clearly lay out specific, realistic goals. You may be going on a business trip in a month and need to learn the basics of business conversation. Set a goal for every week that puts you at a certain level in that time. When you meet that goal, congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and move on to the next one. It’s the same principle as when you were in school. You didn’t have your final exam without having a series of study sessions and review tests first. The same principle needs to be followed when it comes to languages.

#9-Progress Makes Perfect

No one has ever mastered an entire language completely, not even native speakers. Think about all the questions you still have about your own language and realize that other language speakers have this problem as well. There’s always something new to learn. When learning a new language, make sure you’re progressing each time you use it. Conversations with native speakers in the language you’re learning will slowly get smoother, but don’t stop once you’ve reached their level. A language not used will soon be forgotten.

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5 Chores You Can Stop Doing

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Some days it seems that the 24 hours given to us are just not enough. As our heads hit the pillow we find ourselves wishing we had just a little more time to get everything done, but heck, even if we did have the time, where would we find the energy?

Between cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, time just seems to slip through our fingers. After getting sick of being weighed down by my daily to-do list, I finally sat down and brainstormed ways that I could automate some of my more time consuming chores pretty much to the point where I’m not even doing them anymore.

This has freed up my schedule tremendously, and I highly recommend you adopt these habits as well.

Here are the chores with the corresponding tools that have helped me cut some of life’s more menial tasks.

1. Cooking-Crockpot

This tip takes my #1 spot for a good reason. Crockpot cooking is one of the best things I started doing. All you do is throw in some protein, water, veggies and spices if you like, and you’re done. It’s so easy and your meat comes out fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy. I can’t believe I lived so many years eating rubbery chicken from the oven.

Tip: For added tenderness, do not freeze your meat, but instead cook it immediately. It makes a WORLD of difference.

Also, don’t be afraid to buy two or even three crockpots if you are busy and have some major cooking. This three holer is great for families. Click here.

I use this for all my weekly premade meals. And  because these meals are a huge t-saver and could be a blog all their own, I’ve listed my recipes here.

2. Chopping vegetables-Food processor

Speaking of recipes, that brings us to the veggies. Keeping chopped vegetables (think white onions, green onions, bell peppers, tomatoes) on hand is a fantastic way of saving time in so many ways. For one, it makes it easy to throw together a quick meal by taking some protein, beans and veg and tossing them in a bowl. Healthy, balanced meal=done.

Having some meat and chopped veggies ready to go also helps your kids or significant other be more independent in their personal food prep. Translation: They get off the what’s-for-dinner-train and feed themselves. If they whine tell them to pretend they’re at Chipotle.

So if you want some help with preparing your veggies, I would highly recommend investing in a food processor or any other chopping gadget.

I once timed myself to see how long it took me to chop sweet potatoes and onions for dinner. TWENTY MINUTES! Not to be dramatic, but that is a lifetime, especially since they are a staple in my family. So me being a stickler for time, I got a food processor. Big difference. Now I’m able to chop and slice like Edward Scissor hands.

One thing to note: If you are wanting to slice sweet potatoes, which are much harder than regular, white potatoes, then you are going to want to get the expensive big boy food processor (cost: ~$200). However, there is also the option of buying an industrial sweet potato slicer (cost around $65) and fastening it to your counter or wall. A good one by Tiger Chef can be purchased here. It comes with suction cups so you don’t have to drill into your wall.

3. Vacuuming and mopping-Roomba and other iRobots

Oh the eternal wrestling match between you and your home. Keeping a clean house can be a full time job—if you let it. Although this could (and will) be a another blog, I will keep the focus on vacuuming in this bullet point.

I can’t tell you how much I hate vacuuming. It’s hard. It’s heavy. It literally sucks. My mom, who must have gotten sick of the struggle too, bought herself a Roomba vacuum cleaner and loved it so much she got one for me too. Thanks, Ma!

Can I just please say that the Roomba is A-to-the-MAZING?

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You set it up to clean an area (remove electronic cords and anything else that might impair it), press the Clean button and go!

The bless-ed contraption even plays chipper tones indicating it has completed the job.

And it gets everything–including pet hair.

Their website also carries other fantastic iRobot devices such as the Scooba Floor Scrubber, Braava Floor Mopper, Mirra Pool Cleaner, and Looj Gutter Cleaner. Sounds like a Swedish orgy, and I want in.

The Roomba will cost you anywhere between $400 for the lower grade up to $900 for the high end guy.

Expensive? Yes. However, think about how much time you spend cleaning your floors, daily or weekly forever and ever until you die. Is that how you want to spend your life? With this robot, you could have your floors (both hardwood and carpet) cleaned every single day with the push of a button. And maybe you could check on Amazon or Craig’s List for some cheaper or second hand robots.  I have the lowest end Roomba and it works great. To me, it’s worth the investment.

4. Dusting, scrubbing, wiping, spider killing-Maid

The iRobot not for you? You want the whole shebang? Then check out Groupon for surprisingly affordable maid services. They have some great deals out there. Plus, when you sign up to use a company for repeated visits—weekly, bi-weekly, monthly they almost always offer discounts. You can even have a team come in once a year for that heavy-duty spring cleaning.

5. Grocery Shopping-Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Pantry

I paid the $99 for a year of Amazon Prime (which comes out to $8.25/month) and have been killin’ it with the free two-day shipping. Now I wonder how I survived without it.

For one, you can find virtually ANYTHING on Amazon. I use Prime and have subscribed to automatic, reoccurring orders which makes them cheaper. What do I order? Organic baby food, diapers, wipes, dog food, shampoo/conditioner, toilet paper, paper towels, K-cups—pretty much everything I used to get at Walmart.

Amazon Pantry is the same idea except you can order food items and have it all sent for a flat fee of $5.99.

amazon pantry

Amazon Prime Now is just like regular Prime except you can pay an extra $7.99 to have the items brought to you in 1-2 hours, however it’s only available in certain areas.

Automating even a few errands can do wonders for relieving your bogged down schedule. Another benefit is that it takes items off the old mental checklist which frees up brain space.

I’m sure that if you look at your calendar or to do list you will be able to think up ways you can automate some of those items. Don’t just stop with ideas. Take the extra step and implement them! By doing so, you can take your life from being a series of tics on a check list and transform it into a well-oiled machine.

Here are a few other automating ideas that might work for your household:

Bill pay, Dog food/water dispenser, doggie door, teach your kids to do some things for themselves—up coming blog! If you want to get extreme, how about permanent, tattooed makeup. Has anyone done this? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Easy Crockpot Weekly Meal Plans

These are the ingredients you will need to prepare all three meals listed below:

baby spinach, romaine lettuce (stalks), white onion, red onion,  tomato, bell peppers, cilantro (or premade tabbouleh), 1 package of diced Portobello mushrooms

plain greek yogurt (watch out for sugar)

Italian salad dressing

2 chicken taco seasoning packets

hummus (optional, but a good idea)

olive oil, lemon juice

garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper

canned white beans

canned black beans

Preparation:

Chop or dice the following ingredients and refrigerate in separate storage containers.

white onion, tomato, bell peppers, cilantro (or premade tabbouleh)

Next you will prepare the protein which will be your base when you mix and match the meals.

Shredded Southwest Chicken

 Place 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast into crockpot.

Add just enough water to where the breasts are half submerged.

Add 2 packets of any brand of chicken taco seasoning.

Cover pot, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8.

Note: When the chicken is partially ready and you are able to break it up, use a fork to partially shred the chicken and then finish cooking. Once the chicken is fully cooked you can finish shredding. Or if you want to be really Chipotle like, cut the finished chicken into cubes.

Make it a meal:

Throw together chicken, black beans, white onions, bell peppers, salsa,  romaine lettuce, tomatoes and anything you’d like. But be mindful of carbs and sugars.

Greek Chicken

Cut 3  pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast into one inch cubes and place in crockpot.

Add just enough water to where the breasts are half submerged.

Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice

Add 2 tablespoons each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary

Add 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper.

Cover pot, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8.

Note: Traditionally the chicken should be grilled, but I prefer mine slow cooked for tenderness.

Make it a meal:

Throw together chicken, Greek yogurt, tabbouleh, red onions, hummus, bell peppers.

Portobello Mushroom Chicken

 Place 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast into crockpot.

Add just enough water to where the breasts are half submerged.

Add 7 ounces of Italian salad dressing.

Add mushrooms (however many you prefer).

Cover pot, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8.

Note: When the chicken is partially ready and you are able to break it up, use a fork to partially shred the chicken and then finish cooking.  Once the chicken is fully cooked you can finish shredding, or  you can leave the breasts whole.

Make it a meal.

Throw together chicken, canned white beans, and baby spinach in a bowl. Yum-yum. You can even add white onions if your heart so desires.

 

So there you have it. 3 easy crockpot meals you can make for the week. Also, if you prefer beef, you can replace any of them with a roast. I’d ask your butcher for recommendations. Also, for the Southwest recipe, you can do the same thing on the stove with ground beef. Easy peezy!

If anyone else out there has some good crockpot recipes, please leave them in the comment section.

 

 

6 Reasons to Stop Arriving Early

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It seems absurd. It goes against your mother’s advice. If you want to get ahead you’ve got to get in early. I mean, what about the early bird catching the worm?

But who really wants a worm?

Like many pearls of traditional advice, this one requires further examination. And as a person who hates to be kept waiting, hates showing up too early and is pro-fashionable lateness, I have made observations over the years that has solidified my premise that it is better to be on time or err on the side of lateness than to be always early.

 Here are 6 reasons why:

1. You are telling people that your time isn’t valuable.

Think about it. If you are chronically early and waiting—waiting on your blackberry for your boss, waiting at the restaurant for a lunch date, waiting on your friend’s couch while she rushes to finish getting ready—then what are people eventually going to think? Miss Early Bird must not have jack crap going on in her life. Meanwhile, that person is busy so they are automatically going to deduce that their time is more valuable than yours—since you have so dang much that you’ve made a hobby of cooling your heels.

 

2. It isn’t productive.  

My friends know how much I loathe wasting time. And if you ask why then you are subjecting yourself to my impassioned soapbox speech about how time is truly the only non-renewable resource, how we could die at any moment and that every time you waste a minute a terrorist gets its wings.

And why is that? Because I am trying to balance all the busy-work life throws at me (laundry, dishes, oil change) with the real productive work I’d rather be doing, such as writing and building my e-book business. So, I NEED to be productive, and you probably do too if you are reading this blog.

Therefore, in order to be at your peak productivity, you need to stop showing up 15 minutes early to everything because if you’re doing it chronically, then you are literally wasting hours and hours a week.

Think of all you can do with that time.

3. You set yourself up to ALWAYS be waiting.   

Most of us schedule our lives with a very small buffer in between tasks, and by small I’m talking about a 5 minute window. Between work meetings, emails and those lasts minute phone calls (not to mention the traffic around that fender bender on 12th street), we are lucky to get anywhere on time. Therefore, people need that 5 minute buffer. In writing this blog I went back through my text messages from times when I was meeting up with my group of girlfriends. What did I find? A lot of Running behind! Be there in ten. Traffic is awful. Start without me! Followed by responses like: No worries. The hostess hasn’t even seated us.

Everyone is running late. The world is running late.

Need proof? Think of your doctor’s office, dentist’s, optometrist’s, canine spiritual consultant’s. What do they all have? Waiting Rooms! Think about what you do at restaurants, Starbucks, subway stations. You wait! Don’t voluntarily exacerbate the problem.

People, all people, from your boss to your bartender, are rushing to catch up. You can’t change their circumstance. You can’t change traffic. You can’t change them. You can only change yourself.

4. It kills your energy.  

I’m sure it’s happened to everyone. For whatever reason, you arrive at a party, sporting event, or movie premiere way too early. You’re really jazzed about the evening that lays before you. Momentum is building. When is everyone going to show? What time is it now? And now? That’s when the climax begins to rise and whatever you’re waiting on gets pushed to pedestal heights.

When the big moment finally comes and it’s kickoff time, you are elated. About *%$# time! You think. However what inadvertently happens next? All that energy can’t be sustained and it starts to dissipate. Consequently, by halftime, you are tired. By third quarter, you are ready to call it a day. The event becomes anti-climatic and it zaps your energy.

5. Your colleagues won’t like you. 

Nobody likes a boss’ pet. Think about how you are portraying yourself when you are incessantly early. You’ve unwittingly made it into a competition. A competition you make damn sure you’re going to win. You’re like that kid on the playground that calls for a race and then before anyone can blink shouts “Go!” to get a head start. No one wants to play with that kid. And your colleagues are the ones you spend over 40 hours a week with (not to mention happy hours and Christmas parties), so you need to get along with these people.

6. It bothers your friends.

So, if your friend shows up to lunch on time and finds out you’ve been sipping soda for 15 minutes, it makes him feel rushed, guilty and probably a bit irritated.

People hate showing up on time and already feeling late. ESPECIALLY in social situations that are supposed to be light and enjoyable.

Really, being chronically early is a passive aggressive form of rudeness. How? If you keep purposely showing up early over and over again the other person begins to feel like you are trying to lead by example and send them a message: Hurry your rear up and get here sooner. Your friends do not want to be herded.

And now an argument from the other side.

Yeah but being early is better than being late all the time.

Is it?

Maybe. But not in my experience. Especially when you keep it within a 5 minute window and apply a little common sense. Being on time/5 minutes “late” (And even 5 minutes early. There, I said it.) to coffee is fine. You can wait, your friend will wait, however your bus driver will not.

It’s also a good rule of thumb that in anything work related, your best bet is to be right on time. However, I can guaran-dang-tee you that in most instances, the big boss will cruise in late.

And to be 100% honest, I am a person who has always, always, always shown up places a little late (excluding the common sense exceptions mentioned above), and I cannot think of a single time in my life that I have had the experience of, Oh no, I really regret not showing up on the dot. Ever. But I can think of many times I’ve been left waiting in the cold for someone/something with nothing to warm myself except the growing fire of my fury.

Therefore, I believe we can all benefit from erring on the side of fashionable lateness.

After all, it’s like the saying goes: Haters gonna hate. Waiters gonna wait.