• product review

    Product review: Pimsleur Italian 1

    (Disclosure: I received the product mentioned in exchange for an honest review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

    Pimsleur Italian

    I mentioned yesterday that I’m working to pick up a bit of “traveler’s” Spanish and German this summer, and I also wanted to learn a little Italian. I would eventually like to become more fluent in Italian, since it’s one of my “heritage” languages, but for now a basic grasp of conversational bits–introductions, getting around in a foreign city, etc.–will come in handy if I get to take my dream trip to Europe in the next few years!

    Because Italian and Spanish are so similar, if you have any experience speaking one, you’ll probably pick up on the rhythms and pronunciation of the other more easily. (For example, saying “thank you” is “gracias” in Spanish and “grazie” in Italian–they sound very similar!) I felt like it was really easy to fall into the rhythm of this language. Like all of the other Pimsleur CD sets, this one uses native speakers to get you used to the sound of the language and help you perfect your accent. You start out by listening to a short conversation in Italian, which is then broken down word by word so you can practice the different words and phrases. By the end of a half-hour lesson you’re ready to listen to the original conversation again, but this time you’ll be able to follow what’s being said.

    I really like the set-up of the lessons. I can pop in a CD while I cook, clean or walk on the treadmill and go through the phrases with ease. If you feel like you miss a word or don’t quite nail the pronunciation the first time, you don’t have to worry about pausing or rewinding the audio, because they’ll repeat the new phrases several times over the course of the lesson to make sure you’ve really gotten the hang of them. There are sixteen discs in all, each with two half hour lessons, and the lessons dovetail neatly into each other so it’s easy to pick up where you left off with each new study session.

    You can find Pimsleur Italian 1 on Amazon here. Tomorrow I’ll have another Pimsleur review for you, so come back for that!

    (I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

  • product review

    Product review: Pimsleur German 1

    (Disclosure: I received the product mentioned below for the purpose of a review. However I was not compensated for writing a review and as always all opinions are my own.)

    Pimsleur German

    I have a mini-series of language CD reviews to kick off today. I was lucky enough to get these Pimsleur CDs for review and wanted to share my thoughts on them! I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to learn to speak German, as it’s part of my heritage. This is basically a crash course in conversational German, covering the basics you’d need to get around as a tourist–introductions, finding the hotel, making small talk with native speakers, etc.

    The genius of the Pimsleur system is that it focuses heavily on mimicking native accents and pronunciation, so you really get a feel for how the language should roll off the tongue–something that I’ve always found difficult, if not impossible, with text-based learning. The set consists of sixteen discs covering 32 lessons, each roughly half an hour in length. Each lesson covers some new small piece of conversation and uses rote practice to help you get comfortable expanding your vocabulary.

    I feel like German is one of those languages that takes a bit more “work” in the pronunciation department (as opposed to, say, Spanish), but this could be my American bias as I’ve lived a good part of my life in towns with a high population of native Spanish speakers, and I’m used to hearing the language even if I’m not fluent in it. Having native German speakers on the CDs really helps with this issue. I do think it would be nice to have printed accompanying materials since I probably couldn’t write down most of the words and phrases used, though. (You can find limited accompanying printed materials online, but I would probably supplement this with a phrase book if I chose to travel, simply due to the nature of the language.)

    This is definitely a bit of an unconventional approach to learning a language, and it is 100% geared toward travelers or those who plan to travel soon and need to learn some conversational basics to get around. It’s a nice building block for me to learn some “traveler’s phrases”, and I can put it together with the other bits of German that I’ve been learning from phrase books. I’ll be using it as a stepping stone toward other language CDs and/or books to expand my vocabulary and grasp of grammar in the future.

    You can find the Pimsleur German 1 CD set on Amazon here. I admit, I’m a bit of a glutton for punishment, as my dad would say–I decided to tackle not one but multiple language courses this summer. You can find my Pimsleur Spanish 1 review here; look for two more Pimsleur reviews later this weekend!

    (I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.)

  • Uncategorized

    Blog every day in July, #22: Things that make me go “hmm”


    I’ll be honest, there are a lot of things that make go “hmm”, and a lot of them are probably wading far too deep into controversial waters to post on a fairly light-hearted blog. So I’ll try to keep this list fairly PG.

    People who don’t like reading

    Do you not like stories? Maybe you just haven’t found the right kind of book. Maybe you need glasses? Maybe you aren’t used to using your imagination? I can’t imagine life without stories, so people who are content to do without puzzle me.


    People who think their opinion on kids will change my mind

    A lot of people seem to think that it’s their duty to convince me I really, really want kids and just don’t know it yet. Like, I somehow don’t know my own mind. They will take every opportunity to tell me this, even after the umpteenth time of being politely asked to just drop it. When I was 18 I thought this was some sort of child-to-adult rite of passage and would wear off with time, but it hasn’t.


    Adding to this, lots of these same people love to tell me about all the ways their kids are ruining their lives. They tell me about their kids pooping on the carpet in front of company or something and seem to think this will add to the appeal. WTF?


    Five-day work weeks

    A four-day week tacks on only an additional two hours of work per day, yet yields a full extra day off to do as you please–hang out with family, go to school, catch up on sleep, whatever. It should be mandatory for improved worker happiness and productivity. And maybe then we wouldn’t all look like this polar bear on day #5.


    Being hyper-awake when I need to sleep, and vice versa

    It’s just wrong and unfair and hmmmzzzzzz…


    People who say they love animals, but eat meat/wear fur

    I know I’m venturing into politically incorrect waters here, but this one baffles me. If you love animals, why would you eat meat, wear fur and/or use cosmetics tested on animals? It makes no sense to me.


    What we do and don’t censor on TV

    Puzzled here. People are pretty fine with the Victoria’s Secret show airing on primetime TV, but they get freaked out if someone says “fuck”. Smoking a cigarette requires a warning in the movie rating box, but not drinking (some of the time). We also have pretty weird attitudes about violence–like, it’s okay in an animated movie or a superhero flick, because it’s clearly pretend, but if it seems too realistic (like a documentary) we get squeamish. I’m hardly a prude, but I do wonder how the folks at the FCC make their decisions.


    Fashion magazines/street style blogs

    A lot of the stuff on there is just hideous. Who actually thinks this stuff looks good?


    People who claim to love exercise

    I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys working out and eating right, and hates watching TV and eating nachos. I mean yeah, I love the feeling of being healthy, but…nachos. I think you’re all liars.


    What makes you go “hmmm”? Tell me in the comments!

  • Uncategorized

    Blog every day in July, #20: Would you rather…



    If you’ve never played this game, jump in–I think it’s fun (and revealing). We have fifteen “Would you rather?” questions today:

    1. Be blind or be deaf. Blind. I could get books on tape but I couldn’t live without music.

    2. Be taller than you are or shorter than you are. Taller. Hello supermodel!

    3. Be a teenager or a senior citizen for the rest of your life. Teenager.

    4. Have no hands or no legs. Yikes…I guess no legs? People in wheelchairs do some pretty amazing things, like sports and adventuring. I would get impatient with no hands to do things for myself, like turn book pages.

    5. Lose your front teeth or both eyebrows. Eyebrows–I would just pencil ’em back in!

    6. Eat a worm or a cockroach. Pass (vegan).

    7. Spend a day in the Sahara or North Pole. The Sahara. I get so cold so easily, I don’t think I would survive the North Pole!

    8. Have a personal chef or a personal driver. Chef (yum). I get nervous when other people are driving.

    9. Always have to whisper or always have to shout. Whisper. My voice sounds weird when I talk too loud.

    10. Can’t taste or can’t smell. Smell. My sense of smell is hyperactive as is, and it can be a pain.

    11. Wipe with sandpaper or saran wrap. Saran wrap? I guess? This list is mean.

    12. Have Twitter shut down for a day or your blog disappear for a day. I hardly use Twitter, so yeah.

    13. Text of your blog is screwed up or all the pictures you post on your blog are blurry. Hmm…I guess I’ll take blurry photos, since I write more than I add photos. Also, I hate reading blogs with lovely crisp photos and super-tiny cursive colored fonts–I click out fast. The photos can’t keep me if I can’t read the type.

    14. Never be able to post another GIF or never be able to receive comments on your posts. GIFs, I guess. Don’t bloggers kind of live for comments?

    15. Have a permanent wedgie or have the tag on your shirt constantly scratch your neck. I feel like other people can somehow sense the wedgie and laugh at it, so I’ll go with the scratchy tag.