“Do a lot of work”

Ira Glass, host of This American Life, said these wise words about what being creative means. One video is his voice and the advice, and one is with music and more a creative graphic style. His advice rings true for language learning, too, especially if you have high expectations (“I want to become fluent”). It’s not easy and you have to do a lot of work. Just remember that you have a support system: your classmates and me.


All of Bach

With many classes starting this week, you may need some good classical music to help you concentrate while you study. How about some Bach?

All of Bach has a collection of performances by the Netherlands Bach Society. Eventually, they are going to post videos of all 1000+ of Bach’s compositions.

This is probably his most famous, though I’m not sure it will help you concentrate:

My favorite Bach quote:

“Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.”

(from “25 Quotes About Coffee From History’s Most Caffeinated Thinkers”)

  • Do you listen to music when you read or study? What kind?
  • Who’s your favorite classical composer? Why? Can this quiz accurately guess?
  • Have you ever learned to play an instrument? Were/are you a good student?

Here are some trivia quizzes about classical composers. Try one and see how much you know.

What do we really need to know?

Here’s an RSA Animated Short by John Lloyd, talking about knowledge and ignorance, and the importance of asking questions. And kindness.

You can watch the longer talk (half lecture and half discussion/interview, talking more about what “belief” means) here:

This makes me think about one of the biggest hurdles for students: learning to understand what it is that you don’t know. And that’s done by asking questions and being curious.

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

I read somewhere that the average 4-year-old asks something like 300 questions a day, while the average adult asks fewer than 10.

In the longer talk, he says there are only 6 things we really need to know, although he only shares two of them:

  1. Be nice.
  2. Don’t be frightened.

What are some of the things that you think we all really need to know?

Ten people, ten colors

There’s an idiom in Japanese that I like: 「十人十色」juunin-toiro), literally “ten people, ten colors”. It means everyone has his or her own way of thinking or doing something. Similar to the English idiom, “To each his own”, or “Different strokes for different folks”.

This infographic made me think of the idiom. The interactive version (click to see it) will show you exactly what these famous creative people did during their work and play time:

(via Podio)

How many of the people on this list do you know?

Choose someone on the list that you do know and find out something about them that you didn’t know.

Then, choose someone on the list you’ve never heard of and find out a little background information about that person.

I suppose all my students know who Haruki Murakami is. He missed out on the Nobel Prize again in 2014. Maybe 2015 will be his year.

Here are a few articles to find out more about him:

“20 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Haruki Murakami” (from Shortlist)

“Haruki Murakami: Talent is Nothing Without Focus and Endurance” (from 99u)

“30 Pieces of Wisdom from Haruki Murakami Books” (from Shortlist)

Here’s a good one:

“Life’s no piece of cake, mind you, but the recipe’s [your] own to fool with.” (from Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)