As previously mentioned on these pages, I decided a while ago (when the Chinese commie crud started) to get really good at a few things, rather than being really average at a lot. After analyzing my total free time and assessing my preferences, I ended up on basically two things that I want to do with my free time. Maintain physical fitness and learn French.
Learning a language is a long haul and I expected that. What I didn’t expect is how rapidly I am learning things with the help of the many free or practically free aids you can find online. The space is cluttered and extremely competitive. After 15 months of throwing myself at this I have made some really nice progress. My original plan was to be fluent in 5 years, but if I can keep up this pace I believe I can do it in 3.
Through an acquaintance I discovered Radio Garden. I don’t have time for a lot of tech in my life so any new widget or gadget has to have a couple of qualifications.
1) extreme and 100% ease of use
2) add value to my life
Radio Garden meets my qualifications.
Radio Garden is an app where you can explore radio stations across the globe by simply putting a bullseye over a certain place and you instantly hear that radio station. It worked seamlessly for me. If you hover over a larger city with more stations, you can push a button and it will list them and you can cycle through and hear what you want to hear. In the photo below you can see I zeroed in over Paris and have chosen Replay News. Listening to the news for me is a great way to practice my translation and sharpen my ear to French. Large parts of the conversation are most of the time things you know something about (covid, elections, natural disasters, etc.) so you can typically piece the conversation together and hear how the things that you are learning are being used. Of course you also hear natives speaking the language.
On the way to work each morning I listen to some news (in English) to keep up on major stories. I used to listen to some music on the way home to unwind (I’m an old metalhead) but upon examining that use of time, I was wasting over 130 hours a year listening to Shout at the Devil for the millionth time and have decided that listening to the news in French is a far better use of that time.
It is amazing how pervasive American culture is. I heard Brad Paisley on a station in Australia and Miley Cyrus on one from the Cayman Islands. I also heard Rage Against the Machine from Poland and Christopher Cross from South Korea.
You get an ad on occasion on Radio Garden, but I am easily able to make that trade. I have been doing it with Pandora for a very long time – I use Pandora when I go running.
One more thing, speaking of Shout at the Devil, I stumbled on this the other day and was totally impressed. Not sure how I would feel if a 9 year old came into my office and perfectly did all of my purchasing forecasting or my business plan. I’m sure Tommy Lee is good with it, however.