Thursday, March 18, 2010

Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook

Many visitors to this website ask me to refer them to a good online dictionary. A Kygyz-English dictionary, that is. While searching for one, I stumbled upon something that's even better for a beginning language learner, a Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook

This website helps you learn basic words and phases in Kyrgyz. Better still, you can hear them pronounced and (possibly, for I have not tried to do this) download the audio files of the Kyrgyz words and phases to your computer.

Now, if only someone would come up with a Kyrgyz language podcast...

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Monday, April 13, 2009

A brief update (possibly the last one)

It's been a long while since I last updated this blog, several years in fact. A lot has happened since then. After nearly four years in Kyrgyzstan, my academic commitments took me elsewhere. Sadly, I never really mastered Kyrgyz. I like to blame it on a hectic schedule, but a more truthful explanation would probably involve statements such as "not making the effort to study at regular intervals" and "dwindling motivation". The moral of the story?
  1. When learning a language, make a habit of studying at regular intervals. Experienced language learners, such as Kato Lomb (more on her in previous posts), recommend spending at least 10 minutes per day in some foreign language-related activity. (See Alkire, 2005)
  2. Remember your reasons for learning the language. Apparently, fascination with a foreign tongue (in the absence of other motivating factors) was not enough to keep me going. Before tackling a foreign language, ask yourself why you want to learn it -- and then put your reasons in writing. Revise the list periodically.

While these two pieces of advice are certainly nothing new, they are worth reiterating even if it is only to remind myself that in language learning motivation and persistence often work better than innovative methods and fancy textbooks.

I will try to keep this in mind as I work on the other languages I am currently learning. One of these is Turkish, and here my earlier encounters with the Kyrgyz language prove helpful!

While it is unlikely that this blog will see new posts in the foreseeable future, I will keep my previous posts online. Many people have taken the time to write to me describing how this blog has helped them or suggesting improvements. I am very grateful for their comments, and I am sure they will help other learners as well.

Meanwhile, I shall take my leave, wishing all language learners the best of luck -- and a fair dose of persistence. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Downloadable textbooks

The Books section has been updated today. The updates include links to two Kyrgyz textbooks that can be downloaded from the ERIC website.

Downloadable textbooks are wonderful news. However, Kato Lomb, whose book I am now reading, proves that languages can be learned with very few resources at hand.

By the way, I am halfway through Lomb's book on language learning. I will share my impressions in the next post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Language policy

Here is a recent post from the Golden Road to Samarquand blog on language policy in Kyrgyzstan. Reflecting on other Central Asian countries the author writes that "Kazakhstan seems to be rather unconcerned about the switch [to the Kazakh language]". Although I no longer live there, my impression is that the Kazakh language is quite high on the agenda in the neighboring republic. All official paperwork is soon to be done in Kazakh only, television and radio programs in Kazakh abound, and efforts to encourage people to learn the language are underway.

The good thing is that, unlike in Kyrgyzstan, people wishing to learn the language now have plenty of resources at their disposal. I am not trying to idealize the situation—apparently, there are many downsides to the promotion of the official language—but some of the developments are good indeed.

On a different note, we are in the news again. Some locals call it the post-March syndrome, referring to the events of March 24 this year. It looks like a new tradition: if you don't agree with something, get a couple of hundred of supporters and set up yurts in front of some government building.

Meanwhile, I'm still fighting the bad cold that I got nearly two weeks ago. I had to put in a day of simultaneous interpreting last week, which only made things worse. So I'm staying home, meaning more time to study Kyrgyz, right? :)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Children's Bible and a new online dictionary

On some days I see people selling used books on Sovetskaya right by the intersection with Kievskaya. Something caught my eye as I was passing them by this afternoon. It was a copy of a Children's Bible, just like the one I have in Russian. But this one was in Kyrgyz ! I grabbed it as soon as I saw it, paying only 70 soms ($1.75) for the almost new book.

Since these Bible stories are already familiar to me, I can guess many of the Kyrgyz words without looking them up in the dictionary. The language is very simple, and with colorful illustrations on every other page, I'm in for some very enjoyable reading. The title of the book is "Сүрөттөргө келтирилген Библия". It was published in 1995 by the Institute for Bible Translation in Stockholm. I think the Kyrgyz branch of the Bible Society may have some copies in stock.

Ыйса is the Kyrgyz word for Jesus.

"Мына ошентип, бардыгында адамдар, силерге кандай мамиле кылуусун тилесеңер, силер да аларга ошондой мамиле кылгыла."
This is the Golden Rule as found in Matthew 7:12

My other Kyrgyz language activities of today include building a small English-Kyrgyz dictionary based on Gunnemark's Minilex, which is a fancy word for a collection of basic and, arguably, most useful words in a language.