Thoughts

How hard is it to learn a new language?

Many people simply shun the idea of learning a new language. Perhaps they tried to learn a second language while in high school or college, and found it to be too difficult. Maybe they bought one a language program and tried to learn a different language on their own and became frustrated. No matter what the personal situation, learning a language can be difficult. However, the advantages of learning a second language are worth the effort. For those serious about learning another language, finding the best learning environment is crucial.

Before attempting to learn any language, it is important to understand why the language is needed. If it is simply to understand the local dialect while on vacation, it is not essential to grasp all the nuances of the language. Simply understanding commonly used words and phrases may be enough to communicate during a vacation. However, if needed for a job or if moving to a country where the language is spoken, it is important to fully grasp the language.

When deciding on a learning approach, understand that not everyone is comfortable with all learning strategies. Some individuals thrive in traditional language classes, with an instructor, lab exercises and written work. Enrolling in college level classes is possible in many areas of the country, and if there is no nearby college, interactive online classes are available.

Utilizing a tutor is also an option worth exploring. Tutors are available throughout the country, and are often native speakers now living in this country. They are generally incredibly fluent, often in multiple dialects of the language. Tutors often work one-on-one, providing valuable lessons tailored to match each person’s comfort level. Many people thrive in this type of learning environment.

The newest learning environment involves the use of computer programs to learn another language. However, language programs are all different, so it important for learners to review the different programs before selecting one. Rocket Languages, Speak From Day 1 and Rosetta Stone are the top language programs, and each has its own unique teaching style. These programs are becoming increasingly popular, as they allow anyone to learn at their own speed and on their own schedule.

While some people learn languages easily, others struggle. Finding the right learning environment will make a tremendous difference in just how hard it is for any individual to learn a second language.

Veterans Day – What It Really Means

As a female who has never served, nor has the desire to serve in the army, it’s tough for me to sometimes try to imagine the sense of duty that comes over some people to serve their country.  I feel that this might be more of a male thing, although I do not deny that many women also feel this call.  But the point is, I must remember to honor veterans who have served.  For if this country has no army, then it has nothing.  I have the utmost respect for people who give their lives for their country.  It’s something we kind of take for granted.  But – our lives are essentially the biggest thing we can EVER give, and these people have given it.  I think our culture has kind of forgotten this in these years of peacetime.

It’s interesting to note the difference in treatment of Vietnam vets vs. Civil War, WWI, and WWII vets.

The scene is repeated many times a day at Washington’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a V-shaped wall of polished black granite. A visitor searches through the wall’s listing of 58,022 names of U.S. servicemen who died in Vietnam. Then a name is found, and the tears begin.

“It was like the Wall was alive,” one veteran said. “I could touch it and it was warm, and I saw my reflection in it. I was among the names, looking out.”

Veterans call it, simply, “the Wall.” It is a magnet to the 2.7 million Vietnam veterans who came home alive. For many of these men, now middle-aged, it is a symbol of the attention and understanding they are receiving after years of painful neglect. “Veterans are feeling better,” said Tom Dineen, a former Army Ranger, during Veterans Day ceremonies at the memorial last year. “They are more open. People are treating them better.” A DOUBLE BURDEN

No men who fought under the U.S. flag have ever had to bear the Vietnam veterans’ double burden. They endured physical combat plus the mental stress of having taken part in an unpopular and losing war. Even veterans of World War II and Korea were slow to welcome them home. Then movies depicted them as unstable, drug-dependent misfits, prone to violence.

For most Vietnam veterans, time has been a healer. “Most have gone on with their lives, building families and careers,” says Ken Berez of Vietnam Veterans of America. Veterans are now moving into positions of responsibility in business, the professions, and politics.

But the war still haunts many veterans. “Time may be running out for the significant minority of veterans who have emotional, financial, and career problems,” says Berez, himself a veteran.

Growing numbers are seeking help. The U.S. Veterans Administration reports 6,300 new cases a month at its 145 counseling centers. About half have emotional problems. Many suffer from nightmares, vivid flashbacks of painful memories, panic attacks, and aggressiveness.

Doctors describe the most severe cases as “post-traumatic stress disorder,” or PTSD. Since 1969, about 150,000 Vietnam Vets have sought help for PTSD. Up to 250,000 others are estimated to suffer from the disorder.

A much higher proportion of Vietnam veterans suffer from PTSD than did soldiers from past wars. The reason, psychologists say, was the soldiers’ youth. The average age of soldiers in World War II was 26. In Vietnam, it was 19. “That’s the time of life when people put their identities together,” says Dr. John P. Wilson of Cleveland State University. Wilson is an expert on PTSD.

Most veterans never had help in readjusting to civilian life. “Homecoming occurred under the worst possible conditions,” Wilson says. They were rotated “out of the jungle with no counseling. Society expected them to pick up the pieces of their lives and start over as if nothing had happened.”

The outrage and frustration of many veterans peaked in the bitter legal battle over Agent Orange, a herbicide the military used in Vietnam to clear away millions of acres of jungle. An estimated 50,000 to 60,000 servicemen were exposed to it. “We bathed in it, drank it, and slept in it,” one veteran said.

We must take the time to realize that these people have given their lives, and they often are not the same when they return home from war even if they have not entirely given their lives.  It’s something to think about.