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Originally from the West Coast of Canada. Living and teaching in Kobe, Japan since 2000. I review teaching materials at

How to learn a language from those that are best at it.

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I’ve been a language teacher for over 20 years. I’ve taught almost every conceivable type of language class. But honestly, I’ve never been that great of a language learner myself. The modest French I worked so hard to acquire is a distant memory and my young daughter has far surpassed my Japanese already.

So I’m in awe of polyglots. Polyglots are people who can use multiple languages fluently. I became fascinated by the online polyglot community for two reasons. One, most are unimpressed with conventional language teaching and teachers. A group I am a proud member of. …

Did I miss something?

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*** Spoiler Warning. This article is full of spoilers for the movie Arrival. It is a good movie and much of its appeal is not knowing what is going on. Please watch the movie before you read. Also you won’t know what I am talking about without seeing the movie.

The movie Arrival is back on Netflix. I loved the movie. Probably because the main protagonist is a linguist (Amy Adam’s character Louise). Also it is an alien invasion movie without violent action scenes, but is still exciting. And who doesn’t like a mystery.

But…there is something about the ending…

Luckily I can’t find the pictures online

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Koka Ninja Village, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.
The noise of the crowd around the muddy pond faded as I concentrated on my goal. I furiously clawed at the bottom of the pond with my long bamboo pole.

My too-tight lime green ninja loaner suit was getting tighter as I strained to drag myself to the finish line at the pond's edge. My legs kept getting farther and farther apart.

It was hard to tell with all the adrenaline. I couldn’t look back. From the cheering, I was pretty sure I was ahead.

Only a few meters to go. I could hear…

How, why, and when not to.

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People tell me secrets. I should be flattered they trust me but, IT. DRIVES. ME. CRAZY.

They say, “Don’t tell anyone!”. BUT YOU TOLD ME. You are asking me to do something you couldn’t do and it is YOUR secret.

I thought this should be obvious, but if something is a real secret, DON’T TELL ANYONE!

Navigating the handling of secrets is an important part of being a successful human. Secrets are dramatic and an issue in everyone’s lives.

Secrets exist in a context.
You must understand the context to deal with secrets competently. Realize everyone has secrets. Understand secrets…

Six lessons from tragedy

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If you haven't had someone close to you have a stroke, you are lucky. It is one of the leading causes of death. Most people survive their first stroke. Many suffer long-term damage. There is always regret from the person who has had the stroke and the people around them. However, we can learn from tragedy how to live our lives better.

Strokes come quickly, of course, there are some warning signs but, they usually hit people hard and fast without much warning. Nobody plans for having a stroke. …

A simple way to reduce your tendency to over-commit

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This idea sounds so simple. Obvious even. Silly. If think so you likely don’t have a problem with overcommitment. I can say this simple idea has helped me keep my life on track for over 30 years.

In this busy world, we all have stress. A lot of this stress comes from overcommitment. We are too busy, busy, busy. We talk about efficiency, meditation, and methods to reduce stress. The best method doesn't get as much airtime. Doing less. The way to do it? The time budget. Force yourself to make trade-offs rather than stacking commitments.

I am an over-committer…

How to recalculate the balance and avoid pain

Photo by Tim Bish on Unsplash

We all lose relationships sometimes. It hurts, especially when we feel it came out of nowhere. It isn’t from nowhere. The facts are right there in front of us. We just didn’t add them up properly. We gave too much weight to our positive behavior in the relationship. At the same time, we gave not nearly enough weight to our negative behavior. Negative behavior makes a much bigger impact on others than positive behavior. A recent Medium article by Jessica Stillman termed it the Magic 5:1 Ratio.

Behavioral Modification

I first heard of this idea when I worked at a…

Greatly increase your writing production if you can get through the initial frustrations

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

What would increasing your writing output mean to you? You will experience some frustrations while learning the software. It will take some time to learn how to talk in a way that results in a clear first draft. You still have to edit. But if you have an hour or two walking in quiet areas as part of your life you can get an extra rough draft of an article every day. To get around the resistance, you just need to do a little preparation.

I was skeptical of using digital voice to text at first. First, I hate Siri…

Besides oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

Photo by Alex Lange on Unsplash

I was picking up speed. I could only see sky but I know there must be trees and rocks in front of me. I tried to grab onto the side of the mountain but it was all ice. This was going to be bad. I used to work at a head-injury rehabilitation hospital so I knew what a hell that could be. Shoganai the Japanese say, there was nothing to be done. I was going down the hill until I hit something. I put my arms over my head and waited for impact.

The day had started out pretty well…

Michael Wilkins

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