Saturday, June 27, 2015

RAM - the key to speaking a new language

Okay, I imagine you're pretty tired of hearing about language training by now. Trust me, I understand, because I'm equally tired of thinking about it. And by thinking about it, I mean, "It's 3:52 am and I can't get back to sleep because my brain is furiously creating sentences in Romanian and trying to untangle tricky (or even simple) verb-subject-pronoun-blah-blah constructions... Argh!!"

But when I'm not obsessing over how to say something, I'm equally obsessing over why it's so hard to simply swap out one set of words for another to convey a thought. Because really, that's all it is, right?  

Yesterday, I figured it out and here's why:

It's all about RAM and how many programs one's brain can run at once.  

Let me illustrate.  In class each day - somehow, either organically or via a list of "topical topics" - we begin to discuss a particular subject.  Today, it was the pros and cons of Uber, which then morphed into the phenomenon of fear of change and then the new vs. old ways of doing anything etc... It was a very natural conversation flow, to be honest. But - in order to do all this in a new language, the user must be aware of the following system requirements:
  • First, you have to run the "What Is My Opinion On This Topic?" program.  Keeping in mind how much you may/may not know/care about the topic; how much you have recently heard on 60 Minutes or this morning's NPR broadcast; and combined with a sensitivity to your colleagues'/teacher's particular political/social/religious beliefs so as not to offend, and further shaded with the desire not to sound TOO stupid. You may recognize this program already as (for most of us) it is standard installation during childhood, regardless of language. Unfortunately, it takes up a LOT of hard drive space! Although this program runs constantly in the background, it isn't without its flaws and is known to crash mid-sentence, leaving the user jiggling the mouse and wondering why the screen went blue. These crashes can occur in even the most basic of settings, and users have reported that it is most susceptible to failure when run in the Simple Polite Chit-Chat mode.  
  • Simultaneously, you must log into Foreign Language 1.0 - 5.0 which is a fussy program that requires daily updating. I seem to forget my password, especially on Monday mornings when I haven't used the program in a few days. I'm currently running the Romanian 2+ version, but it frequently crashes and leaves me with only Romanian 1.0, or even worse, sometimes I'm stuck using an antique copy of Romanian-Spanish 1.5. This program is supposed to have a great search feature that lets my brain type in any word, take for example "proud", and come up with "mandru." But it's quite buggy and frequently offers me "murdar" ("dirty") instead, which can lead to listener confusion.  Because it needs constant updating, this program often fails to interact with "What Is My Opinion On This Topic?", leaving the user stranded and relying on the default program, English 5.0. 
  • There is also a very complex program that is sold alongside Foreign Language 1.0 - 5.0. It's called Grammar Pack and it also demands constant updating.  While technically you don't have to install it, but to be to talk difficult very, so it's heavily recommended. Grammar Pack takes up tons of processing space and really slows down the system.  It runs in the background, but not seamlessly until the user has at least Foreign Language 4.0 fully functional. Unfortunately, the earlier versions jam up the processing quite a bit, as the program decides whether a word is masculine, feminine or neuter; runs the Irregular Verb cross-check; looks for noun-adjective agreement, references the accusative vs. dative vs. genitive data tables, and - if you're lucky enough to have the extra byte space -  presents the response in the Correct Pronunciation font. 
As you can imagine, which each of these dense programs running, the user is commonly left endlessly buffering, or with only the spinning wheel icon, each are inevitable outcomes particularly when they've been installed onto the following devices: Brain 45+, Lack of Sleep Brain or Young Children at Home Brain.  

Be advised that users who may have been exposed to the notorious Test Anxiety or Fear of Looking Foolish viruses will see greatly decreased performance in all of the above processing, and tech support should be contacted at once to eradicate these parasitic scripts. 

In summary, users have reported that to take full advantage of the benefits of Foreign Language 1.0 - 5.0, it's critical to that your system has sufficient RAM to simultaneously run all of the above products.  With practice, the user will be able to flip from one to the next in nano-seconds all the while maintaining the Composure drive and its Sweat Control upgrade.  

(The latter is optional.)