What’s in the Way of an Update

Failed meet-ups. Limited willing test subjects. Insecurity of my developing skill. Significant distance from the LH Headquarters.

... in the way....

Challenge after challenge- I was beginning to stress out. What will the Language Hunters reading this blog think when I feel like I’ve made so little progress? How can I have anything valuable to say when I seems as though all of my plans have crashed and burned? I wanted to hide my hunting failures. I was worried I was falling further and further away from Language Hunting.

I was at a loss in regards to detailing my adventures. Then, the other day, I realized something- I bet I’m not alone.

I imagine that any individual who has taken up Hunting on their own accord has felt like this at some point or another during their hunting acquisition. “Yes, I’ve watched the videos,” you might say. “Yes, I’ve played the game with a couple of friends. But, where do I go from here? What, exactly, can I do with this, right now?”

With all of these challenges “in the way”, Hunting can seem like a difficult task to really motor on. However, today I thought, what if these bumps in the road are not “in the way”. What if, instead, they become “the way”? In my mind, the distinction is the difference between hitting a wall that stops you in your tracks, or creating a new path to get to the other side of the wall.

I’ve got to change the way I go about things if I want to keep on going. Today I’m thinking: If native speakers won’t come to me, how can I go to them? If I’m scared of looking like I don’t know what I’m doing, how can I be more comfortable? If I’m far away from the all the Hunting activity in Portland, how can I make my own events where I am?

Are there any other novices out there who have come across the same problem? Did you move forward? If so, how?

Until next time,


Novice Notes: Getting into the Flow

language hunter image

The Language Hunter's Path

This week I made some of my first attempts at leading a Mandarin Chinese Language Hunting game. I’ve studied the language for about two years, and although my intonation isn’t perfect, I thought it would be a fun one to start with. Applying Technique Mumble shifted the focus away from the more complex facets of Mandarin (i.e. tonality) and gave room for more attention to the structure of Hunting.

The other players had never Language Hunted before and, honestly, prior to the first round, I had never lead an entire game on my own either! A sense of excitement filled all of us.

We completed the first few rounds but not without sputters of confusion and revision throughout.

The most difficult aspect for me, thus far, is knowing (or perhaps remembering) where to go next within the game. At the Irish Hunting Workshop, a few weekends ago, we had a huge “Getting to the Party” (what we call reaching the Intermediate Level of a language) poster on the wall which pin-pointed the crucial topics that needed to be included in the game. As of yet, without something or someone to guide me, the sequence of adding bits of language can get messy and that can make the game confusing for everyone playing. Knowing what language to add, in which order, all the while trying to make sure I fully introduce the phrases we are working with, plus tracking of the order of asking and answering- It’s a lot to keep a handle on!

To better understand where I am steering the game I’ve begun to think about it’s configuration in two ways.

The first way of thinking about the order of topics came after a realization that Language Hunting it’s self is not “the game”, but instead a mode or system of play (i.e. Hunting by applying specific Techniques) used to navigate through small, short games. I imagine, if you break-up “Getting to the Party”  into “Bite Sized Pieces” we have the small, short games that we play while hunting. For example, game one is, “What is That?”, game two is, “Who’s is that?”, etc.

The reason why I can distinguish these as separate games comes from the idea that, with each, we are focusing on different themes, as well as using different means to do so. Take a second to think about the two card games “Old Maid” and “Go Fish”. The goal in both of these games is to get cards from your opponent in order to create matches, but the means of acquiring cards is different. In one, you simply pull a card from your opponents hand, in the other, you must ask for the card you desire. I see the games of Language Hunting in the same way. The goal of all the games is to “Get to the Party”. The difference in these is the language we are using to get there, and additionally the techniques we are applying. Thinking about Language Hunting as “Bite Sized Pieces” games, each with their own specifications for play, makes them easier to mentally organize. This is opposed to seeing Language Hunting as the whole game, in which deciphering the content can be a daunting task.

The second way I’ve been making sense of the order of topics is by imagining Language Hunting as a stone pathway, where each game is a stone in a path. If I follow every stone in the path in consecutive order it will lead me to the end point, “The Party”. I plan on using this mental imagery as a skeleton for a mnemonic. Obviously, I’m still in the process of developing this idea, but hopefully using this mental imagery will make it much easier for me to remember the directions to the party!

More Hunting is on my agenda for this week. We’ll see where it takes me.

Until then,


Notes from a Novice Language Hunter

7 o’ clock AM. The blinding white rays of sun shoot into my bedroom window like a laser beam. I awake, roll on to my back, and my first thought of the day takes hold. “Is pfiao dgerig e!”, I state.

That is Irish (*not correct Gaeilge spelling), that translates to, “that is a red pen”, and that is just the tip of the iceberg of what I learned about a week ago at my first Language Hunters workshop with a focus on Irish in Aurora, Oregon. I birthed a baby Irish brain in my mind that weekend, and “is pfiao dgerig e” are some of it’s first words. How adorable!

Let’s fast forward to later that same laser beam, sunny day, shall we? It’s 3 o’ clock in the afternoon and I’m attempting to explain to a friend my recent language acquisition.

“Tell me something in Irish!”, he demands excitedly.

“Oh, yeah…..is……. uh.. is…..”, my mind is fumbling over various sounds and I can’t quite recall if any of them are particularly right.

I refrain. My mind is as murky as mud. I couldn’t think of a single thing that I had seemingly mastered over the course of the three day workshop. Nothing.

What’s up with that?!

Why can I fluently ask, “Is this my cup of tea?” in Irish while I’m putting on a pot of water at home, but not even get out, “What is that?” when someone wants to see what I know?

Well, here’s what I can gather. My baby Irish brain may appear to be like a human baby at first glance- cute, simple, accessible, and concrete. But, as I’m initially experiencing with Irish, this baby don’t wanna talk for just anybody. This baby is a little bit stubborn. My baby Irish brain has a mind of it’s own and I can only really get a grasp on it when it decides to “bubble up” according to it’s free will.

It may seem frustrating and a little bizarre, but isn’t that actually how learning works in real life? Outside of a classroom where a target language is regurgitated on demand, genuine learning tends to happen on it’s own time. Think about it this way- as a baby, nobody could get us to really, physically walk before we could do it with no assistance, on our own, right?

The picture is clearer now, but you still have to wonder- What’s up with that?!

Ah, the wonderful world of Language Hunting! I’ll be diving into the deep-end of language game play as I start my Internship. Join me for thoughts on the phenomena of accelerated learning, the craft of Language Hunting and their applications to life.

Until next time,