Random Thoughts

I've been Geek!ed!

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You know when you’ve been Geek!ed! when listening to a podcast becomes workout music! It’s sad really I know. But it makes 30 minutes on the treadmill fly by! I’m a couple episodes behind right now, which isn’t a bad thing because I can listen to a Geek!ed! podcast both days I run.

This week I was listening to episode 0060 and as usual the Geek!ed! crew got me thinking. In the episode they discuss languages and what, if any, languages should be taught in school. Of course China came up in the conversation and whether or not we should be teaching our students Chinese with the rise of the Chinese economy.

I have found out that I can’t listen to them while lifting weights as I usually end up laughing, loose my concentration and…well…that’s not good. But I often find myself putting together a post in my head while listening to their podcasts and usually by the time I walk the 15 or 20 minutes home I’ve forgotten what it is I wanted to write about. So this week I tried something new. On my walk home I pulled out my iPod, plugged in my Belkin TuneTalk Stereo and lapel mic and recording my thoughts as a podcast.

I’ve been wanting to podcast for some time, but finding time to actually do it is the problem. So by using the 15-20 minutes it takes to walk home and making that into a podcast could potentially be powerful for me on a couple of levels. One, I get to podcast more and two another motivator to workout knowing I can podcast my walk home.

So below is my first podcast, it is pretty raw and I am walking down the streets of Shanghai, so you will hear Chinese being spoken in the background, a bus going by every once in awhile, and the constant honking that even 31 floors above the city makes its way into our ears.

Let me know what you think. Is the background noise too distracting? Is it not ‘professional’ enough? Your feedback is welcome.


Geek!ed! episode 0060

Other thoughts on this Language subject:

In Harrisburg Thinking about Languages (David Warlick)
make sure to read the comments

[tags]languages, flatworld[/tags]

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I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. コールズ マシュー Reply

    Well, I am sure glad I checked your blog this evening, (morning your time). You’ll have to pardon me, as I am still downloading the podcast while typing.
    What I’ve heard is great, I think that if you want something professional, you go to a studio and do it… But if you want: fast paced, off the cuff, this is where it happens Shanghai China, then you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    My favorite part is being able to tell how fast you walk by listening to the crosswalk chimes!

    I’m just now getting to your comments on language in the American Schools. As a point of debate; is it more significant that English is spoken in China… or that Chinese are learning English. (a fine distinction I know… bear with me) I think it is more significant that they are learning English. It shows a more adaptable and aggressive work ethic than seen here in the States. More of a ‘We’re bringing it to you’ attitude that the American, ‘come to us’ philosophy.

    Honestly I think Spanish is the last language that we should be learning in our public schools, regardless of our demographics. Global Economy speaking, Central and South America are not forcast to be major players in any near future.

    My novice opinion is that educators in America should be preparing students for the inevitable interaction on a business level with the Chinese. Especially those enroute to a business environment.

    At any rate time for bed!

    hey, and great talkin with you.


  2. “I have found out that I can’t listen to them while lifting weights as I usually end up laughing, loose my concentration and…well…that’s not good.”

    I just about fell out of my chair laughing.

    I love your podcast, Jeff. It’s real. Fidelity is very important to a lot of podcasters, but, but the one thing I’ll always remember from the art classes I took in college was to be true to your medium. If you’re in China and that is at least part of the context of your podcast, then you should be true to that context. The sounds in the background are fabulous.

    Hey! Looking forward to seeing you again in Atlanta.

    — dave —

  3. Jeff, I wouldn’t call myself an educator or a practitioner in the education industry. But we all do educate or inform people at some level.

    Firstly if someone just wants to learn a language for the sake of learning a language… and is completely comfortable with that, well then, that’s just fine. For others maybe, they feel it makes them more productive. And for others, it’s just knowing that there is another culture out there and that learning the language helps them explore that culture further.

    Of course in the case of learning about another culture (and even learning it ‘pretty deep’) you really don’t need to learn the language. Maybe stringing a few words together to make a sentence would suffice, as it only adds a different flavor to the whole learning experience. It doesn’t make one who’s learned more of a language, any better than one who’s learned less of that same language. Knowledge without the economic burden on it, is just plain knowledge for us to learn, experience and share. Nothing more. Unfortunately, it is economics that dictates to us whether we should absorb what we learn faster than the other, so that we can perform better.

    Faster, better… are all just words of people who wish to measure you against something that doesn’t really exist – economics. And ironically, economics itself is a field of study on its own.

    Secondly, I respect the view of the first person (M.C.) who posted the comments above, but I disagree with the comment about Spanish is the last language we should be learning in our public schools.

    Though MC’s rationale seems justifiable, I would like to put a different spin to it. South America and the millions of other Spanish-speaking people all over the world, will be doing big business with the Chinese from China in the next 2 decades. And since millions upon millions of them still do not necessarily understand English well, they might just choose to learn Chinese first before learning English. Why? Because it makes economic sense. Jeff though you demonstrated (and a very good demonstration I might add) that you were more than able to conduct a business transaction without being able to converse in Mandarin, I think most people will agree that your conversation could have been a whole lot faster.

    Sure the socks can wait. There were no socks being held up in the waiting room of an ER. No Funky Sock was gonna die of heart failure. It wasn’t time critical. But when you put the China-South America business scenario and the tens millions of business transactions that are going to take place over the next couple of years, expedience may be necessary. Now, if Spanish is going to be taught as a core subject in the US… then that’s great! Why? Because you guys in the US are neighbors and you probably understand their culture a little better (due to migration and other ‘cultural exchanges’ **grin**) and therefore will fare better when you do tri-party business deals of any kind (e.g. Brazil-China-USA) 🙂

    So… to learn a language for communicationg? Hmmm… maybe.

    For economics? Hmmm… not necessary, but it would help on rare occasion.

    For indulging in the culture? Hmmm… if you think it’s necessary.

    Just for the sake of learning a language? Hmmm… if you have time.

    Oh, one more thing. Your podcast? It was fine. Do more. And I might join you 🙂

    Just some thoughts… in a rush. I hope I made some sense,
    Christopher Gomez

  4. Jeff,

    I am downloading your podcast. I usually end up listening to Geek!ed while grocery shopping and chuckle often myself. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and associating a sound to the text.

  5. Jeff,

    Now that I have listened to this, I find myself asking several questions. Most of them revolve around the question which we are to answer as part of our school’s strategic plan subcommittee, Globalizaton. We are trying to define the scope of “Global Responsibility” by answering the following questions:

    1) A student who is globally responsible can
    2) A student who is globally responsible has had what experiences
    3) For a school to address global responsibility the faculty and staff must:

    One of our discussion centers around the learning of a second language. Your reflections are thought provoking, especially since you are giving a perspective that many of us have not experienced.

    And anyone who has baseball related bumpers, well that is icing on the cake.

    Great job. I can’t wait to here more.

  6. コールズ マシュー Reply

    Nee-How Mr. U-tech.

    “Though MC’s rationale seems justifiable, I would like to put a different spin to it. South America and the millions of other Spanish-speaking people all over the world, will be doing big business with the Chinese from China in the next 2 decades….”
    -Christopher Gomez

    Hey look at that! I posted something and someone noticed!!! And I like his thinking too. (not that my opinion matters)

    Take Care.


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