Sabbatical side projects: more from Dr. Warley

cuneiform_tabletUWaterloo English’s Linda Warley has been blogging about her half-sabbatical, which she is spending in Vienna. For an example of how professors want to accomplish just about everything possible on their sabbaticals, read on, as Linda has once again kindly allowed me to re-post from her blog.

Research and writing is only part of what Lady English professor wants to accomplish on her sabbatical. I also want to learn Spanish. I have tried several times before to learn this lovely language: I have taken continuing education courses and even hired a private tutor. I have travelled to countries where Spanish is the lingua franca and I have tried to increase my knowledge of it through (albeit brief) immersion. But truth be told, I still only have menu and basic tourist Spanish (Donde esta el bano por favor?). So I bought the Rosetta Stone program and have committed to doing lessons throughout the time we are here in Europe. Incidentally, Arlequino is embarking upon the equivalent program in German, so hopefully by the end of our sabbaticals we’ll both be more multi-lingual.

I suppose my language colleagues will be disappointed in me. Rosetta Stone? The software for business people and diplomats? The disembodied voice of recording and static pictures of people doing things? Language learning is best undertaken in classrooms, with other people and with the teacher as guide and mentor, and with contextual knowledge and lots of practice. I agree. But here we have another resource and right now that’s what I’m using. In an apartment in Vienna. On my own.

Rosetta Stone’s approach is about forming sentences straight away. No rote learning, no repeated verbs conjugations, no lists of numbers or days of the week. Their approach is to get you to describe what is going on in the picture. It’s a challenge!

One of the great things about sabbatical is the space in my head and the time in my day to embrace new learning. I feel lucky.

You can read more at Dr. Warley’s blog,


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