Monday, December 7, 2015


ON Friday, Nov 4, at 2pm, I went down the overhead bridge at 4-Mile, having alighted from the PMV bus I had travelled there from Hohola.
Just as I walked past the Ori Lavi building complex, I saw a group of boys, street vendors, showing off their phones, belts and other stuff, to passersby.
As I was about to head into the building to get to the other side and walk down to the bank, I noticed this small kid on my left, standing near the vehicles parked there.
He had a box full of blue Kilometrico biros, some stood on the edges of the box to make them more eye-catching, I guess.
He was busy looking at his box and did not see me.
It was then I realized that I needed biros. The last one in my bag could run out if I were to sign on the bank’s documents.
“How much are those?” I asked in Tok Pisin, the creole used here in PNG.
“Fifty toea for one,” he said.
As I was digging into the trouser pocket on my right where I keep my coins, he said: “Fifty toea for one, one kina for two, please.”
The word “please” used indicated that he was in a way begging me to buy his pen.
He was trying his salesman skills on me.
Well, for this barefoot, 10-year-old, who was dressed in a short and yellow, dirty T-shirt, I knew I had to reward him for being a smart, industrious citizen of this country, even though he might be breaking labour laws selling stuff when he should be in school.
I switched my hand to the back pocket and checked for a K2 (two kina) note.
“Do you have a K1 there?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, and started digging into his trouser pocket.
“I will have two, please,” I said and handed him the K2 note.
He gave me two biros and then held up his right hand with some coins in it and started counting loudly: “20t, 40t, 60t …”
“Wait,” I said. “I will take 50t only.”
And I picked up two 20t coins and a 10t coin.
He looked at what I was doing and looked puzzled.
I think he was a bit late in working out what I was doing.
“You keep the 50t,” I said, as I turned away.
He still looked puzzled.                
“Thank you for the biros,” I said and walked away.
“Oh, thank you!” he said, more like a sharp call than a statement.
I think he worked out then that I was not shortchanging him by picking up 50t from him and not K1.
As I was thinking about the incident throughout the weekend, I was asking myself if that boy ever went to school.
If he did not, then he must have picked up his counting skills on the streets, selling stuff like the biros.
Well, I will have to ask him next time I see him.   
(Word count: 387)


Today as I was going over some of the language videos I have compiled on my phone, I thought about writing this to guide those people who are working on learning a foreign language.
(That phone I am using has no SIM card – it is solely used for watching or listening to video tutorials on different themes of interest e.g. languages and music.)

Here is a way that you go about making good use of videos on YouTube.
1. Work on just one language at a time
A time may mean three months, six months, or even a year.
This is important if you are taking on your first foreign language.
If you are interested in French and Spanish, work on French first for three-six months before giving that a rest and going on to Spanish.

2. Find a channel that you should exhaust before trying others
The many channels you have on YouTube offering different lessons can be confusing to you if you are jumping from one to the other.
It is the same way with using textbooks – try exhausting one first before getting to the other.
However, I must say too that if you are on Channel 1 and if you find that some concepts are better explained in Channel 2, then use those videos for those concepts in Channel 2 but still try to go through all the videos in Channel 1.
Here are suggested channels that you may start with for a few languages:
French: Learn French With Alexa (Polidoro)
Spanish: Butterfly Spanish (This is Mexican Spanish)
German: Easy German

3. Possible progress in topics
Here are possible topics that you will cover in each of those languages. They are common topics in most languages that you would like to learn:
Greeting words/phrases
Introducing yourself/others
The alphabet in that language
Counting in that language (numbers)
Main verbs (and their conjugation)
Main nouns and their gender
Present tense
Past Tense
Past Perfect Tense
Future Tense

4. How to work with videos
Watch one or two videos per week.
Mark out two hours on a particular day that you will go over the one/two videos (e.g. Friday or Saturday for working people).
Use an exercise book (or notebook) to note down all the words covered in the videos for the week.
Over the week, go over the video/videos once every day (if you can) – or once every other day – this should take 15 minutes or so.

5. Review and start another
In the next week, review work covered last week and take on another video and work on it in the same way – as described in 4.

6. Be consistent in effort
Most people never really master much before they are not consistent in their effort.
Be consistent with the two hours – and the additional hours every other day - to get the concepts to sink into your system.

7. You can visit other sites
Visit other websites and try to read stuff posted there in that language of your interest.
Alexa Polidoro, for one, has her website (Learn French With Alexa) where you can read other stuff as well as downloading other files, including audios.

8. Test yourself
After three months (or six months), try taking an online test in the language. Such tests are free and you will be graded as C1, C2, B1, B2, A1 and A2.
Those at the A level would have covered all the topics listed above (in 3).
If you are at C level, you are still at a the beginner‘s level.     

Like I said at the start, store files that you can download on your phone and while you are sitting and relaxing at home or in the office, review some of the lessons.
That is better than just going to a social network and talking about things that may not really help you, or your people. 

The most important exercise for a language student is to visit a country where that language you are studying is used.
In the Pacific we are privileged to have the three French territories of New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna and French Polynesia (Tahiti).
For Melanesians, you do not need a visa to visit New Caledonia. It is a Melanesian state.
Wallis and Futuna is one hour’s flight up from Suva, Fiji, so that too is not too far away.
French Polynesia is furthest from this side of the Pacific.
For a French student, it is worth visiting any of those states.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


THIS thought follows on from the last post on THERE IS A STORY IN YOU …

Have you seen that a 1.5 hour-long movie can have the story of an event that lasted in 2 hours, or 2 days, or 2 weeks or 2 decades?
But that depends on what the story is about: Is it about a bank robbery, or a boat tragedy? Or, is it about the story of a man who spent 20 years in jail for the death of another – and returning to a life that has moved on 20 years?
I think you have watched such movies – the ones that capture only a few hours, as well as those that capture events in 2 decades.

Well, in your creative work, your book, see how you will pace the events in it.
Are you going to write about something that happened in 2 days, 2 weeks or 2 decades?
That choice is yours to make.
Some of those 2 hour-long events that you were part of – or observed – could be the subject of a novel – or a script of a movie, if you take the time to think through it.
Other events – that occurred over a decade - may be better told in one book.
The example I gave in the earlier post of AB Facey was his one book that had events that took place in the 80 years of his life.
Possibly, if he had time, he could have divided the book into 2 parts, the first 40 and then the next 40.
I am aware of famous people who have done that too. 

Well, I hope these tips help you work on some book or story project.