Experience the Unexpected at a TEDx Talk


Today I had the wonderful experience of attending a TEDx event live at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.    The event consisted of a 20 TEDx talks given from people as diverse as Dr. Lillian Smestad talking about anti-matter research done at CERN to a fifth-grader named Kate Cesario who read her classmate’s poem about her experience about coming from war-torn Iraq to the United States which she called the “Everything Country.”

My favorite talks included:

  • John Katsoudas—talked about how Nano Liquid Batteries can be the breakthrough that are needed to jump-start the market for purely electric vehicles
  • Haydn Shaw—talked about millennials are not a problematic group to deal with if you realize they are just going through a problematic period called emerging adulthood, like every other generation has done before it
  • Garrett Gray—on how to suppress the instinct which terms healthy competition into unhealthy competition
  • Carl Seidman—on how his first “retirement” at 32 taught him that all of us will need to reinvert our career and our lives at least once in our lives, so we might as well do it voluntarily rather than being forced to do so.
  • Ellen Schnur/Jim Mecir—talked about how the powers of improvisation can help you not only be more spontaneous, but can help you stop negative “self-talk” which can sabotage your efforts

The organizer, Amy Lee Segami, spent six months putting on the event with her team of IIT student volunteers.   I am still on an intellectual high after listening to an entire day’s worth of information and entertainment.   It is now my goal to BE on a TEDx talk next time around in 2017 …

Global Risk Report 2016–Global Economic Slowdown


1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends
  • the risks that have gone changed the most since the last Global Risk Report
  • The Paris Agreement as a risk response to the failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation
  • The risk responses to  Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration

The Global Risk Report focused in detail about the greatest risks the world now faces in the category of environmental risks (failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation) and geopolitical/societal risks (large-scale involuntary immigration).   In this post, I will discuss the next category of risks that are of highest concern to those respondents of the Global Risk Perception Survey:   economic risks.

The economic risks which are of highest concern are:

  • Fiscal crises in key economies
  • Deflation of asset bubbles
  • Structural unemployment and underemployment
  • Global systematic financial crisis (similar to the one that occurred in 2008)

What is the central theme of these concerns?    The build-up of corporate and public debt in emerging countries, where corporate debt has risen by 26 percentage points in the last decade.

The Economist Intelligence Unit says that they rate the economic slowdown in China has a high likelihood (4 out of a 5-point scale) and a very high potential impact (5 out of a 5-point scale), for a total risk rating of 20 out of 25, the highest of any of the 10 risks they are following as of April 2016.

Capital is flowing out of the country, which has highlighted structural weaknesses in the country and has resulted in a depreciation in the Chinese renminbi currency’s exchange rate against the US dollar.   If the slowdown turns into a hard landing with a recession, this will have the following global effects:

  • depressing of global commodity prices, leading to …
  • huge detrimental impact on Latin American, Middle Eastern and Sub-Saharan African states that had benefited from the previous Chinese-driven boom in commodity prices
  • severe effects on the Eu and US because of growing dependence of Western manufacturers and retailers on demand in China.

The crisis in emerging economies could spark volatility in global markets, which could lead to a global systematic financial crisis that would not be a repeat of what happened in 2008, but worse because the largest banks now have more concentration of financial capital, not less than, they did in the last crisis.

It is not just the impact of the crisis itself, but WHEN it occurs, which is important to watch.    One of the other risks that the Economist Intelligence Unit foresees is the impact of a financial crisis if it occurs before the November 2016 US Presidential Elections.   Under conditions, they predict that Hillary Clinton would beat Donald Trump in the presidential election, but under severe stress such as a terrorist attack or a financial crisis, the election of Donald Trump as president could become a reality.

 

 

Global Risk Report 2016–Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration (2)


In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends
  • the risks that have gone changed the most since the last Global Risk Report
  • The Paris Agreement as a response to the failure of global climate mitigation and adaptation
  • Risk responses to Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration

Today I want to focus in on a refugee problem that does not get sufficient attention.   The third largest hotspots of involuntary immigration are Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.   However, there is a refugee crisis that is mounting in Southeast Asia, namely, the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who are fleeing to the host country of Malaysia, with many choosing to go to final destination countries such as the United States.

This crisis is described in Box.1.3 in Part I of the Global Risk Report 2016.   It describes the Rohingya as stateless, but avoids the back story as to WHY they are stateless.   The government in Myanmar refuses to recognize their citizenship claiming that they are immigrants from Bangladesh, which is an historical fiction that the government tries to reinforce by forcing Rohingya to sign papers that list their ethnicity as “Bengali” in order for them to get any aid from the Myanmar government.

As if that were not bad enough, the Myanmar government has tried to ratchet up tensions between the Rohingya and the Rakkhine peoples based on religious and ethnic differences, which has led to violence against the former by the latter.   The Rohingya are a Muslim minority in a country whose majority are Buddhist.   To escape this attempt at ethnic cleansing, over 25,000 people departed from the Bay of Bengal in 2015 alone, with over 50,000 of them ending up in Malaysia.

This is problematic for two reasons:   1) Malaysia has not ratified key intergovernmental agreements regarding the treatment of refugees, 2) Malaysia does not have the legal or administrative framework for responding to refugees.

But the rest of the article focuses on the positive:   Rohingya refugees have begun to develop their own refugee-run community organizations, both in Malaysia and in destination countries like the United States.    For example, where I live in Chicago, IL, there is a Rohingya Culture Center opening up this Saturday, April 9th, open to all Rohinya refugees who are seeking advice and assistance on how to adapt to live in their new adopted countries.

Those who have come from Malaysia just a few years back and have assimilated enough that they have jobs and are sending their children to school are now helping those who have just arrived.   The first set of skills that newcomers need are language skills, and this is a big emphasis at the culture center, as well as practical advice on how to get and keep a job and what cultural expectations are for those in the workplace.

For those who are concerned about the assimilation of Muslim immigrants, there is a success story in the immigrants from Bosnia who settled in the St. Louis, MO area during the Clinton administration because of the ethnic cleansing going on in Serbia.   They have thrived, built their own community, and in doing so, have renovated many areas of the city of St. Louis which were on the decline.   This proves that giving enough support to the refugees so that they can help each other not only helps them thrive, but helps the neighborhoods thrive in which they are the newest residents.

 

Global Risk Report–Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration (1)


1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends
  • the risks that have gone changed the most since the last Global Risk Report
  • The Paris Agreement as a response to the ailure of global climate mitigation and adaptation
  • The risks Large-Scale Involuntary Immigration

The next topic I want to discuss is another of the highest risks of concern, namely Large-Scale Involuntary Migration.    It is of highest concern because it is seen as the global risk that is most likely to occur during the next 18 months according to the respondents of the Global Risk Perception Survey.    But of even greater significance is that this risk is tied to risks which are to continue to be likely to occur in the longer term over the next 10 years, mainly interstate conflict and state collapse as far as geopolitical risks are concerned, and as far as environmental risks go, water crises linked to climate change.    The number of people who are refugees in 2014 were 59.5 million, compared to 40 million displaced at the time of World War II.    More than half of these refugees are escaping three countries:  Syria, Afghanistan, and Somalia.   They are mostly going to Europe, which is why the risk of large-scale involuntary migration is listed as having the highest likelihood in that region.

Here are three factors which exacerbate this risk of large-scale involuntary migration.

  1. People stay in host countries longer–the average duration of displacement was 9 years in the 1980s and has risen to 20 years in the mid-2000s
  2. Global humanitarian assistance infrastructure is not able to effectively response to today’s extent of involuntary migration.
  3. Most migrants move to other developing countries, which are even less equipped to handle them than developed countries.

All of these increase risks in the host and the destination countries.

What are some risk responses to these challenges?

Local business communities need to get involved in:

  • Creating work permits and increasing access to jobs
  • Supplying skills training, most of important of which are skills in communicating in the language of the host and/or destination country
  • Giving access to schools and public health services
  • Helping refugees transition into self-service

These sound like great goals, but the problem is even developed countries are facing an economy of slow growth that provides fewer resources for its own citizens, let alone people from other countries who are seeking to live there.

The next post will go into an overlooked source of risk of involuntary migration, namely the refugees from Myanmar who are relocating to Malaysia on their way to various destinations including the United States.

 

 

 

 

Global Risk Report 2016 & The Paris Agreement


1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends
  • the risks that have gone changed the most since the last Global Risk Report

The next topic I want to discuss is that of a risk response.   In traditional project management, the next process after Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis is to perfect Quantitative Risk Analysis.    The measurement of probabiliy goes from being on a 1 to 7 scale to being on a scale from 0 to 100%.

However, the biggest change comes in the measurement of impact, which goes from a subjective scale from 1 to 7 to an estimate of the damage in terms of actual dollars.   The group within the World Economic Forum that puts out the Global Risk Report each year decided that estimating a risk on what is, after all, a global scale, was just too difficult.

So the risk report goes on to focus on what practical measures can be taken to either mitigate the probability and/or impact of a risk; this is called a risk response.   A good example of such a global risk response is with regards to the risk that had the highest estimated potential impact and the third-highest likelihood of occurring within the 10 years, namely, the failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report came out in November 24 reaffirmed that the phenomenon of climate change is unequivocal, with the world being on average already 1 degree Celsius warmer than it was in the 1950s.   Human influence, according to the report, is “extremely likely” to be the dominant cause.

Not only is the risk of the failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation one of the risks of highest concern in and of itself, but it is the root cause of other risks, such as the water crises in the Middle East & North Africa as well as in South Asia, or extreme weather events in North America, South America, South Asia and East Asia & the Pacific (see Regional Risks post for more detailed information).

If climate-change risks are not mitigated, the results would be catastrophic.   An attempt to limit the warming to 2.7 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 was discussed at the Paris Climate Conference in December 2015, culminating in the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December.

The Paris Agreement

195 countries signed the Paris Agreement, including the United States.   As of the publication of the Global Risk Report,  190 of these countries had submitted climate action plans, which cover up to 95% of total global emissions.

Here are some of the elements including in such plans.

  • Increasing investments in renewables, such as solar (price of solar panels is down 75% since 2009), electricity (price of batteries for electric vehicles is down 50% since 2009), and wind (at grid parity now in 50 countries)
  • Policy frameworks that include incentives to reduce carbon emissions
  • Consolidation and scaling of public-private cooperative ventures to reduce carbon emissions

Creating incentives to reduce carbon emissions will help forward-looking businesses and governments  to capitalize on business opportunities that stem from innovation and implementation of solutions.

Adaptation

The Paris Agreement covers mitigation of the probability of climate change.   What about the mitigation of it impact?   This is a harder problem to address, which a lot of adaptation depends on a prediction of the pace of global warming.    The problem faced now is that there are several positive feedback loops that may create sudden increases in the rate of global warming.    One mentioned in the Global Risk Report 2016 is the Arctic feedback loop.

Step 1.   Increasing air temperatures melt ice

Step 2.   Melting ice causes more of the Arctic Ocean surface to be exposed

Step 3    Arctic ocean surface does not reflect sunlight as well as the ice does, which draws more heat into the ocean

Step 4   Increased ocean temperatures melt ice and cause increasing air temperatures

… which takes us back to Step 1.

One not mentioned in the Global Risk Report is the affect of melting ice on the surface of Greenland.   This is ice that is melting fresh water which flows into the Atlantic ocean salt water right where the Gulf Stream passes through on its way to warm Northern Europe.    If the increasing amount of fresh water that passes into the Gulf Stream disrupts that salt water current, then you could see temperatures in Northern Europe equivalent to those at the same latitude west of the Atlantic in Canada.

Failure to mitigate and adapt to global climate change could cause large-scale demographic responses through migration.    Look at what’s already happening based on the large-scale involuntary migration from the Middle East.    What if this were to happen not just in the Middle East, but across the globe?    That is why efforts on a risk response such as the Paris Agreement are important, albeit expensive to implement, because those costs however high pale in comparison to the costs of NOT implementing them.

This topic of large-scale involuntary migration is the next topic covered in the report, which I will cover in the next post.

 

 

 

Global Risk Report 2016: Medium- and Long-Term Risks


1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends
  • the risks that have gone changed the most since the last Global Risk Report

The next topic I went to get to are those risks which are the top 5 global risk of highest concern in the medium-term (18 months)  in the long-term (10 years).

2.   Top 5 Global Risks of Highest Concern–Medium-term vs. Long-term

Based on the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey, here are the five global risks whom the highest percentage of respondents listed as being of the highest concern:

# Medium-Term (18 months) Long-Term (10 years)
1.  Large-scale involuntary migration: 52.0% (SOCIETAL) Water crises:  39.8% (SOCIETAL)
2. State collapse or crisis :  27.9%(GEOPOLITICAL) Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation:  36.7% (ENVIRONMENTAL)
3. Interstate conflict:  26.3% (GEOPOLITICAL) Extreme weather events:  26.5% (ENVIRONMENTAL)
4. Unemployment or underemployment:  26.0% (ECONOMIC) Food crises:  25.2%  (SOCIETAL)
5. Failure of national governance:  25.2% (GEOPOLITICAL) Profound social instability:  25.3%  (SOCIETAL)

Here are some things to notice about these risks.

Many of the risks in the medium-term were close in terms of the percentage of respondents who felt they were of the highest concern, but one stands out:  large-scale involuntary was felt by the majority of respondents as being of highest concern in the medium-term of the next 18 months.

Although geopolitical risks were the predominant concern over the next 18 months, the environmental risks and the societal risks they engender were felt by most respondents to be the global risks of highest concern over the longer term

For that reason, the next post will cover what the Global Risk Report has to say about the Paris Agreement, which can be considered as a risk response to the long-term  environmental risk mentioned above, especially Risk #2, Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.

 

 

 

 

Global Risk Report 2016–The Changing Risk Landscape


1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)
  • the identification of regional risk trends

The next topic I went to get to in the report is related to ecology of risks in time, meaning those risks which have changed the most in terms of impact and/or likelihood since the last Global Risk Report in 2015.

2.   10 Most Changing Global Risks

The likelihood and impact of 29 risks were rated on a 1 to 7 scale based on the Global Risks Perception Survey done in the Fall of 2015.

Based on Figure 1.1 of the Global Risk Report 2016, those 10 risks that had the largest change in likelihood and/or impact from 2015 to 2016 were as follows:

# Risk Change in Likelihood Change in Impact
1. Large-scale voluntary migration (Societal)  5.1 5.7 (+.6)  4.6 5.2 (+.6)
2. Profound social instability (Societal)  4.9 → 5.1 (+.2)  4.8 → 5.0 (+.2)
3. Deflation (Econ) 4.3 → 4.5 (+.2) 4.3 → 4.5 (+.2)
4. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation (Environmental) 5.3 → 5.4 (+.1) 5.1 → 5.3 (+.2)
5. Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse (Environmental) 4.6 → 4.7 (+.1) 5.0  → 5.1 (+.1)
6. Energy price shock (Econ) 4.5 → 4.7 (+.2)  5.1 → 5.1 (+0)
7. Spread of infectious diseases (Societal) 4.4 ← 4.1 (-.4) 5.2 ← 5.0 (-.2)
8. Interstate conflict (Geopolitical) 5.6 ← 5.4 (-.2)  5.1 ← 4.9 (-.1)
9. Critical information structure breakdown (Technological)  4.2 ← 4.2 (-0)  5.1 ← 4.8 (-.3)
10. State collapse or crisis (Geopolitical) 5.3 ← 5.1 (-.2) 4.4 ← 4.4 (=0)

Here are some things to notice about these risks.

The largest movement of risks are the societal risks of Large-Scale Involuntary Migration and Profound Social Instability, and these also happen to be linked together.

The environmental risks that are rising, but not rising as dramatically as the societal risks, are those of Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation and Biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse, which are also linked together.

Four of the 10 risks are decreasing in either likelihood, impact, or both.   Concerns about conflicts between states does not seem to be as much on the radar as conflicts within countries.

The next post will cover those risks which concern the respondents of the Global Risk Perceptions Survey the most over the medium term (18 months) versus those thar of more of concern over the long-term (10 years).

 

 

 

 

Global Risk Report 2016–Regional Risks


1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process of Project Management)j

After discussing the highest probability risks, those of highest potential impact, and those with the highest risk rating (combined score based on probability times impact) on a GLOBAL scale, the next topic I went to get to in the report is something which seems new for the Risk Report 2016, namely, going to a more granular analysis of the top three most likely risks on a REGIONAL basis.

2.   3 HIGHEST PROBABILITY RISKS FOR EACH REGION

The respondents were asked to assess each of the 29 risks (these risks are listed on the post dated 3/29/2016) based on the probability of occurrence on a scale from 1 to 7, with a “1” meaning that the risk is not likely to happen, and a “7” meaning that the risk is very like to occur.

Those 3 risks that rated as having the highest probability of occurrence for each particular region were as follows:

Region Risk #1 Risk #2 Risk #3
North

America

Cyber attacks (Tech) Extreme weather events (Environmental) Data theft or fraud (Tech)
Latin America Failure of national governance (Geopolitical) Unemployment or underemployment (Econ) Fiscal crisis (Econ)
Europe Large-scale involuntary migration (Soc) Unemployment or underemployment (Econ) Profound social instability (Societal)
Middle East and North Africa Water crises (Soc) Unemployment or underemployment (Econ) Profound social instability (Societal)

Failure of national governance (Geopolitical)

Sub-Saharan Africa Failure of national governance (Geopolitical) Unemployment or underemployment (Econ) Failure of critical infrastructure (Econ)
Central Asia (including Russia) Energy price shock (Econ) Interstate conflict (Geopolitical) Failure of national governance (Geopolitical)
South Asia Water crises (societal) Unemployment or underemployment (Econ) Extreme weather events (Environmental)
East Asia and the Pacific Natural catastrophes (Environmental) Extreme weather events (Environmental) Failure of national governance (Geopolitical)

Here are some things to notice about these risks.

The top risk is different based on the region:   North America faces technological risk, East Asia faces environmental risk, both Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa face geopolitical risk, Europe as well as the Middle East and South Asia face societal risks,  whereas Central Asia is facing economic risk.

However, the second highest risk is economic in nature for most of the regions of the world, except in North America and East Asia which face environmental risks, and Central Asia which races economic risk.

The third highest risk for most regions of the world is either societal or geopolitical in nature.

The next post covers the ecology of risks in time, meaning those risks which have changed the most in terms of impact and/or likelihood in the past few Global Risk Reports.

 

 

Global Risk Report 2016–The Ecology of Risks


 

1.  INTRODUCTION

In my previous posts on the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2016, I have concentrated on

  • the methodology of the report (corresponding to the Plan Risk Management process of Project Management),
  • the identification of risks (corresponding to the Identify Risks process of Project Management)
  • the qualitative analysis of risks (corresponding to the Perform Qualitative Analysis process of Project Management)

Although I have discussed in the last posts on the qualitative analysis of risks those individual global risks which are considered to have the highest probability and/or potential impact, this post goes to Figure 2 of the Global Risk Report, the “Global Risks Interconnections Map 2016.”   In order to visually appreciate this map you need to download the actual report at

Click to access WEF_GRR16.pdf

However, I would like to discuss those global risks which are considered to be the 10 most interconnected with other global risks.

Global Risk Category
1. Profound social instability Societal
2. Large-scale social instability Societal
3. Failure of climate-change mitigation or adaptation Environmental
4. State collapse or crisis Geopolitical
5. Interstate conflict Geopolitical
6 Fiscal crises Economic
7. Extreme weather events Environmental
8. Water crises Societal
9. Food crises Societal
10. Cyberattacks Technological

Here are some things to notice about these risks.

a.  The risks that made the list of “most interconnected” were societal risks.   If you look at the risk map in Figure 2, they are the ones that are in the center of the map, and have the most links leading to it.

b.  One way to look at the interconnected issue is to notice that the Syrian refugee crisis was preceded by a water crisis in turn exacerbated by the extreme heat and drought brought about by the initial stages of global warming, resulting in the internal migration from the desert to the cities.   The crackdown of the Syrian government against rebellion take an even larger toll on Syrian society, which caused large-scale involuntary migration from those rebel areas that were being targeted militarily by the government.  In turn, this started to have an effect on neighboring countries which drew in both Russia and the United States.

The interconnectedness of these risks is part of their difficulty, but also integral to the opportunities that are presented if they can be mitigated.  Their interconnected precludes simple solutions such as dropping bombs on rebel-held areas.   But if the crisis can be mitigated through multilateral diplomatic efforts, a lot of problems can be effectively solved at one .and the same time.

The cascading effect of one risk effecting a network of others can be seen as a danger or an opportunity.

The next post discusses how global risks are perceived differently, depending on the region of the world you happen to live in.

 

 

 

Multilingual Learning Plan–April 2016


In March, I went to a local bookstore and got Benny Lewis’ book Fluent in 3 Months.   One of his first recommendations for learning multiple languages at the same time is to make concrete goals for each of the languages you intend to focus on.

So I wrote down a multilingual learning plan for the month of March 2016.    The purpose of today’s post is to review the plan, and improve upon it in drawing up a plan for the month of April.

  1. Multilingual language goals–Long-term

I am fluent in five foreign languages if you measure that fluency in terms of B1 level or higher on the Common European Language Framework.

So for those languages, I have put my goal to become one level higher by 2017.

For the languages I have been studying but which I have not achieved fluency, I am also putting my goal to become one level higher by 2017.

For those languages I have not studied before, but which I want to study in 2016, I’m putting the target as BEGINNER (A1).

Level Goal Language
C2–Mastery
C1–Advanced Japanese, French
B2—Upper Intermediate Chinese, German, Spanish
B1–Intermediate Italian, Portuguese
A2–Elementary Arabic
A1–Beginner Korean, Dutch, Hindi, Irish, Vietnamese

Although I put all languages on my level goal list, certain languages have higher priority level, which translates into studying frequency.   Also, although my ultimate goal is to speak with native speakers, my intermediate goal  is to use textbooks in order to prepare for proficiency tests.

2.  Multilingual goals–method, priority level

Language Goal (Test/Textbook) Priority
Japanese JLPT N2, Tobira High
French DALF C1/C2 Medium
Chinese HSK 4, eChineseLearning (online lessons) High
German ZDfB (B2) Medium
Spanish DELE B2 Medium
Italian Italian Now Medium
Portuguese Portugues Actual Medium
Arabic Mastering Arabic, Rosetta Stone 3 Low
Korean Integrated Korean Beginning 1 Low
Dutch Living Language Beginner Low
Hindi Beginning Hindi, Rosetta Stone 1 Low
Irish Living Language Essential Low
Vietnamese Elementary Vietnamese Low

3.   Multilingual goals–March 2016

Here were my goals for March 2016.

Language Goal (Test/Textbook)
Japanese–DONE! Kanji review level 10 (grade school level 1)
French–DONE! Duolingo (complete entire skill tree)
Chinese–DONE! 2x/week Skype lesson with eChineseLearning, HSK 4 listening comprehension test #1 prep
German–DONE! Duolingo (skill tree level 4)
Spanish–DONE! Duolingo (complete entire skill tree)
Italian Duolingo (complete skill tree level 3)
Portuguese Duolingo (complete skill tree level 3)
Arabic–DONE! Mastering Arabic ch. 1
Korean Integrated Korean Beginning 1 (reading Hangul)
Dutch Living Language Beginner (pronunciation guide)
Hindi Beginning Hindi (reading Hindi script)
Irish Living Language Essential ch. 1
Vietnamese Elementary Vietnamese Pronunciation Guide

Based on what I actually accomplished in March (whichever goals are listed as DONE), here’s how I will improve my plan for April.

a.  High-priority languages–having the Chinese lessons twice a week already gives me enough practice for Chinese; for Japanese, I found that the first step of the  review I can do for the JLPT N2 level exam is to review the Kanji and vocabulary for levels N5, N4, and N3.  In turn, the way to do this is to go through the elementary school Kanji grades 1 through 6, which means in terms of the Kanji Kentei (the Japanese Kanji Proficiency test aimed at native Japanese) to review levels 10 through 5.   This month I reviewed level 10 (grade school 1) by going all of the readings in a workbook and putting them on flash cards.  I’m practicing listening skills by watching the NHK historical drama Ryomaden on Drama Fever.

b.  Medium-priority languages–I finished the skill trees for Spanish and French on Duolingo.   Now I’m starting the 5th level of the German skill tree.   It works well to concentrate on completing one skill tree at a time while periodically reviewing the ones I’ve already completed.    So I’ll work on completing the German skill tree in April for example, followed by Italian in May, and Portuguese in June.

c. Low-priority languages–I was WAY too ambitious by listing all of the languages.   I started Arabic using a great textbook Mastering Arabic Vol. 1.  I found that is way better than the one I had been using before.    I will pick ONE language, Korean, to finish doing the preparation work for studying by going through the chapter on pronunciation and writing.

d. Metalanguage–I found that Benny Lewis’ book Fluent in 3 Months was a great motivator for my language studies.  I’ve decided to get an online subscription to his Fluent in 3 Months website in order to go into more depth the principles that were in his book.

4. Multilingual Goals for April 2016

Here were my goals for the next month..

Language Goal (Test/Textbook)
Japanese Kanji Kentei review level 9
French Start review of Foreign Service Institute French course level 1, units 1 and 2
Chinese 2x/week Skype lesson with eChineseLearning, HSK 4 listening comprehension test #2 prep
German Duolingo (complete entire skill tree)
Spanish Start review of Foreign Service Institute Spanish course level 1, units 1 and 2
Italian NONE
Portuguese NONE
Arabic Mastering Arabic ch. 2, 3
Korean Integrated Korean Beginning 1 (reading Hangul)
Dutch NONE
Hindi NONE
Irish NONE
Vietnamese NONE

Those languages which are in bold are high priority, those that are in regular font are medium priority, and those which are in italics are low priority.

Let’s see what I accomplish in the month of April!