How I Am Learning Romanian


Yesterday I wrote about why I am learning Romanian. Now let me explain how I’m going about doing it.

First, I downloaded the Mondly Languages app and tried it out. I liked the Romanian course, so I paid the one-time fee of $9.99 for full, premium access. I have no regrets about it. There is a daily lesson as well as a complete course each for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. Sometimes, infrequently, the audio does not match the text entirely. Other than that it is serving me well, offering complete conjugation tables and word lists to those who want to do a bit extra. At some later date I’ll likely do a full review of the app, but not today.

Second, I bought a dictionary, a grammar, and a basic reader through Amazon. When I was a kid back in the 80s and 90s it would have been practically impossible for me to get my hands on texts like these, and even now you won’t find them stocked in any bookstore. At least, I haven’t found any in the greater NYC area. I highly recommend these:

Third, YouTube offers access to Romanian language content, including news reports, documentaries, and tourist videos. This gives me an opportunity to see the language used in context, and to take advantage of that context to piece together what is being said. 

Fourth, using the TuneIn and Spotify apps, I located contemporary Romanian music and started listening to it exclusively. There has been a lot of debate over whether passive listening can make any difference to language learning, and recently a couple of studies added weight to the ‘pro’ side of the argument. Since listening to Romanian music got me into checking out lyrics, I guess it might be helping. It certainly doesn’t hurt. 

Fifth, in addition to listening to  switched over to Romanian on the Bible App and found a version that offers audio. I know that the Bible is the last thing many people will be interested in, but it works for me because I’m so familiar with it. Listening during my commute I’m able to keep up with what’s going on generally in what I’m hearing.

Sixth, I’m buying books. There are Romanian books available via Amazon. Click here to go directly to a list. Other foreign language books can be found there as well, of course. Look to the left hand side of that latter page and you’ll see a full list of available languages.

After looking through Amazon and similar sites for a Bible in Romanian and only finding pricey options, I finally tried the LDS store online. Not only was I able to order a Romanian Bible for only $9, I also bought a copy of the Book of Mormon in Romanian ($3!). Standard shipping was only $3, so to me that looks like a pretty good deal. Multiple other languages are available for both books. By the way, I am definitely not Mormon! These texts are useful and interesting to me, though, given my background in theology and ministry.

Finally, a future goal of mine is to begin visiting Romania, starting with a couple of weeks in Bucharest where I can take some classes through Rolang School. After that I aim to begin visiting different parts of the country, and possibly also Moldova, in separate trips.

Of course I’ll always be updating on my progress through this blog.

Why I Am Learning Romanian


Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved languages. I checked various foreign language dictionaries out of the local library, got language learning tapes for Christmas, and even tried my hand a few times as constructing languages (before I knew that’s a hobby other people share). By college I had taken up learning Esperanto, aside from the Koine Greek that was part of my education for Christian ministry. While in college I began going on mission trips to Brazil, and a year after graduating I moved to Brazil and got married. By then my Portuguese was pretty good, as my two serious romantic relationships as an adult had been with Brazilian women who initially spoke no English. I’ve now been learning and speaking Portuguese for over 19 years. Now, I want to learn Romanian, and here’s why.

First, I learned Portuguese because I was going to do mission work in Brazil, and because I married a Brazilian. Now that I have no intention of even living in Brazil again, and since my marriage is ending, I want to start a new chapter of my life. Romanian is part of that…and no I do not have a Romanian girlfriend! Although that would be a welcome possibility, this is more about me trying something new.

Second, the backbone of Romanian is Latin, just as it is for French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Since I already know Portuguese very well, Romanian seems like far less a leap than other languages. It’s also the less-studied Romance Language, which makes it more appealing to me.

Third, I’ve long wanted to get to know Eastern Europe, and Romania is a gorgeous country to focus on. From totally modern cities to villages little changed since the Middle Ages, this country offers castles, farms, villages, and major metropolitan amenities. Pretty much every interest I have can be engaged in there.

Although I considered learning a conlang like Klingon or Dothraki, or even dusting off my Esperanto, learning a living, natural language with its own culture and country made more sense to me. Though I’m still at the beginner level, I’m progressing well and have no desire to try something else.

The UUA Must Act in Accordance With Its Principles Regarding The Boy Scouts

Cub Scouts, as part of Boy Scouts of America, welcomes boys of all theistic beliefs, and within the past few years has opened to doors to scout leaders and boys regardless of sexual orientation. There are, however, two groups that continue to terrify the scouting powers-that-be: transgender people and atheists. It is due to this ongoing discrimination that many Unitarian Universalists – myself included – objected to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Unitarian Universalist Association and Boy Scouts of America. 

Beginning in the 1990s, the UUA took a stand against the exclusionary practices of Boy Scouts of America. Unfortunately, it appears that while the religious group’s leadership values the well-being of LGB adults and youth enough to fight for them, the same cannot be said for transgender and non-theist people. 

While a number of non-theistic youth have been kicked out of scouting (a partial list is available here), the case above may be the first involving a transgender youth. For his complete story, read: 8-year-old transgender boy barred from Cub Scouts. Before I continue, I would like to say that I find tagging a prepubescent child as ‘transgender’ questionable. Gender identity and sexual orientation may begin to form at that tender age, but nothing is really settled until much later. 

The boy in this story could well be a ‘tomboy’ who will later feel more like a girl, regardless of current or future choice of clothing style and haircut. At the same time, I see no use in imposing gender restrictions at that age either. Even if this is actually a case of a tomboy, rather than a transgender boy, it seems unnecessary to restrict her from being part of the Cub Scouts and/or Boy Scouts until such time as gender identity can be solidified either way. If he says he feels like a boy, and consistently presents himself as a boy, then he should be treated as such. It’s when puberty arrives that I think this subject might best be revisited.

People tell me that acceptance depends on the local den or patrol. It seems that openly non-theistic youth and leaders are welcomed in some places, as long as they don’t make noise about it beyond where they live. It’s wink-wink, nudge-nudge inclusion, which to me stinks of second class acceptance. 

The Girl Scouts accept any girl who identifies as such, and neither religion (or lack thereof) nor sexual orientation bar anyone from participating. Girls are even allowed to modify the Oath so as to substitute something else for ‘God’ (’Good’ is an option I like). 

This leaves me with two questions:

  1. Why is Boy Scouts of America so much more conservative than Girl Scouts? 
  2. Why is the UUA apparently more accepting of this discrimination against transgender and non-theist people than it was about the exclusion based on sexual orientation?

Yes, I know that the FAQ pertaining to this subject on the UUA website has been updated and is now more nuanced than before. While I appreciate the effort to reach out to those of us appalled at UU leadership’s actions in this matter, it doesn’t really take any steps to solve the problem. Either UU leadership needs to speak up loudly to the Boy Scouts about this matter, or it needs to walk away. Anything less represents a failure of the UUA  act in accordance with its principles