I have decided to do another immersion week, the fourth this year, and maybe stretch it to the end of the year and thus make it 2 weeks (80 hours …).
After my first three attempts, I came to 2 conclusions.
The first being that I really like the focus on one particular language for a definite amount of time. It helps to dive into the language, to fully immerse yourself and to actually up your level. That happened to me after my first challenge back in July with Spanish. I could only do this though because I have a lot of resources for Spanish and my level was already a very good B1 – almost B2. This meant that I could watch a lot of movies, listen to podcasts, really make use of my italki classes and thus get the most out of the challenge.
The second realisation however was that focusing on 1 language only was a bit ‘boring’. I am someone who needs variety (I moved 10 times in 10 years, I had 5 jobs in 7 years …). That keeps me focused and enthusiastic. During the Spanish challenge, my mind constantly wondered off, I kept thinking about ‘how would I say this in Italian’, for example. So I really needed to pull myself back to Spanish all the time.
That is why, for the challenge of this week (I am seriously thinking about making it 2 weeks, the complete Christmas holidays), I have decided not to focus on just 1 language, but to spend at least 40 hours divided over all of my languages. I like variation and this way, they will all get a bit of TLC – god knows they need it. I will also count the hours I translate professionally (which won’t be much this week), since they are my main French and English practice.
I clocked off at 55 hours 55 minutes, I swear I didn’t do it on purpose!
The things I have done
For French and English, I had no real plan, just spend some time with them. And I did. So check!
For German, I wanted to finish the novel I have been reading for about 4 months now. That didn’t work, but I did read quite a fair bit, so that’s good. I hadn’t done anything in German for quite some time, so this was an improvement.
Danish – well, for some reason I always seem to skip this language (although it is the language of my heart, I lived in Denmark for a while, many years ago, and the language holds a special place in my heart). This week I wanted to do anything, just as long as it was something. We started off in a bad place. Five days into the challenge and I hadn’t even read a single word yet. But then someone posted the message in a group for translators Danish, that there’s a new series on Netflix. I couldn’t find it, but I DID find 2 other series I hadn’t seen yet. I started watching and … well … watched the complete season of Norskov! So right at the end, I did get my portion of Danish after all.
Spanish is always my fall-back language whenever I don’t really feel like doing anything language-related but still want to do something language-related (does this make sense?). However, this week I was so wrapped up in all my other languages that I totally forgot. I really wanted to review the use of the subjuntivo, but didn’t get to it. I plan a series of lessons with my lovely italki teacher in January, to go over the use again.
Italian, same story as with Spanish, but here I did do a bit of Netflix and a bit of YouTube. For Italian as well, I plan a series of italki lessons to focus on the congiuntivo in January.
I have a great Afrikaans book that I really wanted to finish (but I didn’t …). I am really happy with the effort I have made for this language. It is so tricky, it sounds very similar to my native language, Flemish, and you think you know everything (because you understand without really any problem), but when you have to recall the words, you don’t remember them. For 2021, I would like to focus a bit more on remembering typical Afrikaans things.
One of my favourite languages is definitely Luxembourgish and I made a big effort here. I finally found a website where I can find authentic material to read and I am thoroughly going through my B1 book. There is sooo much vocabulary in there, which I love, but that also requires a lot of studying. Same problem here as with Afrikaans and Flemish, but with German. Luxembourgish and German are very similar and you might think you know all of it, but you don’t really.
Time for a big catch-up operation: Icelandic. I had put a lot of effort in Icelandic the past months, but then during my language learning burnout, I didn’t do a thing. I was afraid that all my efforts would have gone to waste, but thankfully that was not the case. Amazing how your brain can remember so many things! This week I reviewed Colloquial, Teach Yourself, Beginner’s Icelandic. I also wanted to review Islenska fyrir alla book 1, but that proved to be a bit much. Very happy though with what I have done this week! More of this next week, please!
Yiddish: I wanted to review the chapters in my concise grammar and ideally add a few, so I am happy to say I have reached chapter 13. Yiddish grammar is very similar to German (only logical, since they are related) and the vocabulary strangely enough has similarities with Afrikaans (which is probably also logical, since Afrikaans and German are related). I know some people don’t consider it a challenge focusing on all languages within a particular language family (like I am doing with Germanic languages), but I find it fascinating to see all these ties, all these connections! I also reviewed the first chapters in my Colloquial, so all in all a good week for Yiddish!
I am so happy to say that I finally picked up Bulgarian again (in probably over a year). I wanted to review everything (which was A LOT, a complete A2 course or 35 units / 7 chapters in Intensive Bulgarian / a few in Colloquial), needless to say that didn’t happen (I get a bit carried away sometimes, forgive me). The good thing is that I finished 6 chapters in Intensive Bulgarian and I feel like doing some more. I will definitely continue in my second week of this challenge.
A successful week 1. And YESSS it’s decided, I am adding another week, so from Sunday to Sunday I will try and put in another 40 plus hours of language learning and give myself a headstart for 2021.
For an detailed overview of what I did (and some motivation in case you need it), see below!
Saturday 19 Dec: 9 hours 35 min
Today was a gloomy day with a lot of rain, so there was not really anything else to do. A high number of hours because of the miniseries in English. And that’s okay, passive learning, nothing wrong with that. Put on your favourite show, get that soft blanket and get comfy. Don’t forget to turn on the subtitles in your TL for maximum practice!
Italian: reading a novel (Punizione divina, 45 min), reviewing grammar (mostly tenses, 1 hour)
English: reading online, writing a blog (30 min), watching a miniseries on Netflix (4 hours)
French: 1 episode of Secrets d’histoire (Napoleon, 1 hour)
German: reading (Männertaxi, 1 hour)
Yiddish: review grammar unit 1-8 (1 hour 20 min)
Sunday 20 Dec: 6 hours 30 min
Beautiful day today, with lots of sun, so I was outside the whole morning (and ‘lost’ a few hours that could be spent on languages).
My tip: start listening to audio as soon as you can, even on day 1. This will help you get accustomed to the rhythm, the sound of the language you are learning. It will give you a feel of how the language flows. You can also repeat what they say, even if you have no clue what you are saying. This will get your muscles accustomed to the different sounds. Later on, find audio that talks about things that interest you. That way you will learn vocabulary that is relevant to you and that you are likely to use. For some reason, that is cooking videos in Italian and bullet journaling in English, although I don’t do it myself.
English: YouTube (1 hour), writing my blogs, checking social media (30 min)
Yiddish: review/study grammar book lessons 9-13 (2 hours 30 min)
Afrikaans: reading (Oorlewingsgids van ‘n bedonnerde diva, 1 hour)
Luxembourgish: studying lesson 1 in Schwätzt Dir Lëtzebuergesch (1 hour 30 min)
Monday 21 Dec: 6 hours 30 min
My tip: start reading early on in the process of learning a new language. Take care not to start with books with too high a level, graded readers are good to begin with, but personally I switch to real content as soon as I can – frustrating in the beginning, I admit, but you learn a lot! I combine extensive and intensive reading (whatever I feel like doing). You can also check the local newssites online or find a blog that talks about your interests. Or maybe get a subscription to a magazine with content you like (I like history in French, so whenever I can, I buy a history magazine). Again, the vocabulary that you pick up this way, will be very useful to you and you will be more likely to practice and actually use what you learn – since it in your field of interest.
English: YouTube (45 min), translating (25 min)
French: translating (2 hours 25 min), YouTube (15 min)
Luxembourgish: italki and study (50 min), studying in my B1 book and reading a long text online (1 hour 20 min)
Spanish: YouTube (30 min)
Tuesday 22 Dec: 6 hours 55 min
My tip: book conversation classes very early on. It is so rewarding to be able to say even a 2-word sentence. It shows you that your efforts pay off, even if it doesn’t look like that. I prepare for each class by revising or studying one or more units in my textbook and then let the teacher know what I have done. He or she prepares a conversation topic with questions about the things I have studied. This way, I practice what I have just learned in a real-life situation. Anything my teacher adds, I write in the next chapter in my textbook so that when I am starting to study that unit, I automatically study the things we have talked about.
A good start of the day, very early morning (5.30 am) and all the work for the day done by 7.30. So many hours to fill with languages … But … of course I got distracted during the day and didn’t do as much as I had hoped to. But hey, some unexpected Christmas visit (at a respectable social distance), who would say on to that?
German: reading (Männertaxi, 50 min)
Afrikaans: reading (Oorlewingsgids van ‘n bedonnerde diva, 1 hour)
Icelandic: Colloquial Icelandic (1 hour 35 min, review earlier learned chapters) / beginner’s Icelandic (2 hours, review earlier learned chapters)
Frans: YouTube (35 min)
English: YouTube, social media (30 min)
Italian: Netflix (25 min)
Wednesday 23 Dec: 6 hours 15 min
Today was my last Afrikaans italki lesson of this year. Teacher Marilyn is such a nice person (and a good teacher as well). Today we talked about the situation with the virus, in Afrikaans, just like that, unprepared. Great feeling to be able to do that after just a year of home studying the language.
Afrikaans: italki (30 min), reading (Oorlewingsgids van ‘n bedonnerde diva, 50 min)
Frans: YouTube (45 min)
Icelandic: Teach Yourself (55 min) / Beginner’s Icelandic (1 hour 15 min)
Bulgarian: review Intensive Bulgarian, lesson 1-4 (2 hours)
Thursday 24 Dec: 7 hours 40 min
I don’t really feel like doing anything today. It’s cold, windy, rainy outside and I found a Danish series on Netflix that I hadn’t seen yet, so I cuddled up on the couch and did some serious bingewatching!
Danish: Netflix (Norskov, 6 hours 40 min)
English: YouTube (35 min)
Bulgarian: intensive Bulgarian, review lesson 4 (25 min)
Friday 25 Dec: 6 hours 20 min
Italian: Netflix (45 min)
English: YouTube (language related videos, 45 min), course on the origin of Sephardic Jews (1 hour)
French: secrets d’histoire (1 hour 50 min)
Bulgarian: intensive Bulgarian, review lesson 5-6 (2 hours)
Saturday 26 Dec: 6 hours 10 min
English: YouTube, blog, social media (50 min)
Italian: Lucrezia’s vlogs YouTube (2 hours 30 min)
Luxembourgish: D’Lëtzebuerger Verben (1 hour)
Danish: Norskov, Netflix (1 hour 50 min)