A holiday of language immersion

It’s the holiday season and I have 2 weeks off work. What better moment than this to immerse myself in all the languages I am learning.

I will log here what I do and when I do it. No logging of time spent, this always ends up in a race against myself, I prefer to focus on the process and to enjoy what I am doing. The past year I almost forget how instantly happy language learning always made me feel. I have my drive back now and I only want to have fun!

Day 7

I hadn’t planned it like this, but what a perfect last day of my language immersion week.

3 italki conversational lessons!

This is my first time using italki and I am pleasantly surprised. I use their app on my iPad and I find it very intuitive. It didn’t take me too long to figure out where exactly is what. And where I could find my favourite teachers. I decided to go for conversational classes only, since I study the grammar at home and the main thing for me is to feel comfortable using the languages actively. 

First up this morning, Danish with Sabina.

I was a bit anxious for this class. I read books, translate, watch Netflix, all in Danish, but speaking is a whole different ballgame, you will all agree. To get myself in the right mindset, I watched a Danish series on Netflix. I picked the italki classroom as my preferred environment. 24 hours before the start of the lesson, I received a notification that the classroom was available, so I already had a look and again, very user friendly! You get enough reminders that the class is starting, so there is no risk at all missing it.

What I hoped to do today, was work on my pronunciation, Danish is very tricky! Also my confidence in speaking the language could use a boost. I know I can do it, but I am very insecure (mind you, when I lived in Denmark, I spoke fluently and they all thought I was from Jutland, so I would like to get that schwung back).

Sabine showed up right on time and we had a relaxed talk about what I do in life, how I have learned Danish. It was nice to see that I actually can speak Danish and that my pronunciation was not at all that bad. For our next class, we decided that I would find an article in Danish that I would like to discuss, so we can talk about that the next time. 

Second was Spanish with María Rocío. She seemed very nice in her introduction video and when I heard she is a translator, just like I am, I decided I would book a class with her. We communicated a bit via italki messages and I booked a class for the afternoon. I had asked her to talk about every day life, about politics, history or books, topics that interest me and I will hopefully be able to talk about in Spanish.

Before we started, I read some pages in El invierno en tu rostro, a beautiful book about the Spanish civil war and the Second World War. This would get me in the right mindset, the Spanish one. After a morning of Danish reading and speaking, I couldn’t think in any other language, so I needed that Spanish immersion.

Also María Rocío was on time and the half hour went by quickly. She is just as friendly as she seemed in her intro and we talked about many things. She corrected me kindly and I felt very relaxed while talking to her. It was an eye opener though to see that as good as I may be in writing, reading and listening, speaking is a lot harder, so I can use this practice. Luckily I didn’t suck completely, most of the half hour went well, but I do feel that I could use some practicing of the tenses (no surprise at all). My teacher was very professional, she took notes, sent me messages with corrections and little things to improve on. I found this very helpful, especially because the notes are available in the message itself, so you don’t lose them.

And last but not least, Afrikaans with Suzanne (she was recommended to me via twitter by a fellow polyglot). Strangely enough I was looking forward to this very much and I was not nervous at all, even though I have been studying Afrikaans for only 3 weeks … I LOVE Afrikaans, maybe because I am a Flemish native and the languages are very similar. It’s very funny if you think about it. I have been studying Spanish for 4 years and Afrikaans for 3 weeks and I feel more at ease in the second language than in the first. I know where my weak points are in Spanish (tenses, anyone?) and that makes me insecure, I have no idea about the pitfalls in Afrikaans yet!

To prepare for the class, I went over chapter 8 of Teach Yourself Afrikaans. Suzanne was very friendly, we had a great conversation, laughed a lot, talked about many things, mainly traveling. It was great to see that although I have only been studying Afrikaans for a short while, I was able to have a conversation of half an hour! This makes me want to study more and hopefully master the language at an advanced level at the end of 2020.

My opinion about italki after today? I LOVE it! Nice teachers, user friendly, intuitive app and the classroom is perfect. Overall a good experience.

I have decided to go for it in 2020 and book conversational lessons in my other target languages as well. Hopefully this will be the year in which I will have brushed up my conversational skills.

Have a great New Year everyone!

Day 6

I got up really late today, so there wasn’t much time left to do anything language related this morning.

I received a message back from a few of the iTalki teachers I had contacted, so I booked a trial for Danish, Spanish and Afrikaans for tomorrow. Very excited and curious to see how that will go. I am looking so much forward to start working on my speaking skills.

Since there is an Afrikaans lesson planned for tomorrow afternoon, I decided to review the 6 chapters in Teach Yourself that I have studied so far. But first we went for a long walk. It was really cold today, but with a clear sky, perfect weather!

After Afrikaans I did some reading in my Spanish book, also in preparation of tomorrow!

And we ended the day with the last episode of The team, which is in Danish, English and German.

Day 5

This morning I have scrolled through some English YouTube videos, looking for some tasty vegetarian recipes. There is one channel in particular that I like (Tish Wonders) and it did not disappoint me! We had a great, healthy lunch.

Now that that was taken care of, I watched some Italian lessons on YouTube (with LearnAmo), which is not only good for grammar and vocabulary, but also for practicing those listening skills.

At the end of December I always think about some resolutions and for 2020 I would like to focus on upping my speaking skills. I find that my passive knowledge is good. But when it comes down to speaking, I turn into a toddler … O, how I hate that feeling. So, resolution number 1: get me some iTalki teachers. I checked out the website, picked a teacher for each of my languages (French, German, Danish, Spanish, Italian, Bulgarian, Korean, Faroese and Afrikaans – I decided not to pick an English teacher yet) and hopefully I can take some classes and practice my speaking skills. My passive knowledge of these languages is enormous, B2 or above for the first 5, but my speaking is lagging behind and I really want to do something about that. New year’s resolution 1 is done!

I was so set on reviewing my Faroese this afternoon, but I didn’t get round to it.

I did review the chapters in Teach Yourself Bulgarian that I had studied earlier this week (on and off, I can’t seem to concentrate today … But they’re reviewed!) and the grammar section in the back, which was quite difficult since it treated a lot of verb tenses and I haven’t studied them thoroughly yet … 

I don’t know why but the kids and I started talking about Afrikaans and how funny some of these words are to us, Flemish natives. We played a little guessing game where I said something in Afrikaans and they had to give me the Flemish word for it. So I ended up reviewing a list of similes (very similar to Flemish so I only studied the ones that are different) and continued with chapter 8 in Teach Yourself.

And that’s pretty much it for today.

Day 4

Today was filled with doctor’s appointments, errands to run, grocery shopping to do and homework to make with the kids.

There was only a little bit of time to review Faroese grammar while waiting for the doctor’s, but apart from that, I just couldn’t sit down and get some studying done.
So I just decided to give it a miss today and see what tomorrow will be like.

It’s not such a bad thing after all to not to anything once in a while. I find that the things I have studied, stick better after a short break.

I used to get very nervous when I had been studying let’s say Bulgarian for a few days and then for some reason had to skip for a few days. I thought I would forget everything, but that is NOT the case. Your brain needs some time every now and then to process what you have been putting into it.
Therefore, no stress today!

Tomorrow is another day. I hope to review the Italian and Bulgarian I have studied this week (quite a few new words in BG), review the rest of Faroese chapter 2 and tackle the accusative and then maybe get some Spanish and German (o yes …) reading done.

Day 3

As always I kicked off the day with some reading, in German this time, still Ausgerechnet wir. I managed to get a good number of pages down, but I won’t be able to finish it this year anymore, unfortunately … The problem is that when the book doesn’t really interest me, I don’t feel like reading it. But I feel it is good practice, so I continue. My German is a bit rusty, since I don’t use it for work, so this language definitely deserves some TLC in 2020.

There was still some 15 minutes left of the episode of Secrets d’histoire in French I was watching yesterday, so I decided to watch that (I absolutely love French history and the host of the show speaks such a wonderful French).

The rest of the day was basically reviewing/studying Bulgarian (but at a slow pace). I have an A2 already (through a course aimed at refugees from the Middle East, very practical and useful). The problem is that I was getting a bit bored going over the same book again and again, so I decided I needed another textbook. And that is Teach Yourself (love the app where you can download the audio!). Most of the book so far (up to chapter 10) is not new, apart from a few words or a bit of extra grammar, so I can go through it quickly.

The past days have been really busy so I decided to take it easy tonight. After all I have done a lot of Bulgarian today. I listened to YouTube videos in English, French and Afrikaans (Die groot ontbyt, a good channel to follow).

I have said it before, I find it very important to listen to input that you like. Listening for the sake of listening doesn’t work for me. So … bullet journaling in English and French and book reviews in Afrikaans (although I have only been studying for a month, I can understand it really well).

Day 2

Today I took an early start today. One of my sons had to go to work at 8 am, so I decided to take him there and profit from a long, quiet morning. As always, I like to start slowly, this time I watched some YouTube videos about bullet journaling, in English. I do believe that you should listen to input that you like (for me that is mainly culture and history, but strangely enough also bullet journaling and cooking – in Italian). If you are genuinely interested in what you are watching, you will learn more and also actively use what you have learned.

I then continued with an episode of Secrets d’histoire in French, a series about history and culture of France (my main topic of interest). I watched only part of it, because it takes over 2 hours. After that some reading, Ausgerechnet wir, in German. For some reason I cannot seem to find a good book in German, there are mostly romantic novels in the local library and … you guessed it, not my cup of tea. But I persevere and I WILL finish it! Some 200 more pages to go … In between all of that, I also watched a few YouTube videos by LearnAmo and Doppio Espresso, in Italian, about grammar and also about pizza, which made me sooo hungry!

I kicked off the afternoon with some Spanish reading, El invierno en tu rostro. A whopping 800 pages, of which I have read almost 200 so far. It is great to see that the vocabulary I have studied in Aula Internacional 3 comes back in this book, which motivates me to keep studying from textbooks. I think it is fair to say that my reading (and listening) skills are at a B2 or even C1 level, but I can’t seem to get my speaking and writing skills to that level as well, I am stuck at a B1 (which is not bad of course, but I would like to be more fluent, conversational).

Just so you don’t think I do nothing but study, I played some piano and also went for a long walk. Back home I was all rosy and I nestled down on the coach with my Teach Yourself Afrikaans. I have recently started studying this language, although I hadn’t planned on picking up any new languages any time soon. I reviewed the first 6 units. For me as a Flemish native, Afrikaans is very funny and actually a very easy (but tricky, just because it is so easy) language, so I just do it for fun and to finally get to 10 languages!

I ended with the last episode of Wisting, a Norwegian series (I know, I don’t study Norwegian, but as I said before, while listening I try to compare to Danish, so that sort of counts as Danish practice – and even as Faroese, because some words sound more or less the same).

Day 1

I have decided that today is going to be an Italian day. When writing the post about my goals for the second half of the year, I noticed that I sort of neglected Italian, although I love the language. Therefore today, Italian it is!

I began with some vlogs by Learn Italian with Lucrezia. I like her channel very much! Go check it out! Watching YouTube is a perfect way for me to get in the right mindset for the language I have decided to focus on, so I usually begin with a listening exercise.

In the afternoon, I have reviewed the first 3 units in Nuovo Espresso 3 (B1). My initial goal was to reach 6 units by end of December. That will not happen, but maybe, just maybe I might finish 4 units (more than 50% of my goal, that would be nice!). I had forgotten though that I had already worked hard, I still remembered most of the vocabulary and the grammar of these 3 units, so I already prepared unit 4.

By ‘prepare’, I mean: I read the unit and highlight anything 1) I don’t know, 2) I know passively and want to start using actively or 3) just things that I want to make sure I don’t forget. Then I look up everything I don’t know in my dictionary and write that down in my text book, and lastly, I write all vocabulary on a piece of paper that I keep with that unit, that way I don’t have to flip through the whole unit to review only the vocabulary. So I have done that for unit 4 (and meanwhile I have also studied a bit …). The next time I am going to work on unit 4, I will first review this sheet of paper (voc mainly) and then go over the whole unit again. 

In the evening, I decided to take it easy and not do any active studying anymore. I watched 2 episodes of Grenseland, a Norwegian series on Netflix. Although I don’t study or speak Norwegian, I do count this as language study, since I speak Danish and I try to translate the Norwegian into Danish, find similarities or differences. To finish the day, I treated myself to another episode of The Team, which is in Danish, Dutch, English, German and a tiny little bit of French. 

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