Clear the list

Do you like to read how other people study languages? What they do on a daily basis, what resources they use? I for one love to follow YouTube channels, read blog posts and even tweets about language learning and people’s journey to fluency.

Recently I discovered Clear the List and I loved it so much that I decided to clear my own list as well! Especially so because I often get the question: how can you study/maintain all these languages? Where do you find the time? Well … here!

I didn’t do a lot in June, because I had an enormous translation project, so all my energy went into that. But … July is just around the corner and that’s always a bit more relaxed for me (workwise that is). I plan to do a lot! However … I have a shoulder operation mid July and I might either be in too much pain to do anything, let alone study languages, or all might go well and I will have a week off with nothing to do, except for languages. Fingers crossed!

My overall plan for this summer is to write a blog post in each of my target languages (I already regret writing this … what if I don’t have time or have no inspiration …).

These are my plans for July!

French-English-German: I work as a freelance translator and these are my main source languages. I don’t really actively maintain them. I get enough practice on a daily basis and my level in all 3 of them is very high.

I have planned a half hour conversation on italki in all 3 languages in July.

I would like to read a French novel (because I translate a lot of French books and I’m like Pavlov’s dog, French books equal work and every now and then I would like to just enjoy a French book – Musso or Marc Levy are always good options and the local library is stacked). Maybe watch an episode of my favourite French history show.

And German? Definitely needs a bit more TLC, but I have no idea where to start. There is a new season of Weissensee available on Netflix, so I will probably watch that (perfect for after my shoulder op). I was pleasantly surprised after my first italki class a few months ago, that my German wasn’t as rusty as I thought it would have been.

Danish: weeeeell … What’s the situation with Danish? I do speak it, but I have a horrible accent and therefore try to avoid speaking it (I know, stupid). I haven’t found any good italki teacher yet. In July I have planned a class with yet another teacher and we’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I might pick up my Danish Tutor again and I have a Danish grammar lying around somewhere.

I have quite some novels in Danish that I haven’t read yet, so I could do that as a summer project. My goal is to feel more comfortable speaking Danish by the end of summer.

Spanish: I had planned to finish the B2.1 textbook this schoolyear (Sept.-June) but I didn’t. Let’s try and do that over the summer. It only contains 6 units, so it is actually half a textbook and I think my level is a lower B2 already. I spent all my time revising the B1 textbook. I really have to get over my fear of progressing, I keep reviewing everything I have learned and don’t really dare to go to the next level (not only for Spanish, this seems to be a pattern in all my langauges).

I did however get loads of input via Netflix, books and italki. I even translated my first ever Spanish novel last month.

My plan is to immerse myself in Spanish for a whole week through italki. I have a few tutors and one in particular that I feel really comfortable with and I have booked her for an hour – 5 days in a row. We will focus on a particular grammar – or other – point (such as the use of subjuntivo presente, subjuntivo pasado, idioms, accent …), but first and foremost on conversation skills. I do feel that they have improved compared to the beginning of the schoolyear (which is September) and I want to keep that momentum going.

I have ordered the first book of the series Valeria (Elisabet Benavent) in Spanish. If it is good, I will order the rest as well and make that my reading project for this summer. I saw the Netflix series and it was fun (although the plot is quite weak, but hey, I’m watching to improve my Spanish, right?).

Italian: the same here, I also plan on immersing myself for a week in Italian – probably in August. As for Spanish I now have a few Italian italki teachers and I will also book them for an hour 5 days in a row.

I watched a lot of Netflix in June and passively picked up a lot of phrases (and some not so useful vocabulary for daily situations). My skills have improved a lot, I notice, I don’t rely heavily on the subtitles anymore (although I still use them). I did my first ever Italian translation job in June and it went a lot better than expected.

I wanted to finish Nuovo Espresso 3 this school year and … I didn’t. I stranded on unit 9. But overall this has been a good year for Italian – considering I started in October 2017, which is not even 3 years ago. My level has increased considerably to a strong B1 and I am able to have a 45 minute conversation with my italki tutor.

If any of you can recommend a good Italian book, please do!

Plans for the summer: finish Nuovo Espresso 3 and review all vocab. Start Nuovo Espresso 4.

Afrikaans: I focussed a lot on Afrikaans in December and January, reached a solid A2 (because it is very similar to my native language Flemish – or Dutch from Belgium) and took some italki classes. This was fun and I improved my speaking skills. However the classes were not what I expected them to be. We mainly talked and had fun but she didn’t really ‘teach’ me anything … I now book classes with another teacher and she is great! We discuss a text in Afrikaans, she corrects my pronunciation and mistakes. I feel really comfortable and plan on booking more lessons with her over the summer.

Goals for July: reach unit 15 in Teach Yourself. Book at least 2 italki classes and finish the book I’m reading, Diamante in die stof.

Bulgarian: my regular italki teacher is currently not teaching anymore, so I had to find a new one. Now taking classes with Nina. Very refreshing. She really teaches me Bulgarian (instead of having a conversation, like I did with my previous teacher, who was really good by the way, my speaking skills improved so much).

For July I hope to review my A1 course (I reached an A2 but then didn’t do any Bulgarian for more than 6 months). So review that, take maybe 2 italki classes and really internalize everything. Hopefully in August I can start reviewing A2 thoroughly.

I have bought a fairytale by a famous Bulgarian writer and I will try to read a chapter or two in that, see what I can understand (hopefully this is not going to be a disappointment …).

Luxembourgish: June has been a very busy month and I wasn’t able to keep my learning routine up to speed. I had planned to finish the A2 course in June, but unfortunately I didn’t. Let’s make this my goal for July. I have about 8 lessons left (out of 20, so I didn’t do all that bad in June).

Apart from that I also plan on having 2 or 3 italki classes, depending on how I feel after my operation. The tutors on italki are very good and the combination with Luxembourgish with Anne works really well.

As a whole, I want to be able to have a 15 minute conversation in Luxembourgish with my teacher at the end of the summer. I also want to review A1 and A2 of Luxembourgish with Anne and everything I have studied in Assimil A grande vitesse. I don’t really want to make a lot of progress this summer, I prefer to go over everything again so that all of the vocabulary and the grammar is strongly internalized – because I feel that I don’t really ‘know’ everything, if you know what I mean. This would still mean an A2 end of August, after just 4,5 months of studying by then. Not bad, I would say.

Icelandic: I really have no idea. There doesn’t seem to be any structure in my language learning. I use a few books (you can check my blog post here on learning Icelandic) and seem to be going over the same stuff again and again. It feels like I am not making any progress (which really, I am, if I look back at where I came from – nothing, I started from scratch …). So I don’t know. I guess I will just continue doing what I’m doing and slowly become better. I do plan however on taking italki classes with Magnus and Thora this summer and hopefully be able to have a little conversation, let’s say 5 minutes, completely in Icelandic, by the end of August.

I really really love Icelandic and I don’t want to ruin it by focussing too much on making progress. I want to take things slowly with this language and make sure I get all the grammar (which is complicated, I guess I don’t have to tell you that) and slowly feel comfortable in speaking a bit.

I deliberately won’t write any summer goals for Íslenska, but you can follow my blog posts and see what I will be doing this summer.

What are your plans for the summer? Are you going to focus on language learning or will you take a break during the summer?

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