The year is coming to a close, so it is time to reflect upon how my language learning went the past four months. Earlier this year, I almost give up on language learning completely because of unrealistically high goals. I was focussing so much on getting pages and pages of vocabulary into my head and on studying more and more hours … that I forgot how much fun it actually is.
Therefore I decided to not set any more goals but give myself a set of ‘guidelines’ for September-December. I posted them here on August 30. Let’s see how I did!
English and French are still my main working languages. My goal was to read books in both languages, which I didn’t do. But I did watch a few episodes of Secrets d’histoire in French, I read a history magazine in French and I did listen to loads of youtube videos (mainly on language learning or anything language related). So although I did not do what I set out to do, I have practised listening skills for both languages.
Two more working languages are German and Danish, but I get substantially less work in them, so I need to actively keep them on a good level. I planned on going through the Tutor-book for both languages and I am happy to say that I did! I can tick off a few more chapters in both books. I also read a book in German (Ausgerechnet wir) and one in Danish (Afsporet), I finished the Danish series Rain on Netflix and I found some German series. So far I have watched Das Boot (in German, French and English, if that doesn’t make your head spin …), The team (which is in Danish, German, English and Dutch – and some French too, I think – … practice those listening skills!), Weissensee (in German) and a few Swedish and Norwegian series (languages I don’t speak, but I try to compare them to Danish, so for me that counts as practice too).
Spanish: this school year I want to finish my Aula Internacional grammar series and reach a B2 level. My plan was to start book 4, level B2.1, but I haven’t … (shame on me). BUT … I did do a lot for Spanish. As planned, I revised some chapters in my grammar book, I reviewed Aula Internacional 3 cover to cover, I watched the last season of Velvet and I watched Casa de las flores … I also listened to a podcast in Spanish. While listening to Spanish, I take notes, I write down words that are used regularly, so that I can memorize and use them. I also prefer authentic material and not podcasts at a slower speed or easy listening. And last but not least, I decided to read a Spanish book, El invierno en tu rostro, a whopping 800 pages! The great thing is that I recognize a lot of words that I studied in Aula 3, so that’s a huge motivation to keep studying from my textbooks.
Next one, Italian. My goal is to finish Nuovo Espresso 3, 4 and 5 before the end of June next year (see why I almost gave up? Why do I put so much pressure on myself?). I am currently going through book 3, so far I have reviewed and studied the first 3 units. Not a lot, I know, but I did other stuff in Italian … I discovered a new youtube channel, Learn Italian with Lucrezia, which is a lot of fun. I love listening to her vlogs. And strangely enough, I listen to a lot of cooking channels in Italian, one of which is Cucina Botanica. My listening skills have improved enormously (I dare say a C1), but I feel that I should focus on proper grammar and try to speak a bit (to myself). Something for 2020.
Language number 3 I study at home is Bulgarian. For this school year I want to revise my A1 and A 2 level and then hopefully continue in the Intensive Bulgarian course. A1 is reviewed, I started on A2 but stopped halfway. I had a good reason for it though! I download Teach Yourself Bulgarian (with audio) and now I am slowly going through that book. I had been focussing so much on the A2 level that I got bored and I felt that I was losing interest in the language. I love variation and that’s why I decided to leave my current courses in the drawer and focus on the TY course. I love it, it is mainly revision but here and there I learn some new things. Once that’s finished, I will go through the Colloquial Bulgarian and we’ll see how that goes. And *drums please* I DID read a short fairy tale in Bulgarian and I grasped the main idea of the story! Yeay, very proud of myself! Last thing I did is look for some youtube channels. I found one that I kinda like, but to my big disappointment I can hardly understand anything … However, I keep listening in the hopes of one day being able to follow.
And finally the last language I am tackling, is Korean. I am very embarrassed to say that I did almost nothing for Korean. I reviewed Talk to me in Korean level 1 and level 2 and half of level 3. My new year’s resolution is to pick up Korean again and have some sort of a level by June.
Although I hadn’t planned on starting any new language in the near future, I did. For some reason Faroese and Afrikaans have crossed my path and now I am into those 2. Afrikaans is a quick win for me as a Flemish native and Faroese is just such a cute language, I can’t resist it (but o boy, that pronunciation!).
When looking back on this, I haven’t met many of my goals, but I did spend a lot of time on each language and the best thing is that I enjoyed every minute of it (which hasn’t been the case for most of the first half of this year).
The big lesson I learned here is that I will not set any more goals for myself. I will just go with the flow, study the language that I feel like studying at that moment and do what I want. Because anything I do is good, be it reading a book or watching a Netflix series. In short, I will focus on the process of language learning and less on the result.
Enjoy this festive season and see you all in January, with a new list of language goals – er, guidelines!