Clear the List – Language Goals December 18

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Another month has flown by and the final countdown has begun. With the year winding to a close, I really want to finish it on a high. Go out with a bang. Cross that finish line at the end of 2018 and feel like I have achieved something great. That is where these Clear the List goals come in.

If you are new to the whole Clear the List thing, allow me to explain. Clear the List is a goal setting community hosted by Lindsay (from Lindsay does Languages) and Shannon (from Eurolinguiste) where fellow language learners and lovers come together to support each other on the endless pursuit for knowledge.

November Summary

November was the first month back in the driving seat of my language learning journey. Everything felt a little dusty and unfamiliar but I am really happy with the progress that I made. But learning a language is a little like riding a bike, it just takes you to get off your butt and do it. It all comes flying back and you wonder why you ever stopped. 

Goals unpacked


One big success this month has been that I have added another app into my minimum daily activities. Life is always a little crazy, so I have created a little list of the essential tasks I need to do everyday to feel like I have succeeded at something. Come rain or shine, those things will get done. Even when all other things in my plan get pushed to the side. The first two are Duolingo and Clozemaster which I have been using consistently for a long time now. The new language friend is Lingq. It’s one of those apps you see all the time but I have never really given it a fair try. So this time I decided to get serious. I paid the $1 for the first month (a special offer that popped up when I signed up) and have been using it religiously ever since. 

Vocabulary was a big thorn in my language learning side and reading was my chosen ointment. Seeing that Lingq offered a way to read lots of Italian information and record the new words in an SRS (Spaced Repetition System) seemed like the perfect solution. Removing my frustration with other flashcard systems as it is all automatic and connected. See a word, record a word, practice a word. Simple!


Writing this month has been extremely limited… almost non-existent. I have really enjoyed getting back into writing since my return to languages but this month I had very limited time and had to focus on where I would see the biggest improvements. Which wasn’t writing unfortunately. To do this job properly it needs some dedicated time to think about it and push myself. Which I just didn’t have available.


The main reason for my lack of writing was due to my increase in listening. I spent a lot more time watching Netflix (mainly Daredevil and Sabrina at the moment) to improve my listening skills and vocabulary. Listening has always been hard for me so it requires a lot more attention to reach the desired level. This means lots of watching TV, writing scripts, comparing against subtitles and trying to translate all the expressions into English. It takes a lot of time but the improvements are clear… which makes a nice change from my usual aimless wandering.


Let’s not even talk about it! I basically didn’t speak Italian this month. My work schedule was crazy which made scheduling an Italian lesson or my weekly language exchange impossible. I did record some videos on Instagram for a new language challenge but only managed a couple of days. But, I don’t feel guilty about that. A few days is better than nothing, after all. Just something I need to put more energy in as speaking is another skill that I find particularly difficult; mainly due to my lack of practice.

This month on the blog

While I have spent most of my time focused on Italian, I also wanted to bring you some interesting blog posts to read about my travels and decided to revisit my Welsh diaries from January this year. It feels like a lifetime ago and has been a pleasure to look back at all the pictures and articulate all the amazing things we did on our little stay-cation.

Welsh Diaries Day 2 – Portmeirion and the Welsh Countryside

Welsh Diaries Day 2 – The Castle Conquerers

December Goals

This month will follow the same plan as last time. Break down the language into the four main areas and try to tackle them piece by piece. The only difference is that I will be prioritising them based on what I know I need to practice more. Unfortunately, all skills are not made equal and it is my job to notice that and portion my time accordingly.


Now I have a good routine of reading, using Lingq, I am going to continue along that line. Keep reading a little everyday and adding those new “lingqs” into my flashcard deck to practice. The only difference I want to make is to allocate a little time every couple of days to review all the flashcards properly. It is great that I have accumulated around 600+ words over the last two weeks but it is a little demotivating to see 600 words staring at me in the “review” section. After all, it is the practice that will help me memorise them and be able to use them in conversation.


Another passive skill near the top this month but that is with good reason. I know that listening is one of my weaknesses and so I need to allocate a little more time to that. To try and  overcome this hurdle I am going to do a combination of some very deliberate listening practice, like dictating the script, mimicing the words and summarising the thoughts, as well as binging on the new series I have wanted to watch for a long time. With the vast wealth of Netflix shows available in Italian, there really is no excuse for me to avoid it anymore.

The only problem I have is that the subtitles on Netflix never match the speaking which makes checking my mistakes a lot more difficult. Still possible, through a combination of translators and web searching, but not entirely the best. I will also be trying to find a way around this particular problem this month.


I always find getting speaking practice is tough. So, to set a goal like “I will speak everyday” is just completely unrealistic for me at the moment. That’s why my approach this month is more about increasing the amount that I speak. To try and have one lesson and/or language exchange each week, if my calendar can allow it, and record myself speaking on Instagram when I have a spare minute. For these kinds of activities I think the Tesco moto is very appropriate… “Every little helps”.


With my distinct lack of writing over the last month I want to try and do a little more. Luckily, Lindsay has some really nice writing prompt for her Instagram challenge which I think I will use to get some more writing in my life. One of the big problems with writing is not knowing what the write about and falling back on the same old subjects without trying anything new. So, hopefully these prompts will help. Again, I am not going to aim for everyday on this one, but even once a week for some real dedicated writing practice would be a really nice addition to my routine.


I am still loving my language journal. It’s a really fun way to record the different things I am learning about and make them really memorable. I have only added a few pages in the last few weeks but that is ok. It’s really an exercise of quality over quantity and I spend more time thinking about the subjects I want to learn about and how I want to present them.

I did this last month when I was feeling a little ill and decided to do a whole page on expressions and vocabulary for visiting the doctor. It is still only drawn in pencil but all ready for me to add the final touches to later. Doing it this way is a great way to do some languages when I don’t have a lot of time and keep repeating the same vocabulary after a break. A little like a very loose form of SRS. And what they say is true. Practice really does make perfect. (Or as close to perfect as my chaotic mind will allow me to be).


And last, but by no means least, it’s time to talk about my tracker. My little splash of creativity to keep me motivated each month and have a visual record of my successes. You always have to look at these with a glass half full kind of attitude in my books.

This time I have chosen to go for a very festive theme, with a collection of different Christmas items that I will colour as the month goes on to increase my level of festive cheer. I can’t believe that Christmas is less than 4 weeks away already and hopefully this tracker will also be a reminder to sort everything out in time for the big day. I am very unprepared this year and not enjoying it at all. My usual October finish is much more enjoyable, I have to say. A little note for next year!

What are your plans for December? Taking a festive break or ramping up the difficultly to get those last minute gains? Let me know in the comments below.

Ciao for now!

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