One month down and 11 to go. It already feels like this year is getting off to a flying start. Maybe that has more to do with the fact I get married in 4 months and realising there is still a lot to do. Alongside the thoughts of suit shopping, guest books and food tastings, it’s time to look at my goals for February.
Just in case this is your first #clearthelist post with me, allow me to welcome you and tell you what is going on. Clear the List is a monthly group for sharing your language learning goals, for support and accountability, hosted by Lindsay from Lindsay does Languages and Shannon from Eurolinguiste.
Last Month on the Blog
Where to start with your new language – With many of us starting new language learning adventures this year I wanted to share my top tips for starting on this amazing journey and finding your own way to smash your goals.
Welsh Diaries Day 3 – It was exactly a year since our little Welsh adventure and so it seemed like the perfect time to finish off the diary and tell you all about our amazing adventure in the seaside town of Llandudno.
I have to say, that January was a great month for me in general. Getting into a great routine with food and exercise (again, thinking about the suit fittings) as well as building a strong language learning routine. I studied Italian everyday this month, some days more than others, and started to feel some real progress in my learning.
Part of my new strategy for this year was to have daily and weekly goals for each of the core skills. This worked surprisingly well. Especially for my daily goals. Across all my goals the lowest participation was 25 days out of 30; which I still think is a great achievement. I think part of the success for because they were a “yes/no” goal. I either did it or I didn’t. Without the restriction of time constraints it freed up more time for the goals that required specific time to complete.
Daily – Recording myself speaking (less than 15 mins). 27/31 – Great Job!
This worked really well. I was lucky enough to receive an Italian calendar for Christmas from my better half which has a new word everyday. So, I decided to record myself on Instagram reading it out loud. This was so much easier than just deciding to record anything as I had something specific to say everyday. Although it wasn’t always free flowing, as I was repeating something written, it was the little boost I needed to start speaking each day. I then often started sending my Italian friend some voice memos because I was already in the swing of it.
Weekly – One lesson or language exchange (1 hour). 7/4 – Smashed it!
After making a regular time for an Italian lesson this goal became very easy to fulfil. Thursday morning is now Italian lesson time. One dedicated hour of study that I won’t avoid. I also managed to sneak in some language exchanges on a Wednesday night when I wasn’t busy which took me well over my target. Very pleased with this one.
Daily – Binge video, radio or music (30 mins). 40+ hours – Incredible!
This was my biggest success this month. From my reserved goal of 30 minutes a day (approx 15 hours for the month), I over doubled it almost everyday. I even managed over 13 hours in one week…. crazy right! Although this is all just passive listening with the radio or Youtube, it is a massive boost to my vocabulary and general exposure to the language and I definitely feel the benefits. A roaring success!
Weekly – Transcription or shadowing (1 hour). 8/4 – Not too shabby
I got off to a flying start with this, doing 3 hours in the first week. Then it slowed down a little for the rest of the month. However, I still managed at least one session per week which was a positive result. I also decided to ignore the 1 hour timescale as that was putting me off starting if I only have half an hour free. As this exercise is one of the most useful I am doing at the moment to improve listening and learn vocabulary, I want to make it the most approachable of all the goals.
The real game changer here was finding interesting content to watch rather than just picking some random series on Netflix. Although I did watch the whole Titans series (which was great btw!), I spent a lot of time watching youtubers about gaming and cooking which was much more fun and with loads more colloquial and slang language I had never heard before. A big win!
Daily – Lingq, Duolingo and Clozemaster. Maintain those streaks! (15 mins). 31/31 – I did it!
Overall I am really pleased with this goal. Apart from a little hiccup (where I forgot to practice Clozemaster and lost my 150+ day streak), I practiced with all the apps everyday. This goal really works for me as the motivation to get me started each day. After spending a little time with these apps I feel more inspired to go deeper and get my study hat on. Especially after reading a really interesting article on Lingq about Matera being the European Capital of Culture this year. Mainly because I will be there in June to experience it myself! Can’t get more personal than that really.
Weekly – Clearing my Lingq flashcards (1 hour). 5/4 – That will do donkey…
Although I did this a couple of time, I find it really difficult to keep it up because I naturally find flashcards just a little dull. Lingq makes it easier because it links with the texts I am reading, but when I have more exciting activities like watching a film or speaking in Italian, it’s always a little tricky. One good thing I found was that I can order the flashcards by importance so I am practising the more frequent vocabulary from the words I have decided are useful. A little like a more personal word list which is very nice.
Daily – Post on Instagram everyday (15 mins). 26/31 – Could have been worse
I knew I wouldn’t do this one everyday. I love posting on Instagram to practice my language and share what I am doing. But, when I don’t have anything interesting to say I will tend to not post. That means on a very quiet day my magical insights are a little limited and so I have a day off.
When I did post though, I tried to increase the complexity of what I was writing so that I was really testing my abilities. Trying to replicate the natural way I would express my ideas, rather than just adjusting my expressions to fit my language. Definitely helped me to learn some nice new nuggets of information.
Weekly – Write in my bullet journal (1 hour). 2/4 – First rule of writing club is…
Nope! Just didn’t really happen. Surprisingly though, I’m not actually that bothered. I have realised recently that each of the skills doesn’t have equal priority, depending on my goal, and at the moment speaking and listening are just a bit higher on the list. I think the problem is that this writing goal was a little vague and so the time I would need to think of something to write could just be spent actually doing something. Thinking about the language is never as fun for me as actually using it. Especially when my Netflix list is staring back at me with lots of pretty films to watch.
January was really good for building a strong language routine and now I want to take that routine and get a little more specific. As the goal is to communicate confidently on our honeymoon in June, I want to break it down into possible situations and vocabulary I will need. To think about the different places we will go and focus on improving my communication around those topics. This won’t restrict my “down time”, but when I am “studying” I want to be immersing myself in one topic to really see the benefit.
The Goal Breakdown
So, the topic for this month is…. drumroll please…. food! Not entirely unexpected if you know anything about me. I absolutely love food. Talking about food, eating it, watching it… basically anything related to the tasty Italian treats. So, it is actually a little embarrasing how poor my food and cooking vocabulary is. That’s why I am going to immerse myself in Italian videos, my recipe books, and discuss food in my lessons. All the things related to food except eating it…. because there are no calories in food based day dreaming, is there?
Daily – Record the calendar prompt each day and expand on the ideas (less than 15 mins). Taking this to the next level and using the new language to create some new phrases here.
Weekly – One lesson or language exchange (1 hour). If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Daily – Binge on Youtube, radio and Netflix (60 mins). Going to go double or nothing this time to try and make it more of a challenge. Same goal higher stakes.
Weekly – Transcribing or Shadowing a Youtube clip, Netflix series or Radio show (2 x 30mins). No changes here but changing the time to two lots of 30 minutes as this is easier to fit into the week and will spread it out for more regular practice.
Daily – All the apps, all the time! Duolingo, Clozemaster and Lingq streaks (15 mins) . I will try not to forget this time
Weekly – Sit down and read one of my many books (2 x 30mins). Time away from the screens and with a traditional book is what is needed. Going for an hour a week but split into smaller sessions so the pressure is off for one big “study session”.
Daily – Posting on Instagram is here again (15 mins). This has worked really well for a long time so I want to keep it in. I am just going to continue to try and expand my expressions and the topics I discuss to build my communication skills.
Weekly – CILS writing prompts (2 x 30 mins). To make this a little more specific I am going to use the CILS writing test as a prompt for some writing. The topics are usually varied so it will test my knowledge and highlight areas for improvement. If all else fails I will go back to food and write a little food diary for each week. This may be a little boring as my diet isn’t very varied, but still useful to find those missing words.
It’s Tracker Time!
I am still loving the new style of tracker, with lots of vocabulary around a specific subject. It’s the perfect way to learn something new and feel motivated everyday. Every illustration coloured is a victory day!
This month I have chosen a Valentine’s theme. Love is always in the air in February so these phrases should come in pretty helpful when I am earning those brownie points.
I would love to know what your goals are for this month. Let me know in the comments below.
Until next time.
Ciao for now!