Wow, blink and it’s gone. That’s how April has felt to me anyway. I haven’t even seen the month and here I am again writing to tell you all my plans for the month and how I got on over the last 30 days.
In case this is your first time here, I will let you know what’s going on today. Clear the List is a language community hosted by Lindsay from Lindsay does languages and Shannon at Eurolinguiste for sharing your goals for the month, finding other amazing language learners and staying motivated to achieve your language dreams. If you haven’t already, check the pages out and the hangout at the bottom to see everyone that is getting involved. Why not join the party and let me know what you think.
All in all, April was a complete write off. Between a cancelled holiday to Italy, illness in the family and another crazy schedule, I basically got no languages or writing done. Although I have been feeling a little disappointed with my distinct lack of progress and productivity, I have taken this time to think about my plans for the future and how I could do things a little differently.
As you will all know from my previous posts, I am a strong believer in SMART goals to achieve the best results and one of the key parts of that is being specific. While that has helped me to focus on certain activities and practices, there have also been downsides. When I am rushed off my feet, and barely get a second to sit down, seeing my goal of reading a whole book in Italian or recording a video everyday staring at me from my tracker, only makes me feel guilty when I don’t complete them. As the days go on and the cycle repeats, I end up feeling weighed down instead of motivated and fired up. The exact opposite of why I set monthly language goals.
That being said, I don’t think it’s the goals that are the problem but more related to my general approach. After making the decision to try and pass the daunting C1 Italian exam, I have been trying my best to “study” the language to reach a more advanced level. Reading grammar books, taking lots of notes in my language journal and spending a lot of time making flashcards I never have time to review. After my school experience of traditionally “studying” a language I should have long since realised that this method just doesn’t work for me. I hated it then and I hate it now. Just because I want to pass an exam, does that mean I have to go back to the old classroom tactics? I don’t think so!
My main revelation was that everyone’s different and so I should throw out the rulebook and just go with what works for me. Each and every one of us are unique and so our approaches to learning languages, and life in general, should be just as flexible and suited to our individual needs, personality and lifestyles. If I don’t enjoy drilling grammar rules or spending hours making flashcards then there is no point doing it. I learn languages for my own pleasure so when that enjoyment fizzles out, all I am doing is wasting my time.
At the end of April I had a much needed week off from everything; work, languages and writing. Just some quality time with my favourite person, 2 for 1 cocktails and lots of good food. It was some really valuable time to replenish my depleted creative energies and take some time back for myself without any pressure from anyone or anything else. So what I decided to do was play some Xbox.
I have always been a gamer, but rarely get enough time to dedicate to a good game these days as I always feel there could be something more productive for me to do. It was so nice just to open the game and spend a few hours solving puzzles, fighting weird animals and evil henchmen with a cold beverage in reach.
Can you guess what the best part was? The fact I did all this in Italian. When flicking through the menus I realised there were Italian audio and subtitles, which I quickly turned on and managed to complete a whole game in Italian. I can’t remember the last time I completed a game in any language, but to do it in Italian was a real sense of achievement for me and felt like I had achieved something clear and defined. After a week the credits rolled down and Lara Croft had successfully saved the word and beat the forces of evil with a bow and some ice picks… because what else would she use when exploring all those remote locations.
This feeling of achieving something new and not always worrying about the practical benefit of every second was a relief. I felt positive at having completed my first game in Italian and managed to pick up some nice new phrases and vocabulary along the way. If that isn’t a win, then I don’t know what is.
(In case you are interested, the game I was playing was “Rise of the Tomb Raider” on Xbox One. There’s a massive selection of languages available and you can choose both the audio and subtitles independently.)
The title this month may be a little misleading as I have taken the decision to not have any specific goals. I need a little holiday from goals to find my passion for Italian again. I absolutely love learning languages and somehow, along the way, I have forgotten that childlike wonder and got stuck in a linguistic and metaphorical rut. To get pass this obstacle I need to just enjoy using languages again without the pressure of goals or exams.
While I don’t have any concrete plans I just want to experiment with some different things and enjoy using Italian again. I recently started watching Jessica Jones on Netflix which is great fun. I can’t understand everything but it’s definitely pushing my listening skills. I actually have a Netflix account setup in Italian which makes it a lot easier to find things to watch with Italian audio and subtitles… check it out for the languages you are learning. Otherwise, I want to find some new podcasts and youtube videos to watch and continue reading Harry Potter and the other Italian books I have; lots of variety and lots of fun.
I have actually already tried my first new thing this month. To start a bullet journal about my Italian notes and the things I am learning. I have wanted to do this for the longest time and thought this would be the perfect time to give it a try. Not really sure what I will include in there but I am excited to have a good go at it. So make sure to check out my Instagram to see what I get up to.
And that is all he wrote… I hope to join you this time next month to share some little language successes and be all fired up to tackle the second half of the year (even if I can’t quite believe we are almost half way!). Until next time…
Ciao for now!