With Halloween just around the corner it is time to set some new language goals for the month ahead. October here I come!
For those who don’t already know, #Clearthelist is a language learning community that brings together fellow language learners by sharing their monthly goals; hosted by Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages, Kris Broholm of Actual Fluency, and Angel Pretot of French Lover.
I have really struggled this month… I’m not going to lie. There has been a lot going on which hasn’t left a lot of room for language learning. The first couple of weeks I was making good progress but hit a roadblock and couldn’t quite clear it. It may sound negative but I still find the silver lining here. Two weeks of successful learning is better than no weeks right?
Let’s dig a little deeper:
I really enjoyed taking part in the IGLC (Instagram Language Challenge) this month. It was really nice to have a prompt to learn some new vocabulary rather than feeling a little lost in the dark; which can sometime happen. When you are learning a new language there are so many words to learn it is sometimes a little hard to decide what to learn next. This was the perfect solution.
I may have only completed 2 weeks of recordings but I found it super helpful. I took each prompt and created an example sentence. I then spent a little time rummaging through my photos to find one that matched the concept I was talking about. This was helpful in creating a personal connection with the word, and phrase, to help it stick. I then recorded myself saying the word and sentence to create a video flashcard. Having to repeat the phrases over and over, to get it just right, really made the information stay in my head.
I also had a lot of fun with mnemonics. Each card was given a border colour relating to the type of word it was about. Masculine nouns are blue, feminine nouns are pink and verbs are yellow. Then when I look through them I can quickly identify the type of word it is and how I should be using it. Easy!
This worked so well I am currently working on a way of combining these with a SRS (Spaced Repetition System) and native speaker recordings, to help me memorise the new information even more effectively. I can’t wait to share it with you once I have perfected it!
Listen – 12/30
I planned on listening to Coffee Break Spanish once a day to increase my listening practice (the current focus for my learning) while increasing my vocabulary. In the two early weeks I managed to squeeze in around 15 lessons which I was very pleased with. I gained lots of new information about some subject areas I hadn’t explored before. I will definitely pick this one again in the future.
Sing – 5/30
This goal was particularly hard this month. The time is takes to transcribe a song into IPA and then practice mimicking it is fairly substantial and a lot harder to slot into the little gaps in your day. One solution to this I have found is to transcribe the whole song, or a decent portion, in a single sitting and then use my notes as a reference in the week in the little language gaps. That way I had the reference there already and could simply practice it regularly until I had time to create the next batch of reference.
When I do this next time I will choose shorter and simpler songs. My initial thoughts are going back to my old favourites… Disney songs. Catch tunes and clear pronunciation should help make the task easier. Then when I have more time I can try and branch out into TV series or films. I may not have completed the goal this month but I do have a much better strategy to improve the goal in the future… so can’t complain really.
Speak – 12/30
I am lucky to have Spanish friend that I chat to on Whatsapp now. This means I can regularly practice my Spanish without having to organise Skype calls, that are sometimes impossible to fit into my schedule. Unfortunately the majority of the conversations I had were written so I need to focus more on using voice recordings to practice my listening and speaking. I have also asked them to re-record what I have said with corrections so I can practice my pronunciations.
October is looking to be as busy as September so I am taking a streamlined approach to my goals this month. Rather than setting any specific goals I just want to attempt to do a little each day from the four main areas of language learning; reading, writing, speaking and listening. All languages are back on the table this time and I am setting absolutely no restrictions. Any time in any language will count and use my tracker to show me how much I managed by the end of the month. Simple and easy is the name of the game!
Let’s have a look at the plan to tackle each one…
My Italian friend recently bought Harry Potter in English so we have started a little cross language book club. We are going to read the book together and then discuss it in our target languages, focusing on explaining questions and practicing the vocabulary in conversation. I am also planning on reading the book aloud to practice my pronunciation from written text. I can then get him to correct me and record it to listen back later. If I can’t manage to get onto Skype, voice recordings on Whatsapp will likely have the same effect.
I have been considering writing a short story, or a series of short blog posts, in the different languages I am learning. This was intended to help me find my language gaps and add a little variety to the page. To do this I will first have to pick a topic (which could be the hardest part) and then get my texts corrected before posting for the world to see. I will either use Lang 8 or my language friends, if they are available, to do this so I can ensure the language I am practicing and learning is accurate.
I listen to music in the languages I am learning everyday… without fail. So I am fairly confident this will be an easy goal for me. When I am cooking breakfast, sitting on my lunch break or relaxing in the evening, I will have my headphones in and some music playing. I find it really interesting that I seem to prefer different types of music in different languages. German rap, Italian pop and Spanish rock… Sometimes the sounds of the language lend themself to a particular genre.
As well as practicing reading out loud for my Italian book club I also want to have regular conversations with my language friends on Whatsapp, and Skype if I have time. I will primarily use voice recordings to focus on speaking and listening as my reading and writing always progress significantly faster without the direct focus. At the moment I have an Italian and Spanish friend but missing a German Fruend to complete my current language selection. May have to do a bit of searching this month to fill that gap.
And to keep a record of my successes I am making a brand new tracker. This time I have created my first themed design. With Halloween just around the corner a pumpkin seemed like the natural choice. I have stuck with my love of colour and geometric patterns to create four clear sections in the design which will be highlighted corresponding for each day.
I may also add a little more detial to the tracker as the month goes on but it will do the job for now. Clear and simple, just like my goals this month!
As always I would love to hear about your language goals in the comments below. Also if you make a language tracker head over to Instagram (@pillar_to_post) and tag me in to share your creation. I am really excited to see what you all come up with.
Ciao for now!