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The End! And a New Beginning…

Hola a todos! Mi reto con el alemán y el español estas finalmente terminado. Debería decir que fue muy interesante para me. i Casi no puedo creer que cuatro meses han ya pasado! Pero esta así.

En esto ultimo mese que ha pasado, tenia el oportunidad de ganar mas confidencia en mi habilidad de hablar el español, incluso si no es perfecto. En verdad, la mayor parte di mi atención y de mi tiempo fueron col alemán que es un poco mas difícil porque tienes reglas y una estructura diferente da que yo conozco.  Pero ambos estos idiomas me encantan y no quiero olvidar nada de que he aprendido.

Newfound Focus

What this challenge made me realize is that I really had a deep interest on the mechanism and process of learning itself.

I want to try and come up with some sort of blueprint for language learning, a formula that could be readily adopted by anyone, and that could possibly be applied to any type of learning.

I’m still not really sure where or to what this quest will lead me to, I guess that’s a prerequisite, actually, but I sure know that I’m feeling highly inspired and excited.

It is clear to me that in order to find this blueprint, I have to involve myself in the process of learning, and learn from the way I learn while asking myself if the actions I take and what I go through could possibly be something that everyone could do or experience.

The task of learning two languages in three months was obviously not an easy one, not at all impossible, anyone who’s interested could do it, yet it requires such a sheer amount of focus and planning that I was completely taken aback, primarily because of the fact that I was sure that my ability to concentrate was far better that it actually is (ouch!).

The second challenge was the pace at which I had to learn. Usually in language schools, well, for practical reasons, you are exposed to the language for at most a couple of hours a day, three to five days a week (if not less). If I wanted to get any result with either of the languages, I had to live it, make it not only relevant but necessary for me. I could do this at times, but often I would revert to English simply out of forgetfulness.

Why it’s Great to Fail Fast

I abide by the notion that to truly succeed you need to fail fast. The faster you implement your idea, instead of waiting for the perfect time, the faster you will receive invaluable feedback – yes, often it will come in the form of a precious failure.

That’s why I love the concept of undertaking a relatively big task in a barely-enough amount of time. It magnifies your preconception (I’m guilty of underestimating both the Spanish and the German language, this last one, in particular, I thought would be more or less similar to English- ha! the “cases” have had a laugh at me); it shows you your weaknesses; underlies the faults; points you to the mistakes and all in such a short amount of time that you have no excuse to mull over and whine about it, rather you listen and take notice of these previously hidden gems, accept them with gratitude and apply yourself to take care of them.

The New Challenge

My journey is far from complete, though. I’m determined to keep on improving my skills in each and every language I take up.

The two languages that I’m ready to experiment with are French (chosen because of its similarity to other Romance languages) and Turkish (chosen out of interest), and although there wasn’t initially any type of strategic choice for which I would choose and couple these two together, I now think them to be the perfect pair of “next” languages.

More Effective Language Learning

I decided that to learn languages more effectively, almost each language I will choose will be based on the level of difficulty that it has with regard to the languages I already know, even if haven’t mastered them, yet.

That means that as a speaker of English, Arabic, Italian, Spanish and German, the languages I should choose will depend on the ease with which I can learn them.

Easiest Languages Depending on the Languages Already Spoken

After some research it seems that the easiest language to learn depending on the languages I speak would be:

English: Afrikaans, Dutch, Scandinavian languages, Romance languages (for a complete list check here )

Arabic: Urdu, Farsi, Hebrew, Hindi, Amharic, Hebrew and Tigrinya, possibly also Turkish.

Italian: Other Romance languages, particularly Spanish

Spanish: Other Romance languages- Italian and Portuguese in particular, possibly also Greek and Turkish

German: Scandinavian languages, particularly Norwegian.

So, based on this list, French is definitely one of the biggest candidate and my most beloved Japanese is nowhere to be seen. Yet, I’m all for studying Japanese. I’m not sure whether I’ll learn Korean or Japanese first, but it is interesting to know that the acquisition of one language, will facilitate the study of the other.

I’m also interested in learning Russian and Chinese and, hopefully, by the time I decide to tackle them, I will have ready a winning action plan for how to best learn them.

And here it goes, I have the scissors ready to officially inaugurate the beginning of my next challenge: learning French and Turkish at the same time. It comes in handy, by the way, that they are different languages who probably share little in common, so sparing me the horror of confusing them.

Not so Simultaneously

What I’d like to do this time, is something a bit different. In the previous challenge, I wanted to simultaneously learn the languages, as in, for example, watch a movie in German and read the Spanish subtitles or translate from one language to the other.(Note that I could do this early on, only due to the similarities between Spanish and Italian.)

Instead, this time, I’m going to actively learn just one language a week, alternating between the two of them for at least the next four week and see how it goes.

This means I will consciously and purposefully seek out information, learn and use the grammar, as well as memorize French words for week 1 while, at the same time just possibly listening to Turkish music or watching T.V. series in the language (thank God there is an abundance of those!). Then, in week 2, the opposite will happen.

I have a theory about why this might be more useful than actively learning them simultaneously but I’ll talk more about it in a following post.

I will keep up the study of German and Spanish quite gladly and keep on writing daily sentences as I have noticed it has helped me quite a bit. As a small tweak to it, when I have time, I’ll try to implement a technique I have learned from fellow blogger, Ilya Lemieux -the Russian guy mastering English and French. The technique has essentially to do with taking a simple sentence in the language you want to learn, building up and adding complexity to it (or at least, this is what I got from this video that was in Russian, and I know no Russian xD).

Okay, I unfortunately have to wrap this up and get going, but I’ll try to lay out some more details about the techniques and resources I’ll be using.

Thank you for reading this and do let me know your thoughts about it or about your own learning challenges!

5 thoughts on “The End! And a New Beginning…

  1. Great article! And I got an honorable mention at that! Sweet!

    After such nice words I just have to write an article in English on my blog to guide you as to how and what exactly that is what I do with English and French, and possibly can be applied for other languages.
    True, my videos are all in my native language, pretty hard to comprehend what’s going on if you don’t have any notions of Russian.
    So, yup, once I finish the detailed article on my approach (sometime tomorrow I believe) I’ll clue you in on it.

    Good day!

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