One more week and my language challenge will come to an end, in this post I will be ruthlessly critical of my progresses and achievements, or lack thereof.
I think this post should be more aptly named “Why I failed learning two languages in three months”, but considering the bubbly positive person I am, I’ll see it as: “what I should do next time in order to learn two languages in three months”.
Okay first of all, I remember writing that I would learn also Japanese over a course of six months that would start at the same time I started learning Spanish and German. Well, scratch that, I haven’t even looked into Japanese.
Here are what I believe to be the top reasons why I failed:
1. I didn’t keep a week to week record of my progresses
2. My strategy wasn’t exactly clear, or better: my strategy was vague and my scheduling was almost not there
3. For about four weeks I let other life matters get in my language study so that I was practically inactive for that period
4. I failed to include the languages in all aspects of my day to day life
5. Didn’t have a pre planned go to resource for learning, so that I would waste time searching for new content pretty much every day
6. Got shy and failed to post my video progresses over the three months
7. Didn’t have a pen and paper notebook to record learned words and phrases from day one
8. I started taking interest on a new activity that took some of my already limited free time – I have to say here that I could actively learn the languages for maybe three to four hours a day and that was mostly done at sunrise, from about 4 am to 8 am (i.e. before my “normal” life started, some days it was more, some it was less, but I think this is why it would have been so crucial to incorporate my language learning in all aspects of my routine and day to day activity, that way I would have been learning without having to read a book or have the laptop in front of me, which would have been either impractical or impossible).
9. I waited too long before starting to learn grammar and verb tenses
10. Didn’t have a decided upon list of high frequency words I was going to memorize, although I did have some common phrases I though would be useful to memorize as a basic foundation for any language.
11. I found out that my ability to concentrate aren’t as strong as I imagined them to be
After reading all this, I wonder how on earth could I have achieved anything anyway.
I should be disappointed, but I’m not. Okay, of course I am, a bit, but in a good sense, if that makes any sense.
I’m disappointed I haven’t made it of course, but on the other hand, it seemed like I put my self up for failure when I failed to address from the beginning (to recognize, even) all the issues I have pointed above.
So all you need to succeed in your language learning is to do the exact opposite of what I have done! 😉
My level of Spanish could be considerate intermediate right now, grammar is not my forte but I can understand from 70 to 80% of what’s being said in a normal conversation, probably more if it’s spoken slowly or there are subtitles. I’ll attempt writing a short post in Spanish and I’d love to hear your comments if you have any way with Spanish 🙂
German. Oh God. This language seems so nice and logical…that is, until you start learning its grammar, even its pronunciation leaves me puzzled, but more on that another time. My German is very basic, my pronunciation is okay, but my comprehension is limited to few basic areas (numbers, greetings, basic presentation, food, animals, emotions and about thirty basic verbs in their present forms). If I want to achieve any degree of fluency in German there is a whole load of vocabulary I need to learn.
Despite the not optimal results, I’m glad I went through this challenge because:
1. I have found out so much about myself
2. I found out so much about language learning (keep checking here for an upcoming series loaded with language hacks)
3. I learned the importance of time management and activity blocking even in language learning
4. I restarted meditating again, and have done so consistently for the past month now, all this as a recognition of my poor focus (I’m sure you have been there too, especially if you are a woman: so many things to do and so many thoughts on your mind that is difficult to keep still before another “urgent” thing grabs your attention and off you go on a purpose-less round only to come back where you first started with nothing actually accomplished)
Although I haven’t achieved my goal this time around, getting my first bite into this challenge confirmed to me that, with better planning, learning two languages simultaneously in a limited amount of time is far from impossible.
Would I have been able to be fluent in either Spanish or German had I learnt them one at a time? Maybe, maybe not. But what I know for sure is that deciding to learn them together was an asset, not a burden. And I am so sure of this, that I will make it a strategy for all my future language learning: always learn a new language off a language you have a beginner or intermediate fluency in.
Originally, I had planned to spend the month of August reviewing Spanish and German at a more laid back pace and prepare a bit for the languages of my next challenge: Turkish and French (reading about their cultures, finding out great learning resources and so forth). Instead, I want to keep studying my current challenge languages and see how much I can improve over a month after making some adjustments.