Friday, 28 March 2014

The Beginning

Welcome to my new blog! Some of you may already have read my posts on my main blog, The Tiger's Sterne, where I blog about literature, art and poetry. This will be my secondary blog specifically about my language learning.

I have mentioned my language learning in passing before, but recently decided to talk about it in detail. It has been suggested by many people on other language blogs that writing about the learning process can actually help you to learn, so, here I go!

I may have been learning on and off for a while now (in a mix of languages), but for the purpose of this new 'project', I've decided to call this the beginning. This is where my language learning gets serious. What I learnt in the past will be useful, of course, but it had no real structure, and though it felt like a long time overall, the actual learning time was probably minimal. This can be Week One.

Week One has been more like an 'intro' week - trying to figure out what methods I will use, how and when I will be practicing, etc. I have taken on three languages: Spanish, Arabic, and Finnish. My main language is Spanish, partly because I know I can learn it faster, and partly because it is the language I've always wanted to learn, and the one I identify with the most. It is also the one in which I have the most passive vocabulary, that is to say, vocabulary I can read and hear, and understand, but somehow hasn't become part of the vocabulary I can use at will. I want to change that, and make it into active vocabulary.
I suppose it is an advantage, but it also feels like a problem - because I understand a lot, I can get a little bored when doing lessons (podcasts, for example), but also frustrated when I know exactly what is being asked, but I'm not quite sure how to formulate my response. During the next few weeks I will be working on my speaking and writing to try and level it with my reading and listening skills.

My second language is Arabic. I started learning it last May, first doing a little every day using Memrise, then letting days pass without any practice, and then I was stopping and starting for a while. It is one of my weaknesses, and I know it - I get bored or frustrated and then get distracted. I'm having a similar vocabulary problem in Arabic - learning lots of passive vocabulary. I also have a list of words I know and can use, but sadly no sentences to fit them in. I also hope to change that.

Finally, Finnish. This will be more like a challenge, since I don't think there is much chance of me needing Finnish in the near future. However, I feel it is useful to know at least a few phrases in a language, and it will come in handy if I do finally go to Finland for a holiday (it's not a priority, I'll admit. Canada calls louder!)

To recap:

I will be attempting to learn Spanish, Arabic, and Finnish in the next few weeks/months. I have no set time yet - I'll be thinking about that this week. I also don't expect to be fluent at the end of my project, but I do expect to have a large number of handy phrases and at least some writing skills. In Spanish, I do expect to have a higher level than Arabic and Finnish.
After the project, I will be deciding whether to continue, and how, depending on my circumstances.

In the next post, I will talk about what I have done this week, and what I hope to achieve next week.


Are you learning a language (or two)? Leave a comment below and let me know about your progress! I love to read comments and always reply.

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