Tuesday, 1 August 2017

#ClearTheList - August 2017 Language Goals

#ClearTheList is a language learning community that allows language learners to share their monthly language goals. It's a good way to hold yourself accountable, and to see what other learners are doing to inspire and motivate you!

#ClearTheList is hosted by Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages, Kris Broholm of Actual Fluency, and Angel Pretot of French Lover. Click the links to check out their blogs!

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My free time is going ot be squeezed this month, so I'm going to have to try and just make the best of it. Somehow I've managed to fill every weekend with some kind of event or other!

Here's how my list went in July and what I'm hoping to do in August...

French

How I did in July:

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Book two italki lessons. I only booked one lesson.
Read one chapter of Harry Potter à l'École des Sorciers. One chapter was't exactly difficult!
Write a brief overview of my week in notes on italki (on Sunday). Nope, didn't make any time for this.
Learn all the words (and their meaning) to the song "Si Jamais J'oublie" by Zaz.
Attend a French speaking meet up.

August goals:

- Continue with Memrise, Duolingo and now Clozemaster!
- Try the Babbel app.
- As part of Shannon of Eurolinguiste's monthly language reading challenge, I'm going to read the entirity of Harry Potter à l'École des Sorciers this month. The theme for August is to read "a children's book in your target language".
- Book an italki lesson.
- Attend a French speaking meet up.

Japanese

How I did in July:

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Buy a Japanese character workbook. It arrived this morning! Yay!

August goals:

- Continue with Memrise and Duolingo
- Watch an anime and actively listen to the dialogue to pick out words and phrases I know.
- Read the introduction of my Kanji workbook.
- Print some genkouyoushi paper to practice the first 10 Kanji in the book

Swedish

How I did in July:

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Search for a Swedish youtube channel to follow. I don't know why I didn't do this...

August goals:

- Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
- Swedish/Welsh language exchange over Skype (learning).
- Search for a Swedish youtube channel to follow.
- Work on Teach Yourself Swedish book.

Polish

How I did in July:

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Learn 5 new words a week. Nope. Nowhere near.

August goals:

- Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
- Create a personalised Memrise course based on words I want to know, and are easy to remember (have you seen Polish spelling?!)
- Get to grips with pronouncing the letters and letter combinations.
- Work on Teach Yourself Polish book

Hakka

How I did in July:

Create a Memrise course and add to it.
Research more to find online and offline resources. This is going to be an ongoing process!

August goals:

- Research more to find online and offline resources.
- Add what I find to my Memrise course.
- See if there are any Hakka speakers in my city.

Welsh

How I did in July:

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Buy a Welsh novel. I bought Ebargofiant by Jerry Hunter.
Find Welsh podcasts to listen to. I didn't really find any podcasts, but I've been listening to BBC Radio Cymru instead... does that count?
Teach my partner 10 phrases. I'm checking this off even though it was 8 phrases. My partner says he wants to learn Welsh. He tells me all the time, but really he doesn't want to make the effort. Not even Duolingo for 5 minutes a day! This isn't the Matrix - you can't just download knowledge straight into your brain! So, I've taught him a few words phrases this month that I'll only say to him in Welsh from now on. Here they are:

Caru ti! - Love you!
Cariad - Term of endearment, like "my love" or "darling"
Wyt ti eisiau panad? - Do you want a cup of tea?
Ydw - Yes (in response to the above question*)
Dim diolch - No, thank you (in response to the above question*)
Diolch - Thank you.
Pryd? - When?
Hwyl! - Bye!

As you can see it's not ground breaking stuff, but this is stealth teaching after all ;-)

* There are many ways to respond with Yes or No in Welsh, but it depends on the question.

August goals:

- Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
- Welsh/Swedish language exchange over Skype (teaching).
- Start reading Ebargofiant by Jerry Hunter.
- Teach my partner 5 more phrases.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Language Reading Challenge

I've just discovered that Shannon from Eurolinguiste hosts a language reading challenge. The challenge doesn't necessarily mean you have to read loads of books in your target language - just look at the monthly themes for 2017. I'm jumping in a bit late in the day, but hey ho, better late than never!

August's theme is: A children's book in your target language.

I have my copy of Harry Potter à l'école des sorciers (Harry Potter and the philosopher's stone) by J. K. Rowling. I'm not at an advanced level in French, but I plan to just read through it since I already know the story. The book has seventeen chapters so reading four chapters a week should be easy easy enough. Having my notebook next to me to jot down new words and phrases will be a must!

Monday, 24 July 2017

My first steps in Polish

I think the first step is being able to read Polish - to be able to look at a word and know how it's supposed to sound. Take a look at this word: Szczęście (happiness). Would you know how to say it? If you've never encountered Polish text before it looks daunting. If you take your time to learn the sounds of the alphabet, you'll be well on your way.

Before you start, the best thing to do is look at how to pronounce the letters and letter combinations.

I found a good video on Youtube by Course of Polish:




Another helpful page I found is from Mówić Po Polsku. They have a page dedicated to the Polish alphabet and pronunciation, with sound clips of every sound in the language, and a guide on when to use certain sounds before particular letters.

I hope this helps you!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

#ClearTheList - July 2017 Language Goals

#ClearTheList is a language learning community that allows language learners to share their monthly language goals. This will be my first ever #ClearTheList as my blog is new! It's a good way to hold yourself accountable, and seeing what other learners are doing to inspire and motivate you!

#ClearTheList is hosted by Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Lindsay of Lindsay Does Languages, Kris Broholm of Actual Fluency, and Angel Pretot of French Lover. Check out their blogs!

So, here's my goal list for July...

French

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Book two italki lessons.
Read one chapter of Harry Potter à l'École des Sorciers.
Write a brief overview of my week in notes on italki (on Sunday).
Learn all the words (and their meaning) to the song "Si Jamais J'oublie" by Zaz.
Attend a French speaking meet up.


Japanese

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Buy a Japanese character workbook.


Swedish

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Search for a Swedish youtube channel to follow.
Learn 10 new words a week.

Polish

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Learn 10 new words a week.


Hakka

Create a Memrise course and add to it.
Research more to find online and offline resources.


Welsh

Continue with Memrise and Duolingo.
Buy a Welsh novel.
Find Welsh podcasts to listen to.
Teach my partner 10 phrases.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

italki Diversity Language Challenge

italki is a website that puts you in touch with other language learners and teachers from around the world - there are over a million people learning and teaching over a hundred languages!

I've used italki to chat with other language learners in their native language in exchange for mine, but I have yet to have a lesson with a tutor. There are two different types of tutor - a professional tutor, who will most likely have certification in language teaching in the languages they teach, and community tutors who will teach in a more informal setting.

italki is running a language challenge through July titled "Diversity" and its aim, along with Wikitongues, is to encourage people to pick up a minority language to keep those languages alive! At the rate we are losing languages, we expect to lose 3000 of them in the next eighty years. Wikitongues are, through the aid of volunteers, documenting languages to preserve texts and spoken word so that not only the words are not lost, but also the cultural heritage.




I didn't chose the language I'm about to start learning. I had no real reason to start learning a new language, but I was intrigued. A few days before the challenge started I put a list of some of the featured languages up on the notice board at work for my colleagues to choose for me! The languages chosen were put into a hat, and the winning language was drawn. They drew "Chinese (other)" which meant I had to chose a Chinese minority language! There are so many languages and dialects that my head is spinning. Apparently Hakka isn't too difficult to learn, so I'll have a go at that.

I don't think I'll successfully complete the challenge, not because I don't think I can learn the language, but because of the time and money I'll have to spend to complete it. The challenge expects you to spend 12, 16, or 20 hour studying with their tutors (that's 3, 4, or 5 hours a week), and when you think about the numbers, that's a lot of money. Even if you use a tutor who only charges $8 an hour, that will be $96 if you aim for the 12 hour mark. I don't have that kind of money to throw around on a language in one month and finding three 1 hour blocks of time in a week is challenging enough in my hectic schedule!

Instead, my plan is to learn the language and log my time outside of the challenge. I will probably have a couple of lessons through italki this month but these will be for French as that's my main language focus. I have heard lots of good things from others using italki so it's about time I have a couple of lessons soon!

Anyway, back to Hakka. I'm looking forward to learning more about this language and finding good resources to share with you. I'm all for keeping languages alive!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Learning Casually

Here's where I am in my language learning:

English - native
Welsh - native
French - low intermediate
Polish - ultimate beginner
Japanese - ultimate beginner
Swedish - ultimate beginner

During the last 3 years I have developed an interest in language learning and found myself hooked by the polyglot community! So far I've only been learning casually with apps, a bit of foreign music on Spotify, a few Youtube videos and such, without getting into anything too heavy.

I'm beginning to realise I need to be more structured, and to start sinking my teeth a bit deeper into the languages. My language goal for this week will be focused on just sitting down and working out a plan. I've been inspired by a post by Lindsay Does Languages for this goal setting task.

This is not the time to be vague. It's time to sit down and work out the steps I need to take to get closer to acheiving my goal.

French - intermittent use of Duolingo and Memrise. Listening to my French playlist on Spotify. Supbscribed to Frencheezee on Youtube.
Japanese - intermittent use of Memrise.
Polish - intermittent use of Memrise.
Swedish - intermittent use of Duolingo and Memrise. A Swedish friend helped me with some pronunciation tips.
Welsh - offered a full translation for the game Hyper Sentinel (still in production).

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Languages are not hard!

A little bit of my language background

I grew up bilingual, so I've already got two languages under my belt (English and Welsh), and when I got to secondary school, we started learning French - language numero trois! Then a weird choice was given to us in our third year of secondary school, where we got to do an extra class, but we had to choose between Drama and German. I was not made for the stage and I'd been enjoying French, so naturally I chose to study German - language Nummer vier! However, German for me wasn't as enjoyable as French was. Maybe it was the teacher, maybe it was the learning methods, maybe it was me. Who knows? It was a long time ago now!

Anyway, let's skip forward in time a bit. I moved to a city from rural Wales in 2007 and I made new connections and friendships. I was introduced to a Polish girl back then and we're still good friends now. Whenever I hear her speak Polish I'm just amazed that those sounds mean anything! However, I wasn't inspired to learn her language or even revisit the ones I'd studied at school.

Fast forward a bit more, and I start a knitting group (hey, don't judge!) made of friends and friends of friends! A few of them spoke other languages. One speaks some Polish as her family on her dad's side is Polish, and she spent time in Russia and France, so she speaks some French and Russian. Another studied French, and two others are Swedish. Talking about languages crops up almost every meeting! It really got me thinking about picking up the French and German that I'd forgotten but I didn't actively pursue it.

One day, while watching some TED talks (not actually about language learning), I came across a video by Benny Lewis which inspired me:



Polyglot. What? I'd never heard of this word before. I couldn't imagine that there are people out there that can speak up to 20 languages (at various levels). I immediately went to Benny Lewis' blog - Fluent in 3 Months and read some of the posts. I started to see that there was quite a large language learning community online with so many people learning and teaching with lots of free resources. I quickly downloaded some apps, watched videos online and read blogs. It turns out that I had to get to my thirties before I wanted to rekindle my love for languages. It's never too late!

French was the language I wanted to pick up. France is only a stone's throw away from the UK and it's spoken in many parts of the world. So it began. I started using an app called Duolingo to casually ease me into it, a little app I came across through reading language blogs that takes a mere couple of minutes to complete short vocabulary building lessons. I was hooked! Two years later and I'm nowhere near fluent as I fit language learning around my hectic work life but I can have basic conversations with natives! The more I delve into the language learning community, the more I want to learn and succeed.

Over the last couple of years, I started with French, and I've recently added Japanese, Polish and Swedish to the list of languages I'm learning. Because I have a limited amount of time in my life to study, I know I'm not going to reach a good level as quickly as others and I'm ok with that.
There are no quick fixes to learning a language - you have to work at it. The only thing you can do is make it fun and fit it around your current work life.

My aim here on this blog isn't to tell you how to learn a language. This blog is here to share my journey with you and share the resources I find useful. I hope it will help you!