01:54 How much do I speak?
03:44 What language?
05:46 Input or output?
I can’t believe it’s been one month! The time really zoomed by. For a three-month challenge like this, I find it appropriate to give monthly updates, so here I am. Spoiler warning: the progress isn’t exactly ideal.
I’m a music student, and this month was a month full of my friends’ graduation concerts, which, for me, entailed rehearsals and concerts every day and evening. I also had to finish a musical composition within the past month. It was really hard, but I’m not going to let this become an excuse to slack off. So as I so happened to have written before, despite my plans for intensive study, I reduced my learning activities, but made sure they were consistent. It’s more important to do something every single day than do a lot on one day.
So here’s a quick run-through of my project progress!
Aaaaand so, I’m back. From the craziness of university. But more craziness is coming on.
I never liked these ‘three months’ challenges, especially how overused this particular length is. But it just happens so that I’m going to Italy, for the second time in my life, in (a bit less than) three months.
The Italian language was always on my radar: after all, it’s the one language that’s most closely associated with music. I read Italian words on a daily basis in my musical scores – which is why I often joke that I have a wide (if highly specialised) vocabulary base for someone who doesn’t speak the language at all.
And around a month ago, I was notified that I was accepted at an international festival for composers near Milan, and immediately decided this was an unmissable opportunity for the polyglot side of me as well. After all, I’ll be there for two weeks, unlike my last trip, which was shorter and more touristic. So off I go!
It’s been a while since I wrote something about my own language learning hobby, rather than my more educationally minded column. And fairly recently (around a week ago), I made a decision that might sound like a big deal or a dumb idea to many, but a small change in direction to me.
I started ‘dabbling’ in Kazakh.
That doesn’t mean much to my daily life, to be honest. Since I’ve pretty much been feeling on holiday for a year, I’ve long had a ‘main’ language I’m working on, then some others I ‘toy’ with. Before this, I was maintaining a 50-day streak in Hebrew on Duolingo. I also listened to 5 days of Glossika GSR in Lithuanian, just because I’d bought the package during a sale. In short? My other toys are going bye-bye for now.
Before I talk about ‘dabbling’, let me reveal my reasons for trying out this language, and you’ll easily see the fun of dabbling in any language. Beware: all my reasons for learning any language are incredibly specific to myself.
I can’t believe it’s been eight whole months since I took my TISUS test, switched Swedish from “learn” to “improve” mode and picked up the language I’d been intended to try out for a year – Polish. (In fact, my Polish Glossika package had been lying around in my hard drive for quite a long time.) Fast forward to two months ago, I was attempting to test out my Polish skills for the first time with the surprisingly numerous Polish participants at the Polyglot Gathering. And around a month ago, I stepped foot on Polish soil again, spending entire evenings with friends I made in Berlin. Did it work? Yes and no. I think it’s about time I reflected on what I’ve done so far, how far I’ve gone, what I’ve done right or wrong and how I’ll go forward.
A difficult language
I have a confession to make. Why did I start learning Polish? When people ask me this, I usually bullshit things like Chopin. But the real motivation I had was to take on the “most difficult language of the world”. But what makes a language difficult?
Hot on the heels of my successful Swedish exam (i.e. sitting it…again we’ll get the results later), I’ve decided to do a brief summary of the Swedish learning resources I (honestly) liked the most in the 3 months I’ve learnt it. Each person has their own method of learning and hence preferred resources and materials, but if you happen to be a learner like me, or you just need a good list to get started learning Swedish, varsågoda! By the way, you’ll soon realise that I’m a big fan of electronic means of learning!
Colloquial Swedish: although I’d done some vocab (and other stuff that I don’t remember) beforehand, my Swedish studies didn’t really take off until August, when I found more time to go through this book quickly. (Thanks to writing this post, I now have a sure response when people ask how long I’ve learnt Swedish – fluent in 3 months! I kept saying “several” or “4 or 5” months before.) I don’t like to dwell on this kind of textbook too long, especially the exercises, because I’d rather move on to ‘authentic’ materials as soon as possible, just like Steve Kaufmann. But this gave me a solid foundation to build up on, and particularly helped me find out similarities and differences to German.Continue reading
Hej everyone!!! I’m so sorry I’ve been off the blog for almost an entire month. In my sprint challenge announcement post, I pledged to write at least one article in Swedish every week. And guess what? I failed miserably: not only did I not write more than one Swedish article, but I also didn’t write anything else either. It was the stress of the looming test date/deadline telling me to focus on maximising my vocabulary and boosting my fluency, and ultimately I just let my inner sloth take over and convince my rational self that I didn’t have the time to write that much. In fact I didn’t manage to write one single essay before my test, which might have been bad – who knows?
At the time of writing, I’ve been in Sweden for around a month and a half. I’ve sure been having a good time, hanging out with friends from all over the world. But what’s been happening language-wise? On surface, not much. I mean I’ve made some Swedish friends, in addition to local students on the same corridor, but they aren’t really someone I say ‘hej’ regularly to. And of course, all the rumours about swedes being ‘too’ proficient in English or difficult to befriend kick in (I mean they aren’t really rumours – just facts), leaving me in this terrible fear of talking to people and trying to make friends.
So so far what I’ve been doing is studying quite intensively: listening and reading on LingQ, going through a quite academic book while copying vocabulary – like the good old days in school – and talking to myself, in hopes of reaching that ‘critical point’ where I can understand what’s said to me and speak something that at least makes sense. I have a feeling that deep under, I’m improving by leaps and bounds, but it just doesn’t come out. I feel defeated whenever I have to ask ‘vad sa du?”, my tongue ties or I receive a reply in English. (From an immigrant!) I decided I have to change this: I have to make a shift from input to output. And I’m giving myself a challenge to do this.