New year is one of my favourite holidays, because I’m such a crazy planner and list-maker and reviewer. I love to look back and say “Wow, what a year” and think about everything I learned and experienced, and I enjoy looking forward and planning and setting goals, too.
I revived my language learning hobby during last year, and it means this year I had one more exciting thing to make plans and set goals for. This post includes not only a review for December and my goals for January, but also a few words about my plans for 2017 as a whole.
Review: December 2016
Seems than even if beforehand you think that you don’t really have to worry about anything at all and you’ll have plenty of time to do all the holiday preparations, December always just ends up being crazy anyway. It feels like I had more stuff to do than in the last four months altogether.
So I didn’t have time to blog, even though I had some plans for a post or two. I’ll have to save those for this month. But what’s really important, I did manage to squeeze in some language learning!
The bigger picture: Multiple languages but switching focus
Looking at the big picture of my language learning, I had two major challenges:
trying to learn multiple languages at the same time – I hadn’t really done that in a few years – and switching focus from French to Russian. The two goals are related, they both meant I had to optimize the amount of time and effort spent on each language.
In the beginning I did notice that I was kind of drawn to my usual French activities resisted picking up the new methods for Russian, but in the end, I’d say I succeeded in this larger scale goal. I’m definitely more focused on Russian now, while I managed to keep up a decent pace with the other two languages, too.
My most important goal was to keep up the tandem learning project: meeting twice a week and doing the pre-tasks assigned to me by my tandem partner. We had to skip two or three meetings due to one nasty cold and some end-of-term panic, but in general, I think we both worked quite hard and it’s been very useful so far!
I also planned to translate two dialogues from my textbook per week, but I’d say I did one per week on average. In addition to that, my intention was to complete one 25-lesson course on Babbel plus 20 grammar lessons. Did 20/25 lessons, and only 9 grammar lessons.
Oh, well. December happened.
I did pretty much everything I planned: three sets of Goldlist each week, listening to the audiobook two or three times per week and some Babbel review, although the latter just once a week instead of the two I’d planned.
I wanted to read more regularly but I didn’t. I finished Sommarboken the first week, then found myself a new book, Vägen till Jerusalem, but only managed to start reading it in the holidays.
Clara Henry vlogs I did watch every week. I didn’t do the test myself and watch a movie without subtitles. Don’t really know if I’m that much into Swedish movies.
But I visited Stockholm and bought tickets to Fotografiska and ordered a coffee and a Kokosboll. 😀 Not exactly a huge achievement for my upposed-to-be advanced Swedish, but at least I didn’t even consider speaking English in those situations.
All in all… I might feel like I did bad because I slipped from so many of my goals, but the great thing about having found the language learning community of the Internet is that I know everyone else struggled to keep up with their routine in December, too. It’s just normal I guess. I still did a lot!
My motto for the new year: Don’t be discouraged! Even if you end up falling off your routine, the most important thing is that you will pick it up again.
Language learning goals for January 2017
So many new things will be starting in January and I’ll be really busy, so I know I’ll have to be realistic with my language learning goals. So I’ll do slightly less in total, but my main goal is to just keep finding time for at least a little bit of languages every day.
I made myself a new tracker (you can see it in the cover picture of this post) to ease my weekly planning and to keep better track on my goals. Each Sunday I’ll plan ahead my language activities for the next week.
Russian will still be my main project. I’m continuing the tandem learning project, one meeting per week plus the exercises my tandem partner plans for me.
To support the tandem learning I’ll do some textbook practice, Babbel lessons and watch a series and some news.
I didn’t really warm for the translation method I tried last month, but I’ll give it another go. I was translating chapters I’d actually already studied a couple of years ago on my Russian course in uni, because I felt like I’ve forgotten everything, but in the end I think I actually remembered more than expected and it was a bit boring to translate the stuff I already new. So now I’ll move on to the chapters I never studied before. I’ll translate one dialogue per week.
I also really decided to do something about the cases, which I really haven’t gotten my head around. In the holidays I did a kind of a summary poster of all the cases. I thought that would help me remember how they work, because my university Russian did cover all of them – but the thing is, I just haven’t learnt them properly, and making the summary proved me that.
So to begin with, I’ll do all the case excercises from my textbook, two cases per week. There are approximately three exercises per case so not too many, but that’s a start.
To be honest, the Babbel lessons have been too easy so far. I’ll see for another month, if it’s any use. I’ll do six lessons per week.
Series and news
I’ve been watching a telenovela series called Бедная Настя (Bednaya Nastya) or Poor Nastya for about 25 episodes so far, and it’s the perfect stress-free language resource for me. It’s a slightly silly melodramatic story set in imperial Russia in the 19th century.
It’s with subtitles and I don’t even try to write down any new words or do anything active while watching it, so not much effort is involved, but I do recognize a lot of words and sentences all the time, so I think it’s useful anyway. I’ll try to watch one 40 minute episode per week.
In addition, I’ll start watching news in Russian at least once a week. The Finnish National Television airs news in Russian every day so it’s very easily available for me.
I’ll keep watching the weekly vlog from Clara Henry and try to read the novel Vägen till Jerusalem, let’s say 30 pages per week . (I’m a slow reader in any language)
I’ve dropped the French Babbel now, and will simply keep doing my Goldlist three sets per week and listen to an audiobook for half an hour or so.
It’s very little time for Swedish and French, but I hope it’ll be enough to keep me from forgetting too much…
OH. By the way!
I didn’t include a review of last year as a whole, but this tells something about what happened in my 2016 of languages.
I’ve just recently found a French artist, Indila, whose music I’ve really fallen in love with, and I had the most thrilling experience, when listening to the song Boite en argent (well, looping it, to be honest, that’s what I do when I fall for a song).
I’d really listened to it maybe two times before and I started to realize I actually understand what they’re singing. I mean, not just a few words or the chorus, but majority of the whole song. That never happens to me with French songs! I always had to listen again and again and again and then still check the lyrics somewhere and still make an effort to translate it.
So I started paying attention to it, and I actually understand a lot of French lyrics now. So I’ve definitely made a friggin’ lot of progress last year!
Can’t even describe how happy I was!
Plans for the year 2017
New year is always a great moment to make some bigger plans, so I gave a thought or two to the big picture of my languages. Here’s a rough plan for an awesome year in languages:
January–April: Where can my get my Russian in four months?
I think I’ll keep my focus on Russian until the end of April. Perhaps even May, we’ll see. I should be able to make quite some progress in that time. I’m excited to see how much!
May–June: Swedish, how I’ve missed you, don’t go away again
I think I’ll dedicate a month or two for Swedish in May-June. It seems like it’s about time then; it’ll be a year since I left Sweden after my exchange. And for no reason, I just love Swedish. Lovelovelove. I’ll let the midsummer warmth melt the ice. And from then on, I’ll work harder to keep it away!
January–June: French – from understanding to speaking
Last year, I’ve taken a huge leap with my understanding of French, but I still don’t know how well I actually speak… I’ll come up with a way to practice speaking starting in February and gradually add the amount of practice towards the summer.
July–September: New (old) language!
If I’m happy enough with my progress, perhaps I can give myself the permission to dig out another language I used to study ages ago. Japanese, or German? We’ll see!
October–December: Fight the freeze
It get’s harder to think what I actually want to do, the further in the future we go, but right now I think I could try out some sort of a review cycle, changing which language I have my main focus on, brushing up my existing language skills (of course learning some new stuff too). How often should I give more practice to a language to prevent it from freezing? Or how much time is little enough continuously, to keep up a language or even make some slow progress? I’ll see if I can start finding the answers. Any of your experiences would be interesting to hear!
That’s my plan. I’d love to hear about yours.
I hope you all have an amazing, thrilling and wonderful year in language learning!