Language Learning Goals for July 2017

Oh my. Mid July.

Half of the summer is still left, but it’s not too early to say that, like all the summers, this one is too short. I haven’t even been to a terrace on a hot day for a cold beer yet. I’ve hardly had time to sit on the balcony and enjoy a warm summer evening. I haven’t even bought any flowers to put on the balcony yet. I only spent two weekends on a summer cottage. And I hardly even started my Swedish summer!

Well, half of the summer is still left. And at least the last problem is going to be fixed right now.

This post is inspired by the Clear the list challenge hosted by Lindsy Williams from Lindsay does languagesShannon of EurolinguisteKris Broholm and Angel Pretot.

Clear The List

 

Review: June and May 2017

In June, I knew I was going to have so much work to do, I shouldn’t even try to fit too much language learning in. I had to finish my thesis, and even though in the end I guess I didn’t work any more hours on it than the months before, just the thought of finishing it was so huge that I had to empty my head of anything else.

So I’d decided not to even do Clear the list and language goal setting in June. But actually, when I started to get all the email notifications from the blogs I follow and see the Instagram posts about CTL posts made by my fellow language learners, I nearly changed my mind — I determined some goals, I made a monthly tracker and I started to draft a CTL post. I got so inspired by everyone else setting their goals. That is what Clear the list truly is about!

In the end, I didn’t write the post, but I think that having set my (non-ambitious) goals resulted in that I didn’t stop all language learning completely in June. Here’s how my tracker in June looks like:

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Haha, it’s so empty. But it is better than nothing! Even though my goals for Swedish were more about trying out different things and finding the best resources for when I could get back on track in July, it did help me to do at least some listening and either reading or writing in Swedish each week. Besides that, I had one tandem meeting in Russian and two occasions of speaking French (the second of which was a totally unplanned one — I’ll share some thoughts on it another time!).

Since I skipped June’s Clear the List I didn’t review May’s goals, either. Here’s a quick look to how I did:

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Did almost everything I’d planned: especially worth mentioning are loads of reviewing my old notes in Russian, my most active Instagram Language Challenge month so far, and finally finishing Vägen till Jerusalem.

I’m not going into more detail about what I did in May or June for now. I’m more eager to get to the goals part, and back on the language learning track!

Learning Goals for July 2017

I decided already in January, that in June and July it would be time for Svensk sommar — Swedish summer. So after six months of focus on Russian, I’m switching Swedish as my main learning project for a while! (I’ve written in this post about how I’ve come to study Swedish and what is my history with it)

This means switching from my weakest foreign language to my second strongest one, making the study routines I need to develop very different from what my Russian routines have been. And actually, to a great extent, my Swedish Summer is at first going to be about defrosting more than making progress.

Besides that, I’ll just try and keep up my current level of French and Russian.

Swedish

I guess you could say that under the frost somewhere, Swedish is my “stuck in the intermediate plateau” language. (If you’re not familiar with the concept, google that phrase and you’ll find TONS of polyglots writing about it). I’m pretty good but not fluent. I estimate my reading is definitely C1, my listening almost there as well, and my writing and speaking somewhere on the long way from B to C. (In terms of CEFR)

With this background, I’ve been wondering for a few months already, what could be the best approach for me to take on Swedish learning. I’ve decided I need to try and create an immersion environment for myself. That means surrounding myself with the language as much as possible. That forms the backbone of my goal for July: listen, read, speak or write something every day.

Like I said, this is very different from what I’ve been doing for the last half a year, and I’m actually quite inexperienced about immersion learning. I’m not sure how to structure my goals in terms of different activities, either. And I’m slightly lost about which resources I even want to use… But I decided to write this post even if I can’t really formulate my goals that well this time, because just writing my ideas down might clarify them a bit. Of course, any tips and suggestions are very welcome!

One thing about immersion is, I should aim to switch to Swedish in not just some of the stuff I normally do in Finnish but especially the stuff I do in English. Normally, I read news, listen to music, google things etc. a lot in English without even thinking about it. During my toughest thesis writing stress weeks, I occasionally felt the need for some relaxing meditation, and automatically searched for a podcast in English — until I realised I could find one in Swedish. This is something I need to pay attention to, to find opportunities to practice Swedish every day.

Here are some thought on the resources I’m planning to use:

Listening

I’ve found some really nice podcasts – something I haven’t utilised in language learning so far – and SVT, the Swedish National Television has a lot of programs online. I’ll start with those. I also made a Swedish playlist on Spotify. It’d be fun to find some Swedish vloggers on YouTube but so far I haven’t found ones that would really interest me.

Reading

Because I started to get a bit bored with Vägen till Jerusalem — not because it wasn’t interesting, but because it took me ages to finish it — I decided not to read the sequel at least right away.

I stumbled upon another book when visiting a friend of mine, who was moving home. She was getting rid of some books, and told me I could take anything if I wanted.

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So I decided to read Där vi en gång gått by Kjell Westö. The author is from Finland and the book is about Helsinki in the early 20th century. It has received the Finlandia price, the most appreciated literary award in Finland, in 2006. Reading the first few chapters of the book have already made me rethink my relationship to the Swedish language… I think I’ll write another post about that.

Writing

I’ve been kind of lacking ideas for what and where to write in Swedish. I usually write quite a lot of stuff by hand, I make notes and lists and everything, in Finnish of course, and last month, I made a few of my to do -lists in Swedish. This is something I could do more of, but I’m not sure if it’s very efficient, since it’s not about writing complete sentences. I could also write my diary in Swedish.

Speaking

As always, this is the trickiest part… I’ve been thinking about booking a few lessons on italki just to get started. Maybe I should also find a language buddy or ask if any of my Swedish friends from would like to have a Skype or something. I’m a bit nervous about that though, as I’m used to speaking English with them, and I haven’t been in touch with them for a while, anyway.

Today I actually spontaneously started speaking to myself in Swedish when driving the car. I’m not good at speaking to myself even though it would be a great way to practice… but I managed to go on for quite a few minutes. This spontaneous moment of talkativeness was triggered by Google Maps navigator which I had set into giving me instructions in Swedish! 😀

Russian

I’ll keep it relaxed, I think some study time once a week is enough this month. Depending on what I feel like doing, I’ll continue reviewing my notes, listening to an audiobook, or writing my diary. I’ll also try to arrange one meeting with my tandem partner, we’ve had too long of a break.

French

Actually, this month will be exciting in terms of French, since we’re traveling to Paris in the end of July! We’ll stay five days. I know it’s the classic situation where you build a lot of expectations on a short stay in the country of your target language, and then often get disappointed by how little you managed to speak. I’m travelling with my boyfriend who only speaks a few basic phrases so I don’t even want to spend the whole holiday finding people to get into lengthy conversations with. BUT I will definitely speak some French. Every day. That’s decided. That’s my main goal in French for this month.

So in this two weeks (wait, what!?) time that remains before our trip, I’ll try and prepare for speaking in Paris. That means I need to refresh my traveler’s phrases and prepare for some small talk… How do you prepare for trips to where your target language is spoken? I’d love to hear some ideas!

So yes, in general, my goals are slightly less organised and concrete than usually. It’s partially because of losing my routine during last months break, which I’ll try and get back this month. But some of it is just about summer, I’m sure. Overwhelming, green and warm and light and beautiful summer. I don’t want to stress.

May this be a relaxed and happy month of languages!

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PS. I added some categories for all my posts so you can find more easily what the kind of articles you are interested to read. You can see the categories on the right hand side of the front page, below the “Recent posts”.

Weather Forecast for May 2017 (And My Language Learning Goals)

Talking about the weather is probably one of the most widespread small talk topic across different cultures, right? It may be an old stereotype that Finns don’t do small talk, but I’d say it is mainly false and it certainly doesn’t apply when it comes to chatting about the weather. Although, I don’t know if it always fits in the criteria of light small talk; you could also say we like to obsess about the weather, especially around holidays. Will there be snow on Christmas? Will it be cold and rainy on Midsummer? When will it finally get warmer? Will it snow on May Day? Having our four very distinct seasons and often rather passionate feelings about each of them, we can get very worked up over whether, for instance, the progress of spring is as fast as we would like to expect (usually it isn’t).

What does this have to do with my Clear the list -post? Well, I was trying to think of the first sentence of this post, and found myself writing “Wow, it’s May already”, and then something about the weather. I love each of the four seasons (although my love for summer doesn’t run out, like the love for winter does around March) and I definitely like to obsess about the weather and the progress of spring. So you’ll probably find me starting each of these monthly reviews with a weather report and some happy or less happy expectations about what the weather will be like by the end of the month.

So Tuesday this week started in Helsinki with a blizzard. Yes, a blizzard. No exaggeration there. Today we got a hail shower. Only a few until May Day, a holiday we like to celebrate by going out on picnics. It’s usually really cold anyway, though. Sometimes it snows.

Last time I wrote that I know April will bring spring with it. Well, even though the spring is still kind of cold and snow-showery, it is here: birds are chirping like crazy, tiny green things are pushing out of the ground everywhere if you look closely, and on sunny days, you cab go out in a lighter jacket (if you are brave, because sleet storm may appear when you least expect it).

And May is a month that will bring summer!

The seasons move so fast, and that just seems to highlight the how fast the time flies. It feels like I just wrote the previous learning goal post, and now it’s that time again.

This post is inspired by the Clear the list challenge hosted by Lindsy Williams from Lindsay does languages, Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Kris Broholm and Angel Pretot.

Clear The List

Review: April 2017

April was good. Rather busy and I worked hard to turn in a first draft of my Thesis before Easter, but I found that when I needed a break from working or wanted to do something relaxing after a long week, I was drawn to my language activities and didn’t suffer from language laziness at all.

I was using my tracker actively to plan activities for each week beforehand, here’s how it looks now (many of this week’s activities are still waiting to be done):

File 27.4.2017 21.37.16

Russian

Tandem: Meeting once a week – Done three weeks, one we had to skip because we were both so busy. But that week I managed to find a bit of time to review some of the early Tandem meetings. Watching the videos my partner had found me to watch for the very first meetings, I was happy to notice I could understand them a lot better than I remember I could back then! I also prepared better for the meetings this month. But still didn’t review enough afterwards…
Babbel Review once a week –
Done! I have a feeling I’ve pretty much learned all the vocab there is in my Babbel Review manager (it’s only around 300 phrases).
Translate two dialogues from my textbook – Almost done, I think I’ll finish the second one this weekend.
Reading Ася – Класс!ное чтение -reading practice book one chapter per week – Done, finished reading it!
Audiobook 2-3 times a week – Done!
Write one entry per week in my diary in Russian – Done, except this week, but I still have time. This was fun! I’ll never know if what I write is correct, but it gives me confidence to notice I can actually describe my day in Russian and manage to find an alternative way to express something I first felt like I can’t write.
One set of verb grammar exercises from the textbook each week
 – Done! And still enjoyed it 😀

French

Listening to an audiobook 2 times a week – Sometimes just once a week, but basically done.
Writing and reading something each week – I actually ended up just writing OR reading each week, taking turns on which skill I focused on. I read some science article on Le Monde and another time I read some travel site and looked for ideas of what to do in Paris, and I picked a random education video about sustainability, transcribed it and then tried to write my own sentences using some expressions from the video. This was quite fun!
Speaking French with a friend – Done, we met once. I’m so happy I’ve got this opportunity to practice speaking and especially that I’ve gotten to know her, she’s great! I also keep getting amazed by what kind of topics I manage to keep up a conversation about with my French. This month I was explaning about the Finnish Defence Forces and voluntary military service – not exactly my everyday topic in any language…

Swedish

Reading Vägen till Jerusalem – I managed to read a bit more this month because I took the book with me and read on the bus sometimes. Bedtime reading is not my thing, it seems. Now I’m about halfway through the book…

So still going strong all in all, and still quite happy with my routines!

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Learning Goals for May 2017

Last month I wrote I need to decide after April, if I’ll continue with Russian as my main learning project or if I’m ready to give it a rest. Well – definitely not ready! I feel like I’m only now getting the hang of it! So another month of Russian sprint, French and Swedish marathon (these two terms I’ve borrowed from Katie at Joy of Languages).

As for goals in each language, they haven’t changed much from last month. I want to push my Russian learning a bit further from the comfort zone, try to challenge myself and study slightly more deliberately. I’ll try to review what I learned a bit more often and try to apply what I learn to something new in my everyday life, and I’ll try to read and write more, to get more comfortable with it. This month I’m also adding a goal to acquire a lot more vocabulary!

Russian

Speaking: Tandem and Review

Tandem meetings once a week, prepare well and review afterwards. In addition to that, I’ll start doing review of my Russian notebook three times a week. The notebook is full and I’ll start a new one, and it seems like a great idea to go through the old notebook and pick the words and phrases I still haven’t learned and maybe move it to the new notebook. I’ll review by reading and writing but I’ll also add some speaking to the review sessions, for instance by doing Instagram videos.

Listening: Audiobook and Review

I’ll keep listening to audiobooks twice a week, and also review more of the old tandem practice videos.

Reading

I got a bit carried away in the library and borrowed a pile of Russian learning materials and children’s picture books (the library had a great many alternatives to choose from). I’ll try to read some of the “Болшой Атлас для самых маленьких” once a week and go through a few chapters of Book2 Russian-Finnish phrasebook twice a week.

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Writing

I’ll keep on writing my diary in Russian once a week and writing grammar exercises from my textbook once a week.

French and Swedish

Same goals as before: In French, I’ll try to practice each of the core skills, so write, read, listen and speak something every week or every other week. I’ll use the same techniques and activities as last month.

In Swedish, I really want to finish Vägen till Jerusalem, but that would mean reading about three times more than last month. We’ll see.

There we go! I hope by the end of May, it will be sunny and warm and you and I will be happy language learners with a lot of goals reached!

Language Learning Goals for April 2017

Hello, April! Here in Helsinki, you started out a bit too snowy and cold to my liking, but I know you will bring spring with you. And the light and longer days are already making me feel a lot more energetic and productive. This month in languages will be good, I feel it!

This post is inspired by the Clear the list challenge hosted by Lindsy Williams from Lindsay does languages, Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Kris Broholm and Angel Pretot.

Clear The List

Review: March 2017

I’m happy to say, after a less organized February, I got back on track. For March I did tune down some of my goals and left out some activities to keep it lighter, just enough to make getting everything done more achievable. This worked nicely, I felt like I had a very suitable pace. And I managed to plan ahead each week, which was once again an excellent way to keep me focused and really do stuff.

My tracker from March shows what I planned to do and what I actually did:

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Russian

Tandem: Meeting once a week – Done! Although a problem that started towards the end of February kind of continued: I wasn’t preparing enough for the meetings (like looking up vocabulary and sentences and structures that could be useful). I still struggle a lot in the conversations if I’m not prepared.
Translate two dialogues from my textbook –
Done! This was a better goal than one dialogue per week, which I had earlier, which just wasn’t doable for me right now.
One set of case exercises from the textbook each week – Done! I noticed I actually enjoy these grammar exercises. Weird? 😀
Babbel Review twice a week – Done! I find this really useful. Sure, it’s about memorizing certain phrases, which is kind of passive learning, but I find it slowly helps me get better at building sentences of my own, too, and to apply grammar rules for example. When I for example memorize examples of which case is used in a certain context, it is then easier to pick the correct case in other situations too.
Audiobook three times a week – Done, well twice a week, but basically I was listening to an audiobook, either in French or in Russian, whenever I had the chance. I’ve fallen in love with audiobooks, I listen to them on the bus, while I’m cooking or cleaning, when I’m waiting, when I’m relaxing, when I go jogging… Love it.
Watching news at least once a week – Nope. I watched them once. It’s just an activity that only takes a few minutes and I still can’t bring myself to do it… The YLE Novosti (Finnish National TV has daily news in Russian) are too boring, it’s always too much about the defence forces. Im not sure what to think about that; the news are for Russian speakers who live in Finland, and there are fewer topics than in the main news, so I suppose they should pick the stuff that they think is most interesting for the Russians in Finland… Anyway, therefore I tried Euronews, but in the end, couldn’t bother to search interesting pieces of news from there to watch.
Reading Ася – Класс!ное чтение -reading practice book one chapter per week – Done. The book is slightly over my level – which is good I guess, that’s what they say you’re supposed to do: Read something you can just about follow the main point of, while running into a lot of new vocabulary. It was a bit tiresome, but I managed to keep picking the book up once a week.

French

Listen to an audiobook for half an hour per week or so – Done! Like I said, I’m always listening to audiobooks now.
Song text exercise once a week – Did this twice. It wasn’t so much fun I’d have wanted to do it each week. But fun enough to do every other week! (So the idea is, I pick a song, try to figure out and write down the lyrics, then check.) I’m not sure if this counts as writing practice? Great for listening practice, surely.

Swedish

Vägen till Jerusalem: Read 30 pages (or so) each week – Ahem… maybe 3 pages per week 😀 I try to read in the evenings when I go to bed. That doesn’t work, because I’m always extremely tired at that point and usually I’m going to bed later than I’d like to anyway.

Extra (French and Swedish): I met again with my new French friend who is learning Swedish. We had great conversations, mainly in French but a bit of Swedsih too 🙂 I’m really happy about this chance to prove myself that yes, I can speak French!

All in all: Well done, me! The goals were realistic and the pace very suitable to fit in my current daily routines.But you may notice there were a few points I need to refine a bit about my study plan. And refine them is what I’ll do. That’s why this Clear the list challenge is so great, it helps you regularly review and refine what your doing.

Language learning goals for April 2017

This is an important month, because the second quarter of the year begins. It is time to look at the big picture a bit. Back in January, I made some rough plans for the whole year in languages – which languages I’n focus on, on a quarter of the year level. Here’s a quick recap for the wirst half of the year:

  • January-March: Intensive Russian, bit of more speaking in French, reading in Swedish
  • April-June: 1 or 2 more months of Russian, then one or 2 months for Swedish!

There are two points that matter now: First of all, I’ve done pretty much what I planend for the first quarter, except that I feel like my Russian studies could have been a bit more intensive. Secondly, after April, I should decide if I’ll do one more month with Russian as my main language, or is it time for Swedish already. (I need to underline, that I’m not too serious about these year-level plans, I might change them according to how I feel – but they do give me a sense of direction!)

As it may be my last month of Russian as a main language, perhaps it is time for a slight boost! As I just said the pace I had last month was really doable, I hope adding a few things won’t be pushing it too far. But then again, perhaps I won’t try to do more stuff, I’ll just try to make a bit more out of what I’m doing.

Something I’ll pay more attention to this month is practicing each main area of language: reading, writing, listening ans speaking. I’ve been following Kerstin Cable of Fluent Language, and one of the important rules in her language learning methods is paying attention to developing each of these core skills. This has inspired me to be more aware about that, too.

Russian

Speaking: Tandem and Babbel

Yes, these are both also about listening, but they are my main activities that develop speaking skills. We’ll probably keep meeting once a week with my Tandem partner. Babbel Review I’ll drop down to once a week (as I’m not adding new vocabulary anymore, there will be less and less to review when I move up in the spaced repetition levels).

In Tandem, I’ll put a little more effort into really picking all the new words and structures I learn, and reviewing them afterwards.

Listening: Audiobook

Keep listening 2-3 times per week. I think I’ll also try and write down some useful structure or two I pick up, while listening.

Reading my practice book and new textbook dialogues

The same as before, reading one chapter per week. I’ll also make this reading practice more deliberate: I’ll either write a few sentences about what I read, or try doing the exercises behind the book.

I’ll also translate two dialogues from the textbook. This, of course, combines reading and writing.

Writing: Grammar exercises and diary!

Same as before: one set of grammar exercises per week. I’ll pick ones about verbs, this time, because I’ve already done all of the case exercises. This I count as writing practice, because most of the exercises include writing sentences.

Besides that, I’ll be brave and try to write each week one entry to my diary in Russian! I have a 5-year diary with just a few lines for each day, so it should be excellent for writing a few sentences in Russian. I’m excited about trying this. 🙂

In addition, of course, I’m in on the Instagram Language Challenge again!

French and Swedish

In French, I’ll also try to find some time for each of the core skills each week:

I’ll keep listening to the French audiobook. For writing, I think I’ll keep a few open alternatives – either more song text exercises, or perhaps writing a diary entry also in French from time to time, or just writing something about topics that interest me.

I think I’ll find some news articles or scientific texts to read, because I actually aim to get my French to a level where I could use it at work, and reading is the easiest area for me to start this more advanced practice. And for speaking, I think we’ll meet up with my friend again, at least once. Other than that, I could do one French video on IGLC each week!

In Swedish, just reading, still Vägen till Jerusalem. This month, I’ll try to keep the book with me and read at lunch breaks, on the bus etc. (When not listening to audiobooks ;))

Important piece of news: My journal got full and I have a new one and it is so pretty! Did I mention I love journals and notebooks? My tracker will look a bit different this month because the new journal is smaller. You’ll see in the next Clear the list post!

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So this is my plan for April and I think it is again better than last month! Can’t wait to put it into action!

Language Learning Goals for March 2017

A week late again, oops. Seems this is becoming a habit. Same explanation as last month: I did set up my goals by the end of February, but couldn’t find the energy to type them into a blog post until now – really getting my daily dose of typing and screen-staring at work!

This post is inspired by the Clear the list challenge hosted by Lindsy Williams from Lindsay does languages, Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Kris Broholm and Angel Pretot.

Clear The List

Review: February 2017

Well, let’s say I didn’t expect to have two months in a row like January was… First week was just fine. The second week I caught a cold and lied four days at home, with nothing else to do except my languages, so I guess I overdid it.

After that, I got kind of stressed out about not having done any of my Thesis while being sick, and besides, I was slowly getting into a more stressful stage of the project anyway. So the second half of  February, I let the habit of planning my week in languages slip, and so I didn’t get half of my weekly exercises done.

So here’s how I did:

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Russian

Tandem: Three meetings – Done! But the quality seemed to go down for me towards the end of the month: First an excellent job interview practice meeting, then one pretty basic, and the last one where I came really unprepared and felt like I couldn’t speak at all. 😀
Translate one dialogue per week
– I did two dialogues, couldn’t bother at all in the last week of the month…
Case exercises from two textbook chapters each week – I did four chapters in total, so one per week on average.
Six lessons per week on Babbel – Did 4-6 lessons per week.
One episode of Бедная Настя per week – I think I watched almost ten while I being forced to stay in bed in fever. The next week the site where I was watching them stopped working, boo! So no Nastya for the last two weeks.
Watching news at least once a week – Done for three weeks, then dropped it.
Vocabulary – I did this laid-back picking interesting words from a vocabulary thing twice a week until mid-February, then dropped it.

French

Goldlist: three sets per week – Done for two weeks, then dropped it. 😦 This I am a bit sad about.
Listen to an audiobook for half an hour or so – Done! I went for another book I’ve read in English: Twilight, which I of course loved as a teenager. The story is a bit silly, but I needed something easy for now, and it’s still fun to listen to a familiar story in a new language.

Swedish

Watch weekly vlog from Clara Henry – Skipped one week.
Vägen till Jerusalem: Read 30 pages (or so) each week – Very little reading done… I’m too tired in the evenings and the book is slightly heavy to read. But little is better than nothing.

Extra (French and Swedish): I met once with my new French friend to practice French and Swedish. I was really happy about being able to almost explain in French what my Thesis is about! (As I’m an engineering student, that’s not the most simple thing to explain even in Finnish).

So practically, I had one (and a half, perhaps) very unproductive week, otherwise I did alright! It’s just that I don’t think my goals were that ambitious, or rather, they were at a minimum level of languages that I’d like to be able to fit in my weeks. But as we Finns say:

Näyttökuva 2017-03-08 kello 20.07.51

Meaning, when the road gets rough, just keep going. Therefore…

Language learning goals for March 2017

Russian

Still my main learning project. I feel like I should do a bit more. I got some moments of success and now I’m hungry for more of the feeling of making progress… but I’m afraid I won’t have time for more. I’ve made some small changes though:

Same same but different: Tandem, Textbook, Babbel

In tandem, we’ll keep meeting once a week if we can find the time.

With the textbook, I’m letting myself ease it down with the translation practice, to two dialogues this month, and one set of grammar exercise per week.

And with Babbel, I unsubscribed the Russian courses, but the Review Manager is still available for me so I’ll review twice a week the stuff I’ve learned.

Reading

I thought last month I should find something to read in Russian in March. Then I remembered I got a  Класс!ное чтение -reading practice book from my tandem partner as a new year’s present! It’s a story called Ася, from a 19th century Russian author, Turgenev, with some kind of exercises attached.

That seems the perfect way to start practicing to read something more textbook chapters. I’m quite excited to try something new now!

I’ll try reading one chapter per week.

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Listening

When I was sick, I actually got very bored and ended up trying out something I didn’t think I could do: listening to an audiobook. It was better than expected. I’ll write about this experience in more detail later, but I’ll reveal, it’s my friend Harry Potter again. 😀

So I’ll do some audiobook listening three times a week and also try to squeeze in some news at least once a week, too.

In addition, I’ll keep doing the Instagram Language Challenge, hopefully more actively than last month.

French and Swedish

Unfortunately I do feel like I have to give up French Goldlist for now. It works better when I can do it nearly every day and am learning a lot of French with other methods at the same time. Now the three times a week combined with the audiobook only didn’t really feel motivating. So I’ll give it a break and get back to it in a month or two. Luckily, it shouldwork fine even after a break, since the words I learned are supposed to be in my long-term memory now 🙂

I’ll keep listening to the French audiobook two or three times a week. I also want to do a bit of writing. I thought I’d try out a song text exercise: I’ll pick a song, try to figure out and write down the lyrics, then check. I’ll do this once a week.

In Swedish, I’ll keep trying to read Vägendro till Jerusalem. Slowly but surely…

And, hopefully, another Swedish-French-meeting this month, too!

Language learning goals for February 2017

We’re one week into February already, eek!

For some reason, February always seems to pass quicker than other months. It is only a couple of days shorter than the others so that can’t really be true. Perhaps it’s because in February, you’ve already gotten all the new things of the year going so things are just kind of rolling. Also, there’s a lot more light, the days are getting longer up here in the dark winter of Finland. Maybe that also has to do with it.

Although this post is a bit late, I planned my February’s goals really early, two weeks ago. I’m currently writing my Master’s Thesis, so in my free time, sitting down in front of the computer to write has not been the first thing on my mind…But I do want to share my review and goals, so here we go!

This post is inspired by the Clear the list challenge hosted by Lindsy Williams from Lindsay does languages, Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Kris Broholm and Angel Pretot.

Clear The List

Review: January 2017

On January, I was on fire. Well done me.

Remember my tracker I mentioned in the previous post? I got the idea from the Bullet Journal blog. Many BuJo people seem to use that kind of a thing for tracking their habits, especially exercise. The minute I saw it, I thought, “this could work for language learning”.

Turns out, it was the best thing ever.

My main problem with language learning is that my leisure time activities are very irregular. It’s not like yoga on Mondays, tennis on Tueasdays for me, but a different schedule each week. (I don’t play tennis and rarely do yoga but you get the point.) So I can’t just decide I’ll do French on Friday and Swedish on Sunday, either. Sometimes I have a lot of time in the weekend, sometimes more during the week.

I set weekly goals before, but couldn’t really decide which weekdays are for which languages, and especially, I didn’t plan which specific activities to do each day. This lead to a problem that when I had time for language learning, I couldn’t decide which activities to start with, and this got me overwhelmed and I wasted time trying to make up my mind.

So I tried using my tracker to plan ahead one week at a time. I did this usually on Sunday, when I pretty much knew already what the next week was going to be like. I had most of my goals for the month in a  “I’ll do this x times a week” form, so I could just divide the activities throughout the week on the days I thought I’d have time for them. For example, if I knew I had a busy day coming on Tuesday but would spend a lot of time on the public transport, I allocated some sitting-on-a-bus activities, such as listening or Babbel, for those days.

Something I also struggled with last month was that I found it hard to optimize the amount of time spent on each language. My tracker-planner also helped with this – it was easier when I could the variation between different languages visualized. It helped me check that I stick to my priorities throughout the week.

The tracker-planner worked wonders, because even if I didn’t have time when I’d planned, the empty box of the activity reminded me of what I’d not done yet that week, and I usually ended up doing it a day or two later than planned.

So this is how I did with my goals:

Russian

Tandem: One meeting per week – Done, starting from week two, so three meetings in total. In the beginning, the effects of a Christmas break could be seen, and speaking didn’t come easy… but we got going again!
Translate one dialogue per week
– I translated three in total.
Case exercises from two textbook chapters each week – Done!
Six lessons per week on Babbel – Done!
One episode of Бедная Настя per week – Done! And actually it was impossible to just watch one episode at a time, so I watched ten episodes in total. 😀
Watching news at least once a week – Done, sometimes even three times a week.

French

Goldlist: three sets per week – Done!
Listen to an audiobook for half an hour or so – Done!
I listened through “Le Petit Prince”. I’ve tried it before and couldn’t really follow back then, but now I almost understood everything, yay!
(Can’t find Harry Potter 5-7 as French audiobooks anywhere. That’s a shame!

Swedish

Watch weekly vlog from Clara Henry – Done!
Vägen till Jerusalem: Read 30 pages (or so) each week – I read a hundred pages in total.

Extra: My university has an ‘Each One Teach One” Facebook group, where I found (or actually was found by) a French girl who studies in Helsinki and is learning Swedish! We had a coffee and spent an hour speaking French and Swedish. That was awesome. I got proof that I’m actually quite able to have a discussion in French.

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My language tracker by the end of January!

Language learning goals for February 2017

I feel really good about what I was doing in January, and will therefore stick to pretty similar activities, but I dare to add a few new ones, because I think my schedule should be slightly less occupied with everything else in February.

Russian

Russian is still my main learning project and after February, it will have been so for three months. For some reason, this feels important. Somehow less time than that feels like just dabbling, but when you get past that, it’s kind of serious. This isn’t based on any statistics, just my gut feeling. But for me, three months with a language is a special occasion. I need to think of something – a special challenge, and a special treat, I think – for myself for the end of this month!

But first I need to get there and keep learning. My plans for February:

Tandem

I’ll keep meeting with my tandem partner. We’re almost through with our list of planned topics, probably we’ll complete them this month. I think we’ll try to find the time for three meetings.

Textbooks

I still felt a bit bored by the dialogue translations in the beginning of January, but started to get the hang of it towards the end of the month, so I’ll keep it up another month.

I’ve refined my method a bit: The basic thing is, I write the dialogue from my textbook in Russian and translate it to Finnish. Then I read the text through it a few times during the week, and finally translate it back to Russian and review my mistakes. This is what I added: with the first read-through, I pick the words that feel difficult and write them down as a list. The second time I underline all the difficult parts in the Russian version AND the parts where the word order or transcript is very different in the Finnish version. This helps me to pay attention to the differences.

Babbel

My subscription expires in February and I know now I won’t continue it because the level of the courses is two elementary for me. But I’ll keep doing some vocabulary lessons until the subscription expires; six lessons a week or so.

Series and news

I’ll keep watching at least 5 episodes of Nastya and the news at least once a week.

Vocabulary

Be it speaking in the tandem meetings and or understanding when I watch Youtube videos, I really feel that my biggest obstacle right now is the lack of vocabulary. The situation calls for a vocab boost method.

Like I’ve said, I love Goldlist method, and when I was taking my Russian courses at uni I was doing a Russian Goldlist. But it didn’t work as well as with French. For French I have an excellent vocabulary book that has a selection of most central words, and I’ve been Goldlisting that. In Russian, I used the vocabulary of my textbook chapters, but that wasn’t too motivating, because it’s a very random selection of words, not always the most relevant, I feel, and every now and then, the words reappear on the vocabulary.

So I’ll need something else. I’ll try something new. The sister of my boyfriend recently borrowed me a Russian dictionary, and since then, I’ve had a strange urge to carry it around everywhere I go and just skim through it all the time. I’ll try to utilize the strange appeal of the dictionary, and try to evolve some kind of a modification of the Goldlist method. We’ll see what it turns out to be like.

French and Swedish

Same goals as last month:
Goldlist three sets a week and half an hour of an audiobook (I need to pick a new one). Reading Vägen till Jerusalem and watching Clara Henry vlogs.
In addition, I hope to find the time for at least two more French-Swedish meetings with my new friend.

Not much new, only small changes this month, but why change something that works?

However, next month I’ll probably have to think of ways to add some new challenge, in order not to get bored, or stop making progress. I’m thinking I should perhaps try to write a bit more. Also, I could find something to read in Russian. But that can wait until March!

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Language learning goals for January 2017

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.

This post is inspired by the Clear the list challenge Hosted by Lindsay does languages, Shannon of Eurolinguiste, Kris Broholm and Angel Pretot.

Clear The List

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.

Russian

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.

French

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.

Swedish

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.

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I only had time to read 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

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.

Textbooks

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.

Babbel

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.

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19th century imperial dresses and uniforms, a huge relationship mess AND you learn Russian. Perfect.

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.

Swedish

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)

French

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!

Language learning goals for December 2016

Lately, two language blogs have really inspired me to try new methods and keep up my learning: Lindsay Does Languages and Joy of Languages. They gave me the idea to start using Instagram for practicing my French, and also made me think it is possible to keep learning multiple languages at the same time – something I gave up on earlier this year because I felt like it wasn’t going anywhere.

The most important thing these blogs have given me, though, has been ideas on how to set myself some proper goals. They both do a monthly goal-setting post where they specifically describe what they want to accomplish with each language they are learning.

Based on their example and my own learning methods, I set myself some weekly goals already this month. I managed to stick to them perfectly with French, but I did a bit less than planned with Russian and Swedish.

Next month I want to give it a go and officially join the Clear the list challenge! It’s a goal-setting challenge hosted by Lindsay Does Languages and Eurolinguiste.

Clear The List

 

Learning multiple languages

Katie Harris of Joy of Languages has an approach for learning multiple languages that I really love. She uses the terms sprint language and marathon languages. It’s intuitive: The sprint language is her main focus, she learns it daily and immerses herself in it with activities like TV, reading and radio, to make some serious progress. Marathon languages are the ones with more relaxed goals. They are being kept up so the stuff you already learned doesn’t get forgotten.

I find the division very helpful. The two concepts describe really well the amount of focus you should give to one language and the pace you can expect to keep up with the others, if you want to keep learning several languages AND actually make progress in one of them. Otherwise you will only keep treading water with all of the languages and learning nothing new.

I’m working on applying this in my own language learning right now.

Switching focus

I’ve been mainly learning French for more than half a year now. And I’m happy to say it’s been very fruitful! My understanding has improved and my vocabulary broadened. Just on the course of this month, after writing small things every day on Instagram, I’ve noticed it has gotten easier to form sentences and express my thoughts. The words come more easy to me now. I still haven’t practiced speaking enough, but at least I feel that an ordinary, not-so-simple conversation in French would not be impossible (like it used to be). And confidence is an important factor in speaking, so it is something!

I’ve found a really nice flow with French right now; I really enjoy everything I do with it. In that sense, it feels a bit difficult to take it down to less. But I also feel like I’ve reached a certain level where it is safe to concentrate on something else for a while.

I have a strong reason to dedicate more time for Russian right now. I joined a program at my university called “Each One Teach One”, and found a Russian student who wants to learn Finnish. We have already met a couple of times and practiced a bit, and I feel like it’s going to be great fun. But it is really difficult for me right now. My ability to speak Russian is far from impressive.

In order to make the most of the tandem learning, I have to support it with other things. That’s why I feel like I need to make Russian my main focus (or sprint language) now.

Learning goals for December 2016

The languages I’m learning right now are French, Russian and Swedish.

Russian

Because my Russian learning has been very unorganized so far, it will probably take some time to find the best methods. And the tandem learning thing is totally new for me. Trial and error it may be, but hopefully learning will happen.

My goal is to be able to keep up a very basic conversation (which also includes widening my vocabulary a bit, because I really do suck at surviving with a tiny vocabulary). I also wish to finally get some basic grammar in my head, so the cases wouldn’t be such a nightmare (yes, being said by a native Finnish speaker – the irony, I know…)

Tandem

We’ve made a great plan with Natalia, my tandem partner, and I’m super excited to get going! We’ll meet twice a week to discuss half an hour in both languages, on a chosen topic. We’ll also find for each other some pre-tasks, such as videos to watch, to support learning some words and phrases related to the topic.

Babbel

I checked what Babbel has to offer for Russian and unfortunately it’s rather basic stuff only. However, even my basics of Russian seem very rusty so perhaps it’s exactly what I’ll need to brush it up. I’m sure it’ll help with the grammar at least.

So I’ll try completing the Beginner’s course number three (1 and 2 seem too simple) which has 25 lessons. I’ll also do at least 20 grammar lessons in addition to that.

Translation

Because my tandem project will include both listening and speaking activities, and the Babbel courses will support grammar and speaking, what is left to be covered is reading and writing.

I think I’ll try the translation method: translating short dialogues first from Russian to Finnish, then back to Russian. I’ll use my course book from the courses I took at uni because I feel like I never really properly did my homework on those courses…

My goal is to do two dialogues per week. No idea if it’s too much or too little. Trial and error!

French

In order to make space for Russian, I should take French down a bit. How? I want to keep doing my Goldlist. And no way I’m going to leave out the Harry Potter audiobooks. I had actually wanted to check some French tv series and music, too… My goal next month is to keep up the great feeling of learning French, and enjoy all the things I can do with it – while doing much less.

Goldlist, audiobooks and Babbel

I guess the solution is cutting down how many days of the week I use for learning French. I’m thinking three days. Don’t know if it’s too much, but less feels like too little. So I’ll do three rounds of Goldlist a week, and listen to the audiobooks maximum three times a week.

Also, my current Babbel subscription of French ends around Christmas. I’m almost done with the last In-depth course they have, and lately I’ve noticed the other courses on grammar, vocabulary and words and sentences feel a bit too easy. So I think I will just keep using the review manager and reviewing what I learned so far, until my subscription ends.

TV and music

Because I got some great tips last month for both music and tv series and I really want to try them out, I’ll try to find the time to watch a series or listen to French music at least once a week. My goal is to at least check the recommendations and find out which series and artists I like.

Swedish

My “de-frost” project. Some time early 2017 I think I’ll take it as a sprint language to actually improve (or de-frost) it… Now my goal is to at least keep using my Swedish, and try and stop more frost from forming.

Lately I’ve been doing two things and I think I’ll just attempt to keep those up:

Reading

I still need to finish “Sommarboken” by Tove Jansson, that was my goal for this month. Then I’ll find another book and keep reading, just more regularly than this month.

Watching video blogs

I’ve found vlogs by Clara Henry amusing, and great practice for listening, so I’ll keep watching those every week.

Put myself to test

I’ll test my understanding of Swedish at the end of the month by watching a film without subtitles.

Instagram

I’ll keep using Instagram for practicing, but haven’t quite decided yet what to do with it. I should focus on Russian there, too, but I still want to keep writing some posts/making small videos in French, because it’s so much fun. Perhaps I’ll go for whichever language I feel like every day, but at least three days of the week must be Russian!