As we enter the new year, I have reflected over my language learning journey in 2019 and have set new goals for 2020. For me, 2019 was filled with a lot of progress and many lessons learned.
The major 2019 lessons I learned were,
The power of reading is significant for vocabulary acquisition and overall comprehension. This was the first year that I did a significant amount of reading and it was pivotal to my progress. That said, daily reading practice is probably one of the most significant things you can do to achieve a higher degree of competency in a language.
Listening practice should not be neglected. I think it is pretty easy to get lazy with listening and its one of those skill sets that you need to do a lot to improve. In my opinion, I could have utilized some of my time more wisely to listen more and improve in this area which is easily my weakest skillset.
Speaking at a high proficiency level requires its own time investment outside of reading and listening. I spoke over 120 hours this year in one on one conversations and even then, I think that I could use a lot more practice. This is definitely an area that requires dedicated effort in its own right outside of reading and listening practice.
For 2020 I have set goals around weekly language learning practice with a primary focus on a certain amount of reading and listening each week.
Overall, I think that my progress and lessons learned in 2019 has set me up well to achieve even more awesome results in 2020.
So, what did you learn in 2019 and what are your plans for 2020?
I learnt that I love writing and that emotions are very deceiving. Before I would sometimes get really depressed about not being at a really high level in a language and lament the fact that I’ve wasted so much time. However, during the year that has passed I noticed that these sort of emotions pops up when I haven’t eaten in a while or when I’m stressed about something else. I love psychology and I plan to take a gymnasium class in psychology this year. To learn more about the mind.
I also have big plans for 2020 they are:
Make habits in the languages where I’m high intermediate/advanced (40k + and Italian).
Learn Portuguese, Romanian and Catalan to high intermediate.
Take my first steps into some other languages
Try to find a way of getting self-employed with my language skills.
Start a website to help people learn Scandinavian languages and Finnish, with grammar lessons and exiting texts on a variety of topics.
I was going to start another language, but in the last few days I’ve decided to read and read and read some more in Russian. I decided I don’t want another language taking up time I could be devoted to reading Russian literature.
Consistency is key.
Don’t focus on the results, instead look at what you are doing everyday. With the amount of work you’re doing everyday, do you think this will is enough to reach the results you want? This also is a great motivator since language learning isn’t really the best at giving definitive positive feedback to whoever dares to embark on the journey- whenever you think you’re not improving or that you’re on a plateau, ask yourself how much effort you’re putting in everyday. Count each day as a step higher up the mountain. It’s the daily and consistent work that gets you there- your system and discipline.
Most of all, enjoy the process. Many of us have been misled into thinking that language learning is a boring and tedious process- that the more you somehow GRIND and punish yourself each day, the more effective you are. With the help of Lingq learning a language has been a breeze. Interested about a new topic? Great, find some content in your target language about that topic.
Moreover, I think in our somehow ‘obsession’ with learning a language we forget why we’re really learning it, or what value it actually brings to our lives. It exposes us into a completely new world. Imagine you’re now able to interact with an even greater fraction/amount of movies, shows, podcast, blogs etc. on the internet, and with millions of other people who are completely foreign to you, who you won’t even be able to have a conversation with if it were not for you two having a common language. Ok you’re using Google and you find an article about something you’re interested in, you click it and you can understand!! A while back you wouldn’t even be able to understand what the headline is talking about.
I guess my point here is this: whatever language you’re learning, stop narrowing your focus too much on learning the language-- at a certain level, you’re at the point of enjoying it, consuming it, living it. And congrats to you, if you told yourself. few years ago that you’d be reading, understanding and speaking a language other than your native tongue you’d just laugh. Well now you’re actually doing it. So enjoy!
Don’t be afraid to speak in the language. Too much of my time was spent worrying about not being able to say the things I want and being socially awkward. What I found was that if I just put myself out there without even thinking about the judgment of other people, I spoke better and embraced my mistakes as if I was proud of them.
Habits are key. There have been so many times in my life where I put aside the language for a few months or a couple of weeks. What I found was that whatever I was doing everyday (even if it was tiny amount of effort like 5 minutes everyday when I couldn’t find more enough time) in the language really accumulates more in the future than if I just procrastinated for weeks or months and then come back only to experience your language skills slightly worsen.
My plans for 2020:
Planning to get a B2 Spanish Certificate (DELE) in April. My Spanish so far has been pretty good (my reading and listening have been excellent and advanced in 2019) and can hold a conversation well. I would do like an external source to validate my fluency in Spanish. I know B2 is considered fluent for many polyglots, so I’m definitely investing more time and money in tutors, books, practice tests, and, of course, LingQ to help me ace it.
Passing my foreign language credit/placement tests in my university. I need to take the French, German, and Spanish tests in my university, and these tests are very easy to pass (~1 month of preparation for French and German and no prep for Spanish). They’re mostly just grammar questions, easy listening comprehension questions, and easy reading comprehension questions, which are about ~A2-B1 level.
I think I realized in 2019 that the intensity with which I have studied (listening & reading) over the last few years is not sufficient to reach my goal. I rate myself as B2 in Korean (not speaking though) and I want to get to a stable C1.
I have not had the opportunity to increase my effort before, but from March onwards I will. I hope this will be enough to reach my goal. Here at LingQ I want to read between 2000-4000 words per day. I will also up my listening significantly. I plan to use Anki to some extent (in breaks, while commuting etc). I believe the speaking part, to a big extent, comes from the passive skills but I will work on this as well starting in a couple of months.
After a lot of language-switching towards the end of 2019, I’ve decided to (hopefully) narrow in on just a few languages.
German: Spend at least an hour a day with the language, at least 30 minutes of which should be reading in order to improve my vocabulary. The rest will probably be listening (really loving the Easy German Podcast!) while on the bus or elsewhere. Since I’m applying to become a 2020-2021 exchange student in Germany, German might become extremely important for me. I’m already at about a self-estimated B1-B2 level. I’d like to reach 35,000 words here on LingQ.
Russian: Read at least one text per day so that my Russian stays more or less at the same level. It won’t be my main focus like it was in 2019, but I will continue to keep it active.
Thai: Mostly just for fun in Thai restaurants and talking to an exchange student friend from Thailand. My goal is to be able to read basic things (like items on a menu) by the end of 2020 with 10 minutes or so of practice per day on Memrise.
2019 showed me again how effective reading is for language learning. However, it takes a certain degree of self-motivation for me to get to reading (it’s so much easier to pull up a video or podcast), so I want to be less lazy and work on my daily reading! I really like what @sxphiarodri said about focusing less on results and more on having effective daily interaction with the language.
Good luck to everyone with their 2020 goals and successfully applying the lessons of 2019!
Since this is a duplicate thread from the one last week found here:
I’ll duplicate my post here since this thread also seems to have more action as the community, including the OP, seems to have abandoned it.
When the Netflix import extensions was added, I set about importing every single movie, TV show, and documentary I ever watched on Netflix and imported in into LingQ. Hundreds of hours of listening and viewing time. Plus I’m working through Season 2 of La Reina del Sur with 19 more episodes to go. In total, I have about 15,000 blue words (granted some overlapping) to “clear.”
My goals are to “finish” Spanish in that I will:
Clear all those blue words;
See if I hit 43,700 known words (Advanced Level 4) after having done so. I think I will, but if not, I’ll aim to hit that target;
Learn about 1,100 more LingQs which will get me to 10,000 learned overall.
Decide whether I want to take a C-level DELE exam or just be content with the C1 diagnostic I took.
Finally choose (and maybe start) a new language. Most likely it will be French unless some other things move up another language like Russian in my priorities list.
Sorry for a long post, but this was a hugely interesting year for me. Around December 2018 I decided I was going to do an experiment: test if I can learn languages better. At that time I’d read my first novels in German here at LingQ and I was beginning to realize this approach might take me finally from B1/2 to C. I wondered if it might work for a totally new language as well.
Initially I thought I could learn a couple of languages at the same time using different approaches, different kind of books etc. (Assimil, speak first method, Pimsleur). I like to get up in the morning, so I made a schedule that involved getting up at 5AM (I’ve got little kids and taking care of them in the morning is sort of my job). Well, though luck. Turns out they have started to get up with daddy.
Somehow I only stuck with LingQ and with Mandarin Chinese. I almost gave up after 1-2 months, because I felt like I am just painting pages yellow and not learning any new vocabulary. In fact I did give up. At some point I’ve decided I needed to memorise at least some most frequent characters before I can tackle simple texts. I was shocked to discover I was at least familiar with the first few pages of the frequency list. It was an huge boost that carried me to my first 500-1000 words (not characters).
Now one year has passed. I’ve got over 3000 words learned. I’ve been learning 30-60 minutes on average, mostly during my commute. I can’t speak any Chinese whatsoever (I had one tutoring session, which went horribly) and cannot write a simplest character. However, I am able to read some, using a dictionary. A wall of Chinese text does not intimidate me. I can pick up some things in listening. I feel like I am past the period where the language sounds and looks strange. I would never say to anyone that I know Chinese, but I’ve got a fantastic starting point. I’ve got as far as my motivation would take me.
Without changing my life in any major way I was able to learn to read some very simple Chinese. This still boggles my mind.
I have also learned also some things about how I like to learn and this year I am going to apply that to a new language.
Curiosity is fine to get going, but I have to find a good answer to the “why do you learn” question before I start. I don’t want to ever again face it after devoting 12 months to leaning.
I’ve started to learn Greek and I am going to spend some time in Greece in winter 2021.
2 Listening over reading
Training listening comprehension takes an awful lot of time and you can’t speed it up. In the beginning it’s more important for me to get a lot of hours of listening than fulfilling artificial lingq created quotas. I started jogging 20 minutes every day in order to find a time slot where I can concentrate on listening.
If I can find a quiet place at home I am doing a poor man’s version of the L-R method where I am listening to the language I learn while reading the translation (Greek is fortunately quite easy to listen, but that’s a great exercise when you can’t understand almost anything). When I have an opportunity, I also do something that people in this forum called “active listening”: I basically listen to a simple material and try to repeat out loud a sentence that I’ve just heard.
A bit of grammar doesn’t hurt. Fortunately in Greek there’s a lovely course called Language Transfer that teaches basic grammar in a sensible fashion. Makes you more aware of the stuff that goes on in the language.
4 Dictionary later on (possibly Anki)
One of the pleasures I have discovered too late in my learning of Mandarin was vocabulary exploration. It turns out that I am just a person that likes dictionaries. I’ve created my own Anki deck where on one side of the card is a word and on the other side some clues and words that would help me make a sentence with it. I very rarely went through it, but the whole process of going through example sentences, noticing collocations etc. was fun in itself. Sometimes I was adding only a couple new words known in LingQ, so adding one more learned through Anki was a nice boost. I realise that it maybe wasn’t the most efficient use of my time, but it was making me happy. There’s no need to to do that in Greek yet, but as soon as I feel like I’ve got a grip on most frequent words, I am going to do it again.