What did you learn about language learning this year?

Hey guys!

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. I have made this forum so that people can comment a few things on what they have learnt about language learning this year and what your plans are for the following.

After a couple of years of frustration with learning Spanish, I have finally made a break-through with my learning and I can only thank LingQ and Steve Kaufmann for this!

Here is What I Learned:
This year I have kept a journal and made notes after each language learning session and this has really helped me to refine my language learning process. In my opinion, there is no magic approach to learning a language (which I was always looking for in the past). Through doing this journal, I have refined my process to 2 hours of input based methods a day (reading, listening to audiobooks and netflix) and about 2 hours of speaking a week. This helped me to improve hugely on comprehension, whilst not fully neglecting speaking.

Plan for Next Year:
Not much of a plan, but I am going to be working in Mexico and I really want to activate a lot of passive vocabulary and of course carry on using lingq!

Feel free to add comments about what you have all learnt and future plans, cheers! :slight_smile:

I learned that listening is the hardest element for me to learn. I read and listen and listen and read but progress is slow. All I know how to do is just keep on keeping on and anticipate that at some future date my brain will tune in.

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listening is hard for me too! I think although Some people may learn quicker than others, but if we keep on, we can surprise ourselves by how much we can improve. All the best for 2019

Merry Christmas! I learned that listening takes time and can’t be rushed. Best of wishes for 2019!

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best of wishes! May the next year bring you lots of language learning success!

This year, I learnt that if you’ve managed learning two languages at the same time, then you should try falling in love with two ladies/men at once.

I’m so happy for you! That sounds like amazing progress. Like you, this year was really the year that I started to acquire languages (not just learn them). I found LingQ late last year, so I have spent quite a bit of time getting accustomed to the program. I’ve learned a lot about patience and trying to enjoy every moment.

I also learned about how much language can connect people. I have taken piano lessons with a Russian teacher for about 3 years. It was just when my Russian got to a more or less conversational level that I started to feel as if I really knew her. Now we can pretty comfortably share things about our lives with each other, discuss interesting topics, etc.

I used to complain about how few native speakers of Russian lived near me. But the more I began to dive into Russian and actively search for opportunities to meet native speakers, I started to feel surrounded by Russians. I learned about how we need to not just expect opportunities to reveal themselves to us without any work. However, this is also possible in language learning and has happened to me too a few times, a good example being the pleasant little chat I had in a book store with a woman from Ukraine.

This year I met Kato Lomb through her book (in Russian translation, of course) and even went back to visit her for a second time when I felt like I had exhausted all other available content in Russian (which is simply untrue if you look at how many resources have been made in it). I recommend that you go have a chat with her too and read her book “How I Learn Languages” (check Wikipedia for available translations). It’s quite something!

In any case, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve had a great time, despite working through all of the drama with boredom from using the wrong content or worry about slow learning that many inexperienced language learners tend to face. I feel like I have gained so much knowledge about language learning, but by writing this post (and reading other people’s posts) I realize that I’ve really just begun. Thanks for sharing and prompting us to write about such an important topic. I would wish you "Good luck!’ with Spanish, but I think it’d be more worthwhile to remember our priorities as learners and simply say: have fun. :slight_smile:

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what i have learned is never judge your progress against someone else’s every one learns at their own speed

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That’s good to know! I have only managed to learn one language, so I think I‘ll stick to one girl at the moment. I will keep it mind though!

Hey! Thank you for your book recommendation, I’m definitely going to take a look at it.

I definitely relate with your frustration of boring content. It’s quite an amazing feeling when you can start using content that you find interesting.

Have fun :smiley:

Very true👍

For me, it was the huge benefit of reading in language learning. I discovered Steve’s youtube channel this year and in three months my German massively improved by following his advice. I also learned that I had a weakness in my speaking ability which I have been working on rectifying through language partners. In short, I have really better optimized my learning process and I think the gains are going to really start to shine through in 2019.

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Listening has been a challenge for me too, far harder than say reading. I think the challenging part listening for me at least with German is the word order component while listening. You almost have to train yourself to wait for the end of the sentence to understand the meaning due to a different confusing verb word order unlike in English. I have been improving slowly however.

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I failed learning Russian along with English this year. I think that my love to the English language is too strong.

Awesome, I’m glad to hear about your improvement! I’m sure in another 3 months your speaking skills will be amazing. :slight_smile:

I have learned the following things during 2018 (language wise).

  1. I should’ve made a long-term commitment to a “hard” language

When I started learning languages I had a few ideas of what I wanted to learn, I wanted to learn easy and related languages to the ones that I knew. I wanted to learn big Asian languages (Japanese and Chinese) then there were Arabic as well.

I had this “alter ego” in my head that I wanted to emulate as closely as I could. Someone who not only speaks the major European languages to almost native level but also maybe Japanese and has a great knowledge of Latin and Ancient Greek. Maybe even Farsi or various dialects of Arabic.

However, in the end I decided for the usual suspects, now I do regret not starting Japanese. Even if, I would have failed majestically I could at least live without regret.

There is of course nothing physically that is impeding me to start learning Japanese but given that I will with almost certainty never set foot in Japan and don’t have any real reason to learn it other than bragging rights.

  1. I love Italy and the Italian language

For a long time, Italian and Portuguese have been nice romance languages that it would have been fun to study but of which I don’t have any use of. For Portuguese, it is still the same but this year I learnt just how much I love Italy and its culture.
Spanish and French were the first languages that I really wanted to learn and have studied (as adult). French with its authors like Dumas and Verne (my favourite) and fascinating cities and coastal towns was in the end a wise choice.

While I think that to a large extent one can’t go wrong learning languages I do sort of regret studying Spanish. The reason I chose Spanish, was almost purely by destiny rather than by design. I was really into Spanish football and wanted to move to Barcelona at one point. There are a few TV series that I have loved at one point but really don’t care about that much to be honest.

This year I realised that there are many different cities and regions that I’d like to visit and explore in Northern Italy and Austria and Switzerland as well. I have always liked Italian food; Italian films also have something je ne sais pas quoi about them.

  1. Not learning direct and indirect object properly or procrastinating it was a huge disaster

I started studying languages in earnest around autumn 2010/11 at the local community college. I started with Spanish one year, continued it the following year and added French, rinse and repeat with German.

In both French and Spanish I had a teacher who had a way of making the class interesting and I manage to leap ahead of the class which spurred me on. In German I had the misfortune to have a teacher that did not inspire the same sort of passion for the language and one of the most useless text books ever.

The book had almost no text at all and it was mostly a picture book with speaking exercises. So, what ensued was that we read out load a small Sunday times cartoon snipped of dialogue and after that it was up to us to discuss in groups.

I won’t go into details about what effect the lousiness of the book, mostly speaking to ourselves approach had on my learning experience, but suffice to say it was nerve-racking. The effect of all this is that when we went through indirect and direct object, I wasn’t paying attention at all. In the end, I resigned from the course and decided to focus on Spanish and French for a while.

After a while I decided to learn German again but on my own, starting with verb conjugation, which types of noun take what gender and getting to read books as soon as possible. However, one aspect I have avoided at all cost was what direct and indirect objects are and how they work.

There have been times when I have tried to get a hang of these things but given up immediately because it felt so overwhelming.

I think I would be much further down the line, had I, had a proper German beginners course. It poisoned my relationship with grammar as well my go getter spirit that meant that I was way ahead in my Spanish and French classes.

  1. To take small, few days breaks between books

I read books these days in English, Spanish, French and German and have started to do so with Italian at the end of this year. I can read pretty easily with lingq in Spanish, French and German and would do fairly well without lingq as well I reckon.

I have however noticed just a few days ago if I read say 3 books back to back without really any break I will have great difficulty getting into the 4:th one. What’s more it also takes about 1-2 weeks before I feel that I have the energy to read again.

I haven’t tried out yet my new system for pacing my reading but I suspect having a few days break in between will help me be more productive.

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Several years ago I started Lingq and I failed because I was trying to do too much at once. I rediscovered Steve Kaufmann and language learning nearly three weeks ago, and I feel that things are coming along much better this time around. Last time I was part of the website I was trying to balance five or six languages at once and I found that to be a huge chore. This time I am deliberately going much slower and trying to focus on no more than two at a time. I decided to start with Spanish because it was the subject that I have had the most experience with learning. It is true what Steve says about absence from the language actually helps somehow. Three weeks ago, I could read some words in spanish and say a few phrases, but now I can read at a much higher level and I am going to try to start speaking soon. My listening is still not where I want it, but in the coming weeks I am going to amp that up a great deal. Thereore, my plan for this time next year is to be able to completely read a novel without any help from Lingq, understand spoken Spanish better, and be able to speak with some degree of ease. I also plan on adding in Portuguese half-way through the year. Here is to a new year! Good Luck!

Hey there, thank you very much for your interesting comment! By looking at your profile you most definitely have worked extremely hard at language learning. My question is, why don’t you tackle Japanese if you are saying that you regret not starting it? This of course depends on whether you are learning a language to speak it or just learning it for the enjoyment of the process… Either way, respect, and have a great new year!

Awesome stuff! Yeah I think you have plenty of time to learn more languages in the future. I would’ve thought it is better to not spread yourself too thin, if your goal is to be proficient. But what do I know haha! This time last year I could not read novels to save my life and now I can do so pretty comfortably. Let me know where you are at this time next year (I will do the same).

I guess to summit up into few words, practical use and laziness. I prefer traveling in Europe to Asia and other places in general. Japan is probably the exception that proves the rule. I learn languages to an extent because it is fun but I am also quite a practical person. I also have a principal that if I am going to learn a language I would like to get to a pretty high level like strong, solid B1. While it would be nice to learn to read katakana and hiragana and know tourist Japanese, I can’t see myself getting past that point.

Learning the kanji is probably my biggest hurdle. I guess if I really, really wanted to I could learn them but when I realised that I would also have to memorise their reading (how they pronounced), I decided it was too much work.

In the end, I am for the most part happy with my progress and choices. I remember that one of the reason why I said to myself I am going to learn 20 languages at one point was because I think humans have a tendency to water down their goals as time goes by. This is certainly true in my case I went from wanting to learn about 20 language to learning the 5 major European language and a few exotic ones, all the way to my current goal.

My current goal is to become fluent in Spanish, French, Italian and German. Learn Dutch to a point where I can read pretty comfortably. Through all my revisions there have been a few core languages that always been there, Spanish, French and German. I am thinking that I would sacrifice Spanish for the sake of Italian.

In any case I believe if I had started with the aim of learning the five big European languages. I might have given up on not only Russian but also German and just focused on romance languages.

Edit: I do like to read a lot and I am more of an introvert so reading is a lot more important for me. There is also one more thing that I have learnt this year which is.

  1. To take small, few days breaks between books

I read books these days in English, Spanish, French and German and have started to do so with Italian at the end of this year. I can read pretty easily with lingq in Spanish, French and German and would do fairly well without lingq as well I reckon.

I have however noticed just a few days ago if I read say 3 books back to back without really any break I will have great difficulty getting into the 4:th one. What’s more it also takes about 1-2 weeks before I feel that I have the energy to read again.

I haven’t tried out yet my new system for pacing my reading but I suspect having a few days break in between will help me be more productive.

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