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