20 Endangered Languages in 2020: Progress Report #03

20 langs in 2020 progress 03

I’m a day late with this post (had one hell of a Friday—which doesn’t mean anything especially bad, except that I was exhausted) but it’s time for me to give you all a quick look at how I’m doing with Ainu so far! If you want a quick refresher on what this whole thing is about, or you’ve not seen any of my 20 Endangered Languages in 2020 posts yet, then click here to bring yourself up to speed before you move on.

I’m not going to lie, Ainu isn’t going as well as I’d hoped it might.

Maybe part of this is down to the fact that, comparatively, I did have more experience with Scottish Gaelic before I began the whole challenge—I’d done some lessons on Duolingo and played around with it on uTalk—so it wasn’t like I was coming in completely blind. Plus, obviously, Scottish Gaelic isn’t really related to English, but it’s not as distant a cousin as Ainu is.

But I think it’s also difficult due to a lack of resources.

All I’m using at the moment is the Sapporo/Unilang course, the Drops app, and Memrise. Even on Memrise, there’s not all that much choice; I think there are maybe a handful of decks and most of them have less than an hour of content.

The Unilang course is actually pretty great. There are 52 lessons, but they’re short, and I’ve done a few the past couple of days without using the audio, so I get through them quite quickly. In theory, I could probably binge them in the next week or so, but that’s probably not the best idea in practice.

I am hoping some more conversational things come up, though. I don’t know how to say hello yet. I can’t introduce myself.

I can say that it’s cold today though! Tanto mean! (And it really has been.)

The Memrise course I’m using has been built from the Unilang course, so that’s good too; there’s lots of content and the person who made it even added the explanations, which reinforces them when I’m playing through it.

Drops, on the other hand…

I’m really not sure about this app.

For one thing—and this is nobody’s fault—it’s not using the same dialect of Ainu as I’m learning from the Unilang course. Nothing that can be done about that, and there are lots of dialects of Ainu that have been taught if you go into the Sapporo archives, it’s just that they’re not accessible for me because I don’t speak Japanese. That’s fine, makes sense.

I just don’t think I’m learning from it. I’ve done my five minutes, twice a day, most of the days, and aside from right at the beginning, when I was covering food and vegetables, the vocabulary really isn’t sticking. I skipped straight out of the meet and greet topic it gave me because I kept getting wrong answers over and over again.

It could just be me; it could be down to the fact that I’m not paying for the app. But I’m not sold on it and I wasn’t before this either, to be honest. There’s not nearly enough time spent associating the concept with the image (I know you can press them to show the phrase in your source language again, but that’s wasting precious time) for me to feel like it’s helping me progress.

But (and there is a but) it does have audio, something the Memrise deck is severely lacking. Plus, when I’m covering words that I’ve done in the Unilang course, I can see that they’re sticking.

I’ll see how I feel about it in another six days.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though! Time for some stats:

So far, I’ve spent 227 minutes (or 3.78 hours) learning Ainu between the 18th-24th of January. That averages out to 37.8 minutes (0.63 hours) per day, so I’m just above my 30 minutes per day minimum target. It’s not quite as high as Scottish Gaelic was, but as I’m working with limited resources, it’s difficult to keep things interesting.

Adding together the vocabulary I’ve learnt through Memrise and Drops, I’m at 168 words total, though a few of the Memrise ones are full sentences. Probably 150 would be a good estimate—which is higher than I thought I’d be at by now!

Here’s my breakdown:

chart (4)

This round of language study does feel a little unstructured, so I’m going to set myself some goals to reach before I next post on the 30th:

  • Reach 250 words learnt on Memrise.
  • Finish 20/52 lessons on Unilang.
  • Do two sessions of Drops every day.

I’ll go on a hunt for other resources, too—there’s got to be something else out there!

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