Getting Back into Language Learning

Hi, guys! Happy Monday – I hope you’re all having fun (especially any US readers; enjoy Labor Day!).

So, I talked a little on Thursday about my goals for September, and my main aim is to ease myself back into language learning. It’s something I’ve neglected this summer but, obviously, I don’t want that to continue.

So what can I do?

Well, I read this post by Shannon at Eurolinguiste: How to Pick up a Language After a Long Break, and I think there are a lot of good points, though it’s geared more towards how to re-learn a language you once knew more of, as opposed to getting back into the habit.

And, of course, there are plenty of posts out there about how to get back into a habit.

So, instead, I decided to think up some strategies. I mostly want to work on German, which is my strongest language (so though it feels rusty, I haven’t totally destroyed my skills) and due to various factors, I don’t have all the time in the world to dedicate.

What’s key here?

Time is a big one: I need smart strategies – I don’t want to be wasting the time I have. I also am on a kind of deadline; I want to have my German more up to scratch by the time I begin my master’s course, though I will still be working on it after.

I also need strategies that won’t heavily intrude on my current day-to-day life. That means that sitting down with a grammar book for two hours a day is out; I already know that I won’t stick to that because I haven’t been doing it for the past two months and there’s not enough incentive for me to keep at it now. I need interesting activities that relate to what I’m doing.

What strategies will I use?

  • Mobile apps. These are going to be a big one, partly because I always have my phone nearby and partly because I can fit in a quick app session between doing other things. I’m taking a bus for half an hour tomorrow, for example, so I know I can learn/revise some German then. [Apps I’ll use: Memrise, Duolingo, Tinycards; my phone is in German so I can also use some games.]
  • Reading. I’m currently enjoying my free month of Kindle Unlimited, which has a whole tonne of books in German, French, Italian, Spanish… (Including the Harry Potter books! 😉 ) I’ve been reading a lot in English, but I can cut down some of this time and read in German instead. [Books I currently have downloaded: Honigsommer by Diana Wintermeer, Lügner küssen besser by Birgit Kluger, Rabenschwester by B. C. Schiller… and so many more…]
  • Targeted Grammar Brush Up. As I said before, I’m not going to spend a couple of hours a day on this, but reading and using apps should show me where my weaknesses are. A brush up can be as simple as re-reading a grammar explanation or doing a small exercise, but the point is to make active progress. If I make progress, then I’ll feel rewarded, and I’ll be more likely to continue doing this. Still, it’s something to do when necessary, otherwise, it’ll feel like a chore. [Resources I’ll use: Schaum’s Outline of German Grammar, grammar websites.]
  • Social Media. This is a good one – it’s an all-rounder and I spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I know I can give it a try. I can use the Twitter accounts I follow to learn more vocabulary or grammar. I can read news articles (or cinema articles) and watch videos. I can chat to other people, or read what they think. Again, it’s on my phone and it’s something I use often, so there’s a low barrier to entry here. [Social networks I’ll use: Twitter, Instagram, maybe Facebook.]

What do these strategies all have in common?

They all hit the criteria I mentioned above: they don’t take up much time and they’re things I can fit into my daily routine. There’s a low barrier to entry in terms of getting started, so I’m more likely to do them.

I’m going to try these things over the next week and see how I’m feeling about juggling other languages by the end of it. I think I burnt out a little at the beginning of the summer, plus re-discovered another time-consuming hobby I love, but I’m confident that if I can renew my interest in German (and the German-speaking world), then I’ll be back on track.

Let me know of any other strategies you think I should try – or that you’ve tried and have worked. I’m happy to add some if you can think of any!

And I’ll be back on Monday; see you all then!

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Review: Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner (and my new flashcard system!)

Hi guys! Today’s post is another book review – this time of Fluent Forever by Gabriel Wyner. I read this book just over a week ago and thought it was really quite interesting – and it got me all excited about new learning methods and trying out new languages.

So without further ado, here’s what I thought of the book (and what it helped me to do!).

fluent forever

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How I Keep a Language Notebook

Hi guys! So back in August I read this awesome post from Kerstin over on Fluent Language titled The Miraculous Benefits of Keeping a Language Notebook. I highly recommend you go there and have a quick read if you haven’t already.

You’re back? Good. So after I read this post, it made me think about the way in which I keep a language notebook. I’ve always kept paper notes when I study, but since February I’ve been using specific notebooks for all of my language learning, which is somewhat different to how I’ve done it in the past. When I first started this, I googled a lot of variants of the phrase ‘how to keep a language notebook’ but there’s really not a lot out there about it, and while I know that you should do whatever method works best for you, I wasn’t really sure where to start. (I do sometimes like a clear path.) So, I thought that I’d share my language notebook(s) and my process of finding one and setting it up with you today – and hopefully it’ll give you a few ideas about keeping your own! (I hope you’re all settled in for a fairly long post from here on out…)

How I Keep a Language Notebook

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Staying Current: Watching the News in your Target Language

In terms of language learning, the skill I always have the most trouble with is listening. It’s always been a problem – and most of that problem comes from the fact that I just don’t practice it enough.

One of the best solutions I’ve found, especially if you’re at about an intermediate level in whichever language you’re learning, is to watch the news in your TL.

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How I Use Films (and TV!) to Learn Languages

This post is inspired by a lot of things; mostly, by my love of films and TV shows, but also a lot by this post (which I’ve had bookmarked forever) from The Everyday Language Learner. Obviously, I’m always looking for fun ways to keep myself motivated – whilst still learning effectively. I do think films are a good way to do this and what’s great is, it doesn’t really matter what level you’re at! Continue reading