French, Hungarian, Japanese, Swedish

2023 half-year language learning plan, and why I quit my online Swedish class

Posted by Cat Ramos

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Happy new year! I hope you happily closed your 2022 and are looking forward with positive energy for 2023.

What is a new year without new language plans? For me, it will be just continuining where I left off from late 2022. I will still be tracking my language hours via Toggl and will record stats and thoughts as well in my language journal.

Hungarian

As mentioned previously, I am giving myself 2 years to really level up in the language. I was in a C1 class which I eventually had to stop because of a change in teachers. Why 2 years? That’s exactly the amount of time I have before I could apply for Hungarian citizenship 😀 I have been living and working in Hungary for 6 years, and I need 8 years to be eligible for citizenship.

For Q1, I will be using Glossika together with Easy Hungarian Readers and Assimil Hungarian with Ease. Once these 2 resources are complete, I will re-evaluate the plan and choose which material/s to tackle next.

If you haven’t heard of Easy Hungarian Readers, I highly recommend it! It is made by my iTalki teacher Petra and is suitable for up to B1 level students. I love that the text comes with audio, so you can listen as you follow the text, or just let it play in the background. Each chapter also comes with a short quiz. It is honestly one type of resource that we need more of, and I hope that Petra would publish more volumes of similar readers, this time for B1 students or higher.

As for a language exam, I’ve been postponing it since COVID. Now I’ve decided that I will only take it after 2 years; I should at least be at a solid B2 level by then, if my lazy ass does not get the better of me again.

Swedish

  • Babbel – I’ve picked up Babbel again after finishing Duolingo. Unfortunately, it looks like they redesigned the Swedish course. I initially stopped at the Beginner A2 course 1 before switching to Duolingo. Now, I see they added more Newcomer A1 courses: a total of 6 courses, instead of the original 2. Ah well, not a problem. Now I can go slightly faster with the courses, because the basics have been thoroughly drilled by Duolingo. What I really love about Babbel is the voice recognition feature! I never got to speak a lot in my online class, but during my Babbel sessions, I make sure that I regularly practice speaking.

  • Glossika – Glossika has been a great treadmill and elliptical companion to me in the past couple of months. I stopped doing cardio temporarily while I focus on strength training (haha, who am I kidding…) so I would need to find some other time to do Glossika. My morning commute might work for now. Mostly I am just trying to catch Pokemon in Pokemon Go at different stops while I am in the bus or metro.
  • Rivstart A1/A2 – Just an overall solid resource. I cannot wait to finish this! Make sure you get the accompanying exercise book too (´¨Övningsbok). I got mine from Libra Books in Budapest’s district 8. Note that the newer versions no longer come with audio CDs. You need to log on the Rivstart page, where you can access the audio, additional exercises, and answer keys.
  • iTalki – I found a couple of really great teachers on iTalki. I plan to start taking lessons in February, when I get year-end work out of the way. Or March, depending on what generally happens with me, work-wise.

French

Nothing has changed since the Q4 plan. I will still be doing daily Speakly and Duolingo lessons, but nothing more than that until the second half of the year, and then I will evaluate whether I’ve made enough progress in Swedish and Hungarian to finally take French group classes on Lingoda, Babbel Live or Speakly.

Japanese

Similar to French, this is not going to be the focus. I will keep my streak on Memrise, but will drop Glossika for now as I try to finish the Swedish Glossika course.

I quit my Swedish online course…

Around middle of last year, I joined an online class for A1 Swedish through a language school I previously went to for a different language. Before this course, I was already more than halfway done with the Duolingo one, so I knew quite a bit of the basics already.

The course was targeted for native Hungarian speakers, but it was not a problem for me; I already attended another language course of theirs where the students were mostly Hungarian speakers and the teacher is also Hungarian. I figured we were all there to learn a foreign language, and hopefully, we won’t resort to speaking Hungarian all the time, otherwise, it defeats the purpose, right?

I was too naive to think we will be practicing very basic Swedish in class. I soon found out that 90-95% of the class is just speaking about the Swedish language in Hungarian. We even had regular exercises where we have to translate Swedish sentences into Hungarian. Uh, why? Maybe it was the training that our teacher got at university (translation/interpretation), I am not really sure. But maybe there are other ways to determine if your students understood the language without having to resort to English or Hungarian, right? For sure, it is harder to gauge understanding in an online class, but using English or the native language as forever crutch does not help in the long run.

Also, I did not find the class to be very interactive. In my previous Hungarian course, our teacher required us to turn our cameras on all the time. It is better for interacting with each other, and even as an introvert, I really appreciated seeing everyone’s faces and feeling like I was physically talking with them.

In my Swedish class, it was mostly talking to black squares, so boring. In the first class, I had my camera on but I was the only one on so I turned it off after a few minutes.

Some realizations

I’ve been studying languages for a long time, even before online learning was a thing. In Manila, I attended classes at Nihongo Center, Instituto Cervantes, Goethe Institut, Alliance Francais. Then discovered iTalki. Moved to Budapest and attended both in-person and online courses in a couple of language schools.

I realized now that the traditional classroom-based learning no longer appeals to me as a beginner. For me, they are very slow, which kills my motivation.

When starting a new language, I would start with Duolingo and Pimsleur, and then start with Babbel and Glossika after 3 or so months of regular Duolingo. I would also need to find a solid textbook resource with lots of exercises and listening material like Rivstart and magyarOK. Once I am already at an intermediate level, I could take iTalki lessons or join a course (preferably online). This was roughly how I learned Hungarian; I will change around the learning parts depending on what resources I have available, as well as my schedule. But I think overall, this is a good strategy for me.

Happy language learning in 2023!

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