As I said previously, I have re-evaluated my language goals and have put together a daily plan to ensure that I am on track with these goals. My reaction to this first week? Whew! I survived!! It wasn’t easy, especially at the end of the weekday, when for some unknown reason, work started to pour in. I was relatively free from Monday to Thursday. But when I came in the office on Friday, BAM! My tracker clearly shows this.
During my commute and during my break, I try to sneak in a bit of studying. I usually tackle Japanese in the mornings and Hungarian in the afternoons. I only listen to Hungarian when I jog. During the evenings, I usually work on whatever cards needed “watering” on Memrise. I tried to listen to podcasts when I cook, but somehow, it wasn’t working for me. Cooking is all about zen. I have to be able to concentrate on the food and nothing else 🙂
For my Japanese podcast, I listen to either JapanesePod101 or News in Slow Japanese. First, I listen twice to the audio without looking at the text. I would try to figure out the exact sentences and type them down. It would be more beneficial to actually write these things by hand but….ain’t nobody got time for that!
For Anki, I review the Japanese Core 6000 decks. I love these decks because there are complete sentences with audio. It really drills you with the usage of a particular word.
So far, I am doing OK with Sou Matome. I decided to start with Goi instead of Kanji. Days 1 to 6 are study days, while day 7 is a review day where you give yourself 15 minutes to answer multiple choice questions. My day 7 score? An abysmal 64/100. Ugh. But I am not worried. I just need to keep on increasing my vocabulary so I don’t get beaten by the synonyms-antonyms questions.
Currently, there are streak challenges going on at Memrise. You can set a target number of points per day on whatever course you wish. The challenge is to keep meeting this target for 12 days straight. So far, so good. I have 3 courses that have targets and I am doing OK in all of them. Well, I didn’t set the target too high. Just 1,500 per day per course. I don’t aim to overtake people in the leaderboards. This tracking challenge is just one way for me to stay motivated, and to ensure that I do something everyday, no matter how small.
As I keep telling my students, the small things you do daily matter more than the big things you do once a week.
For my one hour Hungarian study, I keep changing my materials so I don’t get bored. Yesterday, I did Pimsleur. Today, HungarianPod101. Maybe tomorrow, I can go back to Colloquial Hungarian. Depends on my mood.
Another thing worth mentioning that is not in my tracker is that I am still having one-on-one Skype sessions with Zita and Robert from italki. In the coming weeks, I will only have one session for each of them. Zita’s schedule will drastically change because of her new job. I myself have gotten busier…plus stupid C5 traffic and the jeepney lines are not cooperating. Dumadami na masyado ang mga jejemon dito sa Manila. Andami nila lagi sa pila…
My past speaking sessions were fantastic! With Robert, I am practicing conversation using simple patterns and words I already know. I get to pick a topic from the list at http://iteslj.org/questions/and I just need to talk freely. It was painful at times because my vocabulary is so limited and I kept struggling to find the right words. One trick is to have Google Translate open on one browser so you can translate words on the fly. Another very important tip is to learn how to say the question “How do you say _____” in the target language. You get the words you needed AND you keep yourself from reverting to English. Two birds.
The topics I chose were Hobbies and Food. And speaking of food, in my last session with Zita, she made me talk about a Filipino vegetarian recipe. She is vegetarian but I didn’t want to talk about “pinakbet”. Geez, I wouldn’t even know how to say “bagoong” or “shrimp paste” in Hungarian 😀 Anyway, I decided to talk about tortang talong instead. It was a very short process, with very few ingredients…but the process of describing the cooking method to her took a good 15 minutes or so. I mean, I know the word for “egg” but I didn’t know “eggplant”. I know how to say “grill” but I didn’t know “peel”. Things like that. But I survived!!
Another thing that I survived in that session was the plot description for Taken 3. At this early stage, I never imagined that I would be talking about something like this. I feel that this is too advanced for my level. But that is what learning is all about: pushing your boundaries and getting out of your comfort zone, doing something before you are “ready”. I am sure I sounded like Tarzan all the way through. What I liked about it is that I know words like “murder” and “suspect”…you know, important words. 😀
Despite the black squares on my tracker, I would say that this has been a very, very productive week for me. I am making some changes to ensure that I would always have time for studying. Starting this week, I will no longer teach on Saturday afternoons. This will be extra time for studying AND catching up on chores. My chores won’t do themselves so I really needed to make time.
Roughly, this is how my day goes. I have 24 hours, just like everyone else. I do not have more time. I do not have a house helper and nobody does things for me. What I do have is more discipline. These things are important goals for me, so I make time for them. If something is really important, you make time for it. It’s really that simple. There is no magic formula for language learning. Show up everyday and just do it.