My First Language Mission for 2018 Revealed

2018 is right around the corner, and as I'm still writing my end-of-year review post I figured I'd update on what my first – and perhaps only ‘new' language mission of 2018 will be.

I'll also be listing the tools and resources I'll be using to achieve my goals.

I've spent a lot of time in the last 4 or so years experimenting with how to learn languages. Not only on my own, but also sourcing the advice and experience of so many talented learners on my podcast.

Initially, I naively thought that success in language learning had to be due to knowing some things that the general public, including myself, did not know.

As I interviewed more and more top performers in our community, I started to realise that the act of learning languages can really be summed up in very few words.

To learn a language, the most important ingredient is simply time and patience. Not giving up when the task at hand seems impossible, and spending considerable time on the language and related learning activities. A lot of people feel like a failure learning languages because their 15 minutes of Duolingo a day does not translate into fluency in a month, and so they give up.

Not dissing on Duolingo here, it's a great app for certain situations – like the daily commute – but I think that a lot of people greatly underestimate the time and effort it takes to learn a language. This is a topic I covered extensively in my course: Language Motivation Mastery also.

Okay, so learning a language takes a lot of time and effort, that makes sense.

So, does that mean that it's not important which tool, app, resource, or website you use to learn languages which?

I'd say it's of minor importance. There are a few key lessons in optimising your language learning, but in general, as you become more experienced you start to understand how you learn the best, and what pieces of a language is actually important for you.

My First Project of 2018 – SPANISH!

I was supposed to start Spanish last year, but due to life situations, moving countries, and not really progressing as much as I would have liked with Russian it was put on hold temporarily.

I was never really that interested in Spanish, but since visiting Spain and realising, that such a huge and interesting part of the world speaks and understands Spanish it was added to my hit list of languages.

I also have many Spanish-speaking colleagues (2 on my very own team) so it will be easy to find ways to use it in everyday life.

Tools and Resources I plan to use for learning Spanish

Baselang – Spanish tutoring

I have talked about the importance of tutoring in language learning on the blog before, but even with that in mind I struggled to maintain a good level of tutoring sessions in my life, specifically for Russian after my long-time tutor had to take time off.

Baselang was founded by Connor Grooms, who documented his own experiences learning Spanish in a month. I hope to use some of his experience to optimise my own learning, but I do not expect to achieve it in just a month.

Obviously with a full time job and other commitments it will be impossible to do multiple tutoring lessons per day, so I think I'm aiming for something like an average of 30 minutes per day.

The beauty of Baselang is I can schedule as many lessons as I want, so if I have extra days off or feeling a bit inspired I can always book more lessons.

I'm always super nervous when I do tutoring online, so this will be a big challenge for me to pull off. – Unlimited private lessons for $129/month. My review.

Speechling – Pronunciation

I have to be honest, when I started out I completely disregarded pronunciation.

I figured, if my pronunciation was good enough people would understand me and that would be fine. I didn't need to sound like a native speaker.

What I didn't realise at the time is that pronunciation is way more than the way you speak. Working on pronunciation early on really helps to avoid building bad habits in your mouth, so to speak.

It also greatly aides understanding, as the differences in sounds are more clear to you. I had this problem after a while in Russian, where I simply could not distinguish many of the sounds because I largely skipped this section of learning.

Speechling seems to be the best on the market currently in terms of recording yourself and getting quick feedback on your pronunciation, and helps you learn with useful sentences and phrases. – Premium version 19.99, free version available. 10% discount code: 7F7805

Alternative: Mimic Method

Memrise – Mobile Spanish learning

This flash-card giant has created a great Spanish course, that I will do on my phone if I'm on the bus, having a coffee somewhere, or other times when I have a bit of downtime.

They've been busy innovating over the last few years and are so far away from their humble flashcard origins. – Free, pro adds lots of extra features for $59/yr

Clozemaster – For Grammar and additional mobile learning

For when I've finished the course on Memrise, or when I want some variety.

I'll also be using it for the grammar features, which I find extremely useful. – My review – Free for most uses, premium adds extra features for just $8/month.

Language Hacking Spanish by Benny Lewis – Book

I like this format of building rapid conversation in Spanish, made by fellow blogger Benny Lewis. I'll be using the materials in the book to prepare for my tutoring lessons.

Language Hacking Spanish on Amazon – $19.97 or currency equivalent. – My Review

SpanishPod101 – Podcast

For the commute and travels, this is in my opinion the best and most affordable way to get regular content. Alternatives include Rocket Languages, Michel Thomas Spanish, and Pimsleur.

SpanishPod101 – Some features free, rest starts at $8/month.

What about my other languages?

Let's do a quick language checkup.

  • Danish/English: Native-like, no improvement on the current roadmap, although I would love to improve my written English and get a standard dialect instead of this mixture I currently have.
  • Swedish/Norwegian: Although I understand most, if not all of both languages when spoken I struggle to ‘speak' the language myself and I will try and improve this in 2018. Since they are basically free languages for me, it would be stupid not to spend a bit of time getting them to a highly functional and fluent level.
  • German: Highly functional, but still making key mistakes and I feel like I struggle to express myself. Could benefit from more practice when/where possible, but not a priority in 2018.
  • Russian: Just barely into intermediate, but struggle a lot with basic conversation. Doing well to improve this regularly at a slow, but steady pace. Will keep working on this on the side in 2018.
  • Hungarian: Can only speak a very limited amount, mostly related to ordering in Restaurants. I'd like to learn more at some point, but as it stands now it's not a priority.

My mission to learn 10 languages in 10 years started roughly 4 years ago. I'm not satisfied with Russian yet, and I'm not sure I should be counting Norwegian and Swedish at all, so my goal is still looking very far away from being completed.

However, that's not an issue as I'm sure the process will speed up naturally as I gain more experience and I start to learn related languages.

What's your language learning new year's resolutions? What will you work on in January? Leave a comment below and let's get 2018 off to an amazing start together.

  • dandiprat says:

    I’ve been working on mostly Vietnamese and Cantonese for years and I’ll still do some of that, but for now I’ve decided at least until the spring I’ll focus more on Classical Chinese. I’ve studied it a number of times before, but I still have a long way to go. It’s tough but it will help out with my translation work.
    Good luck with Spanish! And I hope the rest of your languages go well, too.

  • Don says:

    I haven’t laid out my roadmap yet, but my primary goals are to regain my intermediate fluency in Japanese and learn basic Korean in anticipation of a trip to those countries in 2019. I’d also like to raise my proficiencies in Mandarin and Mongolian, but that might be too ambitious.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Definitely sounds ambitious Don! but hey, what’s life without a bit of a challenge? You seem to be doing really well with the Asian languages. I want to learn Chinese Mandarin one day, once I’ve built a stronger foundation in the European languages. Thanks for your comment!

      • Don says:

        Ambitious, yes, but Korean is the only one of those languages I’m starting from ground zero with. Good luck with your goals!

  • Carrie says:

    Spanish was my 2017 language. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to, but I can hold a simple, slow conversation. I’d like to continue improving in Spanish, but I think I’m also going to start working on my next language—French in 2018.

    I just wanted to say thank you so much. I discovered the blog and podcast this year, and it’s been a huge help in staying motivated and finding ways to teach myself. ¡Buena suerte en tus estudios de español!

    • Kris Broholm says:

      You’re way too nice, Carrie! I’m glad you found success in Spanish, and I know that once you get started on your next language you’ll progress really fast as your experience from Spanish will help you forward. To a wonderful 2018!

  • Tadeusz Mollin says:

    Sounds really good and realistic, Kris 🙂 I plan to work madly on my spoken Greek for the next 3 months, while still in Crete. I’ve even asked a local friend to help me out for money! On the side, I want to read more in my other languages, Polish, French, German, Mandarin, and, well, even Danish and English. I’m rediscovering the joy of reading books. And a few pages in a weaker language always pay off, although definitely something I must force myself into. But what the heck, it’s New Year’s Eve.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      I can’t really read anymore, not sure why. I just don’t have the concentration for it anymore… I’m slightly jealous that you’re in Greece as the season here in the UK is wildly depressing with almost daily rain 🙁 anyway, best of luck and success with the Greek – hope to see you in Bratislava again

  • Paul Howlett says:

    My language goal for 2018 is to learn Spanish. Also continue to improve my French and Esperanto. I will buy Benny’s book on Hacking Spanish. (Thanks for the review Kris).

    • Kris Broholm says:

      You’re welcome, Paul! We can share notes on the language as we progress! I’m sure we’ll get far this year – no doubt.

  • Gareth says:

    Good luck with Spanish, Kris. Will you be updating us regularly on the site? Have you set yourself any goals we can hold you to account over 😉 Any plans to visit a Spanish speaking country this year?

    • Kris Broholm says:

      That’s the plan! I’ll be starting VERY slowly, as I’m doing quite a bit of overtime at the moment and I have to shake the Holiday mindset off. Once that’s done I’ll strive to make weekly updates and track my activities. I’ll be going to Tenerife in April, which should serve as a good benchmark! Not sure how much Spanish I’ll be using there, but nice to go to where the language is spoken anyhow.

  • richardlanguage says:

    Good luck with Spanish! Enjoy yourself and make connections with others–that’s the most important part.

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Thanks Richard, I’ll definitely be using this advice with the many spanish speakers at my workplace – they’re all very friendly and patient with me!

  • Barb Lovas says:

    I just found your blog! Very nice to read and thank you! I started to learn Hungarian last year and I am afraid to speak it much but am plodding away. You are encouraging! I am way over here in Canada and wishing I could leave it all and spend a year in Hungary.

  • Brian T. says:

    Best of luck with Spanish! I hope you tell us about how your trip to Tenerife goes, and how speaking Spanish there worked out for you. Of course, in touristy places people are often programmed to speak English as soon as they realise that you are foreign. So speaking Spanish there might be a challenge. I hope you let us know anyway.

    My own goal for 2018 is to reach fluency in Romanian. Right now I’m about half-way through the first module of Pimsleur’s first (and only) Romanian module. I also have a bilingual book of Romanian stories for beginners. I’ve read through the first two stories, and done up some Anki flashcards based on the vocab, but I might just focus on Pimsleur for now and come back to the stories afterwards. I have Colloquial Romanian too, but I find its content a bit overwhelming for a beginner.

    One good thing about Spanish is that you have plenty of resources to choose from. That’s not the case with Romanian (and I’m sure it wasn’t the case for you when you started learning Hungarian either!)

    • Kris Broholm says:

      Thanks Brian! You’re definitely right in that, there is no shortage of materials for Spanish 🙂 I just saw my friend Conor’s video about Romania (transylvania specifically) so I totally understand why you’d want to get into that language. Best of luck in 2018!

  • Frank says:

    Kris, nice article and very motivating. I too have the 10 languages in ten years plan but my ten years are up…lol, I’ll extend it :). I think you should count Norwegian & Swedish. I’m a native Spanish speaker and count Portuguese:). This year my focus is Arabic (Studied it before but saw a shiny object) and the painful task of maintaining all the other languages. I don’t let languages go dormant even if I only give it 10 minutes per day. Also, I subscribe 100% to your stated language learning conclusion of time and patience as the best approach. Good luck in the New Year!

    • Kris Broholm says:

      You too Frank – sounds like you’ve got ambitious plans for 2018! The only reason I’m saying 10in10 is because I’m starting with 3-5 otherwise it would’ve never been even remotely realistic 🙂

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