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.
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.
Speechling.com – 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.
Memrise.com – 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.
Clozemaster.com – My review – Free for most uses, premium adds extra features for just $8/month.
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.
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.