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!