October Review… And Some New Goals!

I had a slow summer in terms of language learning – like many of you, I’m sure. But things picked up a little in October as I began to find a balance between studying and spending time writing as well as, yes, watching Netflix. Check out what I did in this post!

So, July and August weren’t amazing months for me, language-wise. After May’s Super Challenge launch, I had a good May and June, spending time watching TV if nothing else. But then there were some changes to my routine that took some of that time away – and I also generally just kind of stopped spending any real time with my languages.

Well, except for the endangered languages I’ve been learning (and I’ll get back to those posts soon, don’t worry!) – I’ve still done half an hour on those per day and have learnt a lot about language learning in general, as well as my specific process.

But that’s for another time. Back to October!

So, my birthday is also in October and since the next one will be a bit of a milestone, I decided to try and set my goals from birthday to birthday this year. I also, despite the fact that I’ve not really got anywhere with Korean or Scottish Gaelic so far, decided to pick up a new language: Arabic!

I’m not really sure why I suddenly decided to go for Arabic. It does seem like it’ll be a bit of a challenge, which is always fun (except when it’s not) and after learning the Korean alphabet (uh… more or less), it’ll be fun to learn a new one. I had a bit of a play around on Duolingo at the end of September, just to get a feel for things, and I’ve enjoyed the alphabet lessons; the reinforcement has made it all a bit more comprehensible.

I’ve not chosen a specific variety of Arabic to learn, although I’m starting with MSA. Even without all the issues travelling in 2020 (which are sure to extend into 2021 at least), I’m not sure where I’d go – though I have visited Morocco before and it would be fun to go back with a bit of the language under my belt. (Last time I went I couldn’t speak Arabic or even French, which was a bit of a pain – totally on my end, of course.)

But that’s for later. For now, I’ve hunted down a couple of textbooks and I have Pimsleur and Assimil as well, so I’m more than set when it comes to resources. It’s just about finding time to study, as ever.

Back to those goals, though. So, I definitely have trouble with goal setting. I really should focus more on SMART goals (i.e. giving myself set work to do and going through it), rather on where I want to be – so, say, I’d like to do XYZ, rather than I’d like to be at level XYZ, as any number of things could happen to make reaching that level impossible within the timeframe, but I can always readjust things to do if I know I won’t make it.

With that in mind, these are the goals I’ve set for 2020-2021 (5th October-2nd October):

German: Finish the Super Challenge (at least single); start a German blog.

The blog isn’t strictly necessary and I might change this to a word count goal in future, it’s just something I think would be fun to do.

Mandarin: Finish the films part of the Super Challenge; take the HSK 5 practice test (and pass).

I know the HSK tests are changing next year but I can always download the current HSK 5 practice materials and do them later. This one might be a stretch goal but I have knowledge ranging all over the place with this language. As for how I’m going to reach it… I’m working on the NPCR textbooks again but I know I get bored of Chinese learning materials fairly often (they’re thorough but also ughhh sometimes) so I didn’t want to lock myself into any one thing here.

Spanish: Finish Living Language Spanish; finish the Super Challenge; start a writing habit.

Currently on unit 9/40 of the course book. This shouldn’t be so bad; it’s just a matter of working through it and plugging gaps I have in Spanish already. Finishing the Super Challenge shouldn’t be too difficult – I definitely find it easier to read in Spanish than Mandarin even though I’m sure my level is technically lower. The writing habit is just to practise output. I’d really like to get to a decent level of Spanish especially if the Polyglot Conference is in Mexico next year, as I’m likely to be going with work and I’d like to be able to get around myself!

Korean: Finish Living Language Korean; finish the Super Challenge (films).

On lesson 3/15 in the course book and my main issue is that I need to really sit and work on the vocabulary. On the plus side, there do seem to be a lot of Chinese-Korean kind of cognates (advantage: me) and I’m already picking up patterns. It’s really just a matter of putting time in. Same for the Super Challenge – I’m only doing a half and I’m still putting no pressure on myself for the reading, but I’d like to hit that goal for listening (and there’s no real excuse not to, with all the K-dramas etc. around).

Scottish Gaelic: Finish Teach Yourself Gaelic.

So Scottish Gaelic is actually my target language for this final 6WC of the year and I’m hoping to hit at least A1 at the end of it. Honestly, it’s not too bad. I definitely need to work on my pronunciation but I am remembering vocabulary and grammar patterns, even though all I’ve been doing since probably May is a bit of Duolingo here and there. Looking at the checklist for A1, this seems eminently achievable within the timeframe – and then once I’ve finished the textbook, I’ll take a look on the Learn Gaelic website to keep progressing.

Arabic: Finish Living Language Arabic.

Like I mentioned above, I have a lot of resources for Arabic, so this might be a goal that changes – though even if I use a mixture of things (which I will), I’ll probably still try and finish this book anyway. Living Language does half its lessons on MSA and then the other half are in different dialects, which is useful because I might choose one that way, based on how I feel about it. But I don’t really know; I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, I need to finish working on the alphabet and get started with the course book.

As for October, here’s how it went:

Not super impressive; although I averaged just under an hour of study per day, thirty mins of that would have been on either Manx or Frisian, and not the main languages I want to work up to a high level. Still, they’ve been fun to learn – Manx is Goidelic, like Scottish Gaelic, so it was great to see the similarities, and Frisian is very close to English (and German!), so I’ve been reaping the advantages of that, too.

Overall, this is my year so far:

German’s taking up a quarter of my overall language time (more or less), which isn’t a massive surprise but still, I do need to get those other languages up.

Hopefully, with these more measurable goals in place, I’ll find myself in a better position at the end of November – and at the end of 2020.

What are you planning for the final push of the year? Got any big language goals for 2021? Let me know (and let me know if not, too)!

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