May Day and the first partial anniversary (milestone?) of my journey. It is now three months since I began my experiment with five foreign languages at once.
Where am I? Well, I am still plugging away. I won’t be applying for translator jobs any time soon, but I am pleased to report that I have varying degrees of aptitude and more importantly, I am starting to assess the different methodologies and their outcomes.
Shockingly, the languages where I have put in the most effort are seeing the best outcomes. Chinese and Arabic, which both benefit from a fixed hour of instruction each week, but also have the expectations of the teacher to live up to, are progressing nicely.
I can throw in the odd phrase while shopping or dining in a Chinese-speaking environment; not yet a full conversation, but communication. After twelve weeks of Arabic classes, I am a reasonably capable writer and reader of Arabic and have enough language to be able to introduce myself and make the beginnings of small-talk.
The Polish software has enough structural integrity (I’m sorry if that makes you think of engineering) to allow for progress. Again, I would probably dry up after a question or two in a Polish conversation, but I am seeing improvements in my ability to translate verbal Polish into written, as well as some phrases and grammatical foundations starting to sink in.
Hindi and Korean are a different kettle of fish. It was only thanks to a suggestion from my Korean study-buddy that I found a web-site with useful resources. So while my buddy was back home at a family event, I have been able to make some inroads into Korean conversation, grammar and vocabulary. Good momentum, but a late start.
Hindi is proving the slowest of all. I think that I was initially discouraged by the focus on the alphabet (which I tried to avoid) and the slightly eccentric initial conversational topics (a strong focus on time and dates). However, once I realised that I couldn’t just sit and wait for the language to re-arrange itself to my preferences, I decided to slog through. And lo and behold, I am starting to recognise some of the more common letters, and I suspect that some more realistic language is just around the corner. And if it isn’t, I will change corners until I find free Internet content that gets me through the early conversational requirements.
At the end of my Chinese class today, the teacher showed me the Unit 10 book (I have just graduated to Unit 2). This is approximately 2 full years of work ahead of me; but I want it!
Still, as the Chinese philosopher almost said, “The journey of a thousand miles occasionally begins with the realisation that a thousand miles is a bloody long way.”
Happy stepping everyone!
And just because I am curious about your experiences – what have you found to be the hurdles (and how have you gotten past them) in your language learning? Tell us in the Comments section.