So it’s been almost a year since I last updated my blog due to my university and academic commitments, However I successfully managed to achieve a 2:1 in my exams and so far this summer I have dived straight back into my language learning despite months of neglect. Though the past year was without formal language learning, that does not mean that I did not speak various languages with my international friends on a daily basis nor doe sit mean that I have given up on my language learning altogether.
Picking up where I left off
As some of you may remember in a previous post on whether it was more beneficial to focus primarily on one language rather than several, I mentioned that the language I was going to solely focus on Was German. Well, despite neglecting my language learning, I kept true to my word and have focused solely on learning and improving my German over the last year. Since writing the previous post, my German began at a low A1-A1 level on the European Framework and is now bridging the hap between B1-B2. This means that after months of focusing on German, I am starting to be able to interact with German speakers with a much higher degree of fluency and Spontaneity than when I first started. However there is still always room for improvement.
Setting yourself goals
Many people learn languages for many different reasons. Some learn it for academic reasons, some for personal, and some even learn languages for fun. I myself have studied languages for many reasons, albeit primarily for fun. Over the course of my language learning journey, I have started to see the benefits of setting yourself goals. Firstly, it’s important to know why you are learning said language: academic, personal or fun? Once you know why you are learning a particular language, it becomes easier to set yourself goals based on your purposes.
If your purpose for learning a language is simply to interact with native speakers as you would with speakers of your mother language, your goal may be to obtain as much speaking practice as possible. Sometimes this is easier said than done as most people would think that the only way to do this would be to fly to a country in which the language you’re learning is spoken. However, thanks to modern technology and social-networking websites such as Italki, it has become much easier to connect with and practice your newly learned language with native speakers. If this is your purpose, then a good goal to set yourself would be to perhaps study your set language for an hour day and perhaps arrange a language exchange with your teacher. This way you’re bound to put your newly learned vocabulary to use and your teacher will help correct you if need be.
If your goal is to become comfortable with reading the language then you may not necessarily require a teacher. As Alex Rawlings discusses in his lecture on improving reading and comprehension , ‘reading is culture’. This is true as almost all culture’s across the world have a rich history of literature that they are proud of. Reading is a fantastic way to see your target language written and used as it should be, rather than written down in some obscene beginners textbook with phrases like ‘Der Mann isst den Apfel’. Reading can help you to understand complex grammar structures, learn advanced vocabulary and even help you to improve your cultural knowledge. In terms of what goals to set yourself when learning a language in order to read, it’s important to know what you want to read. Whether that be understanding and comprehending classic novels such as Die Verwandlug (Metamorphosis) by Franz Kafka or even to read a well know book series in your target language that you may have already read in English, such as Harry Potter or Der Herr der Ringe (The lord of the rings). A good place to start when learning to read in a foreign language would be acquire yourself a dictionary in order to quickly look up vocabulary. It may also be beneficial to obtain a course book in order to give yourself a small understanding of the language. However it’s important to know that you do not need to understand every word in order to read, nor do you need to attempt to read quickly. A good method would be to perhaps set yourself a little time each day in which you will read one or two pages of a book in your target languages, writing down the vocabulary that you are unfamiliar with. that way once you learn the vocabulary and go back to reading, you’ll understand what it means and will thus begin to slowly understand what you are reading.
My own language goals
As I have already mentioned in this post, my current focus is
on learning and improving my German and I have set myself a goal. I am currently teaching myself German using ‘Teach Yourself German’ as well as speaking it as often as I can. I have also begun reading books and novels in German as I am particularly fond of reading, especially in a foreign language. Once I begin to feel that I more than comfortable enough and proficient enough in German, I plan to take the C1/C2 for German at the Goethe-Institut in London. This certificate would allow me to prove to possible future employers that I am qualified in said language and that I am able to converse almost effortlessly in German without difficulty. It is also possible that there will be a future blog post written entirely in German in which I discuss my experiences learning German! In addition to this, German is not the only language I am currently learning. Recently I have taken it upon myself to study at least 100 words a day in Hungarian using the Colloquial Hungarian course on Memrise. This however is primary for fun as Hungarian is noted as being one of the most difficult languages and it is rather enjoyable learning such a beautiful and exotic language.