Welcome to a new kind of blog post here on Fluent - I’ve long been aware that my last personal language update was about a year ago and this blog should include more of that good stuff. So this month, I am joining Clear The List, a monthly language strategies update.
You may have heard me talk to Lindsay about it on the Fluent Show - Clear The List is open to everyone and gives us support and accountability by sharing regular language learning goals and stories.
Every month, I set my goals using the Language Habit Toolkit worksheets and I put them up behind my computer screen to keep them in mind. And this month, I had a LOT of them in Welsh. The mindset was not to expect too much from myself, but to remember the direction I was aiming for.
What Happened in March 2018?
Up to the 11th of March, my working life was dominated by sharing and co-running the absolutely wonderful Women in Language conference. If you were there, you’ll know that we had a great time.
Click here to read my full debrief of Women in Language, which includes
- the 5 most important lessons I learnt at the conference
- some behind the scenes details
- tips for you on what to do if you also want to be a speaker
- lessons learnt on what we’ll do differently next time.
English Vineyard Visit
Right after the conference I experienced another unusual week with lots of spoken German as my parents came to visit me in Canterbury. We had a great time pottering around and I did my usual interpreting job and listened to my husband’s German.
If you are visiting Canterbury and want to practice your German on a city tour, do give me a shout through the contact page.
Highlight: A visit to an English winery, showing me that I know more winemaking vocab than I expected. My parents are winemakers, so this always seems to happen when they’re around.
One more unusual event was the news that my favourite ever English teacher had passed away. He was one of a few English teachers who influenced and inspired me as a teenager, spoke lots of English in class, and shared the literature he loved. What a reminder to appreciate those who inspire us.
The Fluent Show
March marked one month since the Creative Language Learning Podcast became the Fluent Show. Thank you so much for listening!
Here’s my favourite episode from this month: In Language, Are Apps All Amazing? Are All Apps Amazing?
My Welsh Goals For March 2018
With so much going on, did I even get ANY language study done?
On an everyday basis, I have one important goal: Have contact with my target language. So I have a lot of mini-sessions on Duolingo, Clozemaster, with flashcards, with vocab lists. I read tweets in Welsh, look out for books, anything. All these different strategies add up to consistent slow progress, but they are the basis for all other goals.
I track my contact with Welsh using the Streaks app on my iPhone. In March, I logged 22 days of contact.
Here are the Path Goals I set, and how it went:
Watch S4C every other day for 10 minutes: Did this about three times. I’m not sure my devices have S4C set up to be accessible as easily as possible. Also, 10 minutes is an awkward length for a TV show. I did watch some YouTube clips, so I’ll take that into account as a goal format.
Listen more when I’m having real conversations Listening is the conversation habit I always need to bear in mind. I had one tutor conversation in Welsh this month, and I did shut up and listen to her a little more than usual. A good job with room for improvement.
Transcribe 1 Song from Listening What was I thinking? Not really a goal I’ll go back to.
This month, I resubscribed to the Pigion podcast and listened to the weekly episodes. I discovered that they provide a vocab list with each episode and reviewed the vocab before I start the episode.
I wanted to work through the Sylfaen (Foundation Level) exam questions to practice speaking at a higher level, but found the exam paper so boring that I never went back to it. But on the positive side, I feel confident that I could tackle all of the questions on it, so I’m now definitely on that level or even further ahead.
My other goal was to get to 30 minutes all-Welsh conversation, so my tutor session was a 60 minute time slot, and we had nearly a full hour of Welsh conversation. Very exciting! ✅ I also got to the halfway point on Say Something in Welsh level 2.
Read articles or 1/2 book page in Welsh every 2 days. The goal here was to acquire new vocabulary, and build up my reading capacity to “more than a tweet”. I don’t think I read enough, partly because I don’t know where to find easy Welsh articles online.
My goal was to write 1/2 a page and share it with my tutor 3 times. This is where the MAGIC happened. Inspired by one of the talks at Women in Language, my writing practice evolved to include poetry in my target language. It’s really fun - one of the best ways I’ve found to use Welsh creatively.
I haven’t shared with my tutor yet, but I did post the poetry on Instagram with #languagpoems and I’ll keep going.
My other goal was to complete Chapters 7-9 in my Grammar exercise book - I’m halfway through chapter 8, so that one’s trucking along.
Goals For April 2018
In Welsh: My listening skills are a little behind and I don’t understand as much as I would like to, so the focus will again be on this core skill so I can get into a routine.
My goals in Welsh are:
Have 3 natural conversations with my tutor/exchange partner and listen carefully: My next tutor session is already booked so I reckon I can smash this one and I’ll continue aiming for 45-60
Practice Welsh listening by playing with no-subtitle TV, and reviewing the Pigion podcast vocab before I listen: These are about listening comprehension, the area I need to improve right now.
Write a longer Welsh poem and continue playing around with different poetry formats: Last month I tried a Haiku. Maybe this month I’ll attempt poetry that rhymes. I’m loving my poetry focus this month and am also reading more of it in English and German.
Finish my easy reader novel and read all of the latest Lingo Newdyy magazine - these are all offline, can anyone recommend easy Welsh websites?
Book a day in Wales: I keep looking at this list of courses and not booking, even though they’re so cheap. Time to dive in!
One Last Thing: Other Languages
This month, I also dabbled in Swedish and spoke a lot of French. I’m still on the hunt for my new language to play with.
Swedish was the first language in which I've tried an official Memrise course and I'm so impressed. WAY better than the usual.
So now we’re caught up, let me assure you that future Clear The List articles will be a little shorter. I will continue setting goals using the framework of 4 core skills, and I always use the Language Habit Toolkit to set and track quality goals that will challenge me without driving me crazy.
Is there anything you’re curious about?
How was your month?
If you want to join the linkup and share your own goals for the month, hop on to Clear The List with Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy. Would love to see what you’re up to!