#clearthelist June 2018: Learning Languages When Busy

Welcome to my latest language learning update through #clearthelist. Clear the List is a support and accountability blog group sharing monthly language learning goals.

I’m writing this article a few days later than I would have liked, but that doesn’t mean I can’t review and set my language goals.

clear the list june fluent kerstin

What Happened In May

Looking back at the diary, here is a list of what happened over the month. It was a B U S Y one.

  • I recorded an awesome episode of the Fluent Show with Ellen Jovin, and several episodes with Lindsay, plus a new bilingual episode that you guys will hear soon
  • My beloved car Polly got the rust and failed MOT, meaning I’ll have to say good bye 🚙
  • I visited Manchester, one of my favourite cities, and ran the Great Manchester Run (a 10k) in support of Manchester University’s access funds
  • Olly Richards and I started working on the launch of German Uncovered, which is my new German course — of course now everything needs to be done faster than ever
  • I prepared a talk and presented at the 5th Polyglot Gathering in Bratislava!
  • We filled all spaces on Fluent’s first German Retreat 🇩🇪💕🍺 in Munich. The Retreat is now fully booked and I’m looking forward to announcing the next one in a few months.
  • I finished the book Getting Through, about pragmatics in intercultural situations. It’s very good! Sadly no time for a thorough review.

A Polyglot Gathering is always such a fantastic experience, where you get to meet many new friends, practice your languages, and feel as if you’re not a weirdo because other people there get excited about diphthongs too!

Shout out to the lovely James who patiently let me practice my Spanish on him in Bratislava. I was encouraged to be getting sentences together. I also practiced very basic greetings in Russian, and spoke Welsh, German, and French,=.

How I’m Trying A Bit Of Chinese

True to the spirit of a month that ended in the Polyglot Gathering, this one contained some dabbling in a new language. Inspired by a mention of the LingoDeer app by Lindsay during Fluent Show 89, I’ve been learning my first ever Chinese words, letters and phrases.

The Fluent Show

ellen jovin fluent show

On the podcast, there were some great episodes with both guests and co-host. Don't miss out on my conversation with Ellen Jovin, reminding us all what matters most in language learning. She has studied over 20 languages, all from her apartment in New York City.

Listen To The Episode About Learning And Speaking 20+ Languages In New York City

Thank you, Ellen!! You're awesome.

Welsh Language Goals: Review For May 2018

These were my previous goals


Hah! Last month I declared that watching TV wasn’t working out for me as a goal. This month I got straight into watching TV, starting with an idle viewing of a Welsh triathlon (for some reason I enjoy sports commentary), and moving on to Ffit Cymru - a sort of “Biggest Loser” show for the whole country of Wales.

And what’s best is that I managed to watch a significant chunk of it without even the subtitles. When switching off the subtitles, I don’t worry so much about understanding 100%. For me, it’s about getting more time to watch before I get tired. So with 15-20 minutes subtitle-free at a time, things are looking great in the listening department.

Complete at least 2 intensive listens to the Pigion podcast This was the original goal and I did listen to one or two of the podcasts, but unfortunately the vocab list links were missing for a few episodes in May. So I didn’t quite get it done as planned.

Still, happy with my Welsh listening comprehension!


Start reading Ffenestri or Sgwp Result! I am finding my choice Sgwp a lot easier to read than the previous choice (Bywyd Blodwen Jones), and the story is great. The chapters are a lot shorter than expected, so instead of 1-3 I managed to get up to 23 so far.

Read poetry in Welsh! Sadly, this one fell by the wayside. But I’m not ready to give up yet.


Have at least 6 (!) short conversations in Welsh only Remember those 6 conversations I was going to have in May? Omg. Fail o Rama. Even though I now have a few people to access as language tutors and exchange partners, I just didn’t make the arrangements to actually let them know I want to practice. Lesson learnt: When you want to practice speaking in your target language, turns out you’ve got to go and arrange speaking practice.

I spoke some Welsh at the Polyglot Gathering and got good feedback, but overall I felt I wasn’t performing how I’d like. The noise levels, spontaneous nature of conversation, and mix of languages flying around my mind meant I was a lot slower. Plus, I still can’t handle those bloody yes/no questions!

All in all, maybe 2 out of 6.

Look for a book club

The book club is in contact, we’re regularly writing to each other and had a date in the diary. Sadly we missed that date, but apart from that it’s mission accomplished.


Write 2 language poems, and more considered ones. Uhhh, no that didn’t happen. I got intimidated after hearing an excellent BBC documentary about the cynghanedd poetry form, and then I thought I better not bother. Look below for a VERY simplified goal, because I am NOT ready to give up on #languagepoems.

Daily Contact Goal

In May, I logged 20 days of contact with the Welsh language. I lost track a bit towards the end, but I believe about 3-4 days were unlogged. My most used language apps were Ap Geiriaduron, Duolingo, and SmartCards+.

Language Goals For June 2018

June is another month that’s looking like it will be intense, with continued work on German Uncovered for the latest parts of the course and a well-deserved holiday in there too.

Check out the goals:


Welsh is still my focus language, but this month I’m reducing the goals to make space for French and Chinese.


Follow The Ffit Cymru Series on S4C My goal is just to watch it, and I will switch off subtitles if I’m feeling up to it.


Try and Finish The Book Sgwp I’m enjoying this book and got about halfway through in crazy busy March, so let’s see if I can aim for finishing this month.


2 30 Minute Conversations With My Tutor I tend to have a dislike of binding myself to a schedule, so I hadn’t booked regular classes. But noticing how that led to some serious slacking, I’ve now taken action and booked in the next 2 classes with my italki teacher in one go. They’re both in for this month.


My Welsh writing practice is now regular as I send emails and DMs to a few people in the language, but as a goal, I’m adding.

Write 1 Haiku I overshot last month and want to keep it super easy so I can achieve this one. If I write 1 and there’s time, I’ll write another. Easy!

Non Welsh Practice

There are two other languages I will probably work with this month.



La Belle France

Going to see the Calanques!

I’m going on holiday to France, so there’s no way I won’t be speaking a lot of the language. My French is a “rusty C1” kind of level, but especially the spoken language is very rusty. Read here for more about my French practice and tips.

My goal is to book a guided hike of the Calanques, all in French.


In Chinese, I’m only dabbling and it feels intimidating to actually commit to a goal. I will keep playing with Lingodeer and see what I can retain.

So, in a nutshell that was the month of May! What about you?

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. I would love to read about what you’re up to in the comments below!