#clearthelist August 2019: How I Keep Motivation for Learning Languages

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Hello and welcome to #clearthelist, a monthly language learning goals round-up. This blog round-up of goal trackers is hosted by Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy here.

What Happened in July?

July 2019 seemed like a long month with lots going on. Here at Fluent, I’m currently head down in some preparation work for big things to come later in the year, such as my first membership community and a course update for the Language Habit Toolkit.

I spent 10 beautiful days on holiday visiting Hamburg and the German island of Fehmarn. My first island and my first ever experience of the famous German Strandkorb. Fehmarn is gorgeous and I didn’t want to leave.

In the following week, Britain braved a heatwave and I achieved a particular personal goal: my British citizenship. I am now a dual national, which was a move entirely motivated by Brexit and therefore bittersweet at best.

Fun fact 1: At the ceremony I had to say a pledge of allegiance. I asked to do it in Welsh but was denied because "we have to be able to understand you". I now speak more British languages than the Brits who held my citizenship ceremony.

The Fluent Show

This month I was pleased to publish five podcast episodes, all of which just stand their own. My favourite conversation was with María Ortega Garcia, giving me such a zest for play in how I teach.

And I can’t leave you without recommending the episode Indigenous Languages Explained, which is a topic that you’ll find both important and interesting.

The Fluent Show also hit a huge milestone this week. We counted ONE MILLION DOWNLOADS 😲in the last two years. It’s an absolute whopper number and made me so excited and proud. Thank you, listeners!

Time to get to those language goals now then…oh my.

Citizenship ceremony in 38 degrees 🥵

Citizenship ceremony in 38 degrees 🥵

Language Goals and Progress

Fun fact 2: When I do not print out my goals or write them by hand and pin them on the wall behind my computer monitor, I don’t do as much towards them. Fancy that. It’s a reminder that even faint awareness of our goals can help us move towards them.

Let’s talk about Welsh first.

Welsh Language Maintenance

This was a maintenance month where I didn’t focus so much on the Welsh language. I picked up the book Ffenestri by Lois Arnold - picked it up from my shelf, that is - and finally started reading it during our long train journey to Hamburg. This book is so lovely. It is divided into 3 levels and I breezed through the beginner section and most of the intermediate section. I’m a B1/B2 reader in my book!

After the holiday, I’d not had the chance to pick the book back up…but I look forward to the next parts.

In terms of listening and writing, there wasn’t daily contact but still a consistent stream of language input through S4C and even my Intermediate Grammar book.

Only thing…I didn’t speak a lot of the language at all. It’s a classic problem for those of us who live further away from our target language communities, and the answer is to simply rope in friends or book more online lessons.

Welsh is now a pleasure language for me, one that I enjoy every time I get to experience it. Sadly I’m missing the Eisteddfod this year, but I’m eager to plan my next trip to Cymru.

Chinese Language Progress

Now, for my little Chinese progress.


I watched the odd YouTube video and tried out a few resources, but like in previous months I know I’ve got a gap here. Might be time to purchase a course with practice audio.

The good thing: I’ve discovered Mandopop and am now happily bouncing around Spotify so that I can get into more of a positive mindset with Mandarin Chinese.


I had high hopes that I would make lots of progress using Lingq, but instead the progress was somewhat slack as I found myself reviewing vocabulary rather than adding new words.

In the long run, I’m sure I’ll be glad that I didn’t just press on to get ego numbers. But right now, it’s a bit of a ¯(ツ)/¯._

My biggest reading contact comes from the language learning apps that I fall back on while I’m studying: Drops, Lingodeer, Memrise. This month was a strong showing for the apps, which kind of goes to show how little concentration time I put in.


I took one italki lesson and enjoyed it, didn’t really speak a lot more than that.


2 pages of vocab notes after reviewing the italki lesson, and I’ve been writing a few little pages of introduction stuff as well.

A Word on The Value of My Vision Goal

In July I lost track of tracking, and now that it’s coming round to review time I can feel the impact. I’m a great Chinese student when I sit down and focus, when I’m in the habit, when I want to. But after some time off, I wasn’t in a good routine.

When you are at a beginner level in any language, that routine is incredibly important. Once you can speak, enjoy TV, read, everything becomes easier to integrate.

So I’m definitely a beginner and for a few minutes I was even considering throwing the towel. But I am not ready to abandon this project! I want to understand more Chinese when I hear it, chat to a few people, initiate conversations. I am happy to get the study materials back out and spend 15 minutes on them every day.

You can’t always keep up the same levels of motivation and action. To learn a language in a busy life, you need a moment to remember the big picture.

If you want to learn more about the importance of a vision goal, this blog article is a good start: How To Learn A New Language With Smart And Useful Goals

Language Goals for August 2019

Let’s be realistic: I’m spending almost 2 weeks of this month travelling. I’m unlikely to be carrying around a Chinese book or running into lots of Welsh speakers.

With that in mind, who am I to give up, right? Here are my goals for the month:

Welsh Language Goals

Mae popeth yn iawn, everything’s okay with Welsh. I’d only love to speak more so I’ll have to make sure that I have one or two real conversations with someone. Please volunteer in the comments. 🤗

Chinese Language Goals

I am going to travel with my phone and iPad, so this month my goals are digital.


Skipping this, except for more of the Mandopop.


I am reading a story on Lingq and will continue with it, hopefully making more Lingqs in the process. I will say I’d like to get to 100 Lingqs, bearing in mind my slow pace as I do review everything several times.


I am in the market for a new tutor, and I’m also going to record a few videos of myself speaking Chinese to post on Instagram or share with a tutor. I live in such a student town that I also imagine it might be lots of fun to find a local exchange partner…but I’ll do that once I have acquired some basic level of decent skill.


I’ll continue to write by hand (characters and pinyin) while I’m home when I have time, but my only firm goal is to figure out how to type characters on an iPhone.

And that’s it for my round-up and goals for August 2019!

How do You Record Your Goals?

How do you keep track? Tell me in the comments below!