#clearthelist September 2019: The Eleven Languages I Spoke in One Month

language goals september

Imagine you’re on a long-distance cycling trip, perhaps through all of a country or state. You know the destination and you’re pedalling every day, always pushing ahead even if you know you may not arrive for many days. On a journey like that, what would you be without a necessary stop to find yourself on the map now and then? Can you do it without GPS? I don’t think I could!

Learning a language is a lot like navigating a long trip like that. We often know our destination before we get going and we set off in the right direction. But without regular check-ins, we may pedal and pedal until we fall over.

Here on the blog, I write a monthly check-in like that to keep you up to date with my own language learning goals. It’s part of the #clearthelist round-up hosted by Shannon Kennedy and Lindsay Williams.

Want to try out this check-in process for yourself?

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Why not check out my Language Habit Toolkit, an in-depth course designed to help you set useful language goals, track them easily and achieve a new milestone every month.

What Happened in August?

Last month was dominated by my biggest trip of the year, visiting the USA and Canada to participate in two conferences. First, I attended Podcast Movement in Orlando to learn more about how to make great podcasts and support myself well while doing it.

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And while I was across the pond, how could I have missed Langfest in Montréal, Canada? Impossible!

The trip in between these two cities was a lot of fun: I took Amtrak to Charleston in South Carolina, having long wanted to try the American train. My impression was…that Europeans love the train even in America, haha!

The Langfest team another excellent language event this year, with so many highlights including meeting the creators of Klingon and Dothraki, and running my own creative writing workshop with María Ortega Garcia.

The Fluent Show

First of all let me say how amazing it was for me to meet so many listeners on the road in August. I’m over the moon to know that the Fluent Show is popular!

This month contained a whole range of amazing episodes so let me share two with you today:

  1. Langfest 2019 captured in audio, with almost a dozen interviews and voices directly from the show
  1. What is the Right Mixture for Language Learning Success?, an episode about why so many methods feel like they’re THE best method

If you’re not a Fluent Show listener already, you’ll find lots more exciting shows to listen or subscribe to at www.fluent.show.

Language Goals and Progress

I had pretty clear goals for August 2019, so this time I’ll run through them without breaking it down too much into listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Mandarin Chinese

  • Listen to Mandopop

I neglected this, spending more time on podcasts.

  • Get 100 Lingqs on the LingQ app

Overall I now have lots of LingQs, the challenge is becoming more about noting and remembering them all! Still enjoying this app and using it in the mornings.

  • Post 2-3 speaking videos on Instagram

I only posted one, then travel threw me off the wagon. I did learn some more Chinese from a new friend at Langfest though, so I feel positive about my speaking.

  • Find a new Chinese tutor

So here’s what happened: I wanted a new tutor but felt guilty about ghosting the current one. Then as if by magic, she decided she’s taking a break and sent a messaging saying she won’t be available until December. So yay, I was free for a new tutor.

But then I didn’t book one. Hah! I count this as a goal half achieved 😅

  • Figure out how to type Chinese characters on the iPhone


  • Practice characters by hand every week

In the weeks I was at home, this was done.


  • Book a class to practice speaking

Sadly no, but I still got my speaking practice on one occasion this month in conversation with a Langfest buddy.

This book is LOVELY and I’m nearly finished. I’m reading well at all 3 levels, as I should :)

  • Plan my next trip to Wales

Sadly this fell through as I prioritised visiting my family in Germany first. Chwarae teg, wouldn’t you say?

  • More stuff!

I can now watch Welsh TV without subtitles! 🎉

Other Languages

It’s impossible to travel without practicing other languages, so August also became an opportunity for me to speak my long-neglected languages.

Counting in Klingon

Counting in Klingon

In bilingual Montréal, I spoke lots of French with people from all over. Québécois French is never 100% comprehensible to me, but as always when I speak French I felt reassured that I’m entirely capable.

I bungled my way through a taxi ride with a lovely Colombian in Spanish, though I never did end up where I originally wanted to be. But I blame Lyft and GPS for that instead of my language skills, haha.

And talking of bungling, I also spoke more Italian than I have done in 20 years. The Italian sounded like that, too. It’s R.U.S.T.Y. and has essentially turned into bad Spanish.

I also attended basic workshops on the fictional languages Klingon and Dothraki, as well as Breton and Signed Languages.

Language Goals for September 2019

It’s handy to start setting goals by remembering the time frame available. In other words, the question is “What do you want to achieve in the next 30 days?” - seems a little less intense than wondering how to achieve a lot.

This month I’ve been inspired by intense learning projects and the book Ultralearning by Scott Young (interview coming up on the podcast). What can I commit to that would stretch me, challenge me?

Listening Goals

In Chinese, I’ll look for a tutor and ask them to help me listen, perhaps through some dictation rather than the pressure of conversing instantly.

In Welsh, I’m getting so much better so I’ll keep up what I’m doing.

Reading Goals

I don’t have firm goals here and want to focus on other skills, so I’ll just commit to the tools and say I want to finish Ffenestri in Welsh and use LingQ 4 days a week in Chinese.

Speaking Goals

Here I would like to take it up a notch!

In Chinese I am still fairly shy about speaking - I wish I had a few sample conversations to practice with. Comment if you can recommend any? Meanwhile it’s a good idea to push ahead and find that new tutor!

In Welsh I so want to practice speaking and everything, so I’m going to book myself 3 sessions to speak bad Welsh at people. Yay!

Writing Goals

I’ll go easy on the writing beyond what I usually do, which is to text people. In Chinese I’m also making vocab lists by hand now and writing down set phrases in characters and pinyin.

Here’s an instagram slideshow showing my vocab system in more detail:

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And that’s it for September’s #clearthelist!

How are You Getting On in Language Learning?

Comment below and tell me how your month of August went! Did you come to Langfest? Would you like to attend it some time? Have you got any strong speaking goals?

Looking forward to hearing from you!