#clearthelist August 2018: The German Retreat!!

language august 2018

Welcome to my latest language learning update through #clearthelist, which is a language learning round-up sharing monthly language learning goals, support, and accountability.

I’m writing this a few days into August after a week fully focused on the first German language retreat - more about that later!

What Happened In July?

As ever, lots of stuff happened! July is a long month packed with travel and events that took me out of my routine as a learner, but gave me new growth and motivation as a professional.

Earlier in the month I attended Shout Out Live, a podcast festival in London. I met a wonderful community of supportive and unique people who are killing it with their podcasts, and picked up some tips for the Fluent Show. After that it was time to prep for 2 weeks spent in Germany, some of it with my family and the second half on the first Fluent German Retreat.

The German Retreat

The German Retreat was a very small, all-inclusive language trip to Munich.We welcomed three motivated learners around B1/B2, and for 5 days the motto was to learn, live, and speak only German.

I taught a custom German class focused around speaking German independently, and each participant was challenged every day. One attendee told me she’d been worried her language level was not good enough for speaking German only for so many days, but she certainly surprised herself. At the end, she told me “I have grown in confidence so much over the last week, I didn’t think I can do this and now I know I can. I am so motivated to continue and speak German.” As a teacher, the retreat experience was second to none, and I cannot wait to repeat it.

Every day of this trip offered something special, including a guided tour by a retired American history professor, a visit to the (non air conditioned 🚒) Deutsches Museum, and of course a huge giant pretzel and a beer in the beer garden. In other words, the perfect combination of a good week out and a language “level-up”.

german language retreat collage

Oh, and because I am me….we also cooled ourselves off in a river.

Our next German retreats are already scheduled in the diary, so watch this space and register on my retreat list if you want to experience a trip like this.

The Fluent Show

My favourite episode this month was our discussion on language bias, and whether our hidden prejudice holds us back from learning certain languages. As Lindsay concluded at the end, we might not have answered the question but we had a great conversation about it.

In August, the show is hitting a milestone: We’re celebrating our 100th episode with a live broadcast full of games and special guests. Every language lover is invited! If you want to join us, click here for more information.

Language Goals and Progress

All right, all right. I bet you didn’t come here for a diary entry, so let’s get to the goods. How did I learn languages in July 2018?

¡Oye! ¡Español!

My moments with languages apart from my beloved Welsh continued. Checking out an upcoming Fluent Show sponsor’s wares, I decided to see what they’ve got to offer in the Spanish department…and found myself in an online lesson speaking Spanish for a full 60 minutes!

I learnt Spanish during my foreign language training in 2001-2003, and got to a level of B1/B2 for conversation and business letters. Thing is, after the end of the course I never had another formal lesson. And after 15 years, turns out I’m still good enough to function in Spanish!

Here’s my tutor’s assessment:

Moral of the story: Don’t worry if you do have an ex-language somewhere (see podcast episode 98). Your brain has way more skill stashed somewhere up there than you imagine possible.


Still dabbling!! I spent an hour or two practicing what I already learnt and adding a few question words. At this pace, I’m on track to be “officially learning” by 2020 and fluent by the year 3000. I like it!

Learning Welsh

Yes, I’m still learning Welsh. In fact, I’m volunteering for a few days at the National Eisteddfod Cymru next week. If you’re coming and spot me speaking Welsh in a high-viz, dyweduch s’mae os gwelwch chi’n dad! Having said that, I didn’t reach all July goals. Let’s take a look.


I wanted to listen to Welsh for 90 minutes every week. This started off well with radio and television, but while I was in Germany it dropped to zero.


I wanted to try and finish the book Sgwp!…and then I didn’t touch it all month. My Welsh reading really took a dip and I’m not too proud to tell this to the internet. Luckily, there’s always another month to improve.


The goal was to have 1 long lesson and 3 conversations, and I did have a fab lesson with my tutor. It helped me lots with that yes/no issue in the grammar. Conversationally, things were quiet though I did chat in Welsh on social media. Good job I have a trip coming up!


The goal was “write one poem, any kind”. That one got done, one sleepy morning when I put my thoughts down on the Notes app in my phone.

You might not think this is much, but sometimes it’s necessary to set the goal at “more than zero” and then move from there. After all, a small goal achieved feels better than a big goal missed.

Monthly Contact Goal

Every month, I log my “daily contact” with the Welsh language. In July, I logged 12 days of contact. I know there was more but being in Germany meant my tracking habit was off. Still, it shows that when the daily contact drops, everything drops.

Goals For August 2018

Cannot wait for this month - it’s going to be very Welsh!

Listening and Speaking

These two areas are grouped together for the National Eisteddfod, where I’m going to be from 8-11 August. Although I’m getting organised very late (my airbnb fell through), my plan is to stay on the Maes Camping and hear and say everything in Welsh while I’m there.

I also plan to volunteer for a bunch of hours. This is all organised in Welsh, so I’ll get plenty of input.


Guess what….I’m gonna whip out Sgwp once again! I’m also due a new issue of Lingo Newydd. Let’s say I’ll get halfway in this book!


I’m not entirely sure what to do for writing practice this month! I might sacrifice that writing time, not set a goal, and instead spend a little extra time on Chinese. That sounds good to me!

So there we have it, my new goals for August 2018 are set and I’m ready to go visit my target language country.

How Was Your Month?

Have you ever visited a language retreat? Do you write bad poetry in Welsh? Are you setting goals?

Leave a comment below to tell me all about it!

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

If you want to write your own goals and join the #clearthelist linkup and share your own goals for the month, hop on to Clear The List hosted by Lindsay Williams and Shannon Kennedy.