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Congratulations! You made it through the first weekend of Language Challenge 180 unscathed! How did you do? Are you excited for more? I hope so because things have just begun!
First of all, did you fill out the two questionnaires?
The focus for the next 5 days is still about getting our language resource framework in place, so make sure you filled out your questionnaires (or at least answered the questions in your head).
Some of you already know exactly how you are going to tackle the next 180 days. You have a language learning program/plan for yourself and/or your children and all you need is the push to keep doing it every week. Fantastic! Language Challenge 180 will keep you on track with our weekly reminders.
For those of you who still aren’t sure, don’t worry! This week is for you. It will help you figure out exactly what resources you have on hand (and like to use) for you/your children’s language learning.
Can You Fall in Love?
When it comes to language learning, feelings are very important. I know this might sound a little crazy to some of you but it is important that you form a positive relationship with your target language. If you don’t like the sound of the language and if people who speak it bug you, you might want to ask yourself why you are learning the language in the first place. Learning a language for utilitarian reasons without any appreciation for it is definitely not ideal. It may even make you dislike the language even more. This is true for our children as well. How your children feel about the target language (including their home language) is crucial in the learning process.
On the other hand, if there are things about the language and the cultures where the language is spoken that excite you or delight you, then you are good to go! When you feel like you could “fall in love” with your target language, you will be more eager to learn it. Because it makes you feel wonderful inside (like falling in love makes us feel) you will be inspired to continue day after day, even after the initial infatuation has worn away.
What Do You Like?
All this talk of falling in love leads us to the next question: What kinds of language learning methods do you like? Look back at your questionnaires (which you definitely filled out, right?) and take note of the following:
- What kinds of media (books, online resources, etc.) do you already have on hand for yourself/your child (look at Questionnaire #1)? Do you have books around and access to online media resources?
- What kinds of media do you like the most (look at Questionnaire #2)? Do you like reading? What about listening to audio books?
I love watching movies. Perhaps it comes from my deprived childhood where we only had 2, maybe 3, TV stations available to us when I was a child (we lived down a dirt road in the California foothills) and going to the movies was a rare event. Whatever the reason, when it comes to being able to sit back and watch a movie, I feel like I am in heaven! So for me, watching movies (primarily online) in a language that I am working on gives me the kind of excitement and satisfaction that helps me stick with my language learning. I even feel a guilty pleasure for taking the time to do it!
To make it a family language-learning event (my kids enjoy watching movies as well), I pick out movies that my kids can watch with me (like Saturday when the kids and I watched “Traum Hotel” on ARD.de – a hotel version of Love Boat, if you can believe that!). It’s one of the corniest shows you can think of but let me tell you, the kids and I enjoyed every minute of it.
To make watching these shows an extra learning experience, I turn on the closed-captioning (if it is available) and write down words and sentences that I want to remember (sometimes we pause the show and look them up online right then and there). If my kids and I watch a movie every other day in German, I can guarantee that our language skills will be increasing.
I love to read. Because of this, I purchased a few novels in German from our local second hand book shops. I underline words and sentences that I don’t know, add them to LingQ and then practice them each week.
The key with books and reading is that we need to find topics that interest us! Don’t force yourself to read a book simply because you happen to have it in your target language – this includes books that you read out loud to your children! Pick your books wisely and if you aren’t enjoying reading it, put it aside and pick another one. If you don’t, you are bound to start disliking the language along with the book.
All of the above is true for anything we have chosen to work on to improve our/our children’s language(s). If we aren’t enjoying what we are reading, listening to, watching or interacting with, then find something else. As the saying goes, “You can bring a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” Find some water that you like to drink and fill yourself up!
This Week’s Activities
Activity #1: Between now and Wednesday, you are going to actually gather the resources that you have on hand and write down what they are (this includes online resources). You are then going to evaluate them based on whether you like doing/using them or not. To help you do this, go to the Language Challenge 180: Headquarters page, look for the General Information section, download the following questionnaires, and fill them out:
- Questionnaire #3: Resources you have
- Questionnaire #4: Resources you like
You don’t need to write something in each section of the questionnaires but be as exhaustive as you can. Put down what you have on hand and then think about what you’ll want to use from what you have on had. Maybe you are going to use a single language learning program for yourself/your child. That is fine! However, if you can, put down a few other things to supplement your learning for the days/weeks when you get sick of doing your language learning program.
Activity #2: For each category of things you like (in Questionnaire #4), pick out a few two top choices. For example, my top choices might look like this:
- Reading materials: the novel Gut gegen Nordwind, the magazine Deutch Perfect and the online language learning program LingQ – those are the resources that I really enjoy reading right now.
- Watching Materials: I would list zdf.de, ard.de and Deutsche Welle Media Center – I look forward to watching a shows on all three of those sites.
- Interactive materials: I would list LingQ, Deutche Welle XXL and Memrise.com – they have fun, interactive language activites.
- Listening Materials: I would list ard.de and LingQ – the mystery radio shows on ARD are fantastic and I can choose the difficulty level on LingQ.
The idea with this activity is that you want to start focusing in on a few main resources that you/your child can use every day/week. It is very likely that your language has a number of different resources available, so finding just the few you will focus on can be difficult. During the main weeks of Language Challenge 180, you want to focus on language learning, not which language resources there are and which you will use. So select a few now and put them down as your top choices.
Activity #3: Many of you told us that you wanted to work on a specific language but you haven’t gone to the target language page to let people know who you are and/or what resources you know about.
If no one has left a comment at your target language page, then head over there and leave one! After a few weeks, we will remove links to languages that don’t have any comments at all. So, get over there and “claim” your language before the link goes away!
Your next email will come on Wednesday. We will talk about the “where” and “how” of language learning. By then you should either have a good idea of which resources you are going to use (the “what” of language learning) or you should have left a comment on your target language link asking for suggestions/help. Utilize this community for help! We will be updating the language pages to reflect the resources that people suggested very soon, so make sure that you keep checking those pages.
Chat with you again on Wednesday!