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Congratulations! You made it through Activity 1 and Activity 2! By now you should have a pretty good idea of what kinds of resources you will be using for your 180 days of language learning. If not, today is the day to head over to your target language page(s) and ask for some advice right away! Look at the comments that have been left by others and/or ask for help in the comment section of your target language(s) page(s)! Next Monday language learning moves into full swing, so you will want to be ready!
Satisfaction Is Essential
Looking back at our #4 questionnaire (see Activity #2 above for information on this), we now know what our favorite kinds of language resources are for ourselves and/or our children. This is essential in making our 180 days as efficient and enjoyable as possible.
I can not emphasize enough how important it is to enjoy your language learning process. Enjoyment could be the satisfaction that comes from having learned a list of vocabulary words – perhaps the process wasn’t the most enjoyable but you should at least be gaining joy from the satisfaction of your accomplishment.
However, finding good resources (the “how?” question) isn’t the end of it. The big questions that still remain are, “when?” “where?” and “why?”
For those of you focusing on passing on your language to your children, the question of “when” should be answered with: always! Your goal during these 180 days is to always speak and read to your children in your language. This may not feel 100% comfortable right now but it will start to feel that way if you focus on making it a habit every single day during Language Challenge 180. We will help you with this by giving you tips and reminders each week.
For those of you who are learning a new language, you need to plan things out a little more specifically. You won’t be speaking the language all day long since you aren’t comfortable doing that yet. Plus, if you are trying to work on a language that is strong but still needs a lot of help, then you also need to focus on doing specific language learning activities.
Just as with the question “when?” you also need to answer the question, “where?” Will you focus on language learning on the bus on your way to and from work? Or maybe in the car with CDs? Do you have a quiet spot in your house to focus on language learning? Or will you have your laptop set up in the kitchen (like me) and will do 15 minutes here and there throughout the day?
Try to be as specific about this as possible, even if it is only 15 minutes at a time. For example, while your children are at soccer practice, can you dedicate at least half of the time to focusing on language learning (flash cards, reading a magazine, listening to a podcast?). If so, add that to your language learning plan and get full buy-in from your family. If you can only learn well when you have a large chunk of quiet time, then acknowledge this and let your family know that you really need this for the next 180 days!
The “where?” question also needs to be answered by families raising children in another language. Agree that a story will be read every evening in the home language and get family buy-in to make this happen without excuses. Want to work on writing in your home language with your children? Then agree to set aside 20 minutes every other evening to write a letter/email to a family member or friend in your home country.
Last but not least, it is important that you are really clear on why you are doing what you are doing – be it raising your children in another language or learning a new language for yourself. You need to be very, very clear on this. Is it for enjoyment? This is just as good a reason as any! Don’t let anyone take that away from you! Some people won’t miss a single sports game no matter what. They don’t feel the need to defend this choice. And you don’t need to defend your choice to learn a language and/or raise your children in your language.
The truth is, a motivation based on a personal choice (hobby, fun, enjoyment, to speak with loved ones) has far more power than one based on economic or pragmatic factors (job, because the language is becoming popular, financial gain). Just because Chinese and Spanish may be part of a current language fad doesn’t mean that you need to learn either of those. If you are excited to learn one of those languages, then fantastic! But don’t choose one of those over a language you love because you believe those are more pragmatic choices. Focus on a language that brings you joy and satisfaction! You never know how long a fad will last but the language(s) you learn now will (hopefully) last a lifetime. Who knows where your language(s) will lead you.
Between now and Friday, come up with a specific plan for when and where you are going to do language activities each day/week (see questionnaire below). Write down your plan, even if parts of it seem inconsistent, such as: “Read one chapter in my novel whenever the kids are playing outside with the neighbor kids.” That is a fantastic addition to your plan! You may not know when the kids will be outside playing with friends, but when they are, you will know exactly what you are going to do. What a fantastic relief!
You need to write down all of these things to make sure they are clear in your head (and then you need to try and stick to them as much as possible). You also need to get your family’s buy-in. If you feel that you need a half an hour every evening to focus on your language learning, then talk with your family and see how they can help make this happen.
Activity: Do the following before Friday:
- Head over to the Language Challenge 180: Headquarters page, go to the “General Information” section. Download, print and fill out “Questionnaire #5: Language learning agreement.” After you have filled it out, discuss it with your family and get them to sign it!
You don’t need to turn this into us. This is for you to keep and post in a prominent location (e.g. on your refrigerator), if it will help!
That’s it for now! By Friday you should have filled out 5 questionnaires and be ready to jump into language learning for real (if you haven’t already)! We will have weekly tips, activities and more for those who are learning a new language as well as families passing on their home language to children. Hope you are as excited as we are!
Note: Thanks to a great request, we have created a section in the Multilingual Living Forum specifically for Language Challenge 180 conversations, discussions and chats! You do NOT have to log in to post there! We encourage you to ask questions, share information and encourage one another there. Plus, you can click on the Language Challenge 180 RSS Feed button to receive all Language Challenge 180 posts when they arrive in the Forum. Enjoy!
Chat with you again on Friday!