Language Challenge 180: Week 6

by Corey · 9 comments

This page is for Language Challenge 180 participants only. Sign up now to join this event!

If you missed the activities these last few weeks, go to the Weekly Activity Page and click on the activities you missed.

Did you remember to check in on Friday? If not, go to the check in page and then make sure to go check out last Friday’s giveaway! Only 17 people have entered so far!

For those of you who have been on board since the beginning, don’t forget to keep checking your language pages! Let others know about the resources you are finding and/or ones that you are still looking for. Some of the language pages are hopping!

What Does Your Cup Look Like?

Can you believe it? We are on week 6 of Language Challenge 180! Regardless of how many vocabulary words you/your children learned or how much more confident you/your children feel in the target language(s), you stuck with it for 5 weeks. That is fantastic!

Depending on how you are feeling about your/your children’s language learning, you will most likely look at things from one of two vantage points:

  • Cup half empty: “What!? It is already week 6! I haven’t learned a thing!” This is often my fall-back tendency: It is never enough. If I work on my languages 15 minutes a day, then I tell myself that it should be 30 minutes a day. If I do it for 30 minutes a day, then I tell myself that I should be doing it for 60 minutes. You get the picture. This way of thinking sabotages us and always leaves us disappointed in ourselves. It will never let us feel the joy and satisfaction of what we have accomplished.
  • Cup half full: “Wow, I have been able to stick with this for 5 weeks. I didn’t get as much done as I had hoped but at least I stuck with it.” This way of thinking gives us the chance to savor what we have accomplished. Even if all we did was read a few passages in a book, that is better than nothing! If our children got excited about language learning, that is worth its weight in gold!

The catch is not to let the “cup half full” view of things give us permission to slow down and let our language learning become stagnant. Sometimes we need the “cup half empty” to push us again. Only you can be the judge of what you need from day-to-day and week-to-week. The key is to aim for a balance between the two: savor your accomplishments while also identifying areas for improvement.

Ultimately, each of us should give ourselves a big pat on the back for completing these first 5 weeks. It is a momentous occasion that we should celebrate, preferably with someone we love and with something sweet or salty (or both, like chocolate covered pretzels – yum!).

Stop. Pause. Rest.

In every event there is a period of time to rest, be it work, gardening or the Olympics. We put in the time and effort to get something done and then we step back and take a break for a while. We go for a walk. We take a nap. We view what we have done so far with an element of subjectivity and peace.

This is what this week is all about. Week 6 of Language Challenge 180 is about pausing and resting. It is also about assessing where things are at with gentle, yet rigorous, honesty. Are we still enjoying our language learning? Are our children still excited to be using our language? Do our language resources still possess the same sheen that they had at the beginning? Or have they become decidedly dull and nauseating?

The activities this week are to give our (and our children’s) minds and hearts a break for 7 days. It isn’t about quitting, just as taking time off for a long lunch with friends on a clear, spring day isn’t about quitting our job all together. In fact, we do our jobs better when we take the time to give our minds the chance to relax and our hearts the opportunity to fill up again. So take this week seriously and do the activities thoroughly! I have certainly made some big changes!

This Week’s Activities

Some of you won’t feel the need to take a week off, for example if it is your native language which you speak with your children. Or maybe you are on a time crunch (an upcoming vacation, homework for a language class, etc.). If that is your case, then feel free to just focus on activities #2 and #3 below (the assessment and declaration activities)! They will really help!

  • Activity #1: Stop:
    Individuals and/or parents:
    If you/your children are learning a new language, stop all learning this week. Put the books aside. Turn off the videos. Do something else than learning the language. Take a walk and don’t think about the vocabulary in your new language(s) for everything you see. Don’t skype with your language buddy on the other side of the world. In fact, speak less this week overall. Make it a kind of zen week, if you will. Take the opportunity to just breath and rest and enjoy the transition of the seasons. Note: this doesn’t mean that you have to stop speaking the language all together (see my comment below to Sabrina). It means stepping back from the active “learning” and “teaching” parts (e.g. repeating our children’s sentences correctly back to them for the millionth time) that can sometimes wear us out if we don’t take breaks now and then.
  • Activity #2: Assess:
    Individuals and/or parents:
    Take some time this week to rigorously think about what is, and is not, working with your language learning. How do you feel about it overall? You don’t need to get too detailed if you don’t want to. Just take the time to let your heart and mind speak to you about how things are going so far. Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself:

    • Do I/my children still feel connected to the language?
    • Do I feel that I/my children want to continue with the language?
    • What have been the most enjoyable moments in my/our language learning these past 5 weeks?
    • What would I/we have done differently if we were to start over again?
    • What resources have been the most enjoyable?
    • Which resources have been the most helpful in learning the language?
    • Do I feel that I can continue with what I/we have been doing for the rest of Language Challenge 180?
    • What more do I feel that I need to continue?
  • Activity #3: Declare
    Individuals and/or parents: I know this may sound ridiculous but take the time this week to make some kind of declaration of where you want things to go for the rest of Language Challenge 180. You can write it down on a piece of paper that you pin to the wall. You can write it in your journal. You can tell a friend or a spouse. You can tell your children. You can even pray or tell the universe what it is. However you go about it, just do it and then sit back and see how it feels.
    The point here is that you want to outline where you are headed so that you can (psychologically) let go of the details. Let yourself enjoy the process wherever it takes you. As long as you are clear where you are headed (north, south, east, west?) you can keep moving without feeling too stressed out. And who knows – telling someone or the universe just might help make things work out as you planned!


That’s it for today. Remember: if you/your children are experiencing the doldrums that we talked about in the previous week’s email, then this week is the ticket for what you need: take a break! Don’t worry – the language will still be there when you get back. Your resources aren’t going anywhere. You’ll find your inspiration again but only if you really, truly give your mind and heart the chance to wander a bit.

Stay tuned for the Friday check-in email and new giveaway that will help you combat the doldrums!

1 Sabrina April 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm

How can I take a break when I have to speak English to my son as it is the only language I ever spoke with him 😎 (being a native French speaker and raising him in English while daddy speaks French…) Do I have to stop talking for a week ? 😀

All of this to say… Yes, maybe I would like to take a break one day… It would be so much easier to express everything in my mother tongue ! But I’m so afraid of myself, diving in the breach of laziness and never coming back… It’s all working so well right now, he understands everything in both languages! It would be a shame to ruin 2 years of hard work with him ! So…
No break for me !

Enjoy yours 🙂

2 Corey April 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Hi Sabrina, thanks for the comment! For parents like you, we recommend that you do activities #2 and #3 (see above in the post – I just made it in bold to emphasize it more) during this “break week.” Assessment and declaration are essential parts to this process, for adults and children alike.

Note “taking a break” doesn’t necessarily mean to stop speaking the language completely! For some parents, “taking a break” means not focusing on language itself so much with their children, for example, maybe not correcting their children as much or repeating incorrect sentences as much or having their children do language activities. Just for a week! These are important elements in our children picking up our language but they can sometimes wear out a parent (and kid) if breaks aren’t taken along the way. The break is more psychological than anything and it is a chance for us to evaluate how things are going, which we can often only do when we step back from everything a bit.


3 Alex April 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

This is great. Just what I needed. I got to the point this week in which I felt just tired. I love my language, I am connected to it, but something just gave. I will be putting these into practice !

4 Amanda Kendle April 9, 2012 at 7:11 pm

It is nice to hear again that it’s OK to take a break sometimes! I usually speak German (my second language) with my son when we’re at home or alone (and my German husband always speaks German with him – we live in Australia) but some days if I’m tired – or this week, sick! – it is quite relaxing to just speak English with him. I used to be really stressed about strictly speaking only German to him (unless other people who don’t speak it were around) but he seems quite capable to pick up both even if I mix my languages a little.

5 Mary Kay April 11, 2012 at 3:21 am

I don’t really feel like I deserve a break, we’ve not accomplished much with Bambara, but I will say that I have seen a great improvement in my daughter’s English. She is really starting to put sentences together now, with verbs, and tenses, and that has been amazing to see. I think it has also lessened the tantrums of the terribles twos because she’s able to be more vocal now. Not giving up on the Bambara, but definitely not where I wanted to be at this point.

6 Kristiana April 11, 2012 at 4:37 am

I understand the need to take a break but for my family I think that we might delay the break. We are currently on school holidays and it’s been a wonderful opportunity for the whole family to be involved together whereas during school terms we all seem to be going in different directions. So I’m actually going to do the opposite and ramp it up for this week while we’re still all traveling together and we’ll take a break in a week or two. It’s been great to have a captive audience (all 6 of us in the car) as we drive along and I make conversation or statements about the weather, the scenery, where we’re going, etc. Sometimes the family humor me and join in. I figure that they’ll benefit even if they’re hearing the language as I chatter away in the front seat. At least I’m having fun!

7 Simon April 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm

I think I took my break early. :/ I’m in “getting back on the horse” mode now. This makes me feel better about having taken a break, though.

8 Wendy April 15, 2012 at 11:39 am

We took a much-needed break this week. We went skiing while the girls were on spring break. I did assess how things were going, and not surprisingly, I realized that my daughters have very different learning styles and what’s working for one (reading books in Spanish and singing songs) isn’t working for the other one (she liked the scavenger hunt and more physical activities). I also realized that I need to check in with them more often. Going forward, I want to get them more involved in planning the activities so they’ll enjoy it more.

9 Alex April 15, 2012 at 12:46 pm

It was a great week! The break revitalized and showed me what we needed to do. I really enjoyed reflecting and temporarily distancing myself.

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