This page is for Language Challenge 180 participants only. Sign up now to join this event!
Welcome to Week 10! If you missed the activities these last few weeks, go to the Weekly Activity Page and click on the activities you missed. (Remember: if you aren’t yet signed up, then do so at the link above!)
Did you remember to check in on Friday? If not, go to the check in page to check in and then make sure to go check out our current giveaway! Everyone can enter this giveaway, so tell your friends, family and children’s teachers!
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. I am going to start adding your resource recommendations to our Pinterest boards, so make sure to leave a comment on the language pages with your latest discoveries and recommendations! (Or contact me and I can let you pin resources yourself on our language boards!)
Is It Enough?
We have been doing Language Challenge 180 for 9 weeks now. Day in and day out we have continued working on language(s) for ourselves and/or for our children. We are doing everything we can yet we may be wondering: Is it enough? Am I progressing?
It is easy to feel that we aren’t getting anywhere but the truth is, it is hard not to get anywhere if we are really, truly doing something every day. Below are some tips for making sure that you aren’t just going around in circles:
- Same thing every day?: If you are doing the same lessons over and over again, using the same words over and over again, then it is time to move on to the next lesson, even if you don’t feel that you are ready. If you are speaking the same sentences to your children day in and day out, then it is time to come up with some new words/sentences to add to the mix (even if you just change the verbs/nouns to ones that are similar but different). Solution: make sure you are mixing things up a bit!
- Pay attention: Do you pay attention to the podcast you are listening to? What about the video you are watching? It is fine to have radio or podcasts playing in the background while we are doing other things (dishes, folding laundry, making dinner) but we will get the most out of them when we are actually listening to what is being said and try to make sense of it.
Solution: Take some time out every day to really listen hard to what is being said in a podcast or video. When you read a book, really stop and ask yourself if you understood that sentence that you just read (you don’t have to understand every word, but really notice which words you do and don’t know).
- Try some new resources: Do you find that you are using the same resources day in and day out? While this can be fantastic if it means you are actually focusing on language learning, using other resource options now and then can do wonders for broadening our language skills.
Solution: When you can, try out different kinds of language learning resources: books, magazines, online programs, podcasts, skype with native speakers, etc. If you find that you like reading things in your language the most, make sure to spend a little time listening to a podcast on the weekend or watching a YouTube video. If you listen to CDs in the car most of the time, then make sure to read a little in the evenings now and then.
These are just a few suggestions for how you can make sure that you/your children continue to move ahead in your language learning. It is relatively easy – set aside 20-30 minutes each day or on the weekend and you will be set!
This Week’s Activity
This week’s activity focuses on the spoken word. Don’t worry, you might embarrass yourself but that is to be expected when learning a new language!
Individuals: This week is all about babbling away in your target language – a lot! Every day! All week long!
We often forget that we don’t have to have someone else in the room to talk: We can talk to ourselves! All it takes is pretending that someone else is there and having a conversation with them in our head. “Well, hello Mrs. Heller. How are you today? Your dress looks fabulous! Oh, you like mine too? Why, thank you!” Engaging in conversations like this can do wonders for both our spoken language skills as well as for our self esteem when it comes time to actually having a real conversation with a native speaker.
When you hear yourself speak you will start to identify sounds that just don’t match what you hear in podcasts or in videos in the target language. Work on those sounds. Look up online how to perfect those sounds (there are many websites that give tips to language learners on how to hold the tongue and position the lips).
If you aren’t sure what to say, then find some online programs (or get your hands on some CD programs) that speak a sentence and then wait for you to repeat or reply. For many of us, these programs are so boring we can’t stand them after a few days. That is why you only have to do this for a week! You’ll make it.
For those of you who have the opportunity to speak with native speakers, keep doing that and also add talking to yourself all day long! Sure, if you become horribly annoying to others in your house, then whisper a bit more.
Goal: Each and every day talk as much as you can in the language, even if you are only saying individual words that don’t go together. If you have children in the house who think you are insane, that is fine. Tell them you have to do this for Language Challenge 180 and that you are still perfectly sane (they might even join in).
Parents: The goal this week is for you to talk as much as possible to your children in the target language and to give them opportunities to respond back.
Provide your children with language examples: To start with, your children are not going to be able to respond back to you if they haven’t been given enough exposure to the language. They have to hear things over and over again to be able to learn vocabulary and sentence structures. Unlike what many believe, children are not sponges who just hear something once and instantly learn it. So don’t expect your children to just pick up everything quickly.
For those of you who have children who aren’t yet speaking, that is fine! This can be even more fun since your baby will be listening to every word and building up all kinds of language brain cells!
Goal: This week you are going to talk out loud all of the time. Tell your children that you are going to talk about what you are doing, where you are going and things that you are thinking about all day long. “I am going to the stove to cook breakfast. First I am going to fill this pan with water and then I am going to put it on the stove. Here I am filling it with water. Now I am putting it on the stove.” Just babble away to your children in the target language as much as you can. If you are normally pretty quiet around your children, then this week is going to feel fairly odd. However, tell your family that you are only going to do it for a week and that it will be really helpful to everyone.
Get your children talking back (in a good way): The trick with getting children to respond is to ask questions or talk about things that demand more than a single word answer. For example, if you ask, “What color is the sky?” Then your child will answer, “blue,” and that will be that. However, if you say, “Wow, look at those red clouds in the yellow sky!” Your child will want to respond, “What? No! The clouds are white and the sky is blue!” Or, when you go for a walk you can ask things like “What do you think that cat over there is doing?” Or “Where do you think that dog is headed?” Of course, if your child is still just learning single words (blue, happy, sky, flower) then you can focus on topics that encourage your child to provide those kinds of responses.
As with the previous goal, do this with your children even if they aren’t yet talking! It gets you into the habit and provides them with a wealth of language skills!
Goal: Ask your child lots of questions this week but ones that demand responses with more than just one word (as much as possible). If your child is reluctant, you can explain that it is an activity from Language Challenge 180 and that it will only last for a week. (Later you can step back a bit but the pattern of discussion will already be there!).
That’s it for today! Stay tuned for the Friday check-in email and new giveaway!