Language Challenge 180: Week 21

by Corey · 2 comments

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Welcome to Week 21 !

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 at the top of this page!)

Please keep sharing resources, support and suggestions at the Language Challenge 180 language pages! The more information you can add there, the better!

Falling to the Wayside

These past few weeks have been difficult. I haven’t accomplished nearly the amount of German language learning as I would have hoped. And it is making me feel down and disappointed in myself.

It is a little ironic since the reason for my lack of progress is due to preparations for our trip to Germany in the middle of August. Rather than slowing down, I should be increasing the intensity!

I have the perfect language learning goal: visiting the country where the language is spoken! I am so, so excited! We will be chatting away every day with my in-laws, friends and shopkeepers of every kind. I’ll be ordering brötchen, shopping at Aldi, buying books and searching for a new pair of glasses in the Fußgängerzone in Kiel.

If that isn’t language-learning motivation, what is?!

Thus, in an effort to get back into the swing of things, I dusted off Dann bin ich mal weg  last night and started reading it again. What a delight! What joy to be reading a book in German again (and one that is so enjoyable)! Perhaps my recent distraction from German was actually just the break I needed? Coming back to it now feels so very lovely. Like having chocolate after having been stuck on a deserted island (not that I know anything about that personally!).

Never Good Enough

The problem with my German language learning is that I feel pressured. I only have a few more weeks and I feel that there is no way I can improve my German enough so that when we arrive in Hamburg I will feel fully satisfied with what I have accomplished. It will always fall short. 

I’m not sure if this is due to an effort toward absolute perfectionism or based in reality. Do I even know what “absolute perfectionism” would look like? Am I attempting to reach a level of native fluency? Why? Whenever I chat with my in-laws on the phone, they say how great my German is (even after living in Seattle for so many years). So why not be satisfied with what I can accomplish between now and when we board the plane for Germany?

We are often told to “dream big” and “aim high.” We are encouraged to imagine something bigger than we could ever hope for and then to aim for that. Realistic goals often seem so mundane and worthless.

But sometimes such big goals end up discouraging us rather than motivating us. If we dream that we could reach a high goal and fail to meet it (or eve come close), might we feel like a failure? Had we aimed for something more reasonable, would we have actually felt more successful in our efforts?

The truth is, each of us is motivated differently and therefore each of us will need to set different types of goals. Some of us need to set lofty goals to even get started. Not meeting these lofty goals is fine with us – we didn’t intend to really meet them anyway. What we did accomplish was just fine with us.

Others need to set realistic goals so that they won’t burn out along the way trying to meet something unrealistic. Constantly aiming for that unattainable peak leaves us feeling small and insignificant.

Do you know what drives you? What kinds of goals do you need to set to feel satisfied in the end?

With only a few weeks left, I know that I need to simply be delighted with what I have accomplished so far. This challenge isn’t over and so I need to use the last few weeks to push to the end and delight in the journey, regardless where I might end up.

No matter how I feel about my German language skills when we arrive in Germany, I will definitely feel more confident and at ease than had I not done anything.

And that says a lot!

This Week’s Activity:

  • Individuals and/or Parents: How do you want to spend the last few weeks of Language Challenge 180?   Make sure that you (and/or your kids) are clear on this. Maybe you will pick out a few books that you want to have read with your kids for the last few weeks? Maybe you will try and finish a certain number of language lessons? Perhaps you will meet with a tutor a few extra times during the next few weeks to push things just a big harder?Whatever you choose to do these final weeks, make sure that you can feel good about what you will have accomplished! That is the most important!

Happy Language Learning!

1 Rachel July 25, 2012 at 12:19 pm

I have redefined what we want to do. Instead of speaking as much as possible in German, I have decided to choose a few words or short phrases and gradually work them into our normal vocabulary. We had begun to push it too hard. That’s what a challenge is about. But,it is not sticking.
I need to develop the habit of using german little by little. I’ve been listening to how we speak and I realized that there are cetain words we always say in German. We never use the English. If I work slowly and hopefully smarter we will gradually build up.
I am the German speaker-not my husband or children. I was throwing too much at them and frustrating myself when I would resort to English. It made me feel like we were failing.
I have high hopes in this new method of baby steps to form lifelong habits.

2 Tracey August 4, 2012 at 5:09 am

I have struggled with holiday time – hanging around home a bit more with my older daughter speaking mainly english to the girls cos she speaks only spanish when she is out with friends. I have not spoken anywhere as much spanish with them as I was doing. Sure they are still fluent in both languages – for their age – but I need to increase my spanish with them again. Also having a new baby in the house makes me more tired and I speak a mix with the baby. In the last few weeks (although I proably have months) I aim to speak more spanish again with the girls until I am almost 90% of the time in spanish with them.

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