I posted an email around work today, asking if anyone would be interested in hearing about the way in which I learn languages, specifically to do with the way in which technology can be leveraged. Where I work we generally have a slot on Friday afternoons where the staff are given a run down of the previous week along with any announcements.
It’ll be good for me to sit down and break the process into chunks so that I can start to gain a bit more of an insight into what my process actually is. Obviously everyone is going to be at a different stage of learning so I’m going to try and have to present things in as generic way as possible.
I’ve often toyed with the idea of getting into teaching somehow without ever really doing anything about it. I guess this is a great of working out how it feels to pass on something that I’m passionate about.
Just back from a fantastic week in Hamburg and Berlin – Christmas with my wife’s family. In terms of seeing how my German language learning is progressing it was a massive confidence boost – I was able to sit within groups of native speakers without anyone offering to speak in English, understanding the vast majority of what was being talked about.. The last time I spent a long weekend in Germany I felt exhausted by the end of the day, I imagine from the effort needed to concentrate on what was being said. This time it was quite the opposite – I felt as if I could understand the vast majority of what was being talked about and have much more of an ability to add my views and direct conversation the way I would do in English.
One thing which this trip has really brought home to me is just how much my German has improved since I’ve been sticking to a self-directed system of learning. My sister-in-law’s partner is currently trying to learn English and I mentioned to him that I’d be documenting the way in which I learn so that he could try and apply this to his learning efforts. I’ve condensed my thoughts about this conversation into a a new page, How I learn, which roughly sketches out my learning style. There’s no doubt the potential to expand on this but for the moment at least something is there as a foundation.
One thing that’s not so clear to me is whether this information is going to be of help to someone starting out with a new language – a lot of my observations are based upon my perspective with German. I can’t pretend to know how to teach but would love to learn – if you happen to be someone starting out with learning a new language, does this make sense? Am I missing anything blindingly obvious? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Having a little bit of time on my hands (I’m on holiday) I was able to have a bit of a look around the web for some language resources which could help me along the way. I had some nice feedback from Clarence at TheFineApps, pointing me towards some observations that he’s been able to make on the language learning path. Trying out new, fun ways of learning is something I can’t disagree with – the more it feels like hard work the less likely I am to stick to it. So I had a bit of a look around. Once I’d found Lang-8 I stopped looking – this looks to me like it could be a great place to improve my written language, as well as helping other people out. From what I can tell, this is a place where it’s possible to post snippets in your target language and hope that people will be able to post comments and corrections. Since most of the post here are in English I thought I’d help do some correcting. What I found interesting about this is that, having had no formal languages teaching experience, I’m at a loss why we would say in English “I am crossing the road” rather than “I am crossing *a* road”. It’s given me plenty of food for thought. Written German isn’t my strong point so I’ll be looking to use this site more and more to help me gain more confidence. I’ve posted a cursory couple of paragraphs about a trip I made to The British Museum yesterday. All done off the top of my head so no checking for adjective declination and cases etc. (this probably says a lot about my approach to the finer points of language learning!)
I’m also aware that the only way I’m going to progress is to start doing a little bit every day and ensure that I keep things moving slowly but surely. I think Clarence’s daily posting log is a really good idea – from my experience it’s much easier to keep moving forward when I can see where I’ve come from. I’ll probably do something similar, although not post these to Twitter or Facebook for these “check in” tasks.