Quarter 1 review
I thought I would reflect a bit on my (lack of) progress and the amount of money I have spent on language learning in the first quarter of 2023. I don’t count the time I spend studying so I have no records of that, but I just try to be consistent overall and do something
every day. My balance sheet is going to be pretty shocking, I think, but here goes.
I’ve been really consistent with French so far this year and I’m fairly satisfied with my progress. I purchased a subscription to L’Express magazine at the beginning of March, with one month free and a subsequent monthly charge of £9.90
. I really like the magazine and I read an article a day with the Reverso Context browser extension (free). I put new vocab into Anki (free for the PC version) and I do my reviews every day. I’ve limited it to 10 new words and a maximum of 100 reviews per day. I also bought a bunch of DVDs on Amazon.fr (£56.18
), some light novels (£15.98
) and bought three months of Kwiziq (£38.21
) which I instantly regretted as I have a ton of French grammar books already. I contacted Kwiziq to see if I could transfer the remaining Premium membership over to Spanish. I was expecting them to say no but actually they were super helpful and not only said that it was fine but apologised for how long it was taking to switch and gave me a free week of premium Spanish as well! So I was very happy with their customer service.
I’ve been reading consistently in French since the beginning of the year. I’m a pretty slow reader but I’m hoping that the more I read the more that will improve. I use Storygraph to track my progress and according to that I have finished two novels in French (784 pages in total). I am a bit behind my target of one French book a month but that’s ok. I don’t want it to start feeling like a chore. I’ve been watching series pretty consistently too (mainly Astrid and Raphaëlle and L’Art du Crime) but not intensively. I am intrigued about really ‘working with a series’, à la Iguanamon, but this requires some planning and commitment on my part and I’m not ready to do this yet.
I’ve started working through some of my grammar books too (I have a bunch of the Progressif/ve ones, bought years ago so not counted in this year’s expenses) and that is going pretty well so far.Learning progress:
Not bad at all, definite improvement in vocabulary and active recall and automaticity of verb conjugations. The daily L’Express article has been a game-changer for me. My listening skills are definitely improving too. Could I be creeping up to B2 level, I wonder? Although I’m not too fussed about CEFR levels, the thing is, at B2, all sorts of opportunities (to spend more money) might open up. The Institut Français runs courses on creative writing, and French cinema, and book clubs, for example, but they require a B2+ level.Money spent: £120.27
. Bad. Could have been worse, but… it’s still pretty bad.
I’ve been mostly flailing (or is it floundering? Possibly both…) since the beginning of the year, but from reading other Japanese learners’ logs on here, I have learnt that it is quite normal to a) try out a lot of different resources and different approaches to learning at the beginning, and b) occasionally fall into a pit of existential despair about how hard Japanese is and how long it will take to be able to do anything vaguely meaningful in the language. This is how Q1 went for me:
A year’s subscription to LingoDeer (an “insomni-order”, what I call my middle of the night shopping on my phone of which I have no recollection the next day. Yes, I regret it and have only used LingoDeer sporadically since buying it): £70.99
A year’s membership (non-renewing) of Renshuu: £44.99
(also insomni-order but have got a lot of use out of this app, don’t regret it)
Tobira I Beginning Japanese textbook and workbook : £72.10
Flailed about with these for a while, got overwhelmed and also annoyed that they had no answer key anywhere and then found the workbook had an answer key PDF which I had to order in Japanese for 500 Yen with the help of Google Translate : £3.10
and annoying non-Sterling charge from bank £0.12
Had my first wallow in the slough of despond and bought Marugoto A1.1 books as a sort of life belt as they were so bright and shiny and hopeful looking (£56.34
So, I was happy with Marugoto and Renshuu and did these consistently for probably 1.5 months, enough to learn hiragana and katakana and some basic vocabulary and phrases. But I suddenly started feeling like I wanted to learn more and make more progress and also learn more grammar (which is practically non-existent in Marugoto). Spent a lot of procrastination/dream time on Reddit and on here to look at what other people are doing/have done and decided to start WaniKani (I have spent nothing yet but the annual subscription cost is $89.99 and I am probably going to pay it) and also bought Genki I (the textbook, workbook and answer key, £71.08
Lots of flailing, but I have learned hiragana and katakana, and some (very) basic grammar principles. I can say good morning, thank you, and give a bit of information to present myself. I had a wallow in the pit but then I got out and carried on. I’m still fascinated by the language and want to learn more.Money spent: £318.72
. Obscene, really. But there you go. It’s done now. Of course it is possible to learn a language without spending any money at all (see the splendid ‘Free and Legal’ challenge and all the excellent free resources listed on this site). Language learning is one of my only hobbies and I have money in the budget to splurge on it when I want to, but looking at this figure still makes me feel a bit icky. The good thing, however, is that I have now found a set of resources that I really like and will use
. More on that in a bit.
Well it’s all tumbleweed, dust, and decay over here
. I’ve read nothing and watched virtually nothing in Spanish since the beginning of the year. I wanted to concentrate on boosting my French but recently I have noticed a big deterioration in my Spanish during my weekly language exchanges. In fact the cross-contamination from French into Spanish has been so significant it has even affected my pronunciation (and everybody knows that Spanish pronunciation is super simple). Learning progress:
No progress. At worst, I have deteriorated, or, at best, stagnated.Money spent: £0
(the Kwiziq cost is counted under French as that is what it was originally purchased for).Plans for Q2
The plan for Q2 is to carry on with my routine as it is working well.
• Daily L’Express article and Anki
• Read and watch TV shows and films
• Listen to podcasts (~ x3 per week)
• Finish Conjugaison Progressive A2-B1
• 1 x language exchange per week
• Do x 1 TV5 Monde exercise per week
I can’t keep cycling through multiple resources as I will get nowhere, so some of them are going to be dormant for now. What I really want to do is try to get to the JLPT N5 level, which is roughly equivalent to CEFR A1, in order to start on graded readers and other fun stuff (I’m possibly deluding myself here but hope is everything!). So my main goals for the year (not just Q2) will be:
• Finish Genki 1 (with supplementary material from Tobira: Beginning Japanese 1)
• Complete up to and including level 16 of WaniKani (do reviews and lessons daily)
• Revise grammar points and vocab on Renshuu (a few times per week)
Those goals are possibly too ambitious to get done in a year but my challenge for Q2 is going to be to stick with those resources and tasks and really be consistent and see how much progress I can make.
My Q2 goal for Spanish is to not lose any more! So my Q2 tasks are:
• Complete B2 level in Kwiziq
• Listen to ~x3 podcasts per week
• Read 2 x articles per week with Reverso Context browser extension
• Do x 1 GLOSS exercise per week (level 2+)
• 1 x language exchange per week
Possibly a bit over-ambitious but let's see how it goes *Edited for spelling and grammar