First things first. I finished the Introduction to Setswana course on Memrise! I finally ploughed through this morning through the last module. That's 30 days of continued Memrise study, which is a first for me. The interesting thing has been my ability to create a few sentences spontaneously - I think last night I told my daughter to "tell your teacher you want to learn to speak Setswana". She promptly rolled her eyes. Which was exactly what I was expecting.
There are some mistakes in it, but apparently the author is also very critical of the original Peace Corp material. And this brings me to an aside.The price of negativity...
I noticed a few errors early on the Setswana course - I had two choices, go through them and ignore them, perhaps using them as reminders of possible mistakes (and possibly I learned a few things incorrectly) or dropping the course. If this was a language that had huge amounts of perfect learning material I could have taken the time to switch to better material. But perfection being the enemy of good enough ... I'm glad this material had its faults. It made me reflect on something I see here quite a lot. We spend a lot of time writing about how Pimsleur, Rosetta, Michel Thomas, Language Transfer, Benny Lewis, ASSIMIL, FSI, (insert your object of hate), etc. are all not good enough, old, use the worst methods for reason x, y, or z. The price of that negativity is that we stop using material that is, often enough in its imperfection, adequate.
Early on, I used Michel Thomas to start my German journey and found it useful. It fit my study style at the time (no book, in transport, rapid hooks into the language) and I quickly moved on. I had no expectations, no focus on efficiency, I hadn't read how terrible it was and I had it for free (aren't libraries wonderful?). I knew I'd use it for a few weeks and move on. I still recommend it as a good intro that one should move through quickly.
But if I had read all the reviews on it, I would have probably approached it skeptically, mistrusting the method, content and worst of all, my use of the time. I suspect that these pernicious little doubts would have quickly left me doubting my study with the additional emotional cost. I might have dropped that start, I might have stopped using MT and searched out "better" material. And probably I would have wasted a lot of time looking for the "most efficient" or "ideal beginner" material.
I'm going to try to stop listening to the nay sayers, internal and external, and focus on using material that is useful and adequate. If I were to score the Setswana course I just completed, I'd probably give it a 3 stars out of 5 - it has errors, no sound, yada, yada, yada. Who wants to spend time on a 3 when you can hunt out the mythical 5 star language learning material? Well, in Setswana, as far as I can tell there is no 5 star material. This is as good as it get, so getting it done and moving on is one effective strategy.
But the same seems to hold for some of the languages I study were the material is much more abundant. I haven't seen the perfect 5 start course for German (I've seen better that this Setswana course, for sure!). Each time, something is off, the level, the material, the boredom factor ... whatever it is, I can always find why some adequate
material is just missing something and should only get a 4 out of 5 in my scorecard. But really 4 out of 5 is adequate. It's good enough. It's let do this and go beyond!Is it Adequate?
So what really makes material adequate? I think I have two simple questions in my mind:
- If I focus and complete
this material will it improve my knowledge in a way that is evident to me?
- Can I complete this quickly and move on
or should I invest time identifying material that is more adequate for me right now?
It is really about being comfortable in the ambiguous quality of material and the language learning process.
So, for Setswana, I'm moving on, mostly. As part of my learning process, I still plan to do reviews of this material for the next 30 days and go back to the book and do some focused study (now that I have a large part of the vocabulary in my head).
The next 30 days of Setswana are going to be focused on ... ? Well, I need to figure that out but I think I have a lot of cards with sound, recordings, a few books... And I need to spending time talking, of course. I think 30 days of consolidating (after I get my material back in place) and I might be ready to start a conversation class on line. I've got a few leads...
I need to write about Bruno Ganz, Hebrew, Memrise to Anki experience, my week with my daughters, Georgian, WordNet ... later.[tags: #tagLangTSN #tagMethodMemrise]
My two youngest are here in Germany this week. We've visited Darmstadt and Frankfurt and had dinner with some multilingual friends. My girls speak French/German/English/Spanish (order of strengths) and my friends' girls speak (English father, Spanish mother) - German/English/Spanish. I've always thought my friends kids spoke better Spanish and English than my daughters but I think that is an extended version of self-doubt and self-criticism - listening carefully I can see where they have imperfections or missing vocabulary. I tend to be more critical of my own and it is objectively ok to see that my girls are weaker in their L4 compared to what is consecutive L2s in the other girls. Different learning strategies!
But that isn't why I'm mentioning this. What I loved from our dinner was how quickly and spontaneously the four settled into speaking German with each other. Part of it must be habit, they are each used to speaking with unknown children in German here. Part of it is negotiated ease - none of the adults speak German as well as the kids and despite our attempts at influence language choice, German was really it... when they wanted to include us, English or Spanish would crop in. Among the adults, we spoke mostly English and Spanish.
Having my two youngest daughters here also helped me look at some language material I would never consider. L, the older of the two is actively trying to improve her Spanish so we listened to Slow News in Spanish podcasts in the car going to and from Frankfurt. I paused it quite a bit and we worked on vocabulary and meaning along the way. I have to say, it is an excellent podcast. Part of it is behind a pay wall and if I was learning Spanish I'd really think about paying for this. The content just seems really worth it. Anyway, if you're looking into Spanish - take a look at the free part of the Slow News in Spanish.
We also watched a few movies on Netflix - they had no cultural reference to the 80's brat pack classics. A lot of that was in English with German or English subtitles. And I watched Moonlight with the older of the two (the younger one just wasn't interested.) purely in English - a lot of the accent and register was very foreign and difficult for her. But it was engaging enough that she struggled through it with enjoyment. There is a lesson there. I think I like watching movies as passive listening quite a bit and I need to seek it out more. I've often been critical that this isn't real
studying but there is a place for it.
So we've been trying to stick to English and Spanish most days - with about 50% of our conversations are not in French. This is a success I think. Heading back to France later today.
I'm going to subject them to hours of talk podcasts...
Brief update to My Current Resources:Setswana Memrise
: Intro to Spoken Setswana (completed)
There are 2-3 other courses but I'm not yet actively working with themAnki
: Peacecorp (rdearman's) and Unisa (mine) decks with sound Books
A Course in Tswana
Peace Corps: Intro to Spoken Setswana
Peace Corp : There is no word for grammar in Setswana
and the setswana oxford dictionary https://tn.oxforddictionaries.com/