The major factor in my prior false starts is that I live the grad student life, so I'm on an academic schedule: Semesters swallow all of my time when they're in session, and then I have some breaks over Christmas and during the summer where I do research (so I still have work), but at least I have more flexibility to schedule in relatively intense language learning.
Unfortunately the semester is about to start up in about two weeks, and I have only in the past few days been working on my current bout of Swahili studies. I think I need to embrace the academic scheduling cycle, and come to terms with the fact that I can't always study Swahili as intensely as I would like, but I do need to find a rhythm that lets me make some progress (or at least not backslide) the rest of the time.
Another issue for me is that I am having difficult finding input materials for Swahili. When I learned Italian I consumed a lot of media in Italian, and specifically I was able to find lots of things that actually interested me. I don't enjoy engaging with the news, unfortunately. And I haven't been able to track down much literature or films in Swahili. For now this may not be that important, since I'm still a bit away from being able to digest those things anyway, but it will likely cause me trouble sooner or later.
- Long term: Reach a B1 in Swahili
- Moderate term: Find a sustainable pace of study for even when I'm busy (and keep up that pace)
- Extremely short term: Take advantage of my remaining few weeks of break to catch up on Anki cards and
- Assimil's Le Swahili Sans Peine. Pros: I really liked Assmil's Italian course and the parts of the German course that I did. Cons: It's in French and I don't read French. In the passive wave I can make do by muddling through the French and looking up the Swahili words I can't figure out, but I'm not sure how to do the active wave, or whether I even can. Maybe I will try to understand and/or transcribe the Swahili dialogues, and check them against the book.
- Living Language's Swahili course. It seems to do a decent job with grammar and vocabulary, and it has some reading exercises which I really appreciate. The dialogues thus far are a bit... meh.
- Language Transfer Swahili. I am still deciding how I feel about it in some ways, but on the plus side it's all short audio bits so I could more easily listen to it on my commute or otherwise fit a lesson in small gaps of my day.
- I've also assembled an Anki deck with some pretty comprehensive vocabulary, and another with the vocabulary from my Living Language Swahili course. I'm currently working through the Living Language vocabulary (about 700 vocabulary items) to try and work through before the semester starts. Then at least I can focus on maintaining it when things get busy. I'll plan to work through the more comprehensive deck at a much slower pace, or even put it on hold if I am struggling to even get through the Living Language deck.
- Duolingo, which is meh but at least gives me some gamification, right?
- Oh, and I found the syllabi and class materials for a series of Swahili courses from Five Colleges. So far draw on a book by Hinnebusch, Mirza, and Stein as well as the Living Language text I already have. The activities go rather slowly (as does the Hinnebusch book; good grief they spend five lessons just on greetings!!) so I'm not sure that I want to stick to it very carefully, but they also have some other good resources on their page so I want to keep track of them.
Too many resources? Probably. Certainly more than I will want to follow in parallel long-term. But in the past I have flourished by jumping from thing to thing as I got bored so it's nice to keep my options open. For the few weeks I have I will probably keep multi-tracking, but then come mid-January when my schedule restricts I will cut back to my Anki reviews and a slower pace on Assimil or Language Transfer or something.
At any rate, my plan for this log is to post updates approximately weekly (so I have to fess up if I haven't made progress!), or if I am making decent progress perhaps more frequently. But this post has gotten long enough. Back to work with me!