How do you build a language learning routine?

General discussion about learning languages
DarrenDaka
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How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby DarrenDaka » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:09 pm

Hi guys

I am sure you have heard this question many times before but I am going to ask it anyway.

I have a couple of goals I want to hit and I am trying to build a language routine to do at least something every day but I keep falling of the wagon.

I am learning Polish and I hope to get to at least a B2 level before going to a friends wedding next year. I have some previous knowledge and experience with Polish but it feels like I am missing something because despite all the effort I put in I don't seem to get anywhere. At present Polish is my primary language and I want to improve it the most .

I am also learning German for a variety of reasons such as I want to go to Germany and visit , I enjoy the language and although it sounds a bit strange something keeps drawing me back to the language.

I am keeping the 2 language apart in terms of routine and workload. I learn German in the mornings using Assimil utilising my "dead time" and not doing much else other than the 1 lesson per day. I feel this is fair as German is in my view my secondary language (not as much of a priority as Polish) but I still want to begin building the foundations while I can. On the other hand I learn Polish in the evenings and work on more demanding material as to push up my language abilities and stretch and challenge ,my mind to improve.

I also have begun working on BSL (British Sign Language) as a professional endeavour. Has anybody else expedience leaning a sign language , and if so what is it like, is it difficult?

Hopefully you guys will have some advice ,hints , tips and resources for me.

Hope to hear from you guys soon

Darren
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Skynet
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby Skynet » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:50 pm

Darren,

I have never interacted with you before, so I would like to start by saying, "Welcome to the forum" since you're new to me. :lol:

I can't speak for Polish, German and BSL, but I can speak for Assimil. I used French Without Toil and New French With Ease concurrently, and am 2/3 of the way through Assimil Using French and the active waves of both FWOT and NFWE. Assimil is amazing, and is guaranteed to leave you with a firm foundation in the desired target language. (Outburst: I am starting Assimil German Without Toil and New German With Ease in exactly seven days!)

The only routine that I recommend is a consistent one! One that works on all four aspects of any language: L, R, S and W (or hand gestures, in the case of BSL). I had a 9 week summer break to work with. How many hours can you devote to language learning daily?

As you contemplate this, let me send you my response to Your Language Learning Strategy...In 50 Words or so by our most esteemed Xenops.

Skynet wrote:Here is what I did to reboot my fallen-into-disrepair-after-11-years-of-non-use French using 28 courses in 6 weeks during my summer break:

1. Set lofty goals that most will scoff at, and ensure that you prove them wrong. Find a valid reason WHY you want to learn a language and be sure that this reason is strong enough to tether you to the language learning desk for several years. (Sadly, this forum and it's predecessor are littered with disused accounts of members who were unable/unwilling to stay the course and simply quit.)
2. Use several beginner language courses - I would recommend multiple generations of both Assimil and Linguaphone plus an FSI Phonology course. Living Language Ultimate, Cortina and DLI French Basic are also very good options. Whatever you use MUST have audio.
3. Use courses in (1) simultaneously to engage in carpet-bombing of your mind to force it to rewire. The more intensive the campaign, the faster the rewiring. (I spent 11 hours a day in the first six days of my French adventure). The first week will be the most difficult, but do not give up as this is how the FSI/DLI have managed to train their employees for decades. (My mind balked at the prospect of being assailed by a foreign language and I did have several headaches and BSOD events as my brain was simply overwhelmed.)
4. Introduce native media (ideally those with a script) such as podcasts in the third week, and take special note of your dreams: they will be in French.
5. Keep adding more courses as you begin to realise that you're comprehending more and taking much less time to complete lessons.
6. Remember that as incredible as this forum is, trawling through other members' logs for hours on end (especially of those who do not study a language that you are either studying or plan to study) does not constitute language learning. This forum can very easily become your biggest impediment in your quest for language mastery. (I have personally struggled with this.)
7. As you complete more courses, ensure that you consume more and more native media (don't worry about not comprehending everything) and French In Action.
8. Once you have completed this, up the ante by doing advanced courses (Using French, Living Language Ultimate: Advanced, graded courses by CLE, Hachette and Didier whilst adding more native media: podcasts, TV and novels.
9. Do not rest on your laurels: get a language partner to practise your conversational skills.
10. Sit an exam to show that your efforts have not been in vain.

At the time of writing, I am currently on (8).


Whatever amount of time you dedicate to your endeavours, make sure that you're determined, consistent and disciplined. Use your time wisely, and avoid the classic "reading every blog about language learning instead of actually learning a language" trap.
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iguanamon
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby iguanamon » Sun Sep 16, 2018 9:53 pm

It is very difficult for a monolingual adult learner, studying two languages simultaneously at a low level to advance in either one. Add a third into the mix and the odds are stacked against you. Many people here learn multiple languages simultaneously and successfully. They'll be glad to tell you how to do it and give you all kinds of tips. Most of them though, didn't start off as you are as an adult monolingual. I'm not saying it's impossible, it's just highly improbable based on my 8+ years here and on HTLAL not seeing anyone on the forum in a similar situation advance their languages to B2 or higher. Maybe you will be the one to prove me wrong.

My advice would be to drop all but one of them. Of course, you're not going to take that advice. So, here's my two cents worth on starting habits.

1) Keep your eyes on the prize. Consistency is key. Try to dedicate a time period to learning and the more you do that the more you will feel committed to not missing it. The key is to keep learning, keep your momentum going. Which leads to-

2) Be persistent. Being persistent will keep you in the game when you can't be consistent. If you have language-learning material to hand at all times, you can at least do something, no matter how minor. Maybe you have a tweet to try and puzzle out, or some song lyrics, a quote, a Bible verse, a round of clozemaster... something.

3) Try to not to get bogged down memorizing every single word and trying to master every single grammar point. At beginner levels, vocabulary repeats, grammar points repeat and as long as you're at least familiar with them- they will eventually start to stick the more exposure you get.

4) Zenhabits is a good blog to follow for productivity. Leo has a good post on habit forming:
The 5 Keys to Forming Any Habit

5) Seriously think about concentrating on just one language to at least B1 level. I thought it was important enough to say it twice, even though, I know... :), I'll still wish you good luck
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StringerBell
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby StringerBell » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:13 pm

Hi!

I have a few questions for you. You mentioned that you feel like you're not making progress with Polish. Can you give some details like:

-How much total time you've spent with Polish
-Break down that total time into estimates of how much listening, reading, speaking, and writing you've done
-What specifically you are doing (a program, graded readers, something else)

*I studied 2 semesters of ASL in college. I definitely didn't reach "proficiency" in that short amount of time, but I will say that sign language is a foreign language that requires thinking in a different way to communicate an idea. Just like with spoken langugages, we don't translate word for word, but we must think about how to communicate the idea, it's the same with sign languages.
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Polish 1st goal: 1100 hours : 785 / 1100
Italian 1st goal: 730 hours : 730 / 730 COMPLETED! YAY!
Italian 2nd goal: read 100 articles/blog posts : 93 / 100

DarrenDaka
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby DarrenDaka » Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:37 am

In essence I am spending any time I can particularly after work in the evenings studying. As I said before I usually work on my German in the morning on my way to work.

For Polish I am using Polish Tutor as my main resource coupled with teach yourself Polish as a review text to ensure I have a strong core and have covered all the core aspects of the language providing me with a good foundation and filling in any gaps that may have occurred. I am unable to give an exact amount of study/learning time as I learned Polish through speaking with friends at high school thus I have never "studied" Polish in a traditional manner and this has resulted in I believe significant gaps in my ability to produce the language .

As per usual I use podcasts,tv,movies etc but I feel that it is my grammar that is causing my issues particularly in terms of Polish cases.

Kind Regards

Darren
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patrickwilken
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby patrickwilken » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:47 am

I agree that you should focus on one language. I would be impressed if you go to B2 in German in a year (doable, but a lot of work). Polish for a native English speaker, should take about twice as long. So if you really want to be B2 in Polish by next year for a wedding, then you should spend all your language learning time on it.

At your level you should be learning vocabulary day. If you haven't already start using Anki to learn the first 2000-3000 most common words in Polish. I find about 6-8 words a day good, which gives you a couple of thousand after a year. Not sure how well it works for Polish but the Awesome_TTS can give you computer generated audio with your cards to help with pronunciation.
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StringerBell
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby StringerBell » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:46 pm

DarrenDaka wrote:I am unable to give an exact amount of study/learning time as I learned Polish through speaking with friends at high school thus I have never "studied" Polish in a traditional manner and this has resulted in I believe significant gaps in my ability to produce the language.


An exact number isn't necessary, I was looking for a ballpark amount. Even something like "about an hour a day of speaking and listening for a year or two". The reason I ask is that without knowing anything about what you've done or your level, it's hard to give suggestions. For example, if you said that you've spent 2-3 hours per day for a year listening to native speakers in Polish, I wouldn't suggest listening to more Polish, but if you said that you've only listened to 50-100 hours worth of native material, I would suggest that you need to listen to A LOT more.

DarrenDaka wrote:For Polish I am using Polish Tutor as my main resource coupled with teach yourself Polish as a review text to ensure I have a strong core and have covered all the core aspects of the language providing me with a good foundation and filling in any gaps that may have occurred.

As per usual I use podcasts,tv,movies etc but I feel that it is my grammar that is causing my issues particularly in terms of Polish cases.


So, would you say that you have decent listening comprehension and can speak comfortably about day to day stuff, and that your main issue is with the case endings, or do you have a good vocabulary but in general struggle with grammar all around, including conjugations, noun gender, verbs of motion, aspects, prepositions, etc...?

If you've mainly done a ton of listening/speaking but not spent much time reading and listening+reading, I think that could help. When I listen to Polish, I don't hear much difference between some of the case endings, but when I read, it's much more obvious. By reading and listening A LOT, certain endings become really predictable, but I'd never be able to memorize a table of what they should be and then apply them; I just slowly get a feeling for what it should be based on massive exposure.

One thing I will say is that it's extremely difficult to make an accurate assessment of improvement without having specific goal or markers to base that judgment on. A lot of times when I feel like I'm not improving, it's a vague feeling that's not really based on anything specific, or it's because I have unrealistic expectations of how quickly I should be improving. Other times, it's because I keep making the same mistakes and I need to sit down and take a few minutes to decide what I'm going to do to improve that specific area to stop making those mistakes.

Do you think you could come up with some specific areas you'd like to improve and how you will know when you've reached that goal? For example, you'd like to be able to use the Accusative case properly, or you'd like to be able to ask and answer a specific list of questions on a particular topic, etc...

If you give me a little more background, maybe I can try to brainstorm some other suggestions.

What is your ultimate goal for Polish? You mentioned a trip next year, but that would require a fairly minimal level of "survival" Polish that you've probably already exceeded. Do you still have people in your life you'd like to speak with in Polish? Do you want to be able to read or listen or watch certain things in Polish? Do you want Polish to be a part of your life long term, or do you envision putting it on the back burner after this upcoming trip?
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Polish 1st goal: 1100 hours : 785 / 1100
Italian 1st goal: 730 hours : 730 / 730 COMPLETED! YAY!
Italian 2nd goal: read 100 articles/blog posts : 93 / 100

DarrenDaka
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Re: How do you build a language learning routine?

Postby DarrenDaka » Tue Sep 18, 2018 2:10 pm

My ultimate goal would be to be able to speak Polish comfortably and watch and read material without much difficulty. I want Polish to be part of my life as I have Polish friends , they speak English well and I want to speak Polish as well as they speak English.
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