18 January 2012

New Year's Resolution

Looking back at the last couple of years, I've realised how little language I've learnt.  Other than Catalan (which I basically learned by piecing things together from languages I already knew) I've really kind of stagnated.

The reason for this is that I allowed myself to be extremely critical, and I've not been able to be satisfied with any materials.  My goal was to stop myself ignoring the flaws of most courses, and start noticing them so that I could avoid making the same mistakes myself as a teacher.

Well, as I'm on holiday in Wales, I figured I should get my head down, stop moaning, and just learn some Welsh, even if the materials I've got aren't really very good.  And bouyed up by that, I also started trying to brute-force my way through Basque.  And so far, it seems to be working.  I'm getting through the material, and I'm learning stuff.

So I'm going to try to keep in mind everything I learned over several years of being hyper-critical, but I'm not going to let it discourage me from what I'm doing here and now.

In 2012 I will learn more languages.

In a fortnight's time, I'll be back at the college and studying Irish as an elective module.  I could take it easy and blag my way through the course -- I'm enough of a language geek to do that.  But instead I'm going to take it seriously, and I'm not only going to pass, I'm going to get a good mark, and I'm going to be able to really speak the language by the end of the semester.  This means I'm going to have to start watching TG4 again, too.

A fair amount of my TV viewing in 2011 was Spanish TV online.  (Some of it was actually quite good!)  I'm going to divert some of that time to Catalan TV, and I'm going to watch it fairly intensively.  I'll start by watching the first few episodes of a series or two closely, stopping and picking up my dictionary if I'm unsure of words, with the goal of being able to understand the later episodes without any problems or pauses.

Obviously I'm going to continue working on my Scottish Gaelic (as it's the main focus of my current studies) and I think I'll spend a bit more time with French internet radio too (all the French TV stations are pretty much closed to internet access overseas, so it has to be radio).

I'm also going to start working on my (currently very basic) German, seeing as there's a German conversation group at the college.

So the priorities for the first half of 2012 are (in order):
  1. Improve my grammatical accuracy in Scottish Gaelic.
  2. Learn Irish to a reasonable conversational level.
  3. Improve my Catalan, because I currently feel fraudulent speaking it.
  4. Maintain French and Spanish through internet TV, radio and news sites.
  5. Maintain some momentum with Welsh and Basque, if I can do so without affecting my studies.
Of course, none of those can be allowed to become an excuse for not doing any exercise -- I got a bit lazy last year, but mens sana in corpore sano as they say, or a healthy mind in a healthy body for anyone who thinks the use of Latin is more than a little pretentious.  I ran a race at the weekend, and I felt fantastic afterwards.  My thinking became so much clearer.

An hour spent outside without learning anything won't be "wasted", because it will improve the quality and efficiency of my learning.

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