Puttering along

Back in July, I wrote:

I’ve been trying to decide on how I want to rearrange my language learning schedule. While I’m making progress, certainly, I’m not entirely happy with my haphazard way of hopping from one language to another. Some languages tend to get lost in the mess, and as of late, French has been suffering quite a lot – not to mention poor Spanish, which seems to have wholly vanished from my studies. I’m not frustrated enough to slash any more from my current list, but I’m going to have to put my current list into some sort of overall structure to please myself. I’m just not entirely sure how I’m going to do that.

Somewhat ironically, in poking around in my archives, I discovered that I faced a similar dilemma back in June of 2009 – actually, the exact same dilemma: how to handle trying to learn multiple languages at once (while outright ignoring the oft repeated advice, “don’t! Stick to one at a time!”).

Did I settle on a system? Yes – the system that Geoff (Confessions of a Language Addict) recommended to me over a year ago. That is to say, no system at all, or, as he put it: “… if you don’t need to know any of these languages, you’re best off setting your studies by inspiration than a schedule.” As he also said, it’s not particularly efficient, and I’m not going to win any “learn a language in 6 months!” contests, but I’m enjoying myself and making progress, so I’m happy.

Occasionally1, I’ll go through a phase during which I feel like I should be doing more with my language learning – be more efficient, be more devoted, etc. Whenever I’ve hit such a phase, I’ve tried to bring more structure to the table. And, every time I’ve done this, I ultimately end up burning out and doing a whole lot of nothing for a while. As many people (even I) have said, if language learning is a hobby, it certainly shouldn’t feel like work.

In line with my new devotion to rather haphazard learning, I’ve been continuing my slow, slow plod through Russisch ohne Mühe. Whenever I finish this Assimil course, I may very well be eligible to be entered into the Guinness World Records for the longest amount of time taken to finish one language course. Seriously. I’ve been working through this course off and on for at least a few years now (largely off, I will admit, as I’ll work on it some, and then it will be shelved for a long time). I’m now up to lesson 70, and am now opting to actually follow Assimil’s advice: do a lesson a day, and if I’ve forgotten material in a lesson, so be it. I can always review it later, but the show (course) must go on! No more getting hung up on one lesson for a week.

How are you all doing in your studies?

  1. Apparently once a year or so! 😉 []
By |2010-11-03T17:49:40+00:00November 3rd, 2010|All Entries|2 Comments


  1. GeoffB November 7, 2010 at 12:48 am - Reply

    I’m also stumbling haphazardly through my studies – doing a lesson a day from L’Alsacien sans peine (except for the days I miss). I’m determined to learn a little bit of it before it completely dies out. Otherwise, I’ve been fussing with whatever interests me as it comes along. What surprises me most is that I don’t have the sense that I’m learning any less or making any less progress than I did with the work hard/burn out strategy from before. I’m just enjoying myself more. Hope the system continues to work for you!

    • Josh November 19, 2010 at 9:12 am - Reply

      Yes, it’s still working well. I’m experiencing more or less the same thing: I feel like I’m making progress which is on par with my previous efforts, but I’m just less stressed out about it. I’ve also found that on some days, I’m actually doing more than I was previously. I suppose that goes to show what a psychological effect it can make, switching one’s perceptions around (“must” versus “want,” etc.)

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