Back to it

I had good intentions. I was on a roll with my languages; I was starting the Read More or Die challenge; I was making progress on many fronts!

And then I sort of stopped.

It seems to happen to the best learners (and me, too, and I’m certainly not one of the best). I’ll be doing great, and then something will knock me off course. Sometimes it’s easy to hop right back on and keep going. Other times, “things” keep getting in the way, day after day; and like any habit, the further away you get from it, the harder it is to start back up.

I was doing well with Read More or Die, and had worked through a German book in relatively short order. I had just been connected with a Russian pen-pal via eTandem. Then I had company at my house for a few days, so I shelved my studies for a bit so as to avoid looking like an antisocial language geek. After that, life just kept getting in my way, I lost the habit (obsession?) of working on my languages, and here I find myself, nearly a month later, having done more or less nothing. Awful!

So, it’s time to get back to it. My current short-term plans include:

  • continuing the active wave of Russisch ohne Mühe
  • getting back to writing to my German tutor and going over his corrections
  • touching base with French, which I’ve largely neglected lately in favor of Russian

I also need to look a bit more at Rocket Italian, as they offered me a free subscription to their basic Italian course in return for a review, but more on that later.

(And yes, I’m well aware that I just said Italian, which is / was a language that was not on my list. If you all don’t know that I suffer greatly from wanderlust, I’m not sure what blog you’ve been reading. Gimme’ a break.)

By |2011-05-07T20:39:48+00:00May 7th, 2011|All Entries|5 Comments


  1. WC May 8, 2011 at 7:13 am - Reply

    I’ve decided that these forced vacations come from trying to press myself too hard… At least in my case. I do at least keep using the language while I’m not studying, but I don’t try to force myself to study. Eventually I feel the need to study again and come back at it full-force.

    I’ve also noticed that if my methods aren’t bringing results, it will make me feel like not studying. This can happen from a new method that just isn’t working, or an old method that’s no longer effective. The only solution I’ve found is to find a working method… Which is harder than it sounds.

    • Josh May 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm - Reply

      WC: I agree, I’ve generally found that when I grind to a halt, it’s because I’ve been juggling a lot, and it’s easy to start dropping stuff when you’re doing that. I was happy with the methods I was (and am) using, but as more often than not, I think I was just trying to do too much at once. I’m awful about splitting myself across multiple things.

  2. Aaron May 17, 2011 at 4:06 am - Reply

    Hey. Great post and reality for most of us. We surge ahead, hit a road block and come to a halt. A few months later, in a frenzy of new motivation, we get back at it again. How do we keep at it though? Do we need to? Is slow and steady better than feast then famine? I am not sure. And I’m just thinking about working at one language. Good luck and I am glad I stumbled across your blog today.

    • Josh May 17, 2011 at 6:44 am - Reply

      Hey Aaron,

      I think slow and steady is probably much better than feast or famine. My problem lies in keeping myself honest about going “slow and steady.” I’ll tell myself that I’m only going to worry about doing X amount per day, and then I slowly increase that X variable until I’m trying to do too much – at which point things fall apart.

      As for studying one language at a time, I think there’s probably something to be said for that, too. I think I would make more progress in less time if I picked one and stuck with it for an arbitrary amount of time, shelving all of the others until later. But I know I wouldn’t stick to this, so I don’t even try; I know if I tried it, within a week, I’d be clamoring to take a look at Russian or French or whatever languages I had decided to ignore. I suffer greatly from permanent wanderlust.

      I’ve also tried the whole “schedule” thing, and ran into similar problems. At the base level, when I want to have a look at such and such language, that’s what I want, and at that point, I find virtual boundaries to be annoying – even if they’re boundaries I put in place myself. So I basically adopted the approach that Geoff (Confessions of a Language Addict) has: study what you want, when you want, and that’s it. If some languages slip through the cracks for a while, that probably just means you’re not as interested in them right that second. They’ll wait.

      Glad you liked the post / blog, and I’ll be following your blog / Twitter.

  3. John October 18, 2011 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    The Read more or die sounds great, can’t wait to try it!

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