And yet again, (almost) half a year has passed and I totally missed out on monthly updates about my thrilling and absolutely mind-boggling study progress because look at that shiny and ambitious language plan for 2020 I posted in January. Quite honestly, it's hard not to get too salty about this, even though I knew the moment I came up with this humongous plan that I will most likely fail, at least to some extend.
Mind you, it's not that I have left my study desk for good over the last couple of months - quite the contrary. It's just that not everything (read: basically nothing) went according to plan. So, while my motivation went through the roof during these initial moments of "I'm gonna learn all the languages in 2020", I re-discovered quite rapidly how wonderful and rewarding it is to immerse yourself in one language and one language alone. This time, that was Spanish 🇪🇸.
Loyal readers of my blog might remember my plan on reaching a level of what I called "self-proclaimed fluency" until my 30th birthday (happening very soon). I wouldn't stop learning Spanish afterwards but I wanted to reach a proficiency that would make it easier for me to absorb new things passively, and for that I needed a solid foundation that I found to be missing and that I wanted to work on over the course of this last five months. The grand finale would have been a trip to Northern Spain, one week of nothing but Spanish, everywhere, all the time.
Stage enter COVID-19, cancelling my trip for me and a large chunk of my motivation along with it.
Luckily, before the virus hit Germany and messed up my daily life, I had established a somewhat decent and daily study habit and after a few weeks in March during which I couldn't be bothered to study anything at all, I slowly returned to my old routine. Ignoring this little outage, I studied consistently every day over the last five months and eventually, I started to notice small differences.
I had far less problems to understand native speakers, be it on telly, in podcasts or wherever I stumbled upon spoken Spanish. Of course, I'd still struggle here and there, but the overall experience is now quite positive and uplifting. Especially the few online classes I took left me in good spirits because, apparently, my Spanish is much better than I give myself credit for.
It's similar with books - reading in Spanish has always been something I approached cautiously because I did not want to ruin my reading sessions with books that contain too many unknown words and/or are too complex. Right now, I read up on Aztecs, and being able to do so in Spanish is just the coolest thing ever and fuels my reading motivation even more. I grab my book because I want to know how the story unfolds and not because I need that 30 minutes reading practice every day.
Oh no, definitely not. Speaking still causes me quite a headache at times and more often than not I am too lazy to write for the sake of practicing. However, those last five months made a huge difference for my overall contentedness, confidence and future motivation, and for that I am very grateful.
Yes, I have been learning Spanish for what feels like an eternity and I'm still not "there". Yes, I could have pushed it even further had I committed myself completely to it. But sometimes life happens, a pandemic breaks out or you find yourself drawn to an old hobby that has nothing to do with languages and you prefer to keep your study sessions shorter than usual in order to finish a game, read a book or practice playing an instrument. Rumor has it that doing absolutely nothing instead is also a sufficient reason not to study. It's wild, I know.
I think I finally came to terms with the fact that language learning does not have to take up most of my free time in order to be considered a "valid" hobby. It's not a race. It takes time but you will get there eventually, step by step. The important thing is to study consistently, to find methods that work for you and to nurture your motivation in the process.
It's a huge success in itself that I was able to keep my focus on Spanish for the last five months without getting seriously side-tracked. Even better that my efforts bore fruit. And because I don't feel like switching to or adding another languages just yet, I will continue with Spanish in June. I did make another plan but this time, it's much more humble and doable than the monster I created five months ago. 😉
31st May 2020
Hej! My name is Sandra, I am a language enthusiast from Germany and this is where I document my language learning journey.
I will share my study goals with you, talk about the ups and downs in language learning, try out cool challenges and show you study methods that I found particularly helpful. Making myself accountable here will hopefully give me some extra motivational boosts!
All main articles will eventually be translated into the four languages I am most comfortable with: German, English, Spanish and Japanese. Older posts can be found under "Archive" and are sorted in order of date.
You won't find a comment section under my posts, so if you feel like chatting a bit, or talking about language-y things feel free to message me on social media or write me an email!
Enjoy your stay and happy studying!
P.S.: The icon above was made by the wonderful and talented @paraplyene! (Click to get to her Twitter profile!)