Learning a new language as an adult

Victoria and I are all about trying new things and one thing we both wanted to do and actually approached each other about around Christmas was to try and learn a language together each year or every couple of years. I love learning new languages, plus I am a nosey bugger and if people are chatting away in a different language near me, I want to know what they are saying. So since we January 1st, we have been learning and happily, some of it is sticking!

What language do you pick?

Being the weird human that I am, I wanted to learn Icelandic, Victoria wasn’t too keen on that idea, after all, under 500,000 people speak the language worldwide, and how will we know if we are doing it right? Can you even find learning materials on it? It was a very fair point, though I think I might try and learn it one day to impress her when we go to Iceland (not the shop for the funny ones out there).

It was decided that we would write a list of 5 languages each and if one match then we would start with that one… We read out our list one at a time and none matched. 10 different languages, no decisions. Victoria then entered all of the languages into a website and it was able to randomly select one for us. I agreed that whichever it chose would be that language and if we kept at it, maybe we could go to that country at the end of the year as a little well done for our learning and we could try and utilise whatever we learned there. When the draw finished we were given… Polish!

Where do you start learning?

We have thought that it would be best to ease ourselves into the language to make sure that we are getting the basics right first. The best option in our eyes, before audio CD’s and textbooks, was to use language learning apps. We opted for Duo Lingo (other apps are available) as, well it was the first one that came up on the list! I said to Victoria that after January I will get us more resources so we can start learning more and to begin with I was a little sceptical about learning Polish (Victoria noticed it). But it wasn’t because of anything bad, it was literally because I wasn’t sure how much learning materials there would be for Polish, it isn’t necessarily one of those languages that I would immediately say are easy, nor is it taught in schools here. So, for a while, I literally thought that online would be the only way to go.

But, there are actually loads of options available to us in February and beyond. When we get comfortable with Duo Lingo and want to progress a little more we will look at writing and learning the way you would in school, just with a CD or DVD as a tutor. I think that will put us in a good place for the next months and if we are confident enough maybe near the end of the year we could participate in some classes as I have noticed some short form classes are available!

How often do you learn?

We are currently easing ourselves in very gently by completing one 5 minute block each day. We chose just to do one 5 minute black as we were worried that if we tried to do more than that then if we missed a day we would become de-motivated. By keeping the lessons very short we are able to memorise the words and pronunciations a little better. I am not sure if that is how it should be done, but it is certainly working for us! For instance, the next day of our lesson we know words that are being repeated. The pronunciations are harder for us because I believe Polish is a difficult language, but we are getting there and with each day we gain a bit more confidence, but it is making sure we are spending those 5 minutes together to go through that has caused that bit of confidence.

As we have now finished the month I feel quite happy with what we have learned. Could I hold a conversation in Polish now? Nope, but I never expected to, I want this to stick and that means learning more than just a random sentence, I want to learn it all and it definitely isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Although some of the phrases have been very random. Such as “I like fish and cookies”… A little weird and I can’t imagine saying that to someone and getting a normal look in my direction. I really enjoy our end of the night learning sessions as it’s different.

My pronunciation isn’t quite there yet, but it is getting better (I hope) I remember when I had a German housemate called Anna, and she tried to teach me, German, I would keep trying and she would laugh and say I sounded like a child learning words for the first time. I feel like that again, but I like that it is hard as that usually makes me want to push a bit harder. Reading, however, has become a bit simpler, I am able to pick up the words a lot quicker, so at least if we get to visit Poland I can read things to help us…

We did start purposely slow, but that was to make sure we would enjoy the process. I didn’t want us to start it and then get too daunted too quick. I can’t speak for Victoria, but as the weeks go on, I feel we will spend a bit more time each day of every couple of days learning as it will not be as easy to just fit it in a 5-minute window. I am okay with that, but I want to make sure we make this a habit now, so that when we have our eventual day off from learning, that we are quickly picking it back up again and that we want to keep learning. I do have a slight fear of stopping one day and then not keeping it going! Fingers crossed that doesn’t happen!

That is the intro to this mini-series, I will be sure to provide little updates as the year goes on about our progress. It is good fun and something new, which I like! Are you learning a new language? What made you want to learn if so? Let me know below. Until next time.

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3 thoughts on “Learning a new language as an adult

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  1. I wish you two luck on your language learning journey! I’ve been using Pimsleur to learn Chinese and that helped a lot with the pronunciation. Might want to give that a try! Interesting how you only do 5 minutes a day. I think that’s actually a very good method. Instead of intensely putting yourself out there for disappointment, there’s a good pacing! Will try that with my Chinese studies.

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