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  • Do many here find time to learn a foreign language?

    I am interested to hear if there are any successful GTDers who have found a way to incorporate learning a foreign language into their lives.


    I have recently started learning Swedish and Norwegian. I have outlined my goals as follows:

    1. I want to be able to speak conversational Swedish using approximately 2000 words and solidify my knowledge of Swedish grammar (I already have a basic understanding of how most Swedish sentence structures work) by Christmas of 2006.

    2. I want to complete an equivalent of a college semester of Norwegian by finishing an email course of 160 short lessons by Christmas of 2006.

    These two languages are closely related, and much of their grammar is identical. A great number of words also either look or sound very similar. I have studied both languages in the past, but because of lack of proper discipline I was never able to successfully gain thorough knowledge of either one.

    Using the GTD model, I have outlined my goals, and now I need to simply compose next actions for both of these projects.

    For Norwegian it is going to be quite easy -- the email course I have subscribed to already has 160 easy-to-consume short lessons that each take about 10-15 minutes to study. I am currently reading them every Sunday and Wednesday -- 2 lessons a week.

    The rest of the week I study Swedish, i.e. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday devoting about 10-15 min to the task. I have many more materials for my Swedish learning needs than for Norwegian, so the challenge here is to process all of them and stick to what I think is going to work best. I am starting out with an audio-only 10-lesson audio course that teaches basic phrases and expressions (each of the 10 lessons is about 30 min. long -- it's one of those Pimsleur courses). I am then moving on to another elementary course of 12 audio lessons from Sveriges Radio (each of those is about 20 min long). After completing these two rather elementary courses I am planning to move on to a mostly text-based 18 lessons course that I bought at Border's the other day, which promises to support my goal 1.

    I also have a Palm-based flash cards program which already comes with a set of 1000 words -- I plan on using this whenever I get a free minute and while waiting on something/someone (in a grocery store, at a doctor's office, at an airport, etc.) -- just reviewing 10-20 words at a time can make a difference if I keep my long-term goal in mind. I should say that I already have a knowledge of about 500 Swedish words, so my plan is to add another 1500 to complete my goal of 2000 by Christmas of 2006.


    I should mention at this point that English is not my first language -- Russian is. I have spoken English for so long though that it almost feels like a first language, however I have not forgotten Russian either. I think you can never un-learn your native language no matter how much time you spend using your second/third language.

    I am anxious to hear if there are success stories of acquiring another language, particularly from English speakers who have learned a foreign language and are able to define their ability level and limitations you might still have. Has GTD helped you at all in reaching this goal? If yes, then how?

  • #2
    I'm currently studying Japanese, but I'm not nearly advanced enough to call myself a success story.

    I'm by no means a language learning expert, but I did put a few thoughts up on my wiki, at
    http://www.thinfilmmfg.com/cgi-bin/u...nguageLearning
    Comments are welcome, but I require a password to keep the spammers at bay. You can find the password at the main wiki page, http://www.thinfilmmfg.com/cgi-bin/u...l?ThinFilmWiki

    My goal is to spend at least an hour a day studying *something*, which could be anything from reviewing flashcards to composing a letter to a penpal. An hour sounds like a lot, but 10 minutes here and there adds up.

    Looking at your plan, my advice would be to incorporate as much communication with native speakers as possible. Even fumbling along semi-coherently for five or ten minutes will teach you an enormous amount about how the language is used, what words you should study first, and more. Plus actually talking to people is a lot more fun than working through textbooks.

    Good luck!

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by kewms
      I'm currently studying Japanese, but I'm not nearly advanced enough to call myself a success story.

      I'm by no means a language learning expert, but I did put a few thoughts up on my wiki, at
      http://www.thinfilmmfg.com/cgi-bin/u...nguageLearning
      Comments are welcome, but I require a password to keep the spammers at bay. You can find the password at the main wiki page, http://www.thinfilmmfg.com/cgi-bin/u...l?ThinFilmWiki

      My goal is to spend at least an hour a day studying *something*, which could be anything from reviewing flashcards to composing a letter to a penpal. An hour sounds like a lot, but 10 minutes here and there adds up.

      Looking at your plan, my advice would be to incorporate as much communication with native speakers as possible. Even fumbling along semi-coherently for five or ten minutes will teach you an enormous amount about how the language is used, what words you should study first, and more. Plus actually talking to people is a lot more fun than working through textbooks.

      Good luck!

      Katherine
      Thanks Katherine,

      I do talk to some Norwegians and Swedes in chat rooms, and I have learned a great deal from trying to communicate with them using my limited knowledge. I also watch Swedish TV on the internet (SVT has a great setup in that it allows for streaming of their shows in great quality for free on the internet. I also read a daily newspaper online in Swedish for those trying to learn the language (it uses a simplified vocabulary, and you can guess many words because the news stories are current).

      When did you start learning Japanese and what motivates you the most?

      Comment


      • #4
        I've been using the Pimsleur CD series to learn French. It's a 100% audio course, so it's perfectly suited to commute learning. Yesterday I was on the phone with a library in Quebec, and was pleasantly surprised that, for most of the conversation, I didn't have to switch back to English.

        I used to listen to music in the car, studying a foreign language has been a much more satistfying way to drive.

        Comment


        • #5
          I use my tickler files to remind me to visit the NHK Japanese lesson at least once a week.
          http://www.nhk.or.jp/lesson/
          The rest of my linguistic ambitions live in Someday/Maybe-ville.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just a little progress report:

            I have noticed that if I skip a day or two it is harder to catch up -- therefore, falling behind with language learning is not a good idea.

            So far my studies have been OK, but there's always room for improvement. The materials I have picked up in the last few weeks have been great and made a difference.

            I am feeling inspired and even thinking of moving Italian out of Someday/Maybe to present -- nothing too taxing -- a lesson a week maybe as long as it's regular. My goal here would be to learn 200-300 words and go past the raw beginner stage by Christmas of this year. Way to get there -- a lesson a week learning 10-15 words each time and one-two grammar segments each time.

            When I do my weekly review this weekend I am gonna move Italian into Present out of Someday/Maybe -- I am pretty much decided. I think 3 languages at a time is enough though. If I ever move another language out of Someday/Maybe again -- it will be either Danish, Portuguese, or Japanese. But this isn't likely to happen at all in the next 2-3 years.

            Oh, and by the way, I will do a report on how my Mindsweep went last time (see the "I pledge!" thread) this weekend.

            Comment


            • #7
              Schedule it on your hard landscape

              This is a very encouraging way to implement GTD, something I hadn't considered until I read your post...

              I spoke German as a child and wanted to teach my family the native tongue...but we've compromised and will begin learning Italian this year. From what all have said above, I think that scheduling this as a "hard landscape", firm commitment on your calendar each week will also help to build up the regularity needed to stay with the program, so to speak.

              Let us know how you're doing and any tips to share...buona fortuna!

              Comment

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