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Language Learning

My Language Learning Journey

If you’ve seen my blog before, you know about my passion for languages and translation. Up until now, I’ve only been discussing translation, but not languages or language learning, even though I’ve wanted to make these topics a big part of my blog. I’ve already made a post on my language learning methods, so now I want to show you my progress in different languages with these methods. Over the next months (I say months, but in all honesty, I have no idea how long it’s going to take), I’ll be writing about my study progress, both with languages I already have a good amount of experience in and languages I know nothing about. Now, which languages will I be studying? The short answer: way too many.

Languages I’m already familiar with:

Japanese

Japanese as a language is very important to me. I have a BA degree in Japanese, and it’s one of the few languages I want to get to the highest possible level. I’m planning on taking the JLPT exam (日本語能力試験) for level N2 next year, so I’ll be studying the grammar and kanji required for that level. This means I won’t be studying Japanese from scratch, but I’ll still try to make my progress understandable for those who don’t know Japanese.

German

I learned German in middle and high school up to a B1/B2 level, but my reading and listening are definitely stronger than my writing and speaking. This means I will be mainly working on those skills around the B1/B2 level.

Hindi

Hindi is a language I’ve been slowly working on for the past few months after studying it in uni for a bit. My Hindi is still at a very elementary level, so it should be fun to see how my Hindi improves over the course of the next months.

Completely new languages

Filipino

I’ve gotten interested in Filipino after hearing and seeing it used by some Filipino classmates when I was an exchange student in Japan, and finally decided to buy a textbook and start studying it.

Finnish

My dad’s an electrician at a company that fused with a Finnish company a short while ago. Last Christmas, he received a card from his work with the holiday greetings in both Dutch and Finnish, and the Finnish looked so interesting to me! I know nothing about Finnish at all, so I’m curious to see how well I’ll be able to understand it.

Greek

Greek is an interesting choice for me. I studied Classical Greek (specifically Koinè Greek) in middle and high school, and loved it, so I decided to pick up modern Greek. My biggest fear is honestly the pronunciation, as it has changed quite a lot compared to Koinè Greek, and I’m afraid I’ll fall back to the old pronunciation on a regular basis. But that aside, it might be the new language I’m most excited to study!

That’s all for this post! I’ll try to write an update post every week or every two weeks, where I explain which methods I’ve been using for each language, some of the new grammar and vocab I’ve learned, and what was difficult for me to grasp and how I tackled those difficulties. I’m looking forward to starting another language learning journey, and writing about it should be a good motivator! I hope you’re all looking forward to it as much as I am!

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Language Learning

My Language Learning Methods

नमस्ते! As some of you may know, I’ve recently decided to pick up Hindi again after taking a Hindi language class in uni two years ago. I have to admit that I haven’t done anything to improve (or even remember the few things I did already know) in those two years. But now that I’ve graduated, I have some more time on my hands and want to use that time productively. So, I’ve started working on Hindi on my own!

So far, I’ve been lucky enough to always learn languages in a class, be it in middle/high school or at uni. But this time’s different, I have to do this completely on my own, and I had no idea how to learn a language by myself! After some trial and error, I’ve found some methods that work for me, and I’ll be explaining those here.

Language books

This might be the most obvious one, but it’s one of the best options out there for me. A good textbook explains grammar, gives examples and exercises, and has good vocabulary lists for you to learn. Textbooks are especially great when you’ve already used them in a class and know how to work with them. I’m using the same textbook I used in my Hindi classes, and I’m working through it at a good pace.

However, there are some cons to using a textbook. First of all, it can be boring to work through. Most textbooks are very theoretical, so it can feel like you’re not getting any actual practice in. Secondly, the grammar’s only explained once, so if you don’t understand the explanation, you can’t just ask a teacher to explain it to you. You’ll have to research everything you don’t understand by yourself, which can be annoying. Lastly, textbooks can be expensive! The textbook I use for Hindi was pretty affordable, but the books I used for Japanese were not.

Series and Films

A fun way to immerse yourself in a language is by watching series or films in your target language. It can be as simple as watching it with subtitles in your native language or in your target language. This helps with your listening skills, as it helps you get used to the sounds of a language. It’s also a fun little confidence boost when you can pick out and understand some of the words.

A great piece of software to use when you watch a lot of Netflix is Language Learning with Netflix. It’s a great extension that allows you to watch Netflix with subtitles in two languages at once and allows you to compare the words. If you’re not sure what a certain word means, just hover over it and you get to see its meanings! It’s a bit complicated to set up and use, but once you’ve got it going, it’s incredible!

Example of the Language Learning with Netflix interface on a show in Hindi
Example of the Language Learning with Netflix interface on a show in Hindi

I’ve also used the extension in my work as a private tutor and summer school tutor, to teach English in a more fun way than just textbooks. It allowed them to compare the subtitles while still being able to understand what was happening. I’d fully recommend this extension to anyone!

Language Exchange Sites/Apps

If you’re tired of not being able to use the language you’re learning, a language exchange site can be a good option. There’s plenty of apps and sites where you can find a language exchange buddy. I personally use the Language Exchange subreddit and HelloTalk regularly, but there are many other options! I suggest you try out a few and see what works well for you.

Duolingo

I’m not a big fan of Duolingo when it’s used on its own, but it has its good points. Duolingo is great for on the go, you can practice even if you only have a few minutes available. It’s a great app to improve your vocabulary, and the point aspect makes it a fun little game between friends. However, using Duolingo as your only learning method is not going to get you far. Duolingo teaches you certain phrases and how to substitute words in those phrases, but there’s no grammar whatsoever. The app is great for vocabulary, but please use it in conjunction with a grammar textbook.

That’s all I have to write about language learning methods for now! I’ll probably write another article with more methods I like using in the near future, but that’s for another time. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and until next time!

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How A Growth Mindset Can Help You Learn A Language and How To Develop One… — World Linguistics

I recently came back from my week at the summer school, where I taught English, and one thing I taught my students relates to mindsets. I explained the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset, and how the latter helps with language learning. I just saw this post written by the people over at World Linguistics which explains really well how a growth mindset can be used to learn a language, please check it out!

Have you ever wanted to learn a language but have gotten frustrated while learning it because it seemed so daunting? If so, you’re not alone. If you are struggling in a language class or if you are just struggling to teach yourself, I have news for you. It isn’t impossible! It actually is possible, and […]

How A Growth Mindset Can Help You Learn A Language and How To Develop One… — World Linguistics

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My first experience teaching English: Part 0

I’m taking a bit of a break from writing about translation to write about something I’m very excited to be doing: teaching! I’ve gotten a job at a summer school teaching English to middle and high school students that need some extra guidance. I’ve been a private tutor in English (among other subjects) for over five years now, but I’ve never taught in front of a classroom, and I’m stoked to finally have the chance (even if it’s only a class of seven students)!

The company I work for has arranged a nice AirBnB for me near the school I’ll be teaching at, and there’s some Eastern-style artwork on the walls, it’s like they knew someone with a degree in Japanese Studies was going to stay here! There’s a beautiful park nearby as well, and I’m listening to a frog serenade as I’m writing this.

There’s not much to write about now, but I’ll be writing updates occasionally during the four days I’ll be teaching at this particular school. I start tomorrow morning, and I have to prepare an introduction to give to the students, but I’m not quite sure what to say yet. I’m sure I’ll figure that out!

I’m hoping to share the first update on Tuesday, so check back then!