I’ve finished Pimsleur 1A and 1B of Farsi. I can talk about basic things in Farsi. When I ask for sentences from Farsi and Dari speakers, I can break down the grammar OK to extract the new words. I can work through a newspaper article with a dictionary.
Now begins what in my mind is the intermediate slog. The excitement of new discovery does not characterise this phase. I’ve gotten past a quick, “Hello! How are you?” and bumble around with, “What are you working on?” and not understanding the answer. My interlocutors feel uncomfortable, wondering whether to try to continue to speak in Farsi or avoid the pain of answering “What?” after every sentence (at least). I find motivation hard to come by.
So now I have to commit to some patient friends–who are willing to talk to me. They would rather speak English, usually. That’s why I’ve had more success in other countries: more monolingual speakers. When I learned Russian in Ukraine, folks didn’t know another language, so they had to explain and re-explain, or at least move to another topic, but still in Russian.
At this point, I memorize vocabulary. I listen to podcasts where the victories of comprehension are rare (“Oh! He just said ‘also’!”). I recently found a good way to use podcasts that go way beyond my comprehension. I listen along till I hear a word I can pronounce. I try to write it, and then I look it up. I might do 1-2 words a day. I listen to the same podcast a number of times. I recognize these words out of a stream of words, and it tastes like sweet victory. It feels like a game of cryptogram, where you take a sentence of scrambled letters, and one-by-one replace the wrong letter with the right one.
What techniques or resources do you use in the intermediate phase? How do you stay motivated during your “slog”? or maybe you love this part of the language-learning process?
- Laugh in Farsi (adpi.ca)
- “The generation never allowed to fly……..” (persianposts.com)
- “We have a listening problem” (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- Learning Languages for Global Development (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- Reflections on Life: Doing Good is Like Climbing a Mountain, Doing Evil is Like Being Caught in a Landslide (behindlies09.wordpress.com)
- What’s the best age to learn a language? (languagepie.wordpress.com)