Reevaluating how I studied Farsi last year, I decided I would like to do some things differently. I want to be sure I’m making progress, and I felt my progress in Farsi waned in the last third of 2012 (at least partially because of a move and job change). I got a lot of help reading Aaron Myers’s planning tips at the Everyday Language Learner, and watching his videos on his YouTube channel. His tips for language-learning are some of the best, because he deals with the weaknesses that we all run into–lack of focus, waning motivation, making the most of the little time that we have. He convinced me that I have to re-plan for 2013 to be sure that I learn as much as I can this year. Creating my own comprehensible Farsi study materials stands at the crux.
Motivation to re-tool comes because last year I made plans on how to work on Farsi, but I didn’t stick to them. The plan I set last January did not last more than a month, and I did not come back to resetting my goals. The plan was good in that it had regular goals and used multiple methods. However, the ones that interacted more with others, such as making videos in the language or making Persian friends, never happened once. Yet, I learned a lot of words and read a fair amount–and I met my Farsi-speaking neighbors, at least. The end of the year didn’t feel right, though, so I wanted to think more deeply about how to make the most progress possible in 2013.
The first step proved to be the hardest: setting a goal and putting it into words. I struggled all weekend till I could finally say, “My goal is to be able to converse with native Farsi-speakers comfortably in multiple subjects.” While this is vague, it’s progress. I found I could work with it.
I broke this further into two parts, as “converse” consists of “speaking” and “understanding.” For speaking, I would need to be able to say what I need to say, and for understanding, I would need to comprehend the responses. Speaking requires active vocabulary and decent grammar. I would need an even bigger passive vocabulary for understanding.
The third part of my goal is “multiple subjects,” and I realized I could be more concrete in this area. So I took my notebook and I wrote in a subject: “My neighborhood.” I considered what I wanted to be able to say, and I wrote a short essay in English. Then I started writing the passage in Farsi, looking up the words I need. Once I finish, I will make a list of the words I had to look up, which will give me good and useful vocabulary for the “speaking” side. Then I will type up the passage for Italki.com, where I can get some feedback. I may record a video on YouTube. After that, I will ask my Italki/Skype friends if they want to talk about this topic. Then I could gain some more vocabulary for the “understanding” part of the equation. After I’m sick of talking about my neighborhood, I’ll figure out another subject and repeat the process.
I like this method because it keeps me focused on one topic that I can manage with more competence. Previously, I was spending time gathering vocabulary from difficult sources, such as newspaper articles and podcasts. Aaron Myers emphasizes “comprehensible input” and describes how to create your own. “Comprehensible input” is data at my level in the foreign language that is comprehensible, that is, challenging and not overwhelming. So I’m working towards creating input that I can understand and gain from–just a little bit over my head.
As I create this comprehensible input I can incorporate my native-speaker friends, which is a new goal of mine. I have several Skype friends I want to talk to and who want to work with me on Persian and on English. The great thing is talking to them is not only my means but also my goal! The more I talk to them, the better I get and the more I succeed. I will also incorporate consuming more videos and podcasts in Farsi to challenge my passive comprehension continuously. The focuses topics, though, will occupy most of my focus.
Finally, I hope that this method will work for Somali, as well as Farsi. The comprehensible input for Somali will be different than the input for Farsi in two ways. One, the Somali input will be all dialogues for now because I have tons of exposure to native speakers. Two, good books on Somali are rarer, as well as on-line language-learning resources, so I count on my native speakers for finding vocabulary, conjugating verbs, etc. Writing all by myself is nearly impossible.
Are you re-tooling your language-learning processes or goals? Please let me know what you’re planning. If you are re-tooling your learning goals or methods, be sure to check out Aaron Myers’s “Everyday Language Learning” site.
- Re-motivation: Sharpening the axe (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- Just make progress! (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- What I learned about language-learning: 2012 (lovinglanguage.wordpress.com)
- Jan 6: Expand Your Vocabulary (loristillman.wordpress.com)
- A Collection Of “Best…” Lists On Vocabulary Development (larryferlazzo.edublogs.org)
- Creativity in Teaching a Language (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- What happened? (want2speakthai.com)
- Learn French, Spanish or any language – the perfect New Year’s Resolution (languagepie.wordpress.com)
- Teachers buck rules for language learning (worldradio.ch)