Week 22 of Loving Somali: Inspiration extinguishes burnout

Inspiration pulled me out of burnout.
Inspiration pulled me out of burnout.

I’ve been listening to the “Actual Fluency Podcast,” hosted by the language-loving Dane, Chris Broholm, and a couple recent episodes helped me out tremendously. My language-learning energy has been flagging. I’ve been doing some exercises out of a book and daily vocabulary flashcards. I needed a boost, and the podcast inspired me to take the next step.

Burnout

In episode #47, “Dealing with burnouts in language learning,” Chris covered the issue of burnout—just getting tired of studying. I felt that one. Studying became a chore recently, no longer my labor of love. I blogged about burnout a while ago here. Chris recommended finding new things to do, getting out of a boring routine.

Sentence-based learning

Then in episode #48, “Mike Campbell: Sentence-based learning and Glossika,” the guest, Mike Campbell, talked about his sentence-based learning method, Glossika. While Glossika doesn’t include Somali at this point, I thought I could piggy back on this basic idea.

My solution

So I decided to extinguish the burnout by focusing on sentences and phrases, giving some context to my words that I’m learning. Colloquial Somali includes dialogues, and the audio offers ways for the student to take part. On the one hand, these help because you get to hear real Somali and speak along with. Many of the topics are practical, too, like eating in a restaurant. On the other hand, I had a hard time relating to a lot of the dialogues, like how to go through customs in Djibouti, and vocabulary for “visa” and “passport.” I was left ambivalent.

I need dialogues that address my situation. I am always meeting new people. Certain themes come up all the time with me. For example, “Why are you learning Somali?” “What other languages do you speak?” “Where have you lived?” and “How long have you lived in Minnesota?” So I wrote some dialogues of my own that apply to my own context.

Based on my last trip to the Somali coffee shop (see episode …), I wrote up a dialogue in English. (A long time ago, in post … I discussed my problem in finding comprehensible input for myself.) Then I translated it into Somali—as broken, stilted, or incomprehensible as that might be. It gave me an opportunity to use all of my resources to say brand new things. Once I was done, my teacher corrected it, turning it into real Somali.

Now I can memorize these phrases and sentences, and I know that I will quickly find a use for them. The process of creating the dialogue will help, and using them will hopefully reinforce this method.

Hoping that others can benefit from my work, I’m going to prepare this to put on my blog for other Somali-learners to use. I’ll also add some vocabulary lists and grammatical notes.

Where do you look for comprehensible input? Have you created input for yourself? What have you used? What do you do when you can’t find good materials in your language, or when you’re tired of what you’ve been using?

Photo credit: Christos Tsoumplekas (Back again!) / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

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