First steps at language love

Time to get started again!
Time to get started again!

Last week I told you to do the minimum for language love; don’t try so hard.

Today, I want to give you some resources for how to start. Basic. Nothing complicated.

First, though, you have to do your research. You have to go on your ecolinguistic exploratory expedition to find out what people are speaking around you. What do you hear spoken? What do you see on signs, not the formal ones, but the hand-written signs taped to light posts and pinned to bulletin boards?

Now you have your language(s). Let’s begin.
Why loving language

Week 27 of Loving Somali: Bliu Bliu and comprehensible input

Artificial intelligence solves an intermediate learning problem
Artificial intelligence solves an intermediate learning problem

My learning Somali hits some difficult spots, similar to when I was learning Farsi. The problem is intermediate language learning. I’ve discussed this with multiple polyglots and language-learning companies. I even posted about it here, here, and here. What do I do when I have learned most of the grammar and acquired a decent amount of vocabulary, but cannot understand basic articles or podcasts aimed at native speakers? This week, I discovered a fantastic way out: Bliu Bliu. And they even work with Somali!

See what I learned

Week 26 of Loving Somali: What does a half-year of progress look like?

A six-month victory to celebrate!
A six-month victory to celebrate!

I realized that this week marks six months of learning Somali for me. A couple years ago, I learned from some friends a few phrases that we used often, but I wasn’t learning any grammar or vocabulary regularly. A half-year ago, though, I started getting more serious. Focusing on Somali has been difficult, but looking back I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made. I live a busy life, so I can’t dedicate large chunks to language-study. As a result, I learned what I can accomplish in 6 months.

Are you a busy professional with a full social and domestic life? Do you have lots of demands on you from your home and community? That’s my life. I hope that this list shows what you too can accomplish, even with a busy life.

See what I accomplished!

HELP! How do I get out of the intermediate level doldrums?

How can you help me progress to the next level?
How can you help me progress to the next level?

I’m running into the doldrums of language-learning, making slow, even imperceptible progress. What do the following language-learning activities have in common?

  1. Translating sentences in my book;
  2. Translating actual news articles or podcasts;
  3. Visiting a Somali cafe.

They are all a) great activities and b) very time-consuming.

Continue reading “HELP! How do I get out of the intermediate level doldrums?”

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. Continue reading “Week 22 of Loving Somali: Inspiration extinguishes burnout”

Week 21 of Loving Somali: Urban Adventure

A helmet won't help on an urban adventure!
A helmet won’t help on an urban adventure!

Most people don’t think of Minneapolis as a place for urban adventure or international encounters, but this weekend I found both here.

I pulled up to the Somali Mall on Saturday morning, assuming I would find a place for sambusas, sweet chai, and Somali conversation. Shivering as I paid for street parking, I saw a head peek out of the door of “Safari Coffee.”

Read what happened next

Week 17 of Loving Somali: And…or…and…

I had no idea that conjunctions could be complicated.

Before that, though, I need to relate my big accomplishment this week…

Studying Somali means learning grammar and vocabulary while eating Sambuas
Studying Somali means learning grammar and vocabulary while eating Sambuas

My big accomplishment was on New Year’s Day. I went for tea and sambusas at the Somali restaurant in my my area. I spoke nearly the whole time in Somali. Continue reading “Week 17 of Loving Somali: And…or…and…”

Week 10 of Loving Somali: No more advice, please. I just want to love languages.

As soon as I quit chasing happiness, I can be happy.
I can be happy today, if I see how good my life is.

Here’s what I intended to do with Somali this week: work on exercises for chapters 1-4 of my book and study vocabulary every day. Maybe I would have a Skype call with a teacher or even take a trip downtown to a Somali coffee shop.

Here’s what I did this week. I studied vocabulary every day and I got half-way through chapter 1 of my book. (I plan to work on more of the book today.)

What happened? Life happened. Continue reading “Week 10 of Loving Somali: No more advice, please. I just want to love languages.”

Week 8 of Loving Somali: Not enough books

I'm looking to fill the bookcase with Somali.
I’m looking to fill the bookcase with Somali.

The lack of resources available for learning Somali weighs on me. I listen to polyglots talking about spending such-and-such amount of time daily working on their language. However, they’re learning Russian, Portugues, Chinese, or whatever–languages that offer many resources for learning. I have to work to produce sources that I can use before I can study them, which becomes overwhelming.

Moreover, focusing on languages struggled with work, other writing projects, and a busy home life this week. For example, I just forgot to look at my vocab deck yesterday. I’m grateful to have spent some time on Somali, even if it’s less than I would have liked.

Rather than be negative, though, I want to think about what I can do, without a big budget or tons of spare time. I do have some decent materials, and I can continue to learn from friends. I simply don’t have the resources to spend 30-60 minutes per day on Somali; I just want to use my time as best as I can. Using what I have well and producing the material I’d like to have are where to start. Continue reading “Week 8 of Loving Somali: Not enough books”

Week 6 of loving Somali: Reduplication and the kitchen

What does a kitchen in Somalia look like?
What does a kitchen in Somalia look like?

Moving deeper into Somali, I’m discovering more unique, beautiful features of this language. The way of life coupled with grammatical features continue to reveal how exciting this language is. Discovering new verb formations and glimpsing into a Somali kitchen excited my curiosity. At the same time, I think I’m getting exhausted by my rate of vocabulary study; I literally fell asleep on the couch last night with my Anki app. My brain is crying out for different stimuli.
Continue reading “Week 6 of loving Somali: Reduplication and the kitchen”