English teacher
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Lifelong Language Learner

Early June 2020 Update

Wondering what I've been doing lately? Here's why it's been quiet here at Sound Practice...

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Some quick updates: The Polyglot Gathering and 2 Celtas at once!

It’s early June and my very small readership might be wondering what’s going on. Here are some updates!

Most of you know about the Celta. Well, I had two online courses running at the same time (one was finishing up and the other was ending). The week before all of this chaos began, I attended the Polyglot Gathering (here is the website). Due to Covid-19, the Polyglot Gathering was pushed online, which meant I was able to attend. 

It began in the wee hours of Saturday morning. I “ran into” someone there who I had known previously from teacher groups online. Jonathan Huggins runs an online community where members attempt a 30-day speaking challenge by posting videos or recordings of themselves speaking a language.

I’ve taken up the challenge for the month of June. 

What else happened at the Polyglot Gathering? I joined a chatroom to practice Spanish and found two people there who live in Beijing. Apparently there is a group that meets in Beijing every Saturday called the “Language Mix.” I got to practice my Spanish quite a bit thanks to the group. 

At the Polyglot Gathering I got to speak with Tim Keely in a Mandarin Chatroom. Tim has given talks at different polyglot events in the past. Here is a YouTube video from a previous year at the Polyglot Gathering where he talks about his life and language learning experiences. Tim was very talkative in the group and interested in the current situation here in Beijing during Covid-19. I gave him the updates. He left soon though, probably to jump into the other language chatrooms. 

I was interviewed by Gareth Popkins about how I found the gathering. I’m guessing I’ll turn up on a vlog of his sometimes on his YouTube channel here, he said it may be a few months away though.

I really enjoyed attending the talks given at the Polyglot Gathering and I’m thinking of giving my own talk there in person in Poland next year. 

The 30-Day speaking Challenge

So I went to Johnathan Huggins’s FaceBook group and signed up to participate in the 30-Day speaking Challenge. It was 10 dollars, but it gets you into a nice supportive community and makes you accountable for speaking every day. You record yourself speaking in any way you can and you share the links in Google Docs. Others can listen and provide feedback for you. 

At the moment I’m doing 4 languages of about 10 minutes each. At first I was doing 15 min, but I found it a bit difficult to manage the time unless I did it very early in the morning. I’ve since cut it down to just 10 min. 

I’ve got 4 languages that are in need of speaking practice: German, French, Spanish, and Mandarin. I have probably 3 or 4 others that are at the point where they could become conversational within a few weeks, but I really should prioritize what I’m doing. 

Today I still need to catch up with yesterday’s recordings. 

updates about How I've been studying this month

Language Focused Learning with Vocabulary

Currently I’ve got some Anki Decks for the following languages: French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Turkish, Vietnamese, and Norwegian. I spend anywhere from 30-40 min a day with reviewing vocabulary.

Meaning Focused Output with Speaking

As I said before, I’m taking part in the 30-Day Speaking Challenge, so I’m getting 10 solid minutes of speaking in a day for Mandarin, French, Spanish, and German. Other than this, I’m not doing any Meaning Focused Output in any other languages. 

Oh, I’ve also booked a few lessons with a community tutor on italki for German.

Meaning Focused Input with Listening

I’m throwing time into learning German this month. I’m very familiar with the Harry Potter Books. I’m giving the L-R method another try where you read L1 and listen to the L2. I think I only need to do it once though. Here’s an explanation on YouTube about the method. I had originally gotten the idea from the old forum called “How to Learn any Language” several years ago. The site isn’t used much now, but it’s still there as a good source of information (here’s a link). 

There is a lot to be said about learning in this way and I recommend anyone to give it a try. You really need to be very familiar with the book first though. 

Fluency Development

At the moment the only work I’m doing here is with listening. I’m re-listening the Harry Potter material covered in the Meaning Focused Input. I play it at 1.5 speed. 

Current thoughts about moving forward with studying

I think that I’m ok with a comfortable B2 level in the four languages that I’m using for the 30-Day Speaking Challenge. I’d like to continue to improve them of course, but lately with all of this online teaching for work there hasn’t been enough spare time (or as much as I’d like). 

Current Ideas for moving forward are to think of a way to become more task-oriented rather than time-oriented. Before I’ve always tried to spend a certain amount of time with a language. Maybe moving forward I will consider just working on a task until it’s done, then moving on. 

I talked to a friend of mine about how he studies. He prefers to be more task-based rather than time-based. In this way I could tick off which languages I work with rather than how much time and fretting about the time. 

Languages I’ve spent a lot of time with and need attention soon: Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Turkish, Russian, and Arabic (MS). 

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