Well, here I am at what is the conclusion of the most legendary year of my life!
I think the one thing that changed the most about me over the course of this year was that I became very secure in my identity and, as a result, stopped taking forms of rejection so personally (someone says bad things about me online? Not my issue, I’m a hero! Someone doesn’t want to engage meaningfully in a conversation with me? I know I’m good at what I do, it reflects on THAT person!)
Despite the fact that I sometimes have an abrasive style in both writing and in real life, people who have met me in person do rightly think that I am very friendly.
Here’s the time for me to examine each of my languages and how I could improve:
On top of my fluency list are the Creoles of Melanesia, Tok Pisin, Pijin and Bislama. I have a very good grasp of vocabulary and I can listen to songs, radio and other forms of entertainment in these languages without flinching. In conversations I can manage to say everything, but I tried filming a Let’s Play video in Tok Pisin and my own self-doubt and self-freezing (that were an issue with me making videos even in English earlier this year!) got in the way.
What I’m going to need to do from this point on isn’t as much vocabulary building, but sheer immersion. I have to become one with the Pacific Islands, I have to live and breathe the cultures of Melanesia as though I were raised in Lae city myself.
The same is also true with my other very good (or almost very good with some consistency) languages: Trinidadian Creole, Yiddish, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, German and Spanish (the last two being the weakest of the bunch).
Next up in the “lower levels of fluency” line are Hebrew, Finnish, Krio, Breton, Jamaican Patois and the two that I am sometimes good enough in Icelandic and French. Polish and Irish used to be up there but fell down.
These are the hardest to diagnose because each one of them has a very unique problem. Finnish and Hebrew are definitely my strongest of that group, with Krio and Breton being next up.
Hebrew – listening with immersion (I’m going to need to find films and use them. Often! If Hebrew were as similar to English as Danish was I’d probably speak it at C1 right now).
Finnish – continuing with teaching it as an L2 certainly helps but I’m also going to need to do some writing and translation exercises. Luckily I have a project lined up for that in 2018!
Krio – same as Finnish above, minus the teaching aspect. Written material in Krio is harder to find than in Finnish (not a surprise, despite the fact that more people in the world speak Krio fluently than speak Finnish [!])
Breton – I need more TV shows (luckily I found a number of good ones thanks to Reddit. Also a Let’s Play Channel of sorts!)
Jamaican Patois – Translation exercises would be helpful as long as I learn to READ OUT LOUD. I have to use all of my senses otherwise it’s just going to be passive understanding. I can’t afford to have just a passive understanding (even though that in of itself is very good), given that I’m practically living in Jamaica given where in New York City I live.
Icelandic – the Anki deck. I have to continue with that. It’s been solving almost every single one of my problems!
French – The grammar needs brushing up. I need to detect my weak points in conversation (past tense is a big one) and patch up the holes.
Next we have Greenlandic, Lao, Hungarian and Polish. They are all weak across the board in many regards and have full of holes. My biggest holes in them are: vocabulary for Greenlandic, Lao and Hungarian, grammar for Hungarian and Polish. I guess it’s just an issue of “keep using them”.
For Greenlandic I have the Memrise course and for Hungarian I have the 30-Day Speaking Challenge. I also have Anki decks for all of these languages except for Polish.
In its own category is my new project with Vincentian Creole (of St. Vincent and the Grenadines). The first language I’ve learned with no resources to learn it (that I can find), I’ll detail what I’m doing another time. It will be VERY interesting to read about!
The rest of my languages are too weak to judge with the exceptions of Burmese, Irish, Cornish and Kiribati / Gilbertese.
I have a good grasp of the grammar of all of them, I just need to use it in exercises, especially speaking exercises.
It’s a little bit hard to diagnose things when there are CONSISTENT problems across the language. But luckily usage will be enough to patch them up.
In light of the #CleartheList challenge hopping around Social Media at the moment, here is my list for January 2018:
- Recordings every day
- One episode of Pokémon dubbed in Hungarian every week
- One full-length Hungarian movie every week.
- Read out loud one lesson from Colloquial Hungarian once every week.
For Kiribati / Gilbertese:
- Do the tasks for the Mango Language January 2018 challenge every day.
- Acquire new songs in Gilbertese every week.
- Film a new episode of “Jared Gimbel Learns Kiribati” every week.
- Write a status in Gilbertese every week.
For Vincentian Creole:
- Listen to one Bible story audio once every day.
Find and translate (into English) an article in each of the following languages. Write word-by-word translations for each sentence:
- Tok Pisin
For Greenlandic / Lao (Bonus points!):
- Record the speaking challenge prompts in these alongside the Hungarian challenge.
I look forward to making another list for 2018 and beyond.
I’ll publish my FULL LIST of goals for 2018 TOMORROW!
2017 was the best year of my life in a professional sense. And 2018 promises to be nothing less of continuing that miracle.
May you have similar fortune as well!