I haven’t written anything in a while, in part because various stressful adventures were making my head spin (relax, no language-learning-related abroad trips!)
Anyhow, after careful consideration it occurs to me that I have to refocus a lot of my efforts.
With my birthday coming up next month and a VERY exciting language-learning interview around the corner (to be posted soon!), I have been pondering my life and it occurs to me that I have to do more with less.
That is to say, I enjoy languages very much. I love the fact that my bookshelf is filled with tools to learn MANY of them, and that I know something about every language represented in my library.
The fact is, I’ve hopped around a lot and “flirted” with a lot of languages, but now I feel that I’d really like to savor an EXTREMELY deep variety of fluency, the likes of which I feel that I’ve gotten with my best languages (the English Creoles, Yiddish, Ancient Hebrew and the “Scandinavian sisters”).
Last month I wrote this in the Olly Richards Group:
“As I look to my 30th birthday next month it occurs to me that I’m going to focus a bit more substantially on quality, and that I don’t want or need perfection in every language.
As a result, starting this week, I’ll be devoting each day of the week to one language. Anything else can be maintained at language social events or through music or reading. I’ve studied a LOT of languages in my life but I viewed that as a bit of an extended dating game.
Now I’m “making a family” in a sense. Sunday – Lao, Monday – Swedish, Tuesday – Hungarian, Wednesday – Palauan, Thursday – Greenlandic, Friday – Hiva, Saturday – Yiddish.
Swedish and Yiddish I’m fluent in but I want to be a LOT better (to sound like a professor rather than a YouTuber). Hungarian I’m borderline conversational and the others I speak meagerly. And before you ask, I just can’t fall in love with global languages.
I can manage Spanish and German via my surroundings but I don’t really like them with a deep passion. I’m quite okay if I consolidate my skills with “what I like”.
I also need Norwegian / Finnish / Danish / Hebrew for my job but I use them every week as is so I won’t lose them.
Did you ever develop a routine like this? Or refocus yourself? How did it go? Part of me feels sad to do this but I’m going to try to change things and see if it makes me happier.”
Weeks later I made even more “cuts”, with relegating Hiva (the Marquesan Languages), Lao and Palauan to Memrise for the time being, Swedish and Yiddish to my work and conversational “happy hours”, and now my routine goes like this:
Sunday and Wednesday – Mystery Language that I’ve studied a bit before (I’ll reveal this in due time)
Monday and Thursday – Greenlandic
Tuesday and Friday – Hungarian
Saturday – Studying whatever I want (it is the Jewish Sabbath, after all)
So right now, it seems that my primary focus is going to be on just ten languages, which will be:
Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Hebrew, Yiddish, Finnish, Hungarian, Greenlandic, Fijian and unrevealed mystery language.
On Memrise: Lao, Marquesan and Palauan. (Low stress)
Everything else, I don’t know if it will stay, but I can always turn back to whatever I want.
I’ll still be investing in learning smaller bits of languages on the side on Saturday, and there may be a chance I could still keep them around (e.g. by doing small 30-Day Challenges here and there).
Also concerning my monthly challenges, I’ll be focusing a lot more on ONE language until I feel genuinely good at it, and starting with November (that is, tomorrow) that language will be Greenlandic.
I just want to let you know that I can always “spread my focus” the way that I used to, I just need to nourish my happiness and stop getting stressed by something that is supposed to enrich my life, not dominate it.
And besides, the Tumbuka project I haven’t forgotten about. I’ll turn to that again once Black History Month rolls around next year! I haven’t forgotten about my YouTube series either–that will be an entertaining “side project” to break my comfort zone, but right now I don’t think genuine fluency will be coming out of any of those “projects”. But the world is always surprising!