All It Takes Is A Little Motivation

So I need to write this all out in English, only because it’s the only way I am going to sort it all out.  I need some help and the best way for me to help myself is to write things down and hopefully the answer will come to me.

The past few days, I have been getting down on myself a little, and not without good reason.  I have been studying Spanish pretty intensely since the Summer of 2008.  You would think that over the course of four years, I would be pretty good at it, but the fact is, I still struggle, especially when it comes to having conversations with other Spanish speaking people.  I started thinking I wasn’t working hard enough to improve and in fact I was getting quite lazy because I had become comfortable with the level I had reached.  I stopped studying my flash cards and I wasn’t listening to the podcasts in Spanish that I download every week and yet somehow I thought I would get better.  This morning, I started thinking maybe I just wasn’t very good at learning new languages and I started questioning if I should continue with it.  On one hand, I had dedicated so much time to learning, it would be a shame to just give it all up, but then again, if I was never going to get any better, what was the point of continuing?  I’ve gotten to this point in other things I have worked hard for, such as playing the guitar or starting my own small business, and I was starting to fear Spanish was going to become the next victim in a line of various failures in my life.

Then, an interesting thing happened.  I was talking with one of my co-workers and she was saying she would very much like to return to studying French and she wanted to know if I could help her.  French huh?  Ok, so on my list of languages to study, French comes after English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, but since I don’t have anyone to practice Italian or Portuguese, I might as well hop on over to French.  I have 2 programs to help get me started, but my real problem is not knowing how to start conversing with my co-worker.  Now, like any other program out there, the one I have goes over basic vocabulary and then into some basic phrases and questions, but they tend to be tourist related phrases, and I am not sure if they will be very helpful to me.  This is why I have come here today.  I need to organize my thoughts and figure out how I am going to go about talking in French when I know about five words.

I guess the first thing I should do is determine what she wants to learn.  She told me her friends write to her in French and she has a hard time reading it.  This may work out in my favor as I tend to have more success writing than speaking.  So perhaps the first thing I should do is try writing a short message to her in French.  Of course, it would be very easy to simply write something in English and translate it using Google Translate, but I doubt that will help either her or me.  I want to use this opportunity to at least get started on being able to have a basic conversation in a language other than Spanish, but I really don’t have much to work with.  I have another blog in French (yes, I start one with each language I learn) but that was mostly written using a translator.  One idea I had was to write out a very simple conversation in English and then make an Anki deck of common phrases I would use.  I tend to have some success when I use Anki.  I think I will also recommend a few websites to her that I use and find useful.

She told me that tomorrow when I arrive at work, she is only going to speak to me in French.  While I doubt either of us will know enough to carry on a conversation, I am actually looking forward to this challenge.  I have a few French television stations saved on my computer as well as a few movies in French in my Netflix cue.  Maybe tonight will be a good night to watch one of them.

While this wasn’t exactly how I was planning on getting back on track with my language learning goals, I am glad things worked out this way.  While I don’t plan on making French my main goal in language learning, if she and I can practice a bit over the next few months, I imagine I will get quite a bit better, and at the same time, this is encouraging me to of course continue with Spanish.  In fact, I’m going to try to use Spanish to assist me with French if it is at all possible.  I’ll keep you posted on the outcome.  Au revoir.

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~ by James on August 21, 2012.

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