Ahora es 2021. Looking back, there were so many tears shed worldwide and so much loss in 2020. It’s been tough, exhausting, emotional, and unpredictable. In all honesty, we need to look forward, stay hopeful, and make the most of each day that we are gifted with. We’re still alive and 2021 has officially begun.
The new year always feels like a breath of fresh air to me… a new beginning… a fresh start. Although there’s definitely going to be a lot of challenges for everyone as the current health crisis persists, I’m truly grateful to be well and to be able to do something that I passionately enjoy like this blog, learning languages, connecting with others and forming friendships. I realize that each day is a gift and I try not to forget everything amazing in my life. I’m also so grateful for you, your support, uplifting comments and good vibes. Sending a virtual hug for anyone that needs it!
I am gifted with learning three languages this year. I didn’t necessarily plan to learn three languages at once. It just happened…I started with Spanish then gravitated towards French and became inspired by my cousin to learn Korean as well. Very ambitious but there’s no deadline to become conversational or even fluent. I can self-study languages for the rest of my life if I want to, which I probably will. LOL
I’ve given myself a lot of time to craft my language learning goals for 2021 because it’s an important piece of my life. I’ll be taking some lessons to practice speaking. However, I will mostly be doing my fair share of self-study especially with French and Korean since I am a beginner in those languages. I will need time and patience to get to a level where I can start having simple conversations or small talk.
Spanish Goal: Improve my conversational skills
I plan to improve my conversational Spanish skills and make Spanish more automatic. Right now, I am decent at comprehension when someone speaks slowly and clearly with simple vocabulary, but responding to someone is a struggle. There are still times when I struggle to form the correct sentence structure and find the right words. With more practice and listening exercises I’ll make progress. Like most learners, comprehending street talk can be difficult since slang and expressions are not taught in many self-study programs or books. People can also speak quickly so it can be a challenge to know when one word ends and another begins if you are not a native speaker or have not been immersed in the language for many years.
Method for Spanish: A ton of native content in various accents
Learning from movies on Netflix and Lingopie: I will be watching a lot of Spanish films and other native content that I can use to improve my listening skills. I’m not someone that watches a lot of movies or TV shows in general so I will have to seek out content that genuinely interests me.
My goal is one movie every two weeks. Once I find a movie the real work will begin: I will attempt to watch it at least twice – one time without any subtitles and a second time with subtitles. I will pause the movie to write down sentences or words that are new to me. I think I will focus on thirty minute chunks of each movie to dissect scenes and try my hand at transcription which means I will listen then attempt to write down the dialogue. I can also turn the subtitles back on to see the words that I missed or misheard. It will be a good challenge especially since native Spanish speakers tend to talk fast.
I’ve started this method a few weeks ago. I have been rewatching a movie and I started dissecting the dialogue to find out the meaning of some colloquial expressions that are so often used between native speakers. I’ll see how this works out and create a spreadsheet or something to track the movies I watch.
Conversation Practice with tutors: I plan to work on speaking through online conversation practice with teachers from Italki. The 1:1 sessions are important in the success that I have made thus far. It is well worth the money.
Shadowing: This is a method that just means I will repeat the native speaker as they are talking and try to mimic their pronunciation and cadence. Sometimes I do this with podcasts or Youtube videos. It’s a real challenge to keep up as they speak. This method is great for improving pronunciation and flow while speaking. I’ll try to do it daily.
Thinking in Spanish: I simply want to try thinking mainly in Spanish. My automatic thoughts come to me in English. So, this will be a challenge. I’ll attempt to build this skill on a daily basis. The ability to think quicker in Spanish will definitely help me reply quicker during conversations. I have been having more moments where I think to myself in Spanish about what activity I am doing in the moment. I’ll do more of that this year.
French: Learn how to read, speak, and write basic French. Extra work on pronunciation.
Methods for French : book work, repetition, and lessons
Easy French step-by-step by Myrna Bell Rochester, PhD.: This workbook is amazing. I am currently wrapping up chapter 2 and I plan to complete all 16 chapters within the next six months. It will give me a good understanding of French grammar, conjugations, and sentence structure. The explanations are short and the practice exercises are typically no more than ten questions at a time. I can easily complete about ⅓ of a chapter per day.
Mango Languages Program: I was able to get free access via my local public library. The interface of this program is plain and simple. It is really to the point which I like. There aren’t any photos, you learn phrases, key vocabulary, and then full sentences. I like the repetition because I have to train my ears and mouth to get the hang of it. French is well-known for being a challenging language to pronounce since there are vital sounds that don’t exist in English.
The Drops app: I recently mentioned this on my Instagram. This app is great for building a few thousand basic vocabulary words. I’ve used it for about 25 minutes and it says that I have learned 24 words. About one word per minute. LOL I caved and purchased the premium yearly subscription for $29.99 (discounted price), so that I can have access to all their content. I hope to use this app often and get my money’s worth. They also have the program for other languages. I read reviews about their Korean program and I heard that they made some errors on a few of the Korean vocabulary words so I’m just going to use Drops for French at this time.
Listening: I’ll also be listening to a lot of spoken French and trying out a few other resources throughout the year. I really enjoy French music too. I’ll be listening to a lot of French pop music in 2021 via Spotify and Youtube.
Lessons and group conversation practice: I’ll start lessons with a tutor or professional teacher on Italki when I feel ready. I’d like to complete more self-studying at this time. I also have the opportunity to join an online group via zoom to practice on Sundays.
Korean: Learn how to speak basic Korean needed for travel or small talk. Also, learn to read Korean and retain high frequency vocabulary.
My methods for Korean: immersion, bite-sized lessons, learning from mistakes, and patience
Rosetta Stone for Korean: I’m grateful that I received lifetime access to all of the Rosetta Stone programs as a Christmas gift from my Dad. I have been mainly using Rosetta for Korean and French. It is very different from other programs because it immerses you in Korean from the very beginning. It shows you photos and gives you the sentence or word which is written in Hangul then it gives you the pronunciation. Korean is vastly different from English so I really appreciate the immersion aspect of this program. I can’t imagine trying to translate everything from English to Korean in my head. I would rather learn straight from Korean via a ton of repetition. Rosetta lets you select a learning plan so 30 minute daily lessons are ready to go, however, you can go back and review lessons if you need that extra repetition.
App called Learn Korean!: I have been using an app called Learn Korean!. Straight-forward name! It simply teaches you the sounds of Korean broken down into syllables. It’s an excellent tool for beginners. It only costs a few dollars.
Koreanclass101.com: I have mentioned this website before. I have the six month subscription. In that time, I will be completing their pronunciation lessons, Hangul lessons, travel essential lessons, and basic 3-minute lessons. There’s a lot of content on this website to explore but there’s not much visual content for us visual learners which is a down side.
I’m also going to watch more K-dramas and listen to K-pop. 🙂
FluentU.com for ALL languages: I purchased the premium subscription awhile back but I feel like I could use it more often that I have been. This is a tool for all my target languages. It has flashcard sets and short videos of all types so you can learn in context. It allows you to create vocab lists and gives you a few ways to study them on the website.
It’s nice to have a plan as I start off the year with motivation and inspiration. I have some other large goals and aspirations separate from language learning that will take time and energy as well, but I’m confident that I can make amazing progress this year with Spanish, French, and Korean.
If you’ve come this far in my blog please enjoy a Spanish song that I recently wrote titled La Felicidad which translates to happiness. This is the second song that I wrote in Spanish just for fun. It’s all about appreciating life and finding happiness in the moment. It really brings joy to my day when I play this special song so I hope you like it.
I wish you and your family health, wellness, prosperity, and plenty of joyful moments in 2021. 2021 here we come!
Con una sonrisa,