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Saturday, 29 August 2015

14 Months of Language Learning

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Here is a summary of my 14-month language learning:

June - August 2014

I had studied the grammars of 10 world languages. Now I have understood the basic grammars and the pronunciations, been able to read simple stories and to listen to slow basic conversations.

September - December 2014

I studied only Russian, Italian and Arabic in classes and took their exams. I still listened to podcasts in Spanish and French. I stopped taking Mandarin because the class focused on memorizing the hanze in order to be able to read, unfortunately we did not practice conversational Mandarin.

January - April 2015

Now this may sound weird that I graduated from the Advanced French class without having attended the class, but I did pass all the French exams!

I am teaching 15 classes--that's 20 sessions a week--in 4 companies. I spend a minimum of 12 hours at work every day. 

I still attend Russian class(es) twice or more a week, a French class once a week, and an Italian class once a week. I have not read anything about or in Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Dutch, German, Mandarin or Spanish languages in the last 30 days. However I listen to podcasts in Spanish. 
Because I have less time to study language than I did 2 semesters ago, I need to change my learning strategies. 

I came up with an idea to write summaries of the grammars of all the languages I am studying. I am aware that studying grammar will not make me fluent. I believe in the importance of lexicon. I even think lexicon is more important than grammar. However, I have not had enough time to study new words and use them in sentences. In short, my speaking skills are poor. 

The grammar summaries will look like mindmaps because mindmapping helps me to study more effectively. 

I studied Russian in a class taught by a non-native teacher and in another class by a native teacher. A few times I practiced spoken Russian with my Ukrainian colleague.

I attended Italian, Arabic, Dutch, Japanese, German, Korean and Spanish classes occasionally, like 2-4 times a month. I never studied the lessons at home and I had no intention to take the language tests.

May - August 2015

I studied Italian in class but did not not take the mid-term and final tests.

I practiced written Russian with my Tajik student. My reading comprehension got better, thanks to VK.


In April 2015 signed up for COURSERA and installed a Coursera app in my phone. Coursera provides free courses online. You can follow their well-structured study programs or watch videos/read articles in random order if you like to.

Learning about Learning course available on Coursera is simply awesome! Basically, the contents of the course are based so much on neuroscience. If you want your study to be more effective, you have to be environmentally brain-friendly. 

BRAIN-FRIENDLY. That is the key to effective learning and teaching. Did you know a saying in an Asian culture that says 'a student who sleeps more than 4 hours a night is a lazy student.' ? Sorry to say, but this assumption/accusation is so wrong.......because neuroscientists say: Human brain cleanses itself from toxins during sleep time. So, give your brain enough time to 'sleep' (=detoxify itself). If you are friendly to your own brain, it will give you immense help in return. 


About the author

Hening is a laid-back ENTP (by upbringing) and a solar-Scorpio-and-lunar-Sagittarius (by birth). She believes that thrifting is an art form that helps rewire our brain circuits for the better.


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