6 biggest lessons from learning to speak my first non-native language [Final video]
Time for the final update on Lauren's 6-week-challenge! She successfully completed her mission, and was able to socialize, make new friends, and have fun in Esperanto. You can see it all happen in the video at the bottom of the post.
But first, I'll hand the blog over to her, to share her thoughts:
1. Everything seems impossible at first
I still remember how inept I felt during my first hour of study when everything was unclear –how the language sounded, what each word meant. But with time I started to notice the patterns and got used to the sounds. I feel like going into my next language project, I'll be more aware that those feelings are just temporary, and be able to push through them much better.
2. I get bored quickly
Moving forward, I'm going to plan to make switching up my language practice part of my routine. I got bored at first when I tried to practice the same materials (Lernu, Anki, Memrise) for several days in a row, so it was really helpful to have Benny there to suggest alternatives. But he doesn't speak the next language I plan to learn though, so I will have to find alternatives myself 😀
For my next language, I am going to take Polyglot Kent's suggestion and try to incorporate memorizing the lyrics to songs in the language, which sounds like a really good way to help words stick in your mind.
3. It helps a LOT to have something or someone holding you accountable
The first time someone “friended” me on Memrise, I studied on Memrise twice as much that week. Just seeing their study points add up on the Memrise scoreboard motivated me to put more points on my scoreboard, too. And of course, having a weekly video to make was SO helpful in making sure I didn't put off study time. I suggested to Benny that I need to have a language “sponsor” to help me stay on track. Which brings me to my next lesson:
4. Talking to someone on Skype for the first time was extremely intimidating
Before my Skype chat last week, I was really, really, really nervous. I don't know why, I just was. And from knowing how I felt at that moment, I don't think there's anything I can say to help anyone else who experiences the same “pre-talk” nerves that I did. But what I can say is this: once the call started, I was fine. And my language partner was very nice.
And I'm really glad I did it! I feel like now I really understand why more people don't “speak from day one” because it is really scary. But just try to push through it! Or find a language sponsor who will guilt you if you don't!
5. Skipping study days sets you back
Studying for 3.5 hours twice a week is not the same thing as studying for 1 hour every day. I really feel it's important to expose yourself to the language at least a little bit every day or else you'll end up spending time in your study sessions remembering what you learned last time.
6. Teaching yourself a new language makes you feel really good 🙂
I really like the idea that I don't need to rely on anyone else to teach me a language, but that anyone really can just get online and teach it to themselves. I found people to chat to for free on Lernu and I found my Skype partner through an Esperanto Facebook group. And I feel confident that I will be just as able to guide myself in learning my next language as I was to in Esperanto. I am really, really excited to see what I can achieve moving forward!
One last thing:
I will definitely continue to improve my Esperanto!
If anyone is wondering whether or not I thought learning Esperanto was “worth it” – definitely, yes. The community is extremely welcoming, the language is really fun to use, and studying it taught me a lot about how to learn a language in general. I've already started reading a book in Esperanto called “La Krimo de Katrina” and after that I plan to read the Esperanto version of Harry Potter!
Thanks Lauren! And of course, she will be using Esperanto as a springboard to help her learn her next language, which we'll announce next week 😉