Language Goals 2016

I know it is slightly early, but  New Years Day is not normally a good day for resolutions (or thinking about such), due to it being the morning after the night b4 and all.

Last year, I was trying to improve my Italian from B1 to B2 on the CEFR scale. This had also been an aim from the previous year, which I hadn’t managed to reach.

You will be relieved to know that I’ve finally arrived at B2 (as judged by a tutor), and aim to carry on (piano piano) improving. To reach this level, I do a weekly language exchange, have had sporadic lessons, read a lot in Italian and listen to the radio. Awesome success.


I also wanted to reach a B1 level in Polish.

Instead, I’ve stopped entirely. I love the sound of Polish, and I like the way the language hangs together, but that wasn’t enough to keep me motivated over a longer period. I need a reason to continue with a language, and I didn’t find it with Polish. I’d like to think that I will return to the language some day. Epic fail.

I wanted to reach an A2 level in reading Russian. I started but again didn’t have the hook to make me continue. Epic fail.

Instead, I read a book in Afrikaans. Modest success.

I wanted to maintain my Spanish. I’ve done this with a weekly language exchange and listening to podcasts. Success.

So, chaps, what am I going to do next year?

I’m going to focus on French.  I would like to reach an B1 level in spoken French by the end of the year.

I intend to spend 30 minutes a day, five days a week, studying, and by that I mean actively learning French. In other words, a mere two and a half hours a week. I’m not really big on formally sitting down and learning ‘stuff’ nowadays so that is probably about my limit.

I’m also going to do what has worked for me in Italian, that is reading a lot, listening to podcasts and finding a teacher using iTalki or similar for an hour a week of conversation. At a later point (when my French is good-enough) I’ll look for a language exchange. My experience of language exchanges is that to be effective you need to become friends, and for that to happen you both need to have conversational ability to some degree.

I’m not starting from scratch as I learnt some French at school, and can to a degree read it. However, I can’t speak to save my life. I mean I can say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and so on, but I can’t put a sentence together, and due to horrendous memories from school feel like a total numpty whoever I try and say anything. I’m not going to name names, but teachers who criticise (and my French teacher) was one of these, cast a long shadow …

I need a plan, which will no doubt, change from month to month, and I will outline in good time, but for now I’m going to ease myself into the process of learning  French by reading and listening to music.

I’m going to start by reading French Short Stories for beginners by Olly Richards which I came across the other day. The stories are suitable for beginners from A1-A2 which suits me perfectly.

Besos and baci



No peace for the wicked

So there I was, this morning, lying in bed about to get up and take my dog for a walk in the rain and I thought ‘bloody hell, no peace for the wicked’.

And then, I wondered how to say this in Latin and where it came from.

It turns out that the phrase originated in the Book of Isaiah verses 48:22 or XLVIII in my Vulgate. XLVIII is way more classy, but I digress.

Non est pax impiis dicit Dominus

In fact, impiis is I think the dative plural impius ‘wicked’ giving a more literal translation of ‘no peace to the wicked’. Impius also has or had the meaning ‘without reverence of respect for God’.

Interestingly (or perhaps not depending on who you are and what you fret about), the relevant  wiki entry gives a different translation for Isaiah 57:21 (or better written LVII). The Latin for both XLVIII:22 and LVII:21 according to my copy of the Vulgate (which predates Wiki by around 150 years) is identical.

There are of course different translations/versions of the bible, but the Wiki entry doesn’t indicate the version to which it is referring. The moral of the story is of course, don’t take Wiki entries on faith, and refer to originals where you can.

For what it’s worth, I ended up absolutely drenched after walking said hound, and he ended up with wet paws and vomiting on the carpet.