Language learning goals. 2020

Sup doods and doodesses,

I hope you are all good, or failing that at least well.

I’ve just got back from a walk which depending on your perspective was dark, cold and unpleasant , or bracing, invigorating and full of interesting smells. 

My dog enjoyed it, and I on returning home did my Kettle Bells, which have been described as ‘an ancient russian weapon against weakness’ in Simple but Sinister (by Pavel Tsatsouline).

Kettle bells (in particular the swing) are in my opinion (combined with body weights) the ultimate workout. 

Not everyone agrees. 

Anyway, while walking and swinging my kettles (one arm obvs), I decided on my language objectives for 2020, so lets give you a clue with :- Happy New Year, Sretna Nova Godina x.

And now, while listening to Uptown Top Ranking (Althea and Donna), 54-46 Was My Number (Toots & the Maytals) and so on, I’m putting my language objectives for 2020 out there, sharing them with y’all dear readers.

Sretna Nova Godina is Happy New Year in Croatian, that most chic of languages will continue to be my primary focus during 2020. I reached some sort of A2 level last year and want to improve to some sort of B1 level before a hoped for holiday later in 2020.

By the way, my levels are an approximation and I’m only interested in speaking and aural comprehension. I  have been formally tested in Spanish and have a feel for the CEFR levels, although I freely admit that I could be way out.

I can more or less understand this in Croatian if this helps  anyone.

I do love Peppa Pig;)

In terms of time, I will spend a minimum of 30 minutes a day five days and an iTalki lesson lasting an hour on  Croatian. This works out at somewhere over 160 hours over the year, and I easily managed more than this consistently throughout 2019.

What else?

I will maintain my Spanish and Italian which I do through reading, language exchanges, music  and so on. If you do speak Italian and are interested in cooking check out Fatto in Casa da Benedetta

And …

… well this might be a little controversial considering the dismal ending previously but I’m going to spend a little time with Polish.

I attempted and failed entirely to learn any Polish over several years, in part because I lacked focus and in part because I hadn’t understood how to learn a slavic language.

Despite an active interest in languages, I don’t have a huge amount of time to spend on them (problem), and unless I am effective with the time I have, don’t make progress.

How then, you wonder, can I with previous form of being distracted, and limited time learn two languages at the same time?


Firstly. Croatian always comes first (so no distractions). If I haven’t done my Croatian study, there is no Polish 🙁


Secondly. I have a very precise objective with Polish.

This is too learn one Assimil lesson every two weeks. The lessons are not new too me, as I have (sort of) been through this process previously, so this should be possible.

I’m  going to learn the dialogs …

… by heart.

… two a month.

In other words, I’m going to totally over-learn the Assimil dialogs – which if nothing else should pass the time and stave off dementia in my dotage.

I’m interested in discovering whether over-learning a relatively small corpus of the language will enable me to communicate at all.

I will report back on this towards the end of the year.

Baci, Besos et Pax.


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4 Responses to Language learning goals. 2020

  1. pohaku says:

    Greetings. I just got here via a link from Fluent in Three Months and saw that you’re learning Polish. Me too. However, my goals and techniques are probably completely different from yours (and most people’s).

    My aim is to gain reading fluency in this, my first Slavic language. I’ve been at it for a few months, but only seriously for the last few weeks. I spent the first couple of months just looking at a paragraph or two most days and learning to type in Polish, which is a critical skill for my main learning technique. It’s not that hard to type in Polish on my laptop, but it takes time to gain ease, so I don’t get tensed up.

    A couple of weeks ago I felt ready to go and was highly motivated to make sense of Polish. I have plenty of books: simple (?) stories, novels, grammars, dictionaries. But what really got me hooked was a longish story in a beautifully illustrated book of modern Polish tales. I think they’re meant to be modern retellings of old tales (maybe with a twist) or simply newly-written tales taking advantage of the traditional form. They may be meant for kids, but not young kids; or they may be meant for adults. I’m not sure.

    My technique is to type a sentence or paragraph into Google translate and then make sure I understand what each word means, often typing single words, sometimes consulting a dictionary or grammar. Then I keep on doing this till I have to stop. Then I continue later, etc., etc. I don’t try to memorize anything, I don’t used spaced repetition, I don’t worry at all about “learning” anything. I just enjoy the thrill of understanding what I’m reading and occasionally recognizing a word or phrase. After a few days of this, I do learn certain words, usually the ones that appear the most in the text. But I may have to see a word dozens of times before it sticks. And I don’t care. I find that my brain seems to be doing its job, gradually building up hazy little clouds of word-forms that, for example, seem to mean “to say.” The clouds have lots of different looking forms for “to say” because of the differences in number, tense, person, etc. But my brain is gradually putting it all together so that the clouds start to coalesce into clearer pictures.

    Over time this works, and I’ll be able to read the language. It has worked for me with other languages, and it will work with Polish. The main things are to stay motivated and relaxed, to put in the time, and to be happy for the little daily indications of success.

    Best of luck in your Polish studies!


  2. Anthony says:

    over-learning a relatively small corpus of the language will definitely enable you to communicate. That is how I have learnt languages by ear. I wish you luck with polish and croatian. I currently studying Levantine arabic and bulgarian. Tricky but fun and very interesting. Swinging kettle bells… I will give that a miss 🙂

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