Assimil German. Again. Day Zero


Sometimes looking at the positives (instead of the many, many negatives) in any given situation helps …

So, on that note …

Pandemic life isn’t all bad. The weather has been OK. There has been an ensuing economic downturn (catastrophe might be a better word) leading me and many others to have more time.

The air is cleaner. The streets are more peaceful. You can hear the birdsong (even in the middle of a city).

My life is slower and more reflective.

I’m doing jobs that have been left for years – re-doing the kitchen, putting up a new fence in our (small) garden (not tomorrow as the forecast for the West Country is torrential rain). And then more rain …

I have more time …

I am thinking more. I hope that maybe the world can change for the better when lockdown ends. Do we need to use cars all the time? Can we buy local food more, and support local businesses more?

I’m optimistic.

This leads back to the world of language learning, where I was reflecting why in the past I’ve had so little success with further languages until I started learning Croatian.

The answer is …

… being in too much of a hurry.

Over the years, I have stopped and started with Assimil with varying degrees of success.

One of my past attempts (back in 2017 or thereabouts) was using Assimil German. I didn’t get very far, but during lockdown I have decided to give it a whirl for a second time.

You know the old saying “same approach, same results” meaning rather obviously that without changing your approach to something, your results will be the same.

This holds true for most things in life, whether it be exercise (kettle bells and callisthenics if you must know), work (sigh), relationships or language learning.

I now have a different approach for using Assimil.

If you cast a glance at my language goals for the year, you won’t see German on the list.

My primary focus is that amazingly chic language Croatian, and that isn’t changing anytime soon but I still have a hankering to learn a tad of something else.

It was going to be Polish but it turns out (which I already knew but didn’t consider) that there are  many similarities between Polish and Croatian. These were enough to confuse me, which wasn’t helping my Croatian, and once again Polish has been put on the back burner. For now. Sorry.

And so my thoughts turned towards Assimil German.

I mulled it over and thought ok, lets give this another go. but I need to set myself some learning parameters. I’ve danced this dance before with Assimil, and fallen foul of the volume of information contained in the courses.

Still, I’m older, wiser and have learned a lot about language learning over the previous 18 months with my Croatian passion.

One of the various suggestions made by Assimil is that each lesson can be completed in approximately thirty minutes.

Well, not by me sunshine, not by me.

So here is my plan or perhaps a better description would be Assimil experiment. This will kill two metaphorical birds with one stone. 

Firstly, the the itch to play with another language (metaphorical bird number 1) and secondly an experiment with ultra slow learning (metaphorical bird number 2).

Assimil requires conservatively thirty minutes per day per lesson, and more realistically in my experience over an hour per day per lesson. This my babbers is time that I don’t have.

Actually, it is time I *could* have currently due to the combination of lockdown and reduced working hours.

However, it isn’t extra time that I want to spend on languages (kitchens, gardens etc take time). I haven’t even mentioned the curtain poles, light fittings and rendering …

I do most definitely have ten minutes.

I am now on the cusp of presenting to you my plan for ultra slow language learning in ten minutes a day.

My plan can be summed up as

Festina Lente

Literally meaning ‘haste with speed’ or more commonly ‘make haste slowly’. Apparently, according to the wiki, the Grand Duke of Tuscany used this as his motto along with a sail backed tortoise as illustration. Also, which I never knew, a dolphin entwined around an anchor is the most common representation of this motto.

And this is my POA (plan of action) which is a series of rules designed to keep me on track.

  • Each day I will add no more than three words to a German word list which I am overlearning.
  • The words will come from the current lesson.
  • I will only add words which are very common or useful to me particularly. So I would not include a word like Feder (feather) for example.
  • I will add the occasional sentence when it illustrates a grammatical point. The words contained must have been already added to the list.
  • I will spend the remaining ten minutes reading the grammar notes.

Overlearning. More on this later, but for now, for me and for Assimil German, it is learning and retaining a relatively small body of words, phrases and sentences which illustrate grammatical points.

What do I hope to achieve?

Like. Duh. A complete mastery of the German language;)

OK, as above, more on this later. In essence, I hope to remember 1000 words of German over the course of a year – and be able to recall them as required.

Strictly speaking, I should end up knowing slightly more with 365 multiplied by three coming in at 1095.

But assuming the economy ever recovers, I will presumably be working longer hours at some point, so days will be missed … occasionally.

Besos, baci et Pax.


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