The days are getting longer and I find it much easier to study a bit after dinner while it’s still bright outside. In May I finally started to teach Italian again and I’m willing to move my teaching online as soon as possible. It’s frustrating to waste two hours on the tube for every hour of lesson. I want to be able to dedicate that time to creating more awesome learning materials for my students!
How did it go last month?
First of all, I was finally able to put into words the reasons for my crisis with Japanese. It will take some time to solve the issues, but it’s a start. I did watch a few movies (you’ll find my recommendations below) and listened to music.
I’m enjoying practising writing on Instagram. The language learning community is active and lively there and I like to see how everyone is doing and to be inspired.
I didn’t watch any movie in French and Swedish though. It’s difficult to force myself to pick a film just because it’s in my target language. Movies are a very serious business for me and I can only watch something if it fits the mood.
French reading practice worked alright, I also used French for a few Google searches instead of English.
Studying Swedish this month was really pleasant, more so than usual. I accomplished most of my goals: I learnt over 100 words on Memrise – Swedish 5, studied regularly on Babbel (*) and Learningswedish.se and practised reading every week. I have mostly absorbed and had a slow learning approach for a while, but I finally feel it’s time to step up my game.
A new Swedish learning routine
I’ve been feeling more confident about Swedish recently: I’m familiar with the sentence structure, I can predict some patterns and I learnt enough vocabulary to start producing sentences beyond “the pen is on the table”. With the help of a dictionary, I am also able to read simple articles and posts written for native speakers. This is why I want to challenge myself: this month I will start exploring 8 Sidor, a website with simplified news in writing and audio. It’s aimed at intermediate learners and I’m not even close, but reading is my strongest point so I’m going to dare.
Last week I got some news that made me rethink my Swedish learning routine: an invitation to the wedding of my boyfriend’s sister, at the end of the summer. As I’m going to meet most of the family (no pressure at all!) I want to be able to have decent conversations with them in Swedish. I am sure everyone will be amazing in English, but that would be cheating, right?
I am going to prepare to have conversations on a few topics that might come up during the event and to answer and ask questions about myself and others. My keywords will be: reinforce (what I already learnt) and build (new skills and confidence).
In the past few months I had dropped Duolingo as I didn’t find it useful in the first stages of learning, but now I’m going back to a few sessions a week. For me, it works much better as a reviewing tool.
Babbel, Learningswedish.se and Memrise will still be part of my weekly routine. In particular, I want to create a new deck on Memrise for words, sentences and expressions to use in conversations. The areas I want to reinforce or build are:
- Introducing myself: nationality, age, profession, where I live.
- Likes and dislikes.
- Verbs: present tense, past tense, future tense.
- Small talks.
- Talk about my country.
- Food, drinks.
These are mostly very basic topics but I want to be sure I can talk extensively and with confidence about them. You might have guessed it: talking is the hardest part for me – in any language really, even my own!
The biggest change to my routine will be adding a lot of production. Every week I will pick one subject and write a brief text about it, researching vocabulary and getting it corrected. I will then have a conversation about the same topic, expanding it with new words and expressions.
Can you think of any other area I should prepare for the big occasion? I might be too nervous to think clearly!
Language goals for French and Japanese
I will give myself as much freedom as possible with Japanese. We had a bad breakup and we need to become friends again, so we’ll be kind to each other. Hopefully, there will be many more movies – one per week sound like a good deal.
For French I will have the chance to talk as I’m seeing an old friend from France later this month, we’ll see if I can still express myself. I will also keep reading an article per week.
Japanese movies recommendations
In May I watched two beautiful movies by director Hirokazu Koreeda, After Life and Air Doll. You can find two bite-sized Japanese lessons inspired by these films in my last post.
I also watched three very good animated works.
Kiki Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便 Majo no takkyūbin), an old favourite of mine, is the story of a young witch growing up, learning to live by herself and to be independent. It’s a very sweet movie by Hayao Miyazaki, produced by Studio Ghibli. Not only the film itself is lovely, but it’s also set in a town inspired by Stockholm and Visby. Watching it right after coming back from Sweden got me nostalgic and emotional.
Patema Inverted (サカサマのパテマ Sakasama no Patema) is a science fiction work set in a dystopic world. Humans have messed around with gravity with worrying results. Amidst a dictatorship fuelled by fear and hate, a boy and a girl will meet and bond despite all adversities.
Pom Poko (平成狸合戰ぽんぽこ Heisei tanuki gassen ponpoko), directed by Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata, is a tale rooted in Japanese folklore and with a strong environmentalist message. Tanuki 狸 (Japanese racoon dogs) are threatened by humans destroying their forest, so they decide to open a war against men. A cleaver, fun yet bitter portrays of Japan and its modernisation (or westernisation?).
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