Today's post comes from Kali Lin, a fellow blogger and member of our Language Learning At Home Facebook Community. I'm so grateful that she's offered to share her wisdom here--and hope that you benefit from it as much as I have!
You’re making sure that your kids are learning a foreign language, but have you considered it’s just as important to learn it yourself?
“I know that all good teachers have some study each day in preparing for the next day’s work, but besides this study two or three subjects, definitely on your own account. Do not think this is a selfish thing to do, because the advantage does not end with yourself.” —The Story of Charlotte Mason, p. 162
We want to learn a foreign language, not just so that we can teach it to our children, but because doing so is something that we can enjoy. But how do we find time to make progress in our own studies on top of managing our children's homeschool language learning? I’m here to give you my best tips: one part pep talk and one part actionable steps. Staying inspired and motivated is half the battle, right?
The other day I ran across this framework for making progress from Positively Present which I think works perfectly as guide for foreign language study as well.
“To make progress...
Ask for help
Be kind to yourself
Try new tactics”
Ask for Help
In my life, the biggest obstacle I faced in this area was admitting I needed help. Doing so meant admitting I didn’t know it all--and that seemed vulnerable and scary. But on the flip side of admitting I needed help was so much joy and actual learning, it was worth it. Make sure you are asking for help. Remember language is a social, community mechanism. Language comes to life when it is shared. If you’re not looking to others for help in your language journey you are holding yourself back and stunting your growth. Finding where to get help is usually just a Google or Facebook search away. To see how easy it would be to find support in my Spanish learning I went to Facebook and typed “Spanish conversation group,” in the search bar of Facebook. I found two groups that meet regularly in my area. Both are free of charge and welcome all learning levels.
We will learn so much more if we’re not afraid to mess up! Language is about communication, not perfectionism. This article I read a year ago really helped me understand that concept more clearly. And did you know that TEACHERS of foreign languages (that means people who went to school for and were trained specifically to teach children a foreign language) even worry about making mistakes with their language? It’s okay if we don’t know everything. It’s okay if we’re not perfect. If we wait until those things happen before we try to teach or learn, no teaching or learning will ever happen. Education is about encountering what we don’t know in order that we may come to know it. It’s a journey, a process. It’s about growing and becoming.
Be kind to yourself
To me this means making sure I am staying in tune with myself, my needs, my hopes and desires. It means making sure I have plenty of quiet and space to let my brain breathe and relax. It means making sure I set a schedule and stick to it—I’ll work harder and get more benefit form my work, if I know that I will get a break. You know what would be a good idea? To find a few motivating quotes or writing some kind thoughts of your own, then scheduling them in an email to yourself or creating an event on your phone calendar and inserting them in the notes section, so that you can send encouragement to yourself. We all have moments where we feel gung-ho about our plans and goals, and moments where we don’t. Find ways to make sure you’re getting regular pep talks to keep at it!
Try new tactics
This is the really fun part! Brainstorming ideas on how to get as much language learning in your life as possible! Here’s a list I came up with:
Try to learn 5-6 new words a day.
When you come across a word you don’t know, look it up, then schedule it to come up on your calendar a month later so you can review it and not forget it! (I got this idea from a friend of mine.)
Have a spiral notebook (or maybe two or three) placed in a strategic place, where you can write down things you need to learn as you think of them. For me this would mean one in my purse, one on top of my microwave, and one at my bedside.
Schedule goal check-ins on your calendar, email, or reminder app. If you want to get through X amount of YouTube lessons, set your phone to remind you in some way to stay on track.
Find a partner to learn with you. This is a tried-and-true way to stick with something and make progress.
Make sure you are dedicating thirty minutes a day to study (usually the recommended amount for language study).
Try to journal 5-6 sentences a day in the language you are working on.
Listen to music in your target language and memorize a song or two.
Write your grocery lists in that language.
Sign up for a course, either online or through your local library.
Keep print in that language visible all over your house, especially in areas you frequent a lot. For me, that would be the kitchen! For others, it might be the toilet! Or your work-out area! Or your laptop!
Make a Pinterest board to collect quotes in that language.
Find family or friends that speak that language and ask them if you can Facetime them once a month.
Check out lots of children’s books in that language to read with your kiddos, or do a Poetry Teatime with them and select a poem to memorize together.
Let’s keep this list going in the comments, yeah?