My novels for language learners

This is a list of all the novels for language learners that I have. I added German titles for books that (might) have one, so I don’t accidentally buy the same book again.

Spanish

A2

  • Requiem por un torero / Requiem für einen Torero
  • Heiße Spur auf Ibiza

B1

  • Die Spur des schwarzen Reiters
  • Escándalo en el Prado
  • La oveja negra (+ audio)
  • Los ricos también mueren (+ audio)
  • Tic, Tac … muerte!
  • El rostro de la sombra
  • Hello Goodbye
  • Casting

B2

  • Tödlicher Flamenco
  • El monje misterioso / Der unheimliche Mönch

French

A1

  • L’île de la mort

A2

  • Mord im Moulin Rouge
  • Rendez-vous mortel
  • Voyage mortel

B1

  • Der Schatz des Sonnenkönigs
  • Der Wein des Verderbens
  • Danse de la nuit

B2

  • Schüsse in Versailles
  • Échancrure

And here is a picture of some of them (I have more now):

DjxCSFEWwAEWdIt.jpg large

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Language Goals September 2018

Another month is over! I was quite busy again but I did at least a bit. Before I share my goals for September, here is what I did in August:

Language Goals August 2018 – Results

Japanese

  • Review N4 grammar (book+notes)
  • Review N4 vocab (Memrise)  ✔ 
  • Review N4 kanji (Memrise)
  • Quizzes N4 grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills)
  • Listening practice (N4/N5 material)
  • Reading practice (N4 material)
  • 264 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)

I wanted to focus a lot on Japanese because it’s only a few more months until the JLPT in December. But unfortunately things didn’t go as planned and I didn’t have a lot of time to actually sit down and do some focused studying. So I mostly stuck to what I could do on my phone in short breaks, which was mostly reviewing vocabulary and kanji as well as doing quizzes. Overall I tracked 16 hours of studying, which is not bad considering that I only used small breaks.

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos

I read a few pages of the novel but that’s it. Again, I just couldn’t really focus on something like this. I did watch quite a few youtube videos. I mostly watched videos made by Spanish native speakers where they explain grammar points or other things in Spanish. I didn’t use subtitles or anything for it and understood quite a lot, so I’m happy about this!

French

  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Listen to songs

I did both, I watched some youtube videos (French speakers) and listened to a lot of French songs! It’s a great way to keep the language in mind.

Arabic

I spent 4 weeks in Jordan so I was immersed in Arabic (Jordanian dialect). I didn’t actively study the language during the time (I explained why in my last goal post), but I did learn and experience a lot of interesting things:

  • Even though I only knew some basic words, I could pick up a lot of the daily talk between native speakers. So now I believe even more that learning vocabulary by frequency and/or learning by what’s important to you, is THE way to learn vocab, at least in the beginning.
  • Listening to native speakers a lot really helped me train my ears. I could easily pick out all the words that I knew and sometimes I even understood small sentences. So I should definitely listen more to stuff in all my languages.
  • It’s interesting how often we use the numbers from 1 to 10 in daily conversations. So I think it’s really helpful to learn them well in the beginning.
  • I learned a few simple constructions of how to form sentences but even with just a few of them I feel like I can already say a lot. But I still don’t know many words so I’m still limited to what I can say.

Language Goals September 2018

Japanese

  • Review N4 grammar (book+notes)
  • Review N4 vocab (Memrise)
  • Review N4 kanji (Memrise)
  • Quizzes N4 grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills)
  • Listening practice (N4/N5 material)
  • Reading practice (N4 material)
  • 90 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)

My goals for Japanese will be the same as last month, but I’m reducing the new kanji goal to 90. I don’t need them for the JLPT so there’s no need to learn so many in just one month. I really, really need to focus on filling the N4 grammar gaps (which are a lot!) and doing a lot more listening and reading practice. Japanese will be my main focus for the next 3 months.

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Listening practice (podcasts etc.)

Spanish will be my secondary focus this month, but I won’t do a lot of active studying. I want to try to read through my Spanish novel and otherwise continue watching youtube videos and adding more listening practice like podcasts.

French

  • Watch Youtube video
  • Listen to songs

Again no active studying for French, but I want to keep listening to songs and watching some videos.

Irish

New language project!! I actually don’t want to start a new language now, especially not a complex language… but Future Learn is going to restart their free Irish courses and Irish 101 starts in September. Since I don’t know if they will offer the courses again from the beginning in the future, I will take them now. It’s one course per month and about 4 hours per week, so it should be doable. They look like rather slow paced courses and you also learn something about the culture, so I think it will be fine to have this as a small side project. I don’t really have a goal for this language (I might just do some dabbling) so I’m fine with taking it very slowly.

 

Language Goals August 2018

I decided to restructure my language goal posts and put the goals of all languages back into just one post. It’s easier and more efficient than making an extra post for Japanese. Plus I realized that I will never be able to focus on just one language – I just like doing several languages at the same time, even if it’s just a bit so I don’t forget everything.

Japanese

  • Review N4 grammar (book+notes)
  • Review N4 vocab (Memrise)
  • Review N4 kanji (Memrise)
  • Quizzes N4 grammar/kanji/vocab (JPDrills)
  • Listening practice (N4/N5 material)
  • Reading practice (N4 material)
  • 264 Kanji (Heisig + Kanji Study App)

My main focus for the rest of the year will definitely be Japanese because I plan to take the JLPT in December (N4 level). So most of what I will do in August will be aimed at practicing N4 stuff. I already went over the grammar, the vocab, and the kanji at the beginning of the year. But I need a lot of practice.

So I will review the grammar notes I made, review the vocab and kanji on Memrise, and try to do a lot of quizzes on JPDrills.com. I also want to try and get some listening practice at least 3-4 times a week. I downloaded some apps that have JLPT tests and I will start with those first. Same for reading, I really need to start reading much more now.

Besides this I will try to finally finish the Heisig kanji… apparently there are still 264 left. This is quite a lot so let’s see how far I will get this month.

Spanish

  • Spanish novel (A2 level)
  • Watch Youtube videos

I don’t plan to actually study anything in Spanish this month. I just want to do some fun stuff. I bought a lot of Spanish and French novels (different levels) and I will try to read one of them. I will pick one that’s A2 level, so I shouldn’t really have problems reading it. Besides this, I will only watch some videos.

French

  • Watch Youtube videos
  • Listen to songs

Also no real studying planned for French (I really need a break from studying French and Spanish). So I will only watch some videos and listen to songs. There are so many great French songs!

Arabic

I dabbled a bit in Arabic before, but gave up for several reasons. I don’t plan on really starting with the language now (I really don’t have time for a complex language at the moment and I want to focus on my other languages) but I will spend almost 4 weeks in Jordan in August, so I thought this would be a great chance to learn at least some basic stuff so I can have some simple conversations with native speakers. I’m not setting any real goals for this, I just want to enjoy the language a bit 🙂 And I’m actually pretty excited about it!

 

Review of my French A2 course

From April to July I went to a French A2 course. My first impression of it was rather bad, but it got better after a while.

Actually not many people dropped the course, even at the end we were 17 (it was 23 at the beginning). Sometimes I still felt like the teacher took people randomly and some people could say a lot while I sometimes couldn’t say much, but I guess after a while I didn’t care much because I was too tired of my language studies anyway.

While in the beginning I felt like the teacher made people look bad sometimes, this stopped happening. Actually she’s a really nice person, though can also be quite strict sometimes (not necessarily a bad thing). And I was very impressed when I found out that she’s still teaching students even though she retired some years ago.

We had some really boring topics in the book, which our teacher liked a lot though, so sometimes it was really hard for me to stay motivated. I still tried my best and wrote a lot in our written assignments. The best moment for me was when I had to read the biography I wrote and she was praising it a lot because she found that it was written really well.

I also really appreciate that she offered one additional class on a Saturday because our regular class had to be canceled a lot during the semester (we have soooo many public holidays on Thursdays during spring…). Sadly, in the end we still couldn’t completely finish the book.

The final exam was okay. The listening comprehension part was fine, but some of it was rather hard. And they talked so fast for A2 level! There was no grammar part even though she said there would be, so I was a bit annoyed that I wasted time on some last minute learning (which I will forget anyway because it was just cramming stuff into my short term memory). Instead we had 2 text understanding tasks (not very hard) and then 2 text production tasks (about boring topics, yay).

And I made a huge mistake: I didn’t take a watch with me. I thought it wouldn’t be a problem because I usually work quickly through exams but this time I was really surprised when she said we’d only have 5 minutes left (I wasn’t slow, I just wrote much more than was necessary…). Which means that I couldn’t proofread everything again so I probably have a millions of mistakes. I’m pretty mad about this and I will definitely always take a watch with me now. Never underestimate things!

Overall I’m pretty happy with the course and I did learn a lot in these 3 months.

I don’t have any immediate plans for how to continue with French. For now I will take a small break because I have other languages to focus on. I’m also not sure I want to continue learning in a classroom setting. While I really enjoyed it in my French A1 course, I found it sometimes a bit annoying now, especially because you have to do what’s in the book and some topics are just boring. So after my break I will probably try to explore some other learning strategies and resources.

Language Learning Burnout

Learning languages is not easy. It takes a lot of time, dedication, and regular practise. Sometimes things are hard to understand and it can take a long time to remember and apply them correctly. Often things can be very frustrating. Spending much time on it, not feeling like progressing, getting frustrated etc. can make you feel burned out after a while. In the worst case people just stop learning the language and never pick it up again.

I feel like I’m currently heading towards a language learning burnout myself. Why? Let’s see…

  • I don’t feel very motivated anymore.
  • I’ve been doing the bare minimum for a few weeks.
  • I started not doing my homework for my language classes (or only few parts and like either the day before or right before class).
  • Sometimes I really have to force myself to do something.
  • I’m frustrated because I feel like I’m not progressing at all.

It’s actually not surprising in my current situation. I just have way too many things to do, not enough time to focus on anything, not enought time to just enjoy the process of language learning. My current situation is like this:

  • I’m currently learning 3 languages at the same time. I wanted to focus on Japanese only for a while, but I thought since I have the chance to go to free Spanish and French courses, I should just use this chance. And I kind of need the certificates but now I found out that I probably won’t get them on time when I actually need them.
  • I thought I had enough time for 3 languages and in the first 1-2 months it was fine and I could do quite a bit. But now things are getting worse.
  • There’s always a lot of stuff to do for my classes. I can’t progress at my own pace. Especially when they want us to submit homework. It also means I can’t do many other things that might be more fun.
  • I have a lot more other work to do now, compared to 1-2 months ago. A lot of this work is also very important for my future, so I definitely have to focus on this.
  • Usually language classes help me a lot. The courses now are not bad and do help, but sometimes they can be very frustrating.
  • We do a lot of boring stuff in class and it just makes me feel really tired when I’m just thinking about doing it.
  • I feel like my Spanish is getting worse instead of getting better.
  • I want to take the JLPT N4 in December but I haven’t done much in the last few months.

The best solution would be to quit Spanish and French and just focus on Japanese again. But I kind of need the certificates, so I don’t want to quit when I’m almost at the end of the courses anyway. It’s only 3 more weeks until the final exams and then it’s over.

Another problem for me is that just focusing on only one language can be a bit boring sometimes and I like some variation. Also when I’m frustrated with one language I can do something in another language.

So I probably won’t drop these languages immediately but I will definitely restructure my studies in 3 weeks:

  • Main focus on Japanese with the goal to take the N4 in December.
  • Secondary focus on Spanish. But instead of doing boring exercises I will mostly read (short stories for beginners, for level A2/B1).
  • Not sure what to do with French yet. I will probably take a break or maybe I will also just read a bit.

There are a lot of things that I’ve learned during the last few months and that will hopefully help me in the future with my learning:

  • It’s important to find interesting material to keep you motivated. Nothing is worse than doing boring stuff.
  • Streaks are not important. I still have my Duolingo streak from day 1 but I lost a lot of streaks in other apps and I’m planning on purposely breaking my longest Memrise streak (the one in the app) soon so I will have less pressure there.
  • Doing fun stuff can really help find more motivation. Listening to songs, watching videos etc. I need to include these things much more.
  • Not doing much on some days is okay. Taking a break is okay.

Can’t wait until the 3 weeks are over and I can finally stucture my language learning studies completely according to what I want.