2013 Goals (C): Languages

My overall goal for languages is to use my work, lunch and travel time to learn as much as possible. I am limiting myself to what can be done with my brain and my resources away from home. I am not to spend home time worrying about anything language-related or stressing about missed targets! If I have genuinely spare time and genuinely want to do something I can, but only to get ahead, not to catch up.

My concrete goals in this category follow on from what I’ve been working on in 2012, and some are drawn from the 10-year cascading language matrix (oooh matrix!) and will hopefully make me feel like I’m moving forward with new skills. At the moment I have the following ten sub-goals:

  • Maintaining the base-line: read at least one book in each of my existing languages (French, Japanese, German). The books I have lined up to start with are:  Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours by Jules Verne, the second part of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse.
    • Monthly/weekly sub-goals set by numbers of pages.
  • Maintaining the base-line: retain the ability to write all the kanji I’ve learned so far (up to level 3) from the readings/meanings.
    • Regular testing of all the existing kanji – on a weekly cycle for the first quarter. Test 330 each work day from a randomised list and practice incorrect ones on the train.
  • Japanese :: Writing: Learn the rest of the standard kanji (常用漢字)
    • Weekly breakdown: 12 new kanji to learn, daily practice on work days and continue to “cross-train” with readings and compounds
  • Japanese :: Speaking: find someone to practice keigo/business speaking with, and aim to establish regular practice sessions. I have a couple of ideas for who at work might be prepared to do this with me but still have approach and establish a structure for this.
    • Target is one session a fortnight on average, so aim for 24 sessions for the year
  • French :: Writing: I need to start using French as well as just reading it, so I’m setting myself a challenge to write a little bit each week. My initial idea is to use a journal format reviewing what I’ve done during the week, how I feel at the moment, and what I’m planning/looking forward to in the week ahead – this will give me multi-tense practice and provide cross-over vocab from week to week. I’d have the option of including this with my weekly scrapbooking or blogging.
    • Spend 30 minutes each week writing in French.
  • German :: Writing: This is the next phase after writing. I am going to ease myself in as my friend’s mum (who is German) has agreed to exchange postcards, which will be fun!
    • Write postcards and reply promptly (still to be arranged as to how often)
  • German :: Vocabulary: work with flashcards to increase my vocabulary.
    • Use flashcards to learn the vocabulary I obtain each week from reading.
  • German :: Listening: start listening to my basic CDs to improve my comprehension.
    • At least one weekly listening session on the walk to work.
  • Russian :: Reading: Russian is my focus-language for 2013. I’m going to be reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and working the vocab flashcards for all they’re worth! I would dearly love to be able to read in Russian the way I can read in German by the end of the year – that would be awesome. It’s going to be a lot of work though and probably the biggest task on this list. The one good thing is that I know it *will* get easier as time goes on!
    • Read as much as possible (weekly target on average is 14 pages I think but I won’t be starting off with that many!) and dedicate morning train time to drilling flashcards.
  • Incidental languages: I’d like to find half an hour a week to work on languages other than the above if I can, got some fun ideas for this!

I have one additional goal under this category which is not language-related but contributes to my 10-year professional plan:

  • Pass my F9 Financial Management exam and get part-qualified! This is being sponsored by work so it kind of needs to happen, hopefully in relatively pain-free half-hour sessions each work-day!
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2 thoughts on “2013 Goals (C): Languages

  1. Very impressed! I have long had goals to improve my Latin and French, but they always seem to get shoved to the back burner…

    • Yeah, it’s easy to let them go year after year and I’ve been the same too. It’s only really this year that I’ve found the trick of picking specific, smaller tasks – get through a certain book or textbook, learn a certain vocab list, work on a particular skill, etc. That seems to fit much more easily around the rest of life!

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