You are about to read my bad experience in language learning. My initial plan did not happen as what it was supposed to be. The lesson here is that you need to have more than one plan for everything you decide will do, including your commitment to learn a new language. And you need to be prepared mentally if the consequence is disappointment.
It is normal to be disappointed if you don’t reach a certain level you want in your language learning, it is not the end yet! Successful language learning needs persistence and commitment. According to the "Law of Attraction" that I read from a book recently, you receive what you give. If you think positively, you get positive result. Thus, I am always grateful for whichever level in language learning that I have achieved.
Going Home For Chinese New Year HolidayAs you might have known, this month is the month of Italki Language Challenge. I wrote in previous articles that I shall learn Cantonese in this challenge because of several considerations, such as the timezone of where Cantonese is spoken, availability of learning materials, and personal interest because I have relatives in Hong Kong and I am 1/4 Cantonese.
Before going home to celebrate Chinese New Year in Indonesia, I have contacted a Cantonese tutor, and we have agreed on having the courses during my vacation. I used to have so much free time at home during the day, but not this time! My schedule at home was surprisingly occupied with visiting relatives and friends, preparing for Chinese New Year, going to the bank, temple, etc., which make me difficult to find time for language courses. More or less at the same time, the Cantonese tutor did not reply me anymore.
Catching Up On Lost Learning ScheduleTo make long story short, I finished my vacation and returned to Taiwan by the third week of this month. Then, I quickly re-search for another Cantonese tutor. On one hand, I have chosen to learn Cantonese in this challenge, and on the other hand, I was also competing with other participants to accumulate hours of learning. I know that it is not good to learn a language for longer hour in one day that what is considered enough, so I decided to take other language courses too.
My second choice of language goes to Russian. Before coming up with Cantonese as the language for Italki Language Challenge, I have also considered about learning Russian, which I also mentioned in previous articles. Russian is a major language for international affairs, and it is popular enough to have abundant learning materials available on the internet.
Use Foreign Languages To Learn Foreign LanguagesI use Mandarin to learn Cantonese since, I believe, almost all Cantonese speakers also speak Mandarin. Mandarin is the 4th language that I can speak fluently besides English, and Indonesian and Hokkien, which are my native languages. And I need to use English to learn Russian, unless the Russian tutor knows other languages that I know, but such chance is very low.
I have taken courses with Russian tutors who speak very little English, and it was difficult to learn. I could not follow the lesson besides asking "Can you repeat that?" Or " Can you write it down?" all the time. I have used all of my trial lessons, so I bet my luck by taking the course. If it is good, I continue with the same tutor. If not, I shall keep on searching for another.
Luckily, I found a Cantonese tutor from Guang Dong province in China. His name is Jacob, a university student majoring in Spanish. With his background in language, he certainly knows how hard it is to learn a new language and how to tackle that obstacle. Jacob also speaks English very well. In fact, we spoke a mix of English and Mandarin during the lesson.
Meanwhile, my Russian tutor is a native of Moscow who is studying Network Communications. His name is Denis. We spoke English all the time during the lesson, and Denis speaks English very well. He is very interactive in teaching, and he is a funny guy.
How Much Have I Learned?One month for language learning is certainly not enough to reach fluency, even for languages that you are familiar with. The advantage of learning a language similar with the one you have known is that you would be able to understand certain amount of words even without learning them.
The more courses I took, the more I have learned because we always talked about different subjects during the lessons. Cantonese is pretty easy to follow because of its similarity with Mandarin, but the biggest obstacle in Russian is constructing sentences because Russian grammar is no joke for me. However, I find reading and listening Russian easier than speaking and writing.
How was your Italki Language Challenge?