Learn a language this summer.
Welcome to The 5-Week Linguist Show. It’s summer. So, it’s really been a really challenging time for the entire world, and I know so many people, it’s been so much more challenging for than others, but not to discount any of that but it’s changed all of our lives. I think that one area that it’s really changed is travel. I’m a passionate traveler. I love to soak up language and culture every summer. I love to go live life in a different place. I love to see the world. I spend a lot of my time teaching and speaking, and I really enjoy it, but I need to go fill my cup. For me, that’s travel. That’s language. That’s museums. That’s seeing history, the stuff that I’ve read about. That’s connecting with people from other countries and cultures and successfully doing languages, and so that’s something that I haven’t been doing. Even if it’s just for a weekend, but summertime is really that time for me to fill up my cup.
On a very practical level, my summertimes have been used to really intensely study languages, and I talk about that in length in another episode why five weeks. There’s a reason that this is called The 5-Week Linguist Show. For very specific reasons, I had uninterrupted time, and so using five weeks during the summer has helped me make huge language gains for very practical reasons in my quest to have a very, very high level of Spanish proficiency, to be able to communicate in French, and have some skills in Japanese and Korean when I spent many years in Asia.
On another practical level, those beginning language tasks really bring me the best ideas that I get to bring back to my classroom, right? This language study really helps me keep fresh and through the lens of a learner, so they’re really important. What’s frustrating? What works? What’s good? What’s necessary but frustrating? What’s not necessary but frustrating and I can get rid of it? What’s really fun? What’s really engaging? So, it’s a really important time for me.
Learn a language this summer: be flexible.
My plans last summer were to study in Italy. So, I was doing Italian for quite a while. I’ll go back to it. I hit that B2 level barely, and I’m going to talk to you over the next five weeks about some really practical ways to be able to use some of these alternative ways, ways that are alternative to traveling, and we will talk about traveling in another episode in this series. So, five weeks really was my time not teaching to be able to learn languages, travel, practice, and create activities for my students and materials for my students. That, in turn, made my school years easier and made the lessons better.
My plans were to go to Italy, and of course, that was canceled by the pandemic. The summer before, I spent five weeks in Paris. It was amazing. I’ve done five weeks in Madrid. I’ve done five weeks of listening to audiobooks and losing weight, spending a lot of time walking. I’ve spent five weeks taking classes. I’ve spent five weeks writing. I’ve spent five weeks in magazines, pleasure reading, but I want to share with you, from those plans, something that you can do for yourself in the next five weeks.
Learn a language this summer: why 5 weeks.
So, one of the things that I discovered throughout the years is that five weeks is a perfect amount of time to be able to see something through and have something fresh to look forward to. So, language study can be really tedious and hard, and I think everybody knows that. Polyglots are not different. At least, I’m not. If somebody else is, please tell me that some of the work, it can be hard work. Some of the hard work, it’s really necessary. You’ve got to persevere. You’ve got to keep with it. You can’t just stop. So, five weeks is able … There’s always an end in sight, and then there’s always something fresh to look forward to.
So, I wanted to share with you over the next five weeks, some really practical ways for you to be able to learn languages this summer on your own. I also wanted to share with you a little bit about time and languages. So, if you’re just getting started out in a language, then I wouldn’t recommend more than half an hour a day. So, plan something that would take no more than sort of half an hour a day and something that you’re not going to quit, right? Let’s be realistic. Me, the avid language lover, very rarely or not nearly as much as I like gets to actually sit down and do studying. Summertime is one of my times that I can do something like that because I’m busy otherwise.
Learn a language this summer: double duty.
So, a lot of my language learning is all about double duty, right? So, I can walk and do a lesson. I can clean out my closets and do a lesson. I can … Fill in the blank, and do a lesson. When I taught at Sejong University in Seoul, my commute was half an hour, so that’s when I did a lesson was on my commute. That way, I knew a bit of Korean, a little bit more every day. I got off the subway. I read the subway signs. That was another part of my lesson, and that was done. I felt productive. I felt that those things were done. I didn’t feel that it was taking up time I didn’t have. It was a productive way to use my commute.
So, think about that if you’re an absolute beginner, so something that fits into your day that isn’t going to feel like a burden. I’m talking about it here, because I think it’s really critically important. If you can make your own sentences, then you’ve done a lot of the hard work already. So, think about something that you would really, really enjoy doing over the next five weeks. I want you to kind of jot down 10 ideas of things that would really bring you pleasure, that would really be enjoyable. Some of the things that come to mind right now when I think about not being able to travel, not being in Italy like I want to be, and I’m working on my Japanese now, is sitting on my balcony, in my chair with a hot cup of coffee, with my feet up, knowing I don’t have to commute and going in and doing my Pimsleur lesson while I clean the house, and doing Italki a couple of days a week.
Learn a language this summer: make the plan.
That’s the plan right now. That’s the plan for the five weeks, to improve by doing just a simple, no more than half an hour a day, except for the days that I have Italki. Actually, I’m going to do languages every day this summer, I think, as it permits. So, think about that. That makes me really happy. I think about my house being clean, and the whole day is ahead of me. I don’t have to drive to work. Two really important things are off my chest. They’re done, and I can do whatever I want for the rest of the day.
So, next week, we’re going to talk about reading, which I talk about a lot, but I’m going to talk about some paper and pencil tools to understand as well as some places to find reading, and we’ll also talk about ways to get started on some of these tools and as well as some suggestions, if you teach languages, for your students. People always ask me about that. How do I keep up my language skills over the summer? How do I improve? These are the things that I share with them. Tell me about what your idea of languages, of something that really excites you about learning languages are, something that makes you really happy. Is it being on the beach and reading a great magazine in the target language culture? What is it? Let me know. Until next time.
Thank you for listening to The 5-Week Linguist Show with Janina Klimas. Join us each week here, and visit us at reallifelanguage.com/reallifelanguageblog for more resources for learning and teaching languages.
Looking for more resources? Speak any language: crash course week 4