Perspective Collective is a series of articles that aims to widen the lens of language learning by highlighting the approaches and ideas of successful language learners across the globe.
I’ve invited several language bloggers who I admire to answer the following six questions. It is my pleasure to feature the following contribution from Ellen Jovin of Words & Worlds of New York.
What language(s) do you know?
First, thank you for this series, Amy; it has been a lot of fun to read. “Know” is a word that makes me squirmy. I suppose I know English, my native tongue, pretty well by now, though I am constantly discovering new things about it! I am highly functional in German, Spanish, and French. I have gotten my Italian to a fairly high level at least a couple of times now, but it doesn’t stick as well as the others, so I keep having to revive it for conversational use.
I don’t have a whole lot of language fidelity at present. I am currently studying the four above-mentioned European languages, as well as Portuguese and Arabic. With Arabic, I am attempting to get a better sense of some key differences between Modern Standard and Levantine, and will soon take a brief look at Egyptian Arabic.
What is your language learning style?
I love grammar books, Pimsleur’s audio lessons, grammar books, flashcards, vocabulary books, vocabulary audio lessons, and did I mention grammar books? I don’t like video instruction—too slow.
How do you stay motivated?
I love grammar and language so much that I feel pretty motivated almost all of the time. When I get frustrated or my brain is tired, switching learning methods or languages helps. For example, if I am getting sick of vocabulary, I switch to a book. If I’m sick of a book, I switch to Pimsleur. If I’m sick of Portuguese, I switch to Arabic. Most days I use multiple methods for learning.
I also have Pimsleur and VocabuLearn lessons with me on runs, in the laundry room, on trips to the grocery store, on the subway, while washing dishes, etc., so studying doesn’t have to get in the way of other basic life obligations.
What is your advice to language learners just getting started?
It is so important to pick high-quality, well-paced study materials that suit your learning style. That is in part why I am bent on reviewing what is out there, because there is, quite frankly, a lot of overhyped junk making false promises that just ends up frustrating people.
Second, I love the idea of linking learning goals to environment. Practicing on a shopkeeper (if the person is amendable) or neighbor or colleague, and seeing the steady improvement with each encounter, is exhilarating. One of the most exciting moments in my language-learning undertakings of recent years came when I was finally able to communicate with the Italian in-laws of my husband’s sister. I Had met them at her wedding, and seen them numerous times over the years since then—but until 2010 we couldn’t communicate at all. Gesticulating and smiling: rather exhausting and completely unilluminating. But then I studied my head off for three months straight, sometimes more than eight hours a day, and the next time I was in Italy, I found myself talking and laughing with them in Italian! The in-laws were happy, it seemed, and I was beside myself with joy.
Would you like to be a part of the Perspective Collective on Language Boat? Email your answers to the six questions above to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for being a contributing member in the Language Boat community! Show your love by subscribing to the blog. Thanks for reading!
- Perspective Collective | Daniella (The Wannabe Polyglot) (languageboat.com)
- Perspective Collective | Laura Davies (languageboat.com)
- Perspective Collective | Ron (Language Surfer) (languageboat.com)
- Perspective Collective | Sean L. Young (languageboat.com)
- Perspective Collective | y t (languageboat.com)
- Newsletter | November 2013 (languageboat.com)
- I Can’t Believe How Much I Like This Online Language Learning Website! (languageboat.com)