Language learning laid bare – what happens when life gets in the way?

Our more regular readers might have noticed we’ve been a bit quiet recently, but don’t worry, we haven’t given up on our language learning challenges! As with so many hobby projects, the twists and turns of life have got in the way so we’ve slowed down our learning pace a bit and I wanted to share our

Learning a language can feel like a roller coaster of highs and lows, jump on and enjoy the ride!

experience with you of approaching language learning as more of a marathon than a sprint. There are lots of bloggers and language learning gurus guiding people on how to speed up the learning process and achieve fluency in just a few months, which is refreshingly daring but not always realistic for people working full time and can leave learners feeling a sense of failure when three months is up and they’re still working on conjugating the past tense!

After reading Benny Lewis’ Fluent in 3 Months last year, I was inspired to launch my own crusade for fluency in Portuguese in 3 months back in September 2017. Shortly afterwards Iain and I got engaged (cheesy photo featured) I started a new, busy full time job and then in early in 2018 bought and moved into our first home together, which needed some renovation work doing. Needless to say, alongside a full time job and trying to maintain friendships, hobbies, housework, wedding planning and sleep, my Portuguese quest has definitely suffered!

However, I want to say that THIS IS OKAY. Most of us will pick up a language at a much more leisurely pace over time through classes, meet up groups and holidays that fit in around their other commitments, in fact, that’s how I learnt French and Russian. Rather than the route towards fluency feeling like a swirling, gushing waterfall, I prefer a more meandering, smooth pace. I believe that as language learners, we should focus on the journey towards fluency and how it enriches our lives and experience of the world, other cultures and throws open new aspects of ourselves that we had never before been able to express. So, I’m here to say that whether you learn over three months or three years, the learning journey never ends and we should be more focused on communicating successfully than the time it takes to do so.

Portuguese map puzzle
Portuguese is an official language in 10 countries

I have now picked up my Portuguese studies again and am giving myself until the end of the summer 2018 to feel confident communicating in Portuguese and holding a basic conversation. I have recently bought a new grammar book and have picked up daily Duolingo sessions for fun and to maintain momentum. Duolingo has recently introduced the new club feature and levels to keep it interesting. Clubs allows you to chat with other learners, take part in mini challenges and use the language in a fun way. Opening up levels keeps

the variety interesting and also allows me to focus on particular aspects that I want to work on. Watch this space!Duolingo logo

Tell us – have you had a similar experience with language learning? Do you prefer a sprint or a marathon pace of learning? As always, share your story below and join the conversation on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages

 

Introducing… Clare

Clare from Lingua Centra
At a rooftop terrace bar in Rome

I’ve been a language lover since an early age when a school dinner lady taught me how to count to ten in French during a lunch break at the age of 6! Now I speak four languages (English, French, Russian and British Sign Language) and am working on my fifth (Portuguese) and am keen to discuss and share my experiences with others on the journey of learning or mastering a language.

I started learning BSL age 11 when I attended a language lunch club at school to learn how to communicate with Deaf peers who were integrated into some of my classes. I’m now fluent and regularly attend events in London with Deaf friends as I can’t get enough of this visual-spatial language and being able to express myself without saying a word.

I started learning French at secondary school aged 11 and then picked up Russian for GCSE and continued both at The University of Exeter where I was social secretary for the Russian Society (more on this another time!). I lived in Russia for a year as part of my uni course, where I learnt a lot about language, culture and the ‘sink or swim’ feeling of being totally immersed in a language. During the year, I spent many an evening in cocktail and shisha bars with Iain on a mission to test out what we’d learnt in the classroom with our Russian friends who, luckily for us, were all very patient and supportive despite our limited Russian..!

Since graduating, I’ve regained my motivation for studying languages for the pure pleasure of traveling and socialising and have become much more focused on communication as a goal, rather than working towards an exam. This passion for raising the profile of language learning in the UK and unlocking languages to link people across the globe is why we established Lingua Centra. Through our website we are compiling a growing directory of language schools to help fellow linguists of any level or proficiency learn at home or abroad as well as listing other resources for you to realise the Lingua Centra mission that anyone, anywhere, on any budget can learn any language.

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to join the discussion and share your top tips for learning! @LinguaCentra