Welcome to Week 5 of the Kick Start Languages 10 Week Course! This blog accompanies my Week 5 YouTube video which was released yesterday so if you haven't seen that yet check it out here:
If you are still following this course and are genuinely dedicating 25 minutes a day to your language learning you are doing superbly well. Very few people who start a 10 Week course in any subject area ever get to Week 5 so you're in the minority. Top work! Keep it up!
Last week I spoke and wrote about learning a language being analogous to climbing a mountain in the sense that the most important part of any expedition was getting the kit in place. After another week of language learning I hope that you are starting to feel as though you are feeling prepared to launch into this final week of 'kit preparation' before we explode into the second half of the course next week! It is really, really important to keep reflecting back on all the progress you should now have made in the language you are learning. There should be a whole host of things that you had no idea how to say a few weeks ago that are now part of your long term memory ready to be used at a moment's notice. This is absolutely amazing and the more you reflect on the progress you have made the more you will motivate yourself to keep pushing on with your learning. It is all too easy to focus on your failures in life rather than be happy with the every day 'small wins'. However, success in any pursuit is nothing more than the massive accumulation of huge numbers of small wins. Language learning is no different so take a moment now to just bask in the glory of what you've learnt so far.
Once you're done looking back, and make sure you actually do look back and give yourself a pat on the back, it's time to look forward. This week we are focusing on how to construct the verbs 'to like' and 'to want' as well as learning how to negate verbs. Negation sounds like a complicated concept but it is nothing more than saying that you 'don't have', 'don't like', 'aren't' etc.
Once you have nailed these two new verbs and learnt how to negate verbs you will finally be able to start constructing a genuinely vast amount of sentences and questions surrounding every conceivable topic regarding what and who you are, what you have, what you like and what you want. This is also the first time that you will genuinely have been able to express your current beliefs and your future desires in the language you are learning. This is why I have described this as the final week of 'setting up the expedition' because once you really have got all of the content I've asked you to learn so far under your belt all the foundations are in place for you to start making enormous leaps forward in your language learning. However, in order to do this you will need to start thinking about what vocabulary you are going to need to start completing the embryonic sentences that you are now able to construct. This is where this course becomes extremely personal as I will now explain.
As I have said many times before this course is designed to give you all the tools you need to speak a language to the point where you can have conversations in that language without referring back to English at the end of 10 weeks. However, what I haven't really addressed so far is the question as to what these conversations are going to be about. This is because only you know the types of conversations you are likely to have in another language. This may sound a rather weird and almost spooky point but it is an absolutely critical one. No two people are identical and, to that extent, no two language courses should have identical content beyond the foundational structure of the language and topics that we all discuss every day. This is why the focus of this course has been on the structure of the language and general terms rather than specific subject related vocabulary. The exact vocabulary you are going to need to have in the language you are learning is going to depend on the types of conversations you are going to have in the language you are learning.
You might say that you can't possibly tell what type of conversation you're going to have but that would be a huge mistake. You can tell very easily based on the conversations you currently have in English. If you stop to think about it for a minute you will find that, unless you are an extremely 'well-rounded' person most of the conversations you routinely have are about a relatively narrow range of topics. I, for example, consider myself to be pretty well rounded but I would very rarely discuss anything other than:
News regarding friends and family and what I've personally been up to
Football, cricket and rugby
Birds and bird watching
Physical and mental health
Religion and philosophy
This means that I will virtually never discuss, amongst other things:
Literature of any sort
Latest technological developments
Sports that I don't actively follow
As you can see after just a couple of minutes of typing and without even really thinking about it the list of things that I never, ever speak about is far bigger than the list of things I do speak about. Now, by definition, in order to get to a 'conversational' level in a language you need to be able to have a 'conversation' in that language but that absolutely does not mean that you have to be able to have 'any' conversation in that language! This is why I think it is so ridiculous that so many beginners language course have huge sections on things like 'parts of a car'. I don't know them in English so why on Earth would I want to learn them in German?! However, on the flip side, it would be ridiculous for me not to learn the words for the various languages I now speak, some football related words and some political jargon. The same logic applies to you - if you don't like football don't bother learning about it! If, at some point, somebody starts speaking about it the worst that is going to happen is that you say 'Sorry, I don't understand, what is .... (repeat word you don't know)'. Then, if they speak English they'll tell you and if they don't they can have a go at trying to mime or explain it at which point you say 'Oh, ok, I don't like...' Then you simply move on. This happens all the time (in an albeit slightly less clunky way) in conversations you have every day in English. If somebody starts speaking about something you're not interested in you'll either change the subject or talk to somebody else (or, if you can't, you'll get bored and probably end up moaning about the person being a bore because they didn't pick up on the social cues to shut up about something you had no interest in!). So, please, please, please, don't set yourself a higher standard in a foreign language than you do in English!
So, what is it that you normally spend your time talking about? Once you've worked that out you can start to think about which nouns and verbs you are going to find most useful as you start to complete sentences about who you are, what you have, what you like and what you want! This is personalised learning at it's peak my friends and it's going to be integral to the second half of the course so if you want to get ahead of the game start thinking about it this week!
As ever, let me know how you're getting on with the course by commenting on any of our various social media platforms!
Catch you next time!