Well, so it’s 2015. At least the holidays are over (they’re always difficult for me, and after a very challenging 2014, especially so). Time to get back in the swing of old routines, or maybe start new ones.
(I should say that I managed to keep up with reading my zillion daily news emails in French and German through two intercontinental plane journeys and a busy, noisy holiday period with my family. That is something I’m legitimately proud of. This weekend I had my first Skype conversation exchanges of 2015, and one of them told me my German was even better than when we spoke in mid-December, the weekend before I left! I’m proud of that too.)
I think, as a person with depression and anxiety, I am particularly susceptible to decision paralysis or the tyranny of choice. In the world of language learning blogs and communities, there can be a lot of discussion about the ‘best’ way to learn, or at least ways that people like to say are inefficient, a waste of time or money, only for people who aren’t serious, etc. It can send me into a real agony of indecision: I’m already stupid/lazy/bad, I have to avoid making yet another wrong decision! And then I freeze while I try to analyze things and come up with the right plan, the right tools, the right links (and then hope I have the right amount of energy and focus to work on them, of course).
So I’ve been considering Olly’s post about sprints (here’s another great post with a similar theme). I’m especially trying to take to heart the point about how it’s okay if you pick “the wrong thing.” That’s partly because sprints are brief, and hey, you can always pick something else the next time. But also because doing something to further your language study is better than doing nothing, so in that sense, there really isn’t a bad choice.
I also appreciate the reminder to start tiny, so you don’t fail. Because, like many people, once I decided to try a sprint, I thought, oh well, here are five things I could be doing, that I’ve been wanting to focus on… let’s do them all! It’s New Year’s, it’s January, this month is gray and miserable, what would be better than to throw myself into lots of study?!
Yeah. Until I get busy or have a bad brain day and wipe out and can’t do the 77 language things I’ve decided I should be able to do daily. And then I feel terrible.
Anyway, I’m starting slowly. I’ve decided to go through Deutsche Welle’s Wieso nicht? course. Each day I’m going through an episode three times: first just listening to it, then listening while reading the transcript, then listening while reading the transcript and attempting to read along out loud. I’m only a few days in and I already feel like it’s changing (hopefully improving) my German pronunciation and awareness of the shapes one’s mouth makes when speaking German, in contrast to the way I speak English.
Is anyone else starting off 2015 with a sprint? What are you doing? Have you done any before? What kinds of activities do you find useful for sprinting? Is there anything else you’re doing to your language-learning routines to kickstart the new year?