So here we are at the end of my second week of trying to learn Czech.
Realizations this week
I realized for the first time the extent to which google translate can fail me. I think it has a really hard time with cases. And so do I.
But it is a really difficult dilemma. I am basically faced with the entirety of Czech grammar and I want to learn it all at once. But I can't do that. I just do not have a photographic Sherlock-like memory. My most useful tool, my ears, which are pretty good, are less useful in this self-practice, self-guided study, but even they are not perfect at imprinting memories into my brain.
I decided that I needed to really focus on finding a fun way to gain some vocabulary. You can't understand grammar without sentences and you can't build sentences without words. So I've been creating tons of flashcards on this site, and just practicing them. Rote memorizing all kinds of vocabulary, gleaned from sources that make me happy.
What makes me happy? Beautiful stories that are authentic and have a happy ending. So fairy tales and religious talks, opposites sites of the truth spectrum I guess, haha.
Because what is the point if it is not fun? If I am not happy, if I get bored, then I will not want to do it.
How do I feel about my progress:
Honestly, right now I feel very discouraged. I read this guy's blog post about it and in my opinion he sounds like an egocentric snot (but what would you expect with a domain name like "fluent in 3 months." Yeah, good for you. I'm really sure that you "mastered" Czech in three EXCUSE ME two months.
I totally understand the "it's not as hard as you think it is" attitude, and I am not against that per se. Just the idea that my beautiful Czech heritage and language can be captured in casual study in only 3 months; that is just super insulting and ethnocentric. But actually, the attitude of confidence is the precise key to my success both as a study abroad student in France and later in Jordan. I just "faked" confidence in all situations. I just pretended to not be afraid (holy crap, today I would be peeing my pants in some of the situations I found myself in while as single young 20 year old in Jordan. I can't believe I had that chutzpah. Or maybe it was just naiveté). Confidence totally works to help you learn languages, but probably this is because it displaces your anxiety so thoroughly.
The thing is, I don't want to be a "proud" language learner. I want to be really honest and genuine. I don't want to fake knowing it. I want to know that I know it.
So where I am really struggling is finding ways to get the third part of my language learning trifecta, the "small victories." I practice persistently (my whole family will tell you that! Actually, right now, my jaw aches from practicing reading Czech. I think this language uses muscles that my body is unused to, haha), and I am finding ways to get excellent feedback (the internet is awesome). But the small victories. How can I increase these?
The plan going forward:
- I'm really excited to have found several enthusiastic Czechs who are interested in exchanging language practice. We will see how that goes. I am always interested in finding new people, and would gladly help with English conversation practice, so if there is anybody out there actually reading this boring blog, hey, shoot me an email! Note to self: probably I should put that on a page somewhere, in Czech...things for later...
- I don't think that I can give myself a "schedule" per se, because that is somehow really restricting. But instead I can make a vague, tentative plan for what I will do each week, and incorporate my small victories therein somehow. Maybe simply accomplishing the task should count as the victory, not just accomplishing it perfectly. Somehow, writing this on a public blog is something of a victory for me. At least it is super motivating. Blogging and vlogging are very good mediums for me.
Here is a link to Jana Harperová's blog. I think she did a great job, and I like her učebnice. (I should probably email her to let her know how I am using her posts. I think that would make her happy.)
Here is what I hope to do this week:
I am just going to start working my way through her blog, writing responses to her posts on my blog. I hope to get through these this week (it may or may not happen):
I will try to get through a few chapters in her book, memorizing those grammar concepts.
I will try to listen to some articles on Radio Praha to see if I can understand what they are talking about.
I will watch the film tři oříšky pro Popelku and write about it. It looks like a classic that I would really enjoy, and comes highly recommended.