Saturday, January 14, 2017

5: Meta

Some thoughts about my learning so far:

My professor showed me an interesting graph about language learning that was measured by some really interesting means that included measuring cortisol levels in hair (!) and heart rate and blood pressure during oral proficiency interviews, etc. I don’t really have the ability or patience to explain all of the methodology here. But basically, this graph measures enjoyment, anxiety, and proficiency in foreign language acquisition.

This is a slide from the presentation. Notice that as you progress from a “low intermediate” level to an “advanced” level, your enjoyment goes up while your anxiety goes down. EXCEPT at the beginning. My professor said the sample size was not very large, and that the study should be done again to check for that.

But it makes intuitive sense to me that right at the beginning of your language study your enjoyment will slightly decrease while your anxiety slightly increases.

I kind of feel that way right now.

Basically, I feel like most of the times this week when I was confronted with opportunities to write Czech, I just felt so exhausted that I caved in and opened a tab with google translate.

Even if I’m not copy and pasting it, even if I’m using it somewhat intelligently with another tab open with the příručka, even if I know full well that there is a huge abundance of vocabulary words that I just really do not have yet, and that I have to start somewhere to obtain them...these are all somewhat pithy excuses. I need to do better at committing to NOT use a translator. Maybe I can use it as a dictionary, but not as a TRANSLATOR.

That is my goal next week. To continue my efforts, but to really avoid using google translate as a translator.

I totally “get” it, though. It’s exhausting. I had some fun language practice exchange over skype this week, and my Czech counterparts know exactly what I’m talking about, the exhaustion from making what feels like gargantuan efforts to speak and think in your nonnative tongue. It is really hard.

While I achieved almost all of my goals this week, the one I failed to do was read the newspaper. I will do better about that next week, I hope.

What I’m really grateful for was a conscientious language learning buddy who “gets” my desire to read pohádky, but directed me towards some less archaic texts. That was extremely helpful. It is very difficult as a foreigner to find short, interesting texts. And of course, there is a secondary goal for reading pohádky, that being one of gaining cultural knowledge. Plus they’re really interesting and fun to tell my kids. Though my Czech friends keep warning me that some of them are really, really dark and scary. I will have to watch out for that, I guess. Our kids have been thoroughly Disneyfied. I don’t know if they will be able to handle the scariness, especially since my 6 year old cried (out of fear) when I read him “O Smoličkovi”, when the poor boy was put on the platter and was just about to be put into the oven.

A good, productive week. Next week, my goal is to not use google translate as a translator, but only as a dictionary.  

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