I know myself very well: relationships are really important to me. I don't believe it's possible to learn a language inside of a sterile box. It's all about communication. Communication = relationships.
It has been an interesting experiment: how to learn a language without a set curriculum or a professional teacher. It has involved making friends with people who live 7 hours ahead of me. I have really enjoyed it, and I
think know that my collaborators have as well.
I worry that my obsessive nature has, might, or could overpower my efforts. I also don't want to become too clingy on my collaborators. After all, this little world I have created isn't just about teacher-student relationships, but real (albeit online) friendships. Navigating mixed-gender and mixed-culture friendships has been a huge challenge for me, though one that is worth the effort to succeed. It would be a waste of words to try to explain what navigating this awkward learning curve has been like for me. Suffice it to say, I have learned a lot, and not just about Czech.
I think that in order to really succeed though, need to take a brief pause in my sprint.
So far, I have only had 1 or 2 weeks "off" from my Czech studies: once when we went to Disney World, and maybe one other brief time. This really has been a "sprint." I would estimate that I spend about 3-4+ hours per day intensely focused on my Czech.
It's not really fair to do that while my kids are on summer vacation.
I came to a conclusion about 2 weeks ago when I started realizing that my relationships with these people were more valuable and important to me than the tutoring/studying/learning that I get out of them: it really isn't fair for me to expect any person to match me in my obsessive interest and drive to learn. Maybe I'm like this hyperactive puppy dog running around tirelessly catching and retrieving thousands of balls, and my owner (or the owner's family) eventually gets totally sick of it. Except, I worry that I might also be the dog-owner/ball-thrower too; I'm not sure, because I haven't gotten sick of it yet (though my family is a bit jealous of my time). I don't want to find out at what point that threshold is. My breaking point, the point at which I would decide to leave Czech forever. Of course I never want to discover what that is.
So I decided to change my language learning strategy in a few key ways:
- I decided to enroll in Charles University's online language center! I placed into level A2, which is really exciting to me. Much more about this later, I'm sure; their summer break is from July 3-September 10.
- I decided that after I complete that language learning portal thingy, maybe I will continue to study Czech in some kind of degree program somewhere, if it's even possible. That seems like very far in the future. But maybe it's not actually as far as it seems, and I like to dream big.
- I decided I'm going to take a short break from almost all of my Czech studies. I will still continue to read my scriptures in Czech, and we'll see: it's very possible I might not be able to hold myself back from everything. But I will stop some of my most aggressive efforts to skype every day, and read and write every day.
- I'm currently looking at a return date of around August 23. This is when my kids go back to school.
- When I return, I will try to find some new collaborators, while probably also keeping the old ones. We will see how that goes.
I have one last short piece of writing which I am working on, which I would like to share before going away for a while, so stay tuned.
I promise that I will return, and when I do, I will probably be even more energetic and excited about Czech than before!
Final note: I am so grateful for all the work and sacrifice my collaborators have made to help me achieve my dream of learning the language and culture of my beloved ancestors. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I couldn't have made it this far without you. I can't wait to pick this up again in a few weeks, and I hope to see you there! :-)