2017 Language Goals + Resources
One of my nerdiest (and most beloved) hobbies is learning languages. I grew up in a multicultural university town and many of my friends spoke two languages. I grew up listening to Korean, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic, and it planted a seed for a lifelong love affair with foreign languages.
It has taken me until last year to figure out the most ideal ways for me to learn a language. It’s been a lot of trial and error. Acquiring a new language is different for everyone, so take what you can from my methods and supplement with what works for you.
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While my “to learn” list of languages is VERY long, here are the 4 I’m focusing on in 2017 (+a bonus language).
German – Current Level B1/B2
I’ve been learning German since I was 11 – that’s ALMOST 20 YEARS. And I hover around a B1/B2 level (for more info on language levels, visit this page). With regular study, most people can reach a B1 in a matter of months, and I did, once I started SPEAKING the language.
American schools are notorious for teaching grammar and vocabulary with no practical applications for speaking and communicating in a second language. Last year, I signed up with italki and began talking with native speakers over Skype and my ability to communicate in German skyrocketed in a very short period of time. If you use my italki link above, you get $10 toward your first language lesson. You can also read my review of italki here. I will be using italki for ALL of the languages listed here at some point.
My goal is to reach a C1 level in 2017, which would make me pretty close to fluent in German. We are planning to have a baby this year and I want to raise our children bilingual in German and English.
My German Resources for 2017:
Studio D – B1 & B2
The Studio D series is an awesome set of German textbooks that were introduced to me by two German teachers on italki. I love them, but they are notoriously hard to find. You can buy used copies at AbeBooks or get copies from Germany here. I recommend this whole series to anyone learning German on their own or with a teacher. You can schedule lessons with Daniela or Christoph, the teachers who got me started on the series. Daniela also has a great blog for German learners!
News and Blogs
In addition to Daniela’s blog above, I often read articles on Deutsche Welle.
I write to about 7 or 8 women from Switzerland, Germany, and Austria in German. It’s been a HUGE help in learning vocabulary. Find out how you can find penpals around the world.
Spanish – Current Level A1/A2
I started Spanish in the fall and reached about an A2 level, then neglected it through November and December and forgot most of what I’d learned. However, I adore Spanish and I’m excited to pick it up again.
My Spanish Resources for 2017:
French – Current Level A1
Oh, French. ::shaking my head:: I have a life-long love/hate relationship with the French language. I love the way it sounds, but it has been immensely difficult for me the past two times I’ve attempted to learn it.
I started up with French again the first week of January, and so far, I am loving it this time around. I don’t know what has changed, but, J’aime le français maintenant.
My French Resources for 2017:
Chinese – Current Level A0
Does it make me crazy that I think Chinese is easier than French? It’s just that Chinese is so LOGICAL and French is not. The tones are tricky, but I think those will just take practice, and I plan to really focus on those in the beginning with the help of a teacher from italki.
My Chinese Resources for 2017:
Chinese for Beginners: Mastering Conversational Chinese. I bought this book on a trip to North Carolina and glanced through it. It’s a good intro, and it comes with an audio CD to help with pronunciation.
Chinese Children’s Books
I picked up a number of children’s books with the Chinese characters and pinyin in them at a used book sale. I’ll be using these to increase my vocabulary and ability to recognize characters.
I haven’t really delved into all the choices for Chinese YouTube channels. What are your favorites?
BONUS: Polish – Current Level A0
When I delved into genealogy in 2016, I embarked on learning about relatives from Poland who were left neglected, aside from their names, in the family tree. Between that and reading The Lullaby of Polish Girls, I have become very interested in the Polish language. I don’t have any desire to be fluent in Polish, just conversational, and I think it will be fun to play with in 2017.
My Polish Resources for 2017:
I have used Duolingo for other languages in the past, and while it gets a little repetitive, it’s one of the better free resources available to learn a number of more unusual language choices, including Polish.
A Free Online Polish Course
I’m using Mowic Po Polsku.
What other language programs do I recommend?
Here are a few of my favorites.
Pimsleur – Improves speaking.
Muzzy BBC – Not just for kids!
BBC Languages – FREE courses for over 30 languages!
Living Language – Online and hard copy courses, very complete.
Is this the year you’re going to learn a language? What language is at the top of your list?