What's working: Mentorship and Omuzanyo!

After much thinking, some planning, and a little anxiety, I finally had my first conversation with my language mentor last Friday. It was overall a great experience - I think I gained more in that one hour than I have in my weeks of study to date. 

My mentor, who teaches Luganda professionally, was ready to jump right into a traditional teacher/student relationship as soon as we connected on Skype. I asked him if it was alright if I discussed with him this course, my goals, my needs, and my prior experiences with learning Luganda. Of course, he said, and we discussed those things for the first part of our conversation. Though it felt uncomfortable to redirect him, I believe it was important to set the tone as being a little different than a traditional class setting, and to flag right away that I might be a bit of a different student. Indeed, throughout the rest of the conversation, we both referred back to the original discussion when necessary. It was just one small step, but I am hopeful that it will make an impact on the quality of our time together.

The actual language practice with my mentor was great. He would say aloud a phrase in Luganda, provide me with the translation, and have me say it. Then we would repeat many times, back and forth. He gently would correct my pronunciation. After repetition, we would take on one line at a time, practicing conversation. We started with greetings, and I learned a good number of new phrases, especially for informal settings. Then, he pushed me to construct short sentences of introduction. Very quickly, he was prodding me to change the subject of the introduction, so by the end, with a lot of support, I was introducing him to my husband, my sister, my father. It was a real rush to feel myself learning so much so quickly.

I am excited (and still a little nervous) for our next lesson on Friday. I have been working to fully absorb all that we went over last week, while still pushing myself to do more independent learning. 

In addition to the success I feel after the time with my mentor, after two weeks of Omuzanyo, I have to say that it is definitely working for me. Simply quantifying the time and activities that I do every day is heightening my awareness of the effort I am (or am not) putting into my language study. For week 2 of Omuzanyo, I didn't reach my goal. However, I am finding that having a lofty goals is definitely helping me try to put in more time. I am going to modify the point system going forward to encompass some of what I've learned about what is an effective use of time for me.

Here is the updated system:

5 minutes of Quizlet games: 1 point
30 minutes of listening to the radio: 1 point
Review of 1 Bukkede news article: 1 point
10 minutes of actively watching a video: 2 points
30 minutes of lesson work/worksheet activities: 4 points
15 minutes of sentence drilling: 4 points
5 sentence note to a friend: 5 points
1 hour mentorship time: 10 points

The goal is still to reach 70 points, which averages to 10 points/day.

Additionally, I'm using the tracking of points as an exercise in language use, always counting my daily total using Luganda number words, keeping track of the day, month, etc. all in Luganda. It's a small thing but I am enjoying it as yet another way to put the language into practice.

Finally, one challenge. I have been having a very hard time putting in time on the weekends, because we have had many visitors. In fact, we plan to host friends or family every weekend this month. I know that language-learning is vastly improved by spending daily time with the language. So, I am working on figuring out ways to incorporate daily learning into my weekends, in ways that still allow me to host and be present with my visitors. So far, this is mostly using the Quizlet app in bed after everyone's asleep, but I think this may not be ideal. ;) I'm open to suggestions on how to balance real life with daily study!


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