Truly independent learning

Throughout this course, we've learned about how to empower ourselves to take control of our own learning. I've been feeling myself take ownership for my language learning by setting its direction, keeping myself motivated, and seeking out unorthodox methods of learning and problem-solving. It's been a weeks-long mindset shift, and I feel more confident than ever about my ability to learn independently.

BUT. It's all been within the context of class, and to some extent, in keeping up with assignments and expectations of class. I can't deny that extrinsic factors are motivational! What's going to happen in the coming month or so, when I'm on vacation, and off the hook? I worry about this a little. I have a tendency to completely unplug when it's "time." In case you, my classmates, haven't noticed, I seem to really need breaks and downtime in order to make the most of my on-time. (Thus, weekends!)

This is where the rubber really meets the road in terms of being an independent learner.

Thanksgiving break provided me a bit of a practice ground. I was back home in Minnesota, caught up with all of my homework, and eager to spend time with my family. But, I made the decision to have my session with my mentor anyway. At 8 AM, the day after Thanksgiving. (D'oh!)

When my alarm went off that morning, I was cursing myself mentally for making this choice. Couldn't I have just taken the week off? I was tired. I felt like I could hear the wheels in my brain slowwwwwwly turning as I tried to wake up. Luganda was slow in coming as we began (heck, I was barely speaking English when we started). But, we worked diligently on the possessive, and I learned a lot. When my mentor and I said goodbye, I felt satisfied and happy with myself.

The mentorship session was the highlight of the long weekend, however. I didn't keep up with my lengthy study sessions. I did do little Quizlet games here and there. And I did talk with my friends and relatives about my Luganda study, including explaining some parts of the grammar. But, I didn't spend significant time advancing my learning in any way.

So, how am I to assess the weekend? In some ways, I'm happy. I didn't totally unplug. I found pockets of time to do some work, and I stuck with my mentorship session, even when canceling it was extremely tempting. But, I spent a lot less time on study than I would've on a normal week.

This all raises the question for me: how truly independent is my learning?

As I prepare for the coming winter break, I plan to create expectations for myself during those weeks. That way, when the time comes, I will have a better idea about whether or not I can consider my time away a success or failure, based upon my own goals for learning. In doing so, I hope to continue to become a truly independent learner.



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