Back to the grind, again

After my week in Guatemala, I started off the week feeling pretty motivated to push my Luganda forward.

The way that that motivation translated for me in the last week was mostly just hard-nosed practice. My language mentor usually sends me a couple of exercises to do in advance of our Friday sessions. I had missed doing one week's worth of them because he sent them to me while I was in the middle of funeral-related events. And then, over spring break, he sent me more. Not just one or two exercises more, but like six or seven. I'm not sure what inspired him to send me so many! Whatever the reason, there was a substantial backlog to do.

I used those exercises as the main focus of my studying last week, in addition to the usual Quizlet and radio listening routine.

For one exercise, I was asked to translate a rather long story from English into Luganda. I did about 75% of the story before realizing that -- OOPS -- I'd been using the wrong past tense throughout. So, I re-wrote everything, substituting in the correct version of the past tense verbs. I found this exercise actually really helpful. It allowed me to check my work sentence by sentence and to review some of the new vocabulary words I was using in context. Additionally, it allowed me to approach each sentence as if I were a reader. Since reading comprehension has given me a particularly hard time, it was great to re-read sentences that I myself had written, helping make the mental connection between the creation of words and the consumption of them.

Working through the rest of the exercises was equally helpful. It is nice to work on something that I haven't written for myself - it definitely challenges me beyond my current abilities at any given time, and that encourages so much growth. Additionally, I think that sometimes my language mentor forgets what exactly we've learned together, and so will ask me to do exercises on a concept I haven't officially learned yet. This can end in one of two ways. Sometimes it is a disaster, and I completely botch the exercise. This was the case several weeks ago with a lesson on direct objects he gave me. I didn't quite learn the correct way to use direct objects, and we had to make major corrections to every sentence. Other times, however, the exercise forces me to figure it out for myself, and in doing so, I learn the concept pretty well. This week, an exercise on reflexive verbs played that role for me. Regardless, through either learning from mistakes or from careful self-teaching, I find that these barrier-breakers tend to really help push my language skills forward.

Apart from the work on exercises, it was a pretty standard week. I can feel that noun classes are becoming more manageable for me, and therefore learning adjectives has been relatively uneventful. It's all moving along!

Apart from the actual language study, this week I've also started planning for my summer. I will be studying Luganda at the City Language Centre in Kampala, and I'm really excited for the opportunity. I am really excited to see how learning Luganda in person will be different than self-study from Madison. And, of course, I'm really excited to see what my language skills will be like after an intensive summer experience!


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