change change change

One of the most fun things about language learning is the quick, and constant, change. One day you are completely unable to make meaning out of vowels and consonants put together in a certain way; fast forward just one year and you're learning such advanced vocabulary as the word for "to confront someone who owes you something," and writing emails to friends in your target language.

One of the hardest things about language learning, though, is also the change. I've been reminded by that this week as I try to settle in to my new schedule and grapple with this new, more advanced, stage of independent learning in which I find myself.

I can't say that this week has been a huge success on either front, to be honest. The sheer quantity of reading for other classes, a number of beginning-of-the-year receptions, my birthday, and all of the other things that make up a first full week of school seemed to expand into every crevice of my available time and made it hard to fit in extended study sessions of Luganda practice. I did my best, and leaned on many strategies I found helpful last year, including doing some Luganda before starting other work, relying on my Quizlet app when I was on the move, and bringing Luganda into as many daily interactions as possible. But still, I should have spent more dedicated time digging into the content of the language study.

Because of this, my methods and focus of my work was a little bit Luganda 1.0 - vocabulary memorization, basic sentence construction, etc. One challenge for the year is to really ensure that my pedagogy is matching my level of proficiency, which is new territory for me. Clearly this week did not achieve that goal.

The coming week will be better. In some ways it's guaranteed, because this week I will start twice-weekly meetings with my language mentor, which will absolutely kick me into shape and keep my motivation high.We will be meeting on Monday and Tuesday mornings - hopefully a great way to start my weeks!

One final note on change. Big, lifetime-scale change. This week, my husband's Acholi teacher died of cancer. Hellen was Jon's teacher in 2008 in Kampala and she quickly took us under her wing and into her life, introducing us to her entire family, with whom we became friends as well. I am really grateful that we had the chance to spend time with her this past June, despite her illness. I hope that we sufficiently communicated how important she was to us and and just how much we cared for her. Hellen's passing has triggered a lot of reflections about the amazing, almost holy, bond a student and a teacher can develop and the gift of relationships that we build and sustain over time. Something to keep in mind as we all work towards language acquisition alongside guides, teachers, and friends. Treasure these special relationships that we are so lucky to have the chance to cultivate!


  1. I'm sorry for your and your husband's loss, Lauren. May Hellen's memory be a blessing.


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