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Showing posts from October, 2016

dreaming of summer

This past week, I spent a good amount of time thinking back to the summer.

Not because I needed a reminder of glorious warm weather, or of many hours of freedom (though I do find myself getting lost remembering those good ole days!), but to reconnect with some language learning goals and approaches that I'd wanted to focus on this school year.

While I was studying in Kampala, I tried to focus my attention on the classroom work as well as the art of conversation and engaging in daily activities in Luganda. I did not do a lot of independent vocabulary memorization and written grammar practice because I knew that those activities were something I could focus on in the US, when I had less access to Luganda in daily life. However, I did create a mental list of things I wanted to practice when I was back in the US.

Although I've been implementing bits and pieces of the mental list in my language study this semester, this week I refocused my attention on it.

For example, one thing I …

in the middle

This week represented the mundane middle of language learning.

I had no particularly high highs, no depressingly low lows. I acted mostly in accordance with my ISP and did the things I was supposed to do. I met with my language mentor twice, and completed the homework he'd given to me. I studied vocabulary, listened to music, and read the newspaper. While my weekend didn't live up to my expectations, the rest of the week was just fine.

This middle ground is a sort of tough place to be. When things are humming along well, motivation is high and progress is easy to see. When things get bad, it can be a kick in the pants to get back on track. But being in the middle can feel a little . . . mediocre. . . and it's easy to get stuck in a rut.

One place where I did find a little bit of motivation was outside of the study of the language itself. I had dinner with another Luganda learner (!). He is a friend's husband, and he lives in Uganda full-time. He just happened to be pas…

small wins and new resources

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This past week was a particularly busy one for me, and yet I was able to keep up with my Luganda study pretty well.

One success of this week was simply keeping up with daily, small actions to support my learning. For example, I had several extended Whatsapp conversations with my friend Richard about the US election, much of which was done in Luganda. Richard continues to be good at correcting my mistakes, which happen a lot in this format since I don't look up words or agonize about my writing as I text. My lack of a crutch and his willingness to suggest better ways of saying things provides helpful real-time feedback. He clearly still really enjoys being a teacher.

I also found a couple new resources this week. Curious about what Ugandan artists might exist on Spotify, I searched for "Ugandan music" and was delighted to find several massive Luganda playlists. I listen to a lot of Spotify as I do other work, and it's great to have these playlists to turn to rather th…

losing my inhibitions

This past week was not a demonstration of my best effort in language learning. While I did put in some work, I didn't reach my weekly goal for omuzanyo and I didn't find time to work on Luganda each day. Most of this is because of a low-grade cold I picked up that stalled me across the board. Headaches are bad news for sustained language learning, turns out. But, I also hosted a friend and then my dad and uncle towards the end of the week, and I was not as diligent about fitting Luganda into those days as I should have been.

I just got off of Skype with my language mentor, which has me reflecting on some of my emotional progress as it relates to language learning.

A year ago, after a weak week (haha) of studying, I would've been a basket of nerves prior to meeting with my language mentor. I used to sit down and review like crazy just before our meetings, worried about my (lack of) progress and what he would think of me.

My attitude has changed a lot over time. Instead of f…

buli lunaku (every day)

Last year, one of my big challenges was finding time for Luganda every day. I'd seen the research that said that a little bit of language study every day is better than cramming a lot of study in less frequently. And my own experience was consistent with that as well. Though I could technically get through the same amount of material by studying a lot just a couple times a week, my recall seemed to be better when I checked in on the language every day.

I found that daily work was a lot easier said than done. First of all, as a 1st year PhD student, it took me some time to develop a sense of how to balance things. Secondly, my weekends were crazy. If we weren't hosting friends, we were traveling somewhere. It felt nearly impossible to fit Luganda into my packed weekends. Finally, the longer I put off studying Luganda, the less motivated I was to pick it back up. I dreaded that feeling of failure when I came back to it.

But, I knew that getting to a daily practice was important.…