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. So it was something I was intentional about as the year went on last year, and it's something I've been even more diligent about this year.

So far, it seems to be working! And I've learned a couple things.

First, I don't need to spend a lot of time every day, but just touching base on the language is really helpful. It makes spending more intensive time on language learning less scary, and it keeps the language fresh. When I spend even little bits of time on Luganda every day, I find myself translating things in my head as I go about my business, and explaining vocabulary or grammatical concepts to friends. It's all just a little closer to the surface.

Second, the Long Term Learning feature on Quizlet has been a big help. Each day, it queues up vocabulary for me to test myself on. This gives me some concrete action to do every day. If I miss a day, those words get added to the next day, and they aren't removed from the queue until I've worked on them. This means that if I get far behind, suddenly the Long Term Learning work is hundreds of words long and quite overwhelming. Knowing that consequence, I like to stay up to date with it!

Third, I am practicing taking time out from hosting or being hosted on the weekends. I have been getting more successful at this as time goes on. Just over a week ago, I was hosting friends and I knew I was unlikely to get much done on Saturday. When I woke up and realized I was the first one awake, I realized I had an opportunity. I put on a pot of coffee and grabbed my computer. I got to work on just a little bit of Luganda before my friends woke up, and when I heard someone out in the living room, I didn't drop my work. Instead, I finished what I was doing, felt proud that I'd prioritized the time, and then put it away to go join my friends for the day. Turning my back on social opportunities is something I have a hard time doing, but I am learning how to sneak in bits of time here and there.

I'm still not perfect at daily practice but I have definitely improved! I want to continue to improve this year. Now that I really am practicing Luganda daily, I want to continually improve the quality of how I'm spending that time.


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