language learning is social

This past week was a reminder of some of the fundamentals of my language learning practice. As obvious as this may sound, I was reminded of the inherently social nature of language. It's so easy to get swept up in grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, listening that it can be hard to remember the incredible bridge that language can be.

The main reason for this revelation was a coffee meeting with a Ugandan woman who is a graduate student here. We discussed our research interests, previous work, what brought us to Madison, and my language practice. And we did much of the conversing in Luganda. At first, my language was shaky. Speaking with someone new is always a little nerve-wracking! But, my new friend responded with such warmth and supportiveness that I quickly eased into it. The social bond between us was reinforced in a totally new way because of the shared language(s!).

The next day, I told my language mentor about my coffee date. He was so excited! He wanted to know all about her, asking questions about her family and what she was studying in Wisconsin. I felt like I was really a part of a language-based community in a way I've never felt before.

Finally, I am in touch with a potential beginning Luganda learner (if you're reading, hi J!) He wants to start learning Luganda and is interested in getting connected to a language teacher. In writing up my thoughts to him, I had the chance to step back and really appreciate how broad my experiences have been, the incredible access I've had to Luganda speakers of all levels, and to a broad community of support. Again, the social part of language learning is really central to my experience and its importance in my life.

The demands of using the language socially are always a great motivator for my learning, which is probably why I had another successful week!

Tuesday: Quizlet, 25 minutes of Jesus video (I re-watched several episodes three times each. First, I watched at full-speed, then I slowed it down to half speed, and then I watched again at full speed).
Wednesday: 30 minutes of lesson work, Quizlet
Thursday: Watched one Bukedde TV news clip, tried reading 3 pages of a book, 30 minutes of lesson work, 30 minutes of conversation with new Luganda-speaking friend, LOTS of Quizlet words
Friday: 1 hour long lesson with my mentor, 30 minutes of lesson work
Saturday: Quizlet (another big day - 250 words), Whatsapped with a friend
Sunday: Quizlet, Whatsapped with a friend
Monday: Quizlet - my monthly test to check vocabulary growth.

Tonight I also checked in on my progress with Longterm learning. My stats for the 1,271 cards in my folder are currently as follows:
Don't know: 6%
Know okay: 3%
Know: 19%
Know well: 72%

The wind is certainly at my back, but this week is going to be a tough one. I have several additional books to read and papers to write for next week (on top of my normal, intense, workload), so I am trying to really buckle down and focus on reading and writing. I will likely not be able to spend as much time on Luganda this week, so I am trying to come up with some solutions in preparation for what's to come. Some things I hope to try include: Bring in my listening activities as often as possible, which I can do while I do housework, go back and forth from school, etc; keep up with Quizlet every day just as something to check off my list; integrate some video watching as a way to give myself short breaks in my reading; have grace and patience with myself if I just can't do it all.


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