Month in Review- March 2021

March 2021 seemed long while I was working through the month (probably because February was nice and short), but now that it’s over it seems like it flew by! Here’s what I’ve been up to with my language learning for the month.

In general: I’ve really been cranking through my youtube queue, so I’m grateful that I made it a point to take advantage of that kind of language resource this year. I’ve also been trying out some new study resources as well! There will be an upcoming post about these.

French: I’ve kept up with my usual listening & reading practice with French. I also started reading “Gigi” par Colette, and it’s quite a sweet read so far, especially since I have nice memories of watching the VHS movie as a kid.

Spanish: I started reading “Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada” por Gabriel García Márquez, and unlike Gigi it has been slow-going. I’m pretty sure that I bought this book from The Strand in New York City, back in 2015 maybe. I tried to read it then, and only got a few pages in. So we’ll see how it goes! I figure this 118-page book is a better Márquez book to read than “Cien Años de Soledad” which I own as well and has 496 pages. I’m still missing the speaking element to my practice, which I think might push me to be at a more confident B1-2 level. My comprehension is there, but my spoken grammar & improvised speaking has gotten rusty since my university days… Sorry if I keep complaining about it and then not making any moves with iTalki, hopefully someone can relate! I’ll get there when I get there.

Italian: Similar to my last month-in-review, still feels like I’m keeping a good handle on my Italian studies.

Chinese: I stopped reading the MangaToons book on mobile for now, because I bought a Mandarin Companion graded reader! It’s “小明 Xiao Ming, Boy Sherlock” by John Pasden and Jared Turner. This book is at a good level for me with only 150 characters that get used throughout the story, with footnotes to explain new words. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’ve been making exercises out of it, so I’m taking my time to get as much out of it as possible as a learning resource. It’s really not long, so I could have finished it by now haha.

I also got a membership to The Chairman’s Bao website which has been really helpful! Back when I was taking a simple Chinese speaking class in grad school (2014) for fun, I heard about this site. But reading a short news segment was beyond me, especially when I didn’t read Chinese characters then. This year I wanted to push myself, and reading is one of those ways. I’ve been able to successfully read HSK1 reading selections on the TCB site, which is so cool! They also have pinyin options, a dictionary feature, and quizzes you can take (which I have been passing too). They have a few free reading selections available on their site without a membership, but the membership gives me access to all of their reading selections so I can use it as a resource as much as I would like. I managed to sign up during a Chinese New Year sale and so far it’s been very worth it for me!

My unofficial HSK1 exam is getting closer too (about a month away). I’ve been studying some- not like crazy, but added in some extra time with unfamiliar characters & grammar, etc. I’m going to make myself take some practice tests soon to see how it goes.

Polish: Similar to my last month-in-review, still feels like I’m keeping a good handle on my Polish studies. I’ve started using Clozemaster this month, and it has been really helpful to see the vocab in context with sentences. I think that can be something I miss out on when I’m using beginner resources, so Clozemaster is good for that.

Icelandic: Similar to my last month-in-review, still feels like I’m keeping a good handle on my Icelandic studies. A new volcano erupted on the Reykjanes peninsula, so there have been fun news articles & videos to watch! Most are in English, but I’ve gone searching for Icelandic content with subtitles so that has been nice. I also ordered a Reykjavík mug from Etsy, and I wrote little bits of Icelandic with the shop seller! I’ve also been using Clozemaster for Icelandic.

ASL: I touched this language once this past month, but it’s something! I’m still interested, and it’s a lower priority language. No pressure if I don’t get to it, but I’m now trying to do 2 study sessions a month.

German: I’ve finished reviewing my notes from my 2017 vacation when I learned basic German. I’m still learning more basics, but I’m trying to expose myself to as much different kinds of German content as possible! I have 2 mini children’s flipbooks in German from a train station gift shop in Munich, and I’ve been using them to practice reading out loud and learning new words/reading comprehension/etc. Also lots of Easy German and Learn German mit Anya, they’re obvious favorites out of the gate. The library materials weren’t quite what I was looking for, so I tried and then returned them. I’m using Clozemaster for German as well.

I haven’t really settled on a textbook, and honestly I might not end up buying one to learn from. A lot of textbooks recommended for university classes are expensive, hard to find online, and actually look a little dated and old school. Being a popular European language, there are so many free resources online that I might actually be fine without one. We’ll see how it goes!

I also borrowed “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke from the library. It was mainly in English, about the author writing back to young poets who admired him & requested advice. Well it also included some of his poems with German on one side of the page and English on the opposing page! Not that I could fluently read, but it was nice to try reading it out loud and taking notes. I knew that Rilke was German, but I wasn’t expecting to come across his German poems in this book!

Japanese: I borrowed a bunch of materials from the library, and it gave me a better idea of what I was looking for in a Japanese textbook resource to own. I didn’t choose any of the ones I borrowed, but I went with the Genki 1 textbook and workbook! I bought used (but nice) editions online, and it took a little while for them to arrive. They have since been unpackaged and they’re sitting on my kitchen table, waiting to be used. Hopefully by my next month-in-review I’ll have started the first chapter.

I also chose a Japanese name for myself! Way too early to be doing this, since I’m an absolute beginner, but I went through a few websites and had fun with it. Not that I’ll even need to use it with a Japanese speaker someday, but it’s cool to have. My Chinese name that I chose is 白暖 (bai nuan) which is kind of close to “Bonnie” in sound, and the meaning of “Warm White” isn’t too far off (I’m a kind white person haha). This name didn’t translate into Japanese, so I found a different name. There is a transliteration of Bonnie, thanks to celebrities like Bonnie Raitt, ボニー (bonii), but I wanted to pick a Japanese name. So I chose 羽新良 or (banira), which is close to the sound of Bonnie as well. I later found out that it also means “Vanilla” (with different katakana characters), but I like the name enough that this meaning doesn’t bother me.

Well, that’s more than enough writing and reviewing from me. I’m not going to list any upcoming goals, I’ll just see how things go by the next time I check in with a month-in-review post!

Bisous mes amis xx

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