My journey with German started off as a curiosity. As a way to explore distant ancestry and a general interest in the culture I took a German course throughout my freshman year of college. I gained further interest in the language studying its endless collection of compound words and challenging grammar. I went on to do a study abroad in Germany in summer of 2016 and even took enough courses on the subject before graduating to add it to my economics degree as an additional major.
Shortly after graduating in May 2018 I began studying German every day at home as a hobby. While exploring the world of language learning I found inspiration from famous polyglots like Steve Kaufmann and Luca Lampariello and took a serious interest in developing my German skills. My approach to learning the language was dramatically different at home compared to what it was at university. Rather than showing up to class for a lesson based on a grammar concept or a piece of literature, I became focused on absorbing as much content in German as possible. I listened to podcasts on my daily run, read articles on Lingq and did Duolingo lessons to supplement my studies.
Some months later I began taking German lessons on italki to work on my speaking skills while at roughly the same time becoming a teacher on the site as an English Community Tutor. Once in a position to speak German I realized that my university studies had failed me in this regard. I fumbled my way through conversations, obsessing in my head over the grammar concepts that had been emphasized in courses. I eventually improved and became more confident after a few months. The experience benefited me as a tutor because I could relate to the countless students, who had taken expensive English courses, but were frustrated with speaking skills that far lacked their general knowledge and abilities in English.
In December of 2018 I began studying Portuguese and with a visit to Brazil in the works for March of 2019, only a few months later, it was a challenge that I took in stride. My experiences with German had taught me a lot about language acquisition and I was able to approach learning Portuguese in a much more strategic and disciplined manner. The biggest takeaway from studying German was that it was possible to learn a second language and this was tremendously motivating when I went to study Portuguese each day. I would go on to spend several months in Brazil both in 2019 and 2020. My experiences there taught me one of the most important things you can learn in language learning, humility. In a country where English speakers are typically hard to find, I often had no other choice but to put my Portuguese skills to the test, sometimes failing in an embarrassing fashion. After many half-failed attempts, however, I’ve learned to see the value of speaking up in your target language and have become comfortable with making mistakes.
The goal of this blog is to share perspectives on strategies for language learning that can help you as you evolve through different proficiency levels. Different tools are necessary for each level and that’s why I’ll be giving reviews on different applications and techniques as well as discussing more qualitative aspects that play a big role in language learning. Lastly, I’ll discuss my own progress in languages that I’m studying, hopefully, offering you some fresh perspective that you can benefit from as you learn a language.
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