I’m already at the end of week three of my summer “language sprint”. The “sprint” is a boost to the work on Japanese that I was already aiming to do as part of my nine-month Basic Japanese Project, plus, more time than usual on my on-going Basque learning (I’m an intermediate level learner). For a month, I’m aiming to do an hour a day on each language, five days a week. I started the diary-style updates on how this “two-language tango” going two weeks ago and there was a second instalment last week. Here’s how things have been going since then (video diary at the bottom):
Monday 5th August (1 hr Basque; 1 hr 15 mins Japanese)
An 8 am start, with thirty minutes from Japanese from Zero 3, Lesson 1. Looking at how to count timespans じかん (hours), にち (days),しゆう (weeks), つき (months), ねん (years).
Usingまえ (before, in front of) to mean “ago”, パージ for counting pages. Then これから and いまから to mean from now, starting now.
Time to make a quick cup of Clipper lemon grass, mate and lemon verbena infusion before a thirty minute Skype lesson. I think this tea is a less aggressive stimulant than strong coffee and great for first thing in the morning if you want to keep your daily coffee consumption down.
Not feeling at my best. I had a mild stomach bug while in Coventry over the weekend and now cough and sore throat back. Did I pick up another cold on the packed train yesterday on the way back from Coventry?
I didn’t see Eider last week, so the Basque lesson (half an hour from 9 am) ended up as all catch up conversation. We never got to some exercises from Bakarka, Book 4. I told her about my trip to Coventry over the weekend and more or less managed to convey the story of Lady Godiva (Coventry’s most famous historical resident). I then told her about a big news story here in the UK: the risk that a dam is going to burst in Derbyshire. All the residents in the town below have been evacuated. As for Eider: there had been yet another local carnival. It’s festivals every other weekend in the Spanish Basque country, it seems.
Very late morning, I did another forty-five minutes on Japanese from Zero 3 Lesson 1: reading practice (“questions and answers” and “mini conversations”).
Most of the rest of the day went writing a rough first draft of a new free webinar for people get when they join the Howtogetfluent Email club. It will replace the current five-part video series (so if you want that, join the Email Club snappy!).
Started working on the slides for my second Russian A2 grammar revision webinar, which will look at how prefixes and suffixes are used in Russian and how understanding the system can help build your word power. I got the topic of each slide sorted out. Now “all” that I have to do is fill in the content. Getting the plan right is the hardest thing, in a way, though.
Then, thirty minutes Basque to finish. More prep from Bakarka 4, lesson 6 for the next lesson with Eider (won’t be till next week) for fifteen minutes, then fifteen minutes gold listing my Habe materials, lesson 6.
Tuesday 6th August (1 hr Basque; 1 hr 10 mins Japanese)
A veeery slow start today. Morning went tidying up in the garden and harvesting more blackberries. Freezing some and handing a brimming mug of them over the fence to my neighbour.
Between one thing and another it was 12.45 before I sat down for the first thirty minutes of Japanese: translating the mini conversations in JFZ 3 Lesson 1 into English. It wasn’t flowing. I found myself moving back and forth between the page and the wordlists in all three volumes of JFZ 🙁
Next up: thirty minutes from the Basque Arian B2.1 course continuing to read about the pros and cons of buying and renting a place to live.
In the afternoon: busy recording and editing the Tuesday diary video update (covering week two of this “sprint” in retrospect).
In the later evening I did the reading comprehension in Lesson One of Japanese from Zero 3. It was tough going.
To finish: fifteen minutes Basque reading from Bakarka 4, lesson One in preparation for tomorrow’s lesson with Gari and fifteen minutes gold listing (Basque) Habe lesson 6.
Due to my food poisoning and colds, haven’t been running since last week. So, I’m not getting the Pimsleur audio course in at all.
Also, as I don’t have a commute during my sabbatical month, I’m not actually doing as much Japanese flash carding as I’d like, even though that is supposed to be a new priority.
Wednesday 7th August (1 hr Basque; 1 hr Japanese)
Started at 7.30 with thirty minutes on Japanese from Zero 3. On from last night’s reading comprehension to the related short dialogue. Some of which was equally hard going.
Twenty minutes prep from a new (Basque) Habe lesson on 39 – the next one I’ll be starting with Irati. The lesson theme is “noise”. It covers loud music, noisy neighbours and so on. Reading felt harder than it should, useful new words coming up such as “doinu” – tune, melody “iskanbila” – disturbance, trouble; “pantaila” (TV or cinema screen); “liskar” – a fight, dispute and “zarata” (noise) itself.
Good lesson on Skype with Gari for thirty minutes from nine o’clock. In essence a repeat performance for me of the lesson with Eider on Monday. I was telling him all about my trip to Coventry and the story of Lady Godiva. A chance to forget all the words I forgot on Monday all over again (horse, naked, high taxes, to go blind and so on). Gari was running the usual google doc of my mistakes. He maybe overcorrects but the other two teachers hardly correct me at all.
Mid morning: turned back to preparing the webinar for tonight’s Russian session. That swallowed up the rest of the day till it was time to deliver in the evening.
After, at 22.15, thirty minutes more Japanese, this time working through the JFZ3, lesson One reading comprehension questions.
To finish, ten minutes Basque gold listing Habe unit 6 and into unit 7.
Collapsed into bed.
Thursday 8th August (1 hr Basque; 1 hr Japanese)
This is the first day for ages that I actually feel normally well.
Started at 8.15 with a cup of lemongrass mate and thirty minutes of Japanese from Zero 3, doing the “substitution exercises”. You start with a sentence and then have to change one element each time. It’s quite mechanical but it gets you using what you’ve learned and often pulls in words you may not have covered for a while.
Lightly re-edited yesterday’s Russian webinar slides, edited video in Final Cut Pro and a “thumbnail” image in Adobe Elements and uploaded everything. The video is 51 mins long, so the upload took quite a while.
14:00 onwards: thirty minutes Basque preparation, working on Habe unit 39. Still on the thorny subject of “noisy neighbours”. Listened to one of the audio clips and one of the video clips that go with the lesson (I don’t use these with the teachers).
Late afternoon and early evening, on Skype recording interviews with John Fotheringham of Language Mastery for the YouTube channel. Very rich and enjoyable discussion about his language learning history and practice, about, blogging and podcasting. Then, more detailed discussions on his advice for beginning and for intermediate Japanese learners. It’s a “return game”, as he interviewed me for his podcast a couple of weeks ago. That episode appears tomorrow, I gather. Look out for John’s appearances on our YouTube channel before too long.
After almost two hours talking to John, time for a walk round the park. I’m still not running after the food poisoning and cold. The last two days, I’ve only left the house to nip to the supermarket. It was time for some greenery and a proper stretch of the legs.
21.50 onwards did another hour on my languages:
First, thirty minutes Japanese. I covered the final question and answer rubric and thus finished JFZ3, lesson One.
On to Basque: reading more short texts from Arian B2.1. Still on the subject of the pros and cons of renting and buying a place to live, now widening out a bit as well to consider sharing accommodation.
Finished at 10pm and there’s still the question of what the Thursday vlog. Erm, that’s today!
I was mulling over the two options on my walk in the park. Before the walk I’d laid down the first timeline for Vienna bookshop safari.
In the end, I decided that would take too long to edit up in the time available and decided to go tomorrow with an interview with Dylan Inglis a hugely impressive young language learner who took a gap year out from uni to learn Basque and Mandarin.
I recorded the conversation a while ago and I’ve been waiting for a gap in my publication schedule to slip it in. In the end, editing the sound took longer than expected (Dylan’s voice was much louder than mind, so I had to go through equalising at every point where he speaks. It’s a thirty-four minute interview, so that was quite a bit of editing). Finally uploaded at one thirty in the morning. Pressed publish and headed for bed.
Friday 9th August (1 hr Basque; 1 hr Japanese)
Kicked off at 8.20 by beginning Japanese from Zero 3, lesson 2. Six more kanji: the numbers seven to ten, 100 and 1000. I’ve done all these before in James Heisig’s book Remembering the Kanji, so a quick review. I reached for Heisig to remind myself of the mnemonics. Then I did the fill in the gaps exercise using the new characters in Japanese sentences otherwise written in kana. Also involved using the various counter words including 〜つ (general/abstract objects), 〜こ (small, round objects), 〜はい (thin, flat objects), ーほん (long, cylindrical objects), 〜にん (people), ーびき (animals). I felt these have been under-practised in the course books so far, so the revision was welcome.
9 am to 9.30: Skype lesson with Irati. Went really well. My rough and ready Basque was flowing. Irati is now back in Euskal Herria. She is staying at her parents’ place after a month on the road. We were conversing freely for 20 mins and then did ten mins practising reported speech again from Habe Unit 38.
Out for the first run since ages. Dull and overcast but weirdly warm and humid. The thermometer was showing 30 degrees in the garden but the BBC weather app. only said 24 degrees. Later on in the day it got windy, cooler and there was rain.
The bulk of today went on finalising the scrip of a new free sign-up webinar. Rehearsing and then filming the six parts in different places around the house. Wasn’t finished till 7pm. Made myself a large green salad.
19.40-20.10 – Finished JFZ 3 Lesson One with an exercise writing out the names of countries in katakana. Then, reviewed another vocab list – more things about the house and had finished the unit. Started Lesson 2 – a quick look at the vocab, then some new verbs: to cost time/money かかる ； to pay for/with はらい.
Then thirty minutes Basque to finish. Completed section one of Arian B2.1. Started to work on section one of the workbook, the second, complementary volume.
Last job of the day, booking a hotel near Changi airport for one night at the end of October (on the way back to London after my two weeks in Japan). Booked the train for a short weekend trip to Canterbury tomorrow. Packed. Fell into bed at 23:00.
That then, was my week three. How is your summer language learning going? Basque, Japanese….or what? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
Week One totals – Basque: 6 hours, 40 mins; Japanese: 5 hours
Week Two totals – Basque 4 hours, 10 minutes; Japanese: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Week Three totals – Basque 5 hours; Japanese: 5 hours, 25 minutes
Mini sprint running total – Basque: 15 hours, 50 mins; Japanese: 15 hours, 40 minutes