I may not have written in the blog for a while, but I have been consistently learning Danish.
A while back I put a link to this google doc spreadsheet. I wrote how many minutes I spent on learning Danish every day, and the idea was to track my progress and feel a sense of development and momentum.
When I was listening to Danish radio, using duolingo, or doing any other activity using Danish, I would start my stopwatch before the activity and stop it afterwards. Initially it worked really well – I felt extremely productive logging away the minutes spent.
However, I quickly realised that there were many situations where it wasn’t appropriate to log my time using Danish.
When I was reading a book in Danish, I felt very mindful that my stopwatch was timing me and this was a bit distracting. And when I was having an unplanned conversation with someone in Danish, the idea of interrupting the flow of the conversation to use a stopwatch felt like an incredibly rude and unnatural thing to do!
Not all minutes are created equal, and 10 minutes spent passively listening to the radio is probably not the same as ten minutes spent actively reviewing flashcards.
Habit forming and integrating a language
I may not attempt to count the minutes learning Danish anymore, but I am actively integrating Danish language into my lifestyle. When I’m commuting alone, if I am walking somewhere then it’s very likely that I’ll be listening to Danish radio or Danish audiobooks. If I am on the train during my commute then I’ll probably be using my phone for duolingo, memrise or anki.
It is slowly beginning to stick. I’m sure that there better ways to learn Danish, but I personally believe that consistent effort is the most important thing when learning a language.
The whole spreadsheet idea has been really effective in helping me to form these habits. I think that gimmicks and tricks like these can be really useful, as long as you keep it in mind that they are just that: gimmicks.
Have you used any creative gimmicks while doing any of your language learning?