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  • My 90 Day Persian Project: Having 15-Minute Conversation in a New Language

    Recently, I’ve been learning Persian.

    Here’s where I started:

    And here’s where I ended up:

    With the help of the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge, Drops, Pimsleur and my language tutor, I was able to have a 15-minute conversation in Persian after about 2.5 months (I started the 90-day challenge about 2 weeks late).

    How to Learn Persian: My Strategies

    Each week, I had a lesson with my tutor. Prior to each lesson, I would propose something we would work on. It started with introductions, the hobbies, then basic conversation, one week we spent on prepositions, and so on. My teacher was amazing and flexible, willing to go with whatever I wanted to work on and support me whatever way I needed to be supported.

    After each lesson, I would add the notes from our shared Google Doc to a Google Sheet, then copy and paste the new vocabulary and phrases into Memrise.

    Each day, I would study my Memrise flashcards, do 5-minutes in Drops, and listen to at least part of a Pimsleur lesson.

    Partway through the challenge, I picked up Script Hacking Persian by Judith Meyer and started to learn how to read and write in the language.

    Doing these things helped me get to the point where I could converse in the language on a basic level — and have a 15-minute conversation.

    How I Decided On What My Tutor and I studied

    My first lesson with a tutor is always a self-introduction. I learn to introduce myself, talk about the basics of who I am and what I do, and then ask the person I’m talking to the questions related to the answers I’m giving. For example here’s some of what I might say in a first lesson:

    • Hello, my name is Shannon. What’s your name?
    • It’s nice to meet you.
    • How are you?
    • I’m xx years old. How old are you?
    • I have two kids. Do you have children? Are you married?
    • I am American. I live in California. Where are you from? Where do you live?
    • I’m a musician. What do you do?
    • My hobbies are martial arts, reading, cooking, writing, playing video games and learning languages. What are your hobbies?

    My next lesson, I’ll choose something from my introduction to further expand on. It might be my work, my family, or my hobbies. Essentially, I keep a mind map in my head and I continue down it until I feel I’ve fully explored a topic, then I take a step or two back and go down a new path.

    Here’s what it might look like:

    What I Would Do Differently If I Learned Persian Again

    My tutor was an amazing resource for me during the challenge, but I didn’t feel as though I truly understood the grammar I was trying to use. If I were to learn Persian again, I would absolutely dive into a course book sooner rather than later.

    I did end up studying Teach Yourself Complete Persian, but that wasn’t until after this particular challenge was over and I had started my next language project (which I’ll share more about later). I think understanding Persian grammar a little more than I did during this project would have boosted my confidence.

    I usually wait to learn grammar, but I definitely felt I could have started on it sooner this time around.

    How I Feel About My Progress in Learning Persian

    I’ll start out by saying, I made mistakes in my Day 90 video. But I’m okay with it. We were able to keep the conversation in the language and I understood most of what was said to me. I was also able to say what I needed to say.

    My favorite mistake was when I told my tutor I was sixty-one (shish-o yek) rather than my correct age. At first, I didn’t realize the error. But then I saw her expression, reflected back on what I had said and corrected myself. It was definitely a facepalm moment but I was even able to laugh about it as it was happening. Plus, I thought it was already a big step from where I started because I was able to identify the mistake I made.

    I also incorrectly conjugate a few verbs and don’t conjugate others. But again, I’m alright with this. Making mistakes is a part of the process.

    What’s Next?

    I’m announcing my next language lea b rning project soon, but in the meantime I’ll share this — I’m going to keep on with Persian.

    I’m happy with the level that it got to and I’m not ready to move onto something new or different quite yet.

    What about you? What are you working on? Let me know in the comments!

    By the way, I’m going to announce some pretty exciting things very soon to my email list. Want to find out more? Sign up here.

    October 23, 2020 • Language Project • Views: 175

  • Persian Language Learning Strategies: My 60 Day Update

    I started learning Persian just over two months ago. Where am I at today?

    If you’re wondering just how much of a language you can learn in two months, here’s my update video (be sure to watch with the subtitles on):

    My Persian Language Learning Routine

    I posted about my language learning routine in this post, and to be honest, it hasn’t changed much.

    I still study with Memrise and Drops for vocabulary and Pimsleur for listening and speaking practice on a daily basis. And I take a lesson with my tutor through Preply once or twice a week.

    There’s only one thing that’s different…

    I’m learning the writing system.

    How I’m Learning to Read and Write in Persian

    At the moment, I’m working through Judith Meyer’s Persian Script Hacking. I’m also reading it as a part of the Language Learning Reading Challenge / Women in Language Book Club since our prompt this month is to read a book by a female author!

    I will post a more thorough review of Persian Script Hacking once I finish it, but for now, here are my initial thoughts:

    It’s an enjoyable, low pressure way to learn a new writing system. It’s introduced each letter one at a time with plenty of exercises to practice recognizing, reading, and writing what you know.

    Once I am done with the book, I’m hoping I will be comfortable enough to start reading basic passages on LingQ.

    My messing Persian writing practice

    My Persian Language Plans for October

    In addition to Persian Script Hacking, I am also starting to work through Teach Yourself Complete Persian and Farsi for Beginners from Tuttle Publishing. I will report on my progress with these two course books in my next update as well as share my reviews of these course books once I complete them. I am also working on Pimsleur’s Persian 2.

    So to recap all of the current resources I am using to learn Persian:

    A Summary of My Persian Learning

    Overall, I’m really enjoying learning the Persian language. I’ve gathered a lot of information but there a couple of things that I still really need to do to contextualize everything I’ve learned in Persian.

    The first is that I need to have more conversation practice. For now, I go over basic structures and phrases in my lessons, and learn on my own, but I’m not having casual conversations often enough. When I do chat with my friends, it’s still very English based, though I do try to throw in and use Persian phrases when I can.

    The second is that I need to work on grammar. I know quite a bit of vocabulary, but I still struggle to put it together to express my thoughts.

    These are both things that I plan to work on this next month. Especially since my Day 90 video is coming up for the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge where I will need to have a 15-minute conversation in Persian!

    If you have any questions about how I’m learning Persian, please let me know! I’m happy to add more detail on any part of my learning process. Just leave me a comment below.

    September 29, 2020 • Language Project • Views: 369

  • All Documented Language Learning Projects on Eurolinguiste

    Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to complete a variety of language learning projects. I aimed to sit the HSK 4 exam after a year of studying Chinese. I’ve sought to see how much Icelandic I could learn en route to the country without learning a word of the language prior. I’ve also completed several Fluent in 3 Month Challenges and have studied languages as a part of 90 Days with Drops.

    I’ve documented many of these, but before now, they weren’t easy to locate or follow. With this collection, I hope to change that.

    Now, you can find all of my documented language learning projects in one place.

    My Language Maintenance Project

    Learning Persian with Drops

    Raising My Kids In My Second Language

    My Hebrew Project

    My Hindi Language Project

    My Icelandic Project

    Learning Hungarian with Drops

    Korean for the Fi3M Challenge

    Japanese for the Fi3M Challenge

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Japanese

    Korean Language Project with Lindsay Does Languages

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Korean and Video

    Learning Russian

    Bonus: 100+ Conversation Words & Phrases in Russian

    Learning Mandarin Chinese to Pass the HSK 4 Exam

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Chinese

    Italian Language Refresh

    Learning Spanish

    Croatian for the Fi3M Challenge

    Bonus: 100+ Conversational Words & Phrases in Croatian

    What about you?

    I’d love to hear about your language projects in the comments below. 

    September 26, 2020 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 702

  • How to Learn Persian: My Persian Language Project Update

    Three weeks ago I started learning my fourteenth languages, Persian. I promised regular updates on my methods, progress, and I’ll even do my best to break down exactly what I do each and every day to learn the Persian language.

    So let’s jump right in.

    Here’s where I was at on Day 0:

    And here’s where I was at about two weeks later. (The video says Day 30 but I started the Fluent in 3 Months Challenge late and recorded my Day 30 video early).

    My Daily Language Learning Routine: What I Do Each Day to Learn Persian

    To learn Persian, there are a few things I do every day:

    My Daily Routine to Learn Persian

    Complete 6,000 points on Memrise.

    If I have words to review, I’ll do this first. Then, any leftover time I’ll spend learning new words.

    Where do these words come from? They’re primarily the vocab and phrases that come up during my lessons. But if I come across anything useful while doing other activities (listening to podcasts, watching Youtube videos, etc.), I add them to my flashcards as well.

    When do I do this? I squeeze this into the day whenever I can. Sometimes it’s while I’m a passenger in the car. Other times it’s the last thing I do before bed. Some days it’s while my kids are doing karate. And it’s even while I watch tv on occasion.

    Listen to 30 minutes of Pimsleur.

    I’m currently nearing the end of Level I of Pimsleur. I’ve needed to repeat a few lessons to make sure I fully grasp the new material. And I already have Level II ready to go.

    When do I do this? Whenever I’m in the car or on a walk. And sometimes while I’m doing chores.

    Complete 5-15 minutes in Drops.

    Drops is a good way for me to review some of the thematic vocabulary that comes up during my lessons. It’s also proven to be an engaging way to get introduced to new words I wouldn’t have come across in other contexts.

    When do I do this? The same rules apply for when I do Memrise. But I do try to do Drops when I can listen to the audio because it’s read by native speakers and helps me with my own pronunciation.

    My Weekly Routine to Learn Persian

    Have 1 Persian lesson on Preply.

    Every week I have a lesson with my Persian tutor on Preply. (Here’s the link to her profile directly.) We go over topics I’m likely to discuss in Persian with friends and she does an amazing job letting me guide the lessons but also steps in when I need a little more guidance.

    I put together a complex sentence correctly on my own which led to a discussion about how many languages I’ve studied. I couldn’t help but grab a screenshot of the interaction!

    What I Can Currently Do in Persian

    According to Preply’s CEFR scale, based on the number of lessons I’ve done, I’m slowly creeping towards an A1. This, of course, doesn’t take into consideration all of the work I’m doing outside of lessons. My self-evaluation would be that I’m a solid A1 on my way to A2.

    Currently, I can introduce myself, talk about my work, things that interest me and my family, and do some other basic things in the Persian language.

    I still don’t have a huge vocabulary, Drops says I know just over 200 words and I’ve learned all 155 words and phrases currently stored in Memrise (though I have a lot more to add).

    What My Future Plans Are to Learn Persian

    Now that I’m over the newbie hurdle in Persian, it’s time for me to start really digging in.

    Up until this point, I’ve been using romanization to get by, take notes, and figure things out. I want to start diving into coursebooks, however, so I’m due to start learning to read and write in Persian.

    I picked up a copy of Judith Meyer’s Persian Script Hacking and will be using this as my primary resource to learn to read and write.

    Once I’m comfortable with the Persian alphabet, I’ll start digging into the course books I purchased. They are:

    And once I’ve gotten through these, other coursebooks I’m interested in evaluating are:

    A Summary of My Persian Learning Strategies

    Overall, I’ve been very consistent in my Persian studies. (You can follow me on Instagram to see daily reports of my progress!)

    I also take every opportunity I can to practice the language. We have new neighbors who speak Persian and they’ve been gracious enough to let me practice with them. I also send my video recordings to a friend from karate for feedback. And I also do some grocery shopping at our local Persian market because even if I don’t practice the language with anyone there, I get to hear music in the language and look at labels in Persian.

    If you have any questions about how I’m learning Persian, please let me know! I’m happy to add more detail on any part of my learning process. Just leave me a comment below.

    September 3, 2020 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 692

  • New Language Project: Learn Persian

    I’m learning a new language.

    Yes, this means I’m up to my 14th language I either am in the process of maintaining, learning, or using on a somewhat regular basis.

    What’s the motivation for doing this? Let’s get into the reason behind it.

    My New Language Project: Learn Persian

    Since Drops released Persian, I’ve toyed with the idea of learning the Persian language (also known as Farsi). Where I live, we have a large community of Persian speakers, many of whom I count as friends and I’d love to share the language with them.

    Given that my last language project didn’t pan out as planned (I intended to learn Hebrew for a trip to Tel Aviv that didn’t happen due to COVID-19), and the fact that travel guidelines are still restrictive, I decided to learn a local language. Something that I could use while still at home.

    My Goal Learning Persian

    At the end of about 90 days, my goal is to surprise some friends with my ability to speak Persian. They’ve occasionally taught me a word here or there in the language, but I haven’t yet seriously studied the language and I know they’ll be thrilled to find out I started learning it on my own.

    I plan to practice the language in other settings leading up to the “big reveal”, but I’m hoping to surprise them like I did my co-workers at Drops with Hungarian a while back.

    How I’m Going to Learn Persian

    My Farsi Language Learning Tools

    Preply

    I plan on taking weekly lessons (perhaps more) during the duration of my Persian learning project. I’m currently trying out several different tutors on Preply, and will hopefully have one selected by the end of the week!

    PS. Have you seen Preply’s learning goal dashboard? It’s amazing! You can select a study goal and it’ll break down how much you’ll have to study to reach it. I set the ultimate goal of B1 in the language and it estimated how many weeks and hours of study I needed.

    Drops

    To start building my vocabulary and foundation in the Persian language, I’ll study new words each day with Drops.

    Fluent in 3 Months Challenge

    I’m joining a challenge a bit late (just over a week), but I plan on taking part in an Fi3M challenge for the extra accountability and community while learning a language.

    PersianPod101

    In my first week, I like to dig through all the Pod101 videos available to quickly learn basic phrases.

    Pimsleur

    One of my favorite resources when starting to learn a new language is Pimsleur because it’s been a great way to get in both listening and speaking practice.

    My Language Learning Routine

    My routine for learning Persian will look like this at the start of this project:

    Every day:

    • 5-15 minutes of vocabulary study with Drops
    • 15-30 minutes of video lessons with the PersianPod101 Youtube channel
    • 30 minute Pimsleur lesson

    Every week:

    • 1 lesson with my Farsi tutor
    • Additional research and study as needed

    My Initial Plans for My First Week of Learning Persian

    In the first week of learning Persian, I’d like to accomplish the following:

    • Learn the Persian writing system
    • Get my self introduction down in Persian
    • Learn around 100 words

    My Updates

    I’ll update you on my progress about once every two weeks either by blog post or by video. To keep everything in one place, I’ve put this page together so you can find all my Persian updates in chronological order.

    Have any questions about this project? Let me know in the comments below! I’m putting together an “Ask the Polyglot” video and post answering many of the questions you’ve sent me about my Persian language project—whether it’s about starting a new language or about my learning strategies in general.

    I also plan to make regular videos on Instagram and Youtube – so be sure to follow me there.

    In the meantime, do you have any advice for me as a new Persian learner? Have any resource recommendations you couldn’t live without while learning the language? Let me know in the comments below! I look forward to hearing from you.

    July 29, 2020 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 730

  • NEW LANGUAGE PROJECT: LEARNING HUNGARIAN

    Over the last couple months, I’ve been learning a language in secret. I recently revealed that language was Hungarian and now, I’m excited to share more details about this language project – the how, the what, and they why.

    But first, if you’re interested in following this project along, be sure to subscribe to the Drops blog! It’s where I’m sharing all my updates.

    Getting Started with the Hungarian Language

    Just over two months ago, I decided that I wanted to learn Hungarian.

    Why?

    Because I wanted to surprise my colleagues at Drops on our team trip. In November, we all met up in Budapest, Hungary and it seemed like the perfect occasion. Not only would I be in the country that speaks the language, but I’d also get to surprise the founders of Drops with their native language.

    I signed up for the Fi3M Challenge for motivation, keeping the details of my language a secret, saving my videos and updates for after the big reveal.

    In many ways, this project was different from anything I’ve done before. To start, it was a secret, so I was limited to how many people I could reach out to for help. Luckily, Benny Lewis over at Fluent in 3 Months completed a similar project – Hungarian in 3 Months. He and I chatted about language projects and learning Hungarian, and he offered me tips for filming the reveal in Budapest.

    Limitations Offer a Creative Environment

    One of the other things I really wanted to do with this project was change my approach. Lately, I’ve found a lot of success in the conversational approach and because of this, I’ve stuck to it for my last several projects. Getting too comfortable with a system or routine can cause learning plateaus and with a short-term project, that can be dangerous. 

    Rather than use all the resources, processes and methods I typically use when I start a new language (or refresh an old one), I did something different. 

    First, I limited myself to two resources – Drops and italki. I had originally planned to use three (a coursebook being the third), but ended up not using it. Doing this meant that I really needed to maximize my experience with the two resources I was using.

    I had to get creative.

    And that creativity not only led to several breakthroughs, but helped keep me from burning out during the time I spent studying.

    Second, I cut grammar out almost completely. During that time, I did not learn a single grammar rule. Instead, I studied tons of vocabulary and practiced the language with my tutor. In doing these two things, I learned some grammar through context without ever having to sit down and learn how to conjugate or use cases.

    Third, I took an almost month-long break in the middle of a two-month project. A few weeks before our trip to Budapest, I also had a trip to Shanghai, China for music. As a part of that trip, I needed to focus on preparing presentations in Mandarin and Japanese, so I had to step away from Hungarian until after I got back.

    Despite this break, I still successfully completed this project.

    Finally, I decided on every milestone I wanted to reach as a part of this project. There were eight in total. You can read about them more in-depth here, but here’s a quick summary:

    1. Learn 50 words in the first 3 days // This would get me access to the Drops Tough Words Dojo so that I could review challenging new material.
    2. Find a conversation partner // Having a date on the calendar would help keep me focused and on-track.
    3. Write my first script // This would help me navigate that first conversation. It included phrases and questions that I might need.
    4. Have a Hungarian lesson // I found a fantastic tutor on italki and ended up taking several lessons the week before the trip.
    5. Have an unscripted chat in Hungarian // Before I went to Hungary, I wanted to try to make my way through a conversation in Hungarian without the help of my script.
    6. Learn all the words in Drops // There were about 2,500 words in Drops while I worked on this project.
    7. Use Hungarian around Budapest // To get some practice in before the big surprise.
    8. Surprise the founders of Drops // The project conclusion!

    You can watch my project introduction video for more context:

    To Sum Up

    I plan on sharing updates for each of the milestones over on the Drops blog so you can follow along with my progress. Each post will include videos of where I’m at with the language as well as the exact steps I took to achieve each milestone.

    In the meantime, if you have any tips for me as a new Hungarian language learner or if you have any resource recommendations that you couldn’t have lived without, please let me know in the comments below.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    November 27, 2019 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 910

  • New Language Project: Learning Japanese

    We’re getting ready to start a new year, so I’m excited to share my new language learning project with you! In 2018 I plan to learn Japanese. Today I want to detail my plan on how I am going to go about this.

    Getting Started with the Japanese Language

    Earlier this year, I decided that I wanted to learn Japanese. I started learning the alphabets and put together a quick introduction, but didn’t get much further.

    Why?

    Because when I started the Fi3M Challenge back in September, I had to commit to just one language and for me, at that time, that was Croatian.

    But the Fi3M Challenge is now over, so I’m ready to get back to Japanese. Since I didn’t get far enough into my studies to remember anything beyond konnichiwa and genki deska, this means I need to start over completely. 

    Tackling the Japanese Writing Systems

    My first step will be to resume studying Hiragana and Katakana. Before my break, I had only studied Hiragana and was far from mastering it. I could recognize the letters/characters in the context of my flashcard app, but this wasn’t so much the case in other contexts. A review is certainly in order, followed by a thorough study of Katakana.

    Kanji I’ll study on an as-needs basis. I already know many characters (thanks to Chinese), so it really comes down to associated a new sound with them (and perhaps, even sometimes, meaning).

    The Conversational Approach

    Compared to my past projects, I’m going to learn Japanese differently. And differently for me means conversationally. My primary goal is to chat with native speakers, so my usual methods won’t really make sense in this context. I’m notoriously a book learner. And I also want to know everything… Why this? Why that? Where can I find an extremely detailed breakdown of this aspect of the language’s grammar? It’s going to be hard work for me to turn that desire off and focus on just what I need.

    Of course, learning a lot of vocabulary will be important to me, but I’m going to try to ignore the technical stuff until it gets in my way. But I will try not to get buried in grammar I don’t yet need like I did with Russian.

    The Resources I Plan to Use

    To start, I plan on using Memrise to work on the writing systems and to pick up new vocabulary. It’s my go-to resource for every language because I can customize my own decks (I add new words to my private deck after lessons) and study pre-made flashcards. I always have it with me since it’s loaded on my phone, so I can study anytime, anyplace.

    From there, I plan on using Lingualift as my first course book and Pimsleur as my first audio program.

    Eventually, I’ll add Assimil into the mix for both its book and its audio as well as JapanesePod101. And once I’m ready for it, I’ll begin lessons on iTalki.

    To Sum Up

    I have a few different resources I’m interested in trying out, but as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like to work with more than 3-5 language learning resources at any given time. It gets overwhelming and I find I’m not able to make as much progress when I study this why. I plan to make regular videos on Instagram and Youtube – so be sure to follow me there.

    In the meantime, if you have any tips for me as a new Japanese language learner or if you have any resource recommendations that you couldn’t have lived without, please let me know in the comments below.

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    December 26, 2017 • Language Project, Language Resources • Views: 815