Why does everybody seem to hate New Year’s resolutions so much? Is it because somewhere around the 3.5 week mark, on a day The Independent calls “Fail Friday”, we are doomed to fail hopelessly? I don’t remember ever having been disappointed in anybody else for not reaching their slightly overambitious goals, so it must be a personal thing. We are our own worst critics after all.
I quite like these little promises we make to ourselves. It’s like an unspoken rule that everyone is more positive and out to improve themselves. Except perhaps for the poor souls who’ve given up indulgences like chocolate or Twitter. Nobody can expect them to be peppy and enthusiastic in the New Year.
Rather than giving things up every time one year ticks over to the next, I like taking things up. Nobody called them “New Year’s Deprivations” after all. I also tend not to start resolutions in January so that Fail Friday just doesn’t apply to me.
That way, every year comes with the hope of matching the last year if not bettering it. The ideas can be as trivial or as big as I like, for example, cook more often or finish reading my Arabic book before Easter. On top of that this year, I want to learn basic Spanish. Not only so I can sympathise with your Year 9 class as they learn yet another irregular verb, or because I’ve always liked the upside-down punctuation, but so that I can get by on my Spanish holiday in August.
I don’t expect to speak like Antonio Banderas by then (or ever for that matter considering he’s…well, male), but it would be useful for navigating and negotiating in Spain. Instead, what I’ll do is break down my learning into digestible little goals with the overall goal in the back of my mind to spur me on. By the end of February, I want to be able to read Spanish aloud in a passable accent, even if I can’t understand the words. I’ll do this by watching some of This Is Language’s (easier) videos, following the transcript and then trying it on my own. Once I’m satisfied with my Banderas-esque pronunciation, I’ll brave phase two.
Phase two will be building up some basic vocabulary. This is going to be the exciting part as we launch our brand new vocabulary section across all 3 languages this term! To give you a sneak peak, here is just one of our featured flashcards, complete with entertaining pictures and soundbites to help…
Just as you have end-of-year tests or exams at school, my end-test will be to see whether I can hold a conversation with a real-life Spaniard in Spain and order something very Spanish to eat.
Languages can be a daunting thing to learn when you start out. There are endless dialects and irregularities, not to mention the vast number of words. The latter is beautifully demonstrated when you consider that there is an Arabic word for “a camel who stomps its front leg on the ground” ( خبوط or “khbut” if you’re interested). Or a Japanese word for “the sunlight that filters through the leaves”.
I’ll let you know how I get on with the Spanish, in the meantime we want to hear how you got on with your resolutions for 2015, and in particular if any of you language teachers have tried to learn a new language from scratch since school!