Experiences of an English Language Teacher

My Strategy of Studying Three Languages Independently

I started studying Japanese a few months ago with some online classes but never really made any progress. I continued classes for a few weeks but my institute cancelled lessons and I thought I would continue studying languages at my own pace. On top of studying Japanese, I have reignited my fears of secondary education by deciding to study French too while also studying some Korean. It seems an awful lot of subjects to study but have decided to take out an hour or two in the evening but what do I want to achieve at the end of studying three languages?

Hopefully, after a few months, I will be able to communicate to a reasonable degree – perhaps A2 level – in both Japanese and French. I have studied for a few months with Japanese and now know some basic phrases and verb conjugations but haven’t mastered Hiragana or Katakana just yet. With my French, I would like to be able to communicate some basic thoughts and ideas, while getting used to verb conjugations – I am still reeling with making some basic errors with the first or third person agreeing with the main conjugated verb. I end up asking myself, “Do I add an ‘s’ or not?”. Finally, my Korean goals.

I would like to be able to communicate a little more fluently and listen to more podcasts or watch movies (without subtitles) but to get to that level, I would need to have online lessons – something which I sorely miss at this moment in time. I would also love to be able to read blogs and newspaper sources in Korean and understand at least 90% of the content. This will take time and, again, I will need to invest in developing my vocabulary knowledge. The blessing is that some of my Korean knowledge is transferable towards Japanese. For example, the Korean word for newspaper is ‘신문’ (shinmun), while the Japanese word is ‘新聞’ (shinbun) which is quite similar so I am hoping that some more Korean words are transferable towards Japanese. Just don’t get me started on Kanji, yet this might help my Korean with some of the Chinese-based Korean language. Nevertheless, what am I doing to study all these three languages? What is my process?

Each late afternoon/evening, I will be using Duolingo to help me with my grammar, vocabulary and awareness of each language – even though my Korean is at the beginning within Duolingo. I shall also be listening to a podcast and reading to develop my French. In terms of my Korean and Japanese, I shall be listening to Apple Podcasts to develop my listening and become immersed within both languages. I will also keep three different notebooks for each language to write down vocabulary or key grammar. Perhaps in the future I shall start to watch some movies in the key language (something that I tend to do for my Korean) but this will take time with my Japanese and French.

I am aware of some of the rather odd phrases with Duolingo!

In terms of the time that I invest for studying, I shall be studying around an hour or two each day with a focus on each language. I get bored quite easily so I would like to continue as much as possible and build up to a full year on Duolingo. I started yesterday and I am now on my second day. How do I feel? Well, I feel rather invigorated and already have a sense of achievement. If I feel inclined, I will return to my main coursebooks for my Japanese and Korean studies. Would I like to communicate in all three languages? Absolutely, and it would be great to see how my fluency evolves over time.

It would be great to speak to some native level speakers in each language after one, three, six and twelve months to see if I am making progress in each language. If you would like to be part of this rather possible unscientific project, then let me know in the comments.

Wish me luck with my language learning journey! Especially for a forty-something language teacher who has never really mastered another language.

1 Comment

  1. I could relate a lot, because I also study French and Japanese. Japanese, only on Duolingo, and French, on Duolingo and I have had some previous classes before, which has really helped. I’m a teacher and being a beginner in other languages has taught me so much on how to deal with my own beginner students!

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