September 1, 2013 | Review Period
A New(ish) Chapter
In which I plot my next steps, linguistically speaking.
This project has gotten way out of hand. I was supposed to be done in late June 2010, then late June 2011, and now here I am, on the verge of Labor Day of 2013, still going. To be honest, I cannot imagine stopping.
Me, with Just a Couple of Language-Learning Products to Review
But what to do? My brain is at a dead end for new languages right now. I need to go back and revisit ones I’ve explored previously or I might lose my mind. There is pleasure in remembering, and pain in forgetting, and life—as well as happiness—requires a certain harmonious balance between the two, I believe.
One thing I discovered during my Yiddish unit, as I have mentioned, is that I remembered more than I expected I would of Hebrew. In a similar vein, what I have found for more familiar languages such as Italian, German, French, and Spanish is that each time I return to them, I more quickly reanimate what I have learned before. I hope I will find that to be true for other languages I have explored in this joyful and rewarding and addictive 4.17-year adventure.
Time will tell.
As I look ahead at the future of this website, these are some of my dreams for it.
First of all, I will continue to blog, just as I have for the past several years, but my subjects will not necessarily be confined to a particular language for several weeks or months at a time. I will take more of a free-range approach, I expect.
Second, I plan to dramatically expand and improve the reviews section for products. This means adding more products within existing languages, and implementing better and more advanced functionality so that people can quickly find just the tools they need. I will be examining products from publishers such as Collins, Dover, Berlitz, Wiley, McGraw-Hill, Visual Education, Routledge, Rocket, Hippocrene, BarCharts, and more. Additional suggestions are (greedily!) welcome.
Down the road I expect there will be more languages, but there is first much to be done within ones already visited.
Right now I am extremely drawn to the idea of getting my five best European languages to the highest level I can—simultaneously, I mean—so at the outset of this new phase, I will be focusing on those. I hope you won’t mind a lot of German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian over the next two months.
My New Scarf, Fashioned from Dover Publications Packing Materials
In the future, I want to develop a much more global view of the language-learning market, testing more products from other countries than I have in the past. There is much good material out there that I haven’t yet uncovered, and with technological advances, new learning tools are appearing all the time. I have contacted publishing companies in England and New Zealand and Hong Kong and other faraway places (far away from me, in any case).
I am also interested in products not geared towards native English speakers. To that end, I have approached the French company Assimil, which offers foreign-language training based in multiple languages. You can study German in French, Spanish in Italian, Italian in German, and so on. They have English-based products, too, but at present I’m pretty obsessed with the idea of studying Italian in German!
Effectiveness is my top priority for products I use. And effectiveness requires, among other things, fun. What is fun for me isn’t always fun for someone else—not everyone grooves on grammar guides—so I will try to keep that in mind as I evaluate books and other materials.
Making a truly effective teach-yourself language-learning product is not easy, and I feel that many products out there are not as good as they could be. I want to find what works, use those things for my own selfish language-learning purposes (sinister, I know!), and then describe them for others so that they can use them, too.