Learning Esperanto in Six Weeks - Day Forty-Two
Six weeks of learning Esperanto is over today. Last night I filmed my video presentation, uploaded it to YouTube, and in a few minutes I’ll email the contest organizer the link.
It has been fun, for the most part. Not only did I learn some Esperanto, but I learned a few things about how to learn a language.
Here's a few things I could have done better the last six weeks (and my video at the end) :
More singing: I love to sing. I don't think I'm great at it, but I like doing it.
I found some Esperanto music, and for the last four weeks I've been listening to the same 22 songs over and over again on the way to and from work. But I only learned the lyrics to two of those songs. (And with those two songs, I only learned most of the lyrics.)
Listening to music isn't a good language learning tool for me. It's hard to pick out words, and sometimes songs in Esperanto will leave out the last syllable on some words. Heck, I often have a hard time figuring out lyrics in English, and it's worse in a different language.
But finding lyrics on the Internet, learning the words, and singing along helped me to internalize the language. I wish I had done that with more than two songs.
More videos of myself: I didn't take a video of myself speaking Esperanto until 4 days ago, when I decided to do a practice run of my presentation.
Boy, am I glad I did a practice run. I discovered that I didn't know a few the words I needed to know for my presentation. And I discovered some mistakes I was making.
Since winning this competition meant doing a video presentation, I could have and should have started practicing the presentation weeks ago. Some of my fellow Esperanto learners did a video at the end of week one, so they could see the improvements they made by the end. I did not do that; I should have, though.
And even if a video presentation wasn't part of the competition, forcing myself to speak about a topic for three minutes, and then going back and critiquing myself was useful. My final video would have had fewer grammar and pronunciation mistakes if I had practiced more.
I should have tried harder to find someone to speak to. I'm sure I'm not the only person in Sacramento who knows at least a little Esperanto. Being able to speak with someone who knew the language better than me would have been great. They could correct my mistakes. I would have been exposed to new vocabulary. It would have taught me to understand spoken Esperanto better. I could have asked questions. Lots and lots of questions.
I did exchange a couple emails with an Esperanto learner in Ireland, but I let my busy life get in the way of responding to him, so that didn't last very long.
There are a few things I did right. I discovered the Anki flash card app for my phone, which helped me learn hundreds of words in a couple of weeks. I finished two courses on lernu.net. And changing my Facebook language to Esperanto helped more than I thought it would. (Not that it helped a ton, but it did help more than I thought it would.)
And I tried lots of new ways to learn. For most of the last year my language learning has been mostly from Duolingo. Duolingo is great . (In fact I wish you could learn Esperanto with Duolingo.) But it has a few drawbacks. Trying many methods in tandem seems to work better than just one.
So now what? I have a decision to make now. Part of me wants to spend another 6 weeks on Esperanto. I think I'd be pretty close to fluent by the end of the summer. Part of me wants to go back to studying German. And part of me wants to pick a different language.
I'll take a few days to decide.
The video: So I'm not 100% happy with it, but I don't think I did too bad for someone who didn't speak any Esperanto 6 weeks ago. I made a few mistakes. And it was a breezy evening, and so the audio quality drops out at a few places.
But I'm proud of myself for being able to talk about my hometown for over three minutes, without notes. I spent 9 months trying to study German and I wouldn't be able be able to this presentation in German.
I hope they post a list somewhere of the other videos in the competition. I'd love to see how others did after six weeks.