Language learning “check in”
I started dreaming in Turkish. Well, I had one very mundane dream involving basic sentences (which makes sense, since my brain probably won’t produce Turkish sentences that it can’t comprehend), and a few times in the early morning half-dreaming state I reviewed new words without any will or effort. These are good signs, I think.
Language learning is an endless process with no real finish lines. Sometimes we feel confident and motivated. Sometimes we feel pathetic and overwhelmed. I thought I would take this moment to check in with where I am in the endless process of learning Turkish.
Friendships in Turkish. For the first time, I have friends and acquaintances with whom our strongest common language is Turkish. For the first time, I am sitting across from someone for hours and conversing in Turkish. People text me in Turkish not for the fun of it, but because they couldn’t do it in English. Gratitude and excitement fill me, because I can see that learning a language has allowed certain relationships that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
Vocabulary growth. Thanks to the new Turkish social fabric, I learn dozens of new words every week. belge (certificate). yalınayak (barefoot). yerleşim (settlement). tilki (fox). At first I didn’t know how to retain them, but I have been playing with methods, and finding ones that work. It’s a great feeling to learn a word and then see it the next day, or need it the next day to understand someone.
“Areas that need improvement”
Listening comprehension. Because I am a pretty good faker when it comes to understanding, and because I am comfortable with not knowing what is going on exactly, I let people speak at too high a level. The result: I understand only the topic and some random words. The action plan now is to continue with wonderful Turkish Tea Time podcasts and to slow people down, even if it means they get a bit bored.
New grammar. I’m comfortable with present, past, and future tenses, with “can” and with one way to say “have to” (in Turkish there are at least four), but I have been coasting on this for too long. I still struggle with “if”, with “when she comes…”, and even with “don’t have to.” If I don’t take time to learn the new grammar, I will carry on, but with seriously stunted ability to understand and express.
I think even a simple check in like this does help. I’d recommend it to all you fellow language learners. Now, time for some more Turkish dreaming.