Hello fellow language enthusiasts!  It’s about that time.  In this post, I’d like to lay out my language plans for 2014.  This will be an ambitious year indeed as I look to add THREE (3) , yes III, languages to my “speaks conversationally” list, bringing the total to 6.  What do I consider “conversational fluency?  Good question.  Here is a quick and dirty explanation of what I consider conversational fluency and consequently, what I aim for on my personal language missions:

Basic FUNCTIONAL conversation ability.
1.      I would like to be able to talk about myself, my family, my work, and my hobbies as well as ask others about theirs.
2.      I would like to discuss specific topics that interest me (ie: languages, board games, sports, etc).
3.      I would like to be able to talk about my day in detail and understand the same from a native or advanced speaker.
4.      I would like to be able to discuss common everyday chat about typical subjects (the weather, food, movies, books, etc)
5.      I would like to be able to speak with a reasonable accent at a consistent, fluid pace (even if that pace is substantially slower than native)
6.     I would like to be able to understand the language spoken at a reasonable pace using fairly basic/common vocabulary.

I do NOT need to:
1.     Be able to talk about politics or science.
2.     Be able to have in depth philosophical conversations or debates.
3.     Be able to speak at native level speeds.
4.     Be able to understand subtle nuances (ie: jokes, undertones, double meanings, etc)
5.     Be able to understand full speed native speech unless the vocabulary is fairly basic.

Without further ado, here are the goals:

1.  Mandarin Chinese –  I am starting basically from scratch.  My goals with this language are to reach “conversational fluency” in speaking only.  I will not even attempt any reading or writing which should help immensely.   I did study Cantonese for a few months to about an A1ish level, so I’m hoping that the fewer tones and similar pronunciation/grammar should give me a slight boost.

2.  Indonesian – I am going to start this language on June 1st and see how much progress I can make in 6 Months.  My goal is conversational level and I will be disappointed in anything less.  This language is truly starting from absolute zero.  I have no prior knowledge whatsoever of Indonesian and this will be a true test of the efficiency and effectiveness of my personal study plan.

3.  Spanish – I am currently about an A2 or so and am going to use my Spanish for a language experiment involving sentence mining.  I will cover this experiment more in depth in a future post.

Future posts will cover specific methods, materials, and checkpoints for each language in depth.


Thanks for reading.



One thought on “Language Learning Goals for 2014- Mandarin, Spanish, and Indonesian

  1. Interesting stats and a great post from a while back. While I agree it is important to oimtpize how you study a second language there is no need to put a limit of how many characters you should be studying, especially when you are living in China, trying to enjoy a good book, or just taking in the environment around you. There are always new characters to be found. If you can read them all, then it is time to start asking if you can write them all as well.I personally try to base my own new character studying on frequency within books, articles, news broadcasts, etc. If I see a word coming up again and again then I make a point to learn it. While I might still look up other words for meaning, I also try and understand as much as I can based on the surrounding material. If there character doesn’t strike me as being a crucial point to the meaning of the sentence I am quick to forget it until I run into again.I am quickly approaching the 3,000 character mark but that isn’t going to stop me from studying. Every time I look at a poem from the past I am amazed by the new characters that I learn. The Chinese have a great saying that I think we should all try and remember 学无止境 (xue9wfazhǐjecng)knowledge is limitless.

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