A quick one today, as I’m exhausted after all the extra work involved in last week’s (now concluded) Autumn Sale, and because of a new house guest, who’s been keeping us up at night.
Club members who’ve been with us for a while, so the majority, will remember Roomie, so-called because she shared our room for a little over a year, until March this year. Lots of you wrote to say you missed hearing about her.
Well, now we have Bug, the same species as Roomie, and also sharing our room. He needed a name, but Roomie II didn’t suit him, so I choose something that reflects his physical characteristics: he’s a lot smaller than Roomie (about a quarter of the size), ranges in colour from a pale pink to an angry red, according to his digestion, and spends most of his time sleeping, waking only to eat, at three-hour intervals, day and night.
Occasionally he’ll gaze around, as if wondering where he’s ended up. For now, that’s about it.
Anway, you can imagine the impact on our daily routine. The ample time I had for reading newspapers and listening to the radio in the languages I’m learning evaporated from one day to the next, and instead I’m kept busy with walks, preparing meals, cleaning up messes, and so on.
I dare say I’ll have more to tell you about Bug as he settles in, though being just a pup he’s not going to be very interesting, linguistically-speaking, for a good while. For now it’s mostly just the occasional squeak.
Intanto, I’ll mention what I’m sure most club members already know, which is the dramatic impact that life events can have on even the best-planned and well-practiced study routine.
A change of job, a spell in hospital, a new family member, or whatever, can mean that suddenly you don’t have the time, or the mental bandwidth, for what you hitherto achieved with ease, and took pride in.
Days pass, then weeks, perhaps months or years, and at some point you remember that you ‘used to’ do this or that in the language that you ‘were learning’, how satisfying that was, and how much progress you had made, until…
It happens to me all the time – perhaps I have a particularly turbulent life, who knows? For instance, a month ago I bought a harmonica, because I was minding a neighbour’s child, and he had one.
With the harmonica came a slip of paper advertising a month’s free trial at Bluesharmonica.com, so I gave it a go, if only to pass the time (hah!)
There’s a mass of super stuff on that website, and it took me several weeks to begin to even learn how to exploit it. But I dipped in, more or less regularly, tried to pay attention and – wow – I learnt a lot! Even in a short time. I had every intention of continuing. You know that feeling, I expect.
And then, the Autumn Sale.
And then, in the middle of the Autumn Sale, Bug.
I’ve found, though, that while one door might close, inevitably another will open.
And so, this morning, while walking back to our Italian school after delivering Bug to his petting zoo, I got the Bluetooth ear buds in, fired up the radio app on my smartphone, and listened to a bunch of bad news from Sweden. In Swedish, naturally.
My comprehension of spoken Swedish isn’t so bad, given that I’ve been practising for about five years now. But lack of sleep makes everything fuzzy.
Nevertheless, it was half an hour of practice that I wouldn’t have had, pre-Bug. At that hour, I’d have been sat at my kitchen table glued to the computer screen.
There are still a couple of days to run of the free-trial harmonica lessons, so I haven’t given up hope. Maybe I can learn some lullabies to entertain the pup… But even if not, at some point things will swing back the other way, and I’ll find myself with more time on my hands.
Then, hopefully, I’ll remember having discovered such great resources, and how enjoyable it was to learn with them.
OK, this has been a bit all over the place I know (lack of sleep). But your takeaway is this: try things, don’t beat yourself up if they don’t always work out, and in particular, aim for sustainable long-term learning habits and routines.
If something isn’t likely to be sustainable, then you might as well save yourself the grief of eventually failing to keep it up.
Think ahead – it’s the things that you manage to do over the medium/long term that will make the difference. Good to keep that in mind when making choices about how to spend your learning time.
That’s also why I’m a big radio fan, as with radio I can listen while doing other things. Podcasts, too, as someone wrote to remind me the other day. Take a look at https://www.raiplaysound.it/, for instance. They also have a free smartphone app.
A mercoledì, allora.
Did you read/listen to Saturday’s FREE bulletin of ‘easy’ Italian news?
I confess, I didn’t, for the reasons I explained above.
But as there’ll be another bulletin tomorrow (Tuesday), I plan to get it done, today!
Subscribers (I’m one) receive each bulletin, via email, as soon as it’s published. The idea is to help you make reading/listening a habit.
Subscribing is FREE!