As I mentioned in Friday’s article ‘How to end the summer language-learning hiatus‘, the trick to getting started again with self-study is to make a specific decision to study, and then to actually do so!
Making the initial commitment takes just seconds, and so isn’t hard.
I decided to spend an hour studying Swedish on Sunday morning (after a break of more than three months…)
I was worried I’d have forgotten everything and would find myself, depressed and angry, right back where I’d began in January.
But apart from that sense that it would easier just to forget the whole idea, making the decision to study again was a snap.
Come Sunday, though, suddenly I found I had plenty of other things to do.
We woke up late, which didn’t help.
Then there were some ebook orders to send… Can’t keep customers waiting!
And of course there was lunch to prepare.
As it was Sunday, that meant a ‘primo’ (tagliatelle with a garlic and spinach sauce) and a ‘secondo’ (baked breaded slices of chicken and augergines, served with roast potatoes).
All that kept me busy until aperitivo time at 12.00.
We opened a bottle of cold beer and sat in the sun for a few minutes, before getting up to lay the table for lunch.
And ‘lo’, the morning had gone.
In the afternoon I remembered an urgent need to visit our local supermarket to stock up with vegetarian alternatives for the week ahead (one of my kids doesn’t eat meat or fish).
And to kill two birds with one stone, I decided to walk there and back, so getting more than an hour of healthy exercise!
By 4 p.m., though, I was back at my kitchen table and had run out of excuses.
Here’s where the second part of the ‘I’m going to study’ decision comes into play: keep your commitment limited in terms of time and complexity, which makes it much easier to face!
“It’s just an hour” I told myself, fetching my pile of books from the garage where they’d been gathering dust all summer.
The easiest option seemed to be to read a children’s book that my Swedish mother-in-law had given me months back.
So I opened ‘Hus är gott, sa Oskar’ (‘The house is good, says Oskar’).
It’s a crazy tale of a Swedish toddler who, refusing more conventional foods, discovers a liking for construction materials.
“When Oskar’s mamma comes out of the shop she drops her shopping bags, so surprised does she become. For in the pram sits Oskar, gnawing on a brick…”
You get the idea.
Personally, I’m not a fan of using kids’ books for language learning.
While you’d imagine them to be simple, they’re actually not.
They tend to contain a wide range of (often fairly useless) vocabulary.
For example, bricks, floorboards, wallpaper, mixed screws, roof tiles and so on, all featured in Oskar’s diet.
And at one point his amazed mother comes out with an expression that even Google couldn’t help me with:
“Kors i Göta kanal – Oskar äter hus!”
“Cross the Göta canal – Oskar’s eating a house!”
My best guess was that it was one of those very polite subsitutes for a coarse exclamation that women of my grandmother’s generation would use to avoid seeming vulgar.
If any Swedish-speaking club member wants to write in to help with that, please feel free!
But anyway, children’s fiction at least has the advantage of being short.
So in an hour and a quarter I’d finished the book.
The time had passed rapidly, my worst fears (of having forgotten EVERYTHING) appeared unfounded, and I’d even enjoyed myself!
One thing remained to do, before putting the books back in the garage.
To create momentum, I needed to decide the day/time of the next session!
Monday, too busy.
Tuesday I’m teaching, so won’t have time or energy.
Wednesday… well, I guess I could do an hour on Wednesday…
A week or two of this and, hopefully, I’ll have created a study habit and so will be back on track.
Watch this space.
So, what about you?
Did you study Italian this weekend???
Leave a comment on this article to let me know, and to share your views and experiences with the two or three thousand club members who are likely to read this.
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Or visit the club website to find something to study!
Final days of Italian/English Parallel Text offers!
A reminder – the offers on Italian – English parallel texts end on Tuesday night.
Until then, the three new ones are priced at £5.99, which is -25% off the usual ebook price.
While there’s an ‘old’ parallel text, one that’s suitable for beginnners or near beginners, priced at just £1.99!
All four ebooks have free sample chapters available – why not download one or two to see how they look on your computer, tablet or phone?
The .pdfs can be printed, or studied directly on your device.
You’ll find instructions on how to view the Italian and English texts side by side in this FAQ.
Remember, both offers, for the three new titles and for the old one, end tomorrow (Tuesday) night.
Click the links above or browse all of our ebooks for learning Italian, new and old, here.)