Celebrate the Small

[Image: A graph from Anki from 8/27/2018 showing 30 consecutive days of language study.]Yesterday I completed 30 days in a row of studying my Italian and German flashcards.

I took a screenshot of my Italian graph and posted it to the Fluent Forever Language Learning Community group on Facebook.

In response, someone commented, “I wish I had motivation like you.”

His comment got me thinking. I bought the English IPA Deck, the English → Italian Pronunciation Trainer, and the English → German Pronunciation Trainer 71 days ago. I started creating my Stage 2 Italian vocabulary flashcards 48 days ago and my German vocabulary flashcards 44 days ago. In the time since I began Stage 2, I have missed only 1 day of review.

This is the longest I have worked on learning a language since college.


What has kept me going?

I think the “secret” to my success, if you can call it that, is attributable to three factors:

  1. Having clear goals
  2. Using a clear method
  3. Scheduling my time
  4. Celebrating the small

Perhaps the most important factor is celebrating the small victories. I cheer for myself every time I finish a creating a block of flashcards or finish a review block.

I look at my Anki graphs quickly every day. They allow me to see my progress. Lately, each time I look at them I feel like a I’ve won a little victory.

It hasn’t always been easy and the Anki graphs haven’t always been encouraging. Minimal Pair Training using Anki almost made me give up until a friend who is a language teacher said that she only requires students who are really struggling to do extensive Minimal Pair work. Once I quit, I rediscovered the joy in language learning.

The second most important factor is protecting my time. I create schedules for myself using Cal Newport’s Time Blocking method [Icon: Open in New Window]. Every day this summer I have been able to set aside specific blocks of time for flashcard creation and for flashcard review.

I know not everyone has the ability to devote as much time to their language study as I have this summer. For example, I don’t have a family which gives me freedom that not everyone has. Doing what you can with the time you have should be part of your little victories.


Little victories this week

I’ve got some little victories to celebrate this week.

  • I’ve completed 31 days in a row of studying Italian vocabulary.
  • I’ve completed 31 days in a row of studying German vocabulary.
  • I figured out how to horizontal progress bars using HTML & CSS in my last blog post.
  • In thinking about starting an italki account, I’ve been able to think in simple Italian sentences again.
  • I finished creating the flashcards for the words from the glossary of The Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary.

I finished going through the glossary of The Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary

Today I noticed that I was so close to finishing the glossary from The Lonely Planet Italian Phrasebook & Dictionary that I could finish it today with about an hour to an hour and a half of flashcard creation. So, I did.

[Image: PDF Icon]I tackled the 625 List in a particular way. I skipped over pronouns, numbers, months (except for April for some reason), and days of the week. Numbers are found on pages 32-33 of the guide. Months and days of the week are found on pages 35-36.

In total, I found 425 of the 625 words (68%) in the glossary. If you click on the link, you’ll find a PDF of my checklist. To be honest, it probably won’t be too helpful. It doesn’t have any of the translations.[1]


What are your little victories this week? Share them in the comments below.



[1] If you do decide to look at my check list, the following is a helpful key:

  • A red checkmark to the left of a word means I found it in the glossary.
  • A black checkmark to the right of a word means that it had an irregular plural (for example, “egg” translates as “uovo” and is masculine but “eggs” translates as “uova” is feminine) or there’s a slight but regular spelling change (for example, “plastics” translates as “plastica” and “plastics” translates as “plastiche“).
  • Sometimes a word will have arrows saying male and female. This was just my way of keeping track that I had included both gendered versions of words since Italian distinguishes between a male lawyer (avvocato) and a female lawyer (avvocata or avvocatessa).
  • There are some words in the margins that I added such as “grandchild” (nipote), “grape” (uva), and “sweet” (dolce).

Return to the text. [Icon: Back to the text]

PDF Icon made by Dimitry Miroliubov from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

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