It was a slow start to this week. On the first Sunday of each four week learning cycle, classes are suspended until 11am while all new students take their placement tests and are given an orientation briefing. After that, all the new and existing students are re-streamed into groups based on their placement and end-of-month test results. While Penina did her placement test today I looked after our daughter, and my teacher was away sick so there wasn’t even a short 90 minute lesson for me after that. It was super, super lovely hanging out with my little girl, though, after a month apart.
Classes started again for me today. Two new students had been streamed into my class which I was very happy about after having been bumped down to two-hour solo lessons by the end of last week. The three of us have different strengths and weaknesses but we’re similar enough that our teacher is confident we can work together productively for maximum progress. I’m very glad for the opportunity to do longer four-hour lessons again with all the speaking that comes along with that. I missed it last week. We started nice and easy with on a unit from a textbook earlier in the series to let the teacher get a sense of the new students’ learning needs. Broadly speaking, I seem to be stronger on vocab and have the increased speaking confidence that comes from having just completed 80 hours of intensive study, while the other two are stronger then me on grammar.
Today we picked up in the textbook from where I finished up last week. Our new topic is the grocer and we got our first big dump of new vocab for the month. The dynamic between the two other students and I is fantastic — such a contrast to last month — and I’ll be quite sad when one of them leaves at the end of next week, and the other at the end of this month.
I’ve been very lucky for the past month to be able to devote 24 hours a day to language learning but having my family here in Amman means that I’ve had to adjust my study schedule. No more flashcards in the morning because I’m running around after my almost-three-year-old, and I can’t get stuck into homework as soon as class finishes because I take over the parenting while Penina is in her class. I do a few flashcards on my phone throughout the afternoon whenever I get five minutes but the only proper time I have for study now is in the evenings once our daughter is asleep. I’m glad that I had the time and space to establish learning routines and actually learn how to learn this stuff, but I’m more glad to be back together with my girls. It just means I need to be clever and disciplined about study from now on.
Big grammar day today. It was good to revisit irregular weak vowel conjugations as it was one of the areas I fell down on in last week’s test — all of my weak points were grammar related. I scored 39 out of 50, however, which is quite a bit better than I felt I’d performed on the day. A reminder that I need to focus on the progress I *am* making as well as the things I’m struggling with. Still, I need to work hard to finish internalising all these tables and put them into practice.
I made one of my regular amusing mistakes in class conversation today: confusing “party” (hafla) for “bus” (haafilah). I’ve tried in the past to remember the difference by thinking of “party bus” (haafilah hafla) but I still get them mixed up. Also, for some mysterious reason I always use wasala (“arrive”) as “return” — I’ve been making this mistake for literally years with Mohanned and it seems I’m going to get it wrong for the rest of my life.
Fun but exhausting vocab quiz this morning. The three of us stood at the whiteboard and took turns writing airport-related verbs and nouns that our teacher gave to us in English. After there were about 30-40 up there we had to work together to put together a story. Then we kept working on the grocer topic and did some more work on irregular verbs. After a relatively easy start to the week it was nice to be back to feeling very challenged and as though I’m operating *just* at the edge of my capacity. I’m increasingly convinced that this is the only way to learn this stuff properly. If you’re feeling comfortable you’re not making progress.
We were given a heads-up for the weekly spoken presentation starting again from next Thursday. Next week will be five minutes, the week after ten, and the final week of the month 15. I’m going to have to start putting more thought into preparing these than just trying to write it the night before.
And since this blog is sort of my Garmin or Fitbit for language learning, here’s this week’s flashcard stats: