5-Week Romanian Mission

Romanian and tea

Fall is in the air, and it’s time for a new language mission!

Since I already have a bigger mission planned starting right after Thanksgiving (any guesses?), I only have 5 weeks for this one. I decided to learn Romanian!

Watch my youtube video to find out why:

As I mention in the video, part of why I chose Romanian over other languages is because I already speak several romance languages, and I wanted to do something a little easier due to the heavy workload I have at the moment. I also wanted to round out the languages spoken in my Polyglot Meetup, where we have a Romance Language chat every other week and no Romanian speakers! You’ll note that I don’t have a specific goal in mind (such as A2 level, or understanding a film without subtitles). The truth is, I’m more curious just how much Romanian I can learn. And while I will have mini-goals for each week, I’m so busy right now that I’m not going to be sure I can set those goals for a couple of days. But that doesn’t mean I should wait before I act! You don’t get anywhere unless you start moving!

How will I do it?

First and foremost, I need to dive right in and learn some basic phrases. I hope to find some speakers on iTalki and Speaky as well, but I recognize that it may take a few days to try and set something up. I learned with Turkish that the time zone difference for that part of the world isn’t very helpful for me right now. I intend to search the local area for Romanians and Romanian speakers to see what I can find.

I’ve also learned that due to my past experiences with romance languages my comprehension will accelerate even when my ability to speak stalls. I intend to use that to my advantage and start trying to read and listen to more advanced materials a little earlier. I’m pretty interested in grammar by itself, so I will have fun trying to understand the grammar of these semi-familiar texts and broadcasts even before I learn the vocabulary to truly understand them.

What about materials?

You might notice from the photo and the video that I have a copy of Teach Yourself: Romanian. I also have the sound files for it, and I will be using it extensively. I will, however, take a different approach than a lot of people I know might do. I like to read the materials in larger chunks, maybe 5 chapters at a time. I find that I can usually remember enough in one session to understand what I’m reading for about that many chapters. This gives me the opportunity to try and make sense of the material itself and figure out what vocabulary and grammar is most helpful for me.

After I’ve distilled the chapters down this way, I will commit vocabulary to memory — though probably in the form of phrases. I will also go back through and make sure I understand the dialogues and can say them at full speed.

Special Sauce

This being another romance language, there are other special things I can do to speed up my learning. I will look at the sound changes that happened for Romanian making it different from the other romance languages, as well as explore lists of cognates and false cognates. The sooner my brain understands what is similar and what is different, the more vocabulary I can remember.

But while this is helpful, it also creates a problem. It means that I often spend time translating to the target language from one of the other languages in the same family. Since Romanian is closest to Italian, I suspect I will try and say very Italianate things, and I will need to start really observing and listening to the specifics of how Romanians really communicate. But I think I might not be able to skip this obstacle, and I will just have to plow through it when I get there.

Join the Fun!

As I’ve said before, language is about community, and it’s always fun to share a goal with someone else. Do the 5-week Romanian mission with me! We don’t need the same materials, the same process, or any of the the same things except grit and enthusiasm! We can share cool resources we find, as well as cool cultural things that inspire us.

I’ll be updating the blog often to keep things transparent and to share with you all the cool things that I discover / experience. Want to do the 5-week Romanian Mission with me? Or maybe you have another language mission you are doing? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to send me a message on twitter: @echonotation


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