B1 Turkish: End of Week One


So it’s been one week since I started my Language Mission for reaching B1 level Turkish in one month. Last week I made an unscripted video for you in which I stumbled over my words and grammar trying to remember how to say anything. This week, after good review and a lot of new material, I still stumble over my words, but I have more of them.

Well, I’ve got another video for you as well!

So how am I doing?

I had three goals for the week:

  1. Learn all the vocab and grammar from 3 more chapters of my TY:Turkish book
  2. Find at least 3 language partners and have at least 3 hour long exchanges (That’s 30 minutes in Turkish and 30 minutes in their requested language)
  3. Write another blog post (That’s this one!) at the end of the week detailing my progress and laying out my next set of mini-goals

It’s been an interesting week, and I’ve basically accomplished my goals, but there are definitely things I will need to do differently this next week.

I also learned some great things about the resources available to me, to practice — what’s working and what isn’t — that I will be sure to detail here.

Learning Vocabulary and Grammar!

I did it. I learned all the vocabulary I set out to learn, and more. I didn’t just learn the words in the dialogues, but all of the supplementary vocabulary as well. In addition, I had other vocabulary I looked up out of curiosity throughout the week that ended up in my lists. Somewhere in the order of 300 words and the accompanying grammar.

Why am I not sure? Well, because I used good ‘ole-fashioned, paper flash cards. That’s right. I wrote them all out by hand. With programs like Memrise and Anki out there, people are really amazed I would do that. Doesn’t it take a lot of time? Do you carry them with you everywhere like you would an app?

Yes, it does take a lot of time to make the flashcards by hand. But the time I spend actually writing out a flash card is time I spend actually learning the word. I have to pay attention to the spelling if I’m going to spell it. I spend more time looking at it. Don’t get me wrong: I love digital Spaced Repetition Systems like Anki and Memrise. I just find that written flash cards stick with me better.

And no, I don’t carry the flash cards around with me everywhere. A lot of people advocate carrying flash cards around to practice in their spare moments. But I use those spare moments to try and make sentences with the vocabulary that I’ve learned (practicing grammar). I only study my flash cards in the morning when I wake up, and at evening before I go to sleep. The rest of the day they are in their box, unless I’m writing new ones down.

But a full explanation of vocabulary and grammar method is another post entirely. I’ll be sure to do that one soon for everyone!

Finding Language Partners

This was mostly a success, but didn’t go exactly as I’d planned.

I used two language based social networks to practice my Turkish. The first was iTalki, where I posted journal entries to practice my sentences. It’s really a great feature, and the feedback was invaluable. I’m still looking for a way to connect my blog to iTalki so that people can explore my journal entries more readily!

The other social network I used was Speaky. Where I could jump into immediate conversation with Turks over chat. I did have an hour and a half of conversation in turkish, like planned, but it happened in with only two conversations instead of three. The first for an hour (30 minutes of Turkish and 30 minutes of English), and the other for an hour of only Turkish. This isn’t as ideal, because I didn’t spread it across the week, but it still gave me the opportunity to practice real communication!

Only one problem: I didn’t speak to anyone!

Speaky has both typing and video conversations, but I only did the typing. This wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I only had time to talk early in the morning, and I didn’t want to disturb my wife or neighbors by having conversation at 6am. So, still not an ideal use of the social network.

So what’s next?

All in all, the week went really well, and I learned a lot. If you watch my video, however, you’ll see that I’m still pausing a lot when I speak, and it’s taking me a long time to find the words. Put simply: I’ve got no flow.

The number one thing my studying is lacking is conversation. I’ve been reading and writing a lot, and it has been great for my core understanding, but if I don’t practice speaking I will never start thinking in the language. I also need to start listening to more Turkish at full speed so I don’t have to translate into English as much when I’m trying to understand things.

What does this mean? Slow down on the vocab and add in more conversation and dialogues. I need to figure out a way to make sure I can have real conversation this week. But adding a few conversations isn’t enough. I also need to spend more time practicing saying full sentences, out loud and to speed! A good place to start with that is memorize dialogues from my Teach Yourself: Turkish book.

So my goals for next week are:

  1. Learn the vocabulary and grammar from 2 more chapters of my Teach Yourself: Turkish book. I need to keep progressing, and I want to finish the book, but I can move a little slower than I went last week.
  2. Memorize the dialogues from 3 chapters that I have learned (including the ones I am about to learn) that are the most interesting subject matters to me and have the grammar patterns I’m having the most difficult time getting correct.
  3. Have 3 more conversations on Speaky, but this time they need to be spoken!

Next week I’ll write another post to mark the halfway point, and I’ll try and post some video of actual conversation with a language partner so you can see how I’m doing in a real conversation.

What do you think?

How do you feel about my progress this last week? What about my goals for the coming week? Have you tried any of the things I’ve mentioned, or had similar problems or successes?

How’s your language project going?

Let me know in the comments!

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