As language learners, we all have our own unique ways of learning and acquiring foreign languages. However, sometimes we may find ourselves struggling unnecessarily while learning or just feeling frustrated with our progress. In these situations, it can be helpful to take a step back and reconnect to our learning preferences to optimize our language learning journey.[Read more…] about Your Language Learning Preferences
Performance-based Language Goals
The start of the year is our favorite time to set new language learning goals. After reflecting on the past year, we plan ahead for the next twelve months. We dream about where we’d like to be with our target language, one year from now. Most people set their goals according to the CEFR (Common European Frame of Reference for Languages). They tell themselves: ‘I’d like to reach a B2 level in Spanish’, or ‘I want to pass a C1 exam in French.’ I have set such goals for myself in the past with good results. However, this year I’m trying something different: I’m setting performance-based language goals.
When I think of language goals in terms of performance, I’m aiming at a very specific and individual result. At the end of the year, I want to be able to do X, Y, or Z in my target language. This can be more inspiring and motivating than a certificate. We will see! 😊[Read more…] about Performance-based Language Goals
Learning Thai: My Second Attempt
I always prefer to learn skills on the first try. But, sometimes, it doesn’t work like that. I may need a second, third, or even fourth attempt. That was my experience with the Thai language. I tried to learn it in 2020, put it on hold for a year and a half, and got back to it at the end of 2022.
When I tell others I started to learn Thai, one of the first things they ask, is: “Why are you learning Thai?”. A legitimate and important question. My short answer is: because I’m a Buddhist 🙂. Having clarity on your reasons for learning a certain language or skill turns out to be vital. And it’s not about having a good answer when others ask. It’s about you knowing why you’re doing it. What makes you want to do it? If we don’t ask ourselves why we learn what we learn, we may end up picking up languages or skills that are not entirely meaningful to us. Skills that are supposedly useful or good for us.[Read more…] about Learning Thai: My Second Attempt
Singing in German (Week 13) – Wrap-up of the Project
During the last week of December (and the first one of January), I further explored the voice preparation with the spaghetti exercise described in the Week 11 article. I tried looking for more ease and a sense of freedom in the voice production. I had a number of good experiences in that regard. In fact, I think that going through just a few of these new experiences during a multiple-month project can make a big difference. That’s how we learn, right? By trying something different when things are not working out as expected (and, in this case, I knew what was not going well and was looking for alternatives).
That’s why it is so important to work with a teacher, a coach, or find some kind of mentor. It saves us time. With the guidance of an experienced person, you can get there in less time and with less unnecessary struggle. Learning a new skill is always challenging. Why should we make it even more difficult? I know that many people like the idea of learning on their own. I totally get that. And I even support it (I do it myself as well, all the time). But self-learning has its limits. Especially in fields where you cannot tell what you’re doing well and wrong and need external feedback. Learning how to sing, in my opinion, is one of these skills.[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 13) – Wrap-up of the Project
Singing in German (Week 12) – We Sing As We Train
This may sound like something extremely obvious, but many times we forget completely about it: we sing as we train, as we practice. That means that, in order to be able to achieve a specific result when we sing a song, we need to practice that a good deal consistently. We need to train our muscles and our mind to get whatever we’re looking for. And that can take time. Because of that, is important to be patient 😊 .
The attitude we bring to our practice sessions also plays a role in this learning process. According to my voice teacher during this skill building project, ideally, we should practice as if we were meditating (with the same focus and mindfulness), or as if we were in a music performance. We don’t want to practice carelessly or just go through the motions. Practicing carefully and mindfully can make a difference over time.[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 12) – We Sing As We Train
Singing in German (Week 11) – Taking the Larynx Down
As I mentioned before in this series, many of the exercises with do in class with Patrick exert an indirect influence on certain parts of the vocal tract. One example I mentioned in the past was the act of yawning or sobbing. Both take the larynx down and are good resources to have an experience of what we’re looking for (i.e. bring the larynx down). We don’t need to do anything else. When we yawn, the larynx automatically goes down. It cannot be any other way!
If you yawn and slightly close your eyes (as when sobbing), you will notice that the larynx goes even a little more down. You can try it yourself, putting one hand on your throat and yawning (and then closing a bit your eyes). You’ll notice a downwards movement at the level of the larynx. That might be one of the reasons why opera singers use that facial gesture when singing. Because it helps in keeping the larynx down (and that’s exactly what we want!).[Read more…] about Singing in German (Week 11) – Taking the Larynx Down