Clear the List March | The ONE Thing

This March I’m taking part in Clear the List, a language learning community challenge hosted and started by Lindsay from Lindsay Does Languages and Shanon of Eurolinguiste.

Languages are listed in order of most to least important to me.

If you would like to review my yearly language learning goals for 2018, click here.

 

 


Any language learner knows that the key to successful language acquisition comes down to one thing: knowing what you want to achieve and doing what needs to be done to achieve it.

Any aspiring polyglot also knows how hard it can be to do just that.

It may be simple but it’s not easy.

Languages outside of our target beckon to us and distract us from our work.

All the moving parts of a language—vocabulary, grammar, listening comprehension, reading comprehension, speaking—vie for our attention.

We may watch a few YouTube videos one day, work on Duolingo the next, and then move on to learning grammar or vocabulary.

We put in the work but still feel like we’re not getting anywhere.

Even for those learning one language the dangers of stretching yourself too thin are prevalent.

For those of us learning multiple languages at once, laser-like focus is key to success.

Without it, we will fail.

Without it, I’ll fail.

That’s why this month’s Clear the List for March is in honor of one great idea: doing the one thing.


The One Thing

Work smarter, not harder.

Less is more.

Clouds and dirt.

80/20.

Efficiency can be expressed in a variety of ways but until I read The One Thing, I had never found a method that helped me to work smarter not harder.

I never felt satisfied with doing “less” and was always scrambling and doing more, using up all my precious energy with actions that left me unsatisfied and frustrated.

I hadn’t found a way to translate my bold thinking from airy-fairy hopes and dreams into a workable, actionable manageable plan.

Until I found The One Thing.

Don’t underestimate the power of one pointed direct question.

Powerful questions have the power to draw out answers that innovate.

It’s simple.

What’s the one thing you can do such that by doing it everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?

This isn’t Pareto.

This is Pareto on steroids.

The one thing suggests that with laser-like focus it doesn’t even take 20% of your effort to produce 80% of your results.

Your One Thing starts a chain reaction.

Your One Thing is your most important thing.

Everything else is a distraction.

 


Spanish

What’s the one thing I can do to learn advanced Spanish in a year?

What’s the one thing I can do to speak fluent Spanish?

What’s the one thing I can do to speak fluent Spanish about a classic novel written in Spanish?

What’s the one thing I can do to make reading a classic novel written in Spanish easier?

What’s the one thing I can to read a classic novel written in Spanish such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

 

My One Thing for Spanish

  • Learn the top 5000 words in Spanish

 

Why this One Thing?

I’ve already finished a comprehensive review of Spanish grammar.

If I know more words, especially words that are more frequently used in the Spanish language, I’ll potentially avoid looking up as many words.

Thus, I’ll comprehend more.

In the long run, any words that I run across while reading will also be primed more in my mind.

I’ll be forming mental and grammatical models of these most common words as I encounter them while I read.

When I talk to a native speaker about the book then I can more readily draw on this words and grammatical models in our conversation.

 


German

What’s the one thing I can do to learn intermediate German in a year?

What’s the one thing I can do to speak with a native German speaker?

What’s the one thing I can do to speak with a native German speaker for 35 minutes by the end of this year about the past, present, and future?

What’s the one thing I can do to understand common and useful phrases in German such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

 

My One Thing for German

  • Use Mango Languages to compile phrases and sentence templates I can use in conversations

 

Why this One Thing?

By using Mango Languages, I’m not just rote memorizing sentences structure and templates.

Mango Languages breaks down the grammar in a systematic way that teaches you how to creatively formulate the language on your own and not become a language hacking robot.

This teaches me the overall structure of the German language, refines my pronunciation, introduces me to German grammar and logic, key vocabulary, and cultural insights all in one while preparing me for a conversation with a German speaker.

These action steps will make things easier or unnecessary such as relearning grammar later or scrambling to put the language together once I’ve built up a vocabulary.

I’ll already have some contexts to insert new vocabulary into.

 


Portuguese

What’s the one thing I can do to learn intermediate Portuguese in a year?

What’s the one thing I can do to speak with a native Portuguese speaker for 40 minutes by the end of this year about the past, present, and future?

What’s the one thing I can do to use my Spanish to speak with a native Portuguese speaker?

What’s the one thing I can do to differentiate Portuguese from Spanish such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

 

My One Thing for Portuguese

  • Rapidly zoom through Mango Languages for Portuguese (e.g. half the time you would spend on German) and identify phrasal patterns

 

Why this One Thing?

This one thing is to simply distinguish Portuguese in my mind from Spanish.

By doing this, I can also create phrases and grammatical structures.

For some reason, I feel uncomfortable with just Googling a compiles list of Portuguese phrases without the accompanying grammar and culture lessons built into my learning.

The more mental links and associations you can make at one time with a piece of knowledge or content, the better you learn it, internalize it and memorize it, making it easier to utilize later.

 


French

What’s the one thing I can do to learn intermediate French in a year?

What’s the one thing I can do to Speak with a native French speaker for 30 minutes about the past, present, and future in a year?

What’s the one thing I can do to Speak with a native French speaker for 30 minutes about the past, present, and future in a year such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

Talk about a mouthful.

Pointed questions make for pointed answers and it seems for these new languages that a pattern is emerging.

 

My One Thing for French

  • Use Mango Languages to identify and compile sentence structures

 

Why this One Thing?

The reasoning behind this one thing is just as sound for French as it was for German.

 


Esperanto

What’s the one thing I can do to learn intermediate Esperanto in one year?

What’s the one thing I can do to speak with an Esperanto speaker for 20 minutes about the past, present, and future such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?

 

My One Thing for Esperanto

  • Complete the online Lernu course also taking not of key grammatical structures and phrases

 

Why this One Thing?

Refer to prior reasoning.

 


Italian

What’s the one thing I can do to learn low intermediate Italian in a year?

What’s the one thing I can do to Speak with a native Italian speaker for 20 minutes by the end of this year about the past, present, and future?

What’s the one thing I can do to prepare for my first easy conversation in Italian such that by doing it every else will be easier or unnecessary?

 

My One Thing for Italian

  • Use Mango Languages to compile sentence structures and learn grammatical structures simultaneously

 

Why this One Thing?

Refer to German.

 


Join Me!

If you haven’t yet, create your own Clear the List goals for March.

Remember, if you share your list on social media be sure to include the hashtag #clearthelist as it allows us to create a language learning community.

Now, time to get it done.

Adiós!

Adeus!

Auf Wiedersehen!

Ciao!

Au revoir!

Adiaŭ!

 


 

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Polyglot Path Blog

6 Languages. 1 Year. The Plan.

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4 thoughts on “Clear the List March | The ONE Thing”

  1. What a thorough path you’ve mapped out! Was happy to see Esperanto on your list. I can recommend an app for it called Esperanto Per Rekta Metodo. Teaches speaker if any native language through context. My goal is to follow worldwide podcasts found on another app. Cheers!

    Like

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! Esperanto is one of those languages where resources are scarce unless you’re in the know.

      Your observations are spot on. I’ve mapped out a thorough path because I know my long-term goal is audacious. If I don’t break it down into ridiculously manageable pieces I’ll get nothing done.

      It’s interesting to see a writer/editor following my blog, but then again as a proud book hoarder and avid reader, my love of language isn’t confined to one area.

      Are you currently learning any languages?

      Like

      1. Totally agree; Esperanto is growing recently, but needs more resources. I expected to find more on Audible, for starters. ☺️
        After neglecting language study for too many years, I’m focused on Esperanto and a neat micro language called Toki Pona. Hoping to springboard from there to Spanish and regaining my German. I like the constructed language communities, and want to read some favorite works in original Spanish.
        I’m glad you mentioning Esperanto led me to your blog.🙂 Your list and schedule are very encouraging, besides introducing me to some new resources.

        Like

      2. I’m so glad I could help you find resources to use. The struggle can be real especially with languages that are artificial. With popular languages like Spanish and German, learners have the opposite problem: analysis paralysis. There are too many options.

        I’m just about to finish my thorough review of Spanish grammar and vocab before I move on to Crónica de una muerte anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold). I read it years ago at the peak of my Spanish proficiency so I figured why not throw myself into the deep end and hope I tread water. 🤣 In the upcoming weeks, I’ll be posting a series of posts that compiles the best resources I have used in the past or know for sure I will use in the future. I’ll keep you posted.

        I’ve never heard of Toki Pona, but after a quick Google search, I think I might have to add this language to my list. I like the idea of constructed languages. I wonder if there is a group out there that contains artificial language polyglots who focus mostly on languages like Esperanto and Toki Pona. That would be amazing. Thanks for sharing such a cool new language with me. I’m thrilled by how much I don’t know that I don’t know. 🤓

        Like

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