My New Year’s (Language) Resolutions


Last year, I took a break from my usual self-flagellating New Year’s pledges to stop drinking, go running at 6am every day or some other thing that I was clearly never going to do, and instead made a fun resolution: to visit 5 brand-new countries during the year.

I achieved my goal quite easily in the end, thanks to my partner being as much of a language and travel geek as I am.

I started the year well, with New Years celebrations in Italy, teaching Italians how to pull crackers, eat Christmas pudding correctly (hint: don’t stir it!) and make tea in the British way. I also spent a week struggling along with my roughly 20 words of Italian (I know a bit more now!).

In March, I spent 5 days in Luxembourg with friends from University. Luxembourg is a strange, quintessentially European country that could easily be overlooked, but has a great mix of French and German culture.

The Easter bank holiday saw me take a sneaky trip to Amsterdam, adding the Netherlands to my roster. After four solid days of sampling the Dutch lifestyle, from the socially-acceptable pursuits of sight-seeing and tasting Dutch food and drink, to some of the other activities that Amsterdam is famous for, I definitely needed a holiday to recover from the holiday, but I loved the Netherlands and the straightforward, open-minded nature of its people.

In May, I visited Ukraine for the first time, and I have fledgling plans to go back soon. We visited during some of the events of the ‘revolution’ there, and it was a very interesting moment to see Kiev. Hopefully I will learn much more about the place, its people and culture this year!

Finally, I took a summer trip to Aarhus in Denmark, to add another very relaxed and yet efficient Northern country to my year. The weather was incredible and this was a really surprisingly fantastic little city, with surprisingly great beaches (some FKK) and interesting sights, such as the Old Town (den Gamle By).

… As for this year, I’ve already had a pretty dry January simply by virtue of being too sick to drink alcohol. I have a few other goals in mind, but my main language learning resolutions are below!

  1. I’m starting the year with a challenge. This January I’ve been doing the EuroTalk #NewYearNewuTalk challenge – to learn as much Romanian as I can in a month. You can read about my progress on the ET blog. I wouldn’t say I’m in with any chance of winning, but it’s been an interesting experiment to start a completely new language and experience a new set of challenges. It’s great to be able to impress my colleague Ioana with my random Romanian words and phrases. Although I don’t think I’ll take the language further, just knowing the basics is quite interesting, as this isn’t such a ‘mainstream’ language for a Brit to learn.
  2. Get my Italian and French up to a decent standard. I’d say I’m hovering around intermediate in both of these, albeit with the main deficiency in the area of speaking… I intend to hit them both hard by continuing my (occasional) French lessons and Duolingo, as well as trying loads of new learning methods (see my next post).
  3. Build up my translation work. More about this later, but I’m hoping my translation work might become a bigger part of my life in the not-too-distant future. So I’m on the lookout for new clients, as well as trying to improve my abilities (as always).
  4. Start learning Russian. This is on the backburner for now, but it’s definitely a goal for later on this year, if things go to plan.
  5. Make more use of my German and Spanish. These are my two more fluent languages, and I hope to make more time for reading, chatting, watching movies and whatever else I can think of in both of them.

So these are my 5 goals for 2015. They might sound a bit general and non-specific, but I plan several more posts on here about my more specific language learning strategies and goals.

Happy New Year, and happy language learning

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