Learning A New Language


I’m getting a headstart on my new year’s goal of learning Estonian. There’s a couple different resources I’m using, and I thought to share them here, for anyone else who might be curious as to how one goes about learning a language (be it Estonian or another). *

  1. Set yourself reasonable goals. 30 minutes of study a day is a lot better than an hour every few days–and you also get the bonus of finding out 365 (366, as next is a leap year!) is 182 hours of studying. If I can’t absorb something in all that continual practice, then surely it’s not meant to be.
  2. I’m using LiveMocha for my basic learning. I’m pretty pleased with it so far, though I wish there were a few more exercises for really really beginners. That’s ok, though, because actually getting feedback on my written and verbal assignments is incredible.
  3. Have a textbook like thing for reference. Something that spells out the grammar is incredibly handy when you just aren’t getting something through context. (This is especially true in Estonian, with a somewhat daunting 14 cases). I had quite the lucky find to get both the book and audio cds to Teach Yourself Estonian for $7 at my local used bookstore. I wasn’t aware that this was such an expensive item, and mine is in great condition!
  4. Find a couple of news sites that air broadcasts online, or will put up videos of the big stories. It’s good to hear the language being natively spoken, and it’s a delight to recognize a word occasionally.  For the fellow Estonian learner, I highly recommend ETV1 and 2 and Raadioteater . No, I don’t understand hardly anything, but I did pick up the word Tiger, and Raadioteater has Snow White in the archives. One day I’ll be able to understand!
  5. Start a practice blog, where you can write samples. Try to update it whenever you learn new vocabulary, and do some writing exercises. (Live Mocha gets grammar feedback, but it’s nice to have a blog in the wild blue). I did this when I was learning Russian, and it was perhaps one of my favourite things. I was not a fluent or very good Russian writer, but by golly, it let me practice, and I had fun with it! I’ve just started a blog for my Estonian practice, and if you want, you can read it. I’d love if anyone who knows Estonian drops by! It’s called Kudimise Keel. (It supposedly means Knitting Language)
  6. Have fun! Don’t be too hard on yourself. Learning a new language IS hard. You’ve been learning and perfecting your native language for how many years now? Of course picking up a new one will be a bit of a challenge, but with some work and not hating on yourself, you’ll get there. 🙂

I suppose the big question is probably why Estonian. I think the language is pretty, mostly, but also because my favourite style of lace knitting and much pretty colourwork were derived in the country. One day, I’d like to visit Haapsalu and be able to speak to the knitters there without a translator. Maybe I will never make it, but I will certainly be prepared! Some of it is to give myself some encouragement–I’ve been feeling a bit down lately, and have been lacking faith in myself. Learning a new language, and well, is something that will probably help give me back some of the verve and make it so I can’t really get down on a lack of direction.

Are any of my readers thinking of big learning things for the new year?


(Don’t worry, there will be some knitting resolutions to come :P)

*I didn’t pull these tips out of thin air. I’ve studied Chinese, Russian, German, and Japanese; one of those I’m actually kind of ok at. (Not good. Just passable. I wouldn’t drown in the country. Much) I love language, and I love trying to learn them. I figure it’s time I finally got around to it, even if I’ve picked one with only about a million native speakers.


One response »

  1. I don’t know how it’s never occurred to me to use a blog to help me with my Korean studies – I was thinking about making simple comics using the pieces of Korean I learn, but practicing sentence construction in a purely text-based format makes entirely too much sense. This is also the first time I’ve heard of LiveMocha, am investigating it now! Thanks for the tips :3

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