Entry #39: Language Progress, it’s mid-terms!

Date: 9 July 2019
Time: 7:48am

Today is our practical “mid-term” for our language class, Lusoga.

How has your language training been going?

I haven’t been talking about it too much on the blog since I’ve spending a majority of my time studying, but well… it’s going haha.

If you’ve ever taken a language class, you know the feeling where you just start to feel like you’re getting better! The sounds are clearer and you feel like you can nail your pronunciation far better than a week ago. But after that, a community member asks you a simple question and you can’t answer it.

Fumbled for words, that’s pretty much the stage of where I’m at. I know the words, but I can’t speak haha. I feel like I’m underwater. Everything I know is somewhere in my head, floating around, but the minute that I want to say something out loud, my voice is muffled and unintelligible.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, lol.

What’s your strategy then?

Words, words, words.

I have since changed my strategy when learning language from the days of high school because I was always so focused on creating sentences first. I wanted to get the grammar down and everything, but the minute that I finally understood what was going on, I ran out of words to use.

My strategy: first words, then grammar. It feels a bit counterintuitive at first because you basically can’t make any sentences. You lack the structure to create sentences because you’ve only learned nouns and verbs.

What about conjugation? What about conjunctions?

I think that in the grand scheme of things, grammar and conjugations will come only through time, and the only thing that you can quantify are the amount of words you can learn. According to readings I did in the past when I thought I could be fluent in Korean, French, and Japanese (which I’m definitely not), if you had access and understanding of ~2000 words, then you would be considered fluent.

However, 2000 is a lot.

2000? How will you do that in less than 5 weeks?

Jokes on you, I won’t 🙂

The goal of this whole language camp is to be able to be communicable. Maybe I don’t know how to explain what someone does when they visit a national park, but I can definitely tell you about my family in America, or my job as a Peace Corps Volunteer, or simple things like foods.

Originally, I had thought of coming in to this language camp as being a grand tour of all things language, where we were constantly drilled on all aspects of the language. To me, this language camp is all about getting you comfortable with making friends in the local language.

I was over-complicating a lot of this by trying to learn as much as possible, that was my mistake. Shifting my focus towards being communicable has simplified a lot of what I have to learn. I can focus on something attainable for now in this short timespan, and over the course of the next 6 months, I can definitely spend this time to learn more language to the height of local fluency.

Choo choo. Looking forward.

I really want to reach fluency.

In Peace Corps, we’re using an oral proficiency test developed by the American Council for the teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). For the sake of this standard, I want to reach the highest level which is marked as “Superior”.

Superior level speakers are basically fluent, fully capable of working in and out of the learned language, and if there are any difficulties, the speaker can workk their way out of it by exchanging ideas and working with the native interlocutor.

December. I want to reach this by December.

Language is important to me, and while I have not reached fluency in all of the languages that I’m acquainted with, the importance of being understood will be the first step in becoming an effective volunteer.

Sorry Mom, I promise I’ll start learning Ilocano after 🙂


  • Mommy , July 9, 2019 @ 5:27 pm

    You can stay in the Philippines for 6 months and you will be fluent in both Tagalog and Ilocano when you come back home.

  • Lee , July 26, 2019 @ 6:43 am

    Wow! I can barely speak or write English. Awesome learning a new language that i have never heard of. well you being there i just never heard of a lot of things. and having to read what you are going through, I find it very interesting of other people’s cultures. I’m still getting to know my own culture but why not expose myself to others? I wish i thought of these things when I was younger.

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