One week foreign language challenge

In celebration of National Learn a Foreign Language Month this December, we each attempted to learn a new language for one week and recorded our experiences.

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Learning a foreign language is difficult and often requires much dedication, effort, and discipline. The process generally calls for a lot of time, commitment, and practice, which can be challenging to work into a busy schedule, especially for high school students; we decided to try it out.

At the beginning of week one, we were hopeful and excited to learn new languages, despite the short time frame which we were given. Alice chose to learn Indonesian while Hannah chose to learn Romanian. Prepared to immediately jump into an unfamiliar language, we learned through the app Duolingo during our journalism class. We were able to learn several basic words; Alice studied words relating to food and drinks, like “Saya minum susu, kamu minum air,” meaning  “I drink milk, you drink water,” while Hannah learned words relating to pronouns, like “eu nu” meaning “I do not”. 

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As the days went on, the lessons became cumulative and we felt confident in recalling previously learned words. It was a bit repetitive and tedious at times, but we felt that it was important to strengthen what we had already learned in order to set a strong foundation and continue learning. By the fourth day, the lessons began to become more challenging as they transitioned from basic sentence structures to more complex sentences. It became more difficult to remember every word that we learned throughout the week as the sentences we had to study became longer.

Halfway through the week, the aspiration and delight had gone down the drain into a sad muddy puddle. Loss of motivation and getting excessively tired from previous classes were predicted challenges; opening up Duolingo every class started to become a hassle, another piece of work to get over with. Yet, we powered through and were able to at least achieve those ten minutes of studying every day. While we were unable to give it our full attention, ultimately it was a fun and interesting experience to attempt. 

Unfortunately, for many students with busy schedules, language learning can be an unrealistic task to take on fully. In the future, we suggest foreign language learning for those who are available to put their full and consistent effort into it.

From this short experience, Alice learned a couple of new fun Indonesian words such as “merah” (red), “putih” (white), “hitam” (black), and “kucing itu” (that cat). For Hannah, when learning Romanian, the process of putting sounds together into different combinations of words felt like puzzle pieces. Hannah learned sentences such as, “Eu am un meniu”, defining “I have a menu.” Then, switching out the “eu am” to mean “you have”, it would become “Tu ai un meniu”. While it may feel obvious to know you need to work hard and be dedicated to achieve such a comprehensive task, we can continue to keep this in mind for future reference whether we want to learn a new language, hobby, or skill.

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