Lizzie’s Language Learning Contract (v2.April 2016)

Capitalising on post-IATEFL momentum and motivation, I’ve decided it’s time to renew my language learning goals – and practice what I preach! I’m always telling learners, ‘it doesn’t matter if you’re busy, even ten minutes a day is better than nothing’ and encouraging them to maintain motivation. Meanwhile, what about me? Well, it could be worse, I suppose…

  • I DO write my diary in Italian (nearly) every day (I missed a couple of days while at IATEFL, for example!). My reading is slightly more sporadic – at the moment I’m listening and reading along with Per dieci minuti written and read aloud by Chiara Gamberale. It generally happens while I am having a bath in the evening but sometimes I am just too tired! (I’m also in the middle of a translation of the third book in Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy. But I haven’t dipped into that since I got back home from my most recent trip to Sicily, at Easter!)
  • I also have a stack of magazines that I don’t dip into as often as I should (read: erm, when was the last time I did so?!)
  • I’m reading in German a few times a week at the moment too, am quite enjoying the book I am in the middle of. It’s about horses and aimed at young teenagers (!) – good fun. 😉
  • I’m also in the middle of a book in French (Au Bonheur des Dames by Emile Zola) but it’s been a while since I dipped into that properly – though I did read about one page recently!

It’s Polish that’s the real problem. I decided I was going to learn Polish in late May last year. Suffice to say, it wound up on the back burner. However, last night, for the first time in ages, riding the wave of post-IATEFL motivation, I dug out my ‘Harry Potter 1 in Polish’ audiobook and listened a bit, just enjoying the sounds and rhythm. (I had want to listen and read along but I’ve got to work out where my e-book of it is stored, was unable to find it quickly enough…) I still want to learn Polish. However, it doesn’t end there. I’ve also got a little bee in my bonnet telling me to try another project: Project “see how much Spanish I can pick up purely through using graded readers”. Unlike Polish, Spanish graded readers are fairly easy to come by – including those with audio discs, which are the sort I would go for. I think it would be an interesting experiment!

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Using the theory I’ve used on my learners, I am going to communicate my learning goals to you lot who read this blog in the hopes that it motivates me to achieve more than I would have otherwise. Even if I don’t always manage to meet my self-inflicted contractual obligations, it will hopefully still be more than I would have achieved if I hadn’t made them in the first place.

Lizzie’s Learning Contract

I solemnly do declare that I will (attempt to) do the following this week:

  • read and/or listen to something in Italian
  • read and/or listen to something in French
  • read and/or listen to something in German
  • use my 1000 first words in Polish
  • “read”/”listen to” Harry Potter in Polish
  • use Memrise and/or Quizlet for Polish
  • use my Polish for Dummies book
  • use graded readers in Spanish

Signed: Lizzie Pinard

That’s all! It’s not a huge ask. The first three are very vague, but that’s fine – it means they encompass any kind of input I wish to use (books, audiobooks, magazines, radio, tv etc) As as sub-goal, I will aim to vary it if I can…

Let’s see how it goes. There will be updates at various possibly semi-regular intervals!

Is anybody else trying to learn a new language at the moment? How are you going about it? Is it working?! 🙂




7 thoughts on “Lizzie’s Language Learning Contract (v2.April 2016)

  1. A great idea, to be working on another language while you teach.. I think it helps me relate to what my students are going through, and keeps me patient. A few years ago I learned some Irish, which I loved, and now I’ve started on Mandarin at It’s a different approach to a very different language, but obsessively doing the audio review exercises does seem to be doing some good.

    • Learning languages is great. I really should get to Mandarin at some point! I have loads of Chinese students… Will keep the site you mention in mind. Started on the Spanish graded reader today, though! And did a little bit of Polish Memrise. Now the trick is to maintain the motivation…! 🙂 Good luck with the Mandarin!

  2. Pingback: IATEFL 2016: “A hundred thousand things to see!” – Lizzie Pinard

  3. This is a very good idea, and one I might also nab at some point for a blog post, purely because I keep mentally lamenting the fact that I use less and less of my languages in my job, and being held accountable, even on my small corner of the interweb, might be the kick up the bum I need to drag up the Italian and Spanish from my German-dominant (and German-preferring!) brain 🙂
    So impressed with your motivation, and ability to balance so many languages at once – I did three for my degree and it nearly killed me!

    • Do it!! And link back to me so that I get a heads up when you do. There used to be a motivation club type thing going on via Twitter but I can’t remember the hashtag. But I’m sure once Sandy gets round to reading this post, she’ll be able to tell us what it is! I’m on Week 2 now, and it’s going really well so far – am enjoying it loads! Also a bit tempted to add Indonesian to my list cos that’s got well rusty since I left there in 2011. And I still have friends from there I could use it with! 🙂 I think my brain is getting used to operating in multiple languages now.

  4. Lizzie, you’re amazing. Or mad. Not sure which! Just read this to mum, and she asked me if you have any time off 🙂 I think your motivation is amazing though, and I might follow in your footsteps once I’m into summr and past flat-buying (I hope!) I tend to find it more relaxing to read in English, and even then don’t do that much of it, but definitely need to practise the other languages. I think the hashtag was #langmt, and You should definitely get in on it Rachel! My languages other than Polish are being sadly neglected, though I do manage memrise every day. I’m hoping at some point soon to be living in the same country as my books again, with my dictionaries etc, and I know that once I feel more settled routines of language learning might be easier to get in. Also can’t wait to have a radio to play my Harry Potter CDs in Polish 🙂 Good luck, and looking forward to seeing your progress!
    Good luck to everyone who joins in!

    • I know exactly what you mean re being settled. This is how my Polish had a one year hiatus (more or less – give or take two incidents where I actually picked up my first 1000 words book briefly!). I started towards the end of my time in Palermo but once I came back to the UK, I wasn’t feeling it for any of my languages. I just wanted to settle in the UK not think about other languages and other countries. Then once I settled that eased and my Italian/French/German came back into play but irregularly. And now as of when I made that contract, I am being systematic about it again. But I really enjoy reading and listening in the different languages so I don’t need so much extra motivation to do that, just need to remember that I enjoy it! I have to work harder to motivate myself when it comes to the actual study bit though as vs the enjoyable input bit :-p More about that in my next update! 😉 Just started week 3, thinking of doing an update at the end of week 4/start of week 5. Hope you get settled into a new flat soon and can get back into the swing of the languages. Spect you’ll get more out of HP than me! Though even in my almost complete lack of language, it’s working for me! 🙂 Anyway, bring on/back #langmt! Lizzie.

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