Hitting the Wall

5914092322_aaeb6e34dc.jpgHave you hit a wall with your Esperanto studies? Are things just not “clicking” yet? Well, you’re not alone. Almost everyone – myself included – has had times like this. The key to getting around them is to try to do something different. Maybe you need to lay off of Duolingo for a couple of days and focus on a different resource? Maybe you just need to make a few tweaks in your study habits?

A member of the Duolingo Esperanto Learners group on Facebook posted this message:

I’m at a stagnant place in my learning, I’ve got to where I’m lazy because I can read and comprehend so much, I can speak relatively ok (very basic topics) and my “studying” consists of just using what I know and strengthening that. I’ve got to get out of that bubble and start making myself “uncomfortable” again with words I don’t know, and get this tree done.

Below is my response to him:

The best thing that you can do is start using Esperanto in some way every day – outside of doing Duolingo lessons. This may mean that you jot down some ideas in a journal, or maybe a short Facebook post or Twitter tweet. The reason I say this is because (a) this is what really made a difference for me and made Esperanto “click” in my head, and (b) trying to write something original is going to require thought and help from a good dictionary.

For example, what did you do today? What did you have for lunch? What do you plan to do this evening? This weekend? Even mundane things – and in fact, especially mundane things – will help you gain new vocabulary and look for where you have weaknesses.

The best way to retain a language is to use it. Here are a few more things that I do:

  • When in the grocery store, I try to think of the Esperanto names of the various products I see. If I come across something that I don’t know the name for, I look it up on my phone and make sure that I repeat the new word three times, then use it in a sentence. This way, you can really study anywhere. 
  • When watching television, I try to translate what I hear into Esperanto. I do this especially when watching a subtitled version of a Japanese anime. I am seeing words, and then in my head I am associating an Esperanto word with the English words. (In fact, I have picked up a little Japanese by watching these anime. Such a fascinating culture and language!) 
  • I write something in Esperanto every single day. Sometimes all that I have time for is a quick tweet, just 140 characters, but it counts. I also have my Facebook account, this group, my Tumblr blog, my Twitter account, my Google+ account and my own personal blog. I make use of all of these outlets to write, read and learn Esperanto. 
  • I joined Twitter. You would be pleasantly surprised at the sheer number of Esperantists from all over the world that use it. I have almost 250 followers on Twitter, and I follow over 500 others. The vast majority of these are Esperanto related. I have met so many wonderful people there, and it is really great engaging in conversation with them. I have friends literally on every single continent except for Antarctica. I have chatted with Esperantists from places like Nepal, Korea, Congo, Chile, etc., many of whom do not speak English, so Esperanto is the only way we have to communicate.

The key thing is to not give up. Hang in there, because it is so worth the investment of time and effort.

Write down new words that you learn, with their English translation. The physical act of writing helps to create an association in your mind. (It is different when typing.)

You may also want to start copying out some Esperanto sentences you see in Duolingo or other places. Writing things down like this helps you see patterns and pick up on grammar concepts.

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