So here’s update #1.
For the video, I used a script to help me. I read the line, looked at the web cam, said the line, and–when appropriate–acted the words out. I can say, though, that I know all the greetings and polite words by heart, except maybe “Ikinagagalak kong makilala ka” and “hanggang sa muli,” since those trip me up.
Of course, in two weeks, I learned more than these 30 or so words and phrases, but I filmed these because getting these down pat was my first objective.
By the way, I’m going to work on improving the sound quality. My birthday is coming up, so maybe I’ll ask Birthday Santa for a better camera with an external mic. I’ll also do my best to make these videos a little more engaging than me speaking into a camera. No promises; even this little video took a couple hours to film and edit.
My learning routine has been a hodgepodge. I’ve been following the template from Language Master Key (the basic routine, not the 21-Day Language Blast).
No, that’s not a line to get you to buy my $5 book. That’s really just how I study. I need flexibility or else I’d never maintain interest from week to week. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to force myself to get in 30 minutes a day of free listening. I’m getting closer to 20 right now, with about an hour to 90 minutes of total studying a day.
I’m using several different resources. When Tuttle Publishing heard about my project, they were kind enough to send me a ton of Tagalog books, which I’ll review in depth later.
Every day looks something like:
- Studying – Working through the books Easy Tagalog and Elementary Tagalog, or working through the US military’s headstart2 course.
- Active listening/Speaking – I’m using Pimsleur as my main active listening activity, which is a slight variation from what’s recommended in LMK. I’m also watching “Easy Tagalog” videos on YouTube and playing around with listening while reading the subtitles and translations.
- Free listening – I’m listening to lots of Tagalog music and watching the cartoon “Shin Chan.” I’m also listening to the podcast from Tagalog Juan, which is good for sneaking in more exposure, even if a lot of it is in English.
Also, I’m using flashcards to help retain the content from my studying materials.
I think I’m on track. I’m not quite attacking this with the intensity I did when I started studying Spanish, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the relative lack of Tagalog media? But I’m staying consistent and developing some good habits.
It’s tough starting over with a new language from scratch. Fortunately, there’s a lot of English and Spanish influence. For instance, the Tagalog word for “nurse” is “nars” and the word for “lawyer” is “abugado,” so it’s pretty easy to remember a lot of stuff right off the bat.
On the other hand, the word for writer is “manunulat,” so some stuff feels completely new. (But that’s part of the fun, right?) Also, it seems like every other “pure” Tagalog noun starts with “man-,” so I get mixed up all the time.
One day I got really frustrated with my performance during a Pimsleur lesson. But I reminded myself that I shouldn’t expect myself to be perfect and that experience should tell me I’ll get the hang of this stuff if I just stick with it. So I brushed myself off and stroked my bruised ego and started over the next day.
Oh, and I said a couple words to Mom on the phone in Tagalog and she understood me, so that’s a good sign.
I can see the long road ahead of me, and it’s daunting. Perhaps the best thing about starting a new language is that I’m reminded the journey is the destination. I learn languages as a means to an end, but I also learn languages for the sake of learning languages.
The feeling I get? It’s that of starting a really long, multi-year jigsaw puzzle. If I focus on the big picture, I’ll lose steam, so instead I concentrate on putting together the pieces in front of me.