You know the drill – new year, new start. And I’m not talking about all those resolutions we usually make and then give up on after a few days or weeks. I’m talking about changing the things you know you have to change; the things that didn’t work out the way you had expected. In my case, it is rearranging my study plan.

Last year I set myself a goal of learning Marshallese for at least 15 minutes a day. I was certain it would be utterly doable. Who wouldn’t find 15 minutes of spare time? Well, finding that time turned out to be a lot harder than I had previously thought it would be.

So somewhere around December I decided to create a realistic plan for my study sessions. Implementation date: 1st January. Try as I might, I just wasn’t able to learn every single day and I thought that the beginning of new year would be the perfect moment to start anew. So I sat down and thoroughly checked my schedule. At first I was shocked when I realized how little free time I actually have. Juggling your work and home life is not easy. There is always something going on. Plus, sometimes you just want to settle down in front of a TV and watch a movie or do nothing at all. But when you’re learning Marshallese (or any other language) it’s either watching the film or boning up on grammar. What a choice, right?

After a few days of debating with myself (“That will be impossible to do.”, “Yeah, that should be fine.”, “Oh, I forgot about…”, “Ok, I’ll manage to squeeze in 15 minutes on…”), I came up with a new plan. I can’t say for sure it will be 100 per cent feasible (it may be subject to change), but for now I’m going to stick with it. You must be wondering what that plan is. Let me tell you.

First and foremost, I’ve decided to learn one new grammar topic and one set of vocabulary words every other week. This way I will have more time to revise the material and do some exercises (meaning: write my own sentences). I want to start two Mondays a month with Kajin Ṃajeḷ. I’ve chosen that day for making notes from the textbook I’m using. Then I will devote myself to mastering the lesson. Studying every single day is out of option, so I’m aiming for three study sessions per week. I am aware that this will slow me down, but at least I will stay on the right path.

This January is my month for revisions (I may consider making each January a revision month – it’s quite a good idea, isn’t it?). I want to make sure that everything, and by everything I mean everything, I have learnt so far is exactly where it should be – in my head. Vocabulary – top notch! You can literally wake me up at three o’clock in the morning and ask about any of the words I memorized in the last 12 months and I will give you the correct answer. Grammar – satisfactory. I still hesitate, I’m still in doubt, I still have no – ok, not no but little – confidence. And I make mistakes. Probably a lot of them. But you have to start somewhere.

We are only over two weeks into this new year, but my plan has been working surprisingly well. I’m glad I have changed it. True, if you want to become proficient in a foreign language, you need to make learning part of your routine. You can’t open your textbook once a month – you won’t achieve anything that way. But you also have to be flexible. It’s better to study three times a week (which is an absolute minimum for me) but be entirely focused on what you are doing than study every day just to tick the activity off from your ‘to do’ list.

I would love to get back to studying on a daily basis – hopefully I will in the future – because I know it brings the best results. However, for now I am pleased with learning a little less but perhaps more efficiently. It will be interesting to see how following this new schedule will affect my progress. Will it be beneficial? Only time will tell.

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