MARSHALLESE 21.0: MOTIVATED MORE THAN EVER

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I will do it again – keeping the motivation up is one of the hardest and most important things you have to do when learning a foreign language. Not losing that initial zeal is an ongoing battle; and one you have to win if you want to succeed. I can proudly say that so far I have been victorious in my efforts.

Ever since I started learning Hawaiian, I have been extra motivated with my Marshallese. Quite honestly, I had thought it would be the opposite. You know, you begin a new adventure, you’re excited, you forget about everything else. But somehow in my case, that wasn’t the case.

After a few Hawaiian lessons on Duolingo I actually realized – for the very first time – how much I am able to say in Marshallese. I had been aware of my progress, of course, but not quite to such an extent.

Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m still just a beginner. After all, I have been learning Marshallese for only two years. (No, it is not possible to learn a language in 6 months!) I haven’t reached the intermediate level yet. Elementary? Maybe – it’s not really my place to judge my own language skills.

So yes, I am a novice, but I have finally understood – like truly understood – that I know some Marshallese; that I can express certain thoughts; that I am not completely clueless anymore. And, I won’t lie, that’s a very nice feeling.

With a boosted morale I started my January revisions. I think – no, I’m certain – it’s a good month to “refresh” my knowledge and focus on what I have already learnt instead of new material. I must admit that although I remembered around 90 per cent of the grammar I had gone through, there were some things I had simply forgotten along the way. But that’s fine. I know I have to pay more attention to all the rules, and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since the beginning of this year.

When I started using the Spaced Repetition System, I decided I would learn (or revise) the vocabulary every day and the grammar once a week. And that’s what I was doing for a few months. I quickly noticed positive results in vocabulary acquisition, which made me brave enough to change my schedule a little bit.

First of all, I am currently using ten “boxes”. Each of the boxes represents a different study time interval. I revise box no 1 every other day, box no 2 every four days, box no 3 every six days, all the way to box no 10, which I revise every twenty days. As you probably know, every new flashcard starts out in box no 1. It graduates to the next box if I get it right. If I get it wrong, it goes all the way back to box no 1 – no matter where it was. With this schedule I am able to dedicate more time to learning grammar – which I now do every second day.

I am rather sure I’ll stick to my “one new grammar topic and one set of vocabulary words every fortnight” rule, because this seems to be perfect for me. Especially now, when I’ve taken up Hawaiian. The funny thing is, I’ve been learning ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi for just over a month, and I’m already thinking about learning Kiribati! Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with me. I mean, how many languages can you learn at the same time??? Well, I guess if you enjoy doing it, then a lot; or at least a few.

I don’t know about you, but for me learning Pacific languages is a kind of magic. They are so unpopular (unfortunately!!!) that you literally feel as if you are discovering a whole new world other people have no idea exists. I feel privileged that I can discover that world. And I sincerely hope that in the future I’ll get the chance to speak not only Kiribati but also maybe Tahitian, and Tongan, and Wallisian, and… But don’t worry, I will never forget about Marshallese or Hawaiian. Actually, by the time I’m 70 I will have mastered them to perfection (or not; but a girl can dream).


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