Lesson Transcript


Chigusa: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Chigusa and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Chigusa: Listeners, welcome to the Inner Circle.
Peter: This is for those of you who took the 2021 Challenge.
Chigusa: And this is the monthly... no-holds-barred.. newsletter giving you tried and tested learning methods...
Peter: ...to help you reach your language goals this year.
Chigusa: Now, I don’t know how many of you were around, but last year, Peter, you took on the challenge of learning...?
Peter: I was learning Hebrew.
Chigusa: Yes, and before that?
Peter: I did Korean, French, Chinese, German and some years before that, Spanish and Italian.
Chigusa: So you’ve done a lot. Which languages do you have a high command of?
Peter: Great question. Right now. I keep up with Italian. I speak about 3 hours a week. Korean - I’m still maintaining my Korean. And Chinese because of my wife. Japanese as I’ve studied for many years and...
Chigusa: And because you live in Japan.
Peter: That’s right. It’s been over 20 years here now.
Chigusa: By the way, listeners, if you’re a Premium or Premium PLUS member...
Peter: ...You can access previous Inner Circle lessons in the Lesson Library...
Chigusa: ...and see how Peter took on those languages...
Peter: And succeeded or failed. Just choose “Bonus” from the Level drop-down in the Lesson Library.
Chigusa: Okay, Peter, in our last Inner Circle episode for 2020, you said you will be learning... Russian.
Peter: That’s right, this year, I am taking on... Russian.
Chigusa: Why Russian?
Peter: Well, it’s really such a fascinating country and actually there’s a city not too far from Tokyo that I'm hoping to visit if conditions improve in travel this year. So, in addition, I have some friends from Russia, so there’s a bunch of starting points or what we like to call, a bunch of anchor points that got me...that right now have me motivated to study this year.
Chigusa: Did you set any goals yet for Russian?
Peter: Well, I think we’re going to try for that 1 minute in January. That one minute of conversation in January. And in addition, we’ll go through a more comprehensive approach. Number of words. Try to read the alphabet - the Cyrillic alphabet, and some other things, so with this audio file, there’ll be an accompanying PDF. Inside, it will have some other comprehensive goals I'm aiming for this month.
Chigusa: Sounds good. How will you learn this language this year? Usually, we just go with small monthly goals.
Peter: Well, the goal part isn’t going away, Chigusa. It’s a tried and tested method that’s worked for me year after year. But, there is a step I take before jumping into learning...
Chigusa: What is it?
Peter: It’s called assessment.... and that’s the topic of this first Inner Circle.
Chigusa: What’s The First Step in Your Language Learning Journey?
Peter: Let’s jump into part 1.
Chigusa: Part 1: The Importance of Assessment
Peter: So, Chigusa and listeners, here’s a question for you.
Chigusa: Okay.
Peter: When you have a goal that you want to accomplish... How do you get started? Let’s say it’s language learning.
Chigusa: Hmm. I guess the inspiration comes first... which motivates me to start. Then, I’d just get a textbook or an app...and go from there. And that’s it.
Peter: Nice. That’s actually a pretty standard answer. And Chigusa, how does that work out for you, usually?
Chigusa: I think.... I end up like most people. I try to stick with it... and then it falls to the side.
Peter: Ah, so it’s my chance to say, “so you didn’t reach your goal, Chigusa.” One more question for you. Why do you think that happens?
Chigusa: I’m not sure. It starts to feel like too much work... or I get distracted and I just never come back to it. Is that bad?
Peter: Not bad at all. Listeners, why don’t you also think, how come things don’t work out? And I used to do that in the past.
Chigusa: In the past? What about now?
Peter: Well, with all the years I’ve been putting into language learning... I’ve changed up my approach a few times. I still have that “I want-to-speak-a-new-language” excitement...that we all get. But before I do anything, anything... nowadays, I do an assessment of myself.
Chigusa: Assessment? What kind of assessment?
Peter: Well, think of language school. You take an assessment test on day 1. Why do you think this?
Chigusa: So they know your level... and so they put you in the proper class?
Peter: Exactly. The goal is to find out where you are... and meet you there. The assessment reveals what your level is.
Chigusa: Right. But what if you’re a solo learner?
Peter. Great question. If you’re a solo learner, no-one assesses you. And language assessment aside, you also don’t know what routine works best for you...
Chigusa: Yeah, or how much time you can set aside... how much studying you can comfortably do.
Peter: Chigusa, here’s a common example. Let’s say you work an 8 hour day and you want to try to start learning. Most people would try to squeeze in learning for 1 or 2 hours at night... Or, you could try and wake up an hour early. But usually, that doesn't work out.
Chigusa: I think that’s what happens to most learners. You start inspired, try your best, and then get tired... because you don’t know how much you can handle.
Peter: Exactly. That’s where assessment comes in. You need to know where you are...right now... in terms of time and how much you can handle...
Chigusa: ...so you can start at a pace that makes sense for you...
Peter: ...so you can set realistic goals and expectations...
Chigusa: ...and so you can fit language learning into your life.
Peter: Now, Chigusa, there are actually 3 assessments you can do. 1) A Life assessment. 2) A routine assessment. And 3) Language assessment. Again, it’s not just about the language. Now, if you have some experience, you'd want this. But, Absolute Beginners, you will not need a language assessment. Or maybe we can say it’s not so critical because you’re starting from the beginning. Listeners, we’ll reveal how to do these assessments in part 3.
Chigusa: So, how did you do it this past month, Peter?
Peter: Let’s jump into part 2.
Chigusa: Part 2: How Peter Approaches His Language Learning
Peter: Now, to recap, there are 3 assessments: life assessment, routine assessment, and language assessment... and Chigusa. I skipped the 3rd one because I’m new to Russian.
Chigusa: I see. Do you always do these assessments before starting?
Peter: Well, how does that expression go? Good decisions come from experience and experience comes from bad decisions? So, assessments.. not so much in the past...but I have been doing this for the last few years.
Chigusa: Okay, so, first there’s life assessment.
Peter: This is the one I used to skip. Again, when you have that learn-a-language aha moment, most of the time you don't take an assessment of where you are. And the goal of doing a life assessment is... to see how the language... or the language learning can fit into my life. And now it’s the first one I do. We mentioned in the beginning, I’ve studied about 10 languages, 8 in the past several years, in total since I’ve started, maybe 17 languages. There are certain ones I can keep because they fit into my routine. Others I cannot keep because you have to keep working at it. They’re like muscles, you kind of have to keep working on them. So, when you do the assessment, it’s a matter of answering some high-level questions.
Chigusa: What kind of questions?
Peter: For example: Why am I learning this language? In the case of Russian, I’m learning because I would like to go to Russia. I want to visit the city near Japan. And in addition, one of my dreams is to do the Trans-Siberian railroad. I believe you start in Beijing and you can take the train all the way to London. So you can spend several weeks in Russia, getting off in the small towns and... it’s fascinating. So, this is a travel reason.
Chigusa: I see. I think it’s good to know why you start. It helps with motivation.
Peter: Exactly. Knowing your reason motivates you to take the first steps. It also tells you... what to focus on.
Chigusa: What do you mean?
Peter: Well, here are 2 examples. A) Learning for travel. And B) learning because you in the country. Now, with travel - reason A, you’re not really looking to be fluent. You’re getting a few phrases to make your way through and improve your experience.
Chigusa: Right... you just kind of want the basics for getting around.
Peter: So that sets your expectations - your goals - “I need the basics.” Sure, you can study more and you can try to get as far as you want to go. But for your trip, you’re going to need the basics. Now, compare that to reason B), you live in the country. If you’re living somewhere, you really have a high motivation to learn.
Chigusa: You need it for real life... and so you would aim for fluency.
Peter: Exactly. Your expectations and approach would be different from someone learning for travel.
Chigusa: Got it. So, you answer this question ... “Why are you learning this language?”
Peter: Now, as we just discussed, learning for travel is not the highest on our motivation scale. This is important because later what we’ll need to do is find other reasons and strengthen our motivation for learning Russian. We call these anchor points. They’re a little bit beyond the scope of this lesson but for now, I always start... “Why am I learning the language.”
Chigusa: What about the 2nd assessment? The Routine assessment.
Peter: This is where it ties in. Your routine is set up of a hierarchy of things that are important to your daily life: eating, working for money, etc, etc. When your reason for learning is not quite so high on the motivational scale, it’s going to be hard to fit into your routine. If you’re learning the language to live in the country, you're probably going to find an hour a day to go to language school or find a way to study. If you’re going a learn a language because you want to take a dream trip across Siberia in a year or two, it’s going to be very hard to fight for that space in your routine. And that’s why I start with a routine assessment. So, first, here’s what I do. I write out my daily schedule for the week. Monday through Sunday. For example, Wake up at 7 AM. Start work at 7 AM. Take a coffee break at 11 AM. Lunch at 1 PM.
Chigusa: Oh wow, that’s pretty detailed. But you can see exactly where your time goes.
Peter: Yes and it’s not always the best assessment because you find a lot of inefficiencies most of the time. It’s actually nice to do once a year. Very motivational afterward. But it helps me I know where I spend my time...
Chigusa:...so you know where to fit language learning.
Peter Exactly. And as we mentioned, learning for travel is going to be a hard fit. In my case, I end work around 5 or 6. And I get home and spend time with the kids until 7. Dinner for myself at 8. And then around 9 PM, I’m usually on the computer anyway, so that’s usually the time I spend 15 or 30 minutes on RussianPod101 lessons
Chigusa: So, here’s a question, Peter. How do you decide where to stick in language learning? Why 9PM?
Peter: Well, the key part is, Chigusa, I don’t change any of my existing routines. I don’t wake up an hour early. Or go to sleep an hour late. Instead, I piggyback off of my existing routines. I know that I spend time on the computer at 9 PM, so I add the Russian lessons into the mix. If I take a walk in the evening, then I’ll listen to RussianPod101 lessons. If I commute to work, I’ll listen as I commute.
Chigusa: So you look for an existing routine... where you can add it in.
Peter: Exactly.
Chigusa: But why not wake up an hour earlier? That sounds like a good idea to me!
Peter: It’s a good idea in theory. But you’re trying to create 2 new routines at once.. 1) Learning AND 2) trying to wake up earlier...
Chigusa: True. That usually doesn’t work out... because you’re not used to those. Maybe that’s what happened to me.
Peter: Exactly. By writing out my schedule, I see what my routines are like... I can see where I can add in language learning or probably the better phrase is: add on language learning..... I can manage my expectations. On some days, I can do 30 minutes, maybe an hour. On some days, I’m super busy...so I do a 5-minute review... And that’s okay.
Chigusa: Got it. Now, if a learner is just starting out... and they want to learn. What should they do first?
Peter: Let’s jump into part 3.
Chigusa: Part 3: How You Can Assess Yourself
Peter: Listeners, before you start learning a language... or do any goal for that matter...
Chigusa: ...it’s important to know where you are in life...
Peter: ...what your daily schedule is like... when you’re busy...when you’re free.
Chigusa: So you can set your expectations...
Peter: And know how much time you can put in...
Chigusa: ...and so you can start learning at a pace that works for you.
Peter: Most learners overwhelm themselves by setting unrealistic goals, trying to study too much upfront...
Chigusa: ...and by not knowing how much learning they can really handle.
Peter: What happens is: you jump in, do as much as you can...and get tired.
Chigusa: And that’s kind of like lifting 100 pounds on your first day at the gym.
Peter: ...Well actually Chigusa, some people probably can do that. But what we’re trying to say is, if you go in and try to go above your expectations.
Chigusa: What you can do is... find out what works for you, and start there.
Peter: So, that’s where self-assessment comes in.
Chigusa: Listeners, in the PDF of this Inner Circle, you’ll find the Life Assessment worksheet and a Routine Assessment worksheet.
Peter: Print it out and answer the questions.
Chigusa: With the life assessment, the goal is to understand... why you are learning the language...
Peter: So you can set your expectations and how to make the language fit your needs, your personality, and life.
Chigusa: There’s also the Routine Assessment.
Peter: Write out your routine for the week.
Chigusa: The goal here is to see what your daily routine is like...
Peter: ...so you know when you’re free, when you’re busy...
Chigusa: ...and where you can fit in language learning.
Peter: That way, if you’re super busy on Mondays and 5 minutes is all you can do...
Chigusa: ...then that’s a good start. And you won’t feel bad about doing only 5 minutes.
Peter: If you see that you spend 30 minutes on commuting, add language learning in there... on top of that existing routine.
Chigusa: If you take walks or go for a jog, play an audio lesson there.
Peter: Or, even if you’re cooking at a certain time, play an audio lesson in the background.
Chigusa: Remember, look for an existing routine....that you already stick with... which means it’s a strong routine.
Peter: Look for one where you can multi-task and add in learning. At first, don’t try to create new routines. Or two routines at once. Waking up a little earlier is really hard to do in itself. Waking up at 7AM to learn... it’s almost an impossible feat.
Chigusa: Yeah, this is where new learners start having trouble. You’re doing two things at once, trying to learn the language AND trying to stick to a new routine. One is hard enough. Trying to do two can overwhelm you.
Peter: So, piggyback off of your existing routines first so you can build momentum.
Chigusa: Okay, and finally, there’s language assessment.
Peter: If you’re an Absolute Beginner, you won’t need much of an assessment. Just start with our Absolute Beginner lessons.
Chigusa: But, if you have experience and want to assess yourself, there are 2 things you can do.
Peter: First, if you’re a Premium PLUS user, then you’re asked to do an assessment test when you join.
Chigusa: But you can always request it again from your teacher.
Peter: And second, if you’re a Premium user, check our recommended pathways inside the lesson library. You’ll find them at the top of the page.
Chigusa: You can also find them on your Dashboard.
Peter: We assign these pathways, level 1 to level 5, based on your learning level...from Absolute Beginner to Advanced.
Chigusa: And at the start of each pathway, there’s a diagnostic test.
Peter: You can take that to assess yourself.
Chigusa: Alright, Peter. So, you did your assessments...and you started learning, right?
Peter: That’s right.
Chigusa: So what’s your goal for next month?
Peter: 3 minutes of conversation and 10 RussianPod101 lessons.
Chigusa: Deadline?
Peter: February 28th, 2021.
Chigusa: Sounds good. Listeners, be sure to complete your assessment.
Peter: Email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com.
Chigusa: And stay tuned for the next Inner Circle.
Peter: Email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com.
Chigusa: And stay tuned for the next Inner Circle.
Chigusa: Well, that’s going to do it for this special Inner Circle lesson for this month!
Peter: Bye everyone!
Chigusa: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.