Last year, I decided I needed to learn German. It started one night while I was at a dinner party in Berlin. During dinner I noticed that I was at a table of German speakers who were all politely speaking in English just for me! I felt like the stereotypical stupid American. Berlin is one of the most amazing cities in the world, I knew I’d be back the following summer, so right then I set a goal: to return one year later with enough German skills to, for example, read a menu, ask directions, and follow along with some basic diner conversation.
My strategy: Every morning for one year, I would spend 20 minute learning German. I was curious: could I learn enough German to meet my goals by only studying 20 minutes a day?
One year timeline for learning German:
The first two months went smoothly. I started with Duolingo everyday for 20 minutes. Duolingo is a free language learning platform that includes flashcards, tests, and a social component where you can see your friend’s progress. It helped that a few friends of mine were also using Duolingo because I could see their progress alongside mine — social pressure is a real thing, and I didn’t want to fall behind my friends!
After three months, I watched the movie Good Bye Lenin! in German and I couldn’t understand one word. I realized that I had no practical application to use German in everyday life. So I thought it would be best to pair Duolingo with other forms of learning: That month, I hired a teacher on Live Lingua(Roughly $28/hour) to help me improve my listening skills. We had a total of 10 one hour lessons session together where she’d help work with me on what I was learning with Duolingo.
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