It seems like it has been a while since I wrote about my adventures taking an undergraduate language course, perhaps because, after three years with the same professor and the same core group of students, we are definitely in a routine in which not much surprising happens. A lot of learning has been happening, though. Earlier this year I traveled to a country in which this particular language is spoken, and I found to my intense happiness that I have made progress even since my trip last summer.
But at the end of this academic year, I will have reached the end of the line in terms of taking undergraduate courses in this language, and my options are limited for taking courses on literature and culture in this language. I may hire a private tutor because I don't want to lose what I've learned so far -- my abilities in this language are still quite precarious.
It will be a sad moment for me when I take my final exam and complete the class, especially with no further classes to look forward to in the fall. And I will miss our little group that has been together for 3 years.
These three years of intensive language courses (4-5 days/week) have taken a lot of time and energy. The effort, however, has definitely been worth it for me because of the immediate practical effect of learning how to communicate in a language that is useful to me for many reasons and because it exercised my brain in different and interesting way.
So there is much to feel good about, but I have not yet attained my Penultimate Goal: I want to give a complete scientific talk in this language.
In the classes I've been taking, we don't learn any science jargon, so I've had to acquire that by reading the scientific literature and asking questions of colleagues who know this language. Little by little I have been acquiring the words and skills I need to speak Science in this other language, but it's going to take a lot more work to be able to give a coherent talk. It might take a year or three, but that's my next goal.
And then I would like to become fluent in this language. Fluency -- the Ultimate Goal -- may, however, be unattainable given my advanced age, limited time, and lack of opportunities for immersion in the language. But that's OK. Any progress I can make en route to proficiency in the language will be worth it for me.
9 months ago