Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore

It's been 3 months and so it's time for a progress report on Turkish. Since this year's mission involves learning in a completely new way, my usual quarterly targets don't really work. But progress is being made, and therefore it can – and should – be measured!

So where am I at with my Turkish? I'm certainly not as far along right now as I would have expected to be at this point in a normal year. I've only recently learned to make basic conjugations, and at the moment I can only form the simplest of sentences.

Off to a slow start

My vocabulary is abysmally small. I haven't armed myself with a huge list of nouns, adjectives, verbs, and adverbs that I recognize. But I have found and learned vocabulary, so it's not as if I'm not making progress. And I have discovered several gramatical features, and have done it in a way that (I believe) will be more likely to stick in my head.

As I said, in a normal year, I would have armed myself with a hugh list of vocabulary that I'd memorized as I got started in the language. But those words would have been learned out of context, so although I've learned less, I'm still feeling confident that I've learned it more effectively.

The more interesting question is whether I have learned less as a product of learning without language materials, or if it's just a result of distraction. Consider that one entire month of my first three was spent in Italy, where I surely had most of my attention on Italian (and a bit on German), and almost no attention on Turkish. And now, even as I write this, I am in Poland, where I've been working hard at getting up to a reasonable level in speaking Polish and, once again, paying very little attention to Turkish.

Realistically speaking, almost half of my first three months has been dedicated to languages other than Turkish. That definitely won't continue to be the case as this year bears on.

When I have been focused on Turkish, I feel that my progress has been rather good, and quite encouraging. I've learned a lot about the grammar just through curiosity and observation.

Going forward

The next three months won't be filled with distractions the way the first three were. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that I'll have an understanding of all — or at least most — of the grammar, and that I will have built a reasonably useful vocabulary.

I expect that by mid-way through the year I should be able to start writing Turkish entries at Lang-8. I know that going 6 months before being able to write a basic paragraph sounds like slow progress, but it's not so scary to me. There is no room for impatience in a one-year plan.

We humans go almost two full years without speaking our native language only to shoot forward to fluency in the next two. I don't see any reason that ratio can't also apply to me. (On a somewhat accelerated timeline, of course.)

With a solid foundation of grammar and vocabulary, I believe six months is plenty of time to get to fluency through use of the language. The most important thing is that I don't miss my next target.



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