Learning two related languages: how hard could it possibly be?

Apparently, pretty difficult!  At least not nearly as easy as I thought it would be.  Since trying to learn Afrikaans I’ve noticed a few things that have really made for slow progress.  My biggest issues are:  a lack of resources designed for beginners, and, assuming I would be able to just passively absorb all of the vocabulary I needed and immediately be able to use it actively.  That’s not even including the fact that I want to Germanize everything I say. 

I think when you learn a language that’s so clearly related to one you already speak, there’s a temptation to think it will be easy to learn the language to a fairly usable level rather quickly.  I admit I thought that with Afrikaans.  After all, none of the issues that kept my German from progressing are here; there are no genders, no cases, and the word order is essentially what I’m already used to doing.  Apparently I never considered the fact that passive understanding and active use are completely different.  So I can read Afrikaans pretty well, but I certainly wouldn’t be able to reproduce it. 

Of course, I’m not exactly thrilled that it took me about a month to realize that listening and reading without any real “study” and making an effort to learn (MEMORIZE) vocabulary isn’t going to work for me.  The fact that I’ve been reading and listening and have been able to do that means that I’m still seeing Afrikaans through a German-speaking mindset, which makes it harder to have any active use.  I really should be much further along than I am now.  I don’t see that as a complete failure though.  I think there is still a lot to be learned from mistakes, including mistakes in learning methods.  So here’s what I need to do for the rest of the year:

1) treat Afrikaans as the separate and distinct language that it is and learn the basic (even if boring) vocabulary

2) be more consistent with actively using the language–when reading, write out a summary of it in Afrikaans. 

3) make vocabulary lists (I hate to do it, but because I’m such a beginner, I really need to do it for right now). 

 

Hopefully these changes help to make the language progress further! 

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