Learning a language in 2021

Black man studying

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2020 Recap

So…2020 is officially OVER!


Three copies of a man dancing one wearing red one wearing green and one wearing yellow


I know 2021 has already shown us that there are plenty of shenanigans to come but I don’t care. I just need last year to be in the rearview.

As far as language study, last year was definitely mostly me slacking. I’m gonna be honest, I just wasn’t in the headspace for it. Every time I woke up it felt like another thousand things on this planet were exploding. And parsing conjugations wasn’t high on my list of ways to cope.

The only thing I did semi-regularly was talking to my friend in Korea.

That being said, I miss it a lot. And now that I’ve said all that about what mostly didn’t happen last year, let’s get on to my plans for this year!

German Korean and Japanese flags

Language Focus

German – Maintain


If you’ve been around for a minute you know that German is my second language. I’ve been studying it for over half my life at this point so it’s always going to be a permanent fixture. While I feel my grasp on the language hasn’t slipped too much, I don’t use it nearly as much as I need to to keep it fresh in my mind.

So for 2021, I’ll be working on maintaining my German at the B2 level. My Virgo moon initially had me wanting to try and hit C1 by the end of the year but I’ve been working hard to tamp down on my perfectionism lately. There’s nothing wrong with making sure my foundation is as solid as can be before hopping up to the next level.


Korean – Advance


I want to kick my Korean up a notch and sit comfortably around the A2 level. I actually engage with Korean the most on a daily basis so I’m expecting to see the most progress here out of the three.

I’m fairly covered on speaking practice (thanks 언니 ^^), so I’ll be focusing more on writing and listening to bring them up to par.


Japanese – Begin […sort of]


I’ve actually studied Japanese before. Twice! Once my senior year of high school and the second time my senior year of college. College was very strange because I was in this weird middle ground between true beginner and high beginner. So of course I just took both classes simultaneously. Why am I like this? I still don’t know.

But I miss it. A LOT. I always said I would return to Japanese when I reach an intermediate level of Korean but that’s going out the window in 2021. It’s 日本語 time! I can’t freaking wait. 


Sidenote: I feel like I should add that the older I get the less I feel obligated to put so much emphasis on the CEFR levels.

They’re still a useful way to gauge where I am in my language learning process, but I’m more interested in my ability to use the language how I want. Yeah, I might be A1, but if I can hold a 15-minute conversation then that means more to me than anything else.


Textbooks black women having a conversation person holding a cellphone


Now, goals are all well and good yeah, but what am I going to use to actually accomplish them? Well, I’m glad you asked.




A few months back I discovered that I had hella italki credits on my account. I think my teacher at the time had to cancel the sessions I’d bought because she was working on her master’s thesis or something. Either way, there’s money chilling in there and I’m going to put it to good use.

Because I already have a friend in Korea that I speak with on a regular basis, I’ll only be using it for German and Japanese.

With Japanese, I’ll need an actual teacher, preferably one who provides their own materials.

My German is much stronger so I’ll be looking for a community tutor to have consistent conversations with. I need to get used to using it regularly again.




It’s no secret that I love textbooks. I know they’re not as flashy as apps (which I also love) but I feel so much more accomplished when I finish a textbook chapter!

I don’t know what kind of shenanigans go on with German textbooks but I’ve never had one. Ever. And I wouldn’t even know where to start looking for one. The best I can do is reference books. At this point, any textbook I’d find at B2 level would probably be mostly reading and writing anyway. I’ll just use articles on the interwebs and social media.

I have a plethora of Korean textbooks. I can feel you judging me. Don’t judge! They all do different things I swear. I prefer the Ewha set and plan to continue working out of those.

For Japanese, I technically have the Genki textbook. I bought it because that’s what we used when I learned in high school. It’s very much structured for classroom learning rather than solo learning but I think I can finesse it.




I also love apps but I’m starting to be more selective about which ones I use regularly. The main app I’ll be working through is Lingodeer. I did a review of the app last year. 

I’ve only tried it out for Korean so I’m excited to see how it approaches Japanese. Especially with Kanji. Originally I planned to only use it for those two but I might slide over to German occasionally as well. 




I need more German podcasts. I only have one that I listen to regularly and lowkey it’s been kind of depressing since it’s a travel-related podcast, haha. 

I’m on a true crime kick so if anyone has a favorite German-language podcast in the genre please let me know! And if all these apps and companies want to really do something unique, they can make it easier for us to find podcasts in our target language that aren’t just “Let’s learn this language!” 

If there’s anything last year showed me it’s that I don’t have to do all the things even though I desperately want to. While I won’t say I’ll never dabble in anything else this year, I’ll be keeping my focus on these core three languages. 

What about you all? Are you learning any new languages this year? Keeping up with some of the new ones from last year? 

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Mission Acquisition: February Language Goals

Picture of strawberry cake and cream

It’s Aquarius season! Well, technically Aquarius season starts in January but my birthday is this month so that’s all that matters. :P

Despite how busy I was, I managed to get in a decent amount of studying last month. And I put everything in a super awesome chart because I’m a nerd like that.

As you can see I spent most of my time on input (listening, reading) rather than output (writing, speaking). If it weren’t for my exchange partner I wouldn’t even be doing the little bit of speaking that I am now.

The Ewha textbook is still my favorite. I’ve planned out the chapters for the rest of this month and a little into March so I should be finished with it soon. I need to do a full review on it because it’s one of the best ones I’ve used.

My friend and I went to see WINNER in concert! And yes I’m 100% counting that as listening practice because all the songs are in Korean. The boys were amazing and I’m glad they enjoyed the snow because we sure as hell didn’t.

I follow Talk To Me In Korean on twitter and I see people mention the Iyagi series frequently. I listened to the first one and understood maybe two words total. Not very encouraging. But my listening comprehension isn’t going to get where it needs to be just by using my textbook. So my goal for this month is to do at least three Iyagi sessions and write sentences using the vocabulary.

And the absolute best of anything I’m doing, my language exchange partner and I meet weekly! My 언니 really pushes me as far as comprehension. She speaks about 90% of the time in Korean unless I’m really not understanding. Unfortunately, I’m still not the best when it comes to speaking (any language to be honest), and I often get choked up when I need to say what I’ve already figured out in my head. This month I want to increase the amount of time with her that I’m actually speaking Korean.

Also! I want to start recording myself in Korean. I’m just not sure about the delivery. Should it be on YouTube? Instastories? I’m still trying to figure that part out.

What I’m Reading

I finished Evil and The Mask! Working out whether I want to write out a quick review or do a video on it. My next book I’d like to read from a Puerto Rican author. Don’t ask why I chose that country next, I promise it’s random lol.

Where I’m Going

Lunar New Year is this month (on the 5th) and there are tons of events planned all around Chicago. I’m going to be attending as many as possible so keep an eye out on my Instagram!

That’s all for this month! What are your plans?

Mission Acquisition: January Language Goals

Welcome to 2019!


A new year means new opportunities to improve my languages and add a couple new ones along the way. The past 6 months or so have been difficult because of life things, but I’m ready for the fresh start that only January can bring. I don’t want to do too much this first month and wear myself thin though, so my goals for January are going to be simple.

Before I get into what I’m doing this month I definitely want to recommend this post over at Hobby Help for anyone planning to take up Spanish this year! It’s super thorough and not only lists resources (most of them for free 99, my fave), but it also walks you through how to choose the best way to study for you.

What I’m Studying

I’m continuing my focus on Korean for January.

The first thing I’d like to do is start keeping better track of the time I’m spending doing different tasks. I already block out my day for study time but I want to be more specific about how that time is allocated. At the very least I’ll be tracking how much time I spend on the big 4: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking.

I’m breaking out my textbooks again and I imagine I’ll be starting up with my exchange partner again in the next couple weeks.

My local study buddy and I decided to start up our sessions again next week as well! Super excited to buckle down this year.

What I’m Reading

Back when I was super active on LiveJournal (leave me alone, I’m old remember) I was first introduced to the concept of reading around the world.

There are a few different ways people partake but the gist is that you read books written by people from different countries. They can either be translated into the language you speak or in their native language. They can also either be set in that country or written by someone who’s from the country. I’ve been wanting to do this for like a decade now so, no time like the present!

This month I’m going to cheat a little bit and reread a book I read a long while ago. It’s called Evil and the Mask by Japanese author Fuminori Nakamura. I vaguely remember really liking it but it’s been so long. Great place to jump off the challenge.

See? Short and sweet! What are your goals for this year?

Mission Acquisition July 2018

Whew! It’s the beginning of July and I’m already over it. Summer is canceled. Take it away, please. The heat index last week was 100+ degrees and there will NEVER BE ANY GOOD REASON FOR THAT!

Can you tell I have a lot of feelings right now?

Well, buckle up for some more because…

*In my Usher voice*

These are my confessions……..


Mission Acquisition February 2018

Language goals for February. Yaaaaaay! Now that I’m settling back into my study rhythm I’m excited to progress.


Language goals for February 2018


It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted my goals. I’m glad to get back on track this year. This month I’m back to focusing on Korean exclusively because I want to test a new study schedule! So let’s get to it.

Language Study – Korean

I found a cute little web drama on youtube that I’ve been using to pick up some new vocabulary and grammar points. The best part is that it has Korean subtitles! I only do a sentence a day because I’m very much still a beginner. I want to make sure I fully understand the grammar concepts especially. I break study down into smaller activities:

  1. Copy down the sentence (in hangeul)
  2. Write down any vocabulary I don’t know and look up the definitions
  3. Write down my best shot at a translation of the sentence
  4. Write down translation of the sentence from a native speaker (I want to see how close I can get)
  5. Write at least 5 sentences using the new vocabulary

I’m still debating whether or not to add a spoken component because I’m still shaky with my pronunciation.

I use the Naver Dictionary to look up the words. It’s an amazing resource for studying Korean. So amazing that there’ll be a guide up on it soon. ;)

I’m also diving back into my textbooks! I miss them. I know not everyone does well learning that way but it’s my preferred method. The attempted study schedule for the week is:

Monday – Friday: 이화 1-1 Textbook and workbook | Korean Grammar in Use: Beginnning (Use Pomodoro method to split time evenly between the two).

Sat: Korean Made Easy for Everyday Life

Sunday: Korean Made Easy: Vocabulary

In case you haven’t noticed I’m mad obsessed with Darakwon books. They’re so well written.

Last but not least I have a language exchange with my Korean teacher on Sunday afternoons. We’ve taken a new approach: I write “Diaries” and he translates them into Korean. It makes learning vocabulary and grammar much easier seeing as I already know what the topic is…because I wrote it!

What I’m Reading

Not sure if you all have heard of Gary Vaynerchuk but he’s a pretty awesome businessman and motivational speaker. The only problem is I can’t actually listen to him speak. Listening to him literally gives me anxiety, which sucks because he has such great advice. Lucky for me he had a new book, Crushing It, come out at the end of last month. So now I can absorb his wisdom without needing to decompress afterward. Wooo!


I’ve finished my language coaching class and my mock first session. A couple more weeks and I’ll be a certified Neurolanguage coach! *happy dance* It was a lot of hard work but also a great investment of my time and energy. I can’t wait to start applying some of the new skills I’ve picked up.

What about you guys? What are your goals for this month?


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