So, last year, I tasked myself with undertaking a new challenge every month, to see if my endurance for taking on new things had any limits. My challenges were varied and interesting, with a serious spectrum of results.
Going make-up free was exhilarating and well received, as was my daily 5K. Trying to become a morning person was a tough month, as was going cold turkey when I tried to go a whole 30 days without drinking coffee.
And the final challenge on my 12 month roster has got to have been one of the most difficult yet. As my honeymoon was approaching with Bali as the destination, I decided that in the countdown, I was going to see if I could master Indonesian. Easy, right?!
I say 'learn,' but we all know I'm not actually going to learn a whole new language in 30 days - that would be ludicrous. To truly learn a new language can take years - but I resolved instead to try my hardest to imbibe as much Indonesian as I possibly could in the 30-day timeframe.
Obviously I'm still doing a full-time job and organising the final wedding preparations on top of my 30-day challenge, so I decide a good way for me to practise the Indonesian language is by downloading some apps that I can use on my way to and from work, or in my lunchbreak, or basically any time in my usually very busy day that I have spare!
The growth of technology for educational use has transformed the way in which people learn and access education. This is particularly true for languages, an area in which the explosion of mobile apps and interactive software has provided choice to a range of people who were previously unable to access foreign language education.' ---The Guardian
Some of the main language apps that I search for don't have Indonesian as an available option, so after trying a few more unknown apps, I finally settle on 'In 24 Hours Learn to Speak Indonesian (Bahasa)' (this is literally what the app is called).
The main home page is split into 24 lessons starting at 'Basics', then working through grammar, numbers, and words/phrases/questions for relevant situations such as 'shopping', 'direction', 'restaurant' etc etc.
HOW TO PROGRESS
Despite the difficulty of the challenge, I am really starting to enjoy myself here.
The key, I have found, is not to simply dip in and out of the app. It's all about sporadically challenging yourself to see how much you can remember - repetition and self-testing can be a great way to cement what you've taken on board.
I've taken to reading through a list of numbers/phrases and writing down everything I can remember afterwards, or at random. And if I'm on the train and don't have a pen and paper to hand, then I just type it into my notes on my iPhone instead.
I ask various members of my family to take my app and test me to see how much I've remembered - I'm happy with how much I am taking in and am enjoying the sense of achievement I'm getting from practising.
DARN YOU CONFIDENCE
When all was said and done and the month of drinking in Indonesian over, we flew off on our honeymoon.
I did try to speak Indonesian, I swear, but I found that my confidence really got in the way.
The times I tried I must have spoken it too quietly in my embarrassment that I don't think I was heard and was spoken to in English as a result. This didn't help me try and attempt it for a second time.
I continued to say thank you and good morning and all the standard greetings in Indonesian every time I saw someone and paid attention to people's conversations to see if I could pick anything up.
I definitely recognised words here and there, but it was spoken so quickly that it was too hard for me to try to understand what they were saying.
Because you rarely get taught slang, you really have to spend time in the country of the language you wish to learn to truly pick up how it's spoken day to day.
Ultimately, I hadn't learnt enough to embark on a conversation, and I was certainly finding myself too embarrassed to try.
But hey, I made a start. And if I go back to Bali again, or another part of Indonesia, then I will try learning more beforehand. And I will have a word with myself about being too shy to speak up!
If you want to learn a new language, you really have to TRY (and go to where the language is spoken):
T - TIME - You won't get anywhere if you don't dedicate time to it.
R - REALISTIC - Set yourself manageable goals - you're more likely to meet them.
Y - YOU - You are your own worst critic - don't be afraid to fail.