So what now? As a high-intermediate to advanced Nepali language learner, this is the question I asked myself as I stumbled through ways to continue gaining proficiency and refreshing my existing language skills. The Multi-Language Seminar provides the tools needed to understand how you best learn and strategies to train yourself and a language mentor in language acquisition. As a self-directed learner, it is imperative to give yourself a structured plan that will set you up for success. While no two learners can be at the exact same spot in their journey, there are still a plethora of tips that can be helpful for intermediate-advanced learners (and even beginner). I hope you find these tips useful in your Nepali language learning journey!
1. Have clear, realistic goals:
Aiming too low will likely not be beneficial to an advancement in learning or skillsets. Aiming too high can result in reducing motivation to learn and disappointment for not being able to reach overly-ambitious goals. Think back to the last time you engaged in Nepali learning via a classroom, tutor, or textbook. What did you accomplish week to week? No, not what did the class expect you to accomplish, what did you really accomplish? For example, if a tutor required 30 new vocabulary words a week and you realistically only remember about 10, then set your goal for ten new vocabulary words per week. Remember why you are learning Nepali, and create focused goals.
By the end of one semester of language study, I will be able to:
- I will be able speak using more technical vocabulary about my research.
- I will be able to tell a story using various pronoun forms and tenses.
- I will be able to present information on familiar topics using a series of simple sentences and topics relating to wildlife conservation using more advanced sentences.
- I will be able to have better pronunciation in my Nepali Language speaking.
- I will be able to speak quickly and with confidence.
- I will be able to read and comprehend newspapers and short stories written in Devanagari script with greater proficiency
2. Create an at-home immersion experience:
Often learners are unable to be in Nepal at all times to create the ideal immersion experience. However, finding ways to create a pseudo-Nepal at home will benefit your language learning and shift you into Nepali-mode.
- Label objects in your home with notecards in Devanagari. Writing out the object names is great practice by itself, but it will also allow you to see and refer to objects in their Nepali names.
- Set days/hours where you only listen to Nepali music/news/tv etc. Hearing Nepali spoken in its natural form is an important part of the learning process, especially if one is trying to speed-up comprehension. It doesn’t have to be all day, but periods of shutting-out your first language is important. Grocery shop in Nepali. Go for a walk in Nepali. Speak to Nepali friends!
- Games and decorations are a fun way to surround yourself with Nepali. Create your own matching game with Nepali words or phrases to practice reading, writing, and speaking! Decorations like prayer flags or photos of Nepal are also a great way to remember why you are learning this language.
- If we know anything about Nepal, it is that cooking and eating is an important social and cultural practice. Try to cook a Nepali dish and practice your cooking verbs. This is a tasty way to immerse yourself at home.
3. Stick to the plan or revise it:
While not everyone is a strict schedule-maker, you may want to reconsider for at-home language learning. One of the biggest hurdles you will have to repeatedly overcome is motivating yourself to accomplish what you set out to accomplish. Unlike classroom or tutored language-learning settings, you are in the driver’s seat. You will get out of your language learning what you put into it. Creating an individualized study plan (ISP) with activities which support your goals and objectives is imperative. If you find that some activities are not working or you learn of other language learning techniques, change your ISP!
4. Pick a mentor that will support AND push you:
Nepali people are known for being extremely polite, especially to ‘guests’ and ‘foreigners’. While you may not want a mentor that will harshly criticize you, you do need a mentor that will give you constructive criticism to improve your language abilities. Your relationship with your mentor is incredibly important and may be the only way you will be able to practice speaking and listening to Nepali in a live setting. Choose wisely, ask for help, and be clear with your mentoring expectations. Schedule your learning times with your mentor and stick to it! This will motivate you to get learning materials prepared and do your homework.
5. Rest and be kind to yourself:
Learning any language is no joke. It takes a lot out of you. Schedule learning and stick to that plan. Give yourself time off for your brain to soak up what you have learned and REST. It is better to schedule time off than to be forced into it from your body shutting down. On that note, be KIND to yourself. You are learning a whole language! Any progress is good progress! Times of failure, disappointment and discouragement are par for the course, but you can and will succeed if you stick to the plan.
6. Seek advice, help, and support from other students:
The Multi-language Seminar provides and environment with other students who are in the same boat as you. Be active in that community. There will be many times other students will have strategies that you can incorporate into your own learning. Plus, it is a great support group during the lows and highs of language learning.
7. HAVE FUN:
Nepali is innately a whimsical and fun language, remember to find joy in your learning journey! It does not all have to be flashcard and writing drills. Listen to Nepali music to take breaks. Have a chat conversation with a Nepali friend. If you find yourself getting into a rut, redirect into a fun activity to motivate yourself again! You can do it!