A Depth Year: Part 1, Part 2,
Time to explore my first area of more/less — language, specifically German lessons.
Why German? I studied German for 9 years: 4 in high school, 4 in college, and 1 in Germany with the Goethe Institute.
I’ve been reading a lot about dementia and one thing every study seems to say is that the more elastic you keep your mind, the more you continue to learn, the more you make new neural connections, the healthier your brain is. Puzzles, crosswords, learning a language are all things that have been mentioned in these studies.
I’ve played around with other languages since those German years. I learned a bit of Turkish while we lived in Turkey; a bit of Hebrew before going to Israel (and continued for several years after returning to the States); a bit of Greek to help with Bible study; a bit of Swahii because it seemed like fun. You get the picture.
But thinking about this idea of going deep rather than wide, I decided to return to my German lessons. The key is to gain proficiency, not just dabble.
What’s my plan? I carved out a niche of distraction free time in the late morning for my German practice. I pulled my old (1985) German-English dictionary off the shelf. I bought a grammar refresher book. — These are physical books. I downloaded Duolingo on my phone. Then I loaded some beginner readers on my Kindle. Finally, I bought Harry Potter 1 (paperback and audiobook) in German.
First thing each session, I start with Dueling and review vocabulary. Then I move onto a grammar lesson. These two only take about 10 minutes all together. Then I spend 20 minutes copying out a section from my beginner reader, reading it aloud, looking up any words I don’t know (although I can get most of them through context) and finally re-reading the section.
I am also reading my gospel lesson (Book of Common Prayer reading schedule) in both English and German.
Each evening, I reread the section from my notebook.
Eventually, I will read Harry Potter during the day and when I have completed a chapter, I will listen to that chapter on audiobook. I am excited to begin this, but not quite ready. I want to get grounded again on the basics so that I am enjoying the book as a book.
I will continue to work my way through the Harry Potter books and then I’ll look for another book that Audible carries in German. I will continue this pattern for at least the rest of this depth year and hopefully for the rest of my life.
In order to make more time for German, I decided on less social media. I removed all games and social media from my laptop, moved all social media apps to the 3rd screen on my phone and muted most of FB. I kept a simple living group, an exercise accountability group, and the depth year group on FB, along with immediate family members and my church’s FB page.
Reading: At Home in the World (M Guenther), The Beautiful Mystery (L Penny), Karneval in Köln (German)
Listening: A Castle in the Air