It’s that time of year when New Year’s resolutions run riot. For me, forcing out valiant resolves for no other reason than it being the start of a new calendar year is not the way to go. However, I find that there’s never a bad time to check in on projects that are already up and running, to assess my progress, hone my focus and maybe do a bit of tweaking.
‘Project Trilingual’, aka as learning Spanish, is my biggest WIP right now, and one area, where I definitely need to step up my efforts is reading. Because… frankly… I’m barely doing any.
This may sound paradoxical, because I love, love, love reading. I love it. Besides being tremendous fun, it’s by far the most effective way of expanding one’s vocab. Reading has always been a favourite leisure activity of mine, and in my twenties, I even had a job where I got PAID to read books! I worked as a Braillist for the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind), and so my job was transcribing books into Braille.
During the six years I worked there, I read books that I’d never have picked off the shelves in a bookshop or a library in a million years, like advanced (for me) Mathematics, triathlon training guides, Teach Yourself Albanian (containing the oft-used sentence “how many stalactites are in this cave?” – I’m not making this up!), Aran knitting, and the Koran. I don’t think there’s a subject area I haven’t read at least one book about.
I’ve consumed hundreds (maybe even thousands…?) of books in English and German, but, so far, I’ve shied away from those scary Spanish books. Sure, I’ve been doing some reading, but it’s been limited to short texts, like teaching podcast transcripts and the occasional article, plus dull day-to-day stuff like phone bills and pesky letters from my bank.
The sticking point is that I primarily read for pleasure, and having to stop to look up every fifth word does my head in. But there comes a time when you’ve got to push beyond your comfort zone in order to make progress and get to where you want to be. And I’m at that threshold how. In order to get better, and be able to read Spanish books for enjoyment, which has always been my goal, I need to step up my reading, even it it hurts right now.
So, here’s the task I’m setting myself: Besides my daily dose of podcasts, I’m going to read at least one article in Spanish and/or a couple of pages of a Spanish book every day. This may not sound like much of a challenge, but I know I can commit to this. It’s an achievable goal, and it’s more than I’m doing now. It’ll get easier, less painful and more rewarding as I go on, which will make me want to read more.
To make it as easy as possible for myself, I’ve downloaded some books in Spanish and a bilingual dictionary onto my e-reader, so all I have to do as I stumble from one unknown word to the next is to tap on it and the definition/translation comes up. No tedious thumbing through dictionaries like in the old days, nor typing words into a search engine. Really, I have no bloody excuse!!!