Language Studies Tibetan Language བོད་ཡིག

Confessions of a Lazy Language Learner

I always start out so excited and ambitious with languages and then well…I fall off that high horse real quick. I love learning languages, but I’m lazy. Sometimes I make a lot of progress only to backtrack, because I haven’t opened up a book in a month or two. Which is not how one becomes better at language it actually  makes the process that much slower and aggravating. 

In the past week or so, I’ve had some extra time at work so I thought I’d try to get myself back into the swing of it, as I think studying Tibetan will be a good way to keep myself busy when I’m back in the states. While I was studying, I wanted to find something and came across a link to a music video. It is super cute and I’ve been listening to the song on repeat since yesterday. I guess that is verging on obsession.

I decided to consolidate my learning into one notebook to make things easier on myself. I’m not really sure that I’ve actually accomplished this, and now I have to relearn what I was doing. I’m the student that doesn’t spend too much time on things and keeps going, even though I should probably practice until I’m confident and can remember what I just learned. See this is why laziness doesn’t pay off.

These are my notes from during winter vacation when I decided to concentrate more on reading practice. As you can see the paper looks a bit crazy. My methodical madness works for me as the circles represent the syllables that are actually pronounced while the other letters are silent. The yellow highlighted marks show the syllables I’m not sure if I am pronouncing right or I have no clue how to pronounce. This is why you thoroughly practice sounds and pronunciation in the beginning.

Looking back a this I realized that I need to start at the beginning again so that I have a true mastery of syllables, sounds, and letters. I should also practice reading aloud and answering questions and writing my own questions and sentences so that I can practice what I have learned.

The photo below is my overachieving brain saying try two things at once. There are three pronunciation sets below. The second line shows the accepted pronunciation used in Standard Tibetan written in English followed by the IPA pronunciation of Lhasa Tibetan. The last line shows the IPA pronunciation of Amdo Tibetan. I spent a lot of time traveling in the Amdo part of Tibet during my summer and winter vacation so I really want to learn the Amdo dialect. However, most of my friends back home speak the Lhasa dialect which is taught in India and exile.

Being ambitious isn’t a bad thing though I think I may need to hash out a plan so I can notice real improvement with what I am doing.  Finally, below is me trying to answer some of the questions without looking at the answers. I didn’t do so bad. Some questions I did a great job and in others I didn’t do such a great job. As always learning a new language is about making mistakes and being okay making them.

When I was learning Spanish and Japanese I wasn’t great at making mistakes which hindered my growth as a learner. When I learned Korean I started out that way, but living in Korea and being forced to use what I know really helped my language abilities to grow. I’m hoping if I keep that attitude with learning Tibetan than maybe by the end of the year I can hold small conversations in Tibetan. That would be real progress to me. I’ve got 9 months left to make it a reality and I shouldn’t start slacking now!

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