I seem to have reached part of that nebulous area called “intermediate”, where it becomes hard to notice one’s progress on a day-by-day timescale. I frequently find myself wondering if i’m making progress, and whether or not I’m going to “get there”. I felt this a lot when i was working on chinese, which was one of the main reasons i kept quitting and restarting so many times.
I’m trying to overcome these feelings by reminding myself that other people have taken this same path all the way to success, and i’m no different. Persistence is key, but it’s nontrivial. I’m dutifully filling in my progress spreadsheet every day, doing both reading and TV every day.
I think it’s important to have certain checkpoints or milestones to look back on. When i read a certain book that was hard before, and find that it’s now quite understandable, then i gain motivation. When i starting seeing certain words everywhere i go, and remember the time when those particular words were totally mysterious, i gain motivation. I need to think up more ways to provoke this experience.
Another consequence of being in this “intermediate” place in my studies, is that i have a sense of familiarity with the language. I seem to feel quite comfortable listening to hours of german and not feeling at all like i don’t understand things. I’m able to get the storyline without needing a lot of the details, but i normally don’t miss those details. Later when i review the same TV episode or book chapter in-depth, i realize there was a ton of new and interesting vocabulary in there that i didn’t actually need to know in order to understand the plot. Once i study and reread those chapters, however, i become aware of a new level of meaning.
The beginner stage was filled with confusion and anger about not understanding anything, but the intermediate stage is sort of a blissful ignorance, although sometimes also a sense of impatience. By being exposed to understandable content and by studying the details, i hope to move on to a larger awareness and understanding within the next few months.