Agile Planning for Language Learning

Fri 14 June 2013

I’m returning to French after a long break.  I lost my momentum last summer bit by bit. The less new material I learned, the staler the old material got.  After a while there were so many overdue flashcards I couldn’t dig my way out.
But I missed it.  I’ve made more progress with French than any other language, and I hate to let it go. So, back to the planning board.
Mastering a language is the work of years. I needed to carve out human-sized goals. First, I’m taking an evening class at a language school this summer. As a second incentive, I’m planning a trip to France in the fall. These give me both goals and deadlines:  brush up enough to be ready for class, and practice talking enough to enjoy vacation.

My first study guide read like a semester syllabus, and my renewed enthusiasm began to dwindle. Then I decided to use an agile approach. “Agile” is a style of software planning that breaks a big project into mini-projects. Each round ends with a retrospective to evaluate progress and next steps. The short sprints make it easy to change direction as needed.

Esther Derby’spresentation  on  Agile Retrospectives gave me the last nudge.  She says, “Ask what the team has energy for [next], not what is ‘most important’”.   It struck a chord. This is a hobby - you know, for fun!  I tossed the syllabus and started fresh.

My 1-week iterations end with a retrospective on Sunday. Trello tracks the pool of things to learn,  what’s in progress, and what’s done. The weekly plan is much less daunting, and the work gets done.

On y va!

Category: Languages