The Afrikaans Challenge

The Houses of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa.

I just realized I never posted a follow-up to my six-week challenge for Afrikaans, which was over last month.

Of course, six weeks isn’t enough time to come fluent in a language. To actually make progress during such a time period, one must devote a large chunk of time to the challenge, and I did not do this (for various reasons, mainly due to other personal projects I had). But what little time I did devote to learning Afrikaans made me realize that I really do love the language and hope to continue studying it in the future.

A dearth of resources

Another thing that struck me while I was learning Afrikaans is the absolute dearth of resources for this language. There are so many resources for learning Russian (if you want a list, leave me a comment and I’ll start working on a post with a list of Russian resources). There are a fair amount for Ukrainian, a ton for Spanish (even more than there are for Russian), a lot for German (not that I’ve studied German, but my friends who have say this is true), and a lot for French. For those less commonly taught languages like Afrikaans, finding adequate resources to using for learning is really half the struggle.

Luckily I did find some good resources – my initial post about this challenge has a short list at the bottom.

Why do a six-week challenge?

My experience with this six-week challenge (my first, hopefully of many) has emphasized something important: you cannot learn a language in six weeks. (I am ignoring certain exceptional cases, of course. I think it could be possible to learn Afrikaans in six weeks if you are a native speaker of Dutch, for example.) But for most people, learning a language in six weeks is impossible.

However, a six-week challenge is useful for “test driving” a language, so to speak. Sometimes, you know you love a language before you even start learning it – and sometimes, you simply don’t know, and in the latter case, trying out a language for a set period of time can be helpful. That way, if you hate it by the end of the test period, you can abandon it and find another language to try.

I loved Afrikaans, so I am happy to have realized that during this six-week challenge, and I plan to continue the language in the future, perhaps even using the technique I wrote about earlier.