The first marker point on any attempt to learn language is the point when you know 50 different words in a language. This is a place you could get to in almost any language. It would be pretty easy to do with some flash cards. I call this the Tourist level.
What is interesting is how few of us have 50 words in any other language, especially since it is so attainable. Think about it: other than the language you speak- is there a language that you know at least 50 words off the top of your head?
I studied Spanish in school for like 8 years and I struggled to get to even 25.(again if I can learn a language so can you) I spent a week in Prague and cannot think of a single word in Czech. Maybe this an English speaker thing- but we are bad tourists.
It is time to celebrate because I have Tourist Turkish and I did celebrate by creating a word cloud (courtesy of Worditout.com). There are a couple of things I noticed while doing the exercise. The first is that words came in waves. I would remember the word for house, ev and then I would remember a bunch of words relating to it. This happened with a number of categories. Second most of the words are words I have had to learn in order to operate on a daily basis. I.E. taksi (taxi) and Türkçe Bilmiyorum (I don’t know Turkish). The rest of the words would be the random words that have stuck because of an unique circumstance. There is a beloved street dog in the neighborhood named Kuzu- which translates as ‘Lamb’. These seem to be the most natural ways to learn everyday need, categories and personal experience.
The next level of the language I am trying to attain is survival Turkish. This means I have the knowledge to feel confident in most everyday interactions.
Remind me to write a post about the ways people measure language level. Let me know your experience with Tourist language use in the comments.