My language learning in 2021

Tết 2022 is fast approaching – Chúc Mừng Năm Mới!

What a year 2021 was again. Through it all I’ve still been learning and practising my languages. This post is my annual round-up of how I spent my language learning time in 2021 and what differed in my approach and study habits this past year.

Previous yearly reviews are available: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016.


Practised in occasional random conversations, but otherwise barely maintaining

As has been the case for the last few years, I occasionally get to speak Vietnamese in a restaurant or other chance encounters with Vietnamese people. While I’m a bit rusty, I am still able to speak the language. Twice in December I was called “fluent” (though the truth is my level is low intermediate).

It’s hard to keep up with learning more than one language – it’s rare that I read Vietnamese online although I still very occasionally think to myself in Vietnamese.


January – June

This language was again the main focus of my learning in much of 2021 – reaching 3 years since I started learning the language. I still feel that my level is low intermediate and I have good days and bad days.

As 3 years was the amount of time I spent in Vietnam, I wrote a comparison of spending 3 years on each language.

What’s the same?

  • As usual I’ve had variable periods of taking italki lessons regularly and having breaks. I took 9 Russian lessons on italki in 2021.
  • To help all this sink in, I still love Anki but I haven’t been using it for Russian since the summer.
  • I’ve used duolingo for a bit, in particular when commuting.
  • I still did a few face-to-face language exchanges and used Russian in my daily life and travel.

What’s different?

  • I did not have group lessons.
  • I didn’t use a lot of learner podcasts.
  • I haven’t been using instagram since I came back to the UK.


July – December

I started learning Spanish in 2017, reaching level A2 quickly. But in 2018 found I couldn’t keep it up and learn Russian at the same time. I’ve long been waiting for my Russian to get good enough that I could return to Spanish.

What I’ve done:

  • Half a course on FutureLearn (I got bored)
  • 4 lessons on italki* – three introduction lessons and one lesson using pictures to talk about a holiday
  • Duolingo almost daily for 6 months
  • Exchanged messages on HelloTalk for about a month
  • Tried a few other apps but none of them wow-ed me


2021 was a 50-50 split between Russian and Spanish with six months focused on each. Having left Russia, I feel my Russian is getting rusty. I’m forgetting words already. Losing your level can really happen quickly! On the other hand, my understanding of Spanish has come back quickly. Speaking is harder as I’ve forgotten a lot of vocabulary.

2022 learning plans

I’m busy with some other projects at the moment so for the next three months, I’m going to keep spending 2-3 hours a week learning Spanish and 1-2 hours maintaining my Russian. I might even get to squeeze in some Vietnamese.

I hope to change that up later in the year but we’ll see how things go.

Over to you: How was your language learning in 2021? What are you language learning plans for 2022?

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