2015-12-31

Chinese Status Update Winter 2015

Another three months have passed, and I am a little further along in my never ending quest. At the end of the last blog post I mentioned that I didn't really have any set goals while traveling. Instead I would be following more of a framework, or set of best practices. All of these guidelines I set, are about making myself available to practice and learn. Below are the four big ones.

Participate, Participate, Participate. When we had meals with friends, or their family, I would always try to have some sort of compliment, or conversation starter, ready to go. Also, when we looked at buying something, I always made sure I participated in the transaction. Either I would order the food, pay the bill, or ask questions about whatever we were looking at. This rule was especially important for me. With a wife who speaks the language it can be easy to just take a back seat and watch. This rule most importantly kept me practicing. As an added benefit, for any place that we went more than once I was building a good rapport with the staff. This helped me in other ways.

Don't hide in your apartment.  This isn't the same as the first rule. It is easy to only participate once or twice a week, and hole up at home the rest of the time. It is hard to talk with strangers, and be open to new experiences. That is what I am doing. I am a remote worker, and our apartments, and hotels always had WiFi, but I still forced myself to work at a cafe, bar, bookstore, etc, at least a couple of times a week. I would frequent the same places most of the time. As I did this I got to spend less time doing quick orders, and more time chatting with people about random stuff. These act as substitute water cooler breaks. Like I would normally get at an office, but with an added bonus of language practice.

Group selfie on our way to the waterfall.
Do leisure activities that put us in contact with the locals, not just the people paid to talk to you. How do you make friends as an adult? I know lots of people who struggle with this. I have friends who move to a new city, and it takes them months to even have a few acquaintances. I have other friends who after divorces they find their friend pool drastically reduced, and have to start all over. The formula to make a friend is fairly easy. Talk with people, find a common interest, and bond over it, or move on. Yet that find a common interest, and bonding is scary enough to keep many from continuing after a failed attempt, or worse not even trying.

In Beijing interacting with the locals was easy. We had friends, there and they introduced us to their friends, and our friends parents introduced us to their friends. In Xiamen, this was a bit harder, because I had to talk my wife into meeting total strangers. She ended up finding us a kinda "make friends" field trip. A couple of guys put about twenty of us on a bus and helped us socialize, while driving us to an old tea village. From which we hiked to a scenic waterfall, had lunch and did more socializing. In Taiwan we are again around friends and family. There is no shortage of opportunities to eat at uncles house, or meet up with old friends. A note for people without the established connections we have. China, and Taiwan both have tons of meetup groups. There should be one there that matches your interests. I think I saw twenty that were just about locals and foreigners meeting up to exchange culture, or language.

Limit consumption of native material. Even though I am in Asia, it is still easy to listen to English music, and watch American movies, and English news. In order to combat this, I usually just substituted a Chinese version for the English version. Every once in a while I would get a hankering for Cheerleader, and give it a listen. I tried not to force myself to a hardcore regimen. The point is not to burn out, but rather make it easier to absorb the Chinese around me.

What have I done?

For the better part of the last three months I have been traveling through China, and Taiwan. I have made new friends in Xiamen, and Beijing. I was able to participate in many conversations. Most of them I was not only understanding, but was also able to play an active part. I was occasionally able to use my Chinese to help people with various things, like directions or answer questions. Understanding the Beijing accent got a lot easier, and swapping to the southern Chinese accent wasn't as rough this time. Things are coming easier in general.


Where Next?

So at this point I am at a comfortable level. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. This is good because for my day to day I rarely encounter a situation outside my comfort zone. For this very same same reason it's bad. My learning has slowed down. It is once again time to deliberately practice and learn. This means I need to again, start setting goals, and study routines.

My new daily routine will be a lot like my previous ones, but less intense. A bit of study time spread out here and there through out the day. I will do some Anki here. Work on a textbook there. Do a bit of writing in the middle, and  listen to some Glossika. It isn't super intense, but should be enough to get me pushing forward again.

What about goals? 

So this is a tricky one for me. I have been reading a lot entrepreneurial, zen, and confidence books lately. These books advocating big outlandish sized goals. Their point being don't limit yourself. But at the same time I am a huge fan SMART goals. So in the upcoming couple of days I hope to find a way to marry the two, while avoiding the two obvious extremes of overwork, and un-achievable. Some of the area's I want to cover are things like review my tones, some specific topics, and be able to better understand the nightly news. I also want to get my writing back up to par. I have slacked on it too long, I have forgotten how to write a lot of characters. 

I plan to post some more about my trip to China over the next few weeks, and at the end of March, I will give you another update. I hope everyone has a fun holiday season!

2015-12-06

General Thoughts on China


I just spent two months in China. I lived about a month in Beijing, and about a month in Xiamen. We also visited a friend in Jinggangshan, and went to a few rural places with Chinese tourist groups. China is a big and beautiful place, with an interesting mix of old world rural, and modern mega cities. 

Part of the reason we first went to Beijing, was to celebrate our friends wedding. While in Beijing, we stayed in a studio apartment, like something you would find on Airbnb.  Our friends mother helped us find and set it up. One convenient thing about staying here was that it was really close to her parents' home. 

That is one building.

We ended up having dinner at her parents place several times over the course of the month. This was great for me. I got to see inside someones home, and eat their home cooking, and enjoy diner conversation. Our friend's father was retired military, like several of my friends' parents back home. And like their parents back home, he had a really similar world view as them, with just a few governments, or organizations swapped around. It was a fun twist to listen to him. 

Beijing itself was big, noisy, and dirty. The pollution problem is real, but it didn't seem as bad as everyone made it out to be. Back stateside news, and people would make it sound like one every couple of months a good weather front would clean out the city, and provide blue skies. While we were there only about half the time was smoggy. 

It is also full of history, and we did a lot of touring while in Beijing. We visited several of the famous historic landmarks. While doing that I got to see one big difference between Americans and most people there. Forming lines, and waiting your turn, are not customs they have. People tend to crowd in, and squeeze in and out of the high traffic areas. With that being said on the flip side, if you watch people on a crowded bus in China, you will see almost everyone doing their best to make sure the elderly, sick, and people with small children, get a seat if at all possible. 
These are buildings made out of mud brick, and wood. They were made around a hundred years ago, and people still live in them today. This village is a tourist attraction.

Xiamen was very different from Beijing. It is considered one of the cleanest cities in China, and has a much warmer climate. It also helped me see the difference between Between the politicalness of Beijing, and other places. While in Beijing my wife who is from Taiwan, would be "corrected" by Beijingers. When she told people she was from Taiwan. They would say, "Oh, Taiwan, China!" Whereas in Xiamen, and Jinggangshan, they would say "Taiwan! We love Taiwan!" It was interesting to see how being near, or away from the political center, affected people's language, and actions. 

So one cool thing about my job is I didn't quit work to travel the world. In Beijing I took vacation for the first two weeks, but the last two weeks in Beijing, and all of my time in Xiamen, I worked like everyone else. I am still telecommuting in on the weekdays. I maintain a regular schedule. Most of our fun, travel, and other picture worthy moments come from the weekend. While working there I made sure to work outside the apartment at least half the time. By doing this I forced myself to use my Chinese, and make several local contacts. 
Some guys we met while on an outing.

Since my work is internet based, I got to learn how to live in a world without google. The Great Firewall blocked a lot of things, I had previously taken for granted. The whole Google ecosystem was blocked, as well as Facebook, cpan, jquery website, w3schools, tons of other websites, and random intermittent outages for things like my personal e-mail server, and AOL messenger. While dealing with this was by far the most frustrating thing about China, I did become adept at using Baidu, and got better at skimming Chinese to find the info I need. Most of the blocked sites mentioned have a Chinese equivalent. I ended up spending time finding and working with those.

Ok that is enough rambling for now. I hope everyone has a good weekend.

2015-11-29

I am back!

I am back!


Since I last posted, the wife and I have flown to China, and lived about a month in Beijing, and a month in Xiamen. When I entered China, I ended up going dark on the blog. This was mostly because of how much of a hassle it was to get around the Great Firewall while inside. But I am out now. We landed in Taiwan a few days ago. I should start posting more regularly now. I journaled while I was there, and I am thinking about releasing some of those entries at some point.



China was a lot of fun. I got to use my Chinese, pretty much daily, and while in Taiwan I hope to continue this trend. The game plan is always fluid, but over the next twelve months we plan to hit Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and maybe a few more. Some places we will live at for a few months at a time, and some we will just visit for a week or less. 


That's it for now. I will post more about China next weekend. 

2015-09-30

Chinese Status Update Fall 2015

The wife hanging with our buddy's baby.
Welcome back! Two posts in a week! **pats self on back** We have been in Connecticut for about two weeks now, and tomorrow we will set off for China. While in China I won't be able to continue learning in the same way that I have here, and that is a good thing!

Below are roughly my long term goals from the last update.

  • Finish reading Ender's Game in Chinese.
  • Finish PAVC 4
  • Finish PAVC 5
  • Work through TAT volume 2
  • Work through TAT volume 3, and 4
  • Take the HSK V, and HSK VI
  • Visit China in October ( Leaving Tomorrow! )
  • Finish working through my Frequency dictionary book.
  • Use the upcoming Coursera courses to fill in some programming vocabulary.

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” – Dwight Eisenhower


Getting PAVC 4 done was a big deal for me. I have been working on it for most of this year with my iTalki teacher. Also these last three months I stepped up the pace, and got a lot of good vocab learned. 

The HSK tests are still on my list. Sadly there was no easy way for me to take them before we left. All the closest testing centers were over twelve hours drive from me. Maybe I will find a way to take it while I am in China.

The rest of these goals are still things I want to complete, but for the most part will be put on hold until the wife and I are done traveling.

Going Forward...

Max! A new European friend we made while in Connecticut.
These last two weeks I have been staying with a Chinese friend and his wife. They knew me before I spoke any Chinese, so usually we talk in English. Happily for me, his parents are also visiting, and they cannot speak English. So everyday I am getting listening and conversation practice. This got me thinking about a lot of things. One being that while in China I don't wanna keep my head a book, and miss the conversations around me. So I cut back from ten different books that could aid my Chinese study to the three that will. Two are reference books for brushing up, and one is the PAVC 5 that I will use to keep introducing myself to fresh topics and vocabulary.

While traveling I don't really have much in the way of goals. Rather I am going to adopt some best practices to help me maximize my learning experience. Most of these are just common sense. Things like don't shy away from a conversation opportunity. Don't only hang out with expats. Don't let my wife speak for me, when I can do it myself. Do be positive and honest. And so on.

See ya on the other side of the world!

2015-09-29

Connecticut

The wife and I left Florida last Friday to begin traveling the world. Our first stop was the far out exotic destination of Connecticut! Well, ok, maybe just exotic to me. While I have passed through many different parts of the USA, most of the eastern seaboard was new to me. The new scenery, and seeing some of places that I had only seen in media, made for a pleasant two day drive up north.


Our last week in Florida, I worked full days and then packed and moved stuff at night, while the wife cooked, cleaned, and packed and moved stuff the whole time. We managed to time things where we were mostly not rushed, and even got to hang out with some friends before we ran off..

As soon as we arrived in Connecticut, we got to help our friend move from a small apartment into a new house. The house he is so kindly letting us crash in for two weeks. While moving we met a guy from Europe. We had some good conversations, and he was super nice. Interacting with him made me want to visit his home country. 

We have had a great time here in Connecticut with our friends, but we will soon be heading off to Asia. I will post an update on my Chinese progress before we head off. I will keep posting once a month from here on out. 

2015-08-03

Time to skinny up.

T-2...Months until we land in China. Once we arrive, one of the first things we will do is attend a dear friend's wedding. Like many people, we have grown fat over the years. Also, like many people we a a bit vain. So, we have decided to do short term diet before we head to China. The point of this diet is not to create healthy life habits, or any of that other idealistic thingamajigs. Those could be awesome side effects, but we are doing this mostly to shape a nice slim beach china body.. :-) I know weight isn't the best goal, but it is the easiest to measure.

S.M.A.R.T Goal

  • Specific: We will loose weight and tone up.
  • Measurable: We will loose 30 pounds each.
  • Attainable: Other people have lost more in less time.
  • Relevant: It will give us the figures we want, make us healthier, and allow us to enjoy more strenuous activities while traveling (like hiking, or camping).
  • Time-bound: We will do this within 2 months.

Thought & Routine

I have been doing an hour or two daily of some various Udemy courses the last few weeks, and I really like some of the morning, and evening ritual stuff inside this productivity course. I have heard some of these tips, and practices from other sources, but never all put together in one place. Yes, some of what he says is a bit hokey, but try it before you knock it.

Diet & Food

I have also been a fan of Tim Ferris since I read his 4-Hour Workweek(affil link) several years ago. His ideas inside are incredibly appealing. When he came out with his 4-Hour Body(affil link) I bought it, and read through it immediately. After reading it, I tried out the diet, and lost 17 pounds over a month. After that I stopped due to life's other demands. A couple of months later the wife and I did it together for a month, and she lost 10 pounds. Not bad for a diet that pushes you not to exercise a lot.

Exercise & Metabolism

Exercise and I have had a love-hate relationship ever since college. Before college I was one of those kids who could eat whatever he wanted, drink a 2 liter of Mt. Dew everyday, and not get fat. As I entered college my metabolism slowed, but my eating didn't. Cmon, the cafeteria was a $5 buffet every meal. Even when I left the dorms, and got off the meal plan I still ate terrible. I started working at a Chinese Buffet, and later on a Pizza Hut. We ate out more than we ate in, and fried foods were always at the top of our list.

So, starting the second or third year of college, I noticed the mini-keg under my shirt, and began experimenting with this thing the jocks called exercise. I was over weight, and under muscled in the beginning. Also, gyms were a scary place. Top that off with the fact that all my friends were computer or music people, who didn't use the gym either. Being fat was the norm in my friend cicle, but I tried anyways. I started and stopped over and over through the years. I tried playing some basketball, I ran, I used the machines, and I looked angrily at the free weights. I tried all kinds of things, like P90X, yoga, and cardio Pilates with Ana Caban. I also read blogs, and books about the 100 push-up challenge, muscle gains, and how to train for a marathon. Some things worked and some things didn't. The biggest lesson I learned was whatever exercise plan you do, you have to give it a chance. In other words, stay with it for a few months. If I stuck with a plan for a few months, no matter which plan, they all worked to some degree.

The Schedule

So, I took all of the above experiences and picked the stuff I liked, and the stuff I think worked. I have created a schedule, and a meal plan.







07:00:00 AM Startup(morning) Ritual

07:30:00 AM Breakfast

12:00:00 PM Lunch

05:30:00 PM Small Meal/Big Snack

06:30:00 PM Exercise Activity

08:00:00 PM Dinner

10:00:00 PM Shutdown(evening) Ritual






I am trying to follow the four meal plan, instead of the traditional three, or the more intensive body builder six to ten times. I am mostly doing this for my wife. She gets hungry about every four hours, whereas I can forget to eat at all. Yesterday, for example the wife had to nag me into eating dinner, because I had already forgotten to eat lunch, and was over engrossed in FF XIII, and kept forgetting to stop at a save point.

We are again doing Tim's Slow Carb plan. We are trying to follow it as closely as possible, with Wednesday being our cheat day. As a substitute to cooking every meal, we are planning to use Soylent to replace meals occasionally. My guess is it will end up being our 5:30 Snack. Along with each meal, we will drink a glass of water. Yay hydration! 


Monday Morning: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: 30M Stomach & Arms

Tuesday Morning: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: 30M-1H Aerobic

Wednesday Morning: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: 30M-1H Aerobic

Thursday Morning: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: 30M Stomach & Arms

Friday Morning: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: 30M-1H Aerobic

Saturday Wake: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: 30M-1H Aerobic

Sunday Wake: 7M Noon: 10M Aerobic Evening: Free

This next chart is about our exercise schedule. The 7M means, 7 minutes of exercise. Specifically, to do that 7 Minute Scientific Workout as part of our wake up ritual. This workout is a little strenuous, but no to strenuous.

The noon 10M is about getting up and moving. It might only be five minutes, or it may be fifteen. We both work sedentary jobs, and sit for long periods of time. Any movement is a win. I plan to walk to the community center, and check the mail, or bike around the block. Nothing super strenuous. 

I am a bit worried about this last column. It is later in the evening, we are tired, and will power is at it's lowest. The hope is that when we knock out these exercises, then dinner will be our reward. I guess we will see what happens. I am sure you have already guessed, stomach == ab exercises. During my time doing the P90X, I really took a liking to their 15 minute ab routine. Even after I stopped that program, I continued to do the ab portion off and on. Over the years I have made some -small modifications to it, and I am very happy with what I currently do. Arms, is just some weight lifting. The aerobic will vary according to what we thing we need. It will probably include things like biking, long walks, jogging, and swimming.

Rituals?

So the rituals I mentioned, are meant to set the tone for each day. What I mean by tone is, ya know attitude, and focus. The whole morning ritual should take less than an hour. Today was our first day, and we had a few issues, but it still only took us about an hour and ten minutes. What I noticed this morning was that watching the news was a mixed blessing. Positive news made us happy, and bad news, made us talk about other bad news. I may cut out the news, and put our cool down talk during our meal. Here is a step by step, as I have it currently planned. 
  1. Drink a glass of water, and start the coffee maker.
  2. Do our 7M workout.
  3. While we cool down, we discuss what is the one most important thing each of us needs to accomplish today, and anything else important we need to focus on. 
  4. One of us showers while the other cooks breakfast. 
  5. We eat breakfast together while maybe talking more, or listening to the news. 
  6. Then the cook goes shower, and the other person does the dishes. 

The evening ritual is a bit less intense. The point of it is to reflect on our day, and get ready for bed. It involves talking about what we accomplished, any frustrations, or obstacles we had to overcome, and the usual stuff we do before bed like reading. I have no set time in mind for this, I am guessing it will take us less than 30 minutes, and hopefully the exercises will have tired us enough to make crashing easier.

Accountability

Just to recap, I Jeremy Carman, currently weigh 205.6 lbs, and I plan to loose 30 pounds by Oct 1st.  On Oct 1st, I will weight 175.6. Wish me luck, and feel free to tell me what changes to my routine you might make.

2015-07-29

Learning About Teaching


I am back. I took a short hiatus from blogging to focus on getting stuff done IRL. One of the things we have done is a TEFL training course. In this post I am going to ramble on about some of my observations of "way back when" vs "now", "teachers encountered" vs "the ideal teacher", and some other tidbits.

I have spent many years of my life on the student side of things. In the past, I have done a few teaching exercises, and tutoring sessions, but nothing that would equate to an actual teacher in a classroom, teaching a course of any length.  I am now done with this in class portion of this course, and by no means an expert. The following are my views and opinions.

Children's Rights

While we are learning to teach all ages one section of this course talks about some of the unique challenges and requirements inherent to dealing with children. The first thing that blew me away was a set of outlined children's rights. The reason this dumb struck me was because I remember being told, multiple times, by my parents, my teachers, and the administration, "YOU HAVE NO RIGHTS!" Before you ask, yes, I was a little hellion.

Once this shock wore off I read these rights, and thought back. Most of my teachers had failed to provide most of these rights. But I turned out OK. Then I thought some more what if they had created this environment these rights outlined. I might have turned out better, at the very least I wouldn't have had several teachers telling me "You won't amount to anything", or "Your are stupid." In their defense I was probably doing everything possible to annoy them.

I am still digesting and deciding if I like these rights. I see the value in in corporal punishment for younger children who are operating based on their id, and lack morals. But maybe further learning in this subject will show me a better way.

Classroom Management & Planning

First off I think our teacher is great. One thing she said early on was "Students speaking 70%, and teacher only 30%." I would love ALL iTalki teachers to learn this 70/30 rule.  In relation to that a lot of what they taught us on the first weekend was about keeping the class engaged. If the students are engaging with the planned activity, they shouldn't be bored, or getting into trouble.

Another fun topic was about teaching a class where you(the teacher) didn't know their(the students) L1(native language). This seemed to bother some of the other students. They had a lot of questions about managing a class you couldn't easily communicate with.  Our teacher gave some good examples of what to expect that calmed fears. I personally am not worried about this because of both how they prepared me in this course, and because I know how quickly you can pick up a few important phrases.

Lesson and activity planning are very enjoyable to me. I feel like I am taking an objective, or goal and building a program around it. A few activities there, some explanation here, and presto you got 30-60 minutes of learning knocked out. While planning called to my inner artist, what surprised me was how many activities, and games they had spread around the internet for helping students engage with the material.

Way back when...

Way back when, I had no rights. I was expected to just sit and absorb. I understand they are teaching us to teach a language class, so I am going to try and limit my comparisons to my previous language classes.

First, in High School I recall a few call and repeat exercises, but the majority of the time the teacher was at the board talking and I was trying to sleep with the book propped up on the desk against my head. I don't remember learning a single conjugation, but I do remember being frustrated with Spanish numbers higher than 10.

When I finally decided to learn Chinese in college, I learned a lot, and enjoyed it a lot, but looking back I see that, the teacher still spent more time than the students talking. The format never changed, and there was a monotony to it. I can remember certain classes where I was talking myself into not being bored, or reading the extra words at the back of the book to kill time.

In Taiwan, there was some variety. We did various exercises, like watch a clip, and then do sentence matching. As I mentioned in my review of TMI, I worked with three different teachers, and each had their own methods. Two teachers really liked PPT presentations, and then fill in the blank exercises. Another teacher really liked to talk, and have us talk with him. Now I am in a better position to appreciate what each method did for me. Before I just really didn't like the PPT stuff.

What now?

No I am not quitting my day job. I did this certification for two reasons. First to support my wife who took it with me. She may use the knowledge they imparted to us, to find a teaching job while we travel. Also, secondly for me it is a backup plan in case something did happen to my day job. 

This course and the skills it has helped me learn have sparked some ideas for some side hobbies, and maybe even generate me some revenue at some point. That tho, is a talk for another day. Until next time everyone!

2015-07-01

Chinese Status Update Summer 2015


歡迎回來!Good to see everyone again!  It is that time again.  It is time for a little bit of reflection, and a little bit of forecasting. Since the last update I have been studying Chinese at a slower pace, but as of the beginning of June I have been cranking that back up.

The main reason I am speeding back up is because the wife and I plan to visit China in October. Another reason is because I liked doing the Add1Challenge so much, I decided to do it again to improve my Chinese. In June I started doing 3 iTalki sessions a week, instead of two. I also started making plans on how to "level up" in certain areas. I started the challenge with kinda 3 broad goals.  Improve to the point I can pass HSK 5, be able to give a toast at my friends wedding on October, and acquire vocabulary related to programming.


Before I get to what all I am going to do I need to talk about what I have been doing. Below are the goals I had chosen in the last update I posted.

  • Diary in Chinese at least 3 times a week this year.
  • Finish reading Ender's Game in Chinese.
  • Work through PAVC 4, & 5
  • Work through Tales and Traditions(TAT) volume 2, 3, and 4
  • Take the HSK V
  • Use WaiChinese to continue accent reduction research and practice by completing their HSK word and sentence sets.
  • Visit China in October
As I mentioned in the past these goals usually have a definite end, but are not all gonna get done in three months. Over the last three months I did not get ANY of these completed. That doesn't mean I didn't have any victories. Here is what I did get completed. 

  • Completed up to PAVC 4 Chapter 8 ( of 14 )
  • Completed up to TAT 2 story 19 ( of 24 )
  • I had a full 40 minute conversation about tweaking the HTML and CSS of a site using the basic Chinese I know. 
  • Talked with some new people in Chinese.
The PAVC(aff. link), and TAT(aff. link) studies is probably the most constant part of my routine. When my main teacher and I were only doing two iTalki sessions a week, it would take us about three weeks to complete a chapter, and study two TAT stories. Now that we are doing three again, it is taking around two weeks to do the same amount of studying.  At that rate I should have both of these books done by my next seasonal update, and be working on the next in each's respective series. 

I got a buddy that needed help tweaking some bits of his website. His English is good, but as I have no Chinese vocabulary for his area of expertise, he has very little English vocabulary in mine. We started out trying to talk about it in English, and made some head way, but ended up switching to Chinese for most of the conversation. This made me really happy that I could convey some complex ideas using my simple vocabulary. 

My wife is very quick to tell me that my Chinese has issues. Also, when you interact with the same teacher or friend over time you learn each others limits, accents, etc,. Add in a few experiences where you have tried to communicate with new people in Chinese, and fail. Of course some people, not me, but some people may have some worries about being understood. Anywho, with moving to a new state, and doing one of the Add1 mini challenges, I have been interacting with a lot of new people. When I do talk to new person using Chinese, for more than a few words, and they understand me, I get this sense of relief, and accomplishment. Ya, know the one.

success_baby


Enough about the past! On to the future! Below are my and improved goals. Completing all of them should take no more than a year.
  • Finish reading Ender's Game in Chinese.
  • Finish PAVC 4, & 5
  • Work through TAT volume 2, 3, and 4
  • Take the HSK V, and HSK VI
  • Diary Write in Chinese at least once a week.
  • Visit China in October
  • Finish working through my Frequency dictionary book.
  • Use the upcoming Coursera courses to fill in some programming vocabulary.
Finishing Ender's Game, take HSK V,  and VI,  are all tasks than require me to level up my abilities to do. With all three my biggest obstacle isn't grammar, but lack of vocab. Over the next three months I am going to be making a concentrated effort to gain the right vocab, to get these tasks done. 

I am hoping using Coursera will be useful, and not just a waste of time. I will keep ya updated on that one. I think all my other goals are pretty much self explanatory. Aigh't this post is getting too long. I will check back near the end of September. 

2015-06-24

Spanish Project Review Part 2


Welcome back! So at the end of roughly 90 days I racked up the following numbers. For someone that was working full time, and doing a college class for 2/3 of those 90 days, I think I did pretty well.

Total Time Studied:9643 Minutes (160.72 Hours)
Average Daily Time:107 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:2667 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1488 Terms
Total Money Spent:$806.12

I bought way too much. I started with 3 books, and I am currently only using one of them. I bought all three levels of Glossika, and a 1 or 2 year subscription to SpanishPOD101. Currently I am only using the Glossika regularly. I also bought iTalik sessions, but they have been worth it. While each of these materials are useful on their own, I couldn't study them all at the same time, and still have time for everything else in my life. With that being said $800 for three months of language study is cheap. When I bought university classes for Chinese 1, I paid around $1300. I got probably the same amount of study time ( 112 hrs of class + self study time ), and some other intangible benefits, but it was stretched over 4 months, and covered less vocabulary, but probably more grammar.

In a lot of ways keeping track of my new word count doesn't matter. It can be useful to have an Anki deck to identify holes in your vocabulary, or just to practice, but for me, the word count stopped mattering once I got beyond 10-20 survival phrases. After that, what really mattered was learning how to communicate.

Over the course of the challenge I listened to all kinds of contemporary Latin music. I also watched a season of Arrow, a little Spanish cable TV, and went to restaurants where I could listen to natives speak. These things helped me with my listening ability, but also, as time progressed I was able to notice how I understood more and more. It was a nice positive reinforcement.

Below is a break down of my Anki deck roughly at the end of the challenge. I doubled tagged 2 words, but I am being lazy and not going back to see which two. What you will notice is that I saw most words in DuoLingo first. To be fair, I probably have received several hundred words from my iTalki tutors, but I rarely enter them into Anki.


SourceCount Percent 
DuoLingo100467.56
P.S.G.18212.24
Spanish Pod 101916.12
Frequency Dict. 604.03
Glossika593.97
iTalki493.29
Complete Spanish 412.75
Total1486100

So most weeks of the challenge I would try to make some big course correction in my studies. Something like, I am going to talk X times per week this week, or study X amount of grammar this week, or get X topic down, and so on. For the most part I did not hit those goals. Honestly, I am not broken up about it. Each time I tried to do more than <insert excuse here>, but each time I did manage to do somewhat better in my studies.  For example, I said I was gonna try and hit a chapter of grammar a day. What that did was push me from doing one chapter every two plus weeks to one chapter every week.

 Now that the challenge is done, I can kinda reflect back and think about what I would do differently. A lot of what I would do differently is things like study grammar sooner, or speak more, but I think I would have benefited more from finding and aligning a class, or multiple classes up with this challenge. There were community classes starting up around the same time as this challenge, but I was too shy, and busy to attempt them. Another thing I should have done was use HelloTalk more, to casually converse with natives.

So where to from here, you ask? I am still leaning. Since the 90 day video I have done six italki sessions. I am slowing down with a lot of my self studying, but I am looking into a night class to supplement that. Way back in February when I first started figuring out this project I mentioned some different metrics. I think I am still on track for somewhere between my 15 and 30 month marks.

Thanks for reading! I will start posting quarterly Spanish updates. Expect the first sometime in September.

2015-06-13

Spanish Project Review Part 1

So I got a lot I wana say, and I know if your anything like me ya got a short attention span. I am gonna try and break this up into a couple of posts. For your viewing pleasure, I stuck all the videos from this challenge ( in reverse order ) throughout the post.


First off I wanna thank Brian, and Viktorija for the Add1Challenge. I know, I wouldn't have made as much progress as I did, without the Add1 community. Second, I wanna thank all the amazing people I met during this challenge. Nicky, Riza, Dan, John, and Graciela. You guys are awesome. I also really enjoyed seeing the videos, and posts of the challengers from A1C6, and A1C5. The things those challengers accomplished were truly inspiring. I wanna thank my wife for putting up with me talking to random internet people in different languages, at all hours of the day. Last, here is a plug for my 2 favorite iTalki Spanish teachers, Candice, and Claudia


Overall I consider this project a big success. I went from probably 15 - 30 random Spanish words to 1400 in three months. I learned a lot of basic grammar, and am able to talk, what Benny Lewis calls Tarzan talk. I didn't anticipate how nervous recording a conversation would make me, but now I know for future reference that I should record a longer conversation. The nervous jitters go away after a while. 


Learning the language wasn't the only success I got from this. Another bit is I would like to at some point call my self a polyglot. My definition of Polyglot is someone who can speak three or more languages conversationally. I now have all the necessary tools to work towards that. 

Here is a secret for ya. Before this challenge I had doubts about my ability to learn Spanish. I wasn't overwhelmed by these doubts, or even bothered really, but nevertheless in the back of my mind I had a sneaking suspicion I might not be able to. Happily, I was wrong. After thinking about this worry for a bit, I realized it was because I undervalued my experiences from learning Chinese. Remembering when I pushed myself to learn Chinese, it seems like it came easy, and I remember being given lots of praise about my speed of acquisition, command of the language, and listening skills. When I really think about it tho, there was a lot of hard work involved, and Chinese people often over praise foreigners. I had chosen not to remember that.


While we are talking about what is inside my head, lets talk about what motivated me to pick Spanish in the first place. I originally had 2 reasons. I wanna be called a polyglot, a.k.a. my ego, and I want to be able to communicate with as many people as possible. English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are the three most spoken languages in the world. 

A few weeks into the challenge I ended up adding to that list. I started to really enjoy popular Latin music. Also, in the middle of this challenge plans started to solidify about traveling the world over the next few years. This in turn, got me interested in the places that I could use my shiny new Spanish, and what their common customs might be.


So with the challenge over I am still taking iTalki Lessons, and practicing my Spanish. Now, I am slowing down a bit, and altering my focus. The new plan for the next few months, is to solidify foundation, crush a lot of these common mistakes I am having, and build up from there. 

In the next post I am gonna review some of the routines, and numbers stuff, from this project.

2015-06-07

Spanish Week 13 Update. Final Week!

The project is done! Yesterday ended day 90, and now I have a few days before to get my conversation video recorded and submitted. This project was both a lot of work and a lot of fun. I plan to follow this post up with a couple of articles about the experience over all. For one last time, like the previous posts, summary total stuff at the top, and day by day at the bottom.


Total Time Studied:9643 Minutes (160.72 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:521 Minutes (8.68 Hours)
Average Daily Time:107 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:2667 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 240 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1488 Terms
New Vocabulary:54 Terms
Total Money Spent:$806.12
Spent This Week:$47.00

One of the information plaques at the Miami Science Center

So this week was rougher than most, but I still think I did pretty good overall. The reason this week was rougher was because I started another challenge, and my parents came to visit for the week. We spent Thursday and Friday in and around Miami, and I ended up getting a good amount of exposure due to the radio, and hearing some local conversations.

My term count was a bit down. In DuoLingo I had another lesson of infinitive verbs, so it was more review than anything else. I am ok with this. At this point, of those 1488 terms, I think I know about 1000ish good, and the other 400ish, I am still pushing into my long term memory. I am ok with this.

This week I had a fun exchange with a Spanish speaking woman at a Chinese take out place in Miami. I was able to ask her a few things, and she understood me and responded. She said a few things and I understood most of what she replied with. Victory!

So now that the 90 day challenge is done, I will not stop studying Spanish, I will just change how I study, and log less hours. This is a milestone, not a finish line. For everyone that read my blog posts, thank you. I will post 2 or 3 more times about this project in the coming weeks, before wrapping it up completely.
  1. Monday - 114 Minutes
    • 9   M DuoLingo
    • 30 M Reading 2 articles for Candice
    • 10 M Anki
    • 5   M Anki Phrases
    • 15 M PSG Chapter 5
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
  2. Tuesday - 199 Minutes
    • 7   M Anki
    • 50 M Homework for Candice
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
    • 30 M Homework for Claudia
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  3. Wednesday - 97 Minutes
    • 7  M DuoLingo
    • 30 M Homework for Claudia
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  4. Thursday - 85 Minutes
    • 20 M DuoLingo
    • 120+ M Exposure ( Music on the radio )
    • 15 M PSG Chapter 6
    • 40 M Reading Spanish at the Science Museum
    • 10 M Bits of conversation with our waitress
  5. Friday
    • 120+ M Exposure ( Listened to Spanish radio )
  6. Saturday - 26 Minutes
    • 16 M Exposure ( Dan's excellent Final video! )
    • 10 M DuoLingo
  7. Sunday
    • -- Done, no more detailed records! YAY!

2015-06-01

Spanish Week 12 Update

Week 12 done!  One week left to do! Day 90, is on Saturday, and then I think I have about a week to get my 15 minute conversation video done. I did better this week than I expected. Hopefully, I can keep it up next week during the home stretch! As usual, totals at the top and day by day at the bottom.

Total Time Studied:9122 Minutes (152.03 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:609 Minutes (10.15 Hours)
Average Daily Time:109 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:2427 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 459 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1434 Terms
New Vocabulary:97 Terms
Total Money Spent:$759.12
Spent This Week:$47.00


Some "pescada a la plancha"I ordered in spanish. :)
So this week I did a smidge less, than last, but I got more exposure in. I am excited, and nervous going into this last week. I know it will be hard to hit my time this week because of other obligations, but I am determined to try. One obligation is entertaining, and spending time with my parents while they visit, for 6 days starting tomorrow night.  Another thing is, tomorrow starts A1C8, and I enrolled in it also. But this time I am doing Chinese. So I have some Chinese Study to do on top of that also.

The good for this week... About half my DuoLingo was reinforcing perfect tense verbs. :) Which meant I practiced using stuff I know and didn't add too much new vocabulary. I did almost all of chapter 5 in the grammar book. Also my teachers are pushing me to talk better, and more independently.

Aight, it is already midnight 30 here. I am gonna call it a night. So, next week I will post up a final report Saturday, and then after I do the conversation video I plan to post about the project as a whole. Wish me luck!

  1. Monday - 142 Minutes
    • 14 M DuoLingo
    • 18 M Anki
    • 5   M PSG Chapter 5
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
    • 60 M Exposure ( YT music videos )
    • 30 M Figuring out and checking the Spanish for 20 Q
    • 30 M Skype with Dan
  2. Tuesday - 90 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1 second to last episode )
    • 30 M Anki
    • 14 M DuoLingo
    • 46 M PSG Chapter 5
  3. Wednesday - 21 Minutes
    • 10 M Exposure ( Radio while driving )
    • 20 M Exposure ( Radio )
    • 25 M Exposure ( Radio )
    • 21 M DuoLingo
  4. Thursday - 105 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1 finale )
    • 45 M Writing out a thing on my vacation.
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  5. Friday - 105 Minutes
    • 18 M Homework for Candice
    • 20 M Exposure ( YT Music )
    • 17 M Anki
    • 50 M Skype with Candice
    • 60 M Exposure ( went to a restaurant with Spanish speaking menus, music, and customers. Ordered in Spanish, )
    • 8 M DuoLingo
  6. Saturday - 84 Minutes
    • 15 M DuoLingo
    • 6   M Anki
    • 180 M Exposure ( YT music during my morning. was probably more but didn't keep good track)
    • 51 M PSG Chapter 5 and some review.
    • 5   M Anki Phrases
    • 7   M PSG Chapter 5
  7. Sunday - 62 Minutes
    • 8   M Anki
    • 11 M DuoLingo
    • 28 M DL -> Anki
    • 15 M PSG -> Anki

2015-05-25

Spanish Week 11 Update

Yay!! I pushed it out on time! This week I did much better than last. I am recovered from whatever sickness it was that kept me down last week. I still have a little croup, but that isn't stopping me from putting in the hours. This project is heading to a close. We have just under 2 weeks left!  I know I still have a ways to go before I am ready for my final conversation.

Total Time Studied:8513 Minutes (141.88 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:675 Minutes (11.25 Hours)
Average Daily Time:110 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:1968 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 384 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1337 Terms
New Vocabulary:46 Terms
Total Money Spent:$712.12
Spent This Week:$47.00

Positives this week.I am making progress! I had four iTalki sessions. While listening to Miami radio, I got the gist of quite a few commercials. Was able to talk grammar with the wife without her killing me. :)

So my grammar reading has caught up mostly with DuoLingo. This has made DuoLingo fun again. I don't plan on ramping DuoLingo back up anytime soon, but I don't dread fighting with it about the difference between "written" and "wrote".

Since we only have about 12ish days left I plan to to try and log a lot more hours starting tomorrow. Tomorrow is always the best day to start something, right? Seriously tho, I hope to hit 20 hours this next week. The week after, I have family visiting, so I doubt I can do that much more than my normal 10 without being told I am neglecting my host duties.

I hope everyone has an good Memorial day. Catch ya next Sunday!
  1. TommorrowMonday - 133 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E20 )
    • 13 M DuoLingo
    • 50 M Practical Spanish Grammar Chapter 4
    • 60 M Exposure ( YT Music )
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
    • 25 M Anki
  2. Tuesday - 110 Minutes
    • 50 M Homework for Claudia
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  3. Wednesday - 148 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E21 )
    • 10 Translating Sentences 
    • 28 M Homework for Claudia
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 40 M Practical Spanish Grammar.
  4. Thursday - 61 Minutes
    • 41 M Anki
    • 20 M DuoLingo
  5. Friday - 114 Minutes
    • 5   M Studied a 3 minute clip and the accompanying article for today's Skype session.
    • 29 M Glossika GSR
    • 15 M Read an article about places to travel to in Europe for today's Skype session.
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
    • 10 M Glossika GSR
    • 10 M DuoLingo
  6. Saturday - 80 Minutes
    • 20 M DuoLingo
    • 30 M Glossika GSR
    • 4+ H Exposure ( Went to Miami )
    • 20 M Grammar talk with the wife.
    • 10 M DuoLingo
  7. Sunday - 29 Minutes
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 19 M DL -> Anki

2015-05-21

Spanish Week 10 Report

I know I am late again. I promise this coming Sunday I will be on time. This week was rough. Not because of the Spanish but because of a mix of work stuff, and getting sick. Overall I am happy with what I got accomplished in spite of my issues. I had to apologize profusely to Candice on Friday. I only got about four hours sleep the night before, and my sickness was starting to bring me down. I am happy to say I made up for it this Monday, with a good conversation. As always totals at the top, and day by day at the bottom.


Total Time Studied:7838 Minutes (130.63 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:534 Minutes (8.9 Hours)
Average Daily Time:111 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:1584 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 265 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1291 Terms
New Vocabulary:4 Terms
Total Money Spent:$665.12
Spent This Week:$47.00


My vocab this week is really low. That is because in both DL, and my speaking sessions we were practicing conjugating things I knew. Also With DL while I mostly worked on a different tense for the same words, there were a few days I skipped it. At this point in the challenge I am getting more talking time in and working hard to get down what I got.

Speaking of talk time. I had a full 4 sessions with natives and a good practice with Dan. Monday was awesome.  I had a good conversation with Candice, where I was intelligible. This was a great confidence booster.

I am getting near the end of Arrow S1 and I am happy that I understand more now than before. I still have a long way to go before I could pick up something new, and understand as much, but I can see the improvement, and that is encouraging.

This week we started a new challenge in the Add1 Challenge. We are doing a challenge to see which team can log the most time practicing speaking over 15 days. This challenge helps push us towards our 90 day goal of speaking with a native for 15 minutes.

Alright that is it for now. Wish me luck, and good night.

  1. Monday - 159 Minutes
    • 38 M DL -> Anki
    • 97 M Exposure ( YT music )
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E15 )
    • 21 M Glossika GSR
    • 20 M PSG Chapter 4
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
    • 35 M DuoLingo
  2. Tuesday - 102 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E16 )
    • 25 M Homework for Claudia
    • 17 M DuoLingo
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  3. Wednesday - 80 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E17 )
    • 14 M DuoLingo
    • 5   M DuoLingo, strengthening skills.
    • 21 M Anki
    • 10 M Corrected a few sentences and scanned the questions
    • 30 M 20 questions in Spanish with Dan.
  4. Thursday - 120 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E18 )
    • 45 M Homework for Claudia
    • 15 M DuoLingo
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  5. Friday - 45 Minutes
    • 45 M Skype with Candice
  6. Saturday - 12 Minutes
    • 12 M DuoLingo
  7. Sunday - 16 Minutes
    • 16 M DuoLingo

2015-05-13

Spanish Week 9 Report

Sorry! I wrote this last night, and I just forgot to hit the post button!

We have passed day 60. I am over 2/3 the way through the Add1Challenge. Of course this doesn't mean I am stopping Spanish on day 90. Day 90 just marks the day I am going to record a 15 minute conversation with a native Spanish speaker. After day 90, the challenge will be over, but I will still continue to learn Spanish.

Aight, so this week was fun. I did a few less hours than last week, but I feel like I did more with less time this week. Studying grammar really took it outta me, but I could tell it is helping my comprehension, and speaking. Like always here at the top are the totals, and at the bottom is the daily.


Total Time Studied:7304 Minutes (121.73 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:741 Minutes (12.35 Hours)
Average Daily Time:116 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:1319 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 296 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1287 Terms
New Vocabulary:125 Terms
Total Money Spent:$618.12
Spent This Week:$47.00




 This week I committed myself to working on grammar. I planned to do five chapters a week, but I fell a little short. I think I am going to aim for five chapters again this week. If I fall short again, I will set a better goal. One of my iTalki teachers suggested that I study chapters that connect to the grammar we are also working on. I am gonna try this, but I have my reservations about skipping around this grammar book.

I also feel a bit dumb that I have in the last few days just realized that I have too many resources. Currently, if I did a lesson of SpanishPOD101, one lesson of Complete Spanish, one chunk of Glossika's GMS, two lessons of DuoLingo, and my Anki vocab deck; I am looking at at least three hours study, and as much as four hours, every day. This is before I even get to speaking! Another guy in our Add1 support group mentioned having this problem, and what he was doing to fix it. That got me to thinking instead of trying to do it all and being happy with what I got, maybe I should manage my resources better.

What I have decided to do is make the grammar book, and Glossika GMS a priority. I feel like they give me the most bang for my buck. That is still probably two plus hours per day, but I enjoy them so I am not too worried about burn out. I will also try and study them in chunks, like I have done DuoLingo, and Anki, with fifteen minutes here and there.

Also, like I mentioned before I am working on having at least four iTalki sessions per week. I am in the final stretch of this challenge. I need to  really focus on gaining the abilities to complete my goal. Anywho I hope you enjoy the video, and I'll post again next week!

  1. Monday - 169 Minutes
    • 44 M Exposure ( YT Music )
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E10 )
    • 24 M DuoLingo
    • 50 M Skype with Candice
    • 18 M Anki
    • 50 M Practical Spanish Grammar Chapter 3
    • 5   M Reviewed daily routine doc
    • 22 M Practical Spanish Grammar Chapter 3
  2. Tuesday - 119 Minutes
    • 9   M Anki
    • 20 M DuoLingo
    • 84 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E11 & S1E12 )
    • 30 M Practical Spanish Grammar Chapter 3
    • 60 M Skype/Net meeting with Claudia
  3. Wednesday - 25 Minutes
    • 15 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M short test for Candice.
  4. Thursday - 245 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure( Arrow S1E13 )
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 40 M Translated 20 questions into Spanish
    • 15 M Practical Spanish Grammar Chapter 3
    • 50 M Skype with Candice
    • 55 M Homework for Claudia
    • 15 M PSG Chapter 4
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
  5. Friday - 12 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E14 )
    • 12 M DuoLingo
  6. Saturday - 91 Minutes
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 44 M Anki
    • 27 M PSG Chapter 4
  7. Sunday - 80 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arror S1E15 )
    • 30 M DuoLingo
    • 30 M Glossika GMS & short video for 60 day
    • 5   M Videos for my 60 Day.
    • 15 M Anki

2015-05-04

Spanish Week 8 Report

Week 8 down. Like I mentioned last week, other responsibilities keep me busy on Monday and Tuesday, but after that I went back at it. This week we finished out the sentence challenge. It was a fun competition. My group and another were neck and neck all the way to the end. We ended up calling it a draw. As always, total info at the top, and daily schedule at the bottom.

Total Time Studied:6563 Minutes (109.38 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:1138 Minutes (18.96 Hours)
Average Daily Time:117 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:1023 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 186 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1162 Terms
New Vocabulary:103 Terms
Total Money Spent:$571.12
Spent This Week:$30.50

Steam Punk Mario & Luigi From PAX South
So overall this week was good. Usually, I try to be positive in my posts, because usually I have a positive time. Whether it is an ego problem, or otherwise I rarely doubt myself, or have self deprecating thoughts. This week I had a dark day. I don't mean Tuesday, but rather Wednesday. The day I tried to get back on the horse. I explained it to my support group in the Add1Challenge kinda like this: Chinese is my well established second language I think of it as a nice fire pit. There are coals, and some slow burning logs, and I feed it a little every week. I have been building and feeding it for a long time, and it would take a lot for that fire to go out. Whereas Spanish is a new fire. I have been trying to quickly build it up, but it isn't that big, and it hasn't been burning for very long. Monday and Tuesday I let it dwindle down, really low. Then Wednesday I tried to start building it again, and it hurt. I threw gasoline on the fire, and it singed my eyebrows. I put too much on myself Wednesday. I expected that I wouldn't back slide much, and I was wrong. I had two talking sessions that day without enough study time before the first, or a long enough break between. Lesson learned, hopefully I won't repeat it.

OK, enough with that, and on to the good. I am enjoying Arrow a lot. I am getting lots of listening practice for words like sobrevivir, and justicia. I like the listening practice it is giving me, I feel like I am understanding more. Also, speaking of listening practice, I will start doing Glossika again this week. I think glossika is helping me with the speaking.

The sentence challenge I mentioned earlier was a pretty big focus for us this last week. Over the course of the whole challenge from 4/20 - 5/2 I was able to input 139 sentences. Some were right, and a lot were wrong, but I learned a lot from the challenge, and got some good practice in.

I am changing my game plan up a bit going forward. Starting this week, I will talk with a native speaker 4 nights a week, and on Wednesday I will also work with Dan. He is another A1C participant who is learning Spanish. The idea going forward is take the vocab, grammar, sentences, etc, and use it to have conversations. One of the teachers I work with does just that. She pushes me to talk, and converse. The other pushes me to understand the grammar, and say it right. Between the two I hope to go far.

Also we hit day 60 near the end of this week, which means I will be posting a video showing a little more of what I can do either in the next post or the one after. That is all for now.
  1. Monday - 81 Minutes
    • 50 M DL -> Anki
    • 31 M GL -> Anki
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E6 )
  2. Tuesday - 0 Minutes
    • ---
  3. Wednesday - 199 Minutes
    • 30 M DuoLingo
    • 15 M DuoLingo
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice
    • 2   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 17 M Anki
    • 60 M Skype with Dan
    • 30 M Sentences ( 10 sentences, partially from ones I made during iTalki convo )
  4. Thursday - 152 Minutes
    • 71 M DuoLingo ( did my 2 new, then reviewed until my tree was almost all gold )
    • 2   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 5   M Exposure ( random interview video )
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E7 )
    • 19 M Anki
    • 60 M Writing about my work, and then adding them to sentences.
  5. Friday - 350 Minutes
    • 10 M Anki
    • 40 M DL review cards.
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E8 )
    • 25 M DuoLingo ( 3 new lessons, 1 review lesson, and some more cards )
    • 13 M Exposure ( random videos )
    • 54 M Reviewed Practical Spanish Grammar Ch 1
    • 1   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 15 M Review Practical Spanish grammar Ch 2
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice
    • 15 M Review Practical Spanish grammar Ch 2
    • 60 M Skype with Claudia
    • 85 M Made a how we met story, and used it for sentences ( 27 sentences )
  6. Saturday - 181 Minutes
    • 40 M Made a daily routine doc, and used it for sentences ( 12 sentences )
    • 48 M DuoLingo ( reviewed cards, and did 4 new lessons )
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E9 )
    • 45 M Sentences 
    • 7   M Anki
    • 1   M Anki ( Phrases )
    •  40 M Review Practical Spanish grammar Ch 2
  7. Sunday - 175 Minutes
    • 20 M Glossika GSR 
    • 27 M DuoLingo ( reviewed cards )
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 29 M Anki
    • 42 M DL -> Anki
    • 17 M FL -> Anki
    • 30 M Review Practical Spanish grammar Ch 2

2015-04-29

Personal Growth

This post is kinda a self pat on the back, and a reminder to my future self to keep persevering.

Sometimes it is surprising to me how much I have changed my internal compass over the years. The situation described below would have been completely different had it happened at different stages of my adult life.

Just the Facts...

  1. Yesterday I had to take a test, and I only had that day to take it, I specifically had until 5pm at the latest to be at the testing center. I studied all morning, and headed out to the testing center at 1pm. 
  2. On the way I stopped, and got lunch, and while eating a torrential rain storm started.
  3. Once I got there I made it under the awning with one leg soaked up to the knee, and the other just a little lower. 
  4. I made it to the testing center to find out that they had no power, and were not able to start any new tests, but people who had already started could come back the next day to finish.
  5. I sent my teacher an e-mail telling her of the situation and lurked in the corner for about 30 minutes.
  6. After I lurked for a bit I went to see if they would let me take my test anyways. It was a pen and paper test. They could hold a CC, and I could maybe sit next to a window. They told me no, partially because without power they couldn't accept my payment, and partially because they couldn't do their job of monitoring test takers effectively with the power out. 
  7. But they were kind and said as soon as the power came back they would also e-mail my teacher and tell her about the situation, and make sure I could come in tomorrow and test. 
  8. At this point I wandered around campus for about another 15 minutes. While wandering the loud speaker came on, and informed everyone that power should be restored in the next half hour. 
  9. I waited until power came back on. Then I went back, and took the test.

What was happening in my head...

  1. I am happy I studied this weekend, and Monday. I don't feel overwhelmed.
  2. I am not in a rush, I could goof for another 3 hours and still be able to take the test. I should fill my stomach with something before I take the test.
  3. Florida weather is AWESOME! Also, it was kind of silly of me to not have an umbrella.
  4. Huh, no power, I hope it comes back up soon.... Maybe I should tell my professor just in case. Cellphones + internet == awesome.
  5. Just sitting around here isn't doing me any good. Maybe I should try a new tact.
  6. That was really sweet of her to promise to e-mail my teacher also.
  7. I could go home, but I am not ready to give up on this.
  8. WOOHOO! There is a chance I can finish this today. 
  9. Lets do this.

Reflecting on these events surprised me, because throughout my adult life, I have had various parts of the above scenario happen to me, and I did not react with such a mellow, cool, demeanor. There were times where getting soaked would have ruined my whole next couple of hours. I know from experience that at 19, me cramming the day of and not feeling "ready" was enough to stop me from even going in to take the test. Also in the early college years I was offered extra days multiple times, and I would take the extra day, but I didn't actually do any extra studying. I just delayed the inevitable. Another thing was I would be self centered. It is MY last day, to take this, you GOTTA help ME. I wouldn't even consider the fact that I was causing problems for them, or making them do something they shouldn't need to do.

I am not saying I am perfect now. I will always have something I need to work on, and that is a good thing.

Things I could have done better...

  • Took the test on Monday. I had 3 days to pick from, and I chose the last.
  • Came in earlier that day.
  • Check the weather ahead of time and prepare accordingly.
  • Prepay for the test and printed my receipt at home. 
  • Study more the weeks leading up to the tests so I didn't need as much study time just before.
  • and so on...
Hopefully I can keep that moving forward. I like 31 year old me better than I like 19, 22, and 25 year old me. I also hope that I like 35, or 40 year old me better than current me.

2015-04-28

Spanish Week 7 Report


Sorry, I didn't post this last night. Needed some down time. As you can see below I went at Spanish pretty hard this week. I changed up a few things in my routine to help shift my focus to forming sentences and speaking. This week was a bit busy for me outside of Spanish and I am happy I got as much done as I did.


Total Time Studied:5425 Minutes (90.42 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:956 Minutes (15.93 Hours)
Average Daily Time:110 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:837 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 352 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:1059 Terms
New Vocabulary:133 Terms
Total Money Spent:$540.62
Spent This Week:$26.50

There is some beef tripe off to the right in this picture.
So this creating sentence thing is a new challenge given to us by the Add1Challenge. I think it is meant to help us form thoughts in our target language. It has been interesting. By doing it I am seeing, where I know verb tenses, and various modifiers, and where I don't. Surprisingly it takes me quite a bit of time to come up with a sentence, and then check it against a dictionary  to verify it is understandable. I think this challenge is helping me see some of my week spots.

Speaking of weak spots verb conjugation is still rough for me. There is a lot to memorize, and internalize. The good news is I am slowly getting it. I am doing noticeably better this week than last, and I have figured out a few cheats to let me use the infinitive in conversation if I am having an issue remembering it. But I don't want to get reliant on that.

My listening is getting better. I dunno which input( Glossika, exposure, or italki conversations) is helping me the most, but it is getting easier to understand things. Something I told our Add1Challenge support group this week was that every time I watch that Arrow opening spiel, I understand more and more of it, and I get it quicker at understanding it each time. Don't get me wrong, if I hadn't seen the show recently in English I would have a terrible time following the main dialogue, but I am slowly learning.

As far as Glossika goes, I think it is helping. Once I really understand a sentence from it, I have no trouble pulling it out of my head quickly. Also I am liking most of the sentences so far have been extremely practical. They have touched on some basic introduction stuff, the weather, where someone is, and whether on not someone is late, to name a few. I think it also helps me that I already knew a lot of the vocabulary they are using. There was one sentence, something like "the man waits for the bus" and I didn't know the words they were using for bus and wait. The first few times I heard it, I was really confused. I couldn't pick apart the last half. But now that I have studied and practiced those words a few times it is coming more and more naturally.

Monday, and Tuesday of this week I am taking it easy. I have some important stuff to do unrelated to Spanish, but after that I should be back to full speed. As I mentioned, I am able to pull glossika sentences I understand outta my head fairly quickly now. I want to try and build off of that and say modified versions of those faster. "Estas bolsas es pesadas." is something I get to say every week, but I want to be able to quickly say they are light, or these books, boxes, or cats, instead of bags.

I also want to get back to studying Practical Spanish grammar, and Complete Spanish.. Rather than feeling my way around verb conjugations, I want to study some more of them, and really get them down pat. Also I am trying to figure out the "either"...."or" conjunction using some various terms. This week I have 3 sessions with native speakers, and starting next week I should start having four sessions with native speakers.

Today, Monday, marks day 50 in this 90 day challenge. I am positive without the Add1Challenge's community I would not have progressed this far. I had forgotten how hard the beginning stages of learning a language can feel. Wish me luck as I keep going. I think I am on track to hit my 90 day goal.
  1. Monday - 172 Minutes
    • 3   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 7   M Anki
    • 15 M DuoLingo
    • 13 M Glossika GSR
    • 18 M Glossika GMS
    • 30 M iTalki with Claudia
    • 61 M Exposure ( YT music while playing CS )
    • 66 M Glossika GMS
    • 20 M Making Sentences.
  2. Tuesday - 155 Minutes
    • 31 M DuoLingo
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E2 )
    • 2   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 8   M Anki
    • 114 M Glossika GMS
  3. Wednesday - 251 Minutes
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E3 )
    • 2   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 12 M Anki
    • 22 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M Sentence writing.
    • 80 M GMS ( paused just before writing sentences )
    • 30 M Prep for 20 Questions.
    • 45 M Skype with Dan 20 Questions in Spanish.
    • 50 M Skype with Claudia
  4. Thursday - 23 Minutes
    • 23 M DuoLingo
  5. Friday - 182 Minutes
    • 4 M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 18 M Anki
    • 50 M Sentences Challenge ( 10 sentences. )
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E4 )
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E5 )
    • 20 M DuoLingo
    • 90 M Sentences Challenge ( 20 Sentences )
  6. Saturday - 103 Minutes
    • 45 M DuoLingo
    • 64 M Exposure ( YT music )
    • 1   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 15 M Anki
    • 42 M  Sentences Challenge ( 8 sentences ) 
    • 59 M Exposure ( YT music )
  7. Sunday - 70 Minutes
    • 27 M DuoLingo
    • 43 M Sentences Challenge ( 7 Sentences )