2015-03-30

Spanish Week 3 Report

Week 3 is officially over. This week was very interesting.  As usual here are the totals at the top and a play by play of my week at the bottom.


Total Time Studied:1803 Minutes (30.05 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:681 Minutes (11.35 Hours)
Average Daily Time:90 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:301 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 196 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:552 Terms
New Vocabulary:197 Terms
Total Money Spent:$391.13
Spent This Week:$16.00


So I mentioned on week one that I joined something called the Add1Challenge. One of the things our group was challenged to do was talk either in person or on iTalki with a native speaker of our target language. I have been mentioning for the last 2 weeks that I need to talk more, but have barely been doing it. This challenge pushed me to try harder and this week I tried out two different tutors on iTalki. After doing that I pushed myself to commit to talking more. I have now scheduled two 45 minute sessions per week for the next two and a half weeks.

While talking with these teachers I compared and contrasted how they stood out from one another, and how they were similar. With each teacher I told them I was a beginner. Each one gave me an intro or demo lesson. They show cased a few basics of the Spanish language, and their teaching method. One teacher stood out because she made my brain melt, and I liked it. Any teacher who can make me feel worn out and like I have learned is doing their job right. The other teachers were good, but with them I doubt I would read a conversational level near as fast.

I kind of feel like that first session is an interview. In this case I feel like the teacher is the interviewee, and I am holding most of the power. I only need one teacher, but they may need many students. First impressions matter also. I was happy that all the people I worked with were nice, and patient. I heard from others in the challenge that some teachers were not so nice. I could go on, but you get the gist.

My average daily time has increased again this week. I hit that 10 hour mark I originally set out for. Looking at my log you can see that 2 days dwarfed the others in time spent. I am going to try and smooth that out a bit this week.

Also another adjustment I am contemplating is lowering how much DuoLingo XP i need to earn each day. Right now I have it maxed at 50XP. The reason for this musing is that DuoLingo adds a lot of terms to Anki with causes me to spend a lot more time in Anki, and this becomes less fun the more I do it. I don't like being bored. Also, occasionally in DuoLingo I feel like I am floundering. It goes something like this. That grammar they had me practice once but didn't explicitly teach over is being referenced 3 units later, and since I didn't properly learn it, now I am making mistakes. Lowering the XP won't fix this problem, but it would give my other methods of learning grammar time to catch up.

I am beat. Time to recharge. Wish me luck in the upcoming week!

  1. Monday - 63 Minutes ( Excluding 15 M exposure. )
    • 5  M DuoLingo
    • 15 M Exposure ( music videos on Youtube )
    • 18 M Anki
    • 20 M DuoLingo
    • 15 M SP101
    • 5   M Anki
  2. Tuesday - 61 Minutes
    • 31 M DuoLingo
    • 30 M Anki
  3. Wednesday - 195 Minutes
    • 90 M Exposure ( youtube latin hits playlist. )
    • 40 M SP101 ( 3 lessons )
    • 23 M Anki
    • 46 M Exposure ( Youtube )
    • 11 M DL -> Anki
    • 36 M DuoLingo
    • 20 M Research for "I like" conversation.
    • 5   M SP101 -> Anki
    • 55 M Skype with Dan
    • 5   M DuoLingo Flash cards.
  4. Thursday - 64 Minutes
    • 15 M Anki
    • 22 M DL -> Anki
    • 17 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M DuoLingo
  5. Friday - 40 Minutes
    • 15 M DuoLingo 
    • 5   M DL flash cards
    • 20 M DuoLingo
  6. Saturday - 77 Minutes
    • 22 M DuoLingo
    • 55 M iTlaki with Pablo
  7. Sunday - 181 Minutes
    • 47 M iTalki with Daniel
    • 45 M Exposure ( Ate at Cuban restaurant. Ordered in Spanish )
    • 22 M DuoLingo
    • 30 M DuoLingo
    • 18 M Anki
    • 64 M DL -> Anki

2015-03-22

Spanish Week 2 Report

Another week down. More things learned.

Here is the week 2 summary. Jump down to the bottom to get the detailed day by day.

Total Time Studied:1122 Minutes (18.7 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:590 Minutes (9.83 Hours)
Average Daily Time:80 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure:105 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:355 Terms
New Vocabulary:216 Terms
Total Money Spent:$375.13
Spent This Week:$5.00

So this week I did an iTalki session, and went looking in the community for ways to expose myself to Spanish.  I completed 32 little units of DuoLingo, and 4-5 of SpanishPOD101. This week has definitely helped me continue forward.

While it looks like I added a massive amount of vocabulary a good 40 of those terms are numbers, I also went over the months, and days of the week. Around half of which I already knew. There was also a ton of cognates and words I didn't realize I knew. Things like grande, gordo, sofá, cero, and alto. Also while that number says 355 if you gave me the Spanish and asked the English, I could probably give you back 80% at the moment. The rest I need to refresh or relearn. Also going from English to Spanish I probably would have a lower amount correct. Just a guess, but maybe 50%-60%.

The big encouragements I had early in the week was hammering out an intro. I worked with a lady on iTalki and she first helped me hammer out what my intro responses should be, and then she drilled me over it. Later that day Daniel and I compared notes, and practiced quizzing each other. My biggest weakness was listening. It took me a moment to pick apart what had just been said. This tells me I need to do more listening practice, and do more conversation practice.

In the coming week I plan to schedule at least 2 more iTalki sessions, and I plan to work on Complete Spanish. I totally neglected it this week. This coming week the theme is around hobbies, and being able to tell someone what I plan to do that day. Wish me luck!
Sandwiches we ordered at the Mexican flea market.

  1. Monday - 64 Minutes
    • 10 M Anki
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 8   M DuoLingo
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 5   M DuoLingo
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 10 M SP101
    • 10 M Anki
  2. Tuesday - 69 Minutes
    • 13 M Anki
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 14 M DuoLingo
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 15 M SP101
  3. Wednesday - 183 Minutes (excluding 45 M exposure)
    • 5  M DuoLingo
    • 6  M DuoLingo
    • 23 M SP101
    • 45 M Exposure (Ate at a Spanish Restaurant, TV, music, menu, everything but, my conversation with the waitress in Spanish)
    • 30 M iTalki (intro practice)
    • 13 M DuoLingo
    • 8   M DuoLingo
    • 45 M Practice with Dan.
    • 53 M Anki
  4. Thursday - 55 Minutes
    • 18 M Anki
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 25 M DuoLingo
    • 5   M DuoLingo
  5. Friday - 67 Minutes
    • 7   M Anki
    • 10 M DuoLingo
    • 40 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M SP101
  6. Saturday - 84 Minutes
    • 22 M DuoLingo
    • 37 M DL-> Anki
    • 6   M SP101 -> Anki
    • 19 M Anki
  7. Sunday -  68 Minutes
    • 21 M DuoLingo
    • 60 M Exposure ( Mexican supermarket, and flea market. Music, soccer, and conversations all around, and all in Spanish. Managed on my second try to order food in Spanish. ) 
    • 17 M DuoLingo
    • 30 M Anki

2015-03-15

Spanish Week 1 Report


Alright so the Spanish project is under way. It has been a fun week. I ended up joining a team/club of sorts for language learning.  It is called the Add1Challenge. So far, this has been an extremely positive experience. I can see that the creator has done a lot of upfront work to make it easier for us to meet our learning goals. Also, in order to join I ended up creating my first ever YouTube video. Yay! :)

Here is a quick summary of my first week. Jump down to the bottom to get the detailed view.

Total Time Spent:532 Minutes (8.86 Hours)
Average Daily Time:76 Minutes
New Vocabulary:139 Terms
Total Money Spent:$370.13
Spent This Week:$137.55

Learning Tools

Of the tools I used DuoLingo is the most fun to learn from. It is rich in nouns, and uses my competitiveness to keep me on track. It also lets me bet their fake money.  I am doing what they call their extreme track which means about 5 Lessons a day. So far so good. I think that they will help me build my vocabulary, and reinforce the grammar points I learn from other sources.

SpanishPOD101 is both interesting and entertaining, but the absolute beginner section is (I think) intentionally sparse on content. Each lesson is about 4 Spanish sentences, with 4 - 6 vocabulary words, and a single grammar point. Just like DuoLingo I make sure to add the new vocabulary to Anki after each lesson. I think If I don't go back and re-listen to the lessons, the new grammar and sentences will not stick.

Complete Spanish is the least fun, but most challenging. I am happy that it is not boring.  It is full of exercises that are meant to make me remember what I have learned and generate sentences and phrases unique to me. For example, in their book they teach you how to ask where you are from and how to respond. But they don't teach you the word for USA, or Florida. You need to look that up yourself to answer questions later in the chapter.

Mistakes

For a first week I feel like I did good. I hit my time target of between 6 - 10 hours. I went way past my vocabulary target of 50 words. I have a lot of successes, but I also made plenty of mistakes. This next week I plan to correct several of those mistakes.

My biggest mistake was not talking to a native this week. I spent time learning about introductions,  but not doing them. I can say a new phrase or two, but that is about it. A couple of spontaneous phrases does not a language make. Today, and tomorrow I am going to start picking out people and trying them out. This specific task is a bit scary for me. Not because I don't like meeting new people, but because I don't like telling people "No, sorry, you are not a good fit for me."

Another medium  sized mistake I made was tossing every SpanishPOD phrase they wrote down into a phrase deck. I like the idea of phrase decks, but for me it looks like unless I know ALL the words in each phrase it because a big pile of frustrating flashcards. So after my 3rd day on the phrase deck I stopped using it altogether. I may try restarting a phrase deck in the future, but I would only add phrases where I know all the new words.

I made a few little mistake when I created the vocabulary deck. I didn't know about verb conjuration, so I added several forms of the same verb  before I caught on.  These kinds of mistakes are no big deal. I am proud I caught them as fast as I have. Hopefully in the future I will continue to find and fix little mistakes like this fast, and not repeat my past mistakes.


My actual schedule.

I logged everything on here this week as I did it. You will see a lot of 10 here, and 20 there, and 5 somewhere else. That is because I worked on my language learning piecemeal. Something like 15-30 with my morning coffee. 10 after 2 hours work, 20-40 at lunch, 5 during my afternoon break, 10 right after work, and 40 after dinner. With most the stuff I am doing this a little at a time seems to work well. I think I will need to block out some extra time to work on the Complete Spanish lessons. They require more focus, and stopping mid way through is rough.

This week's theme: Introductions.
  1. Monday - Total: 78 Minutes
    • 12 M SP101.
    • 15 M Anki setup and adding cards.
    • 12 M SP101
    • 11 M SP101
    • 7  M SP101
    • 11 M SP101
    • 5 M SP101
    • 5 M SP101
  2. Tuesday - Total: 70 Minutes
    • 10 M Anki
    • 10 M Anki
    • 5   M YT 
    • 15 M SP101
    • 15 M SP101
    • 5   M Anki.
    • 10 Lonely Planet ( basics)
  3. Wednesday - Total: 123 Minutes
    • 5   M YT
    • 5   M YT
    • 25 M DL - First 3 lessons + flash cards.
    • 20 M DL - Next 3 lessons + flash cards. ( phrases. )
    • 13 M Anki
    • 5   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 10 M SP101
    • 5   M reviewed the alphabet and sounds.
    • 40 M CS ( Intro Lesson. )
    • Set up WED learning sessions.
  4. Thursday - Total: 92 Minutes
    • 10 M Anki
    • 5   M Learned/read first 10 in frequency dictionary. ( added to Anki )
    • 30 M SP101
    • 3   M YT 
    • 4   M YT
    • 30 M DuoLingo ( Did 5 lessons and flash cards. )
    • 10 M CS ( 1/4 of lesson 1. )
  5. Friday - Total: 77 Minutes
    • 10 M Anki
    • 5   M Learned/read 2nd 10 in frequency dictionary ( added to Anki )
    • 15 M DuoLingo ( 3 lessons + flash cards. )
    • 10 M DuoLingo ( 2 lessons + flashcards. )
    • 15 M SP101 ( 1 lesson + notes. )
    • 22 M CS ( lesson 1. )
  6. Saturday - Total: 45 Minutes
    • 15 M Anki
    • 30 M Duolingo ( 2 lessons + flash cards. )
  7. Sunday - Total: 47 Minutes
    • 12 M Anki
    • 35 M DuoLingo ( 5 lessons + flash cards. )
Money Spent.

Wish me luck, and I will try to post my next update a little earlier in the day.

2015-03-08

Spanish Study Plan

So as I am preparing to start my Spanish learning I have been gathering materials and planning. I am modeling my study plan after both some of what I did while learning Chinese and some suggestions from others. I have also decided that I am going to try and be as transparent as possible with the process.  So here is my current plan. Each week I will recap what I did and didn't do and we can see how close reality matches up with expectations.
  • Daily
    • 5-15 minutes: SRS practice.
    • 5-30 minutes: Listen to the target language.
  • 5 Days/Week
    • 30-60 minutes: Learn something new.
  • 3 Days/Week
    • 30-60 minutes: Interact with a Teacher
  • 1 Days/Week
    • 30-60 minutes: Language Practice/Exchange with a native speaker.
    • 15-30 minutes: Vocabulary, and Grammar Test or Recap.
  • Misc
    • Work on any homework.
    • Attend special events like cultural happenings.
    • Enter new stuff into SRS, and copy notes.
    • Every month do a comprehensive review.
  • Beginner Specific
    • Learn the writing system inside and out.
    • Practice listening to the hard to hear sounds in isolation.
    • Practice listening to and deciphering natural conversation.

If you add that up, I will end up studying between 6 and 10 hours per week. That is a small, but tangible time investment. In my previous post I mentioned aiming for 10 hours a week. The above is my general plan until November. I will probably have to tweak various points here and there, but overall it shouldn't change much. During the first 3 months, I will spend some of my new learning time and review time going over beginner specific points. These should hopefully help my accent to be more understandable, and my listening comprehension to rise faster.

So what exactly am I doing?

SRS stands for Spaced Repetition System/Software. In short it is flash cards software that tries to guess the best time to show me the card again before I forget iTalkiit. I oupfrountnly use Anki for my Chinese SRS needs, but it could be used it for anything including study math, or chemistry facts. I will use it some for Spanish also, but one of my "Learn something new" resources has it's own built in SRS that I will try out. Usually I can review a term card in 5 - 15 seconds. Either I know it or I don't. If it is a sentence or a grammar card it can take longer. Learning 50 words a week in Chinese I spend the most time on that first day memorizing and understanding, probably 15 minutes or so. After that, that It is usually less than 5 minutes a day of reviewing.

My other daily item, listening to the target language is about exposure. A simple example of what I might do would be listening to a couple of Spanish music videos on YouTube. I could also get ambitious and watch one of the Spanish channels on TV for 5 minutes and see what I can understand. It can even be something more clever like getting seated in a Mexican restaurant near the kitchen so I can overhear the cooks talking.

Learn something new is basically focused learning. You can do this pretty much anyway you want. Some examples are: using a textbook, attend a class, listen to audio lessons, translate texts by hand. and so on. For me I am looking at several angles. I plan to work through Duolingo's Spanish tree. I also plan to use SpanishPod101 to pick and choose lessons that are interesting, or useful for filling gaps. Our Library has several different audio Spanish courses available to check out. I also bought 3 books to help me.

I plan to use the iTalki teacher more as a coach than a teacher. Their job is to answer questions I have, point out any major flaws they see, and help me run some drills. I wan't guidance, not hand holding. I envision our first sessions starting out mostly in English, where I recap what I have done since we last spoke, and then we role play some scenario. They give me feedback, maybe some new vocab to help flesh out my responses, and then we can do drills on problem points. At the end of it they may or may not assign me some homework.

Once a week I want to test myself on everything I have learned, and practice using it. I think this step is really important. After ensuring I have learned something, I think then moving on to an exchange helps me attempt to use it in the wild and get some independent feedback.

How much am I spending?


I toyed with the idea of not paying a dime and learning the language as best I can. I think that that is definitely possible for someone with internet and access to a decent public library. I think they wouldn't have no problem finding material until they got up into the upper intermediate levels. 

I decided to grab a few things to hopefully help me along the way. All the below links are Affiliate links (I get paid if you buy something on Amazon through them).

The books costed me $64.58, and the website subscription costed $168.00 at $7/month for 2 years paid upfront. So combining those I have spent $232.58 upfront for this Spanish project.

Lets get started!

I had planned to not start until the beginning of April, but because things here have been going so smoothly, I don't have a good reason not to start ASAP. So I have decided to start tomorrow! Every Sunday henceforth I will update my blog with a weekly summary of what happened. 

Wish me luck!