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 )

2015-04-19

Spanish Week 6 Report

Week six is a wrap! This week I really started transitioning to listening. I am listening to skill appropriate language, and more natural inputs. My time spent was a little less than last week, but I think what time I did spend this week was spent more wisely. As usual totals at the top, and daily play by play is at the bottom.

Total Time Studied:4469 Minutes (74.48 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:777 Minutes (12.95 Hours)
Average Daily Time:106 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:485 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 154 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:926 Terms
New Vocabulary:66 Terms
Total Money Spent:$514.12
Spent This Week:$90.99

This week I started really pushing myself to not just reproduce what I heard, but also try and make things up. I did a bit of walking around my house, and talking to myself in Spanish. Nice simple stuff, like This is my kitchen. In my kitchen I have knives, a sink, a pan, and cups. Then I would try and veer of and talk about an event. Tonight my wife will cook.  This sort of practice helped me put myself in a Spanish mindset.

I also enjoyed having less DuoLingo but still being required to work on it. My focus has shifted from vocab to communicating. I am hesitant to say it switched to grammar. Right now I am really only trying to learn enough grammar to communicate, but not to much to confuse myself. To further this and to make more time for things other than vocab I have again dialed back DuoLingo. This time to 20XP per day.

I am still working through the Complete Spanish and Practical Spanish Grammar books. I think they are both useful, but they are hard and require me to sit for an hour strait or more to really get something out of them. My inner lazy child doesn't like this. I am still going to work on them, but I will probably keep it at one to two lessons a week.

The new thing I started doing is Glossika. This audio course was where the majority of my money was spent this week. Before buying I did quite a bit of research on it.... and by research I mean Googled it, and read blogs where people gave their totally factual opinions on it. Seriously tho, the whole reason I even looked at it was because several people in the Add1Challenge had talked about it or mentioned using it. I have only been using it for a few days now, so I can't give you a full product review or anything, but I do like it. My personal opinion is that by itself it would be of little use, but along with iTalki, and the other stuff that I am using it is filling a niche. A niche I hadn't quite realized I needed filled. Their website says something about 20 minute a day. I think that is for their relaxed method. For the mass sentence method, my first day I spent about an hour, and on my second I spent almost 90 minutes. I am guessing if I keep up doing 50 new sentences a day, This will be a two plus hour a day undertaking by itself. So far it is fun and makes me feel like I am learning, if that changes I may dial back the intensity.

I experimented with doing more Exposure this week also. Watching the arrow was interesting. I didn't try to understand everything, or write down a ton. I just kinda went with the flow. Several words I didn't know, but I figured them out because I had seen the show before, and/or because they kept repeating them. I will probably watch another episode next week. Another fun point was where I was listening to a youtube video by J Balvin, while playing CS, and it just hit me, I understand mostly, what they are singing about. I stopped playing and really watched the video.

  1. Monday - 88 Minutes
    • 9  M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice
    • 34 M DuoLingo
  2. Tuesday - 81 Minutes 
    • 44 M DuoLingo
    • 7   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 30 M Anki
    • 42 M Exposure ( Arrow S1E1 )
  3. Wednesday - 100 Minutes
    • 48 M Exposure ( YT music )
    • 34 M DuoLingo
    • 10 M Practical Spanish Grammar
    • 56 M iTalki with Dan ( about half was going over Spanish, and the other half was a mix of talking on our study techniques, A1C news, and planning what to work on next time.
  4. Thursday - 182 Minutes
    • 37 M Glossika GSR ( 1-3 ) First 19 minutes was also running.
    • 18 M Anki
    • 4   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 10 M Story Corrections ( iTalki Homework )
    • 26 M CS Ch 6 ( Did a little less than half. )
    • 31 M DuoLingo
    • 11 M PSG ( read Grammar points )
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice
    • 5   M Exposure ( Anime review on YT in Spanish)
  5. Friday - 40 Minutes
    • 20 M Glossika GMS ( Pre read, and then listened and repeated with the first 50 ).
    • 20 M DuoLingo
    • 59 M Exposure ( YT music )
  6. Saturday - 132 Minutes
    • 45 M DuoLingo
    • 4   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 7   M Anki
    • 14 M Anki
    • 62 M Glossika GMS.
  7. Sunday - 154 Minutes
    • 27 M DuoLingo
    • 87 M Glossika GMS 
    • 22 M DL -> Anki
    • 2   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 11 M Anki
    • 5   M PSG -> Anki


Chinese Status Update Spring 2015

Ello all! It has been over three months since my last Chinese status update. I have been busy doing a lot over the last these last three months, but very little of it related to Chinese.  I had eight goals I planned to work on this year. I am still planning on working on those goals, but usually I get a few done over the course of three months. Below is what I have completed so far.

Completed Goals

  • Find some Chinese people to interact with after the move.

Chinatown Square in Orlando.
After we moved, I took us to a Chinese corner meetup. It was interesting and we met some very nice people. We will probably go again, but unlike what I was used to participating in, it was not a little about culture, and a lot about the language. Rather, it wast mostly about the culture, politics, and people, and a little about the language. For me this is OK, I can see some benefits and adjust, but for my wife who grew up in that stuff she finds it boring.


I did have one great encounter. A few weeks after the move a Chinese friend came to visit. We took her to see Key West. At our hotel a neighbor from to the room around the corner was relaxing outside, and I managed to strike up a conversation with him in Chinese. We ended up just shooting the breeze for about 1/2 an hour with no issues. It was both a lot of fun, and a confidence booster.


We also managed to visit a Taiwan Food Festival in Orlando one weekend. There was a lot of great food and some nice people. Sadly, while we learned a lot about the Orlando Chinese Restaurant scene, we did not make any new friends, or contacts there.

New Goals

  • 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

For PAVC, and TAT, I am making slow but steady progress. In the PAVC 4 book, we will finish Chapter 5 next session. Also with TAT book 2 we are over half way done, and will probably finish it in the next two months. After the move I waited a few weeks before starting back to studying, and when I did start back I started back at a slower pace. We do two sessions a week instead of the three, and four sessions like we used to do. These are the main reasons for why less is accomplished. My schedule will stay the same until June, when I get more free time.  

WaiChinese is something a bit new. It is an app introduced to me through the Hacking Chinese website. It is designed to help people learning Chinese to speak with a better accent. The app has one of those audio wave things so when you record yourself talking, you can see how your tone changes. Also you are paired with a native speaker who grades your recordings, and gives you feedback.  The app has a few hiccups here and there, but I expect that to iron itself out over time. I am using it both for pronounciation, and to push me into practicing the HSK vocabulary. Hopefully between this app, PAVC, and TAT practice I will cover most of the HSK 5 list.

Speaking of the HSK 5, I am still planning to take the test, but not until later in the year. The earliest I might attempt it would be July, but I will probably wait until September. One reason is I am currently engaged in a challenge to learn Spanish. After this 3 month project wraps up I will shift gears, put Spanish in slow learning mode, and put Chinese back in high learning mode. 

I am really excited about October. This will be the first time I have visited the mainland. I am also happy because the main reason we are going is to celebrate a friends wedding. I plan to use as much Chinese as possible while I am there. 

Sorry this post isn't full of as much Chinese awesomeness as usual, but I wanted to make sure everyone know I was still working on it, and I have plans for the future! Wish me luck!

2015-04-13

Spanish Week 5 Report

Woohoo! Week 5 done! This week, I spent less time on vocabulary, and more time on grammar, and speaking. Like usual The totals are at the top, and the day to day is at the bottom. Unlike usual I also have a video in today's post. :)

Total Time Studied:3692 Minutes (61.53 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:829 Minutes (13.81 Hours)
Average Daily Time:105 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:331 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 0 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:860 Terms
New Vocabulary:89 Terms
Total Money Spent:$423.13
Spent This Week:$16.00



I think I mentioned in my last post about the video update. Anyways that was fun to make. I wrote out the Spanish before hand and practiced out as many umms as I could. As you can see I have tuned down my new vocabulary intake. It is still a bit high, but at the moment I feel like it is manageable.  

As I move into the next thirty days of this project I plan to focus more on using the vocabulary I have. Also I want to work on my listening, responses, and grammar. To do this I may enlist a few more iTalki teachers to help me. I may also look around locally for tutors or language exchange partners.

Right now it feels like a chore to sit there and come up with spontaneous sentences. I want to work on making that more natural. I am gonna try to randomly throughout the day think up sentences. Things like, "I'm going to take a shower" or "I am hungry." Hopefully between this and working more with native speakers this will help.

I also failed at getting much natural exposure this week. I am hoping to correct that next week. I would like to get back to listening to music, and maybe start an easy TV series. 

That is really all I have to say today. I will try to have a bit meatier post next week.
How I looked on day 30. All tired and run down.
  1. Monday - 61 Minutes
    • 38 M DuoLingo
    • 6   M Anki (Phrases)
    • 17 M Anki
  2. Tuesday - 164 Minutes
    • 25 M DuoLingo
    • 6   M Ani (Phrases)
    • 11 M Anki
    • 45 M Review CS 1 - 4
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice
    • 32 M Practical Spanish Grammar
  3. Wednesday - 181 Minutes
    • 50 M DuoLingo
    • 20 M SP101
    • 45 M CS Chapter 5
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice
    • 11 M Anki (Phrases)
    • 10 M Anki
  4. Thursday - 20 Minutes
    • 20 M DuoLingo
  5. Friday - 81 Minutes
    • 15 M DuoLingo
    • 16 M DuoLingo
    • 7   M Anki ( Phrases )
    • 21 M Anki
    • 22 M DL -> Anki
  6. Saturday - 120 Minutes
    • 90 M Wrote out a "my work" document.
    • 30 M DuoLingo
  7. Sunday - 202 Minutes
    • 130 M Wrote out and practiced 30 day speaking bit.
    • 45 M DuoLingo
    • 27 M DL -> Anki

2015-04-05

Spanish Week 4 Report

Yay! totals! I put in a few more hours this week than I have in the past. I think part of it was because I wanted to be prepared for the talking sessions. Another part of it was me procrastinating on other things I needed to do. At least it was constructive procrastination. :) Check the bottom for the daily play by play.

Total Time Studied:2863 Minutes (47.72 Hours)
Time Studied This Week:1060 Minutes (17.67 Hours)
Average Daily Time:102 Minutes
Total Non-Study Exposure:331 Minutes
Non-Study Exposure This Week: 30 Minutes
Total Vocabulary:771 Terms
New Vocabulary:219 Terms
Total Money Spent:$407.13
Spent This Week:$16.00

While vocabulary is getting closer and closer to 1,000 I wanted to remind ya, and myself, that I don't perfectly know all 771 terms. I am happy to see that what I have been learning is hitting high frequency words. Today I skimmed my frequency dictionary's top 100. I was only missing 11 terms. Also, as I am learning this language I am slowly, naturally making connections that I hope future grammar will back me up on.

Connections like for some terms adding -mente to the end is like adding -ly to the end of a english word. For example general, and generalmente to my beginner Spanish brain are the same word just one is an adjective form and the other is the adverb form. Tieing this to my Anki vocabulary, I have 18 with -mente at the end. You could consider them duplicates, of the non-mente versions. I am sure I will lean about some restrictions and exceptions to this construction once I get to it's actual grammar point.

Speaking of grammar; I starting pushing myself to do the Complete Spanish book so I would practice sentences and learn grammar. While the complete Spanish book is sprinkling a little grammar in every lesson, IMHO it isn't enough. Today I remembered, part of my prep for this project was researching and purchasing a book dedicated to teaching me grammar. I felt a bit dumb that I had forgotten about that book until now.

One of the things I am currently struggling with is verb conjugation. This is completely my fault. I haven't taken the time to work through it and practice it from top to bottom.  I plan to do just that, tomorrow afternoon, until I have it down forward and backward.

I am noticing patterns emerge about my study habits. I put in more effort and time before an iTalki session than I do just to hit my daily 60 minutes. Also, so far, I always hit my daily DuoLingo quota. With Anki, the more words I have to enter, the less I want to do it. As the week comes to an end, I am motivated to do get those outstanding words into Anki, so I can show off how many terms I have learned. /me pets my ego.

Also, last week I mentioned wanting to smooth out my studying into roughly the same amount everyday. HA! That didn't happen this week at all. I don't see it happening next week either, but I am pushing for each following week to be a bit more balanced than the previous. Keeping my study habits in mind I will continue to try and even out my study in a way that will minimize stress, and help me cope with signs of burn out.

Here in a few days we will reach the 30 day mark of this Add1Challenge. At that time I will make a new video trying to showcase some of where I am at in my learning. The organizer left it fairly open as to the format and content of the video, so I hope to come up with something unique and interesting. I will probably keep it short, sweet and hopefully not to goofy. I think I will also post a short summary about my goals and for the upcoming 30 days, why I am Studying Spanish, etc,.

Anyways, that is the weekly update. I'm your host, and we will see ya next week. ¡Hasta luego!
  1. Monday - 253 Minutes
    • 24 M Anki
    • 24 M CS redid the intro lesson
    • 44 M CS redid Chapter 1
    • 64 M CS Chapter 2 ( didn't do last 3 exercises )
    • 46 M iTalki with Candice
    • 5   M DuoLingo
    • 6   M DuoLingo
    • 5   M DuoLingo
    • 12 M DuoLingo
    • 16 M DL -> Anki
    • 7   M YT pause and studied bits.
  2. Tuesday - 168 Minutes
    • 7   M DuoLingo
    • 5   M YT 
    • 17 M CS redid Chapter 2
    • 10 M CS Chapter 3
    • 9   M DuoLingo
    • 14 M DuoLingo
    • 16 M Anki34 Minutes
    • 15 M DL -> Anki
    • 57 M CS Chapter 3
    • 18 M CS Chapter 4
  3. Wednesday - 321 Minutes
    • 25 M Anki
    • 55 M CS Chapter 4
    • 6   M Re-watched YT video
    • 31 M CS -> Anki - Ch 4 sentences
    • 23 M CS -> Anki - Ch 1, 2, & 3 sentences.
    • 45 M iTalki with Candice.
    • 26 M DuoLingo
    • 35 M My vacation short essay.
    • 60 M iTalki with Dan
    • 15 M DL -> Anki
  4. Thursday - 34 Minutes
    • 5    M Anki
    • 29 M DuoLingo
  5. Friday - 67 Minutes
    • 36 M DuoLingo
    • 31 M Anki
  6. Saturday - 71 Minutes
    • 34 M DL -> Anki
    • 30 Exposure ( Listening to A YT playlist while I did other things. )
    • 37 M DuoLingo
  7. Sunday - 146 Minutes
    • 35 M Anki
    • 52 M DuoLingo
    • 3   M Anki ( Phrases)
    • 15 M FL -> Anki ( Went over 100 most frequent terms. Added 11 I had not yet studied. )
    • 15 M CS -> Anki
    • 26 M Practical Spanish Grammar