6WC: week 1 progress report

2011-05-05

I started on my new Spanish project on the weekend, and I’ve been enjoying it so far. I’ve been trying to gather a variety of materials to work on, so that I don’t get bored of any one particular thing.

I’m watching a bit of two different TV series on DVD; both american shows that have been dubbed. It’d be better for the lips if I had some original spanish language series, but at the beginning it’s much easier to go for something that’s easily predictable. To that end, I’m watching lots of Star Trek, because I know what’s supposed to be happening, so all my learning time is spent on the language, not figuring out the new characters and plots.

For reading, I’ve found an audiobook for Albert Camus’ El Extranjero (“The Stranger” in English). It’s been hard to find audiobooks that have a Latin American accent, rather than the funny “th” sound for z and c in the accents from Spain. Here in Vancouver there are very few people from Spain, but thousands from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Argentina, etc.

I’ve also been spending a small percentage of my time on an old Spanish textbook that I tried to use about 8 years ago when I last studied Spanish. I was at about an A1 level back then, and I’ve quickly revived most of my basic vocabulary. I’ve been using the textbook just to review some of the grammar points that I’m encountering in my novels and TV shows.

If I go slow and use a pop-up dictionary a lot, then I can figure out quite a lot of the books I’m reading, even though they’re regular adult novels. When I just read along while listening to the audiobook though, it’s quite a struggle to understand anything. I’m just getting little bits and pieces here and there. I know from experience that this will improve over time; I just need to put in enough hours.

For those interested, you can see the high-score list for the contest here: http://6wc.learnlangs.com/. There are two “score” columns in the chart. One is for the “target” language, which is Spanish in my case. The other is a total number of hours spent on any language learning activities, although at this point I’m putting almost all of my study time into Spanish.

That’s it for now, nothing much to report yet since I’ve only put in 14 hours. I’ll keep updating as time goes on.

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Dutch update: 60 hours

2011-01-18

I’m now past 60 hours of study time in my 6-week-challenge, and things are progressing steadily. I find it quite fun right now to read books, since the majority of the words seem familiar, but I’m still sticking to parallel texts because there are many words that I need to learn.

As each day goes by, I get a greater sense of understanding of the language. Sometimes it feels like nothing is happening, but I definitely notice the changes when I consider them on a multi-day scale. I can usually sense a change in my abilities after every 20 hours of study time, so I just try to avoid thinking about it on shorter time-scales.

Currently I’m almost finished Harry Potter #3, but today I’m finding it more fun to read Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea (Aardzee in Dutch), even though I don’t have a corresponding audiobook for that. It’s nice to get some variety, even if the lack of an audiobook means slower progress.

I’m still having some problems with time-wasting activities, such as web-surfing. I’ve stopped following reddit on twitter, so that I get fewer time-wasters popping up in my twitter program. I should probably also turn off the twitter program, but at least I’ve managed to check it less often, and to ignore the toast updates.

My sleep schedule is slowly progressing, so that I have less and less tired time during the day. Yesterday I felt great for the whole day, but today i was quite tired between 10am and 11am, resulting in lower productivity. I also spent some time on paid work, so I lost some study time that way too.

I’ve had several days in a row above 5 hours of study time, but I haven’t been able to reach 10 hours, which is somewhat of a goal for me. With 20 hours available in my day, it just seems like I should be able to hit 10 hours of study time at least once, so I’m still trying. It’d be amazing if I could manage it consistently for a week or so, but we’ll see if that ever happens.

Next update at the end of the week, and hopefully I’ll be past 80 hours by then. 🙂