Returning From Breaks

I ran out of Bojack Horseman early on in the week, something I knew was coming soon as I more or less binged my way through the last two seasons.  It’s a bit of a bummer, as I really like the show and it was a good thing to practice with, but the show will likely have more seasons in the future to look forward to.  I think that regardless of where I’m at as far as this project goes, I’ll probably continue with Bojack in Spanish, since I’m far more used to the Spanish VAs at this point.

From a more recent time perspective, after running out of episodes, I needed to decide on what I would fill my watching/listening practice time with.  I picked up a YouTube channel that’s in line with the sort of crap I normally watch on YouTube that happened to be in Spanish, Daniel San GMR, and was delighted to find that it pushes the limits of my comprehension ability while still being followable (closed captions are necessary, but I’ll be working on overcoming the need for training wheels more actively with it), so it’s going to be a heavy addition until I’ve worked my way through the back videos.  I also went back to My Little Pony.

Last week when talking about levels of comprehension, I positioned My Little Pony as being something I could try and tackle when feeling ‘daring.’  I said that because up until I set it down to focus on Bojack, that’s about where I was at with it.  Between the two horse shows, it was certainly more followable, being aimed at children, but the gap was narrower than the one between Bojack and Puffin Rock.  I could follow it and immediately understood 80-90% of all the sentences completely, while catching the gist of the remaining dialogue.

That makes it sound like the two were at a similar level to each other, but an important detail separating them is that MLP was watched without training wheels.  Netflix doesn’t offer Spanish subtitles on MLP, so I’ve been watching it with just the dialogue.  In the very early going when I first tried the show in Spanish, back before I started this blog, I tracked down the transcripts of the episodes and followed along with a split-window view to jury-rig a subtitle setup for myself.  It was annoying to set up each time and I was at a low enough level that I still struggled far too much to really get through the show, which led to me dropping it for a few months, until I was at a point where I could hobble my way through with just the soundtrack and not get too frustrated.  Things did improve over time, but at the point where I was wrapped up in Bojack and just wanted to finish that, I was still at a ‘tolerate the unknown’ stage.

Which in the theoretical situation of pausing, repeating, looking up, and getting myself to 100% comprehension as I went, would have been a pain in the ass but ultimately doable without giving in if I were in the right mood.  Almost completely comprehensible, but with enough stopping and filling in the gaps to where I’d need to be feeling daring to not be driven away.  A good place to be, but less enjoyable than tolerating the occasional vagueness in favor of just watching a show to watch it.

Well, when I picked MLP up again after a break of three weeks, I was surprised and delighted to find that the gaps had filled themselves in.  The time and practice of reading and watching other stuff apparently put the rest of the puzzle together, so when I watch the show now, it’s at the same level as Puffin Rock.  Which isn’t to say bullet-proof in perfection, I do occasionally hit individual words I don’t know, but it’s more like a once or twice an episode occurrence than something that could be expressed in percentages.  No need to feel ‘daring’ about it at all, it’s something that I can understand, to the same standard as English.

I’ve talked before about how hard it is to judge progress as you constantly shift your own goalposts and have no outside perspective to judge improvement from, trapped in just seeing things from the day to day perspective where there’s no real scale to see yourself improve.  The illusory treadmill that shows no sign of progress, while your own sense of where you started from shifts and changes.  That all makes it extra rewarding when you do find clear and undeniable evidence of growth right in front of you.

I’ve seen the occasional piece of advice for language learning of taking time off, or ‘incubating’ new information as part of the learning process, with some people going so far as saying it’s good to sometimes take a week or longer off from even thinking about the new language at all.  The theory is that while you’re not actively working on stuff, you are working on the language subconsciously, and when you come back to it you’ll be further along than when you stopped.

I don’t know whether that sort of thing works or not, but I know myself well enough to know that breaks, even intentional ones, often lead to total lapses, like I’m an alcoholic falling off the wagon, so I avoid trying that sort of thing.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the benefit of those breaks is still happening day to day, while you sleep, work at your job, brush your teeth, and live the rest of your life that doesn’t involve language learning, the gains are just less noticeable because they stay on the day-to-day scale.

I seem to have arranged my learning in such a way where I semi-regularly “go back” to something and can see things at the larger scale, what with MLP, watching an episode of Puffin Rock or two here and there, or rereading El Principito.  It wasn’t an intentional ploy to keep my spirits up, but I think it’s something I’ll keep doing a bit more intentionally going forward.  It can be frustrating to plod along with little sense of momentum, so maintaining a perspective of progress like that is definitely worthwhile.

Let’s take a look at this week’s numbers.

Tuesday 10/09

  • Anki: 130 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 90 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 2 chapters of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~80 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 3 episodes of Bojack Horseman, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 10/10

  • Anki: 130 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 80 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 1 chapter of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Bojack Horseman, ~40 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 10/11

  • Anki: 140 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 120 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 2 chapters of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~70 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of My Little Pony, 1 episode of Hilda, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, ~85 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 10/12

  • Anki: 130 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 60 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 2 chapters of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~80 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of My Little Pony, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 10/13

  • Anki: 140 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 200 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 2 chapters of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~80 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of My Little Pony, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 10/14

  • Anki: 130 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 200 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 2 chapters of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~70 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of My Little Pony, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 10/15

  • Anki: 130 cards reviewed, ~10 minutes
  • Duolingo: 150 XP earned, ~30 minutes
  • Reading: 3 chapters of Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, ~100 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of My Little Pony, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Anki: 930 cards reviewed, 70 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 900 XP, 210 minutes
  • Total Watching/Listening: 11 tv episodes and 15 YouTube episodes watched, 425 minutes
  • Total reading: 14 chapters read, 540 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 210 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 hours 45 minutes

Another great week.  As I talked about following up Bojack Horesman with MLP in the main body of the blog, I didn’t say much about Daniel San GMR, whose videos take up a much larger portion of my watching/listening time.  Like a lot of people, watching YouTube replaced my channel-flipping leisure time a few years ago, so I’m well used to the format and find it easier to just blip through YouTube videos for extended periods of time than it is to commit to shows formatted for television.

I can’t yet watch DSGMR the same way I watch a lot of videos, namely tabbed over on something mindless while just listening to the audio, because it takes too much concentration and I need subtitles to help me get through them, but I’ll be making a concerted effort to drop subtitles as soon as I can.  I’m tackling this by rewatching stuff—something that’s less of an ask on a 5-10 minute episode than a 22 minute one—first with and then without subtitles.  I don’t do this with every video I watch, but I’m hopeful that between that practice and watching enough of the content I’ll soon be able to drop subtitles completely on it.

I also tried Hilda, a Netflix original cartoon.  It’s really quite a pretty show and I wanted to like it, but the premise struck me as stupid and uninteresting, so I think I’m gonna give it a pass.  I dunno, maybe I’ll go back to it at some point, I like to try and give shows a few episodes if I’m on the fence, but not right now.

Monday I finished up Harry Potter y el Misterio del Príncipe, and unfortunately the next Potter book is still in the mail.  There is a slim chance that it might show up at my house sometime today, but I think it’s unlikely.  Thus chances are I’ll be reading something different first.  I have a couple of books on hand to choose from, including Nocturno de Chile by Roberto Bolaño, which I recently impulse-bought out of a Barnes and Noble and is probably what I’ll go with.  In addition to being a good length to squeeze in-between Potterbooks, it will also be the first novel I read that was written in Spanish originally.  *sigh* I’m so white.

Anyway, enough for this one.  TTFN.

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