The Long Path of Learning

If the path is really all that long, then why am I still fat?

(This blog is the English translation of this week’s primary blog, which was originally written in Spanish.)

Normally I write blogs in Spanish for the week of the middle of the month, and this blog is a week late. Last week I was in Chicago visiting my family, and I didn’t have much free time. I thought it would be better if I waited until I was home before writing this blog, so here we are.

Sometimes, I feel like I’ll never finish this project. I’ve been learning Spanish for around 20 months. In that time, I have learned and improved a lot, but always, always there’s more that I need to know. I feel like the path has no end, and I can spend the rest of my life walking step by step, day after day, and never get anywhere.

And in some ways, that’s true. It feels like the road has no end because it really doesn’t have an end. Nobody can ever finish learning all of a language, even in their native language. There’s always more, so it doesn’t make sense to get depressed that you’ll never finish, and instead you can forget about the destination and try to enjoy the journey. And in other ways, it’s not true at all. You will arrive somewhere, it’s just that the road is extremely long. Step by step, day after day, and go forward. It’s just that forward means a few meters on a path of hundreds of kilometers. There’s progress, yeah, but look at how long the path is! It doesn’t seem like progress, it seems like standing still.

The path of learning is tremendously long, that’s a fact that I had to accept a long time ago. There is no shortcut to speed yourself up toward a goal, or a trick to skip a few steps either. There’s just you, the path, and step after step, day after day, and for some people, that’s too much work. And honestly, I can’t blame them, you know? Learning a new language is very difficult, it takes so much time. Of course many people will give up on the attempt.

But I think that’s the real obstacle to language learning, and if you can master it, you can eventually overcome it. Learning a language is going to take a lot of time. Good? Good. Go forward, step by step, day after day, and that’s how it is.

One of the most difficult parts of all this is that there’s no simple way to discern how much longer it’ll take before I’ll be satisfied with my Spanish level. I know that right now I can understand almost all of the books I read, and I can watch TV, movies, Youtube videos, podcasts, etc., and follow them, and I think I can write Spanish well enough. I’m not going to win any writing prizes or anything, but at least I can make myself understood without a lot of mistakes, and I don’t have to constantly look up words to do it. But I still have weak points that I need to overcome before I’ll be satisfied. How long will I need to do that? I have no idea, really, and that drives me crazy. I can only go forward, little by little, and hope that one day I realize that I’ve reached the end of the path. Well, not the end of the path, since that doesn’t exist, but an end. An end for me. Many people can’t stand that mystery and would want to know how much time is needed, or when they should finish, and there isn’t an answer. You just have to follow the path.

Let’s look at this week’s numbers.

Tuesday 7/16

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 10% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~100 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 7/17

  • Duolingo: 48 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 5 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Los Simpson, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 7/18

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 2 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Juegos con Mostacho, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of Los Simpson, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 7/19

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 2 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of Los Simpson, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 7/20

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~30 minutes
  • Writing: 1300 words written, ~180 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 7/21

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of Club de Cuervos, ~150 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 7/22

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 6% of Regimiento Monstruoso, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion, 3 episodes of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of No Hay Tos, ~140 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 2/5 books, 430 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 19 youtube episodes, 1 podcast, and 11 tv episodes watched, 640 minutes
  • Total writing: 1300 words written, 180 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 210 minutes
  • Total Time: 21 hours 0 minutes

A great week after last week. Chicago was fun, but I couldn’t do much while I was there, and I was happy to go return to working hard.

Earlier this month, I decided to try something new. Reading gets easier and easier bit by bit, but my listening comprehension feels like it’s stopped and I’m not improving. For a few weeks, I’ve worked more on it, so I haven’t read a lot this week, but I have watched many things.

Regimiento Monstruoso is still good, but it’s a little frustrating to have to read it so slowly. I know I don’t have to read it slowly, but I want to follow this plan to work on my listening comprehension. I’m impressed how different all the Discworld books are. Some subseries have a light tone, while others are dark, and yet they all feel connected. I’m almost finished with the series, and it makes me sad.

After returning to Denver, I resumed watching lots of things. Neon Genesis Evangelion is still very interesting, although I’m not sure if I actually like it. The series seems to me to be more important than good. Either way, I think I’ll be happy to have seen it. I am also very excited to be watching Los Simpson. I knew that Los Simpson is a beloved series in Mexico, and I understand why, the dubbing is great. The voices of the characters are fantastic, although different than the original voices, and the script localization is smart and funny.

I started watching some new YouTube channels, and some I like. Arte Divierte is a channel of art tutorials and tips on the subject of art business. The host, Leonardo Pereznieto, speaks calmly and slowly, and I wish he had found the channel at least a year ago. I also like Juegos Con Mostacho and Daniel San GMR’s Let’s Plays. After this experiment, I think I’ll continue to watch more things than I was watching before. It makes me more comfortable with Spanish to use it so frequently, and I don’t see why I should stop.

Also, after a long pause, I tried to watch Club de Cuervos again and, to my surprise, I could understand a lot of the episode. My listening comprehension wasn’t perfect, there were a lot things where I only understood the big idea and not the details, but it was much easier to follow the story. I’m still not ready to make any declarations about the success or failure of this experiment, but it’s a good sign.

In Duolingo this week, while answering questions from English students, in the sentence “¡Ay, no, una de las ruedas está perdida!” which Duolingo translates as, “Oh, no, one of the wheels is missing!” someone asked if “is lost” or “is missed” would be acceptable answers for saying está perdida. “Is lost” would be fine, but “is missed” sounds like the speaker misses the wheel like a person, which is funny, but isn’t what the sentence means. But why? Especially, why does the verb “to miss” mean both to lose something and to miss someone? Those ideas are very different. The answer is that I don’t know, but that’s how the language is. English is dumb and complicated.

Well, I think that’s enough for this blog. TTFN.

One thought on “The Long Path of Learning

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