Prioritizing Language Learning

My problem is I always prioritize self-criticism over everything else.

After last week’s fiasco for studying, brought on by a doozy of an illness, I knew going into this week that I’d end up being in a period of recovery and stabilization.  I had to pause my life for the whole week and had lots of things to get caught back up on, which meant language learning needed to stay relegated to a lower priority for a few days before I could ramp it up again.  That all happened about as I expected it to, and if you were to jump down to the number breakdown section, you would see that I had eased back into my previous schedule by Thursday.  What I didn’t expect was that this last week brought with it the necessity of totally redoing my current study scheduling.

So totally outside of the scope of this blog, I’ve been somewhat idly on the job hunt for a while.  The job I’ve had over the length of this blog’s runtime has had a lot of good points and is very flexible for scheduling, but is pretty volatile and erratic, and also doesn’t come with benefits, so I’ve been looking for a change of pace.  As luck would have it, one of the things on my plate post-illness was a job interview.  After juggling that, plus the standard job hoops of drug screening and the like, alongside everything else I was doing last week, I ended up accepting the job.

This means, aside from things like getting benefits and more stable income, that I’m going to be needing to readjust my Spanish studying schedule again.  I am unsure how energy intensive the job’s going to be, especially during training.  On the one hand, it’s all new and will require time to get used to the changes.  On the other hand, the old, flexible job was also very tiring, while the new one will likely be less so, so the scheduling difference might be entirely offset.  There are a lot of factors at play and it’s hard to guess which ones will be the most important.  The Tuesday this blog goes online will be my second day on the job, so by next week I’ll have a better idea of what adjustments to my study time need to be made in at least the short term, if any.

This all leads into a slightly messy to talk about topic with language learning that is nonetheless very important, which is being honest with your priorities.  One of the big downfalls that pops up a lot among aspiring language learners who end up throwing in the towel is simply never making time to work on it.  Spending an hour or two on a new language once a day won’t result in you learning it seven times faster than someone who devotes an hour or two a week, it’s an order of magnitude faster because your learning can compound on itself.  As a result, if you’re really serious about the language learning, you have to assign it a level of priority to where you can actually make progress, which means re-evaluating the other things in your life and deciding what must then be a lower priority than the language learning.  That’s an important piece of advice to follow, because you’re only handicapping yourself by undervaluing the importance of your time.

The other side of that advice, meanwhile, doesn’t get talked about a ton because it can be a little bit prickly.  Sometimes you sit down to evaluate the levels of priority and discover something like language learning—which you may think of as noble, enriching, or entertaining, and thus find it appealing in general—really isn’t that high of a priority for you personally, at least in relation to the other daily stuff going on in your life.  And obviously a lot of the time it can’t be a higher priority, because, I mean, if you’re prioritizing working on learning a language over your day job, you’re going to run into problems, and no language learning expert or teacher is going to demand something that self-destructive out of a learner.  Conversely, is language learning a higher priority than spending time with friends and family?  Replacing all of one with the other is a recipe for disaster, sure, but an hour or two per day?  That’s a sacrifice people end up making all the time, for all sorts of reasons, and the bottom line is that time is finite.  You can’t do everything that you want to do in a day, so sometimes certain things have to win, and others have to lose.

As is in my case, all of this is pretty up in the air while I settle into the new job, but I do know that the language learning is still a rather high priority for me.  It might need to be adjusted down further past my current soft goal of 2.5 hours per day, if that proves hard to fit in with everything else.  Then again, it might not.  But I am well aware of where on the scale of priorities I’m putting it, which both makes it easier to make that decision, as well as removes any sting to my ego over what needing to make that decision could entail.  Unexamined, it might be easy to see myself dropping down my daily goal and coming away feeling like I failed at something I set out to do, or risk keeping it up at the sacrifice to things that should have a higher focus of my time, such as my sleep schedule or relationships to others.

However it shakes out, I can’t imagine not working on Spanish going forward at this point, so whatever happens, it’ll continue to be a part of my life.  Language learning is too ingrained in my behavior for it to not be.

Well now, let’s look at this week’s numbers.

Tuesday 11/05

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of La Zona Cero, 1 episode of She-Ra, 1 episode of Bojack Horseman, ~90 minutes

Wednesday 11/06

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of She-Ra, 1 episode of Bojack Horseman, ~90 minutes

Thursday 11/07

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 5% of Snuff, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of No Hay Tos, 1 episode of She-Ra, 1 episode of Bojack Horseman, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 11/08

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Snuff, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Carmen Sandiego, 1 episode of She-Ra, 1 episode of Andrea Ga, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 11/09

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 5% of Snuff, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 11/10

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 7% of Snuff, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 11/11

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of A Todo Vapor, ~30 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 1/4 books, 330 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 8 YouTube episodes, 2 podcasts, and 8 tv episodes, 570 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 150 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 hours 0 minutes

And as promised, a better week than last week, that’s for sure.  As I said in the primary blog, Tuesday and Wednesday were sacrificed to getting other things done, but I got back on track on Thursday and continued to stay on track through the week, faltering a tiny bit on Monday when I started the aforementioned new job.  It was a bit tight fitting everything in, but it was the first day of a new job, so I’m not too fussed about it.  We’ll see how it develops over time.

After a long break from reading anything, I finished Snuff this week, and part of me is wondering if I was perhaps resistant to starting reading again because I know that Discworld books are a finite resource that I’m about to run out of.  Overall, I did enjoy Snuff a lot, but my biggest takeaway from it was a profound sadness that it was the final City Watch book that was ever written and will ever be written.  Total bummer.

I also finished the new season of Bojack Horseman this week, which was a different sort of bummer, but now I’m just antsy for the next season to come out.  Fortunately it isn’t a terribly long wait, but it ended on a real cliffhanger.  I’m diligently working my way through some other Netflix shows that I’ve been meaning to watch, while also bouncing back and forth with youtube shows.  Unlike with reading, there’s a real sense of ‘thy cup runneth over’ for choices of things to watch for me, which is a nice feeling to have.

On Duolingo this week, for a sentence that translated as “Who won the race?” someone asked why “Who did the race win?” wasn’t accepted.  Unlike English, Spanish has a somewhat flexible word order to it, because you can often tell what nouns are the subject or object based on other information in the sentence aside from the word order.  As such, you don’t expressly need to put the subject after the verb and the object before, while in English you have to, resulting in this weird sentence where you’re asking what human being a race won as a prize if you do it wrong.

Anyway, that ought to do for this week.  I’ll have a better idea next week how the schedule I keep will change, if it changes at all.  Until then, TTFN.

 

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