Efficiency Vs. Accessibility

Truly, the most difficult to admit part was that this IS the new normal.

Last week, as I took a break from a main topic and just recorded the numbers for the week and recapped, I did end up having a bit of a topic to discuss, because I ended up giving up the ghost on my ‘platonic ideal’ schedule for working days and switched from 90 minutes reading + 60 minutes watching, to 60 minutes reading + 90 minutes watching.  The recap served its purpose in explaining the mechanics as to why, and after another full week on this schedule I can affirm it is exactly what I needed to remove the mental stress from my day to day with getting my Spanish time in, but there’s another, wider-reaching topic to discuss here regarding the approach to learning languages.

I have believed, and continue to believe, that reading is the most efficient form of input for language learning.  The pace for reading is self-directed, allowing for you to speed up or slow down to suit your own comprehension level, and your interaction with the material is 100% based on the language itself.  Auditory input, on the other hand, is paced by the speaker, so if you miss something because it’s just a bit above your comprehension level, too bad.  That is a huge deal with this sort of thing, because you can easily lose the thread of a conversation and end up getting discouraged or bored in a way that makes watching something impossible.  With reading you can usually slow down and backtrack without it being a big deal, backtracking with listening can be excessively frustrating, and you can’t slow down.  Okay, some people swear by playing things back at .5x speed or whatever to have more control over that pace, but I find that to be such a total waste of time that it’s basically a non-option.

And in addition to those issues, audio isn’t a pure interaction with the language itself.  It is still an interaction with the language, sure, but it involves a lot of tangential details to interaction, such as accents and tone of voice—things that are vital to learn to actually speak and understand others in the language, but not actually related to understanding the language itself—and in most cases of visual media involve things that are entirely unrelated to language where characters interact with a physical world.  Long, meaningful silences make watching something compelling to watch, but that’s time spent watching that doesn’t involve language reinforcement.

This is, largely, hair-splitting after a certain point.  Early on in the process of learning it’s a lot more important, when listening is wildly inefficient because you can’t really understand what you’re hearing at all compared to starting to understand the stuff you’re reading, but at an advanced level it starts to even out.  I can read El Ojo del Mundo and understand 99% of it reading at a comfortable, if slightly slow pace, or I can watch a Daniel San GMR livestream and understand 95% of it watching him speak at a comfortable, if slightly fast pace.  At the end of the hour in each, how many more Spanish words have I understood?  I don’t think there’s even a way to quantify them as significantly different from each other, so at this point I should just choose the things that I have time for, you know?  Plus, well, those other tangential details of tone and accent are becoming increasingly more important to my language level at this point, so since I get more practice at those, too, perhaps this is the more efficient learning option.

I’ve said many times before that sticking with the activities you personally enjoy matter significantly more than efficiency (because if you hate reading, no efficiency gains in the world are going to make it the better option than spending your time doing something that you actually like), but sometimes you need to take in outside factors, too.  These days I find myself reading less than I used to, not just in Spanish, but in English, too, and that’s a byproduct of the world we’re in.  It’s good to take stock of those sorts of things and give yourself permission to try something different if you’re finding yourself struggling.  This little change has upped how my weekly numbers have been a little bit, and my mood about working on Spanish a lot of bit.  Taking the time to reconsider these sorts of things can be a game-changer.

Now then, let’s take a look at the numbers for the week.

Tuesday 8/25

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 1% of El Ojo del Mundo, various subreddit posts, ~60 minutes + 10 minutes (Toki Pona)
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Calex MP, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Arte Divierte, 1 episode of DSimphony, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 8/26

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of El Ojo del Mundo, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 8/27

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 1% of El Ojo del Mundo, various subreddit posts, ~60 minutes + 10 minutes (Toki Pona)
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 8/28

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 1% of El Ojo del Mundo, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 8/29

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 1% of El Ojo del Mundo, ~30 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, 1 episode of Kiwillius, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Sunday 8/30

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: Various subreddit posts, ~30 minutes (Toki Pona)
  • Watching/Listening: 1 episode of Kiwillius, 1 episode of Aggretsuko, ~120 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Monday 8/31

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of El Ojo del Mundo, ~60 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 6 episodes of Aggretusko, ~90 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 1/10 books read, 330 minutes + 50 minutes (Toki Pona)
  • Total watching/listening: 10 YouTube episodes and 7 television episodes watched, 690 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 180 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 hours 50 minutes

A good week overall.  I’m finding my usual available selection of youtube choices are falling into a really nice groove where I’m not left wanting for material.  Additionally, new season of Aggretsuko came out (which I spaced out for a few days before realizing), so I have a lot to plow through for the short term.

Meanwhile, El Ojo del Mundo is progressing at a slower pace thanks to the less reading, which is a bit unfortunate, as I’m still enjoying it.  Next week being a long weekend thanks to the holiday and a choice day off, maybe I’ll consider spending a day really working on it for a change, because I’m missing being able to just sit somewhere comfy and veg out reading for a while, which is the perfect way to spend part of a long weekend, I think.

Toki Pona time’s continued to be a bit hit and miss this week, though I tried to give it a more dedicated chunk of my attention on Sunday.  I feel like I’m not making any progress on it, but it isn’t slipping, either, which is my ultimate goal here, so things feel pretty good there.

As this week nicely wraps up August, let’s take a look back on the month as a whole.

Spanish

  • Total Duolingo: 620 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total Watching/Listening: 17 tv episodes and 50 youtube videos watched, 2,610 minutes
  • Total Reading: 2/5 whole books read, 1,620 minutes
  • Total Speaking: reading out loud, 780 minutes
  • Total Time: 70 hours 30 minutes

Toki Pona

  • Total Reading: 1 whole book and various social media posts read, 230 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

Combined Total Time: 74 hours 20 minutes

And here’s the breakdown for money spent.

  • akesi seli lili, Fiction, paperback, Amazon, $4.32
  • Netflix Subscription Standard HD Plan, Television and Movie Streaming, $10.99 per month, $10.99
  • Disney+ Subscription, Television and Movie Streaming, $6.99 per month, $6.99
  • Amount Spent on Fiction Books: $4.32
  • Amount Spent on Services: $17.98
  • Total Spent: $22.30

August was a strange month for me, though that isn’t really reflected in these numbers.  Frankly, I think that maybe every month is a strange month for everybody these days.  The world is strange.  I keep hoping for things to change and maybe get closer to a normal that feels like it’s gone forever, but that might be a long ways off.  I’m thankful for a lot of what I have, and hope others out there can continue to grow and thrive.

Looking forward to September, it still feels awkward to try and plan for anything, but it’s getting more and more obvious that we’re just going to have to do it despite it feeling that way.  I’m aiming to work on some personal, non-blog stuff that I’ve been putting off over September, things that got paused thanks to quarantine, but that need to start going forward again.  If this is the new normal, that means that things can’t just be set into a holding pattern forever.

On the subject of holding patterns, my total lack of writing fiction remains strong, with me getting down 7,717 words for blogs and a big ol’ goose egg for fiction.  This is also something that really has to give this month, because this is the new normal, and the new normal needs me writing in it, so help me.

Anyway, that’ll do for this blog.  As a reminder, next week’s entry is going to be another ‘off-week’ without a primary topic and just a summation of my progress.  I’m going to keep this on/off schedule going for at least the length of September before reevaluating, but so far, this feels like the right move.  Now then, back to work.  TTFN.

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