A Fresh (and Rotten) Start

Can anyone explain to me why last year hasn't ended yet?

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

So now it’s the new year… can we start over?

Just kidding, but ugh, what a horrible start to the year. I hope there’ll be fewer problems for the rest of 2021, and I won’t give up on my optimism. It’s a new year, but life is the same, and there’s work to do. I hope you’re all healthy and happy, and that 2021 is a rejuvenating year.

I don’t have much to say about the news or my country’s government, but I do want to say a few things. The act of insurrection on January 6 was disturbing and makes me nervous. White nationalism scares me for several reasons. I’m Jewish, trans, and a lesbian, to name a few. I don’t fit into the world of the Nazis, and neither do my friends or family. But I don’t think those people are the majority. They are an old idea, a dying idea. We are going to outlast them, and we are going to win.

Well, that’s more than enough, I don’t want to talk about these sorts of topics, I want to talk about languages, and art, and the things that I like. It’s a fresh start, and I would like to give it the cahnce to be something different, maybe surprising or fun. If it’s going to be a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know, but it’s going to be something.

In other news, really, there isn’t much to report. My level of Spanish has grown a lot in 2020, I think, and I’m not sure how much further I can go, at least without more practice speaking or writing. I can understand almost everything I consume. It isn’t a challenge, it is just a fun activity. And I need fun activities in my life.

I know that I’m going to focus on my Spanish weakpoints this year. I want to start talking to more people. I can understand a lot, but I don’t know how to say a lot quickly or fluently. There isn’t much to do except work on it. That said, now and in general? I am trying to relax a little. My job is good, but stressful, and I’m always busy and tired. The books I read and the series I watch are the most interesting aspects of my day. And that has value too. Having fun is a very good reason to learn a language, I’m not going to deny it, and’ am not going to apologize for it. I don’t think I should have to.

Well, let’s see the numbers for the week.

Tuesday 1/12

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of El Dragón Renacido, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Amphibia, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Wednesday 1/13

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of El Dragón Renacido, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Amphibia, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Thursday 1/14

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 3% of El Dragón Renacido, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Amphibia, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Friday 1/15

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of El Ascenso de la Sombra, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Amphibia, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes

Saturday 1/16

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Writing: 900 words written, ~90 minutes

Sunday 1/17

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 5 episodes of Amphibia, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~120 minutes

Monday 1/18

  • Duolingo: 20 XP earned, ~0 minutes
  • Reading: 2% of El Ascenso de la Sombra, ~90 minutes
  • Watching/Listening: 2 episodes of Amphibia, 1 episode of Daniel San GMR, ~60 minutes
  • Speaking: reading out loud, ~30 minutes
  • Total Duolingo: 140 XP, 0 minutes
  • Total reading: 1/10 books read, 450 minutes
  • Total watching/listening: 6 YouTube episodes and 15 television episodes watched, 420 minutes
  • Total writing: 900 words written, 90 minutes
  • Total speaking: reading out loud, 120 minutes
  • Total Time: 16 hours 0 minutes

A normal week. I finished the third book of La Rueda del Tiempo and started the fourth, El Ascenso de la Sombra. I still like the series, but there’s a pattern that bothers me a bit. Every book so far, every book, has the chosen one in a fight against the devil of the world, and our hero wins the battle, the devil dies, and a character says, Do you think that was the end? Oh, poor boy, that was just the beginning. The real battle is going to start soon. Every damn book. The circumstances are different, but, eesh, please give me something new sometime. I know it’s a theme of the series, it is the wheel of time, things happen in a cycle, but… the characters are the same. The protagonist, Rand Al’Thor, has defeated the devil three times in a few years, perhaps only one year. It’s strange.

I’m continuing to watch Amphibia this week, and I really like it. It’s a bit inconsequential, maybe because the episodes are two more or less eleven-minute shorts, but it’s funny and has a good style. I’m going to run out of episodes soon, but I don’t care. There are many new seasons of other series that are already available. After Amphibia, I’ll be able to choose between Carmen Sandiego and Disenchantment. I can’t complain.

Well, I think that’s it for this week. I hope you are safe and healthy.  TTFN.

4 thoughts on “A Fresh (and Rotten) Start

  1. I’m trying to focus on some of my weak points this year as well. For me, when it comes to my listening the issue I run into is that native shows and movies are still really hard for me to understand. Sometimes its the slang, or the accents, or the sound quality, or the cursing, or all the above, I don’t know, but I just find that there’s this huge gap from watching SuperHolly on YouTube or a Spanish podcast and watching Y Tu Mama Tambien on Netflix. Since the new year started I’ve been watching at least 30 minutes a day of a Mexican show or movie using Learning Languages with Netflix. I think it’s helping, but it depends a lot on the content. I watched Ya No Estoy Aqui the other day and they might as well have been speaking Portuguese most of the the time. Diablero, on the other hand, hasn’t been too bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Also, I had a question for you. You’ve dedicated a lot of your time reading and it sounds like you’ve really developed your vocabulary as a result. Do you think there’s a certain point in which there’s diminishing returns on the time you spend reading? Like, do you get as much out of it now as you did a year ago? Or do you still find yourself learning new vocabulary and phrases as a result?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes and no. There are definitely diminishing returns after a while, I don’t run into many words that I flat out don’t recognize at this point, but I think after a certain point what you’re “learning” switches from being a direct return like encountering and learning new vocab, and over to reinforcing already learned vocab and sentence structures. Over the past year I haven’t learned all that much vocabulary, I don’t think, but I’ve become a better reader, and I believe a better listener, too, since I’m more prone to recognizing and anticipating what people are going to say as they’re saying it from the greater familiarity. A lot of it’s intermingled, since I’m not JUST reading or watching stuff, but it certainly feels like it’s still having an impact. I’m honestly not all that fussed about learning vocabulary anymore when it comes to Spanish, as I feel like my understood vocabulary is expansive and deep enough that it’s about all that I honestly NEED for the language. I probably couldn’t have college level discussions on a lot of esoteric topics with it, but my ability to do that in English is imperfect, too, and I don’t have much use for those sorts of conversations right now, anyway. And I’m feeling at this point like if I did have that need, that filling in those gaps would work about the same as it would in English, where I’d have to study and read up on the subject first until I understood it well enough to follow along.

      At this stage, I feel a lot of my shortcomings with Spanish boil down to a lack of practice with actual output, which is something I need to address with practice some point soon, whereas I don’t really feel like what I’m doing with my reading/listening really counts as, like, LEARNING anymore, it’s more just a reinforcement of stuff that’s already there to add more comfort and familiarity. Which is maybe diminishing returns in and of itself in the actual skills it’s improving, but those skills are basically to that stage of diminishing returns now as it is.

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