Project Polyglot Parry VIII: Duolingo: English-Spanish Duolingo UN-Accomplished @duolingo #duolingo

As recently as this four posts ago, I posted an update proudly sharing how I had conquered the English-Spanish tree/course in Duolingo. Yet by the very next day, Duolingo had apparently updated the course — something they almost never do. Okay, good news: extra material to learn to take me to the next level. But the bad news: they updated the course with a lot of new material. Just check out the pictures below. I am miles from completing the tree! Waaa. I feel like someone who’s been retroactively stripped of my gold medal through no fault of my own (think: Usain Bolt’s third Olympic gold for the 4x100m relay; yes, that is an exactly analogous situation!)

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

Project Polyglot Parry VII: Duolingo: English-Spanish Duolingo Accomplished @duolingo #duolingo

I’ve finished my third Duolingo tree! Well done me. This time, I finished the English language for Spanish speakers tree. I clearly already speak English, but having previously completed the Spanish for English speakers course, it seemed like a natural next step. As it happens, I have learnt things and been tested in ways that didn’t happen doing the Spanish for English speakers course. For that reason, I would recommend everyone to do this “reverse tree”.

So, what are the next steps?

  1. Get the Spa-Eng tree golden and keep it golden! And keep my Eng-Spa and English-Swedish trees golden, too!
  2. Spend more time doing the Duolingo Eng-Spa, Spa-Eng, and Eng-Swe courses on Tinycards and on Memrise.
  3. Spend more time doing listening work: Notes in Spanish and 8-Sidor (news site and podcast).

These three steps should last me till the Summer or thereabouts. Upon which I will need to reassess again. Probably (4) do a language exchange, (5) start studying more closely to the DELE and Swedex curriculums, (6) think about enrolling on a course at the Cervantes Institute.

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

Project Polyglot Parry VI: Swedish Duolingo Accomplished! @duolingo #duolingo

ProjectPolyglotParry_face

I’m a real language-lover. Therefore, I’ve always wanted to be fluent in several languages. Unfortunately, aged thirty and after many, many false starts, I’m still only fluent in English! But hitting thirty made me determined that I will achieve my life goals — including fluency in several languages.

To keep my language learning on track, I’ve been doing regular updates. Read all my Project Polyglot Parry posts here.

I’m very proud to say that I completed the English>Swedish tree in Duolingo on 29/10/16! 😀 They even gave me this handsome (virtual) trophy!

dlswe

My next goal is to complete the Duolingo English for Spanish speakers course. At my current rate of two-three sessions a day, I reckon I can finish the new tree by the end of March. And after that, I want to get to the maximum level possible on Duolingo in Spanish and Swedish: level 25 (that’ll take a while, though).

© 2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

SMART Goals

smart-goals

As you can see in my posts (for example: 1, 2, 3, 4), I have mixed success in achieving my goals. Pretty much like everyone else. And over the course of 2016, I came to two insights. Two things that I have actually always known but which I have come to appreciate with a greater clarity and keenness.

  1. You have to START AT THE END. Determine what your ultimate goal really is, and then work backwards from it to work out what steps will get you there.
  2. You have to MAKE YOUR GOAL “SMART”. This means goals which are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

So don’t just say, “I wanna get into shape and be fit”. Rather, figure out exactly what “into shape and fit” means. Be specific and measureable, e.g., run X miles in Y time, get down to a BMI of 22. The goal has to be attainable: so running 100 metres in 10 seconds or less might not happen. It has to be relevant to what you want generally. And it has to be time-bound: so work out how long those goals realistically will take, and work to that timeline, with various short, middle, and long-term deadlines.

Here’s a great bit of an article from Tim Ferriss and Benny Lewis about using SMART Goals to learn a foreign language. Enjoy!

© 2016-2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://plantbaseddietitian.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/SMART-Goals.jpg

12 Rules for Learning Foreign Languages in Record Time — The Only Post You’ll Ever Need

#9 – Create SMART goals.

Another failing of most learning approaches is a poorly defined end-goal.

We tend to have New Year’s Resolutions along the lines of “Learn Spanish,” but how do you know when you’ve succeeded? If this is your goal, how can you know when you’ve reached it?

Vague end goals like this are endless pits (e.g. “I’m not ready yet, because I haven’t learned the entire language”).

S.M.A.R.T. goals on the other hand are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

To start developing your SMART goal in a language, I highly recommend you become somewhat familiar with the European Common Framework that defines language levels. This framework provides you with a way of setting specific language goals and measuring your own progress.

In brief, A means beginner, B means intermediate, and C means advanced, and each level is broken up into lower (1) and upper (2) categories. So an upper beginner speaker is A2, and a lower advanced speaker is C1. As well as being Specific, these levels are absolutely Measurable because officially recognized institutions can test you on them and provide diplomas (no course enrollment necessary) in German, French, Spanish, Irish, and each other official European language. While the same scale is not used, you can also get tested in a similar way in Chinese and Japanese.

So what do you aim for? And what do words like “fluency” and “mastery” mean on a practical level?

I’ve talked to many people to try to pinpoint the never-agreed-upon understanding of “fluency,” and I’ve found that it tends to average out around the B2 level (upper intermediate). This effectively means that you have “social equivalency” with your native language, which means that you can live in your target language in social situations in much the same way that you would in your native language, such as casual chats with friends in a bar, asking what people did over the weekend, sharing your aspirations and relating to people.

Since we are being specific, it’s also important to point out that this does not require that you can work professionally in a language (in my case, as an engineer or public speaker, for instance). That would be mastery level (generally C2).

Though I’ve reached the C2 stage myself in French, Spanish and am close to it in other languages, realistically I only really need to be socially equivalent in a language I want to communicate in. I don’t need to work in other languages. It’s essential that you keep your priorities clear to avoid frustration. Most of the time, just target B2.

To make your specific goal Attainable, you can break it down further. For example, I’ve found that the fluency (B2) level can be achieved in a matter of months, as long as you are focused on the spoken aspect.

In phonetic languages (like most European ones), you can actually learn to read along with speaking, so you get this effectively for free. But realistically, we tend to write emails and text messages—not essays—on a day-to-day basis (unless you are a writer by trade, and you may not have those goals with your L2). Focusing on speaking and listening (and maybe reading) makes fluency in a few months much more realistic.

Finally, to make your project Time-bound, I highly recommend a short end-point of a few months.

Keeping it a year or more away is far too distant, and your plans may as well be unbound at that point. Three months has worked great for me, but 6 weeks or 4 months could be your ideal point. Pick a definite point in the not too distant future (summer vacation, your birthday, when a family member will visit), aim to reach your target by this time, and work your ass off to make it happen.

To help you be smarter with your goals, make sure to track your progress and use an app like Lift to track completing daily essential tasks.

You can join the Lift plan for language learning that I wrote for their users here.

 

Next Step in Blogging? #newyearsresolution @resolutions #SMART

haveyouseenthismancropped

Me: I’ve got a blog
Other Person: Ooh! What do you blog about?
Me: Err, y’know, I’unno: stuff I’m interested in. Language, politics, atheism and religion, healthy living, films, err, sport…
Other Person: Err, okay?
Other Person’s eyes glaze over and they look bored and disappointed

I’ve had the above exchange loads of times.* Apparently blogs need one overriding, dominant theme. Yet I’ve always thought of this blog as being like a (admittedly crappy) newspaper or magazine: of course plenty of different topics will be dealt with.

But apparently I’ve misunderstood how blogs are supposed to work. Therefore, I’m guessing this blog needs to focus on one topic. It can bring other random stuff in it, but it’s got to be 90% one thing. After all, my YouTube channel — which I kind of view this blog as the written version thereof — is probably 75% atheism/religion, 25% everything else, and my subscriber base bears that out.

The problem: I’m interested in too many things. I don’t want to limit this blog’s content!

So maybe I need to keep this blog as my kind of “core” or “hub” blog, but spin off various other blogs which solely focus on my topics of choice.

But this approach has a problem, too.

I simply do not have enough time to post, say, four blog entries a week, one for each of my prospective blogs (e.g. the Health and Lifestyle Blog, the Religion & Philosophy blog, the Languages Blog, the Film Review Blog). I’m barely finding time to do one blog entry a week. But that’s the sad and frustrating thing:

I have so much waffle to say and not enough time to say it. Gah!

So one of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 has to be to massively increase my time spent blogging. It would help if I could get some residual income from my articles! That would give justification (to my wife!) for me to devote such extravagant amounts of time to the endeavour.

Let’s see if I can crack on with this in the new year.

*I was going to say “cottrels of times”, but apparently “cottrels” is a dialectal word that nobody’s ever heard of. Who woulda thought that an insular and undiscovered dialects existed in West London, eh!

© 2016-2017 Bryan A. J. Parry

Self-Motivation #selfmotivation #newyearsresolution @resolutions #SMART

maxresdefault

Here’s the private note I wrote myself in January 2016 to keep focused. Spelling and formatting as in the actual note. Never looked at it till now, so kinda defeats the purpose. Anyway, in red ink (‘cos red = emergency and thus unforgettable, so went my thinking) it reads:

If I want to achieve my creative and linguistic goals, I need to dedicate SUFFICIENT time EVERY DAY.

But …..

…… I don’t have the time. Therefore, I need to think how to filter this time throughout the day, e.g., vocab. cards on the train.

So ….. Come up with a daily plan that gives me …..

* 2-3.5 hrs of screenwriting/novels/etc (=BIG creative works) per day

* Vocab cards + listening/speaking of 30′ + Memrise

= 1 hr / day per language

–> Swedish, Spanish, and….. Other langs = only Memrise. But langs I am serious about, do above.

* Blogging = 1 hour

* 21CLF — sth, even a subsection 30′ per day

Think about how to thoroly embed my serious langs into my life in order to speed up my learning

Can’t say I disagree with my own conclusions. But I’ve been very inconsistent.

  1. “Big” creative works, e.g., screenplays and novels. FAIL! Well… definitely haven’t done any work at all on these for several months, and very little in any case in 2016.
  2. Language stuff. SUCCESS! I have been doing, more-or-less fairly consistently, flashcards, reading, speaking, listening, and so on, in both Spanish and Swedish. At least half an hour each language a day; very often, an hour or so.
  3. Blogging. More-or-less SUCCESS! I haven’t been doing an hour every day, but I work on my blog (behind the scenes) almost every single day, and throughout the week, I easily tot up an average of one hour a day.
  4. “21CLF” is one book I am writing. FAIL! I have actually done a lot on this during 2016. However, it has been in fits and starts. Mainly, other stuff periodically take precedence and this book gets sidelined. But I was right: I’ve gotta at least look at this project on a daily basis or it’ll never come off.
  5. Thinking how to embed my languages in my life. MIXED! I’ve done this somewhat, but not extensively. But then I didn’t set myself a SMART goal. That is, no specific, measureable, broken-down targets; therefore, how can I judge my success?

Conclusions?

I need to start setting myself SMART Goals for 2017. That is, goals which has are distinct and definite parts so I can measure my success, and a predetermined timeline to do them by. All of my above goals, despite specified time to be spent, are still a tad vague.

Also, speaking for myself, I find I work very well when I have a series of deadlines stacked up and am forced into planning more. Hence why I tend to do well on courses and in work-based assignments. Hmm, maybe there’s a lesson there for 2017…

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry

featured image from http://i1.ytimg.com/vi/rhl_JDtTp-E/maxresdefault.jpg

SMART Goals 2: Finding Time: TDSOTM #SMART #SMARTGoals #PinkFloyd

pink-floyd-dark-side-of-the-moon-hd-wallpaper-1024x576

As you might know, I’m struggling to fit an ever-busier life into the 24 hours that this selfish Tory government has deemed fit to give us. Things can’t go on as they are: I’m barely keeping up, and I am spread thinner and thinner over more and more toast. I need to develop SMART Goals to sort myself out.

If I don’t pull my finger out? Then the following brilliant song’s words will be my epitaph. I’m talking about Time by Pink Floyd from their classic 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon. I keep listening to the song right now to try and spark me into success.

Time

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.

So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.

Every year is getting shorter never seem to find the time.
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over,
Thought I’d something more to say.

© 2016 Bryan A. J. Parry, bar the lyrics and video

featured image from http://coolwallpapersforfree.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Pink-Floyd-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon-HD-Wallpaper-1024×576.jpg

text of lyrics courtesy of http://www.pink-floyd-lyrics.com/html/time-dark-lyrics.html 

SMART Goals: Finding Time

race-against-time

As you may know, life just seems to keep getting busier and busier the older you get. More responsibilities and that. Right now, I’ve got so much to fit into my day, I don’t even know how to do it. I desperately need to find a SMARTer way of working. CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE POST