My Language Logs: Part 2

My Language Logs: New Developments (Fall 2016)

November 22, 2016

I can't quite put my finger on the causes, but I am now more motivated to improve all of my languages. Maybe the language club meetings have become more interesting recently. Maybe it's because of publishing my Instruction Manual or attending the recent Polyglot Conference. Whatever the reason, practicing and improving my languages (and not just Russian) now feels directly relevant to my core interests.

I've resolved to fully apply the FM method to all languages, not just the highest priority ones. Upon reflection, the main methodological mistake I've been making is simply not listening to my own language notes enough (Step 7 of the FM algorithm). That means I haven't been getting the full benefit of my own method, at least for most of my languages. Furthermore, I've often been slow to add my new language notes to my vocabulary notebook (> 5 days), and I haven't been reviewing old notes at all. These amount to missed opportunities to build my vocabulary more actively with minimal effort, which is what my whole method is about! In my case there's really no excuse, but if I were to invent one, I'd say it's the confusion of speaking and working on so many languages at once that has muddied the waters, so to speak. Now I feel I have some real clarity on what exactly needs to be done.

So here's my new plan

Goal 1. Each week, listen to any 5-minute segment(s) of language notes the following number of times per week:

7x — Russian, Georgian
3x — German, Spanish, French
2x — Ukrainian, Polish, Slovak

That adds up to 29 batches of 5 minutes to be listened to in one week, or about 20 minutes per day. I intend to do this while walking around town or on the bus, not as a separate activity that takes time out of my schedule.

UPDATE JAN. 18: I'm decreasing the targets slightly to 5x, 2x, and 1x for the three groups of languages. 

Goal 2. Process any new language notes (Steps 4-6) within 2-3 days of making them.

Goal 3. Read through my language notes (Step 8) whenever I'm on the subway (too loud to listen to anything, anyway!).

Results for Goal 1 (the most critical goal): number of 5-minute "batches" of language notes listened to per language per week

RusGeorGermSpanFrenPolUkrSlov SUM
(targets) (5) (5) (2) (2) (2) (1) (1) (1) (19)
WEEK 1: 10/17-10/23 (2016) 3 4 2 1 1 3 14
WEEK 2: 11/07-11/13 2 5 2 1 3 2 1 1 17
WEEK 3: 11/14-11/20 3 5 3 2 13
WEEK 4: 11/21-11/27 1 1
WEEK 5: 11/28-12/4 2 4 6
WEEK 6: 12/5-12/11 4 1 5
WEEK 7: 12/12-12/18 1 1 1 1 1 1 3 9
WEEK 8: 12/19-12/25 4 4 1 1 10
WEEK 9: 12/26-1/1 2621
WEEK 10: 1/2-1/8 (2017) 14

WEEK 11: 1/9-1/15 441

WEEK 12: 1/16-1/22 37

WEEK 13: 1/23-1/29 54111

WEEK 14: 1/30-2/5 251

WEEK 15: 2/6-2/12 55222

WEEK 16: 2/13-2/19 3

WEEK 17: 2/20-2/26

WEEK 18: 2/27-3/5

WEEK 19: 3/6-3/12

WEEK 20: 3/13-3/20


Week 1: This is clearly the way forward! Listening to my voice recordings is clearly helping my Georgian and seems to help my note-taking as well (since I know that whatever I jot down I will be listening to soon).

Week 2: Two weeks were "lost" due to my trip to Greece for the Polyglot Conference and everything related to that. I'm excited to continue with this plan and can definitely tell that I'm learning specific bits of language vocabulary.

Week 3: Still very positive about this, but now that I'm almost singularly focused on finishing my Instruction Manual in Russian, other goals are starting to suffer...

Week 4: I basically spent the week editing the Russian version of my instruction manual and totally slacked off on the goals above. I did have some great practice in Russian, Georgian, German, and French, though, and have some language notes to catch up on.

Week 5: Slowly getting back into this after being totally absorbed in writing and getting my work on Amazon.

Week 6: OK, this is becoming embarrassing. Yes, I'm busy writing, but I've built up quite a backlog of language notes that need to be recorded.

Week 7: Hopefully back in the swing! I processed and recorded my backlog of notes in 5 languages and did some listening. I will admit that I did all 9 listening sessions (45 min. total) on the evening of the last day of the week, one after the other, thanks to this report form and the embarrassment of not following my own method! I am now coming to see this as fundamentally an issue of energy (part of the Fitness dimension). When I get behind in sleep and make other unwise energy choices, I only have enough willpower to do my highest priority tasks (at best) or mindlessly waste time (at worst). I think it's the same for everyone. Note: the week was otherwise normal in terms of language use: I spoke a ton of Russian, quite a bit of English and Georgian, and a bit of Spanish and German.

Week 8: I've started listening to my notes more and want to do more and more of this.

Week 9: I'm starting to notice more of an effect from listening to my notes. With some of the recordings I feel I've passed the 50% mastery threshold, which means it's time to go back and review my notes, mark the unlearned ones worth learning, and make a new recording (Step 8 of the FM algorithm).

Week 10: I slacked off this week...

Week 11: It's really time to do some "housekeeping" of my language notes! I've assimilated more than half of what I'm listening to for several of the languages. Looking at how much language practice I'm getting in different languages right now and what's currently practical, I've decided to lower my targets a bit.

Week 12: The language clubs have been poorly attended recently, and I've had trouble engaging. This has taken the wind out of my sails for the entire second group of languages — German, Spanish, and French. At least my main languages — Russian and Georgian — keep chugging along.

Week 13: 
There's better attendance at the language clubs now that the holidays are past, and I've begun to review my language notes (step 8 of the FM algorithm). I think my personal language learning practice is gathering steam.

Week 14: First meeting of the Ukrainian Club in two years! At the monthly Polish Club I noticed my Polish had degraded markedly.

Week 15: Closer to my targets than ever.

Week 16: I unexpectedly chose to focus singlemindedly on work and skipped most of the language clubs. They have been rather dull recently, and I was anxious to get work done. At the same time, I added a bunch of new material to my vocabulary notebook and made recordings of it.

Week 17: Zero. I feel like I am in a period of changing priorities. My important languages are Russian, Georgian, and to some degree Ukrainian. I've been more and more focused on work and many of the language clubs have become less and less relevant/interesting to me of late. I am considering taking a break from most of the clubs to free up time for other stuff. Of course, I will continue focusing [even more] on the remaining languages.

Weeks 18-19: I am consciously letting myself not think about my less important languages right now — German, Spanish, French, Polish, and Slovak — while I focus on work and writing. I continue to get about 20 minutes of Georgian conversation practice per day (plus quite a bit of additional exposure), lots of Russian practice, and 1 hour of Ukrainian speaking practice per week. However, right now I don't feel much like putting conscious thought into my language study. That thought is going into other stuff right now. 

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