The Challenge of Third Language

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” ― Mark Twain

I started this blog as a way to find challenges for myself, since as a Rational Mastermind I am unable to not constantly learn and not growing makes me very unhappy.  One of the challenges was actually created by the blog – finding the time to write about all the challenges that I face in my everyday life or create for myself.

The latest challenge that is taking away time from writing is learning Spanish.  I have been wanting to learn the language ever since I moved to LA.  It indubitably comes handy in this city.  Also, considering the fact that most people take me to be Spanish, it would be nice to “talk the talk”.

However, for a very long time I was I unclear which approach to achieving this goal would fit my life, since it is more of a process than a one-time task.  Dare I say that I was putting it off not due to my laziness, but due to the lack of an appropriate tool.

Speaking from experience, the best way to learn a language (and just about everything else) is to create an environment that supports the process – make it a part of your life, a natural extension of your routine.  With my second language I took years and years of English lessons, but still could not speak or carry a decent conversation when I first arrived in this country.  You at least need to know the correct pronunciation of words in order to be able to recognize them in a conversation and to make the same sound.

Lo and behold, there is a tool that is perfect for me.  Duolingo.  I am obsessed.  It is not the means to the end, but it got me started.  There are many ways the site makes the process easy and makes it easy to get addicted.

  • The lessons are short – no longer than 10 minutes, which means that it is super easy to make it part of your daily routine: I compete one lesson at 4:30 am before my workout, one lesson while drinking my morning coffee, one lesson after work, one lesson when I am waiting on a guy to pick me up, etc.
  • It provides the structure that I adore and guides me through the process one step at a time.  It gradually  builds upon the material covered in previous lessons.
  • It automatically reminds me to work on the areas that I haven’t practiced for awhile.
  • When I am trying to put together sentences, it feels like solving a puzzle and requires me to use some brain cells.
  • It is strangely exciting to be able to recognize some words in magazines and on signs around the city.
  • Finally, it makes me feel like I am being productive and accomplishing a little something everyday.

One thing that I am missing – the rules.  I like rules.  Not that I always follow them, but I like to know the rules.  I need to know how to form the adverbs, how to structure the sentences, and where to place the prepositions.  So I have to look up the systemically outlined rules elsewhere.  A reference section with Spanish grammar would be nice.

Currently, I am on a 47-day streak. According to the site, as of today I know 643 Spanish words and should be able to comprehend about 60% of language.  In reality, of course, that is a load of crap.  I don’t remember all 643 words or conjugations that the program walked me through.  Yet!  Luckily, in my fabulous city there are plenty of opportunities for practice.

What are you obsessed with today?

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