Saturday, March 15, 2014

End of the 6 week challenge

The six week challenge is finally over and so is my crazy schedule at work, I hope I won't have to do extra time for a while, this happened at a very bad timing. This 6 week challenge was a bit particular, it is actually one of the first time when I ended up having interaction with other participants and he didn't start too well. Language learning is a jungle.

First my stats and improvement.
I manage to learn Japanese for 216.05 hours (+3 hours Italian maintenance) which is more than I did in the previous challenge 134.50 hours. Which means I'm somewhere back to where I used to be in terms of hours (Previous challenges: 222 hours, 194 hours...) This is mainly due to my environment which I managed to maintain almost every day except for the week-end, day with meetings and presentation.

I'm very happy because I managed to go back to daily anki in the last 2 weeks of the challenge (7.29 hours). My love-hate relationship with anki seems to be over but I'm going to say that in a really low voice, just in case. 
One of the point is that I forced myself not to get obsessed to "finish" anki every day which mean that I decided not to feel bad if the SRS didn't go back to zero at the end of the session. It was really hard and I might have lost some sleep over it but I fixed myself not to do more than 45mins if the only goal was to get it to zero, and I stuck to it most of the time.
Another good point, which is what got me in trouble with some other challenge participants, is that I managed to keep a mostly permanent Japanese listening environment which means I woke up in the morning, turned on the music, went to bed at night, turned off the music. The only time during the day when I wasn't listening was during shower and when I was watching anime, drama or movies in Japanese or Italian (guilty here but I love my Italian anime and I need to keep the fire going there too.) 
I also managed to read a lot of ROD and I can pronounce (Boyfriend made me practice) things like 大英図書館特殊工作部 without thinking about the Chinese pronunciation.

So what got me in trouble with other participants?
Nothing as stupid as a Hashtag. I dared to label 6 hours of study a day under the Hashtag #music. So one other participant asked me "Don't you think you are inflating your score by putting 6 hours of music?"
To which I answered that it's only 50% of my daily listening a day even though that's not entirely true and he came back sarcastic. Oups.
The thing is, the answer was already in his question. He had already made up is mind of what I was counting and there was no need for me to try to explain myself (to waste my time explaining myself.) And then of course because I didn't "correct the way I score things", he went to talk about my way of counting my daily practice behind my back to others on their forum, I'm not even a member of that forum. And things were settled.
Did anyone came over directly asking me questions to a place I can see for sure as a user, like twitter which is required for the challenge and where I can answer without registering? Not once. I was directed to the forum (by someone not even participating to the discussion). But still I'm supposed to be the "cheater", "who  claims" things, who doesn't have a "sport" attitude because I dared to say that it was their problem where everyone could read it? After 2 days, I stopped reading.
So yes, I reiterate, you have a problem with me but you prefer to talk about me with your friends, who will agree with you, behind my back, it's your problem, not mine, I'm not a part of the bullshit going on, I'm just minding my own business and learning a new language instead of discussing how others learn theirs.

Of course there were some nice guys over too who got the idea because they heard about AJATT and who defended me and I'm grateful to them. One of them sent me a link to this awesome log, so that maybe I'll be able to maintain my Japanese study and refresh my other languages, especially Swedish and German without having it collapse.

The thing is what you count during this challenge and what you don't count is entirely subjective. If I went to sleep for 2 hours in Japanese class a day and added 2 hours of classes to my daily count, nobody would have a problem with it even though while listening 2 hours of music during programming or blogging, I would have retain a lot more Japanese. Having a problem with a hashtag when you actually don't know what gets in is extremely puerile. My OS is in Japanese and I spend all day in front of my computer, I don't count that, my boyfriend texts me in Japanese, I don't count that, the people around talk to me in Japanese (store, sometimes lab, bus...) I don't count that either. And here is one advice from AJATT: If ever in immersion doubt, prioritize your ears. Anchor your ears in your L2. Where your ears go, your eyes will follow.

So for the one interested, here is what went into my 6 hours of daily Japanese (during the week, because I have a different rhythm during the week-end.)
Get up at 8:35, get the music on, go to bed between midnight and 2am turn off the music. So that's 15.5 to 17.5 hours of daily listening minus the shower and watching so I averaged it to 12 daily hours which taken at 50% (in the rules when you are not 100% focus, you don't count 100%) that's 6 hours.
During which I also studied lyrics, that's included in the music hashtag for about 30 mins a day to get the yomi on my kanjis. I have 45 minutes walking home with nothing else to do than listening, in the morning I take the bus so I can read but in the evening I prefer to walk back, I need my daily exercise. I also sing on the way (that's considered shadowing.) As I'm programming lately, while the code compile and run (5 to 9 minutes each time) depending on the task, I can also entirely focus, and check vocabulary.
So if someone come along and tell me that this doesn't deserve a grading of 6 hours, I'm sorry but I have the right to be deaf to their complains. (But they didn't come to ask.)

The reason why I use the 6 Week Challenge is to create a sustainable learning habits. (More on the positive effect of habits here.) I want to be able to find a method that I will use off challenge without recording my time but that will still maintain the higher possible time studying. During this challenge I managed to find a painless way to have constant Japanese playing in my ears, I also set my anki routine to avoid burn out. And I added more activities to be able to stay at the top of the challenge. Being at the top doesn't mean that I won over the others, for me it just means that I'm really doing all that is humanly possible to learn my language. The fact that people come from different countries, have different life style and background and culture and learn different languages means that you have a entire range of possibilities of humanly possible level to compare with. It helps a lot with setting goals for myself. 

Sorry for all the ranting, here is a water buffalo.

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