A Hundred Days Around Glossika Swedish

swedish-flag-366131_1280This post will serve more as a journal and eventual post that I will publicize with my results. My main purpose is to have a place in the world to keep track of my progress and to comment on my progress of using Glossika’s Swedish GSR for at least 100 straight days.

What is Glossika GSR?

Glossika is the name for language learning products and a method created by Mike Campbell. GSR stands for Glossika Spaced Repetition. Spaced Repetition, or SRS, is a type of learning technique where, information is shown to the learner, then repeated at a later time. The intervals gets shorter while knew new information is introduced, meaning that one is in a constant state of learning.

Why Swedish?

Well, the language I am currently studying and working to refine is French. Glossika is coming out with a French product here soon, and I wanted to get a “head start” on the system. So I figured why not try a language that I want to learn and play with that instead. Truth be told, I wanted to learn Norwegian first, but the resources for Swedish are so many that I went with Swedish instead.

What Will This Entail?

So, what am I going to do, and what is this post about. With Glossika’s GSR method, he has created 100 tracks for Swedish Fluency 1, named Days 1 through 100. It actually goes to 104. There is also Swedish Fluency 2 and 3 which brings it up to nearly a year’s worth of content, or about 312 days worth. What I will try to do is to stick with the first 100 days of the program with at least one day’s worth of material, meaning one track.

The tracks average about ten minutes a day, so it’s not too bad at all. Hence my skepticism and this experiment..

I’ve done five days of this, and so far so good. I pause between tracks (something not suggested) and if I feel I need to do extra, I’ll do the previous days lesson. Since there are 99 of the 104 left, I should be done on February 3rd, 2015.

Problems

The only possible problems I see are that, one, I am in intermediate studies of French right now, so I’m not sure how that will jive with studying more than one language. My hope is, that since they are so different and, more importably, I am on different levels with the languages, that shouldn’t be a problem.

The second thing that I fear I might encounter is that I may not do the system exactly as prescribed. You see, Mike wants folks to do these without pauses. And I just can’t. When a phrase is spoken in English and then translated to Swedish, I need to repeat it, and it’s hard to do that when the track is already saying something else in English. Also, GSR is not the main system to learn with Glossika, it’s GMS or, Glossika Mass Sentences. I may incorporate that as well, as it seems to be a more intensive way of learning a language. So I am willing to concede that if I fail at Swedish through GSR, it’s my fault since I did not follow the system to a T. Having said that, I think the most important thing is starting, and sticking to, a program and that’s what I plan to do.

Here is my daily journal. I will hopefully update this post once a week, if not monthly.

10/21/14 – Day 1

10/22/14 – Day 2 and listened again to Day 1

10/23/14 – Day 3 and listened again to Day 2

10/24/14 – Day 4

10/25/14 – Missed my day

10/26/14 – Day 5

10/27/14 – Missed my day

10/28/14 –

10/29/14 –

10/30/14 –

10/31/14 –

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Speaking Four Languages… Poorly

Okay, so this is my first attempt at speaking several languages. There are several reasons why I’m doing this.

Feedback
I have Mexican, Brazilian, and French friends. They can let me know how bad I’m doing.

Self Awareness
Seeing and hearing what I’m doing wrong so I can better myself.

Accountability and Goals
Putting this out there to the world makes me held accountable to keep up my studies and better my speaking. It is also a measuring point as I travel along this path of language learning.

Ego
The most pathetic of all reasons but it is a motivator. Showing others the fruit of countless hours of work is braggadocios, but a reason nonetheless.

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How I’m Learning French Now

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Windsor Castle – The Long Walk

One of the cool things about learning a new language is also one of the more frustrating things. Trial and error. Most people don’t like trying new things (trial) and everyone hates making mistakes (error). But like all uncomfortable things, they should be done with a change of perspective. Trying new things and experiences can actually be a fun, good thing. Failing and making mistakes just means you’re one step closer to your objective. There really are no failures, just lessons in what not to do.

So now, here’s what I’m doing.

As you may have read in the earlier post, I now go for a walk to learn French. What I do is listen to the main Unit for the first half hour, then listen to an older one for the last half hour.

This is like using Pimsleur on Pimsleur. Pimsleur uses, what we call SRS, Spaced Repetition Software. Except it’s not software. Obviously. That’s a bunch of fancy talk for flash card system. Get it right, put it in a pile for tomorrow. Get it wrong, do it again. Simple bet very effective. You can learn to remember anything with this. And that’s what Pimsleur does. It teaches you some words or phrases and repeats them a lot the first few times. Then it gradually goes down. And after a few Units, bam!, it asks you again. So even though I’m on Unit 15 of French II, I am also on Unit 6 of French I. These “second wave” Units are of course way easier but they provide a wonderful refresher course.

The second wave idea I got is from Assimil. I have found it hard to sit and do Assimil but I am trying again. Some people are better learners at desks, some are better at listening. I’m the latter. But fortunately, I have been trying to do my Assimil with varied success.

Another thing I’m working is Colloquial. So far I’ve only done one lesson but i am very impressed. will review as the time goes on.

And finally, while I drive or to change things up, I do Michel Thomas. I of course enjoy this audio option immensely too.

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Halfway Through Pimsleur!

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So yesterday marked me hitting Unit 15 of Pimsleur’s French II. That’s 45 Units into 90. Or that halfway point. So I thought. I just realized that with the plus program, there are a total of 100 Units. So I guess I’m celebrating a bit short. But nevertheless! This is a great milestone. Let me tell you why.

Like I’ve said previously, I went from struggling with Portuguese all the way to becoming conversational in two months. To this day I’m still not sure what spurned me to do it. I’d do my Pimsleur twice a day, literally pacing my house in circles. I would do it in the morning and then refresh the same one that evening. Imagine how hard it is to make yourself workout now times that by two! Some nights, I’d hit the pillow then force myself back up. Gotta do your Pimsleur.

There was one glaring mistake that I did then that I am no longer doing now. See, when I did my Brazilian Portuguese, as long as I did a Unit twice, I let myself move on to the next. Basically, I allowed time to have greater importance than quality. Not no more.

What I do now is go for a walk everyday. Sometimes a half hour, sometimes it’s for an hour. When I go for a walk, I do my Pimsleur. It’s great because it has me doing something that won’t let me get distracted (see internet) while focusing on the program. This time, however, I’m doing things a little different. Now when, I do a Unit, I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself with time restrictions. Now, my life is about taking walks and doing some language learning. So every week I do anywhere from two to three Units. When you take into account that I do it twice a day, that’s quite a step back from my Portuguese days.

Instead of pushing myself forward reluctantly, I now take my time. Some Units I can finish after only two days. Others can take an entire week. But that’s okay. By going slower, I’m actually going faster. Really. Sure I pushed myself like a madman for two months of Portuguese. So what? I’m still not fluent in it although I can speak and understand much. But if you look at the whole of how long it took me to get to just conversational? About six years. Because the same thing would happen to me that happens to all language learners. You get excited, so you go in with too much energy. Then you start struggling. A lot. Days go by where you make absolutely zero head way. You decide to take a break. Next thing you know, it’s been a year since you tried to learn language X and people ask you how the language learning is going.

So now , I just take my time. Slow and steady really does win the race. Or at least get you halfway through it.

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No Rush

I had a realization earlier this week. It had to do with the amount of time I wanted to learn French. See, I went from knowing a few things in Portuguese for about four years to being conversational in two months. That has spurned me into thinking crazy things (like learning two languages in a month) but it has also reinforced that I can learn a language in a limited amount of time.

Let me breifly touch on something here. Ego. Something that motivates me and other language learners is that we love that other people are impressed that we can speak more than one language. Think about it. Even if you’re monolingual the thought of speaking other languages intrigues you, partly, because of what others will think of you. And that’s okay. Ego is a wonderful motivator. It can also be an enemy.

Besides the obvious reasons why ego is bad (selfish, arrogant, prideful, etc.) it also causes bad learning habits. Yes, there are people out there who claim they can get to conversational fluency in three months. So to me, my mind starts getting wild ideas. Wow! Maybe I should do that too! Maybe I can learn four languages this year! Won’t that impress everyone!

And therein lies the problem. Instead of having a goal of learning a language the best I can, I’d be learning languages not so well. I’d have an okay understanding of more, instead of being intimate with a few.

So, I told myself, why not learn French in six months instead of four? I felt a wonderful sense of relief. Then I thought, why not learn French for an entire year? That really blew my mind. Because, I am pretty confident that I am on my way to conversational French in four months. Imagine how much better I could be if I did it for six months? Even better, a year. It may become like Spanish is to me now. Who knows.

But the only flaw I see with that is that the goal is too big. That is why people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions. When you have a year, you put things off.

So for now, I am learning French for the next six months! I just finished my second month and am doing okay.

Will I continue French this year, take a break, or move onto another language? Who knows. But I will be getting good at French, and that’s a for sure.

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My First Major Accomplishment in French!

Okay, so before I get to the big milestone I reached today, let me explain what I’ve been doing for the past two months regarding learning French.

It started, oddly enough, on January 1st. I know, I know, New Year’s resolutions are silly. But when I really started to learn Portuguese, it was a real motivator to have the Units fall on the days. Silly? Maybe. But it motivated me then and it motivated me now. I awoke on January 1st and had that self conversation, should I learn a new language? Should it be French? You already have the program for it… screw it! I’m learning French!

That’s how it basically went down. Seriously, December 31st, I hadn’t a clue I’d be learning a new language, let alone French! Spur of the moment things are cool.

So that’s how I got started on this. Now let me tell you what I’ve been doing.

Pimsleur suggests that after you get 80% of the lesson down, head on over to the next one. I am a slow learner. Really. I’ve come to grips with that fact. Everyone knows I’m not dumb but I am slow at learning new ideas and concepts. I’m just stubborn. So what I did for Portuguese is what I am doing now for French, studying twice a day. Yeah, I know. Now Pimsleur suggests you do one Unit a day. Since I am a slow learner (and a perfectionist) and I know I need, almost always, to do a Unit twice. That means if I want to complete French I (30 Units) it would take me 60 days. Because of my needing to review, that is too slow. Since days are long, I do one in the morning/day and one in the evening.

There is also a flip side. If I have the day off and have the energy, I can do three Units in one day. That means I can do one twice, and get started on the second one. Although I did this only twice.

Then there is a flip side to the flip side. Setting the bar this ambitiously high will lead to failure. No doubt. But that’s good. You see, when you fall short, you’re miles ahead of everyone. So when I can “only” do one session of Pimlseur a day, for four days straight, meaning I “only” finished two units; how is that a failure? I am still doing more than most people out there. Doing five Units is a major accomplishment. Ten? Crazy good. I just did all 30 Units. Twice. In under two months. Not bad.

Now if you’re wondering why it didn’t take me 30 days to finish 30 Units, that’s easy. First, I was on vacation for 9-days in San Francisco. After that, I broke my leg and was bed bound. That’s nearly 3-weeks without study. On average, it takes me 45 days to finish 30 Units. So all in all, very good considering.

Also, one little thing. It’s okay to take a break. Burnout can and will happen. And learning a language (doing anything for that matter) should be fun. If it stops being fun, stop doing it. So there were a least two days I studied zero French. That’s good. It gives you distance and it makes you miss it and want it back.

During the day, sometimes, a Pimsleur Unit can seem like work. Here’s what I do.

I have a MacBook Air. It allows me to make iTunes full screen. That way, I cannot see how much time is left, what the time is, sneak over to check e-mail, etc. Also, I do give myself a real quick timeout. I emphasize those words because they need it. Stop after 10, 15-minutes. Go ahead and check facebook and your e-mail. But make sure it is for two to four minutes, tops! Then go back to Pimsleur. Also, don’t multitask. Okay. I’m gonna check facebook while I do this here Pimsleur. No! Pause it, do your thing, and then come back. But please, comeback.

Two Pronged Assault

I am also doing something along with my Pimsleur. I’m also doing Assimil.

Assimil is a French company and one of thee premier ways for someone to learn a new language. Wonder why so many in France and Germany speak English? Assimil. So when I found that this French company taught English, I had to give it a go. For many advanced language learners, Assimil is the only way to go. So that was another mitigating factor for me to learn French, I had to try Assimil out!

An upcoming post will be about Assimil and how great it is. As for now, just wanted to share that I finished all 30 Units of Pimsleur’s French I! I can’t get too excited though. Tonight I start Unit 1 of French II

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Where I Was and Where I’m Going

So here’s an update on what has happened and what I’m doing.

I didn’t learn two languages in one month. Shocker, I know. But there are some positives I took away.

I’m an audio learner

When trying to learn Macedonian I was using a fantastic resource. Unfortunately, there is no accompanying audio. Could I have learned without audio? Sure but that’s not how I’m personally wired to learn a new language. I just find hearing to be more fun and easier. This sucks because it limits what I can (enjoyably) learn. But nevertheless, I still believe that I can learn without the audio help. I just don’t see myself doing that in the near future.

I want to learn what I want to learn

This may sound obvious but learning something you want to learn versus something you need or should or whatever, is key.

Let me be clear, I love Slavic languages. I’d like to learn one one day. And Macedonian is a beautiful and amazing language. I just didn’t really want to learn it. No offense to my Macedonian brothers and sisters. Again, I may learn this language but only when I’m ready and really want to.

I can read the Cyrillic alphabet

When I do decide to comeback to a Slavic language, I will have around 95% of the alphabet down. That’s going to be really helpful. It already came into use when I was in Macedonia and I’m sure it’ll be of use in other Eastern Bloc countries.

I need resources

This lends itself back to the first point but it really should be stressed. I’ve used Pimsleur, teach yourself, Michel Thomas, and others. Those previous three, I really like. It is better to have too much choice than nearly none at all. Which leads me into the next language I am learning…

French!

Yeah, yeah, I know. Mr. Freedom Fries over here is going to learn a language of a country that he may have said a bad thing or two about. Let me explain.

First, I will admit, yes, it was easier to learn Portuguese because I spoke Spanish. There! Happy? Russian and Macedonian were crazy to understand. I also lost a friend when these didn’t work out; learning a language. I had so much fun learning Portuguese. I wanted to emulate that with Russian but no dice.  French is a Romance language, sure, but it is more relatable to English than anything. Anywhere from 85% of the words used in English are of French origin. So speaking English and two other Romance languages will help. And you know what? So what! If it helps it helps.

The Whys

-I ain’t gonna lie, French culture is cool. The clothes in particular but everything else with them is an art. Literally.

-It’s steeped deep in Catholic history.

-The girls are super hot. My favorite trait in a girl is one who screams with her femininity. I love girly girls. You won’t see every girl in France with jeans, a sweater, and a beer. I take care of my fashion and the French are some of the most fashionable people on earth. Me likey.

-If I do aspire to become a polyglot, this is also a language I think everyone who is multilingual should be able to speak. So why not get it out of the way now?

-It is also a point of pride. When someone in the Anglophone world says they speak another language, it’s usually Spanish. After that in a far second is French. Well, I want to show all these people that took four years of French that can’t remember a word that I can get to conversational fluency in four months. Boo yeah.

-I will be able to speak in nearly every corner of both Americas. With English, Spanish, Portuguese, and now French, I’ll be speaking all four major languages of the Americas. Pretty cool.

So that’s it.

Unlike everything else, I’m not sharing this with people until April/May. I want it to be a surprise. In that time I will be updating this blog however. This will be the first of many I hope.

Already two months in and I’m doing really well at it. I understand the basics and can say a few things. I am very confident that I will be at near conversational fluency in a few months.

Until next time…

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