This week for French on Chatterbug I did another 15 live lessons for (with self-study) 14.5 hours total on the platform. Despite barely doing any self-study, I progressed to lesson 4.8.2, so that's another 5 units. Looks like I'll be finishing the last French self-study unit this week! Including the still-locked lessons, looks like I have around 120 live lesson exercises in unit 4 that I haven't done yet, though their tracking is a little messed up so it's probably closer to 100. I've been averaging a mere 4 exercises per lesson, so that's maybe 25 live lessons worth of material, which means at my current pace I'm going to run out next week (!). Yowzers-- might be time to start thinking about what's next for my French...
On LingQ in French, I've continued reading Tous les hommes n'habitent pas le monde de la même façon (this title's a mouthful...). I just finished the fourth chapter (on LingQ, the middle of the 10th lesson), so I'm about a third of the way through. I've found reading on LingQ simultaneously enjoyable and frustrating, but it does seem to get me reading, at least.
Speaking of LingQ, I neglected my Spanish reading the whole week until today, when I decided to continue with Don Quixote. I'm in the middle of chapter 7 and I'll be finishing it before bed tonight. It's an enjoyable read, there's no questioning that.
Oh yeah, did you know there's a third language in this log title? I finally did something with Mandarin this week-- I got off my butt and started working on my Skritter queue, which is down to a mere 74 items to review at the moment. Because I nuked my account in December or so, this unfortunately doesn't tell the whole picture; I still have to add almost the entirety of the second Integrated Chinese book, and it's now been long enough (at this point, a good 8+ months) since I last really studied these words that I expect it's going to be a fair bit of work, although less than it was initially of course. Still, progress is progress.
I've been thinking a lot this week about what I want my language study to look like in the coming months. There are several competing ideas:
- The Super Challenge starts this week (!), and I'll be entering with both French and Spanish. The challenge is around 87 weeks long, so I'll need to read roughly 57 pages a week in each of French and Spanish and to watch around 100 minutes of film in each per week.
- I'm currently in, well, France, and given that a big initial motivation for this trip (pandemic aside) was to learn French, it would seem silly not to study French while I'm here.
- I currently have an unlimited subscription to Chatterbug that I won't be able to reactivate if I cancel, and I'm getting an awful lot of mileage out of it right now, and given that German would be the next language I'd want to add anyway it seems to make sense to start learning German with Chatterbug. On the flip side this is also partially just a question of saving a bit of money-- I could always replicate what I'm doing now by subscribing to their "ultimate" plan and adding on individual lessons. I've been doing 60-something lessons a month right now so that would be an extra 400+ euro a month in cost, which now that I write it is a bit significant.
- I could take a college summer semester course...
Because of the coronavirus, there are a lot of summer language courses being hosted online this summer, including the ASU Critical Languages Institute programs and the Indiana Language Workshop, two programs I've daydreamed about in the past while knowing that I'd probably never do them (uprooting my life to go live in Indiana or in Arizona for a summer?). The options between those two are enough to make any language lover salivate.
Then there's also the option of trying to take second-year Mandarin through the same program I did last summer, which is also appealing-- I had originally been planning to work on Mandarin this summer (in Beijing), after all, and I'm clearly not motivated to make much progress on my own without any structure, and my level is still so unpleasantly low that it's not very easy to maintain. Completing second-year Mandarin would move me a little bit further on the very long path to Chinese proficiency, and it would also unlock a lot more intensive study options in China (which generally require 2 years of college Chinese as a minimum level).
On the flipside... all of these summer semester courses are intensive (as I saw last summer!) and that means they'd cut into time for other things. The CLI Albanian program, to pick a random example, runs (assuming the times on their site are accurate) from 5:30pm to 9:40pm Paris time, Monday through Friday. Another of my goals for here in Paris was to explore the Paris restaurant scene (with my girlfriend, who also likes dining), and since the coronavirus has cut into that a lot, we were hoping that when restaurants open back up (hopefully around mid-June, from the rumors/speculation so far) we could make up for lost time. People do eat late here in Paris, but 9:40 is still tough timing, since we'd have to get a reservation for some point past 10 (depending on where in the city), which wouldn't fly everywhere. The Indiana one is even worse; their programs seem like they would block off 6pm to 11pm M to F, which is probably a dealbreaker. The Chinese courses I took last summer were better in that regard; they'd have me from 6pm to 9pm, so we could still get a 9:30pm dinner or so, which is late but not unreasonably so in Paris. And it's also only Monday to Thursday, freeing up Friday night.
Besides dinner, though, these would also cut into the general pool of time available for both exploring Paris/France with my SO (who is planning on taking time off work once things open up to take advantage of it) and from other language study possibilities... programs like Indiana or CLI would have around 20h class a week and probably a similar amount or more of homework and study.
Okay, now that I write all this out, it seems pretty clear that even though these programs sound really fun and cool (I find Albanian and Hungarian both fascinating, for example, and when I've researched in the past I've found these are practically the only places to study them in the US), they'd probably disrupt my life too much and are probably a no-go. Too bad they couldn't have started with the start of the quarantine! But I also have an aversion towards starting a brand-new "exotic" language when I already have my plate full with improving my other languages, etc.
The Chinese program is still an option, though. I did these classes last summer so I should know what to expect. At the time it was pretty brutal on me, but I was working a full-time job, had a 45 minute long commute to class, and wasn't getting anywhere near enough sleep since the class was early in the mornings. Now that I'm not working, wouldn't be commuting, and wouldn't have to get up early, well, it should be a lot easier to manage. Last year there was 12 hours of class a week and I estimate I did maybe 15 hours a week or so of study and homework? Hard to remember clearly, to be honest. I know I spent over an hour a day on Skritter (that it tracked-- in real time it was probably longer than this), and that that was also the bulk of the work I did. Maybe we can round it up to 30 hours a week in total between the two. Plenty doable right now, but is it doable while also making tangible progress on French and while not feeling like I'm wasting my opportunity in Paris? Maybe it is. The virus situation adds a lot of uncertainty too-- if things take longer to open up it becomes more attractive.
I can feel myself talking myself into this here... as a prerequisite I would need to re-learn everything from last summer, both the vocabulary and characters and the grammar. I'll keep working with Skritter this week and take things from there.