The Super Challenge - discussion thread 2016/2017

Ongoing language-learning challenges, and team challenge logs (but not individual logs)
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby rdearman » Thu Dec 24, 2015 11:43 pm

I also saw a huge improvement in my French & Italian, however I haven't actually completed the SC. I managed 100% in films for both French & Italian, and a little more than 50% in reading in both French & Italian. This is because of life interfering, and with a general laziness on my part to do the required reading. I fully intend to participate in the 2016 SC but continue to debate if I should attempt 3 languages or just do one. I do know because of the 2014/15 SC it will be a LOT easier for me to complete the 2016/17 SC for reading. This is because of the huge speed increase in reading I got as a result of participating.

Looking back on my log on the old HTLAL I can chart my reading speeds and when I started it was a painfully slow because it took me almost 5 minutes to read one page of 250/300 words in French. Lately I've been reading a novel in French (which I didn't bother to log with the SC) and I can read at about 1/2 my native language speed.

So I've gone from painful concentration, to simply reading a book in French because I wanted to read the book and I can.

During the SC, I collected so much great reading and film material that I haven't actually managed to look at it all, and I've easily got enough material do do the SC in French with what I have (lots of DVD & Book donations from French friends) and probably 1/2 an Italian SC with stuff I've already got on the bookshelf.

So my internal debate continues... do 3 SC languages, or concentrate on the same 2, or pick one and do a double challenge.... decisions, decisions.
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby Expugnator » Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:16 pm

Evaluating the Super Challenge is perhaps one of the most difficult tasks of the difficult year of 2015. I have mixed feelings about the way the SC went along for me, and 2015 was mostly about finding the right way (the quest continues in 2016, even though I'm not continuing the SC).

First, the languages I've signed up:

French full challenge
Norwegian half challenge
Mandarin half challenge
Georgian half challenge
German half challenge
Russian half challenge


Now my stats:

Image

Quantitatively, I've reached all my goals for the SC, and beyond:

- I reached over 10000 pages in French, which would apply for an original challenge, or over 200 books in the 2014-2015 rules
- I reached a full films challenge for Mandarin

My total stats were (not likely to change much from December 26th to 31st):

27185 pages, roughly 543 books
796:06:37 hours, roughly 530 films

So far, so good in the quantitative aspect. Qualitatively, though. 2015 was the year I realized that I was wrong about making the SC my main learning moment. SC is about extensive reading/listening. I not only was listening and reading extensively, I was doing so unfocusedly. As a result, I noticed I progressed very little in my target languages. This is the main reason, the other one being the fact I was a shaky A2 in nearly all of them. Even in the stronger one, like French, I don't think I went that far. I was probably at a C1 level when I started and remained so.

That said, the SC was useful for me to find out what NOT to do. Before the SC, I had been reading mostly intensively and this is what led me to reach fluency in French. I was also combining different listening strategies: subtitles in L2, in L1, no subtitles, dubbed, native video. With the SC the focus was so much in quality, and in the bad, careless way, that I interrupted what I had been doing of good in my studies and replaced it with that careless reading/listening. I thought that, alone, with no conscious effort to pay attention and understand and make it into comprehensible input would lead me into my goals, and I was desperately wrong. I went from what was close to a traditional grammar-translation approach to a native-material one but without graded comprehensible input. A disaster.

As a result, I spent most of 2015 trying to correct what I was doing wrong, but as the pressure for numbers kept on I didn't always have the time or the mood to do the required intensive tools to get back on track with my languages, especially the opaque ones. I dealt with this partially through reviewing textbooks (Georgian) and working on new ones (Mandarin and Russian), but even when doing textbooks I sometimes would 'study' a textbook extensively, moving on without paying much attention to the content of the lesson, especially the vocabulary. Moving on to the next resource when you have hundreds of textbooks is no big deal for Russian or Mandarin, but a main ingredient of failure for Georgian. What's more, not paying enough attention, not studying at least a bit is troubling in either situation.

What I learned from the SC: no kidding about comprehensible input. Keep having it. Don't expect you'll learn massively from massive non-comprehensible input. Volume is important when you have to understand a tricky grammar topic and you remember having read this construction quite often; also when you read a declension rule and the 'right' way already feels natural as you have encountered it so often in the thousands of pages you've rea. But this is too much of a luxury given that there is so much you still have to learn intensively. Especially in my case: I don't use SRS, so if I expect to learn a word just through meeting it often enough, it helps to make sure I understand and reflect upon the context it is being used, especially the most important ones. And this is my mistake: I went for the SC before doing my homework. I don't know about others, but if I could start over I'd do most of my learning intensively (both with textbooks and native materials) and I'd slowly add extensive input, or rather i'd wait until I could take it, which hasn't happened for any of my languages but French and Norwegian, and this situation had much likely happened before the SC, when I still made most of my learning intensively. Actually, this is what I'm doing with Estonian: I added native materials almost intensively while still making good use of textbooks; I'm going to review grammar after having had access to this input; and I'm focusing on quality over quantity: 1 page of native material is probably 4 times a typical textbook lesson and so is enough for me to make my way into extensive readings later.

I should also learn to get rid of my crutches, or at least perform part of my learning without them. Much of my bilingual/L-R reading in German happened without enough attention to language, to vocabulary, grammar, word order, phonology, to associating meaning and sound, as I was reading important stuff in terms of content. So, in order not to lose content, I'd just have a glance at the German and then another one at the English and then reflect upon the content for a while. The material had a much diminished impact on language learning that way. What I should have done: tried to understand the sentence in German first, consciously, and only then resorting to the translation. The same goes for most of my Georgian and Russian reading.

Congratulations to the participants and good luck for all those who are going to try the next one. The Super Challenge taught me a lot about myself as a learner and allowed me to have access to some of the most fun books and videos I've ever enjoyed. I'm sure I have learned a lot from it. Now I need to fine tune my learning process and even though it doesn't match with the SC, I'm still sure it is a valuable source of motivation and team spirit.
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby Serpent » Sat Dec 26, 2015 10:41 pm

(written after rdearman's post but not submitted)

Yeah, for me the best part of the SC is actually finding the materials. I also can't decide how many languages to sign up with, though my minimum is four :lol: Italian, Swedish, Croatian, Belarusian are a must, and then I also don't want to limit my reading in Spanish/Portuguese/German. Based on the current challenge, I think I won't sign up with the likes of Danish, Romanian, Ukrainian, Polish, but I'm kinda interested in doing something "new" like Dutch/Catalan/Czech :)
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby Cavesa » Sun Dec 27, 2015 6:55 pm

A few days ago, I completed my Spanish SC. I had given up on the German one this time.

I loved it, the bot made tracking my progress very useful.

My skills:
At the beginning: I could quite understand both movies and books but without quite a lot of details.
Now: I can watch tv series while doing other things and still understand just fine. Sure, southern Spanish or some of the LA dialects could pose a problem but northern/central Spaniards, Mexicans etc are totally ok now. And the movies have had impact on my active skills as well. My reading has improved significantly. There is still one (or two) words per page that I don't know but they tend to be the rarer and less important ones and I can read quite comfortably and fast these days.

So, thanks to everyone for setting this up and for being a huge source of motivation! Emme, Anya, Bjorn, Serpent, Kerrie, Clare, Banna, Mohave and many others. I admire your achievements! And I hope everyone has enjoyed the challenge as I have.
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby evilado » Mon Dec 28, 2015 5:27 pm

I'm now officially done with my full challenge in Spanish and half challenge in French. This is my first post over here, so I'll restate a bit of what I wrote in my last update. Overall, I'd say that language learning in 2015 wasn't a priority, and when it was, it was to quickly learn conversational portuguese for the segment of my honeymoon in Portugal.

French Half Challenge
This was my 2014 goal, and other than a bit of last-minute catch-up reading recently, I completed the half-challenge over a year ago. It's comforting to know that I could pick up Harry Potter et l'ordre du Phenix and read 200 pages without a sweat, but I haven't really done much with French this year. I'm considering doing another half challenge in French to see if I can finish the Harry Potter series and start reading something other than YA, but the Super Challenge is likely to be the bulk of what I do in French.

Spanish Full Challenge
The major benefit of the Super challenge has been introducing me to more regionalisms and idioms. The quest for new authors I hadn't read before pushed me to read more books from Chile, Mexico, Argentina, and Peru. Oftentimes words didn't make sense until I looked up the 4th or 5th entry in the RAE, often with a separate entry for Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, or Paraguay, and I got a handle on lots of vulgar and slangy vocabulary that I hadn't stumbled upon by another method. Reading-wise, I read for pleasure almost equally in Spanish and English, at least when reading fiction. Listening-wise, I got hooked on some podcasts & shows from Argentina, to the point where I sometimes slip into a goofy accent if I'm not careful. For the next challenge, I may disqualify using podcasts because I don't feel it was all that challenging. Since my speaking & writing fell off dramatically from 2013/2014, I'd say my overall level and confidence has dropped, but I think I'll sign up again in May and continue reading extensively in Spanish for as long as I'm reading books.
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby Nandemonai » Mon Dec 28, 2015 10:05 pm

I kind of forgot about this challenge when 2015 started. I've tried to update my profile a little with the amounts I know from Tadoku, but I know I'm still missing stuff.
I've read almost 200 (197.1) books, although most of these were manga adjusted for book pages. In the beginning of this challenge I was struggling to read easy light novels in Japanese, but now I can read those and more complicated novels for fun. I'm very happy with these results.
I watched 72.4 films but am not really happy with it. I made some improvement in the beginning of this challenge, yet I didn't continue with it. My progress in listening has stalled for the past year or so. This will be something to work on in 2016.

I'll probably sign up again next year as there's still a lot to learn!
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby gregf » Tue Dec 29, 2015 11:41 am

Is there a document somewhere describing the definitive version of the Super Challenge? I've seen the link to the thread, but it appears to be a moving target in the discussion that follows. Is there something like a FAQ to explain it to newcomers? I would be interested in participating for Greek (and possibly Italian).
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby Serpent » Tue Dec 29, 2015 2:47 pm

one "book" is 50 pages, one "movie" 90 mins (roughly).
L2-only textbooks count, you can also count some internet etc but many don't bother.

audio is less straightforward, so this infographic was made last year:

Image

Green is the original concept, yellow and orange a bit further removed, red not allowed.

If you do listening-reading you have to choose one language :|
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby Solfrid Cristin » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:43 pm

Serpent: I honestly don't know what I would do without you :-)
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Re: The Super Challenge - discussion thread

Postby WingSuet » Fri Jan 01, 2016 12:28 pm

I signed up for half a challenge in German (50/50) and half in Cantonese (100 films) and although I didn't finish either of them, I am still happy with my results.

I quite quickly gave up the challenge in Cantonese though, as I haven't had either the time or the interest to watch Cantonese movies, so I won't mention any results here.

For the German challenge I finished the movie part, having watched 55 movies. That's actually better than I thought I would do, I actually thought the book part would be easier for me. But with the help of audiobooks and watching subbed TV-series I managed to finish it. I've also managed to watch some dubbed movies, other than disney movies, which I'd normally never do, and sometimes it's actually not so bad. It depends on the movie though. That I've had the German version of Netflix the last two months has really done wonders!

I ended up reading 18 books, where 12 of them were made out of the more than 600 pages long book Die Zwerge. The rest of the year I haven't been very into reading German books, so I took a break, reading books in my native language and English instead. Maybe it's because I tried rereading old school literature, which I wasn't really that interested in, but I wanted to see if I had progressed. From now on I will try to read more books in German that I actually like.

All in all I read and watched way more than I would have without the challenge, so I am happy with the result. Now looking forward to the next challenge so that I can improve. I think I will go for the full challenge then in German :)
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