LingQ 90-Day Challenge: Week 6

This week was a turning point in my 90-Day LingQ Challenge to learn German. I was featured in the Week 6 LingQ Newsletter, and I was so surprised when I saw it that I immediately shared the news with friends on Twitter. Of course, as soon as I clicked post, I realized that now all my Twitter friends will expect me to speak fluent German in 6 weeks! And I’m already struggling with the challenge! But luckily this week has gone very well.

Turning Bad Habits Into Great Habits

Focus has been critical this week. Instead of wasting time on Facebook, Hacker News or other news/gossip websites, I use them to remind me to visit LingQ instead. That way my “procrastination” becomes a productive use of my time. I deactivated my Facebook account so I couldn’t be distracted, but if you’re not ready to take that step you could just log out of the website. Sometimes the extra step needed to log in is enough to remind you to do something productive instead, like work on language flashcards.

For news websites, I blocked them in my internet filter settings so that I can’t access them. The details of that are a bit too technical for this article, but if you know how to do it, I highly recommend it! You could also try using software like Concentrate or Self Control to do the same thing on a Mac.

Achievements & Reaching Goals

I’ve read 7500 words of German in just the last week. I think that’s my highest score ever. It’s been fantastic for my confidence too. I worried that I couldn’t reach my goal of reading 27000 German words in 3 months, but now I’ll get there in just 3 weeks if I keep my current pace. The number of new German words I’ve added to my LingQ dictionary is soaring, and I’m already 70% of the way to my LingQs goal. I’m amazed that I’m ahead of schedule!

Other 90-Day Challenge metrics are going to be difficult to reach, but I’m confident I can get there. For example, my daily listening hours are still low, but if I put in 90 minutes per day, I’ll reach the goal. I won’t get there from just listening to LingQ lessons, but I can get there by listening to German radio. Ever since I started learning German I’ve been listening to B5 Aktuell, a news station from Munich. It can be boring sometimes, but they usually speak clearly (if a bit too fast for me). “Das Wetter in Bayern” is definitely a phrase that sounds like an old friend to me, since I’ve heard it so many times now. So, if I listen to B5 Aktuell radio whenever I can - while going walking, doing the dishes, etc - I can get my listening scores much higher.

Best of all, the TuneIn Radio app on my iPhone keeps track of how long I’ve been listening. That way I can see how many minutes of German radio listening I need to record on the LingQ website when I next log on.

Meeting my writing goals still seems possible. I’m confident that if I start soon and work hard I can make the target of 1500 written words. I definitely need to start thinking in German and constructing my own sentences soon.

I’m still nervous of speaking. I’m confident with reading things out loud, even if my pronunciation isn’t perfect. But I’m not confident with my listening comprehension or thinking of sentences during conversation. That’s the skill that I most want, so that I can have conversations with people when I’m next in Berlin.

Secret Weapons

My biggest challenge is meeting the target of 3000 new memorized/known words in 3 months. I have no idea how I’ll get that many, I don’t think I’ve even added enough new words (LingQs) to my LingQ dictionary to reach that goal. I currently need to learn 75 new words per day to get there… and at best, I’m managing 5 words a day. Ouch.

I have a secret weapon though: I’ve increased my daily flashcards (LingQs Of The Day) to 200 words. I hope that if I keep working on those words over the next month, maybe by the final 2 weeks I’ll be ticking off 200 LingQs per day as known words. That would be just enough to get me over the line. It will be a huge effort… but I’m already plowing through 75 flashcards a day, and that’s triple what I used to do a month ago. Sometimes you need 10x the effort to get to where you want.

My other secret weapon is reading as many LingQ lessons as I can, because I sometimes find a word in a lesson that I already know. (Like “tennis”, which means “tennis” in English.) I’ll never find 3000 known words using that trick, but it should help me get closer to the goal. And no, I haven’t been adding names as “known words”, that feels like cheating. I ignore names, as I have no need for them in my personal dictionary.

Best of all, when I took a break from LingQ lessons today to work on other things, when I was getting frustrated with the work I found myself yelling at the screen in German. It felt great to be thinking in German! And yelling in German always sounds more intimidating than it really is.

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24 February // ©2014 Kohan Ikin.