Having completed my final class in pursuit of my Associates Degree yesterday, I have decided to increase my Spanish study times for the next 6 weeks until my Bachelor’s program begins.

I’m going to do 1.5 hours of audiotapes on my commute to and from work — that’s about 45 hours of tapes altogether, which should bring me through the Michel Thomas tapes, and about 1/3 through the Pimsleur tapes — in addition to the Coffee Break Español podcast (or as much as I can in that time) and further my progress in DuoLingo and Memrise.

I’m going to increase my DuoLingo goal to 50xp per day, and my Memrise goal to 20,000xp per day.  The one seems too low and the other seems too high, but I’m going to give it a solid shot.

Today, I completed the first level on the Memrise Spanish courses, which means I officially know 225 words on their syllabus.  On my DuoLingo tree, I have completed 13 lessons out of 61– it states I’m 20% fluent in Spanish, but I really don’t think that’s accurate.

I’ve been working on programming an ANKI flashcard deck so I can keep up with my studies while I’m unable to commit real time to it.

I’m still struggling with some words — I can’t keep poder and pensar straight to save my life, and conjugation is still a mess — but I’m actually really impressed with myself.  On August 30th, I’m beginning a Spanish course at my local community college, and I truly feel that by the time 2018 comes around, I’ll be very proficient.

However, at this point — despite all the progress I’ve made — I still struggle to put together my own original thoughts and phrases.  I can read, write, say, translate, etc., whatever DuoLingo or Memrise or Michel Thomas throw at me, but I can’t come up with on it on my own.  I hope that comes with time and practice.


I’m also considering starting Dr. Bill Vicar’s Lifeprint lessons in American Sign Language.  Though I’m not sure, I may be putting too much on my plate at this point.

First time in a long time

Today, I practiced Spanish for the first time in a long time.  Well, for a few weeks– but it’s been a busy few weeks, okay?

I spent about 15 minutes on DuoLingo, completing 50 XP for the day (my goal.) DuoLingo says I’m 12% fluent in Spanish, but that sounds utterly ridiculous.  Knowing a handful of nouns does not make you fluent– or even 12% fluent.

I spent about 45 minutes on Memrise, where I racked up 24,598 XP points (smashing my daily goal of 6,000 points.)

For both, I spent the day catching up after a few weeks away– there were status bars to refill and what not.

Something tells me the ancestors didn’t care about status bars?

I noticed today that I am having trouble conjugating ‘poder’ and ‘pensar,’ which led me to the greater realization that I have trouble conjugating.  So, drilling conjugation is on my list of things to do.

Sorry that this is such a boring post– I’m still getting back in the swing of things.

A Reboot (Un reinicio)

On May 10th — my mind full of ambitious hope for language learning — I started this project.  I saw myself learning several languages — Spanish, French, German, American Sign Language, and hell, even Dutch, Portuguese, Afrikaans, Japanese… — and envisioned a future of public service; I’d volunteer at polls, I’d work in civil service, I’d volunteer in Africa… I would learn the language my religion’s texts were written in, and I’d learn the languages of those who still practice it in it’s purest form.

I am, after all, nothing if not arrogant.

On May 15th, my wife began chemotherapy radiation treatment for Stage IIIB cancer.  I think that neither one of us anticipated how much this would affect our daily schedule. Suddenly, I was taking an hour of leave from working every day so I could drive her to and from treatment… I missed a dozen night classes at the local community college… and most importantly (for this blog at least) I lost the time to learn any foreign languages.

Suddenly, I was taking an hour of leave from working every day so I could drive her to and from treatment… I missed a dozen night classes at the local community college… and most importantly (for this blog at least) I lost the time to learn any foreign languages.

My wife finished her radiation treatment on June 23rd, and while chemo will continue for several more months, I am finding more time in my schedule than I had before.  I can

I am finishing my associate’s degree in a matter of weeks.  I’m applying for promotions which are in my field.  I have spare time for studying and for language learning.

I’m restarting this blog — this journey — as of today, July 1st.  I still plan to learn as much as I can.  I still hope to volunteer at polls, and work in public service.  My goals are no longer as haughty as they once were; after all, I’ve learned now that you don’t have as much time as you think you do.

Today, I’m restarting my Spanish courses with Memrise and DuoLingo; Monday, I’ll be beginning Michel Thomas’s Spanish courses.

Today, I begin to Speak in Tongues.

On Memrise, DuoLingo, and the International Phonetic Alphabet

Not knowing where to begin on this pursuit, I searched the web for advice from others on where they began.  While there is no clear, consistent answer (obviously, as things like this are subjective), I did see a lot of people mentioning Memrise and DuoLingo, and a few who brought up the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA).

Before this morning, I had at least a cursory awareness of Memrise and DuoLingo (friends and family have used and spoken of both, and I believe I’ve even had an account on DuoLingo in the past), but my knowledge of the IPA is next to non-existent.

I started my journey by registering an account on Memrise (toSpeakinTongues if you wish to follow along) and, having selecting Spanish (Mexico) Level 1, I am on my way. Tonight, I’ll be starting on this path, and my goal is to do 30 minutes per day.

After finishing up my registration with Memrise, I moved onto DuoLingo (again, toSpeakinTongues for those who wish to follow along) and am now on my way.  Here, I plan to do 15 minutes per day.

I’m not sure if there’s a benefit to doing Memrise and DuoLingo side by side, or if the two will simply repeat one another (as though there’s some internationally accepted curriculum for beginning level Spanish education), but I figured “what’s the harm?”

So, that’s the easy part, right?  I’m pretty sure the hard part is going to be learning the IPA, or the International Phonetic Alphabet.

I found an article by a Gabriel Wyner on Lifehacker which included a lot of tips I hope to follow, but he suggested starting with learning the correct pronunciation of the language.  He suggested learning the IPA, and goes so far as to say that “you (will) learn the components of each vowel and consonant and you’ll really understand what makes a French word sound French, and a Chinese word Chinese.”

I’m not sure how well I’ll do with this, but I’m adding it to my list of things to do, and I’m going to give it a shot.

Until next time, folks.

Why Am I Doing This? (Oh, God… Why Am I Doing This?)

Hey there, folks.  Welcome to my little corner of the internet that’s devoted to my attempts at language learning.

Between a full-time job in government, a full-time college education, kids and a wife, and creative writing feeling more like a job than a hobby, I recently found myself looking for a something that was just for me.  After kicking a few ideas around, I finally decided to focus on language and the pursuit of knowledge, and issued myself a foolhardy challenge:  to attain professional proficiency in as many languages as I can before my thirtieth birthday.  And with that, to Speak in Tongues was born.

I have 733 days to see what I can learn.

to Speak in Tongues will serve as part-journal, part-data-dump, part-scratchpad, and part-soapbox as I pursue polyglottism for personal enrichment, and maybe help some others along the way.

With an existing elementary knowledge of Spanish and German, and an interest in French, Japanese, Mandarin, American Sign Language, and many others, there’s no telling where this pursuit will lead.