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Super Challenge discussion thread 2014

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
432 messages over 54 pages: 1 2 3 4 57 ... 6 ... 53 54 Next >>
BAnna
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
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409 posts - 616 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Spanish
Studies: Russian, Turkish

 
 Message 41 of 432
19 January 2014 at 3:10am | IP Logged 
First, I really appreciate the work that Surrealix and Solfrid Cristin put into setting up this challenge and keeping it going. It really helped me make progress in German. Thank you.

I was able to complete the Super challenge in a single language, starting out at a high A2-low B1 level, not living in L2 country nor living with an L2 speaker. I did visit Germany and Switzerland for about 2 weeks after having done the challenge for over a year, but I don't think the visit had a huge effect on my progress. The challenge itself did have a huge impact on my ability to interact in German while visiting there. Currently I evaluate myself as being at a B2 level with occasional flashes of C1 in comprehension, but not in speaking or writing. I did skype conversations and wrote things, but didn't count any of that. I have not taken any exams, so the levels above are an estimation of start and end levels. I was also took a couple of courses during the period of the challenge, but did not count homework assignments toward the challenge.

I read approximately 150 "books" (100 pages =1 book) and saw over 250 "films" (90 minute = 1 film) with the conditions below. It should not be implied I'm trying to prescribe anything for others.   
I defined a "page" as 250 words. For each book, I would open it in middle and count 250 words to see how many pages it was: 1, 1.75, 2.5, etc. I'd use that correction factor in combination with subtracting any pictures, partial pages, etc. and so the daily reading of pages was adjusted up or down for reporting purposes. This was how I accounted for the differences between children's books, young adult books and adult books. I couldn't determine a way to account for difficulty. I figured time would account for that: I'd breeze through 20 pages of a kid's book in 10 minutes, but with a dense tome with lots of unfamiliar vocabulary it might me 20 minutes to read 5 pages. Sometimes I read extensively, other times intensively. I just counted pages, no matter how long it took.
For "films", I watched films and TV shows and listened to podcasts and audiobooks. I'd say the time was evenly split between these formats. I took the actual time spent and usually only counted half of those minutes toward the challenge. So after 180 minutes, I recorded 90 minutes. Why? In films and TV shows, there is a lot of time where music is played or action is happening and no one is talking. With audiobooks and podcasts, it can be easy to let your attention wander. Only if I were really paying attention to the audiobook the entire time, would I count it all.

By the end of the challenge, I had doubled my reading speed, and my listening comprehension increased phenomenally. I would estimate that it took me about 9 months before reading and understanding became significantly easier, so again, estimating, I'd say roughly 50 "books" and 75 "films". This is a guess, because of course it's rare to notice your own progress, and the content varied a lot. I did not gradually progress from easier to harder content. Sometimes I'd randomly read/watch/listen to easier stuff and other times go for harder stuff, which also makes it hard to judge one's progress.

As far as the 2014 challenge goes, I'd like to do it. I don't really have any opinions about stars, super-duper, etc. What really mattered to me during the challenge was seeing my numbers go up over time. I liked having a place to record progress. I didn't look at other people's stats and I certainly wouldn't presume to judge what motivates other people. It's likely that the hardcore people will be hardcore no matter what the format is. Stars, etc. could be extremely important to keep people motivated who might otherwise give up. Whatever keeps people moving forward is good. It was sad to see how many people there were who didn't record even a single film or book, or who gave up early.

I had it relatively easy in that I did it in a single language that was similar to my native language and I worked toward the relatively straightforward goal of 100/100. I was not attempting to do it in multiple languages or a non-Indo-European language, and having just started this year to study three languages at once, I can see it would be much more demanding time-wise if you were trying to cover multiple languages. Each person would have to decide for him/herself what is achievable within the time available. Maybe some people would choose to only do the challenge in three of the seven languages studied, for example.

Whatever final configuration is decided upon should be helpful to and meet the needs of all who undertake the challenge. A combination of challenging yet doable with flexibility for individual differences would be ideal, especially if it could be kept simple, but that is probably not easy to design.

10 persons have voted this message useful



Emily96
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 4157 days ago

270 posts - 342 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Finnish, Latin

 
 Message 42 of 432
19 January 2014 at 8:11am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
10000 pages/100 movies was actually the classic super challenge.


Oh duh -_- my mind was definitely not working properly when i wrote that!

Anyways, I was thinking about this more today and realized that the ratio of read:watched varies depending on the
person. I know most people find the watching easier but looking at my own stats, I completed twice as many book
units as movie units (it might have even been more than that), and I'm sure I'm not the only bookworm on this
forum! I just thought I'd throw that out there to show that maybe we don't have to adjust the ratio as much as we
thought.
2 persons have voted this message useful



RMM
Diglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 4956 days ago

91 posts - 215 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Ancient Greek, French, Swedish, Japanese

 
 Message 43 of 432
19 January 2014 at 8:56pm | IP Logged 
I really hope Surrealix weighs in soon. I thought the Twitter bot was a very helpful part of the challenge. Lots of times I simply did not have time to write updates on the board (it was hard enough just to keep doing the work for the challenge itself!). The twitter page was very easy to use and to keep track of everything. I very much hope Surrealix returns and will handle another twitter page for us for the new round, and if he doesn’t, I hope someone else will volunteer. Maybe too he can tell us what would be easy and practical changes to the twitter list and what would be especially difficult to deal with.

As far as Cristina’s options go, I much prefer choice C. I think these smaller goals are more reasonable and would allow more people to complete the challenge successfully. Having realistic goals should also be more motivating to larger numbers of people and hopefully additional people will join the challenge than otherwise. A lot of people will probably end up doing a double challenge with this option, but I wouldn’t think that would be a real problem. This one would, of course, be the best for those doing multiple languages too. Certainly, 100 “books” is doable in general, but what if you have four languages? I think it should be kept in mind that the vast majority of participants chose to do more than one language at a time.

However, option B with half and quarter challenges would largely accomplish the same thing, so I wouldn’t really have a big problem with that. It’s just that it would look as if you’re not finishing all that much with a higher goal listed. It would be better in my opinion to have people aiming for more than the number shown for the challenge rather than less (getting nowhere near the official goal might be demotivating). Most significantly from a multi-lingual perspective, though, I think it’s important to have a 50/25 option (in addition to 100/50 and 200/100) for our additional languages, regardless of whether that’s considered a quarter or a half challenge.

I don’t think option A is a good choice; we’ve already tried that and most people could not finish it. A minority have already proven they can do the classic super challenge, but I would love to see the challenge made more reasonable a goal for the average user. Also, this is not just a question of most people finding movies easier to do. It’s also a time and effort issue. Listening comprehension is extremely important and people really should spend a lot of time on it if they truly want to become good at a language. It’s a fundamental skill that takes a lot of practice. All I think we need to do here is to balance things out more between these different skills. I realize that some people find reading easier than watching foreign languages/listening to audio books, but I think we should try to make this workable for the majority of participants. Even the board’s bookworms should develop good listening comprehension in their language(s). As it is now, the number of “films” vis-à-vis the number of reading pages does not comparatively constitute all that much of a real challenge in my opinion.

I think it would be a good idea too to have people announce their goals (quarter, if that’s an option, half, full, or double) when they sign up for a language, even if their goals change over the course of the challenge or they end up accomplishing something different in the end.

Solfrid Cristin wrote:

3. Only reading and watching films are necessary for the challenge, but if it is ok. for Surrealix to keep the
columns for speaking and writing that may be kept as an optional.


I definitely think we should keep the speaking and writing options. I thought adding the German conversation option was one of the most useful things I did in the entire challenge, even though I didn’t come anywhere close to completing that element. I think it’s extremely important to start actually using the language after you’ve built up a significant passive capability. However, for those who want to focus solely on passive learning or who are just starting out, it’s a great idea to keep these optional. If you don’t have these as choices, though, I think the challenge would then be encouraging people not to activate their passive knowledge even when they’re ready to do so, which could really be a bad thing. As it is, it’s there for those who want it, but it’s not required for those who do not. Reading, listening comprehending, speaking, and writing cover all the main skills one needs to master to learn a language.

Solfrid Cristin wrote:

4. All levels from A1to C2 may compete with the same amounts of films and book, but if Surrealix can add a
column for people to note their starting level, that would be great. Doing half a challenge in Chinese starting
from A1 is not quite the same as half a challenge in French starting from C1.


I think this is an excellent idea. Really utilizing the language is often the only way more advanced learners can keep moving forward in their studies. It seems a shame to exclude them or to make the rules so very difficult for them, yet at the same time we should understand where everyone is starting from to see what people are actually accomplishing. This change is bound to bring more people into the challenge too, I would think.

8 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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 Message 44 of 432
19 January 2014 at 9:47pm | IP Logged 
I think we can have a nice pun on aiming for the stars and state exactly how many stars we aim for. Per the previous discussion, one star would be 50 "films" or 2000-2500 pages. So you can say you aim for 4 stars and see if you can accomplish that by having 2 stars for films and 2 for books, or 1/3 in any combination, or 4 in one skill. Or if you also do writing and converstions, you can have 1 star in each skill.
5 persons have voted this message useful



maydayayday
Pentaglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4948 days ago

564 posts - 839 votes 
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Studies: Urdu

 
 Message 45 of 432
20 January 2014 at 11:36am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
I think we can have a nice pun on aiming for the stars and state exactly how many stars we aim for. Per the previous discussion, one star would be 50 "films" or 2000-2500 pages. So you can say you aim for 4 stars and see if you can accomplish that by having 2 stars for films and 2 for books, or 1/3 in any combination, or 4 in one skill. Or if you also do writing and converstions, you can have 1 star in each skill.


I like that idea.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
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3277 posts - 6779 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
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 Message 46 of 432
21 January 2014 at 12:24am | IP Logged 
I have writen quite extensively about my experience in my 2013 log so I'll try to be brief and as closely tied to this particular thread as I can:

1.I don't care about collumns "writing" and "speaking". Yes, those are very important things but they are certainly not the bases of the Super Challenge. I actually think we cannot have one Jack of All Trades challenge without breaking it apart and everyone doing something else, which is what happened in the first round. It may be better to make separate events for the active skills and I think they could be a success (such as a month of everyday writing or anything, you surely get the idea :-) )

2.I think 10000 pages is the ideal amount because it is quite a lot but it still doesn't take up the whole time. I took up two Advanced (20000 pages) Super Challenges and finished with something like 130 book units total. I am a fast reader but I had months of low activity. I believe 100 book units are totally doable without eating up all your language time.

3. 100 movies is a good number in my opinion (even though it is more like 200 episodes for me). It is a number that makes a world of difference in listening and a nice number.

4.100/100 looks really good. Saying book units instead of books, well. We can. We all know what an SC book means so we could even call the book units "berries" or "scrolls" or whatever and it wouldn't matter. 100 of real books (400 pages average is my estimate), that would be doable for a few people but it wouldn't give much time left for other language activities.

5. I think 100/100 (the classical sc) is as well awesome because it is surely possible to complete 2 or even 3. 2 Advanced (200/200) were too tough even for me and I'd say I am one of those people with more free time and a fast reader. And I don't think we should get into discussions whether we should use the SC opportunity to improve one or several languages, that leads to the old hells. 100/100 still leaves time for others or not, as you wish.

6.Please, lets avoid counting words in general. I think the books with denser text balance out those with less dense text (sure, this is different for manga and similar things, that is a more complicated matter). But this is one of the things where we might get to the point when we spend too much time counting and organising our challenge instead of actually reading and listening.

7.I think the idea of having just one challenge (with the stars for every 1/4 or 1/5 or whatever completed) is great. It doesn't take away anything from the achievement to read just 70 or 50 or whatever. I haven't finished and I am still proud of my results and pleased with their influence on my skills. The rising numbers have been a great motivation the whole time. And I think having the same base frame may prove useful for the challenge as a group activity.

Edited by Cavesa on 21 January 2014 at 12:29am

5 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 6326 days ago

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 Message 47 of 432
21 January 2014 at 12:47am | IP Logged 
I agree, writing and speaking would do better as a separate challenge. Expugnator's writing dialogues challenge is a good starting point, I think :-)

I read a total of 165 "books" and the challenge totally pwn'ed my life. It's possible to aim for 100 books in more than one language but I really don't think it's doable. And since we all agree that 200/200 was barely manageable, I think 100/100 should be considered the double challenge.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 6326 days ago

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 Message 48 of 432
24 January 2014 at 12:32am | IP Logged 
g-bod wrote:
Since I've had nothing better to do today, I set about timing how long it takes me to read a few different types of media in different languages.

French novel: 39 pages per hour
Japanese short stories for adults: 22 pages per hour
Japanese children's book (with full phonetic gloss): 43 pages per hour
Japanese manga (with full phonetic gloss): 80 pages per hour

I would self assess my reading ability to be B1 French and B1/B2 Japanese (although as such the difference in reading speed for material aimed at adults between the two languages surprised me).
I've just noticed in your log that you actually read in 15 min slots and multiplied that by hour. I think it's important, tbh. It's about the flow - if you read for an hour (or, say, two pomodoros with a tiny break that focuses on your basic physical needs but without changing the mental focus), by the end of that hour you'll be reading faster than in the beginning. Maybe not significantly faster, and that's certainly not a permanent improvement, but I think long'ish sessions are very important.

Edited by Serpent on 24 January 2014 at 12:39am



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