Logging hours in a language, not ‘years’

How many years have you been studying Greek?

18 years. Which is useless information. One of the things that has lodged deep in my brain from listening to Bill VanPatten et al., is that measuring ‘years’ is not actually very useful. And here’s a simple comparison. After 1 year in Mongolia I started teaching, not entirely in Mongolian, but certainly in a predominantly Mongolian classroom. By 18 months, I was running at least some of my classes entirely in Mongolian, and at about 2.5 years in, I not only ran my classes 100% in Mongolian, but I preached several times in Mongolian. That was the height of my Mongolian proficiency, and it was all achieved within 3 years.

So, what’s better than counting years? Hours.

I suppose one could count minutes but that’s going to be hard. Hours are more manageable, and here’s where this post is going:

In 2019 I’m going to actually log the hours I spend on language. I already log working hours on several projects, so I’m used to logging my time, I’m going to take that and expand it to logging every block of time I spend on Greek, Latin, and Gaelic, over the year. I’ll probably set up some sub-divisions (reading, grammar, communicative, teaching, learning) as well.

I think this will be a useful experiment for myself, and I am hoping the observation effect will push me to spend some more time on these languages too. And, here is an invitation to you – try logging your own hours for a month or two in 2019, and see what you discover about your own language habits.

6 responses

    • Great question

      I have an excel spreadsheet set up with:
      Date, Language, Category (reading, teaching, grammar, conversation, listening, maybe others), Quality (a general 1 (low) to 5 (high) scale of how I rated the overall value of this activity, Time, and Notes (what I actually did).

      I already have a time-keeping app/site I use, todo.vu, which I will co-ordinate the above with.

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  3. I use a general time-tracking app on my phone to keep tabs on hours spent on various projects, and I’ve been tracking mins on languages for the last few months. It doesn’t have a way to record the type of activity or quality of activity, but during a ‘block’ I’m reasonably good at focussing on the task at hand, so it’s a good enough estimate for me. Across greek and hebrew I’m hoping to log perhaps 400 hours outside of classes this coming year. It’s a step up from this year, but I’m keen to make some real progress!

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