The Biggest “Prize” I’ve Already Received from This Reading Challenge:
I listened to and read a digital copy of a 140 page Spanish book in nine days. I started reading it on Saturday night, August 18th, and I finished it, Monday night, August 27th. The Linguist, written by Steve Kaufmann, is the 3rd Spanish book that I’ve finished reading this year, and it took me the least amount of time to do so. The time constraints of this Republic Wireless reading challenge helped me to achieve goals that I didn’t think were possible for me to do in Spanish.
I was very lackadaisical about reading my first Spanish book, El Camino a Cristo, so it took me around 9 months to read the 100 page book. It took me around 2.5 months or so to read my second Spanish book, Palabras De Vida Del Gran Maestro, which was around 300+ pages long. Now I just finished reading another Spanish book in 9 days.
My language learning goal for this year was to read at least 450 pages of Spanish. I have exceed that goal with time to spare. This challenge has shown me that with additional time and focus, I can be further along in my Spanish journey at a pace that I could not imagine.
Now, I believe this challenge has set a new bar for me reading books in Spanish. I’m not saying I’m going to read another book in 9 days, but most definitely I’ve seen that it doesn’t need to take me 2 months to read another 146 page book.
I recently stumbled upon this quote below about goal setting. I believe goals aren’t the source of happiness, but the later part of the quote really resonated with me.
"The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them, but we set our goals for the person we are when we set them.”
This quote inspires me to push myself more in Spanish continually in order to continually grow.
Why I Chose to Read This Language Learning Motivational Book:
For many years, I have said I wanted to learn Spanish, but when I finished my Duolingo Spanish tree in April 2017, I finally convinced myself I was serious. I had reasoned to myself that if I could decide the time and focus to complete that course then I was doing more than mere talking. I had started and stopped doing that Duolingo course several times, but finally I completed it.
Ever since I was seriously doing Duolingo, I have been in continual search of resources on how to learn a language. The more I study how to study a language, I’ve learned more and more about the intensity, focus, time, and determination required to be truly successful. Last year, I read a blog post about the input hypothesis that transformed the way I pursued learning Spanish. “The input hypothesis was formally defined by Dr. Stephen Krashen, a linguist specializing in second language acquisition at the University of Southern California. It basically states that input (reading and listening—passive activities) is the most important part of learning a language, and output (speaking or writing) is secondary.” That blog post gave powerful examples of people who applied the input hypothesis and reached a high level in their target language.
Especially for the majority of this year, reading and listening to things in Spanish has been my daily habit. Sometimes, even when I’m in Wal-mart, I listen to things in Spanish.
Steve Kaufmann is a famous polygot on YouTube. I’ve watched several of his videos on his YouTube channel, and I’ve read several of his articles on his blog about language learning, which basically embraces the input hypothesis. Also, one main reason I can read so fast in Spanish is because I use his app, LingQ as well as the desktop version of LingQ.
I wanted to read Steve Kaufmann’s book, The Linguist, because I wanted to know more of his language learning background and most importantly more of his philosophy on language learning.
How the LingQ App Helped Me to Read A Language Motivational Book in 9 Days:.
When I read my Spanish first book, I didn’t use LingQ. El Camino a Cristo a book that was much higher than my reading level, but I didn’t care; I believed that my mind would gradually get accustomed to that reading level if reading on that level became a habit. I went through the slow and tedious process of trying to read what I could in a paper copy. However, in almost every sentence I had to look something up in Google Translate. I also had a digital copy of the book, so I would highlight the word or phrase I didn’t know, and then I would copy and paste it into Google Translate. I would then write the meaning of those words or phrases in English in my book. Slowly but surely, I finished. My reading really progressed when I created the goal for myself of reading 1 page a day, 5 days a week. It took me around 30 minutes to read one page.
I changed my methods of reading, and I started using LingQ (especially the desktop version) to read my second Spanish book. Now, basically every day, I use LingQ to read. I read and listened to the Linguist solely on my Huawei Ascend 5W phone I got from Republic Wireless using the LingQ app. (By the way, while I was reading The Linguist, I got a new update to the LingQ app, and it enables me to look up phrases of words on my Android, which is helpful. This feature still needs improvement, but I really appreciate the update because it has helped me read even faster).
LingQ is very helpful because I look up the definition of unknown words faster, which allows me to read faster. The more I can read the better reader I become. Because I can read some, I watch Spanish Youtube videos with Spanish subtitles, which helps me listen better. Reading and listening to native Spanish materials helps me understand what other people are saying and helps prepare me for speaking and writing. Babies spend a lot of time absorbing a language, which helps them output it in the future.
I also like LingQ because it tracks my reading progress.
I can also import my own books I want to read into LingQ as well, which is a big plus. I get to read material that I’m interested in and still learning Spanish. This is a win-win situation to me.
Some Things I Liked About The Language Motivational Book, The Linguist:
Steve Kaufmann emphasized that success in acquiring a second language doesn’t depend on the teacher, but the students. A teacher can only inspire students, but students themselves have to take language learning seriously. This echos the sentiments of YouTube polygot, Luca Lampariello, who said: “Nobody can teach you a language. You and only you can learn a language.” I’m personally an independent Spanish learner, so I liked the encouragement I received in this book. You might like to read Steve’s article called “Why We Need Language Teachers.”
Steve said to learn a second language, one must be courageous and rise above the fear of the unknown. I appreciated reading those sentiments because I’m in a lot of situations where I don’t understand everything I read or hear in Spanish–including The Linguist. Since June 6, I’ve gone to a Spanish church 16 times, and I definitely haven’t understood everything; I’m growing nevertheless because using Spanish is a daily habit for me.
He wrote that we can really only learn a language when its in an interesting and significant context to us. Steve is in favor of people reading interesting materials in their target language. As they become naturally familiar with the language, they will eventually notice language patterns and become better in grammar. He’s not a proponent of heavy grammar study.
People shouldn’t be afraid of committing mistakes in their target language. The fear of making mistakes is one of the biggest hinderances to true language learning. Steve encouraged language learners to use the language and seek to continually improve instead of worrying over whether or not we will make mistakes.
Steve shared his own language journey. I learned how his language learning helped him in various jobs and how it even was very useful in setting up his own international business among other things.
My Big Spanish Goal:
Now, that I’ve finished reading The Linguist, what’s next my next Spanish goal? My immediate plan is to finish reading my 4th Spanish book, Los Hechos De Los Apostles, in September. I’m 1/3 of the way finished with reading it already. I also plan to continue to watch Spanish YouTube videos and listen to things in Spanish when I have opportunity. My ultimate goal is to spend at least 1,000 hours with Spanish, primarily focused on input (reading and listening) and speaking and writing when I have opportunity. If I only read and listened to things in Spanish for 5 minutes a day, 7 days a week, it would take me 33 years to reach 1,000 hours. However, my 1,000 hour goal should be met sometime in 2019; I’ve learned more and more about the time and focus required to learn a language, and this reading challenge has helped me understand that even further.