The End of 多読, The Beginning of 6WC

The January edition of 多読 is finally over! This was my first time participating and I feel great about my progress. My final stats were 377.24 pages recorded with a rank of 67.

Stats taken from readmod.com - Click for larger view

Stats taken from readmod.com – Click for larger view

I went into this contest with no real goal or any plan of action. I just wanted to read a lot more than I had in the past. I probably did what most people probably do when it comes to challenges like these. I read a little bit at the beginning, completely forget about the contest, and then remember a week before the end of the month. However, I jumped into hyper-drive mode and powered through 8 out of the 10 volumes of よつばと with stunning success.

What would’ve been really interesting is if I had quantified my reading ability (either through WPM, pages per hour, or just gauging my general comprehension percentage) and then compared that to how well I am reading now. What I can say is as the month progressed, I definitely noticed an increase in comprehension and reading speed. At the beginning of the month I would say I was hovering around 20-30% comprehension, whereas now I would say I understand about 60-70% of what I’m reading. Exciting stuff!

This whole “seeing progress” thing has motivated the crap outta me to push through this frustrating upper beginner phase that I feel like I’ve been stuck at for months. So, being the geeky language guy that I am, I’ve made a spreadsheet document to keep track of all this new data that I’m tracking.

Keeping Track of Stats

My study stats for January - Click for a larger view

My study stats for January – Click for larger view

The android app that I use for time tracking (Gleeo Time Tracker) has an export function that I then imported into Excel (the data on the left side of the spreadsheet) to create a Pivot Table. That’s the table in the top right corner of the spreadsheet. A pivot table is a powerful tool that gives you the ability to easily manipulate, analyze, and present a set of data in a more meaningful way. As you can see, I started tracking my time on January 20th and I ended up spending 17 hours and 26 minutes interacting with Japanese. Just for fun I’m also tracking my time spent reading books in English and my time spent studying Spanish through Duolingo. The goals section isn’t really fleshed out yet since I didn’t have any specific goals for January. However this data will give me a good starting point for February’s goal section. Hopefully that will give a little more meaning to this spreadsheet. Tracking my time spent studying and interacting with Japanese is one of the biggest motivators for me right now, and to (hopefully) continue that momentum I’m pushing forward into the 6 Week Challenge with vigor!

6 Week Challenge

Like I mentioned earlier, the 6 Week Challenge is another online contest. The goal is to tweet the amount of time you spend studying, reading, listening, whatever; there’s a high score list to encourage a little friendly competition that also provides quite a bit of motivation. The reason I like these contests so much is that they provide a web interface that gives you meaningful information about where you spend your time. You can check out my stats to see what I mean. The real goal however is to make significant progress in your target language from beginner to something more worthwhile. The time frame is 6 weeks, so not too long and not too short. Just enough time to have some quantifiable progress. If your interested, read here’s an overview of the rules.

I’m not going to worry too much about coming up with a specific goals for the 6WC. I’ve never done this contest before, I don’t really have any previous data to look at, and I’m also not quite sure what to expect from this. Will I be able to keep it up? 6 weeks is probably longer than I realize. Will I still have the same intensity in 3 weeks? As long as I can continue to interact with Japanese on a daily basis I think I will see some pretty interesting results.

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