September 28, 2009 | Arabic

Backtracking, Plus Technical Challenges

I pay a price for rushing through Pimsleur.

This morning I woke up late and began doing Pimsleur. I started with lesson 28 (from the new and improved Level I), and I was doing okay, but I got discouraged and thought, this is not how I want it to be going. I went too fast through these lessons, doing up to 28 in about a week, because I didn’t want to be on Level I when I had supposedly already finished Level I. But I didn’t absorb enough and now I am getting frustrated and also not enjoying it and also not building on a good foundation. 

So, there was nothing else to do but go backwards. I went to lesson 23, decided that wasn’t far back enough, went to 22, decided that wasn’t enough, went to 21, same thing, went to 18, same thing, and finally went back to 16, where I am happily reviewing. This is about the right place to begin the redo, I think. I am able to answer most of the questions fluently, without even thinking that hard, on auto pilot, but I am definitely still getting a lot wrong, pronouncing things wrong, etc. This will be good for pronunciation correction, among other things.

During this review I got frustrated and again felt one of the most counterproductive of emotions for learning, namely, indignation. I get it all the time when I am trying to learn something hard and am not doing all that well. Indignation that they didn’t do it properly so that I would understand (and get everything right, naturally). I blazed through these lessons to try to get to level II, out of foolish pride and vanity (well, and a desire to keep on schedule so I can finish both levels II and III before the end of October). It is hardly surprising that I am confused.

In my moments of frustration with Arabic, I am idealizing my Russian experience. I tend to misremember how it went with Russian, which is to say, not all that well initially. For example, as I listen to this VocabuLearn stuff, I keep saying to myself how I don’t know anything and can’t even hear the sounds. But didn’t I have similar problems with Russian at this early date? Was it really that different? I didn’t even figure out that I could walk around while doing Pimsleur until I was pretty far along with Russian, and that is the thing that moved my skills along faster than anything else, because it gave me the ability to multitask and get more done. It’s true that my writing and grammar skills are not advancing much right now, but I wasn’t that far along in my Russian grammar book at this point, I don’t think. Anyway, there is no reason to undermine myself. I will just get as far as I can get (as long as I get through all three Pimsleurs; those are key from my point of view).

I spent a hell of a lot of time today trying to figure out how to get VocabuLearn, finally, onto my iPod Shuffle. There were a number of technical challenges. I had to go searching for software that would convert WAV files to MP3 files, found it on CNET, downloaded it, converted the files, and then moved them. I succeeded. The sound quality seems fine. I am becoming quite technical. Brandt is impressed. I would, however, like to spend way less time overcoming technical obstacles and more on language learning.

Bloomingdale's: I Did Pimsleur Here

During the late afternoon I continued to do Pimsleur lessons while running errands all over town.

I walked from the West Side through Central Park to Crate & Barrel and Bloomingdale’s, where I bought much-needed kitchen stuff and pillows, then came home doing Pimsleur all the way along Central Park South and Broadway.

I love Pimsleur walking/errand-running. The kind of multitasking where you can actually do the constituent tasks well is very satisfying.

The kind where you can’t do any of the tasks well? Not satisfying.

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