Speaking Spanish has been one of my minor little tricks that isn’t much to sneeze at. I took a couple years in high school, and let it go at that. But it helped enormously when I went to Latin & Greek much later, and with the massive demographic shifts, even learning a little bit more has helped my teaching. (The Spanish teachers in my department are also awesome and bear with me as I try to improve on the fly.) So, after feeling slightly ashamed of needing to ask one of my department members to help me with a parent phone call, I decided to start taking matters into my own hands. I signed up for [Duolingo]. After the placement test, it busted me back to very elementary Spanish, past initial stuff but still way early in elementary verbs, because I lack so much vocabulary. I have been testing out, but not as quickly as I had imagined myself. It’s humbling but also nice to get reinforcement with some basic gaps in my vocabulary.
It’s also been nice to observe how it rewards you for completing tasks. Not just the actual prizes, but the process rewards–clicks and dings for success, sad trombones for failure. The bells and whistles are rather alluring to win. Also, you earn coins (“lingots”) that allow you to unlock not just treats, but more things to learn, like how to flirt in Spanish. It’s an interesting concept–hey, kid, do you want to learn something cool? So many things to teach kids in Latin. That’s for another entry, though, I think.
But it does tie in nicely with my other gamified Web site, [HabitRPG]. I have been progressing well in that, taking my lumps as I merit them equally with the rewards of completing more habits. I’ve been drinking much more water, I haven’t bitten my nails in a solid 2 weeks, and managing this wreck business on top of preparing for the beginning of the semester has been far more navigable than I frankly thought possible. P(l)anic attacks are–well, they’re not gone, but I’m able to fall back on a much more structured way of approaching planning, even as my goals feel like they’re dizzying in their complexity and scope. And the motivation is a double-edged sword, because I want to avoid taking damage and also gain the benefits of experience and gold. And now I have a party member to think of! (My undone dailies damage him too!! I won’t let you down, rf!)
All in all, things seem to be looking up after passing through the mirror of the winter break. Just taking time to see family at my own pace, and allowing myself to actually relax, has proven to be absolutely the thing I needed to refocus and look at the world in a growth-mindset orientation. Practice, practice, practice is what it takes, even amidst abject failure. Keep trying. I have written “I’m not giving up” so many times, both here and elsewhere, but it’s not just about one leg in front of the other. It’s about being present for each footstep. And we must give ourselves space to breathe in order to do so.
Keep practicing, folks!