The beauty of the streak
So today is my 900th consecutive day using Duolingo. I had used it before and lost an 120 day streak previously, so this is definitely my longest streak.
After doing this for about 2 and a half years, I see the value of streaks generally. I haven't done an equal amount of work every day. Days when I was ill or traveling, I may have only achieved between 1-10 points reviewing something simple. Even having my streak setting at just a single XP kept me going for the days when I studied several languages or reviewed much more thoroughly. It meant that even if there was a whole month when I felt low motivation, the desire to maintain the streak meant I would come back if I felt up for more and I would have a good base to dip back in properly. I have not become completely rusty in any of the languages I've studied extensively due to the streak. If anything, I hadn't touched Swedish in months, maybe a year, and last week, I was able to translate from Swedish subtitling of Dothraki in Game of Thrones for my husband as our copy only had Swedish subtitling on the Dothraki. I was really pleased.
I have taken this streak idea on and use it in other areas of my life as well now as it has served me as well as it has here. My husband and I have both been trying to make ourselves go to the gym to get fit and came up with the idea of a 3 times a week 'streak' for that as well and we have been at least 3 times a week since Sept of last year. We have a white board on our fridge and tick off the 3 times, so we have a regular visual reminder of how much we still need to do.
Basically, streaks really work with my psychology and I am grateful to Duolingo for integrating them into my life. I know they aren't for everyone, but they have definitely been for me.
Congratulations. Great work!
I mostly agree with you. But not totally.
For example, I have maintained a long-term, 7.3 year reading project that requires 20-40 minutes a day, and I am half way through it. That's a streak.
But with exercise and some other activities such as practicing a musical instrument and working out (both of which I do), it's not so much a "streak" as it is a matter of HABIT. I have worked out 3 times a week for over 20 years. That's not a streak; it's a habit. Same with music practice. If I don't do these activities, I don't lose a streak. I just know I missed it, and need to resume as soon as possible.
There is a subtle difference. But a 900 day streak is a great achievement!
Your distinction misses me I'm afraid. I usually make my bed every morning. (Habit) Yet I need to make it a streak as well. Why? Sometimes I miss, and I don't like it. Now I tick it off each day on my kitchen calendar. I need to streak because I tend to be an undisciplined person. With streaking I can create a good habit, but I still need to streak in order to maintain it. Now for creating a fitness program that I can follow like a habit (streaking will be my only recourse).
If checking off your calendar helps you establish a habit, that's great. Whatever works.
I never make my bed.
I think I understand your distinction now. You are a professional musician, so naturally you would show up on a regular basis. By, the way, your English is excellent. (I'm a professor of English and linguistics) I only hope that I can reach such heights with my Spanish. Any suggestions?
Thank you for the compliment. I appreciate it! (I'm a published author--just one book, from 2004). I believe that becoming proficient in a second language and achieving proficiency in music require similar efforts--time, energy, commitment, motivation, etc.
Would love to discuss this with you some more.
... says a man, who has nearly reached a 900 day streak (-;
Congratulations!!! 900 days, and so many languages. Have you try apps like fitocracy for fitness?
No, I actually really like physically ticking it off on my little whiteboard and I like that it's visible to me on my way to the fridge. I am a very digital person most of the time. I do way too much on my phone and my laptop, so getting into something as analog as fitness was almost a bit foreign. I like keeping the two domains a bit separate.
I do something similar, but opposite: I have my 3 weekly swimming and/or gym entries in my calendar and really like not having to delete them when I don't go for some reason or another :-p
could you give me any tips on how to stay motivated? my goal is to have a 100 day streak by the end of June or July, but so far i have never been able to keep a streak for more then a few weeks. Thanks in advance!
Put serious effort into getting a big streak started. Give yourself multiple alarms and ways of reminding yourself for a month or a few weeks. Once your streak starts to get significantly long, you will feel worse if you lose it. I felt awful when I lost that 120 day streak a few years ago. Losing a streak that long motivated me not to do it again.
Your mini essay was beautiful. Thanks! I agree that streaks work. I am only at 51 days with duolingo, but i'm definitely learning day by day. It's amazing what YOU have accomplished. You are an inspiration.
My only complaint is that I am stuck at level 13 and 52% with Spanish. I believe I know more than that. As for French, I'm not anywhere near what I am in Spanish. Yet my scores keep rising, and I have not even completed the tree.
Regarding streaks, it's time for me to apply the same to my diet and my exercise program (which at the moment are both at a standstill). Clearing clutter is another area for streaks. Lots to think through.
Once, again, thank you for writing the above!
51 days is a great start. :)
And the percentage basically means nothing. It's really inaccurate. When I was trying to bomb through the Italian for Spanish speakers course last summer before taking my in-laws to Italy as a review, I suddenly had really amazingly high fluency just by virtue of doing it quickly and few of the skills having time for the gold color to decay. It wasn't accurate. Just worry about what you know. You know what you know. I feel better at Catalan than German for instance even though my German level is higher. I have left and come back to German loads of times, while I have done Catalan pretty much every day since the course came out.
As for clutter, pretend you are moving across a major ocean. Doing this twice (in reality) has really cleared my life of clutter. Deciding if something would be worth the expense of taking across a ocean really puts into perspective if you need the thing.
CONGRATULATIONS! You get 5 ligots! Im going to incorporate your exercise streaking idea!
Wow! That streak is incredible! Congratulations Iwc2ufan and I look forward 100 days from now for your 1,000 day streak announcement! :-)
Many of your followers have multiple languages going, as do you! What motivates you to take these various languages on? Have you had, by the way, courses in linguistics?
I have a degree in Spanish and Portuguese, which focused on linguistics rather than literature, in addition to an MA in TEFL. I've taken quite a few linguistics courses over the years. As for why all the languages, I like seeing how languages are related to each other (which is why I like to do all the languages available in a family), and also the variation that can exist. I am enjoying exploring things like inclusive and exclusive 'we' in Guarani or studying something that sounds so European like Hungarian, yet has a non-Indo European base and therefore the vast majority of vocabulary feels as different from English as Japanese. For instance, their word for hotel is szalloda, so even the sort of words that are typically shared by the various European languages aren't present. I just really enjoy stuff like that.
Just a question -- how able are you to communicate in these languages? And what kind of work do you do? I have a masters in linguistics and have taught a lot of ESL. So it seems we have a lot in common. As an English profesor, I have always been somewhat of an outlier among my colleagues! I also have a phd in international relations so that sets me even further away. Most of my colleagues prefer literature to any other topic! And they can never understand why my classes in linguistics always fill so quickly while the lit classes don't always make. The two topics are not mutually exclusive!
How am I able to communicate? How well? I can speak and write in Spanish and Portuguese very easily and understand what I hear and read without much effort. Italian, I am less good at, but I can still get by. I was in Italy last summer and it wasn't a massive effort, but I did review for a few months before going. I've had little oral communication interactions in German, French, Polish and Dutch - fairly basic stuff and effort was required, but I could make myself understood and understand some of the responses. I've communicated in writing in Norwegian and Danish. As for work, I do a mix. I do some odds and ends related to language for a tech company and I do translation work as well. I don't do much ESL anymore. I have one long term student online, but I'm not seeking further work on that front.
wow, that is I work too, I mean I am studying German on my SPRING BREAK! Not playing outside like a sane person would. It is because I want to keep my streak going.
i still can't believe your amazing accomplishment! 900 consecutive days and now 905! I'm so far at 56 and it feels like I've been doing it forever! However, I would not miss a day! My French is showing advancement. At a meet-up group a few days ago I was able to say quite a bit in French. I see no notable change in my Spanish, however. Do you know how many words there are in the various language programs that you've studied?
I have no idea how many words there are in any of them. It's not the sort of thing I tend to pay attention to. I've also been doing it for long enough that I'd have to remember pretty far back even if I did. I started studying Spanish in 2000. Have you finished the Spanish tree? It might be time to move onto other things. Duolingo is very good, but only as a beginning.
Yes, I finished the Spanish tree sometime ago. So I will continue to do one Spanish per day with Duolingo. Then, there's Memrise, of course, but it's also time to do something more challenging. Fluent U I found to be tedious at a certain annual cost. But I'm currently helping two Spanish speaking friends with their English pronunciation once a week.. (It's what I do well and love doing!) They have agreed to meet with me in the future to do whatever I want in Spanish. so I'm gearing up for that. Any other suggestions? By the way, do you like Catalan?
I think converting that pronunciation help to full fledged language exchange will do you good. I have used language swaps many times in the past and if you have enough in common to keep talking, they can last for months. A one on one teacher is great, too. I used to give one on one ESL lessons regularly and took plenty of one on one Italian lessons and even though I've never lived in Italy, a few good teachers made a big difference. I speak very good Italian for someone who has spent a total of 9 days in Italy. If you do get a one on one teacher, make sure you have a rapport. I have had an online ESL student in Germany since 2010. We met in real life when I was teaching in the UK and just kept going. We are friends as much as I'm his teacher at this point, so we still have things to talk about so I can help him maintain his English from afar. Catalan is lovely. I think Catalan and Portuguese are my favorite of the Latin languages. Learning Catalan from Spanish would also do your Spanish favors as the entire course is in Spanish. When it's not related to Spanish, it will be related to French in most cases, so I think you would find it interesting. Also, I find branching i.e. learning a language from a language you've learned other than your mother tongue is very useful, especially if they are related. It really cements the differences. I did this years ago with Portuguese (the University of Minnesota actually offers, or at least offered, a Portuguese for the Spanish speakers course with the assumption most of those Spanish speakers will be 2nd language speakers) and having done it to review Italian and learn Calatan from scratch, it's been very useful. If anything, I really wish they Romanian course were offered from Spanish or Italian. I think that would make more sense for me. The memrise Romanian course drives me nuts with its complicated ways of expressing the way they use possessives (which combines plural/singular and gender). It would be very simple if the flashcards were Italian to Romanian instead of English to Romanian.
Thanks for your very interesting response. Your language adventures continue to be of great interest to me! By the way I have my masters in linguistics form the university of Minnesota.