My First 1000 Days on Duolingo
I wish I could say that I've reached a conversational level in Spanish, but I can't. OK, I can ask where the bathroom is and order from a menu in addition to having the vocabulary of a three year old toddler. Learning anything with a mental illness can be extremely difficult. During a major depressive episode, it is impossible to concentrate or remember anything other than emotional garbage. Depressed people are missing the reward sensation in the brain. However, for me, I feel accomplished when earning rewards, points and streaks. I enjoy the gamification and love the idea of being a test subject for the benifit of all. I use other IOS apps. I watch Spanish TV. I take free online university Spanish courses. I watch YouTube Spanish lessons every weekend. I write down frequently forgotten words on a whiteboard. I read Spanish recipes. I shop on Spanish websites. I follow science stuff in Spanish on Twitter. I speak in Spanish using the dictation feature on my iPad keyboard. I translate what I'd like to say in certain situations on Google Translate. I talk to kids in Spanglish. When it gets to be too much, I switch languages. Twenty minutes of Russian makes me want to go back to Spanish again. Oddly, my understanding of Spanish gets clearer after studying other languages. Swedish seems natural to me. I must have picked it up when my grandmother spoke it when I was a baby. Actually, my intelligence appears to be reverting back to my early 20's when I was at my sharpest. Although I'm not fluent in Spanish, I get several questions correct before the contestants do on the Spanish game show, "Ahora Caigo". By continually watching films in foreign languages, my no verbal understanding of people is incredible. It's great for someone into performing arts.
I've been frustrated at times when duolingo makes changes. It won't stop me using it though. If I could create a better program or find another that could keep me interested, i would use it. It doesn't exist yet.
By committing myself to learning a language for 5 minutes to 2 hours a day, I've improved the most important thing in the world to me which is my brain.