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Good Comment: Life Manifest

I'd like to bring attention to this ingenious comment by Stefanie Zobus. I'm adding bold on my favorite part -

It’s terribly easy to waste a day. It’s the evening, and I haven’t really done anything useful. I thought of planning the day when I got up, but in the end didn’t. I think books such as that one are really good in that they remind people their treacherous tendencies that take over when one doesn’t pay attention carefully enough. Old habits and all that. It would probably be a good idea to have something that forcefully reminds one of the whole business every day when one gets up, at least when one is still establishing new habits.

Something I thought about in that respect was that it would be useful to write some sort of ‘life manifest.’ Discussing how one wants ones’ life to be, what one wants to do in life, and very importantly: why – because when one doubts and falters, one could read that and be reminded of why one tries, and why one should keep going. You wrote something similar in that you had some post some time ago as to how many books you want to publish until then-and-then, and how much money you want to own at this or that point… which is a really good thing since it encourages and sets goals. There are so many methods and ways helping one to keep going… one just has to find and employ them. I’m afraid, the employing part is difficult. Reading a book like that brings one ‘back to earth’ I suppose, if one really cares. And if one doesn’t care, well, then things are pretty hopeless anyway.

Very smart stuff. I have some things that I live for, but I never thought to look at those when I was feeling demotivated. Great stuff. Stefanie just launched a site at http://stefaniezobus.wordpress.com/ - here's looking forward to good insights from her.

My Guide to Properly Using Duolingo

On Ideas

Out of all the recently released programs/courses/interactive content that has come out lately the one that stands out the most and gotten the most attention is Duolingo. Duolingo is the relatively new, innovative service that allows you to translate content on the web as to learn and also provides decent amount of lessons to get one started For the past week or so I’ve been using Duolingo for German and the results have been moderate. I don’t think it’s the fastest way to learn a language, but it’s the definitely the best interactive way, in other words, its not as boring as cramming flash cards. Looking back if I would've spent the time I spent on Duolingo cramming grammar, listening and following along with an audiobook or simply finding conversation partners I probably could've made much more progress. I don’t want to go out listing all the problems I have with Duolingo cause I am not the typical user on the site. I literally rammed through around 70% of the content in just a couple of days, which is probably not the way it was meant to be done, but then again I’m not the average person.

Regardless here are a small number of problems I’ve noticed with Duolingo.

Overall I think its very good for the beginner or for the person who is content feeling like they made some progress for their hour of work, but once you actually calculate how much you learn per hour, its pretty abysmal. Its similar to people trying to learn programming through Codecademy: you feel could cause you made SOME progress without too much effort, but in reality you could've learned much more if you just applied yourself through books and tutorials.

I guess the worst thing about Duolingo is that it just doesn’t scale quick enough. It can take 2 hours to learn 3-5 new grammar points and around 40-60 words (really depends on where you are) when you can easily learn 100 words in 1 hour and 10 grammar points in another on your own. Not only that, if you do it on your own and then follow that by applying it to real source such as books and audio you can scale out of control pretty fast. In Duolingo you learn some new words and grammar points, but then it just doesn’t scale and it doesn’t come at you quick enough.

The best feature by far of Duolingo is the translation section because it gives you a great interface to practice reading in your target language and attempting to translate it. Furthermore a bunch of the chosen translations have comments and other user feedback which really helps you understand what is going on. In conjunction with Google translate and a good amount of challenge setting it can be a very effective way of learning.

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