3 Day Projects (3DP)


source: pixabay.com (wagrati_photo)

Céad míle fáilte! (Irish: A hundred thousand welcomes!)

This post marks the beginning of a new approach: 3 Day Projects.

My personality being what it is, I quickly lose interest in trudging toward some lofty destination over the distant horizon. After a few days, I become restless and bored, increasingly tempted by shortcuts and vendors along the road. Inevitably, I end up finding new adventure elsewhere, hot on the trail of a few dozen pet procrastinations.

Another issue is that it’s almost impossible to predict where I’ll be, or what state of health I’ll be in, several weeks, months, or years from now. Life is simply littered with bumps and potholes. And as many of my previous projects turned out to be long or overambitious, it only took one serious health setback, domestic crisis, or demanding deadline to break the chain of past successes and watch good intentions fall apart.

I believe the solution lies in how I choose and define projects. Long and overambitious projects make easy targets for life’s bumps in the road, and the cost to each project in terms of momentum and motivation adds up. Essentially, the longer the project goes on, the more likely it will get derailed or overturned at several points. At least for me.

If I break language learning down into much shorter achievable wins, I think I’ll make greater progress in the long-term; mini-projects that are just long and challenging enough to break free of the shadows of past ambitions, but short and easy enough to remain highly resilient and low risk over the test of time. With enough of these under my belt, I hope to leave the days of wishful horizons behind me.

Ke aloha,

14. Liftoff in Russian (ru).

Conversation practice and vocabulary mining (travel; coronavirus; environment): 20 hours.

It’s been an absolute age since I last posted here, but I’m back baby! In just three days, I’ve learned close to 500 new Russian words and phrases, and my wife assures me that both my fluency and accuracy have simply skyrocketed.

Read a collection of funny stories in Jamaican Patois (Patwa): 3 hours.

Like sweet music to my ears, a mere phrase or two of Patwa brings a smile to my soul on the rainiest of days. Rather than dive into Jamaican movies and music (which is what I usually do), I purchased Joelle Wright’s A Soh Dem Gwaan on Kindle (along with Jamaicasaurus for reference) and was not disappointed: I rarely laugh out loud this much while reading!

Finish reading Michael Fridman’s translation of “The Little Prince” along with Sonja Lang’s Toki Pona: The Language of Good: 8 hours.

I believe there’s real power in learning grammar and vocabulary through short and playful projects, and you don’t necessarily need to wait until you’ve read a textbook or graduated a formal language course either. Completing some small journey or adventure in the language (in my case, reading a children’s book over the last week) felt really empowering, and made the task of studying grammar afterwards a much more motivating and rewarding experience.

Read a children’s classic in a constructed language: 7 hours.

Having dabbled in Toki Pona over the years, I thought Michael Fridman’s (heavily abridged) Toki Pona version of Antoine de Saint-Expuréry’s “The Little Prince” would make a fun little project. Chapters were initially challenging and slow to decipher, but I soon got the hang of it and sped up with all the growing confidence of a cryptic crossword aficionado.

10. Sign me up, baby (ase).

Study Baby Sign Language in preparation for my son learning it next year while at daycare: 3 hours.

With free time at a premium this week, I opted for the easiest project that came to mind. And this was a good choice on the whole, as learning several hundred ASL-based Baby Signs while up to my eyes in baby diapers and toddler tantrums turned out to be a relative crawl in the park.

Dive into Buntús Cainte and breathe life back into my moribund Irish: 8 hours.

Having completed almost half of the first textbook, I’m finally “back on the capall (horse)” after all these years… I absolutely love the melodious lilt of the Irish language, and the cheeky retro illustrations used throughout this course are great craic (fun)!

Motivating moments: Filipino

I used Filipino to buy a couple of items in a local convenience store this morning. The lady was happy to hear her native language for a change, and in the course of our short conversation, asked me if I’d lived in the Philippines. When I said I’d never been but would like to visit one day, a look of worry spread across her face. Then she softened to a big beaming smile again, and with a knowing sparkle in her eye, declared: “Ahhh…your wife must be from the Philippines…that’s it!”

Motivating moments: Romanian

While my family and I were out walking one evening last week, we met a couple with 2 children selling slingshot helicopters with LEDs by the side of the beach. Hearing the family were from Romania, I tried out a few of the phrases I learned during 3DP6 (“Golden phrases”) and the whole family lit up. And when I offered to pay, they handed one to my daughter and said it was on the house. What a lovely surprise! 🙂

Try out a new online grammar course (Tagalog Lite, currently in beta) and provide user feedback: 9 hours.

I’ve made my way through just over a third of the course so far, leaving corrections and suggestions in my wake as I go. Each chapter and appendix unlocks new mysteries, and I feel my grasp of the language’s grammar is slowly but surely starting to fall into place.

7. My tailor is rich (fr).

Kick-start my French back into action with the help of Assimil’s New (old) French with Ease: 11 hours.

Ignoring supplementary exercises, I pushed through more than half of this textbook and picked up a few hundred phrases for productive review along the way. My wife says it took her close to forever to finish this course, so I guess 63 lessons is a respectable result for 3 days.