A Tad Overambitious?

I am making a resolution to myself to learn several skill sets or reach certain goals within the next month. This post will be fluid. What I mean is, as I go along with this, I will add updates to it.

I am trying to excel at four different things that I have been struggling with for years in under one month. Sounds crazy but I think I can do it. With enough foresight and planning, I may actually not overextend myself while accomplishing more.

  • Portuguese. I have taught myself conversational Portuguese over the last two years. The main thing that has helped is Pimsleur. It takes a half-hour to listen to the audio. It’s a lot more difficult than it sounds.
  • My goal. To finish Level II by the end of this month with a target date of July 29th, 2010. I currently finished Unit 06 and each one goes up to 30. Making that a  lesson a day.
  • Speed Reading. I purchased EyeQ two years ago not knowing it would not work on my Mac. Now that I have a P.C., I’m looking forward to really trying it. Right now I’m at 250 w.p.m.
  • My goal. To read at least 600 w.p.m., if not faster, to pass the dreaded subvocalization. Once I can stop that, faster reading times increase.
  • Anxiety. For about 4 years now, I have been suffering form general anxiety. In those few years I have come a long way. However, I am only two-thirds of the way done in my anxiety program.
  • My goal. To finish the program this month. That means every weekly program.

Again, I know this sounds a bit too much. Reaching one of these goals in one month would be a big deal, but I’m looking at this as a case study on myself. There will be plenty of mistakes on the way and I’m sure a few goals will not be met but I am going to try.

The good news is, all these things (depending on the schedule) take any where from an hour to two. That’s it. I, like most people, spend more time surfing the web or the T.V. than that. I am trying to see if I can get myself into good habits. I mean, I’m excellent in getting myself into bad one’s.

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UPDATE 06/29/10 (Please click on images for higher resolution shot)

Here’s where I’m starting. As you can see from the first image, my typing speed is at 23 w.p.m., well within the 20 I explained earlier.

Typing at 23 words per minute

Even though the program has 15 different typing tutorials, my goal is not to complete one every day but rather reach a competent level (25-30 w.p.m.) and then move on to the next.

On to speed reading. O.K., I underestimated myself. On my first pre-test, no exercises, I clocked in at 431 w.p.m. After the lesson I was at a 543 w.p.m. In all honesty, I have been doing the EyeQ system off and on for the past few months. I’d get through six lessons, then stop. Obviously this has helped my reading speed even though I haven’t touched it in a month. This is however my first attempt to do the entire system form beginning to end. I have to rethink my goals. I guess 800 – 1,000 w.p.m. (!) might be attainable. Fingers crossed.

431 w.p.m. pre- test and 543 w.p.m. post-test

And finally, my Portuguese. As a starting point, I took 3 LONG language tests here.

And here are my, surprising results.

My results were English 93%, Spanish 41%, and Portuguese 59%.

As you can see I scored a lot higher in Portuguese than in Spanish. Bullshit. I am fluent in Spanish and conversational in Portuguese. While I should be screaming off the roof tops, “See, I told you I speak Portuguese really good!” I know that I’m conversational at best. Now I know that is no small feat. I’m the only person I know that has taught themselves a foreign language well enough to have comfortable conversations with foreigners. It is still a bit bewildering as to why I would score higher in Portuguese than in Spanish. Maybe I went into the Spanish test with too much confidence. Maybe I gave the Portuguese test the attention and respect the other two deserved. Maybe.

So that’s basically where I’m at. Every few days (more like every week) I’ll post my results here on how I’m doing.

UPDATE 07/05/2010

As promised, here’s my week one update. I was really worried because this was going to the hardest week. Not because of what I’m trying is new or anything, but because yesterday was America’s birthday and it was a fun, relaxing weekend. I spent the weekend in the west valley with a good friend then last night I drank like Prohibition was making a comeback.

First let me say, I was right. Doing this for things at the same time everyday is easy. I have a clipboard with a monthly Calendar printed out with what Portuguese unit I have to listen to, if it’s a speed reading test day or a practice day, etc.

My only set-back has been today. Monday’s are suppose to be the day I listen to anxiety track. Tuesday is a day off followed by the workbook on Wednesday. I’ll just do the tape tomorrow. This hangover is not allowing me to have a clear mind and soul anyway.

My results have been nothing short of fantastic! As you can see below, I am now up to a 645.5 w.p.m. average! I take that number from the fact I pre-tested at 573 and post-tested at a whopping 718!

645.5 avg. w.p.m

A quick note on the sporadic test dates. The system I’m using, EyeQ, will only let you do a session every other day. They have o.k. practice materials but the actual sessions are great for practice too. Since it allows me to have different users I added a dummy account. These are those results because today is a practice day.

And now to touch typing. I’m improving but at a slow tick. The last test I did has me typing at 31 w.p.m.

31 w.p.m.

And finally my Portuguese. This is the first time I ever listened to my Pimsleur tapes everyday for a week. I’m trying to immerse myself in the language. I watched some Brazilian T.V. I found watching movies that I’ve already seen in Portuguese really helps. I did that for Kill Bill. Since ESPN does not hold the Spanish rights to the World Cup in the U.S.A., they smartened up offered the games Portuguese on ESPN Doportes. Awesome for me. This “immersion” was all due to this great product I also just purchased, Fluent In 3 Months. I also plan on seeing, City of God followed by City of Men, the subsequent T.V. series again. If you haven’t seen it, you must.

UPDATE 07/13/2010

O.K., so I’m a day late on this update. But the good news is, I have not faltered once. My calendar that I printed out, attached to my trusty clipboard, has been a great way not only to make sure I stay on track, but has been a great motivator. There have been times when I’m ready to hit the hay but then I see, wait, I have to do my typing studies or something. I then do it.

Here’s my progress on touch typing and speed reading.

639 w.p.m. average

24 w.p.m.

Now it might seem that I have stayed the same but that’s not true. I’m now typing a lot more without looking at the keyboard (something I could never do) and depending on the eye exercises, I could get close to reading at near 900 w.p.m.! The fact that I started at about 400 w.p.m. and now hover around the 600 mark is amazing. One unindented side-effect, reading has been a lot more enjoyable. It’s like my eyes have finally caught up to my hectic mind.

My anxiety, so much better. When you start on a path to self help, it is so easy to brush it aside and tell yourself, “I’ll so it later” or “I’ll do it when I’m feeling better”. That trusty little clipboard allows me to beat my biggest enabler and detractor: myself.

And finally, my portuguese. I started another blog just to track my progress on that front. You can find at http://mylanguagelog.wordpress.com/.

P.S.

Here’s the link on how I find averages, in case you were wondering. Just add the two numbers and dived by two. Simple.

UPDATE 07/19/2010

Update time again.

I was out of town this weekend, A.T.V. riding in the cool pines of Flagstaff Arizona.

Raccoon eyes from off-roading

This was good and bad. The good was that besides having generalized anxiety, my anxiety level rises when I drive. Going quad riding was such a good thing for me emotionally! It. Felt. Great. The open road, being miles out alone. These things I had no trouble with. I did get some anxiety, don’t get me wrong, but what I really got was excitement, freedom, and a sense of liberty I haven’t felt in a long time.

The bad was that I was unable to do touch typing exorcises for two days (Friday and Saturday) and I missed my review for speed reading on Saturday.

Besides that, I did really good. I listened to my Portuguese tape and I’m now just three days from completing Pimsleur Portuguese II! Crazy. You can read about my Portuguese updates here.

My typing is going at a good tick. I am now up to lesson five at another website I found, Power Typing. I know I said otherwise, but as soon as I hit 20 w.p.m., I move on to the next lesson. I am getting “fluent” with more and more letters on my keyboard everyday. Here’s the latest result.

25 w.p.m.

I know, I know, there is basically no change but that’s because I’m looking less and less at the keyboard making my error rate go up with my familiarity rising as well. So the bad goes up but so does the good.

On to Speed Reading. As I stated earlier, I have a regular user and a dummy account that I practice on, on my off days. Here’s my results.

My dummy, practice account, "John"

My real account, "Tony"

As you can see, since I practiced twice to make up for the lost day I ended up with a reading speed of over 1,000 w.p.m.! Now that is no way the real way I read, I’m still around 600, it’s just a testament to how well these exercises are at getting your eye ready. It depends on the lessons and the reading exercises too. By looking at the charts, Lesson Four really jumped my numbers up.

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