The ninety-second author interview went live today on TBPL Off the Shelf! This time I interviewed Sandi Boucher. We talk about how she became a motivational speaker, choosing the content of her new book, and why her book on reconciliation is a must-read. You can find the interview here.
Category Archives: Writing
Duolingo Redesign :(
Last week, my Duolingo app changed on me! 😦
I had no idea that Duolingo was rolling out a change in their learning path (or tree, as I’ve been calling it). They decided to replace the old tree, which had between 1-3 lesson bubbles per level that you would work on before moving on, with a much more straightforward learning path, making the app more beginner-friendly.
While right from the beginning I was disappointed with the unexpected change, I wanted to give the app a fair chance. I started with Ukrainian, and right away was not happy with the new path. I completed my Ukrainian tree about a year and a half ago, and have been using it every second night to practice. This has been a really big help in getting the grammar patterns down with some of the basics. I also relied on the lesson bubbles breaking, which was a good reminder on what to practice. But all of that is gone now. The lessons no longer break. And with the redesign, it’s hard to find where individual lessons are now; as you can see in the first picture, there are no labels – the old tree had a title under each lesson, like “food” or “animals,” making it easy to find at a glance what you want to practice. On the new tree, you can click on the lessons to find out what they are (see the second picture), but that takes a lot of time to find anything.
I did find a spot for practicing (if you click on the hearts in the top right corner, you have an option to practice). The problem with that though is the app decides what to give you to practice. You can’t go and practice a particular grammar point, or work on particular vocabulary. This very much took the fun out of using the Ukrainian tree.
But I still had French to try. Under the old tree, I was progressing steadily, turning my tree to gold. I was nearing another checkpoint and very proud of my progress. So losing my spot with it was rather sad. But Duolingo said you wouldn’t lose any progress, so I figured I would give it a shot.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take into account the fact that I had unlocked a lot more of the tree than I had been working on (I was almost at I think the 6th checkpoint turning the tree to gold, but I had unlocked lessons part way between checkpoints 7 and 8). So Duolingo probably used some of that to account for where I was placed on their new path. And I felt utterly lost by the lesson they put me at. I had no connection to what I was doing before (what I was literally in the middle of finishing before the app changed for me).
Another thing that they changed were the stories. Stories were the most fun part of Duolingo, in the courses that had them (unfortunately, Ukrainian didn’t). The stories used to be on their own tab – I would go and do a few for fun when I was having a hard time with French (or just wanted to do something easy and fun for a night). Now they’re incorporated into the new paths as well. This once again takes out the fun for me – the path is making me do the stories to progress, and it’s hard to go back and find the ones I like and want to redo.
After trying the new path for a few nights, I found that it wasn’t for me. I was sad and no longer having fun at all with it. So I made the difficult decision to stop using the app, saying goodbye to an 822 day streak. 😦 To make everything extra sad, my mom, who has been my Duolingo partner since the beginning, still has the old tree. So she’s continuing on until the app changes for her as well, at which point she said she will quit, too.
I will now have to figure out what I’m going to do instead. Duolingo was my nightly anchor for language learning, so I will have to find something else to take its place. At this point I’m thinking my time will be better spent with books and podcasts, rather than a new app I’m going to see how that goes for a bit, then report back in a few weeks!
Update: A Whole Lot of French + Goodbye Lucky Bamboo :(
The last two weeks have been kind of a blur (and I apologize because I missed writing an update last week). I’ve been working on the editing project where I can. It’s been slow work going, but at least it’s going. 🙂
In terms of language learning, I actually watched the final season of Game of Thrones in French (with English subtitles). I put the final season on hold at the library, and thanks to delays due to covid quarantines, I finally got it. I almost didn’t watch it because I don’t typically watch a lot on my own (although I admit I’m watching more on my own thanks to covid), but in the end I decided that I’d made it this far through the season that I might as well see how it ends. Having it help my French learning was a definite bonus.
I did learn something very interesting about Google Play though: buying something digitally on that platform (and iTunes from what I could tell) only seems to give you audio in one language (in my case, English). I found this out because one of the discs had a very fine scratch and wasn’t playing a scene from one of the episodes, so I bought it, but sadly had to watch it in English rather than in French. So if you’re learning languages, especially common ones in your country/area (like French here in Canada), you’re better off watching DVDs. Or Netflix – I’ve found lots of content in popular languages (like French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian, but sadly not Ukrainian).
I was also super excited to find Painless French, a book I bought myself years ago for learning French! I remembered seeing it at one point awhile ago, but when I started seriously learning French, I couldn’t find it and thought that maybe I had given it away. I’m very happy to find that wasn’t the case! I read through the first chapter over the weekend and really enjoyed it. I’m hoping it will be a great resource for continuing to learn. 🙂
I’ve also made the decision to stop subscribing to Duolingo Plus. Back in the summer when I was off work it made sense to subscribe since I was trying to jam in as much language learning as I could. But now that I’m back at work (and editing), I have a lot less time for language learning. And now that I’m done the Ukrainian tree, I’m also just not wanting to use Duolingo as much as I did. I started the reverse tree (learning English as if I were a native Ukrainian speaker), which has given me a few new Ukrainian words, but overall I’m not really enjoying it. I’m also not having as much fun with the French Tree and would like to have more time to go off and try other resources (like Painless French). At this point I’m still planning on using Duolingo a bit (I would like to finish the French tree one day, even if I don’t make it a golden tree); just not nearly as much as I was.
In other sad news, my lucky bamboo died on me. It was doing okay, then a few weeks ago I noticed the stem turned yellow. I don’t think I did anything like last time when I put fertilizer into the water without realizing that was super bad for lucky bamboo. My best guess this time around is that it’s due to the water; we have issues with lead in our pipes in my city right now. I filter drinking water for me and Merlin using a filter that takes lead out, but I wasn’t using that for my plants (and the lucky bamboo is going to take the brunt of any lead that’s in the water because it’s just sitting in water). While I’m very sad to lose it, I can honestly say I have done my best for this plant (and it was fine for quite awhile after I fertilized it – that happened back in November 2019! It lived for over a year since that happened!)
I also finally got some (English) fun reading in! I went through a bit of a dry spell this month where I wasn’t reading anything, but then a friend sent me a copy of his book and suddenly I’m reading again! But more about all of that on Thursday. 😉
So that’s been my last few weeks. How’s everything going for you? 🙂
Filed under language learning, Writing
#WriteTuesday – Starting to Think About Writing…
Hey everyone, how’s it going? I feel like this last week literally flew by! But that’s ok – overall the week felt pretty good (although I did find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by everything at times too – it’s looking like a second wave of Covid is hitting my country and province). I’ve been just trying to take everything one day at a time, and to that end, I also wanted to start tackling things like my email, which was getting a bit out of control (I really need to consider unsubscribing from some things….)
But in the middle of everything, I was starting to feel a glimmer of actually WANTING to write something, which is pretty exciting. I haven’t really been working on any projects since finishing Of Pieces and Memories (I attempted to work on editing “A Friend From the Deep,” but that story felt an awful lot like writing about self isolation, which I’m honestly not ready to do). I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to work on next, but I do have some ideas of themes that I’d like to explore a bit more before committing to anything. We’ll see how it goes.
My main goal right now is to not overwhelm myself. I’m studying two languages right now, plus I gave myself a whole bunch of reading for articles for work. So adding a little brainstorming work in shouldn’t be too overwhelming; I can start working on something once I finish off that reading!
Update – Lots of Reading + Language Learning
Apologies for no post last week; I was on vacation from work and forgot. 😦
Over the last few weeks I haven’t really done any writing; I’ve been trying to read a whole bunch of Massey Lectures for an upcoming @ Your Library article I’m planning on writing for work (that’s the column the library I work at publishes in the local paper). I’m hoping to get through another two more Massey Lectures (and in a perfect world I’ll have time to reread A Short History of Progress, but realistically that won’t be happening before the article is due). Wish me luck!
I’ve also been continuing with the language learning, both Ukrainian and French. I signed up for iTalki and had my first lesson in Ukrainian last week; I really liked the teacher and have another lesson booked for this weekend. 🙂 Right now I’m only planning on booking Ukrainian lessons on iTalki since there’s still a lot more French to learn on Duolingo…maybe once I eventually get to the end of the Duolingo French tree then I’ll try French on iTalki too (lol but that’s a looong way off from now).
So how have you been over the last few weeks? What’s new and exciting? 🙂
Filed under language learning, Updates, Writing
#WriteTuesday: The Return!
Happy September everyone! Did you have a good weekend? This weekend was Labour Day here in Canada; I was very happy to have an extra day off (although I mainly spent the time reading The Huntress by Kate Quinn – I needed to get through it for a book review that’s due this week)! I am happy to say though that I also fit in some editing time. I actually pulled out the notebook I use to break down my goals for the week into manageable chunks (I haven’t used it since February! 😮 ) – I used it just to plan out what I needed to do over the weekend (mostly reading and editing). I’m happy to say that I managed to get through pretty much all of my goals. 🙂
Oh, and earlier in the week, I was also a guest host on the Thunder Bay Public Library’s weekly show Read This Next, which airs on Fridays. Nicole and I chatted about video game books – we gave highlights based on games that are coming out this fall, talked about our personal video game book recommendations, and just generally chatted about video games. I had so much fun! Check it out here:
Other than that, I’m still working on French and Ukrainian, mainly on Duolingo. I tried watching a movie in French without subtitles about a week ago; I couldn’t follow the dialogue, but thankfully I was able to follow the story thanks to the visuals. Then a few nights ago I watched a movie in Ukrainian, but with English subtitles; my Ukrainian isn’t as strong as my French, but I was happy to be able to pick out a few words on my own here and there. Oh, and I was really excited: while reading The Huntress, one of the characters has a tattoo on her foot in Cyrillic. Even though it was in Russian, I was able to understand what it said (it was the numbers for six hundred and sixteen)!
So how’s your week been? Anything new and exciting? 🙂
Filed under Writing
My “Few Week Break” Went a Bit Longer Than Planned…
Hey everyone! How’s it going? I had planned to give an update some time ago, but life happened. As I’m sure it has been for many of you, too, life has been a bit of a roller-coaster during this pandemic.
For the last few months, I haven’t been working on any writing. After finishing Of Pieces and Memories, I was reluctant to start working on another project mainly because I thought I’d be going back to work soon. While I am back at work now, that took longer than I expected.
But during this time, I haven’t been idle. Back in June I started learning Ukrainian on Transparent Languages, a language learning app offered by my local library. I chose Ukrainian because my dad speaks it, so I thought it would be a good choice as I’d have someone to converse with. While we haven’t spoken together much yet, we have sent each other some letters in Ukrainian. It’s been a lot of fun getting them. 🙂
Then I was talking to a friend of mine who doesn’t live in Canada; he was surprised that all Canadians weren’t bilingual because we have two official languages here. In the end we agreed to learn French together, so suddenly I was learning two languages (although I do know some basic French from elementary and high school, so I’ve been able to progress faster with it than with Ukrainian – I found that, especially in the first month or so, I had to go really slowly with Ukrainian to give my brain time to absorb the new words I was learning). So yes, I’m now learning two languages! 🙂 I then talked my mom into learning French with me (we attempted to take a French class together a few years ago but it was cancelled on us), and have found a few other friends who are learning French too.
At that time I switched from Transparent Languages to Duolingo for both languages. I’m loving Duolingo! I actually just recently achieved a 50 day streak on the app, which is super exciting. 🙂 I do wish there was a bit more Ukrainian content on it though; the French course has these super fun stories, and it’s too bad that the Ukrainian course doesn’t have something similar.
Other than the language learning, I’m currently just trying to stay healthy and positive. I did a lot of colouring in the early months of the pandemic (also helped by Idle Champions’ #idlecoloring, which offered in-game content to the community based on colouring done over the week), and continue to colour if I’m feeling particularly stressed from things. I’ve also been listening to music. I listened to a lot of Solitudes in the beginning of the pandemic, but lately I’ve been listening to songs in French and Ukrainian. Here’s my favourite Ukrainian song, ПЕРЕЖИВЕМ by SKAI – my dad translated the words for me (the title means “We Will Live”):
Filed under Writing
Taking a Few Week Break
Hey everyone, how’s it going? I’ve been late or missed the last few #WriteTuesday posts, so I’ve decided I’m going to take a break from writing them for the next couple of weeks (although I will still write my June What Are You Reading Post, which will appear on the last Thursday of the month). I’m currently planning on resuming #WriteTuesday in July; I hope everyone has a good couple of weeks! 🙂
Filed under Writing