November is one of the hardest months of the year for me (together with March). It’s dark. The weather is usually gloomy. The days are getting shorter. And there are viruses going around…
This November wasn’t very different except for the fact that I spent not a week with a virus, as I usually do, but at least three weeks (and still there). It doesn’t feel too bad, but not particularly inspiring either, especially because I have a temperature of around 37.2 most of the time and it brings on a bit of weakness, fatigue and bad sleep. Meh…
Also, this year I was just beginning to appreciate the late autumn with its smells of wet soil and fallen leaves (and to create fairy tales in my head), when on the 15th the temperature dropped, it snowed and the winter came and established itself quite unequivocally (till the end of March, apparently). Since then the weather has been horrible – cold, windy, slippery and unfriendly. That upsets me quite a lot.
But in terms of productivity the month wasn’t bad at all.
The group and the channel
As I’d planned, I came back to posting on my VK group and TG channel and managed to do it consistently throughout the month. Most of the posts were really inspiring to write because I’d changed my approach: instead of focusing on “something useful”, I decided to tap more into what fascinates me and share this with my audience. Not sure how it feels on the other side, but I got my first comment in English from a follower I don’t know personally =)
Here are the posts of the month (I’m copying all of them here because I want everything in one place with decent navigation):
- Language Practice While on Holiday
- The Magic of the Radio
- Learning From Articles: A Simple Algorithm
- And where to find those nice articles to read?..
- Do you play chess?
- “A good good example”
- On one of the stages of language acquisition in children
- An example of a follow-up on a text
- A train in the desert
- Let’s read an article together!
And I finally finished the (almost complete) rewriting of My Teaching Journey (updated). But now I like the tone and the message of the article much more.
So 11 posts in total. Well done me, huh?) All this took quite a lot of time, so little was left for other activities, especially reading and proceeding with maths problems. But I really want to smooth out the process of writing so that I don’t get stuck, or lose my inspiration, or get tired of texts like before. For now it seems to be working and I’m happy.
I really wanted to prepare my texts in advance (for example, by Wed be ready with 3 texts for the next week), but it soon stopped working because I was distracted by the issues of “marketing, sales and promotion”. Not my favourite topics, but I want my texts to be read and eventually contribute to my overall income, why not? So I even added a special project to my time keeping app – Marketing and Promotion.
It may sound like something big, but for now it’s mostly trivia, like writing a new description of the group, exploring ways to attract a new audience, trying to understand how to reach it better etc. It is taking a lot of time and not very exciting, actually (I’d rather be reading or writing more texts, really). But, as far as I can gather, it’s childish to hope that someone will stumble upon my literary works, will be deeply impressed by them and will do all the promotion for me. Ah, right. I’ll do what I can by myself and then I’ll see. The most important thing is to do it in the way that resonates with me (and not the one which is widely promoted and doesn’t fall within my set of values).
Oh, and I came up with a couple of ideas for possible “products”. I’m quite excited to try them out, but I don’t know when I’ll be able to realise that. I still need to increase my audience first..
What else? I also explored language communities on VK. So many of them that target C1-C2 English! But, and I find it vey strange, their authors still write and address their followers in Russian (not all of them, but the majority). My friend suggested they do it to unite with their followers on the basis of the common mother tongue and show them the author of the group is not that different (so I look like a stranger with my English texts who separates herself from the audience and basically pursues her own goals), but… what about language practice?
What’s the point of writing about C1 language (grammar or vocab) in another language? I don’t get it, really. As a learner, I want to immerse myself into the language as soon as possible and stop switching between languages. If I can do it being A2, I’ll do it. And it’s definitely the goal for B2 and above. True, I write in English because I also want to improve my writing skills. But writing is powerful and gives an excellent opportunity for language practice (which also adds to one’s speaking skills), and I want to get this message across to other students. As little as one sentence a day counts, as long as it’s about real things that matter. And, when publicly, it’s taken a bit more seriously so one does the proofreading better. But… this idea doesn’t seem to be very popular. Or is there something else?
Anyway, now my feed on VK looks a bit more interesting and it helps me to refresh some Advanced expressions (the question still remains how to use them, but I hope that more advanced vocabulary networks are getting activated in my brain and it’s starting to show in my writing).
French is alive and kicking. I had two speaking practices with my study buddy in November. We discussed different topics with the focus on using the expressions for personal opinions, agreeing/ disagreeing and managing the discussion. Very useful. What perplexes me is the number of expressions suggested by the book (Édito B2). It’s two pages of them (with occasional exercises)! It’s so different from the English course books where we’ll have 10-15 max. So I’m a bit at a loss as to how to practise them more effectively. We’ll probably have another couple of meetings to do it properly.
I also decided to write short texts and more often speak to myself in French. It is an excellent way to enlarge my vocab, so I started a doc called New and Emergent Language where I add the phrases I needed but didn’t know, in English and in French. (The first one was “to gargle with salt water/ se garganiser avec une solution salée”… Not very exciting, but what else can you do when your throat is killing you?) That’s a very good way for me to memorise new vocab, without any cards and applications: have a situation, find the right words to describe it, write them down and look through the list from time to time.
However, I can’t get into listening to the French radio. It doesn’t sound as interesting as BBC Radio 4. Or maybe I need to make more effort, but again, when feeling unwell it’s not what one wants to do. So I’m getting by with my vocab lists.
Books and series
Not much here, for the reasons I outlined above. But I finished a book of French short stories by Merimée (didn’t like the plots, nor the language) and The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker.
It took me 22 hours to finish The Language Instinct. I had started it in January (!). Enjoyed it for a while, then got mixed feelings about the style and went to read the reviews. I found quite a lot of unfavourable ones and sided with those who were “disappointed with and puzzled by” the book and its author, who seemed too confident and overly ambitious to me. Funny, isn’t it? As if I can judge a book written by a professor with my modest education which doesn’t include the formal linguistic one. But my ego had played up in the spring and I had given up the book till November.
It’s interesting that I finished it with a different set of feelings. I quite liked the last chapters and they do give food for thought. I don’t think I’ll want to reread the book in full, but I bookmarked lots of pages, so I’m thinking to come back to them later and note down something to take away.
I also finished the third season of The Crown. I can’t say I liked Olivia Colman in the role of the Queen, especially compared to the sparkling performance of Claire Foy in the first two seasons. It’s probably not her acting, she’s a wonderful actress, but her portrayal of the Queen as someone cold and detached, and the absence of humour and smiles that surprised me most of all, because the two queens seem to be different people (although the third season picks up very soon chronologically as the second one finished, a matter of months or so).
Not much done there, but I finished the basic course and started geometry. So far it’s been easy but I’m a bit apprehensive of three-dimentional geometry ahead (never understood it at school).
In general, I’m very happy that in November too I managed to find the time for maths every week. It’s a slow progress but a steady one, and with every chapter I’m gaining more and more confidence that one day I’ll be able to master more difficult concepts and apply them in my future work.
The only question I have is why did it take me so long to swallow my pride and to go back to the very basics? Had I done it 5 years ago, I would have covered all the major topics by now. But no… 5 years ago I thought it was below me to open an ordinary school textbook on maths. I thought I could go with the ones for entry exam preparation. What sheer stupidity! Of course, the university preparation books were too difficult after God knows how many years of no maths at all, so I got stuck, lost my motivation, confidence and belief in my abilities.
But now, with every problem solved I’m bringing all this back. And that feels good)
And how November was for you?