In a recent blog post I bemoaned how Duolingo’s streak gaming system has become something of a death march, how it’s an unavoidable slog, and how eventually I’ll be jumping off that treadmill so I can enjoy life and enjoy learning German instead of breathlessly trying to rip out a 3 minute lesson before midnight so I can keep my streak up.
No sooner did I post that, do you know what Google recommended to me in my Youtube feed? A video from some linguist polyglot who gave tips on how to get the most out of Duolingo despite its flaws and, to sum it all up, the secret is to KEEP AT IT.
This is not the future I asked for.
I joke that my only readers here are robots. I sometimes forget that they are big robots, the kind that are bent on convincing me of anything if someone will pay them a buck to try it.
In school, the prof teaching my “Intro to the C Language” course, Dr. H, really took the “Baptist” part of OBU to heart. The final project was that he would hand us a text file, a book from the New Testament, and we were to write a C program to generate a concordance (an index) to list the chapter and verse of every useful word. Bonus points if we could “stem” the words to collect variants together.
Mine was the book of Ephesians.
I was so behind in C, so out of step with the syllabus, and so overwhelmed and understudied, that I couldn’t even grok how to go about doing it. Obviously, the task is trivially easy now with modern languages. I could hack up something fairly quickly in Python. But the class was C. Low level stuff.
It was one of the lowest points in my academic path.
What really got to me was something about this prof. He was patient, approachable, almost father-knows-best-ish, but boy howdy did he push the scripture. This is the same doc who’d give us 10 bonus points on our tests if we quoted the scripture reference of the week verbatim. He did this to every class he taught. I flatly refused.
The fact that the final was related to the bible stuck in my craw. So obviously I failed that project. I failed that class with an Incomplete. I am not proud.
So why did I go to a baptist university and yet have so much disdain for the bible? Inertia. I started as this bright-eyed freshman on fire for Jesus, but by the time I took this class years later, I had grown a bit and left the church. Yet I still needed to continue with school. Rather than transfer and lose credits, I remained. My hardest lessons were learned outside of class.
I credit my ability to come as far as I have in tech to those who pained to help me when I stumbled, balked, and turned in half-efforts. I eventually got it. But damn it was a rough start.
I still have that text file somewhere. I wonder if I’ll ever finish it, just out of spite.
I’m not saying I’m a naturist or a nudist or anything, but god damn that’s comfortable.
Speaking of daily slogs, at some point I will give up this continuous streak on #Duolingo (I’m “learning” #German). I’m currently at 447 days of streak, which sounds impressive, but I’ve burned up many streak repair “tokens” to maintain that (namely, when sick, or traveling, or whatever).
Really, this Duolingo streak thing feels like a death march. I know it’s supposed to keep me on task but, fuck, even school lets out for the summer. I’m burned out. Of all the things in my life I’m also burned out on, Duolingo is the easiest to drop.
I’m at a plateau, a wall (ein Mauer), and I feel like I’m not actually learning a goddamn thing. Ich bin studieren, aber Ich lerne kein Sprache. I’m not fluent at all and an app is not going to help that. I need a real class, not this, what I call “The German Game”.
Once I get to 500 days streak, I’m giving up the daily. #Duo can sik Lily on me to passive-aggressively nag at me all it wants, I can just disable notifications. I’m…tired.
Ich bin sehr müde. So, so müde. Und krank. Kann Ich schlafe, bitte?