Tuesday, January 08, 2013

2013 Goal Setting Part 3b - Something Lost, Something Gained

Somehow in this shuffle I lost my goal to learn Greek.

I know where I lost it.  I had put it on a sort of back burner until I could define it better; then it became, "Mental - TBA;" then I grabbed it for my Chicago Lincoln Avenue Trail goal.

That won't do.  I have to have a Greek goal.  I thought about adding the role of Son-In-Law which is certainly a role I play and probably the strongest driver of why I want to learn Greek.  I want to make it easier to communicate with my mother and father-in-law and I want it to be as easy on them as possible.

On the other hand I have a huge pile of goals already. I should limit the number of slots available and make some tough choices right now.

That's why I've decided to move my CLAT goal to be my Writing goal.  It's bitter-sweet because I really like writing fiction, in fact I find myself doing it whenever I don't focus on something else.  It's also the only hobby I have that actually makes money (not much at all, but I have gotten back at least all my investments (i.e. postage)).

I do need to work on my writing, but I can make this work for me.  I was thinking of a podcast anyway and any writing, fiction or nonfiction requires some of the same skills, techniques and discipline.

Whenever I write fiction I do research as well.  I will continue to do research, only I will have to be more meticulous about it now.  I will continue to write, but I'll have to cite my sources.

This could work and rather than sidetracking me from becoming the next great American novelist, I should look on this as an opportunity to learn my craft from a different angle and to get more hungry to write fiction.

My CLAT Mental goal was, "Learning More About Chicago."  It will now be my Writing goal, specifically: I will produce a history podcast on a regular basis (not less frequently than fortnightly).

I will still learn more about Chicago history, and all the rest of the six steps will remain the same.

From neoskosmos.com
Now, about that Greek goal; I need to define it.  I've found a couple of different scales to measure language proficiency.  There is the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale (S1 - S5), the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) scale (Novice - Distinguished in each of 4 categories) and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching Assessment (CEFR) which uses an ABC scale, each with a level 1 and 2.

I don't think I can settle for the absolutely lowest level so I'll look at the next level on each of these scales.

ILR S2 is Limited Working Proficiency
  • able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements
  • can handle with confidence, but not with facility, most social situations including introductions and casual conversations about current events, as well as work, family, and autobiographical information
  • can handle limited work requirements, needing help in handling any complications or difficulties; can get the gist of most conversations on non-technical subjects (i.e. topics which require no specialized knowledge), and has a speaking vocabulary sufficient to respond simply with some circumlocutions
  • has an accent which, though often quite faulty, is intelligible
  • can usually handle elementary constructions quite accurately but does not have thorough or confident control of the grammar.
That's still a very long way from what I could do, and a really good level I would be happy with by the end of the year.  Heck, I've be very very happy with if after this year I could get to this level after more than 20 years not being able to.

The CEFR Level A2 is called Waystage or Beginner:
  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
I can already pretty much do this.  Let's look at the next level, B1 called Threshold or intermediate:
  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
That's more like where I need to get to.

The ACTFL one has four categories (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and four or five levels for each.  It is a little to involved for reposting here.  I'll take a look at it later.

For now I think I can set my Greek goal at a B1 or S2 level.  I'll look for some sort of test I can take to evaluate me at the end of the year, but my simple test will be to be able to hold a conversation with my in-laws (about something other than food) entirely in Greek.  Ultimately I'd like to be able to read a Greek newspaper and a book in Greek, but this would be enough for this year.
  1. Passion - I feel like the biggest idiot on the planet for not being able to learn this language yet.  That alone should be reason enough to feel a burning passion to get this done.  In addition I am desperate to better communicate with half of my family.
  2. I can picture myself talking with them, and listening to what they and my wife are arguing about, as well as sitting down to one of my father-in-law's newspapers and being able to discuss events.
  3. Interim steps
    1. I have already put flashcards on my electronic devices, and I've set myself up to review them daily
    2. There is a site called Tower of Babelfish which has a method for language learning in four steps.  They can also be found in this Lifehacker article.  It goes into great detail in how to do the steps, but here are the steps:
      1. Learn pronunciation
      2. Learn vocabulary and grammar
      3. Listen, read and write
      4. Speech
  4. Write and share.  I've done that here, and I'm going to tell my wife and in-laws.  That should be fun.
  5. Due Dates
    1. I need to study daily, so I have a daily due date
    2. I need to get all my things ready and lined up by March so I can work on this at least the rest of the year at full speed
  6. Review - I will review my progress and report here at least monthly
That sets all my goals except my work one.  I'm going to repost them in priority order (for now).

  1. Physical - P90X
  2. Mental - Learn Greek (S2 or B1)
  3. Role: Family Man - Quarterly dates
  4. Role:Abbott Worker - TBA
  5. Role: Job Hunter - Get a new job
  6. Role: Girl Scouter - Get trained
  7. Role: Boy Scouter - Gold Commissioner JtE points
  8. Role: Writer - Fornightly Chicago history podcast
  9. Spiritual - Learn the trees
  10. Role: Archaeologist - Participate in an Archaeology activity
  11. Social - Join a club

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