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3 lessons I learnt from missing my Summer Recording Challenge goal

I messed up. I knew I’d be busy teaching at a summer camp in July so I came up with the idea of a Summer Recording Challenge. I still maintain it’s a great idea, but I made a few mistakes in my approach. That’s ok, we’re all human and we can learn from our mistakes. Here are the lessons I learnt:

1. Test your equipment early and often.

Mic có nhiều gió lắm.

Mic của Thảo có nhiều gió lắm. Buồn quá!

I’d used my headset many times in Vietnam while skyping as well as to record on Rhinospike. I continued skyping when I returned home but little did I know, the headset had been damaged a little in my trip back to the UK and now features a heavy dose of static. It wasn’t until I attempted a trial run the day before I hoped to start the challenge that I found this static.

I tried to remove the buzzing noise with Audacity but it didn’t turn out right. I bought a new cheap headset when I had a day off and the chance to go to town, but I was already more than a week behind and had nothing but several static-filled recordings of the same text to show for it. I never caught up.

2. Get into a language routine before other big changes in your life.

If you know you’re going to have a busy month – an important project at work, moving house, a friend staying over – get your routine down before the busy period starts. It was a huge error to have the first day of the challenge coincide with the day that real work began at my summer gig. I wish I’d started a few days earlier, sorted out any problems before I got busy and built some momentum with the project, making it easier to stay committed.

3. Find it hard to stick to goals? Read this.

Last month I read an article which blew me away – finding it difficult to stick to rules or goals is a personality thing, which may have contributed to my lack of consistency with recordings. I don’t think this was the whole problem but given limited time and equipment problems as mentioned above, a so-called upholder or obliger probably would have made more effort to find a solution so they could keep up with the goal. Perhaps next time I should blackmail myself or just keep it a secret until it’s finished.

What now?

The summer isn’t over, I kept up with skyping every day so Vietnamese is still fresh in my mind. I have a new mic and some free time so I’m still going to try and complete the project, starting on Wednesday. It will be later than planned, but at least I learnt some valuable lessons along the way!

Over to you: How’s your summer language learning going?