On and off, for the last few years, I’ve been using Microsoft’s Excel to track how I study Korean.
My motto/tagline for studying the language: “one hasn’t a why or because or although.” People like to ask me why?! as in why do I study Korean? It’s a fair question and there is a story, but it’s a convoluted, extraordinarily long, and doesn’t-make-a-lot-of-sense kind of story. The simple truth of the matter is that I like it. I don’t have a reason. Some people feel as if they were born to write, read, paint or … Me? I study languages, play instruments, read, write, and volunteer because if I don’t do those things, all of them (which is a lot, trust me) life feels wrong. I’m not the person I want to be.
Why I Made the Charts &c. Below (My Justification for Using Excel to Track my Progress in Korean)
- I majored in history → I love records. Korean has also been a lot of work and I want to record that. I want to be able to say that I learned Korean in a very simply way: I put hours into it. I don’t have any special talent for languages. Still, I haven’t done that much. I spend a lot of my “study” time watching TV and reading comic books. Doing those things at a leisurely pace hasn’t made me progress quickly, but they are enough for progress.
- Math is my BFF → I like pretty charts and statistics, but more than that, I like analyzing statistics, seeing things as numbers, and seeing those numbers grow.
- It’s motivational → I made the spreadsheet to record things. If I have nothing to record, the spreadsheet goes to waste and I’m annoyed.
- It keeps me realistic → I’m ambitious. At times, I can be too much of a perfectionist. I get frustrated easily and there’s something magical and sobering about seeing numbers. If X requires approximately 100 hours of study, I can’t get mad at myself for not being there when I only put in 20—I’m not broken; I’m not stupid; I just didn’t put in the time. If I put in the time, I’ll get there.
How I Use Excel to Keep Track (2013 Version)
The first two boxes, “Days Studied (Chain),” is of how many days I’ve studied in a row. The more the number grows, the more annoying I think it’ll be to see it suddenly drop to zero. Average time per day comes after that. If that drops too low, I think I’ll feel the same annoyance I’d feel at seeing the other number fall to zero.
I prefer keeping track of most things in minutes as opposed to hours. I can get something worthwhile finished in 1 minute. Minutes also grow 60 times quicker than hours.
Thanks to Excel, all the statistics in the chart above are automated and I don’t have to manually do a thing. The numbers on the Y-axis track time in minutes.
I divided my studying into five categories because it’s important for me to engage Korean in different ways.
- Purple → novels (and perhaps non-fiction and probably other books; I haven’t decided yet)
- Blue → textbooks, books made for people learning Korean (these are for native speakers and non-native speakers)
- Teal → news (articles on the Internet written in Korean)
- Olive Green → TV (TV shows, movies, dramas, &c.)
- Orange → review (recently, I haven’t spent any time reviewing anything, but I still think reviewing is important, so I threw it up there to remind myself: reviewing is important, maybe)
- Red → misc. (random stuff like classes, workshops, language exchanges, manga, &c.)
This second chart is similar to the first. It’s just easier for me to see the categories this way.
My Korean spreadsheet is public. It’s a work in progress. I may change some categories. I may delete other parts of it. I may add things. I want to keep track of as much as I can without letting the task of tracking become a burden. If you have any suggestions, let me know. Thanks!
If not, you can still stalk my studies by viewing the sheet. It’ll change whenever I update it. For the curious, here’s my 2011 version.