Super Challenge: May 2016

Hey, guys! So, we’re into June, everything’s great – and can you believe that the first month of the Super Challenge is over already? Now, what I’m planning to do each month is write a short post detailing what I did and whether I’ve noticed any progress.

[Quick note: if you don’t know what the Super Challenge is, then go here first! 🙂 ]

Super Challenge: May 2016 | 学习Sprachen

So, I definitely started off the month strong. German, in particular, has proven to be a lot easier to read than in the past, though settling on something to watch can be difficult. I know already though, that there are certain things I need to work on.

German | 学习Sprachen

Pages read: 377 (7.5 “books”)
Minutes watched: 588 (9.8 hours, 6.5 “films”)

This month, I finished reading Skulduggery Pleasant: Der Gentleman mit der Feuerhand and started reading Skulduggery Pleasant: Das Groteskerium kehrt zurück. Both of these are books I’ve read before in English, but I read them a long time ago and though some of the details started to come back to me as I was reading the first one, it was still hazy. The second one is hazier still and I think when I get to the third, I’ll have forgotten most of what I originally read, so it should be like reading new books again.

This is a YA series and really fun, so it’s one I’d recommend if you’re into fantasy with a good sense of humour. I’d say, language-wise, it’s actually a little easier than Harry Potter (especially the later ones!) but if you’re not familiar with the story already and want to just jump in, it might be a little tricky. Still, don’t let that put you off – most of the chapters are quite short (the long ones tend to be followed by short ones, anyway), so even if it’s difficult, for a novel, you should get through it quite quickly.

I do wish I’d made the effort to finish Das Groteskerium kehrt zurück this month; I’m 63% of the way through and I was racking up the page counts for a while there, but oh well. I’m finding I’m getting into a groove with my German reading now and it doesn’t make me tired the way it used to. It’s getting started that’s the tricky part.

Media-wise, I watched 28 episodes of Archer this month, because it’s on Netflix and I love it. It’s a cartoon for adults and as such is appropriately rude and offensive, but I’ve enjoyed watching the first three seasons again, since I haven’t seen them in a while. I do tend to be aware of what’s going on regardless of the language because I’ve seen the episodes before, but I’ve definitely noticed more slang than in other things I’ve watched, so I think it’s still useful.

The numbers mean too that I finished German ahead of where I should be for May (five books/five films per month), so that’s great!

Spanish | 学习Sprachen

Pages read: 52 (1 “book”)
Minutes watched: 84 (1.4 hours, 0.9 “films”)

Okay, so not so much for Spanish – but I was glad to get through nearly one book and one film for the language, since it is the weakest of the three I’ve chosen. I’ve been reading both Matilda and Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal; I think I’m about halfway through both books (I started reading them both way before the challenge began). I made a lot of progress on this front towards the beginning of the month, but it died out pretty quickly. There are a couple of reasons for this: for one, I’ve not been studying a lot of Spanish, which is important. Try as I might, I’m not going to just pick up the language from reading, not yet. I don’t know enough. I need to complement my reading and watching with some more active work, which is what I’m going to try for June. Secondly: I’m still in the early stages where reading things in Spanish gets me very tired, very quickly. One way I’ve found around that is to just read as many pages as possible in an alloted time (e.g. set a timer for 25-30 minutes), which can work better than trying to slog through to the end of the chapter.

I’ve been watching Arrested Development in Spanish, again on Netflix and again because I enjoy it. Plus, there’s also some really natural dialogue in the show because it’s about a family, so there are some things that are useful to pick up. I’m definitely not catching all the verbal jokes though (of which there are many!) so I might do a re-watch at the end of the challenge to see if that’s changed.

I’m obviously behind on Spanish, but being as it’s my weakest language, that’s okay. I’m not pushing myself to catch up until we’re at least halfway through the challenge, so there’s no need to worry about that now.

Mandarin | 学习Sprachen

Pages read: 0
Minutes watched: 0

Oh mannnnnnn am I neglecting my Mandarin. Honestly, it’s getting kind of embarrassing now: I’ve been studying this language for almost six years and I can still barely read anything. I do think that’s the thought process that’s getting in the way of me making any progress too, however, so I need to try and get over it.

The thing is, I have a lot of reading material, I just get very bored because I find it incredibly difficult to deal with characters. I can sometimes accurately guess their meanings – I’m getting better at that – but then I have to check the pronunciation, because otherwise I won’t remember them and just – gah! – it’s hard, is my point. Still, I’m not going to get better by doing nothing, so I’m hoping to minimally get through one “book” this month (50 pages).

There’s literally no excuse for not watching anything, either. I’m going to find something in the next few days and fix that.

So, that’s it for May’s report! I’ve read a total of 429 pages and watched a total of 672 minutes last month, so let’s see if I can top that in June. June is a Tadoku month though, so it should be a little easier… 😉

Let me know how you’re getting on with the Super Challenge, if you’re taking part. And if you have any recommendations for books/films/TV shows, then don’t hesitate to leave a comment!


  1. For Mandarin, I’m using Mandarin Companion and Chinese Breeze… I prefer Mandarin Companion as you can buy them for a kindle which is so handy. But both series are good for learning characters! My reading speed has improved a lot since starting these.

    • Oh, cool! I think I have one Chinese Breeze book (somewhere…) but yes, kindle books are wayyyy handier for me. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Wow, impressive word count! I am working on my Thai now (I’m still very beginner), but now that I’m spending the summer in Thailand, I’ve found it a lot easier to obtain easy reading materials. It turns out they have a ton of bilingual picture books for kids learning English, so I can just use them in the reverse of how they are originally intended. Here’s a link to my two posts so far about learning to read in Thai:

    • Ah, cool! I got a book like that for Mandarin when I was there, and it was pretty helpful – I need to see if I can find some more somewhere… Good luck with your Thai! 😀

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