Since I started taking Spanish classes, I created a small browser-based tool to help me memorizing vocabulary. I think using paper is great, but I also wanted to have something on my laptop, since I stare at it most of the day.
A few years ago I toyed with an idea for a language learning iOS app. Unfortunately, it didn’t get me anywhere. Here’s why.
1) The medium
I love my phone, but it is not the screen I look at most of the day. Also, the amount of effort required by a user to launch an app is just about the same as the effort required to open a notebook.
When I was working on the iPhone app, I wasn’t studying any new languages. I was already improving my english and german by talking with people, reading news and listening to podcasts. I was an advanced learner. I didn’t need a basic tool to help me memorize vocabulary.
Everything changed three weeks ago when we arrived in Tarrag0na and I started taking Spanish classes. This time, I had a purpose to write software. I knew what I needed and how to create it. I have my ways of learning new vocabulary and the ability to enhance that with software.
I’m almost done with the code and have been using the tool the last few days. It works nicely and there are fewer bugs every day. I’m planning on launching it next week and we will see where it goes from there.
The name of the app is Vorto Tabs. Vorto means word in Esperanto. You can use the app with words and phrases, but it’s all about increasing vocabulary and doing it in a convenient way. Paper is convenient, but what can be more convenient than opening a new browser tab?
I’m learning Spanish and I feel dumb. I’m limited in everything I do. Buying groceries, going to a bank, ordering coffee at a coffee shop, food at a restaurant or saying hi to people while walking the dog. Imaging that everything you do is 10 times harder and that’s how I feel now.
I’m on my second week of going to Spanish classes and no, I can’t say I see a difference between now and two weeks ago. Hopefully next time I write, I will be able to report some progress. For now I can say that I’m trying to immerse myself as much as I can. Spanish podcasts, classes, articles, sticky notes and iOS apps.
Learning Spanish inspired me to work on my own language learning tool. I’m almost done with a small in-browser tool to practice vocabulary. The first step was to think of how I use my laptop and utilize the part of the screen I stare at the most. I made my learning almost involuntary yet very accessible and easy. I’m planning on releasing it sometime this week once I make sure there aren’t any major problems with it.
Oh and did I mention that I finally touched angular.js?
Here is a preview.
Before you start reading this post, please take a few minutes to listen to the Reply All’s episode I’ve embedded. Its about diversity and it stuck with me as a reminder of why I travel and why being in a new, challenging situations is so beneficial.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t feel like listening to the full episode, start at 24:17 and stop whenever you get the point.
The ketchup story speaks to me in a very clear and positive way and it is a reminder why I put myself through all the changes and turn my life upside down every few years.
A week ago me and my wife Katie arrived to Spain. We moved from Chicago where we’ve spent the last four years and were very happy. We had lots of great friends and coworkers, loved the neighborhoods we lived in and felt like we’re in the middle of something huge. Chicago was amazing and we are lucky the city was a part of our lives. The move the Spain wasn’t easy. We’re in Tarragona surrounded by a new culture, language, cuisine, and everything else you might consider a part of your everyday life. And on top of that we don’t really speak Spanish. We’re both fucked. Two outsiders trying to fit in.
One of my coworkers once told me that she can’t imagine being so far from her family and I can understand that. Living in a new place without your closest people isn’t easy. Also, some people are fine keeping ketchup in one place all their lives or can learn from the immediate surroundings. I respect that too. No need to travel to a different time zone and start from scratch.
The move might seem crazy for most but well… listen to the Reply All episode once again and maybe it won’t be that crazy after all?! What we’re trying to do in Spain is to find our where locals keep their ketchup at and what to replace it with when we run out. It can only make us better…
Being a contractor is challenging. You try to compromise paid work with your interests, free time and the necessary stuff that ultimately, makes you a better professional and allows your client to get to know you better.
I abandoned this website a few times already. It went without updates for months. Silence always happens when I’m the most productive and don’t have the time to write. It shouldn’t happen. Most often, business spanns new ideas, side projects and cool collaborations. I should keep writing about it instead of shutting it down due to a lack of writing time.]
Hopefully, this time I will be more strict about posting. There is so much stuff I’ve learned over the last few months and I hope it’s gonna be an interesting read for the people who visit this site.
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