Knowledge, please help me!

help

As a lot of people, I have multiple passions. As a lot of people , I’m practicing them when I have time. But as few people, I’m practicing these multiple passions at the same time, I’m actually combining them. Now, you start to think that I’m multi tasking and you might have read a lot of articles which explains that multi-tasking doesn’t exist. My answer is: Yes multi-tasking doesn’t exist, and I’m not doing that for my passions I love them so much that I want to be sure I want to practice correctly and dedicate the time they need. I like to learn the why, the how and the what of languages and I love coding, especially in a reusable way. Do you have more clues about my technique? No? Ok, let’s see it together.

A little introduction

I’m currently computer science student in Beijing, China. I’m currently learning Chinese and I discovered how beautiful a language can be, not only with Chinese, but also with Korean, Arabic, English, Spanish, … I can speak 3 languages (French which is my mother tongue, English and Spanish) and I’m learning the 4th one. Before to learn Chinese I never really gave an interest in learning new ways to communicate, I just thought it was necessary in order to do business and have more opportunities, but in fact this partially true (we will talk bout it later).

I also learned how to code for 5 years now and I feel really confident with plenty of technologies. I really all the possibilities computer science gives to human and especially all the useful ones, and I want to emphasize on USEFUL. Computer science can help us to improve as human, to discover new things about us and the world and finally it enhances the spread of information.

The idea

Now, let me explain you the connection between these two fields which appears to be only linked, from an external point of view, by the work done by Google with Google Translate. In fact it’s more than that, if you ever learned another language you normally went through some apps, websites, … The industry of language learning is really huge. For my part, I’m using some apps like Memrise or Anki, which help me to review and learn some vocabulary. However, I had a big problem. I wanted something to review my vocabulary, test me on different skills (listening, reading and writing), and finally to give me a detailed score or any important feedback to help me improve.

I was looking everywhere, asking for some recommendations from friends and finally I had an idea. Why not apply the knowledge I have in computer science to learn a language. It was the beginning of the combination of my two passions. Then I analyzed which platform I wanted to develop on, Phone? Computer? Online? I realized that when I was reviewing my Chinese I would prefer to do it on my phone but actually for test I would prefer to do it on computer. I guess it is just habits.

It was a problem, I don’t have enough time or enough money to spend on the creation of an app and a software. So why not doing only the software which is able to create an output of an already existing app? I was excited, I had my idea! I finally needed to find the all process. I wanted to develop a software but on which concept, how would I work on it and how would it be giving me value?

The process

The concept

As I said I like to do reusable things, I don’t like working on something knowing that it will be erased or deprecated as soon as I finished it. My goal was to provide a language trainer and so I need to define what is a trainer for me. Here is the list:

  • Reading, listening, writing
  • Able to give a list of vocabulary to review
  • Give a detailed feedback
  • Be simple to use These four were the four basics expectations I had for the project. Then I realized that actually, the reading, the listening and the writing part were all required in the official Chinese proficiency exam (HSK). I took some mock exams and looked how it works. I finally had my concept: I wanted to create a language trainer based on the exam. For the vocabulary list, I would have the possibility to highlight some words in the questions or in the answers and for the feedback, I would have the possibility to review the questions I answered wrong at the end of the exam with the correct answer (it’s not a really detailed feedback, I know. It will evolve later). Finally for the simplicity, I just needed to copy the simplicity of the exam, multiple choice question, question and possible answers.

The value

What about the value? It would help me to practice the reading, listening and writing skills but I wanted more. Something I couldn’t find in other apps, softwares I used. To define an exam I’m using XML (It’s just a file format) in order to represent all the questions, the answer and the possible answers. Yes, I’m writing all the questions by hand on my computer. Why are you doing this? Are you crazy? It takes so much time! You would be right if I wasn’t able to keep my own format for the questions and if I was not actually reviewing my Chinese while writing all these questions. This is my value. While typing all these questions, I take time to review my Chinese. Each time I don’t know a character or a word, I had them to my Anki. I’m spending all the time, reading and writing on my computer and finally I’m testing myself to know my level compared to the one required for the exam I want to pass.

Conclusion

You can practice your passion together! You just need to be creative and try your ideas. It took me a little bit of time to find that idea and it takes me a little bit of time to develop it, but you know what? I love what I’m doing. Maybe there are some faster ways to do it, maybe I would have finished if I used them but I’m not impatient, I just look for fun and result.

It’s finished for me, now it’s your turn. If you liked this article and if you want to give your opinion please feel free to leave a comment down below. If you want to contact me in private for projects or anything else you can just find my contact information on the contact page on the menu bar or on the bottom of the page.

Written on April 8, 2018