They say it’s best to keep things simple. And so it is with the Verb Blitz apps.
Verb Blitz, if you missed it, is a solid, old-school reference and drill tool to practise verb conjugations. I created the first over a decade a go as a nerdy hobby project in machine morphology, and it’s now available in 23 languages. Originally intended as a support for my own learning, it’s now helping lots of other learners grapple with endings, stem changes, and all other manner of verb fiendishness.
It was definitely high time for updates. The original apps were developed in XCode with Objective-C and storyboards, which are now very much ‘the old’. Since then, Swift and SwiftUI have become the smart new kids on the block for all things Apple. The longer you leave things, the harder it is to catch up, so a conversion project was as much about up-skilling myself as keeping the apps functional and easily updateable.
Reining It In
The thing to guard against is that overzealous rush you get when you start a new project. It has a lot in common with the euphoric optimism polyglots get when they start a new language. After a handful of words, we’re promising ourselves that we’ll reach C1 within a year, that’s we’ll commit large swathes of each day to linguistic endeavours. Time and other commitments get in the way, and overpromising can sometimes dent our motivation a little.
For that reason, I found myself having to rein it in a little with the new, fresh Verb Blitz apps. I have a lot of exciting ideas for further developments, but to let them take over would be to jeopardise updating the existing functionality in good time. The fact is that by focusing on getting the foundations right – the existing activities – I take care of the urgent needs first, and have lots of time later to do the more fun stuff.
Isn’t that just like learning a language? It can be so tempting to skip the boring introductory units, and head straight to the meaty chapters of a new course book. I feel that urge with every new language project I start. But it’s definitely worth reining it in. Deal with the urgent needs first – basic communication – and then all the fancy bells and whistles can come later, when you’re up and running.
It’s a nice reminder of the importance of sobriety and moderation in project management. Once again, good learning strategy seems to have a lot of touching points with well-planned tech development. Not least the oft-forgotten advice when setting out: first and foremost, keep it simple!