Karen's Spanish learning journey

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Sep 12, 2016 4:47 pm

My previously stated goals for the week have taken a back seat to my new language learning obsession - playing with subs2srs and editing subtitles. I finally figured out how to extract data from the DVD of The Incredibles. (Hint - if the first DVD drive doesn't work, try a different one) and decided to attempt a real test run. The next problem that I encountered was finding an accurate Spanish subtitle file. There are many versions available but all that I looked at were translations of the original English script, not accurate subtitles for the Spanish soundtrack. Lucky for me the Spanish soundtrack for The Incredibles is very easy to understand, so this is turning into a transcription exercise. I've spent an obscene amount of time during the past several days playing with the subtitle. I feel as though I have a shiny new toy and I want to play with it as much as possible. The weather even cooperated on Saturday; it was too wet outside for even a short bike ride. It has temporally derailed my progress with Gramática del Uso de Español B1-B2 and slowed my progress in reading Harry Potter, but that is OK. I'm taking a side trip, but I am still continuing my journey.

I've ordered a bunch of movies from both Spain and Latin America so that I can make a number of subs2srs decks. All of the movies, except Matando Cabos which has great reviews on Amazon, are found on lists of the 'best' Spanish language movies. If I am to spend a lot of time with this content, I want it to be good. The movies are:

    Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown (Spain; English subtitles only, close captioned)
    Volver (Spain; English subtitles only)
    Pan's Labyrinth (Spain; English and Spanish subtitles)
    The Orphanage (Spain; English and Spanish subtitles)
    Matando Cabos (Mexico; English and Spanish subtitles)
    The Motorcycle Diaries (Argentina; English subtitles only)
    Maria Full of Grace (Colombia; English and Spanish subtitles)
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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Sep 19, 2016 6:53 pm

All of my DVDs have arrived and I've already made my first subs2srs deck from start to finish. I picked El Orfanato at random and managed to create a Anki subs2srs deck over the weekend. The process went fairly smoothly. Emk's post on the process (http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/fo ... PN=0&TPN=1) was extremely helpful. I used Excel to prune approximately 100 lines of very repetitive dialog from the subs2srs data prior to importing it into Anki and to organize the data to fit the format of my Anki template. I've already looked at the first 20 cards in the deck and can tell that El Orfanato is going to be much easier than Celda 211. The dialog is simple, there is not very much of it and so far, it is well articulated. The Spanish subtitle also seems to be very accurate. I will post more detailed comments when I have more information.

Now that I have two subs2srs decks to work with and the material to make several more, I need to think about how to proceed in the most effective manner. My goal is to improve both the speed and the accuracy of my listening comprehension in Spanish, especially for informal language. I think I need to consider both the order in which I study these movies and how I will evaluate my progress. Will my improved ability to understand these movies lead to improvements in overall listening comprehension? How can distinguish between improved listening comprehension and memorization of the movie's dialog? I generally think that it is better to start with easier material and gradually increase the difficulty. With that in mind, I will focus on the El Orfanato deck first and decrease the daily limit of new cards in Celda 211 to 5 or less. However, devising metrics for evaluating my progress requires more thought.

I'm still working my way through Gramática de uso del español B1-B2, although at a slower pace. I had started to write more extensive notes on the material from each unit and this has slowed down my pace to 3 or 4 units per week. I've also been chipping away at the FSI Basic course - 10 minutes at a time! It would be nice to be able to complete one of my progress bars, but at the rate that I'm going I won't see a bar at 100% for months. But, that's OK. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

My learning goals for the upcoming week are the following:
1. Continue to study Gramática de uso del español B1-B2, 3-4 unit for the week.
2. Study my Anki vocabulary & subs2srs deck every day.
3. Listen intensively to at least one new podcasts.
4. Continue reading Harry Potter 4.
5. Watch an episode or two of Spanish television..
6. I hope to do an 1 hour of Spanish conversation over the next week with my language exchange partners.
1 x
April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Sep 26, 2016 7:18 pm

I spent some time this past week contemplating how to measure improvements in my listening comprehension once I have worked my way through a number of subs2srs decks. Of course, I could compare my perception of my current comprehension to my perception 6 months from now. This would be informative but highly subjective. A more objective, quantitative measure would be better. I had seen Dialang mentioned in posts on this site and decided to take a look. Unfortunately, I decided to take a look shortly after taking Benadryl for seasonal allergies and I was too fuzzy headed to even think about the possibility that being fuzzy headed would influence the results until I was half way through the test. :oops: Oh well. Despite all that, I managed to score right in the middle of the B1 range. I had thought I would score higher but then I realized that this particular test, which consisted of a series of very short clips that you only hear once followed by a comprehension question, did not let me derive a lot of my comprehension from contextual cues and required me to retain the details long enough to answer the question correctly (working memory!). A real world example of the latter is being able to remember, accurately, a series of directions without asking the speaker to repeat them. I can remember a much, much longer series of facts in English than I can remember in Spanish. I need to find a way to work on this.

Of course, everything that I am already doing should help these aspects of listening comprehension, a rising tide lifts all boats and all, but I think transcription drills may be a more targeted approach. I have never done transcription drills and I think it would be worth a try. I went searching for free resources and found two shared Anki decks with Spanish sentences and associated sound files. The audio for the sentence is set to play only once on the front and I added a "type your answer" field to the front. The Spanish text appears on the reverse. Presto! A deck for transcription drills! I've started with the easier deck (very easy sentences) and set the number of daily reviews to zero. This way I will only see each card when it is a "new card". I don't plan to spend a lot of time with this resource, but I will use it as a supplement to what I am already doing. Having a variety of material to use keeps me entertained.

My learning goals for the upcoming week are the following:

High priority
1. Continue to study Gramática de uso del español B1-B2, 3-4 units for the week.
2. Study my Anki vocabulary & subs2srs deck every day.
3. Finish the last 13 pages of Harry Potter 4.
4. Watch an episode or two of Spanish television.
5. I hope to do an 1 hour of Spanish conversation over the next week with my language exchange partners.

Low priority
6. Do transcription drills when the mood strikes me.
7. Chip away at FSI.
8. Listen to a podcast or two.
1 x
April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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klvik
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Posts: 128
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Location: United States
Languages: English (N) Spanish (Intermediate)
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Tue Oct 04, 2016 4:16 pm

This week I managed to hit all my targets except for the 1 hour of conversation. I finished Harry Potter 4 (Harry Potter y el caliz de fuego)! I enjoyed reading it but it is not one of my favorite books in the series, in English or in Spanish. If I remember correctly, I enjoyed Harry Potter 5 much more than HP4. Thank goodness because it is a long book. Ideally, I would like to finish it before the Thanksgiving holiday (end of November) but would be happy to finish before Christmas. I've gone past the halfway mark for Gramática de uso. If I am able to continue doing 3-4 units per week, I will finish this course in January. It is tempting to increase my pace so that I can finish by the end of the year, but I don't think it would be realistic. I will be starting a 6 week long MOOC on October 17th (http://mooc.speakapps.org/) which aims to improve the English or Spanish speaking abilities of the participants. It pairs up English native speakers and Spanish native speakers to complete various speaking tasks. You don't have a fixed partner rather you select one from the list of people logged in at the time. One of my practice partners has also signed up so I know that I will have at least one personas with whom I work effectively. If I find other Spanish participants with whom I enjoy working, I can envision spending a lot of time on this course which means everything else will grind to a halt for 6 weeks. This course could be especially useful for me since I am down to 1 consistent practice partner until my other partners settle into their new routines in graduate school.

My learning goals for the upcoming week are the following:

High priority
    1. Continue to study Gramática de uso del español B1-B2, 3-4 units for the week.
    2. Study my Anki vocabulary & subs2srs deck every day.
    3. Continue reading Harry Potter 5.
    4. Watch an episode or two of Spanish television.
    5. One practice session with a language exchange partner.
Low priority
    1. Do transcription drills when the mood strikes me.
    2. Chip away at FSI.
    3. Listen to a podcast or two.
1 x
April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:27 pm

Several weeks ago I had started doing transcription drills to work on the accuracy of my listening comprehension and to improve my ability remember a sentence long enough to write it down without mistakes. I started with a shared Anki deck with many, many sentences but the audio was computer generated. TTS audio is better than no audio, but I dislike the sound of computerized voices so when I discovered a shared sentence deck by Wordbrewery I switched to that one. This deck has plenty of mistakes (the most frequent being the incorrect sound file associated with the note) but the audio is good quality and they used more than one actor to record the audio. I ignore the English translations so I won't comment on them.

How am I using this deck? First, I added a 'type your answer' field on the front side. Now when a new card appears I hear the audio play once and then I type the sentence. When I reveal the answer I see how many mistakes I made. Once I have revealed the answer, sometime I will use the sentence for shadowing. I do not want to SRS these sentences so I changed the deck options to "0 reviews per day". After a few weeks of this, my ability to retain the sentence long enough to write it out has improved.

What have I discovered so far in regards to my listening comprehension accuracy? My ear often confuses ese and este. I often confuse nos (the object pronoun) with no. These type of problems are not surprising and I do not find them worrisome at this point. What I found more interesting was the number of times that I recognized the verb but my brain automatically conjugated it into the presente, pretérito indefinido or pretérito imperfecto instead of the conditional, future or any of the subjunctives. It doesn't happen all the time but it happens frequently enough that I noticed it. This indicates to me that I need to spend much more time listening to sentences that use those tenses so that I can train my ear to hear the differences rather than defaulting to the most commonly used tenses.

My dream learning resource would be a database of sentences with audio that I could search by verb tense or by other grammatical structures. So, if I am reviewing a specific grammatical structure I could easily pull out example sentences. It would give me a way to integrate focused listening practice with my grammar review. I think this database would be very useful to me so I decided to build it. I have collected almost 2000 sentences (with audio) so far from Tatoeba and from various podcasts and I am in the process of annotating. My very limited experience using Microsoft Access occurred about 10 years ago so it took me a while to get started. I think this type of focused listening activity will be a good complement to listening to 'real world' messy Spanish via Subs2SRS decks of movies and to watching/listening to movies an television shows.

My learning goals for the upcoming week are the following:

My Spanish/English MOOC (http://mooc.speakapps.org/) starts on Monday so I am not setting other specific goals until I get a sense of how much time I will spend on this course.
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April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:48 pm

I started my Spanish MOOC this week. This course is designed as a series of Spanish/English language exchanges with predefined tasks to accomplish and a partner selected randomly from the list of participants that are online when you chose to attempt a session. It is too soon to be sure, but I think the course will prove to be useful. The course designers have selected content that is suitable for wide range of language abilities. Most of the tasks that I have completed so far consisted of describing pictures and identifying the differences between my image and my partners, without seeing the second image. The website for the course needs a complete redesign, but the technical issues should become less problematic as more participants familiarize themselves with the system. For me, I think the most useful aspect of this course will be speaking Spanish with a wider range of people than I do normally. My initial impression is that with some people, I feel as if my Spanish sounds better than it really is, while with others it feels as if my skills decrease. Some of it is related to the speed at which they speak. I automatically try to match the speed at which the other speaker is talking. If my partner is speaking in a slow and relaxed manner, so will I. If they are more excitable and speak more rapidly, I will end up trying to speak more quickly than my brain can produce good sentences. I adjust the speed of my speech to the audience when I speak English as well, but in my native language a faster speed doesn't cause any problems.

I have started to watch an ~80 episode telenovela about the life of the salsa goddess, Celia Cruz. It was recommend by Iguanamon and has just become available on Netflix. I have only seen the first 5 episodes but I have enjoyed them very much. The acting is not very sophisticated, but the singers are fantastic and the storyline does not involve narcotics. :D I am also enjoying the glimpses into pre-Castro Cuban culture although I don't know how accurate the historical details are.

I am very close to having a small database of Spanish sentences (with native speaker audio). I have collected 1,600 sentences so far and am almost finished annotating each database entry. Once I finish the annotation I will be able to quickly generate Anki decks containing sentences with the desired grammatical feature (specific verb tense, por/para ect). Most of the sentences so far are from Tatoeba and they are fairly simple. As I go forward I will try to add more complex sentences. In the meantime, I should have enough sentences to review as I continue working through Gramática del Uso del Español B1-B2. For example, as each verb tense is covered in the book, I will create a filtered deck containing sentences that use that verb tense (just cram mode, no SRSing). It is my hope that, by cross-polinating my listening practice and my grammar study, I will achieve some synergy in my learning.
4 x
April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sat Nov 05, 2016 6:29 pm

I am almost halfway through the Spanish/English MOOC I am taking and I am still enjoying it very much. I haven't been able to participate very much this week, but the previous week I logged a session every day for a grand total of 3 1/2 hours of speaking Spanish! I know that it really isn't a lot of time for output practice, but I still feel a sense of accomplishment. So far, I've been pleased with my listening comprehension during the course. Of course, these were one-on-one conversations and the native speakers were speaking more slowly and clearly than they would with other native speakers. Be that what it may, I will still pat myself on the back. The only people I have had difficulties understanding were a couple of gentlemen from Andalucía and for one of them the connection was a contributing factor . I also have decided that primary school teachers make fantastic practice partners for less advanced speakers. They are accustomed to speaking slowly and clearly and they typically have a lot of patience.

The goal of this course is to improve your speaking in your target language. I don't think a 6 week course is long enough to make a significant impact on my speaking ability, but it does provide an opportunity to evaluate my progress - outside of the comfort zone of my regular practice partners. Anything that I learn about my current Spanish speaking ability I can use to inform my study over the next 6 months to a year. For instance, I do not feel nervous when I am speaking Spanish with a stranger, but if I sense that the other person finds it burdensome to listen to someone speak with a lot of hesitations and pauses, my speaking ability suffers. On the other hand, when I am speaking with someone who is comfortable in their own skin, who is non-judgmental and who enjoys the experience, my Spanish improves. Since day to day interactions in the real world include speaking to people who are impatient and intolerant of mistakes, this suggests that I should try to step outside of my comfort zone more often.

I have continued to watch Celia on Netflix and am now up to episode 14. So far, the series is delightful. The acting is a little overdone and campy, but the music and quality of the singing more than make up for that. Several of the characters drop the 's' at the end of words and pronounce the "-ado" as "-ao"; an accent that I find difficult to follow. Because of this I am watching with the Spanish subtitles. I'm trying to only read the subtitles when the difficult characters are speaking but my eyes always stray back to the subtitles... Hopefully, I will be able to drop the subtitles before I finish the series. 8 Apellidos Vascos, one of the moves on my 'I want to watch' list, also just became available on Netflix. It's a very enjoyable movie but I struggled to understand it at first- even with the Spanish subtitles. The characters are from Andalusia and Basque Country which makes understanding their Spanish very challenging for me. Strangely, I do not perceive the Andalusian accent as an accent when I hear it, rather it registers as very difficult to understand (even more difficult than Caribbean Spanish). Over the years, I've had many non-natives speakers of English tell me that they cannot hear the difference between various English accents but that some people were just very difficult to understand. It is interesting to experience this phenomenon for myself.
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2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sat Nov 12, 2016 10:16 pm

I have been slowly chugging along with my studies this week. The election results took the wind out of my sails for a few days. I am recovering, but I have spent too much time this week reading political news instead of studying Spanish. However, I did manage to finish Harry Potter y el orden del fénix, all 896 pages of it. I have enjoyed reading the first 5 books in Spanish but now it is time to read a book with an unfamiliar story. I will stick to young adult literature for a while longer, mainly to provide more language exposure before I start any books that I want to savor the beauty of the language while reading. I already have copies of Isabel Allende's La Ciudad de las Bestias trilogy and Carlos Ruiz Zafón's El Príncipe de la Niebla and plan to read both trilogies before I finish my "teenage years" of reading in Spanish. I couldn't come up with a good reason to read one before the other, so I have decided to start with the Zafón series because the books are shorter. Intellectually it's a pretty weak selection criterion, but the page tally for all three books in the Zafón triology (El Príncipe de la Niebla, El Palacio de la Medianoche, and Las Luces de Septiembre) is only 17 pages more than Harry Potter 5. I'm looking forward to the satisfaction of finishing another book- sooner rather than later.

I also recently completed my first, in-house -generated, Subs2SRS deck! The deck was generated from the movie El Orfanato (2007), a Spanish ghost story which had received good reviews both in Spain and abroad. The DVD that I bought has both English subtitles and accurate Spanish titles, the movie uses fairly simple language, there is not a lot of dialog (about 700 cards worth after pruning the repetitive dialog), and the characters use very little slang. I stopped studying the deck once unseen cards reached zero even though the number of mature cards was still low. For this particular deck, I did not think the additional study time required to mature additional cards would reap much benefit. What do I think about the Subs2SRS method after completing this deck? Well, I will give it an enthusiastic 2 thumbs up! It allows me to listen to native material with repetition while maintaining my interest. I find it very useful to listen to a line of dialog multiple times until everything registers easily. Hitting "R" multiple times while reviewing an Anki card is easy to do and it doesn't annoy me. In contrast, I cannot bring myself to replay scenes while watching movies or television series. I need to watch them straight through without stopping. I also found it very engaging to have the story line reveal itself a few lines of dialog at a time. Next movie on the list for Subs2SRS is El Laberinto del Fauno (Pan's Labyrithn).
5 x
April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116

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Lee-in-Pennsylvania
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Languages: Native English speaker, have studied Mandarin plus a bit of French and Spanish
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Lee-in-Pennsylvania » Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:30 am

Hi Karen, I've been skimming through your log and enjoying it. I too got a bit derailed by the election and its aftermath, and spent a lot of time reading political news. Great that you were able to get back to work. You're inspiring me!
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klvik
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3149
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:35 pm

Lee-in-Pennsylvania wrote:Hi Karen, I've been skimming through your log and enjoying it. I too got a bit derailed by the election and its aftermath, and spent a lot of time reading political news. Great that you were able to get back to work. You're inspiring me!


Thanks, Lee. The language logs on this site have been a source of inspiration for me as well.
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April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
Half Writing Output Challenge: 2994 / 25000
FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
Gramática de Uso B1-B2: 79 / 116


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