Karen's Spanish learning journey

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Fri Nov 25, 2016 8:12 pm

Spending time with family during the Thanksgiving holiday after a brutal presidential election has made me think a lot about the quality of discourse and how, deliberately or inadvertently, we often sabotage open discourse. Goals, priorities, likes, dislikes, experiences, resources and abilities differ among individuals for all things, including language learning and we should respect that even if we disagree. I am thankful for every insight I have received on this forum, whether it came from a long term member who speaks multiple languages or from someone in their first few months of learning a language. A good idea is a good idea. It doesn't matter where it comes from. I hope that my posts contribute to a positive environment and I encourage others to share their ideas.

Back to my language learning….

I think explicit grammar study is very important if I am to eventually speak Spanish well. It may be less important for other learners or it may be so demotivating that it does more harm than good. We are all different and that is reflected in our different goals and approaches. It also makes life more interesting. I am very analytical and studying grammar works with my analytical brain. I generally enjoy doing it, but, after a while I tend to get bored unless I change things up or take a break. So, after a several week hiatus, I have restarted Gramática del uso de Español B1-B2. To make things more interesting (and, hopefully, more effective), as I am studying each topic in Gramática del uso I am also reviewing a list of sentences that use that structure . I have collected ~2000 sentences so far (with audio) and generated a database in Microsoft Access. Each database entry is annotated with the verb tenses used in the sentence, among other things, so that I can quickly generate Anki decks that contain sentences using the structure of interest (Did I mention that I am an analytical person?). I am not SRSing the sentences- I only am using Anki as a simple sentence-delivery-interface. I have been using this resource for almost two weeks and I am very pleased with it. It is making the grammar study more interesting and helps me work on the accuracy of my listening comprehension at the same time. Piggybacking sentence review and grammar review will slow down my progress through Gramática del uso de Español, but that is OK.

I have just finished reading El Príncipe de la Niebla by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. It was a nice change after reading 5 consecutive Harry Potter books. :shock: I found the story to be less engaging than Harry Potter but I enjoyed the language more. I don't know if this is due to prettier prose or because it was easier for me to read or if it was easier to read because it has prettier prose. I started the second book in the series a few days ago. Hopefully, I can finish this series in the next few weeks so that I can start reading La Ciudad de las Bestias. Isabel Allende has been one of my favorite authors for many years and I am looking forward to reading one of her books in its native language, even if it is a young adult book.
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April 7, 2017
2x Super Challenge pages: 5676 / 10000
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FSI Spanish Basic Course: 50 / 55
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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:34 pm

It has been a relatively quiet week for language learning. I finished the units on the imperative in Gramática del uso de Español and am ready to start the 14 units on the subjunctive. Instead of tackling these 14 units sequentially, I am going to first read them all and write my notes. Once my notes are complete, I will start going through the exercises unit by unit and at the same time I will start reviewing all of the 'subjunctive' sentences in my sentence database. I have always found conjugating verbs to be easy. It is simply a matter of seeing the pattern and then applying it. I already know these patterns so, I think I will benefit more from the exercises in the units focused on conjugation patterns if I am thinking about the material in the subsequent units while I am doing them.

I am halfway through El palacio de medianoche by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. I do not find the story objectionable, but I also do not find it very engaging. However, as with the first book in the series, I enjoy the prose. Hopefully, I will have finished book 2 and started book3 before my next update.

I have watched 31 episodes of the telenovela Celia so far and I have to admit that I am still using the Spanish subtitles. I don't need them for most of the dialog, but I am still having difficulty understanding a few of the characters who eat the ends of their words (dropping the s or d at the ends of words). I am making progress with the Caribbean accent but it is slow going. It seems to me that my brain is processing the words pronounced this way as though they are completely different words, words that I don't know. In contrast, when I listen to someone speaking with a Rioplatense accent I find it easy to adjust to the different pronunciation of "y" and "ll" and to the use of the voseo. I don't know if this observation will help me to improve my listening comprehension, but I find it interesting. The music is still my favorite part of this series. The Colombian singer Patty Padilla did the voiceover for the Cruz songs and she is fantastic. The actress who plays the young Celia Cruz did a great job lip syncing the songs; I thought she was actual singer until I read otherwise.
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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 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 10:42 pm

As the end of the year approaches, I have been thinking about the current state of my Spanish abilities and where I want them to be at the end of 2017. My self assessment is that I am a solid B1. I would rank my skills in the following order: reading > writing > listening > speaking. If wasn't for my weak speaking skills, I might be a weak B2. My goal for 2017 is to reach a solid B2 (or at least my perception of what a solid B2 should be for me).

Reading. I have been reading fiction for young adults as part of the Superchallenge and have read more than 3000 pages since June. I started with the Harry Potter series and made it through the first 5 books before I switched to young adult books by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. My reading has improved a lot since I started the Superchallenge but it still has a long way to go. I think the limiting factors for my reading are vocabulary and speed. A couple weeks ago I did the DLI reading assessment and scored a very high 2+. I thought it was a very well designed test. I could read the passages at the beginning of the test with no effort, the subsequent passages became incrementally more difficult and in the final passage the unknown vocabulary greatly hindered my comprehension. In 2017 I plan to continue reading the young adult fiction that I have already acquired (the remaining Harry Potter books, Isabel Allende's young adult books and one additional young adult book by Ruiz Zafón).

Writing. I haven't been writing much in Spanish during the past few months and it is something I should start doing again. For me, the most difficult step in writing is deciding on a topic. I have several lists of writing prompts but they usually do not inspire me. I have found some study and discussion guides for some of the movies on my "to watch" list. In the upcoming year I will attempt to use these study guides to focus my writing in Spanish. We will see how this goes.

Listening. Listening is a mixed bag for me. According to Dialang, my listening comprehension is at the mid B1 level (tested a few months ago) and DLI places my listening comprehension at a solid level 2. When I took the Dialang assessment I thought that I would place slightly higher than I did. In retrospect, I think that these assessments accurately reflect my listening comprehension in the absence of visual clues and familiar topics. Also, the Dialang test only allows you to listen to the audio once which really unmasked some deficiencies in my listening comprehension. We've all experienced talking with someone who 'mishears' what was said but doesn't realize that they have misheard. This test showed me that I am probably 'mishearing' more than I would like. Going forward I need to 1) continue working on the accuracy of my listening comprehension and 2) increase the variety and difficulty of the material to which I listen.

Speaking. Oral production is, without a doubt, my weakest skill. I have three regular Skype practice partners (although 2 of them really don't have time to talk right now) and have been practicing speaking with them for a little more than a year. We talk about a wide range of subjects (culture, politics, education…) and I usually manage to communicate my ideas and make myself understood. A year ago I would often draw a blank when I tried to express a thought and this happens much less frequently now. My pronunciation is pretty good, but the rhythm of my speak sounds very gringo. My spoken Spanish also is filled with long and short pauses as I assemble the Spanish sentences in my head. I don't translate from English into Spanish; it just takes me a long time before the Spanish words appear. Improving the fluidity of my speech is my major goal for the upcoming year.
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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 » Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:28 pm

I always find it difficult to stay organized throughout the holidays so I am ending the year by binge watching the telenovela Celia - I have watched 16 episodes during the past several days. :shock: I am sure that this is helping my listening comprehension, but I fear that my brain may be atrophying from so much television watching. There have been several episodes so far that were a little melodramatic for my tastes, but I am still enjoying the series. I'm not sure how historically accurate it is, but it appears to have most of the major events in the life of Celia Cruz correct. I did notice a glaring problem with the timeline during episode 40. During this episode Celia and the orchestra are exiled from Cuba while they are on tour in Mexico. In the real world, this occurred during the early 1960s. However, in the telenovela Celia and Pedro are photographed in Mexico City in front of the new Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which was constructed in the 1970s. Oops.

Happy New Year to all of you.
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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 Jan 15, 2017 5:28 pm

A few weeks ago I checked out A Game of Thrones (in English) from the library and been busily reading the series ever since. I am not usually a fan of books with long descriptions of battles but I got sucked into the story because I can gloss over the carnage if I see good character development. The downside of enjoying reading this series is that now I feel compelled to read all of the books and consequently, I haven't picked up a Spanish book for several weeks. But, only one more book to go and then I can get back on track with reading in Spanish.

I have made it through a few more chapters of Gramática del uso de Español B1-B2 and I am also slowly chipping away at Volume 4 of FSI Spanish Basic. The chapters in GdUdE (74-79) and FSI (47) that I am currently working on deal with the imperfect subjunctive and I want to take my time going through them. At my current pace it will take me months to finish both courses - but that's OK. Luckily for me, I am not working toward a deadline and can afford to take my time with the material. I find the material in FSI much more difficult than that in GdUdE; while reading I don't have difficulties appreciating the nuances in meaning that the subjunctive gives but I struggle to appreciate the subtleties when I am listening to Spanish.

I have been trying out a number of podcasts that discuss biology and medicine. I will try to provide reviews to the podcasts as I explore more. Thank you to everyone who mentioned these podcasts in your language logs! I don't remember who you are, but I appreciate it.

El Explicador (https://us.ivoox.com/es/podcast-el-expl ... gle.com%2F). The broadcaster speaks very clear Mexican Spanish and provides nice lay descriptions of scientific topics. Episodes do not seem to appear with great frequency and episodes about biology/medicine are infrequent. So far, I have only heard one very minor error in the content - referring to a high speed centrifuge as a ultracentrifuge. It is a trivial error that probably only a laboratory geek would appreciate.

Hablando con científiocs (http://us.ivoox.com/es/podcast-hablando ... 448_1.html). This is my favorite science podcast so far. The podcasts consist of interviews with various Spanish scientists. The broadcaster speaks a very clear Iberian Spanish but the scientists are not trained broadcasters and have a variety of accents. The scientific discussions seem to range from fairly detailed descriptions of the science to gossip (along the lines of ...what was it like to post-doc for that famous Noble-prize winning scientist with the reputation for being very difficult?).
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2x Super Challenge minutes: 10863 / 18000
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Cavesa » Sun Jan 15, 2017 10:30 pm

klvik wrote:A few weeks ago I checked out A Game of Thrones (in English) from the library and been busily reading the series ever since. I am not usually a fan of books with long descriptions of battles but I got sucked into the story because I can gloss over the carnage if I see good character development. The downside of enjoying reading this series is that now I feel compelled to read all of the books and consequently, I haven't picked up a Spanish book for several weeks. But, only one more book to go and then I can get back on track with reading in Spanish.


I've started reading the series in German. I think it is one of those making publishers want to avoid messing up the translation, so it should be pretty riskfree :-)
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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Jan 16, 2017 5:36 pm

Cavesa wrote:
klvik wrote:A few weeks ago I checked out A Game of Thrones (in English) from the library and been busily reading the series ever since. I am not usually a fan of books with long descriptions of battles but I got sucked into the story because I can gloss over the carnage if I see good character development. The downside of enjoying reading this series is that now I feel compelled to read all of the books and consequently, I haven't picked up a Spanish book for several weeks. But, only one more book to go and then I can get back on track with reading in Spanish.


I've started reading the series in German. I think it is one of those making publishers want to avoid messing up the translation, so it should be pretty riskfree :-)


The books certainly are popular right now. There is a long waiting list at my library for the Kindle versions which I assume is due to the popularity of the HBO series. I would hope that this popularity would result in a bigger budget for recent translations.
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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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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby DaveBee » Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:45 pm

klvik wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
klvik wrote:A few weeks ago I checked out A Game of Thrones (in English) from the library and been busily reading the series ever since. I am not usually a fan of books with long descriptions of battles but I got sucked into the story because I can gloss over the carnage if I see good character development. The downside of enjoying reading this series is that now I feel compelled to read all of the books and consequently, I haven't picked up a Spanish book for several weeks. But, only one more book to go and then I can get back on track with reading in Spanish.


I've started reading the series in German. I think it is one of those making publishers want to avoid messing up the translation, so it should be pretty riskfree :-)


The books certainly are popular right now. There is a long waiting list at my library for the Kindle versions which I assume is due to the popularity of the HBO series. I would hope that this popularity would result in a bigger budget for recent translations.
Mr Martin says the Game of Thrones books have now been translated into 47 languages. Can we assume that's every market where fiction can sell for a profit?
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FR films: 43 / 100, FR books: 17 / 100

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Fri Jan 20, 2017 8:37 pm

DaveBee wrote:
klvik wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
klvik wrote:A few weeks ago I checked out A Game of Thrones (in English) from the library and been busily reading the series ever since. I am not usually a fan of books with long descriptions of battles but I got sucked into the story because I can gloss over the carnage if I see good character development. The downside of enjoying reading this series is that now I feel compelled to read all of the books and consequently, I haven't picked up a Spanish book for several weeks. But, only one more book to go and then I can get back on track with reading in Spanish.


I've started reading the series in German. I think it is one of those making publishers want to avoid messing up the translation, so it should be pretty riskfree :-)


The books certainly are popular right now. There is a long waiting list at my library for the Kindle versions which I assume is due to the popularity of the HBO series. I would hope that this popularity would result in a bigger budget for recent translations.
Mr Martin says the Game of Thrones books have now been translated into 47 languages. Can we assume that's every market where fiction can sell for a profit?


I have never thought about the expenses involved in translating a novel and the size of the market needed for the publisher to justify the expense. It would be interesting to see a list of popular novels and the number of languages into which they have been translated.
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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

Cavesa
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Cavesa » Sat Jan 21, 2017 12:47 pm

klvik wrote:I have never thought about the expenses involved in translating a novel and the size of the market needed for the publisher to justify the expense. It would be interesting to see a list of popular novels and the number of languages into which they have been translated.


Well, I have seen many crappy translations. But the publishers don't dare to allow that sometimes, I think. Because they know, just like with Harry Potter, that the public may not wait and waste money for the translated version, when the next book in the series comes out.

I don't think the problem is just the target market size, the way in the other direction is much harder. Getting from a small language market (with smaller competition but much smaller earning potential), to the bigger ones, already crowded.

And it is as well a question of marketing. Both the part "popular novels" and "the number of languages". But surely such a list exists and at least some limited value can surely be found there.
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