Karen's Spanish learning journey

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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Tue Feb 07, 2017 12:37 am

I didn't finish Game of Thrones 5 before the lending period was over. Now, I have to wait for my turn to check it out again from the library so I am back to reading Spanish. Yeah! My current book is La lección de August (a recommendation from No Manches). It is a story for young adults about empathy and overcoming adversity. The main character, August, is a bright, engaging young boy who was born with severe craniofacial malformations. The book is told from the perspective of August, his sister and several of his friends and recounts his first year in a bricks and mortar school after years of home schooling. It is a very easy, but enjoyable, read. The portrayal of both the cruelty and compassion of children is very well done. Thanks for the recommendation, No Manches.

I made it up to episode 68 in Celia and have given up. The story was getting too melodramatic for my tastes and there was no longer sufficient music or interesting history to compensate for the overacting and melodrama. I've switched to Olmos y Robles (RTVE) and am enjoying it very much. The cast is full of talented comedic actors plus the character of Robles is played by a very handsome actor. :D

As I work on my spoken Spanish this year, I will need to start practicing the simple, everyday things we say as we go about our daily business. Right now, I am more comfortable having a conversation about a complicated topic than exchanging everyday pleasantries in a store. Well executed chit-chat helps to ease social situations but awkward chit-chat can lead to more awkwardness. Intellectually, I know what to say in these situations, but I have never really practiced saying them so they don't feel automatic. I stopped in a small Mexican grocery store last week and realized that I just wasn't ready to make chit-chat with the clerks in Spanish. It was a little country market that appeared to cater to the local population of migrant workers. Because of the current political climate in the US, I was afraid of giving the impression that I was criticizing the clerk's English by speaking in Spanish and I wasn't certain that I was prepared to handle that potential situation tactfully.
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BOLIO
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby BOLIO » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:25 am

"Puedo practicar español contigo?"

This phrase has really worked for me when trying to respectfully Initiate conversation with someone in Spanish while not trying to make them assume that I think their English is lacking or inferior.

Most are more than happy to help me because even though I live in an area where native Spanish speakers are EVERYWHERE, it is still very rare for an Anglo to try, really try to speak their language. Most respect your efforts.
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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:16 am

BOLIO wrote:"Puedo practicar español contigo?"

This phrase has really worked for me when trying to respectfully Initiate conversation with someone in Spanish while not trying to make them assume that I think their English is lacking or inferior.

Most are more than happy to help me because even though I live in an area where native Spanish speakers are EVERYWHERE, it is still very rare for an Anglo to try, really try to speak their language. Most respect your efforts.


Thanks for your comment, Bolio and I apologize for taking so long to reply with more than a drive-by "like". I agree that a simple "Puedo hablar con usted en español" when spoken by a non-native Speaker can take you pretty far (as long as the tone and non-verbal cues are polite). What I drew a blank on were the courteous expressions that I had supposedly learned but had never used "in the wild" , such as "Le importaría hablarme en español" (Do you mind speaking to me in Spanish?), or "Podríamos hablar en español" (Could we speak in Spanish) or "Le importaría si habláramos en español" (Would you mind if we were to speak in Spanish?). My Spanish is far enough along that I should be comfortable adjusting the degree of politeness when I initiate a conversation, but I am clearly not.

I am very slowly inching my way to the end of the FSI Spanish Basic course and am even more slowly advancing with Gramática del uso de Español B1-B2. I have a long way to go before I can consistently use the subjunctive mode correctly when I am speaking. The disconnect between my academic understanding of the material and the automatic application of this understanding during a conversation is still much too large. I know that taking my time going through this material many times would help, but I find FSI very tedious. Very useful, but tedious. I find the presentation of material in GdUdE much more engaging, but the material is not extensive enough to get me to automaticity. Sigh. I will keep working on it in very small chunks and consider myself lucky that language learning is a hobby for me and I don't have any deadlines. I have the luxury to take my time.

I am much happier with my progress in reading. I have finished reading La Ciudad de las Bestias (a young adult novel by Isabel Allende) and have read 35% of El Reino del Dragón de Oro (book two in the series). I have loved Allende's books (in English translation) for years and one of my long term goals is to re-read them in the original Spanish - but only once my reading skills are good enough that I can better appreciate the quality of the writing. I am happy to continue reading young adults novels for awhile. So far, I am finding the Allende young adult novels to be an easier read than those by Ruiz Zafón. It would be nice if this was due to my vastly improved reading skills, but I think it mainly is due to a simpler writing style and vocabulary.
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Tomás
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Tomás » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:44 am

What do you think of those Allende books? They seem to get mixed reviews, compared to her more famous books.
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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:26 am

Tomás wrote:What do you think of those Allende books? They seem to get mixed reviews, compared to her more famous books.


They are not in the same class as her best books (The House of the Spirits, Eva Luna, and Paula are three of my favorites). The characters and the plot lines are clearly meant to appeal to a very young audience, not an adult reader, with heroic teenagers performing amazing acts of bravery and daring and a healthy dose of environmentalism. I don’t find the language used to be overly simplistic (the complexity is probably similar to that found in a mass-market detective novel for adults). I would hate reading them in English and quite possibly I wouldn’t be able to read them in Spanish once my reading in Spanish is more developed. However, for my current Spanish reading skills they are a great fit. The extra cognitive challenge of reading them in Spanish offsets their juvenile storyline. Moreover, I would not hesitate to recommend them to a young person.
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Tomás » Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:50 pm

Funny how we will read things in another language that we would never touch in our own. For example, I listened to the entirety of Dan Brown's "Angeles y Demonios" in my car. Not only that, I have ordered "El codigo Da Vinci" from the library and will listen to that in the car too. This is partly because I like the voice actor and find him very easy to listen to and understand. Also, books that are mostly action and/or dialogue are simply easier to follow than the more literary works.
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klvik
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:54 pm

Tomás wrote:Funny how we will read things in another language that we would never touch in our own. For example, I listened to the entirety of Dan Brown's "Angeles y Demonios" in my car. Not only that, I have ordered "El codigo Da Vinci" from the library and will listen to that in the car too. This is partly because I like the voice actor and find him very easy to listen to and understand. Also, books that are mostly action and/or dialogue are simply easier to follow than the more literary works.


My biggest complaint with Ciudad de las Bestias triology was that it feels as if it is trying to address all of the fashionable topics for a socially and environmentally aware young teen at once. However, I just finished reading an old interview of Allende in which she mentions that the trilogy was written for her grandchildren. I don't know if the eclectic mix of themes in the books represented the interests of her grandchildren or topics that Allende felt her grandchildren should read about. Either way, I like the books a little more knowing this.
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby klvik » Sat Mar 18, 2017 7:35 pm

I have finished one Super Challenge-worth of listening to Spanish movies and television shows!!!! :D I will probably convert the listening portion of my Super Challenge into a double challenge , but not this week - I want to enjoy my full progress bar for a few days before I change anything. My listening has definitely improved since I began the challenge but I am not sure how much of the improvement is due to the mass input approach of a Super Challenge or to the intensive listening I have been doing at the same time. I suspect that, for me, the extensive and intensive listening I have been doing have been working synergistically to improve my listening skills. On most days I spend 70-80% of my time on extensive listening and 20-30% on intensive activities, but on other days I only do extensive listening.

For the extensive (Super Challenge) listening all I do is watch TV shows or movies. I don't re-wind to catch something that I missed; all I do is watch the show or movie straight through. For intensive listening, I use Anki to study Subs2SRS decks and decks with sentences (with audio) extracted from FSI, Tatoeba, podcasts and other sources. My goal for the Subs2SRS decks is accurate listening comprehension. Hitting the replay button multiple times until I can hear each word accurately does not bother me, even though I find rewinding a video to re-watch a scene irritating. I use the sentence decks to test the accuracy of my listening comprehension. My cards are set up so that I hear the audio play once and then I need to transcribe the sentence. An additional benefit to these cards, and the original reason for their creation, is that they help to increase my ability to hold the sentence in my memory long enough to write it accurately. I have tagged the sentences in my database by grammatical elements so that I also can coordinate the sentences that I am studying with the grammatical topic that I am reviewing. It has been a lot of work to set this up, but it is already paying dividends.

Hopefully, next update I will be able to report my completion of the reading Super Challenge - only 150 pages to go.
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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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Allison
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Allison » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:14 pm

klvik wrote:I have finished one Super Challenge-worth of listening to Spanish movies and television shows!!!! :D

That's great, congratulations!
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Re: Karen's Spanish learning journey

Postby Tomás » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:41 pm

klvik wrote:For intensive listening, I use Anki to study Subs2SRS decks and decks with sentences (with audio) extracted from FSI, Tatoeba, podcasts and other sources. My goal for the Subs2SRS decks is accurate listening comprehension. Hitting the replay button multiple times until I can hear each word accurately does not bother me, even though I find rewinding a video to re-watch a scene irritating. I use the sentence decks to test the accuracy of my listening comprehension. My cards are set up so that I hear the audio play once and then I need to transcribe the sentence.


I have been wondering how to get Tatoeba into Anki. Would you share your workflow? Or could you share the deck itself? Thanks!
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