Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Fri Jan 21, 2022 1:40 pm

La casa de los espíritus is such a lovely book. It's almost unbearably sad, but it's beautifully written and very dreamy, wandering from one time and person to another. I love every page. That said, I can't get lost in it. I have to make the conscious choice to sit down and read for 20-30 minutes, at which point I have no problem putting it down. I enjoy reading it and I appreciate the story and the writing, but I don't find myself staying up for hours reading "just one more chapter".

When I get lost in a book, I can read for hours and hours. It happens to me all the time in English. I know that it's a question of practice as well as finding the right book, but I've only very rarely experienced getting lost in a book in any other language. The only Spanish-language book I've ever gotten completely lost in was a translation of The Host by Stephenie Meyer that I found in a second-hand store. :lol: I read that silly book for hours and hours without stopping, and it wasn't even particularly well-translated, since I found several typos and errors. But for some reason, it was at just the right level to fully catch me.

Of course, part of it might also be that many of the Spanish-language books I've read have been historical fiction. While I enjoy historical fiction in any language, it's not my favourite genre. My favourite unputdownable genres in English are science fiction (especially apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic) and dystopian fiction.

For now, I will enjoy making the conscious choice to read. But I really look forward to the day when I can not only enjoy reading a novel in Spanish, but it can take over my whole life until I finish reading it!
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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Sat Jan 22, 2022 3:21 pm

Russian this week:

- Memrise and Duolingo daily
- Pimsleur units 5-8. I had to repeat unit 8 twice. Either I was distracted, or the content was too hard, or - the most likely scenario - a little bit of both. It was much better the second time around.
- Russian Made Easy episodes 1-4

As a full-time virtual teacher, I spend way too many hours staring at a screen every day. Computer-based studying doesn’t really appeal to me. That’s why I enjoy Russian Made Easy and Pimsleur…I can do them while walking the dog, cutting up vegetables for soup, or even taking a bath. I’ve decided to go a bit analog as well. I picked up a new notebook, since all of my notebooks are half-full of random stuff. I also bought some index cards so that I can make some hand-written flashcards. While Memrise is decent for learning vocabulary, there are some words that just aren’t sticky enough for me, so I need to write them out by hand. I also ordered a children’s handwriting exercise book so that I can learn to write in cursive. Even though I don’t generally like to write in any of my languages, I’m feeling the urge to write a few simple sentences in Russian, just to start experimenting and playing with the language.

I’m glad that I gave Russian Made Easy another try, because I’m absolutely loving it! It’s very well-made and engaging. I’ve been listening to the full podcast while preparing supper or walking the dog. I am unable to listen actively while sitting at a desk; I do best with some mindless movement while listening. Then the next day, I skim the transcripts to see how words are written, do the audio exercises, and watch the related videos. The related videos are fantastic! What an innovative way to incorporate tiny bits of native media from day one.

Spanish this week

- Read 41 pages of La casa de los espíritus. I read almost every night, but only for about 15 minutes or so. I’m reading this book pretty slowly!
- Listened to/read Democracy Now three times
- Finished the first chapter of my grammar book (which is definitely too easy for me)
- Did a few of my 10 monthly free quizzes on kwiziq. I wish this resource weren’t so expensive! I can’t justify spending that much money on it, but if it were cheaper, I might do it.
- One-hour conversation on Skype

Media in other languages (because why not?)

Portrait d’une jeune fille en feu - absolutely gorgeous French movie set in the 1700s. Every frame of this love story was perfect.

The Silent Sea - Korean science fiction thriller mini-series set on the Moon. This was a slow burn with some genuinely creepy scenes! I love the two main actors, Gong Yoo (from Train to Busan) and Bae Doona (from Kingdom).
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby rdearman » Sat Jan 22, 2022 8:54 pm

stell wrote:The Silent Sea - Korean science fiction thriller mini-series set on the Moon. This was a slow burn with some genuinely creepy scenes! I love the two main actors, Gong Yoo (from Train to Busan) and Bae Doona (from Kingdom).

The ending was a bit disappointing. Interesting that I know Gong Yoo from "Coffee Prince".
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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Sat Jan 22, 2022 11:40 pm

rdearman wrote:The ending was a bit disappointing. Interesting that I know Gong Yoo from "Coffee Prince".

Agreed. I loved the first seven episodes and the last episode was…meh. But I feel that way about a lot of tv series. Is Coffee Prince worth checking out?
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby rdearman » Sun Jan 23, 2022 9:34 am

stell wrote:
rdearman wrote:The ending was a bit disappointing. Interesting that I know Gong Yoo from "Coffee Prince".

Agreed. I loved the first seven episodes and the last episode was…meh. But I feel that way about a lot of tv series. Is Coffee Prince worth checking out?

My wife and I liked it. It is a querky comedy.
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I often post on this forum using mobile devices, so please excuse short messages and typos.

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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Sun Jan 23, 2022 2:41 pm

So I was feeling a little bit obsessed with Russian yesterday. All I wanted to do was study or learn or practice…even when I know from experience that taking a break and doing something else is sometimes the absolute best thing a learner can do. I’m at the beginner stage, and learning more new words in one day will not necessarily help me. I need to pace myself so that I don’t get overwhelmed by repetitions in five days or a week.

It’s much easier to indulge in a language obsession at an intermediate stage, when you can spend lots of time with native material. As a beginner, there’s only so much you can cram in your head in one day. In Spanish, I was able to include some native material very early on in the process. I’m reminding myself to be patient with Russian.

So instead of "learning more", I printed out an image of a cyrillic keyboard and I played a bit on this typing site: https://www.keybr.com. I didn’t create an account (and I don’t plan on creating one), but I think I will spend five or ten minutes practicing every day. Being able to type in cyrillic will definitely make learning Russian a lot easier.

I also made some paper flashcards. For now, I'm only making flashcards for Russian Made Easy. I'm doing Pimsleur purely as an audio course, and even though I know that I could find transcripts online, I've decided to follow it as it was intended. So no Pimsleur flashcards. I'll probably make a few handwritten cards as well for words on Memrise that I can't remember. I'll just keep the flashcards next to me while working through my reviews on the app. I won't make cards for all words, just for words that seem important, but that just refuse to stick.
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby Radioclare » Sun Jan 23, 2022 10:02 pm

stell wrote:So instead of "learning more", I printed out an image of a cyrillic keyboard and I played a bit on this typing site: https://www.keybr.com. I didn’t create an account (and I don’t plan on creating one), but I think I will spend five or ten minutes practicing every day. Being able to type in cyrillic will definitely make learning Russian a lot easier.

Just to say that it is so worth investing the time to learn this! It makes things like Memrise and Duolingo so much easier if you're doing them on the computer. I used a little program called Keyboard Tsar when I learned and found that really useful. I also bought some Cyrillic stickers for my keyboard which helped me every time I had a mental block and couldn't remember where a letter was.

Nice to see you back on the forum btw :)
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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:14 pm

Radioclare wrote:Just to say that it is so worth investing the time to learn this! It makes things like Memrise and Duolingo so much easier if you're doing them on the computer. I used a little program called Keyboard Tsar when I learned and found that really useful. I also bought some Cyrillic stickers for my keyboard which helped me every time I had a mental block and couldn't remember where a letter was.

Nice to see you back on the forum btw :)

It's nice to be back! I've been enjoying reading your adventures in reading on your log. Reading in Russian feels so far away as to be impossible at this point! Haha!

I ordered a silicone keyboard cover with Russian lettering, and I've been using that. I actually don't love the feel of it under my fingers, but I figure that I'll get used to it. I'd basically given up on doing Memrise on my computer, because doing the "hunt and peck" on the on-screen keyboard was so frustrating, especially since the position of the letters seemed to change from word to word.
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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Sat Jan 29, 2022 7:36 pm

When I first started learning Spanish in 2013, I signed up for the Six Week Challenge. I finished in third place, with 107 hours and 58 minutes. I found the bot-tracking extremely motivating, and my Spanish grew by leaps and bounds. Then, I joined the Super Challenge, and it was like rocket fuel for my Spanish abilities. Again, I loved that I could just tweet out my pages or minutes, and a bot took care of tracking everything for me. I also loved all of the buzz around the Super Challenge…so many learners reading, watching, and recommending content to one another. My first Super Challenge was probably the most fun that I’ve had in my learning journey so far.

Anyway, I joined the 2022 365 day challenge for Russian. I’ve done an hour of Russian every day since I started on January 8th, so why not? I’m not sure that self-logging will be as motivating for me as the twitter bots, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Russian this week:

So I know that I said that I wasn’t going to spend too much time on Russian, and that I was only going to learn it very casually. But I’m getting more and more sucked in. I think about Russian all of the time, and I’m feeling so eager to build my vocabulary so that I can include more interesting material. When I learned Spanish, I was able to jump into conversations and simple native materials very quickly. I know that Russian is a very different animal. So long as I’m still having fun and not feeling in danger of burning out, I’ll indulge my obsession for the time being.

This past week:

- Pimsleur units 9-11. I did each of these twice, so I actually did Pimsleur six days this week.
- Russian Made Easy episodes 5-9
- Daily Memrise and Duolingo (5-10 minutes on each app)
- Unit 1, lessons 1 and 2 on Russian Accelerator
- 5x10 minutes of typing practice on keybr.com
- 8 letters in my cursive workbook

I signed up for a three-week trial on Russian Accelerator (by the same maker as the free Russian Made Easy podcasts), and I completed the first two lessons. I will decide at the end of three weeks whether or not to purchase the whole course. While I generally don’t like to spend money on language-learning, I’m open to spending a certain amount if I like a resource. Two lessons certainly aren’t enough to decide if I like this one. There seems to be a lot of English, but we’ll see how I feel after a few weeks.

Spanish this week

- 5x Democracy Now daily show in Spanish. I don’t need to read along with the audio to understand, but I have some focus issues at times. If I just listen without anything visual, my mind wanders. If I just read news articles online, I tend to skim. Listening and reading at the same time ensures that I give the task 100% of my attention.
- I read 50 pages of La casa de los espíritus. It takes me 20-25 minutes to read 10 pages, so I don’t read very quickly.
- I watched one episode of Nailed It! Mexico on Netflix. It’s very light and silly! I want to watch something unscripted, and I love baking shows, so it’s the perfect combination.
- 1-hour Skype conversation. This one went much better than the last one did! Some of the words that I reactivated this week: actualizar, cursor, herramienta, el salario acorde, habilidades comunicacionales, área laboral, a largo plazo, es agotador, extrañar. None of these words were really new to me, but they were no longer part of my active vocabulary.
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stell
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Re: Stell's log: Russian and Spanish

Postby stell » Mon Jan 31, 2022 3:19 am

So I just realized that a little over three weeks after starting this January, I’m well past where I was when I dabbled in Russian in 2020. Back then, I had completed Pimsleur up to unit 8, and played on both Memrise (I think I was at just under 100 items when I quit) and Duolingo (but never made it to the first checkpoint). I also did two lessons from the Living Languages course, which is in a box in the basement somewhere, and which I have absolutely no interest in finding.

As of today, I am up to checkpoint one on Duolingo, although I don’t plan on advancing just yet, because I need to practice more and learn at least a bit of grammar first so that I’m not just guessing. I’m up to 102 items in Memrise. I finished unit 12 of Pimsleur. And Russian Made Easy and Russian Accelerator are so much more interesting than Living Languages.

I feel like I’ve started learning Russian now, whereas before I was just dabbling. I’ll take that as a win for now!

I just finished episode 10 of Russian Made Easy, and I’ve found a rhythm that’s working well for me.

Day one:
- listen to the audio while doing something else (for me, that’s either walking, making soup, taking a bath or tracing letters in my Russian handwriting workbook. Yes, always one of those four tasks. I’m a creature of habit with poor attention skills. I can’t listen to anything while just sitting or I’ll probably fall asleep.)

Day two:
- skim through the transcript and make flashcards of new words.
- do the audio exercises out loud. (I don’t need to be doing anything else for these audio exercices, because they’re short and I don’t have enough time to fall asleep or daydream.)
- watch all of the related videos in the media centre. I watch each video twice, then click on “show answer” and listen to it a few more times while reading the Russian text.
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