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Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:29 am
by Bilingual_monoglot
So, hello everyone! I decided that I should start having a language log again to keep track of my progress and ensure that I am consistent. For this year, my focus is on Asian languages, more specifically, the vernacular languages spoken here in Singapore. In fact, this log's title was based on my desire to be able to speak all 4 of Singapore's official languages fluently.
So here are my goals for the year:
HSK2 in Chinese
B1 level in Malay
Distinction for my Tamil A level Exams

I would aim higher for Chinese, but I have exams this year and am unsure just how much time I can devote to my beloved languages. Anyway, here is my plan for each of my languages:

This is my most fluent language (excluding English obviously). As a heritage Tamil speaker, my speaking and listening comprehension are pretty much on point. My main problems here are reading, writing and vocabulary. Although I am literate in the language, I am still not entirely comfortable reading and writing in Tamil. Moreover, I also make many spelling mistakes. The diglossia present in Tamil does not help things. My vocabulary is good enough for most conversations I have in Tamil. However, it does not touch any technical subjects whatsoever, which is my biggest problem in actual exams, especially in essay writing. For Tamil, I have a high amount of active study time via class, 1 hour of Tamil class on Tuesday, 1 1/2 hours on Thursday, and 1 1/2 hours of tuition on Sunday. For exposure, I plan on listening and reading a lot. For listening, I plan on using my Tuesday commute to school to listen to the Australian SBS radio station's Tamil broadcasts. For reading, my current plan is to read the newspaper, at least 1 article/day daily.

If Tamil is best language, Chinese is my worst. I am completely illiterate as I cannot read most of the hanzi. I can generally differentiate the tones, but I am not really sure whether I actually use the right tones most of the time. I really only have a basic vocabulary and don't understand conversations. I plan on spending 30-45 minutes daily on active studying for Chinese. In that vain, I have managed to acquire the lingodeer app, Assimil, and Pimsleur. I plan on currently finishing the pimsleur programme and working through the lingodeer app currently. Afterwards, I will use the Assimil programme. For exposure, I have started listening to Chinese music by Namewee. I am also taking advantage of the fact that Singaporean Netflix has many shows dubbed in Chinese, so I have started watching anime and my little pony in Chinese, so far with English subtitles. I plan on learning how to activly read the hanzi once I have the time, and a reasonable vocabulary (I mostly skip the hanzi exercises in lingodeer for now).

Out of everything, Malay is the one where I am worst positioned as a non-native speaker, due to the lack of resources. My Malay is at about the same as my Chinese, except I can read Malay, and I have a somewhat larger vocabulary due to cognates with English and Tamil. Unfortunately,it's hard to find resources for Malay. However, there are some resources for Indonesian, which is close to Malay. Due to circumstance, I have to use resources for both Malay and Indonesian. For active study, I am again spending around 30 minutes. Most of this is using Duolingo Indonesian and Colloquial Malay. I will be reserving a few books on Malay from the library for my use from next week, so I will soon be using some of those books.

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 9:35 am
by Bilingual_monoglot
Alright, so problems have already started appearing a week in. I also gone back to basics looking through the posts of several esteemed polyglots. Hence, I've modified my plan to resolve my current issues and reflect the insights of more experienced learners.

General problems
In general, due to the pressures of being a matriculation student in Singapore's notoriously tough system means that although I still have 4 hours of time to focus on languages, my brain generally does not want to focus for long stretches of time.


I've been somewhat consistent for the week. However, pimsleur is the kind of course where you nedd to consume it in a single 30 minute long setting, which my brain is rebelling against. Therefore, I have decided that as of now, I will be quitting with pimsleur. So now, I will be using Lingodeer and Assimil for Chinese. This has 2 advantages:
1) Both allow for shorter periods of study
2) Because of 1), I can also do the back and forth language study that Arguelles recommends

Moreover, the comprehensible input portion of my language learning is going strong, due to the plethora of content Chinese has and the fact that it has always been my favourite part of the process, being less dependent on translations/subtitles to understand the wonderful content the language has to offer.

So far, I have been doing a few Duolingo lessons for Bahasa Indonesia and watching a few old P Ramlee films. I have, however, decided that it would not be a good idea to use the Indonesian course to learn Bahasa Melayu as it would likely add unneeded stress. For now, this means an AJATTesque approach of mostly just watching those old P Ramlee films. However, once I get my hands on some more materials, I am probably going to add some Iverson style word lists, grammar studies, and bilingual texts.

Tamil is probably going to end up the one I work most on, due to the external support from classes, as well as my need of it for the fast approaching 'A' levels. I have been listening somewhat regularly to the radio and have started reading the newspaper (mostly the astrology section, but still better than nothing). Also, Since my teacher assigned us an essay to write, I clocked in a lot of writing practice this week as well.

As you can see, two thirds of my plan was thrown out of the window in the course of a week. However, Tamil is still staying strong. I didn't mention my speaking of the languages though, as all 3 languages are used in the community and opportunities to use them in that domain are essentially random and hence not worth considering, although I have developed a friendship with one of the Chinese teachers here and have been speaking some Chinese with her. Hopefully, I will have better news for you next week. But for now zai jian, selamat jalan, poithu varen and goodbye.

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 12:29 pm
by marie39
Saya belajar bahasa Melayu juga! Tetapi, Saya tidak dari Singapore. Saya dari Amerika. Saya tak guna buku-buku atau kursus-kursus Indonesia kerana dua bahasa punyai beberapa perbezaan. Saya suka Learn Malay with Tina Amir (youtube kursus) dan Basic Malay Course ini. Saya punyai buku teks juga. Saya punyai Teach Yourself Malay dan Speak Malay. Saya punyai beberapa novel/buku juga. Jika anda dari Singapore, boleh beli buku-buku Melayu?

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Sun Jul 07, 2019 4:52 pm
by Bilingual_monoglot
It appears I haven't posted in at least 2 months. Well, that's embarrassing...
... Anyway, I still have mostly the same language goals that I had when I started this log. However, I have not been consistent in working on my languages, and I certainly have not been consistent in updating my log. So, I decided to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate my plans and see what I need to change. Quite a lot, actually.

First, I realised that while I have reasons for why I want to learn these languages, I never really articulated them anywhere. I will hence write them down in my next post, as they are quite long. Hopefully, by doing so, I will be better able to maintain the work I need to achieve my language goals.

Now, my learning plan. Given the time constraints imposed by school, I don't intend on working on all of my languages daily, only Tamil as I have Tamil exams. Monday and Friday I will work on Malay, Wednesday and Thursday I will work on Chinese. Weekends I will (hopefully) work on all 3 languages. Tuesday will be a rest day as school only ends at 5:30 on that day and the last class is Physical Education.

As for what I will do, this is the plan

Tamil: Due to the nature of Tamil exams, my written language, especially my reading comprehension, will be quite important. Luckily, I have a big stack of Tamil books and a dictionary, so I am going to read for at least 10 minutes a day. In addition, I am going to read at least 1 article daily from the Tamil newspaper. I am also going to listen to Tamil radio for at least 30 minutes a day. On weekends, I am going to watch a film in the language.

Chinese: For studying, I am going to be doing some lingodeer during my commute and shadowing coursebooks when I am at home. I will also be watching TV shows dubbed in Chinese during my free time, especially on weekends. I may also start teaching myself a few basic hanzi if I have time. Last, but not least, I will be having conversations with natives.

Malay: I am going to look through coursebooks and watch those old P Ramlee films. I will also be seeking out opportunities to have conversations in the language.

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Mon Jul 08, 2019 4:18 pm
by Bilingual_monoglot
Alright, so today was Youth Day in Singapore. Hence, I decided to treat it like a weekend. So here's how that went

I have officially started on reading. My first book for this project is Rajaji's summary of the Kamba Ramayana because
1) I already know the story of the Ramayana from it being used as the basis for bedtime stories when I was a child
2) When it comes to Indian culture, there is not much that can be more foundational than the Ramayana and the Mahabharata
3) Rajaji was writing for a general audience, so the language should be comprehensible.

As for what I have managed to do, not much. I was only able to make my way through one page of the book and a very short newspaper article before I was too tired to carry on. Considering that I have an exam in a few months that requires reading passages, this does not bode well for me.

I barely did anything here. All I did fro Malay was to watch 10 or so minutes of Seniman Bujang Lapok (a hilarious Malay comedy). Too be fair, my resources for Malay are in a mess and I will have to organise them tomorrow.

This was my most productive language I think. First, I shadowed an Assimil lesson for the first time in a month (God I missed shadowing texts). Then I did a lesson on lingodeer. I also watched a few minutes of Netflix in Chinese.

In other news, I found a language exchange group that's in Singapore. They meet on Thursdays. i can't go this week as I have my 'A' level Tamil oral on Friday and so, I will have to spend Thursday preparing for that, however, if my parents permit, I would like to go there next week.
Thanks for reading this log, and see you tomorrow.

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:56 pm
by Bilingual_monoglot
Today I had a Tamil listening comprehension exam. Those are usually the ones I score well in, so hear's hoping for a good result. Anyway, school ended early today because of exams, so I had some extra free time. Here's how I spent it linguistically.

Once again, I managed to get some reading done. This time, I managed a full 3 pages of my current book before getting too tired to continue. Progress. ;)
I also read an article from the Indian Tamil newspaper Dinamalar. Apparently, the seating arrangement in parliament counts as headline news, somehow. I tried to listen to 1/2 an hour of Tamil radio during the commute home, but I fell asleep in the middle.

Yeah, so remember how I didn't have any other scheduled on Tuesday? Since I had some extra free time and my mid year exams just finished, I felt entitled to spend more time on my language hobby. So I did the logical thing and dabbled in kristang, an endangered contact language that's basically Portuguese with Malay grammar. I just listened to a few lessons of the audio course, which I quite enjoyed.

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:46 pm
by Bilingual_monoglot
Well, it appears I haven't posted in a week. Now let me tell you all about how it went.

The past week saw me not doing all that much linguistically. Wednesday to Friday were spent preparing for my Tamil oral. However, given that this is Singapore, and given that some of my friends are more comfortable in their mother tongues, I did get some minimal speaking practice for Chinese and Malay.

The weekend, however, saw doing absolutely nothing linguistically. On Saturday, I had to attend my sister's convocation, which took up most of the day and on Sunday, I had to do some volunteering with an organisation on the other side of the country, leaving me too tired to do anything but sleep.

Today, in order to get back into the groove of language learning after leaving it for so long, I read an article from the weekly students edition of Singapore's Tamil newspaper and worked on a chapter of teach yourself Malay.

So, that was my week in a nutshell. It's good to be back and hopefully, I will have more progress to share.

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:03 pm
by Bilingual_monoglot
Ok, so I have had to scale back my language learning activities a little for various reasons. First, as I have stated elsewhere on this forum, my extensive reading is running into problems. Second, my earphones have broken and until my new ones arrive, I won't be able to work on my texts. I have, however, worked around these by reading 2 Tamil newspaper articles daily and doing my lingodeer Chinese lessons.
Today, I also went for a translation workshop organised by the Tamil radio station Oli 96.8FM. It was quite fun and I learned a lot. Moreover, I got to meet some of the radio announcers. Also, I might get to go on the radio next week. Maybe.
That's all I have for now. Bye!

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:15 am
by samothin
Hi Bilingual_monoglot, we've the same goal! Anyway, I just want to bring to your attention that someone has curated few scripts for P Ramlee movies, and publish it for his PhD. This is the one I found for Seniman Bujang Lapok. ... jang_Lapok

Hope you find it helpful for your Malay studies. Anyway, good luck!

Re: Mastering the 4 Languages: A Language Log

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 10:16 am
by Bilingual_monoglot
Alright, time for another update.

Unfortunately, now is the time of the year when everything turns to a frantic rush to get good grades for the exams. This is made harder for be the facts that
1. This year I am taking A levels for my H1 subjects
2. I somehow ended up failing everything except my language subjects (GP & Tamil), ironically the only subjects that don't count to promotion criteria
3. I have night study so I won't be home until at least 9:00 PM most days

This means I won't have as much time to work on my languages as I like. Hence, I have decided to look into what is the minimum amount of work I can do while making tangible progress to my goals.

1. For Tamil, reading at least 2 newspaper articles a day
2. For Chinese, doing at least 1 lesson on lingodeer and 1 lesson on drops on its scheduled days
3. For Malay, I have decided to learn at least 10 new words on its scheduled days

In addition to that, I plan on continuing with the other activities as ancillary stuff I will do when I have the time.