40something Spanish Log

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SCMT
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:17 pm

I feel like I'm getting to a different stage in Spanish study, where course work and structured methods just aren't as productive any more as practice with conversation and native materials. I know the subjunctive still looms out there somewhere, and I'm not going to throw my Linguaphone course or grammar books away or anything, but there really aren't very many parts of the language I am coming across that I don't understand. I need a lot of practice producing spoken Spanish fluidly and catching every word at native speeds, but right now I think I have the structure of the language and a sufficient (and growing) vocabulary in my head, I just need real life interaction with it so that I get better at it. Soo more conversation, more reading, more TV and podcasts are going to consume my time, probably at the expense of course and grammar work.

I had 4 lessons on italki last week, and even the "structured"lessons were really more like conversation practice. I have a list of spanish programs on Netflix to consume, and Amazon has some good old fashioned paper books on the way to my door, and there are a handful of podcasts and youtube series that look interesting, and elpais still publishes daily. Spoken Spanish remains fast to my American ears, and I read more slowly that I would like and have to translate in my head sometimes, and I still stammer and stutter and use the wrong tenses when speaking, and more consumption and production whenever possible seem like reasonable ways to attack those issues.

I am on about page 150 of El Demonia y La Srta Prym. I have done bi-directional translation of Using Spanish Lesson 10. I have listened to perhaps an hour of ElExplicador and another hour or so of Easy Spanish, plus 30 minutes more or less playing with Spanish language radio. I don't think I did anything in Linguaphone 2nd stage since the last update, or in my grammar books, but they still remain for review when needed.

I'm also having some thoughts of infidelity. I know it is probably too early in the process, but the fact of the matter is that the beginning stages of language learning were fun, and I'm considering starting to tinker with something else. It may not be the best idea, but it is one that is growing on me anyway.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:08 pm

No course work last week, but a fair dose of Spanish. I had two hours of discussions with tutors, ranging from false cognates to the road to Santiago to what it takes to be happy, so there was quite a bit of variety! I watched a Netflix program called "Una Historia de Dos Cocinas, " and discussed it in one lesson as well.

I finished my second Spanish novel, El Demonia y el Señorita Prym by Paulo Coelho. It was not difficult to read, and overall I enjoyed it, although I think after reading this and The Alchemist I believe that Coelho might think his stories are more profound and important than they actually are. Anyway, it was a decent book and a really good language learning tool. I also started a collection of short stories by Argentinian writer Julio Cortázar, and after finishing the first story I think I am going to move on to something else for a while. The language was much more difficult, the vocabulary was strange, and I didn't like it very much.

I listened to El Exlpicador on my commutes several times. It seems to be a good pattern to listen to the first three segments (~15 minutes) at a time, then come back and listen to the same 3 segments on a different day, sometimes repeating again if necessary. I also have watched EasySpanish and SpanishSessions videos that look interesting, and while working out yesterday for the first time I watched CNN "Perspectivas desde México," which, as you would expect, has very clear but very fast Spanish. Overall, I would guess I had 3 hours of active listening practice including the netflix show.

I'm still keeping the goldlist notebook: 75 headlists, 70 1st distillations, 61 2nd distillations, 50 3rd distillations. #50 was the first time I distilled a combination of other 3rd distillations 3 times, so the list has "rolled over." I guess if I were following the original method, those words would go into the final gold list book. This may not be the most efficient way to learn vocab, but it is helpful and I don't mind doing it. Removing the headlists created from 3rd distillations, the book represents 1525 novel words and phrases that I found, didn't know, and decided were important; I have written those, thought about them, and spoken them, returning at a later time to decide whether i knew them or not, and repeated the process for the ones I did not. I don't know if I would do it again, but the method has been helpful in building passive vocabulary.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:32 pm

Well, it has finally arrived--the subjunctive. I have reached the scary part of the program with my main tutor, which coincidentally corresponds with a lot of discussion about subjunctive mood with my conversation partner, so i guess it is time. Really, understanding the rules and reasons about when and why to use the mood are not very difficult. Remembering to use it appropriately in conversation seems more challenging. Also, the regular conjugations are simple, which would be more useful if it didn't seem like 89% of the verbs were irregular. Anyway, a new phase has begun.

In addition to my work with tutors, I have started working through the present subjunctive in Schaum's outline of Spanish grammar, and I have GdUdE on standby. I found some overviews of the subjunctive online and did several exercises on spanishdict.com and other sites. I also listened to Spanish language podcasts for an hour or so over the last week, watched CNN for about an hour total, and watched youtube videos (mostly EasySpanish) for about another hour. I feel like the time I spend listening and conversing is still well short of where I need it to be to improve fluency to the degree i would like. I am having trouble putting more practice of these skills into my schedule, though.

At the recommendation of my conversation tutor, I started Las batallas en el desierto, a novella by Jose Emilio Pacheco. I have also read regularly in El Pais.

On a wild hair, I also ordered a copy of Remembering the Kanji. I have no commitment to start learning Japanese, and if I ever did decide to study the language, i would never strive for or expect to achieve the level of fluency I desire in Spanish, but I find the writing system, Heisig's method for learning it, and the newfangled SRS flashcard systems for studying it interesting,especially in light of my disdain for good oldfangled paper flashcards. Anyway, it's nothing more than a diversion at the moment.

I continue keeping my Gold List notebook, but I don't have it with me so I don't know the numbers.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Mon Feb 24, 2020 5:05 pm

Travel, both for work and pleasure, has changed my language learning schedule over the past two weeks, but I did make a concerted effort to not let my progress slip too far. It's hard to be certain, as I did some time-zone jumping, but I think I did something in Spanish every day, be it reading news articles, listening to podcasts, or doing exercises. Overall, the study was less intensive, though.

I have been reading Las Batallas en el Desierto. At the suggestion of one of my tutors, I have gone back and read it a 2nd time to see if some of the difficult parts were easier; they were. I don't know why it seems natural to watch a TV show a 2nd time but not read a novella twice, but it really never occurred to me.

I completed Linguaphone Unit 25. I'm basically just doing the listening parts now, which is fine.

I'm working through Schaum's exercises on the subjunctive. This is a good resource, and it is organized in a way that it just kind of feeds into the somewhat more challenging exercises in GdUdE.

I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes in Spanish. I had to turn subtitles on about 15 minutes into it.

I played with Kanji a little bit. I don't think I have the system of syncing Heisig with Anki very good yet, as I keep getting into places in my Anki deck that have Kanji I haven't seen in the book. Also, while some of the stories and mnemonics feel right and stick, others fly out of my head or, just as bad, only work one direction, so I can recognize the Kanji but not draw it, or I can recall it to write but not remember when seeing it on the flashcard. Anyway, it's an ongoing experiment. I'm a little over 100 Kanji into the book.

As an aside, I had some opportunities to experience some of Iceland. The visit was wonderful, but the language is impenetrable. It sounds like equal parts Swedish and German spoken with a thick Russian accent to me. However, the proficiency with which Icelanders speak English is amazing. US schools should look at whatever Iceland does to teach English and copy it without deviation in their foreign language programs.

Also, this:


https://youtu.be/f88UJyCA__M

EDIT: I will try to fix the video link later.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Mon Mar 02, 2020 3:40 pm

Well, I didn't fix the video link in the above post, but other than that I had a pretty good week.

I finished reading Las Batallas en el Desierto. It was an interesting story, full of Mexican cultural history and themes, but it was a bit of a slog to get through. I understand that it is commonly required reading for Mexican high schoolers. I don't know if it is a difference in reading a native work or a translation or if it is just complexity of the language, but this long short story felt much harder than Paulo Coelho. Next up is Dan Brown's Origen.

I continue to work through materials on the subjunctive with my tutor and, at least a little, with my grammar books. I really think the difficulty of this mood is overblown by English learners. It is a bit forced to have to remember to insert it during conversation, and it would have been nice if somebody could have made a lot more of the verbs regular, but the concept and the conjugations are fairly simple. It's not the bogeyman I had heard it to be.

I continue to listen to podcasts in the car, and I have been trying to include more Spanish language TV in my day, mainly CNN. I also did several Linguaphone lessons, finishing the first section of 30 lessons, although I skipped the A-L parts so it's really only 20 completed. I keep intending to make a concerted effort to binge listening practice and see if I can notice a difference in my comprehension, but it hasn't happened yet.

I'm still playing with Kanji as a novelty. I'm about 175 into Heisig's book, and I still don't know how or if iit works for me, especially as a part time diversion. I am surprised at times at the number of Kanji that I know and just as surprised at the number that appear in Anki that I have no recollection of having ever seen, despite working orderly through the book and writing, often multiple times, the kanji, story, and keyword. It probably doesn't help that I am not particularly good at using Anki yet, either.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:14 pm

I'm not sure how much actual study I accomplished last week.

I worked on subjunctive with a tutor, mainly concentrating on the different phrases that usually or always are followed by subjunctive mood.

I did a few exercises in Schaum's on subjunctive.

I listened to podcasts in Spanish and watched CNN for an hour or so. i've done Linguaphone Advanced through unit 34.

I read articles in El Pais and read a little of Origen.

That list makes it seem like I did more than it feels like I did. It was a light week.

I also played with Anki and Heisig's kanji a little. It feels like study, but I'm really not sure how much information is being permanently fixed in my brain.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Tue Mar 17, 2020 5:17 pm

Spanish has been on a different, and possibly slower, rhythm over the past couple of weeks. I think I have had one lesson with a tutor, still working on the present subjunctive. It's difficult for me to get regular conversation practice without italki, and there are still structures of the language in which I think it is beneficial to have a guide (like subjunctive,) but active tutoring is probably less important now than it has been. I will keep it up, and I will continue to schedule conversation practice when practical, but it will most likely be at a lessor level than before. I don't think the actual tutoring part of the sessions has quite the same bang for the buck as before.

I have been watching CNN in Spanish when I exercise, and I still try to squeeze in podcasts when driving. Listening comprehension at native speeds is still my weakest skill. I'm sure i make plenty of mistakes producing the language, but I feel like I can generally make myself understood. Keeping up with real live Spanish, even clearly spoken newscasts, is difficult. ¡ Necessito mas practica, siempre mas practica!

I am progressing through Origen, and I am reading news almost daily. I am also working through the subjunctive exercises, mainly in Schaum's because it has so many. I have done a little work in my vocab notebook. I need to take some time and review it thoroughly, but I don't see the Goldlist being a regular part of my study going forward. I also feel like I need to ahve someplace to record new and interesting vocabulary that I encounter for later review, and it is the system I've got. Right now I have 76 Headlists, 73 1st distillations, 66 2nd distillations, and 55 3rd distillations.

I've worked through lesson 40 in Linguagphone Advanced. I'm doing the lessons much less intensely than I did in the beginning of the course, but it is pretty good listening practice, i think.

I'm not sure if I have done anything with kanji since the last update. I have reached a point where the novelty of drawing pictures that represent concepts isn't as compelling, and i either need to advance my Japanese studies beyond Heisig (to kana, and perhaps a bit of easy reading or a beginning course,) or to step away from them for a moment. I don't really have time for the former right now, so I'm waiting. I also have the thought of tinkering with a couple of different languages with the aim of selecting one for more serious study after I get Spanish to a more comfortable place. Ahora mismo, estoy propando moscas.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Mon Mar 23, 2020 5:50 pm

It's a weird world we are living in today. One of unexpected consequences of the shutdown of America due to the virus is that language tutors on italki seem to be doing a booming business, so much so that I'm having a hard time booking sessions! I think I have had one session with each of my regular tutor and conversation partner since the last update, but who knows going forward; everyone seems to be locked in their apartments studying Spanish. Anyway, my italki time is usually the best, and often the only, conversation practice I get, so add this to the long list of inconveniences of life under coronavirus.

I continue reading Origen, as well as news in El Pais on an almost daily basis.

I have finished all of the exercises in Schaum's on present subjunctive, and I am working my way through GdUde. GdUde is in some ways more difficult, and I like the fact that the grammar explanations are all in Spanish, but I think it is also more confusing in the way it explains and constructs the exercises. There were several examples in the subjunctive sections that I don't have in front of me, but I find it unclear, for instance, which verb it wants me to put into the subjunctive, or which person (usually 1st or 2nd) it wants me to use in the answer. In present progressive estas trabajando, does the exercise call for the helping verb in the subjunctive ojalá que este trabajando, or should I drop it and just use tabaje? Or is it directing the question at me, so I should answer it in the 1st person trabaje? Anyway, it's a minor nitpick, and i probably didn't think up the best examples, but I occasionally find it a bit frustrating and distracting to have to figure out what an unclear questions is asking me to do.

I have watched CNN in Spanish when possible and listened to ElExplicador a couple of times. I'm still not listening enough. I saw someone else's log where they reached 500 hours. I can't imagine how long it would take me to get that much practice. I am still doing Linguaphone Advanced listening and reading exercises, so that helps. I just finished unit 46.

I haven't done very much with kanji. Maybe the virus induced slowdown will give me a chance to reevaluate my priorities there.
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Re: 40something Spanish Log

Postby SCMT » Tue Mar 31, 2020 3:46 pm

Strange times, these. I'm still trying to get in regular study.

I have finished unit 50 of Linguaphone Advanced.

I have been watching CNN in Spanish when exercising. I am still not getting anywhere near enough listening practice.

I'm on chapter 22 of Origen. I have the Kindle version, so I don't know how many chapters there are. Kindle tells me I am something like 20% through the book, but sometimes it lies. I'm only spending about 15 minutes a day reading this, and i would really like to sit down for a few hours and knock out a big chunk. I don't usually read pop fiction very often (although I did read Dan Brown's other stuff when it was popular 20 years ago,) and I am remembering why. I don't want to put the book down--it is pretty good language practice, I think--but I will be happy when it is behind me. I am also reading news articles in Spanish everyday.

I have had one lesson each with my tutors. Their schedules are full.

I remember the kanji for "in. 中" That might be the only one I remember.
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