Coldrainwater's German Log

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coldrainwater
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:04 am

Book update: The Way of Kings
Page Count: 1430 (German translation @ 300 words per page)
Dates: 1/11/2020 – 2/11/2020, roughly 32 days.
Estimated reading hours: 150 (includes both Spanish and German read as parallel text)

Synopsis: I read it in two languages, Spanish and German and would like to share data that I found for a few reasons. Namely, it is my first full book to read in the traditional sense in German and I read most of it in Anki, which gives free stats recorded in a consistent fashion. I plan to read the next book under the same conditions, so a book over book comparison should be possible. Same author, same storyline, second archive.

Anki gives me an estimate of how long I spent on each card (12s). Since I split them by sentences, that means I read an average sentence in Spanish and the corresponding sentence in German in about 12 seconds in total. Also worth noting is that I read much of this book, maybe half of it while I was in motion and as a part of the polyglot fitness challenge and needed to teach myself how to read while running. That required refining and developing new tactics along the way, so it was an experience bound by trial and error.

Anki says I read for about 280 minutes a day, which I suspect is pretty accurate. As you might imagine, running stairs and outside on the street is a compromise to both the activity and the language learned. It is less efficient since I read slower in motion than I do when I plant myself in a chair. I certainly recall getting lost in the book on numerous occasions (in a good way, Sanderson is not at all hard to follow with respect to the storyline), so 4-5 hours per day is a realistic estimate. Motion has compensating advantages including better cerebral blood flow (I do not tire of reading quickly when I read and run) and much more flexible language learning environment that can keep pace with modern life.

Graph taken on 02/12/2020.
Image

I have done the same with listening + training in years past. The rubber meets the road in the sense that reading requires more active involvement and visual concentration. In effect, you have an axis that tilts and balances. When I listen, I can give my workouts maybe 80-90% and I can do much more physically. Unfortunately, taking full advantage of this tilts the axis and makes my listening more passive and less attentive. In turn that makes the listening hour less valuable in my mind than a comparable hour with better focus. Hence how I rack up so many listening hours. The axis tilts in exactly the opposite direction with reading. Reading constricts what I can do physically since I have to account for the safety factor and interact visually. However, I pour more into the language learning side since it very much requires me to look directly at the language. There is less chance for middling attention with reading. If something distracts me while I am moving enough, it has to be reread, no questions asked. Thanks to the parallel text, and how closely German is to my native tongue, comprehension of a given sentence is very high despite that I am still a beginner by pretty much any measurement you could take (except perhaps vocab and even that is quite iffy).
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Feb 16, 2020 11:35 pm

So this little smartphone holder is officially battle-tested. I mentioned it last year in passing and as a mini-experiment, but it wasn't until this month that it found a stable home in my language repertoire. Right now, its principal role is to help me read with greater flexibility and without interruption. I also noticed that it encourages me to capture my thoughts more readily in audio and in written format. I always wanted a companion to the headphones that I rely on so heavily for listening practice and it does look like this device will do the job. Moreover, it has the potential to assist with the other three macro-linguistic study areas, making for a complete toolset when viewed together. Pun intended it is noteworthy enough to warrant a current usage update.

I like it for building a new reading habit since there is no more out of sight, out of mind problem. There is also no worry about little interruptions derailing my reading focus, at least not for very long. Even other humans, persistent and creative as they may be, would have trouble staying as attached to you as this device. It is quite hard to ignore when you have it in your field of vision and don't need to put it down or away from you (even as far as your pocket) to handle life's daily spills and splatters. It also carries well. For certain exercise conditions, it helps guard against precipitation due to how flexible it is and what usage angles it can support. Apparently, it can also accommodate its very own cell phone charger, in the event that my planning is sufficiently poor or my study habits sufficiently robust to need one...in short, one less thing to worry about. I was even more surprised to find out how well it held up against minor strength training manoeuvres that would normally either break (through falls) or render useless many other devices. It extends so far physically that it does not get in the way of my movement and is stiff enough to stay in place.

It is not perfect, but it definitely falls in the category of better than expected. I like it enough to give it slightly more attention going forward and to allow time to discover additional use cases for it naturally. The point that I would emphasize is that anything that supports and encourages the habit aspect of language learning and that directly leads to [potentially far] more exposure time has very high value. So even a small extension like this would under-promise and over-deliver.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sat Mar 07, 2020 10:43 am

I am slow by nature and I sometimes wonder what my life might have been like if I were not so terribly proud of that. As it stands, I see a path that runs far deeper than I imagined. A slow focus on life explains a number of my personal preferences, including a natural love of steep terrain and a penchant for inscriptionless keyboards, left-handed mice and 4k screens. Simple things, each of them. If I look at it all a bit sideways and stretch the links, I can use it as a view into more complex personal traits: positive, negative, or neutral; good, bag, or ugly.

Anecdotally, I have been passed on more than one occasion by school buses on the freeway and by hikers 50 years my senior. Heck, I even bleed slow. I went in for my yearly health checkup the other day and barely made it to my 10:45 am (work sponsored on-site) appointment. I was determined not to be shamefully late and after running at top speed, which I might guess to be 5-6 mph, I managed to constrict blood flow enough that they had to take five and try again before they managed to fill the second and final vial. Maybe that is the moment it clicked for me.

Or perhaps it was sooner. Ages ago, when I was growing up and starting to make my way in the world, I noticed that I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with the pace or speed of anyone around me. To make matters worse, it didn’t look like anything about that was likely to change. One day, it was like a switch flipped and I noticed that everything changed the minute I added a challenge to the picture. Speed became relative and much to my surprise and delight, adding several challenges to the picture made it even more interesting. Sure, each bit of new fun slowed me down, but not by much and not in comparison to the impact a comparable challenge had on others. After all, how much slower could I realistically go?

As a handy and much-needed bonus, the challenges I added seemed to level the playing field around me quite nicely. Some were added consciously and others came about quite without my permission. I reached a point quickly enough where I could interact with others, exchange ideas and generally progress in a community-oriented setting provided that the mutual engagements offered sufficient challenge. Without them, I might as well have been a fish out of water, a condition which I still find myself in frequently enough. I certainly wasn’t born a chameleon and though I change as I age, I notice that the same patterns repeat, each time weaving slightly more intricate webs around a common theme.

As a further example, when I bump into larger-scale problems, be they social or otherwise, it is likely that I can better understand what I am up against if I trace a line back to speed. I run into problems like this every day, such as when I try to cross the street while reading German. That sometimes goes well. It impacts my night-owl sleep cycle, my natural abhorrence for schedules, propensity for being late and many other life events. Our world is complex enough that I am not at risk of thinking that I have anything in particular figured out or even that my own actions always align with a nifty little pattern, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that recent thoughts along these lines have been amazingly helpful in life and language learning.

It would be an even greater omission if I didn’t mention that so much seemed to fall into place just as I happen to be reading fantasy in German and Spanish. That we interlace worlds to better understand our reality is a common theme of the genre and the impact is magnified nicely by adding an extra language component. Mixing and stacking challenges in that respect is helpful and it gives me a new way of looking at time. Every now and again I ask myself if reading so slowly in a foreign language is a disadvantage. It is not a question with an easy answer, but after this little meditation, I can say that it certainly isn't a doubt that will come up again anytime soon! I stand firmly on one side of that fence and the grass certainly isn't greener on the other.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Mar 22, 2020 11:58 pm

I discovered that you can win a staring contest against a German sentence from time to time, but it requires patience. Words materialize at about the same rate that ink dries, which according to my Anki notes, takes a good 14 seconds per flashcard. In the end, the seconds added up and I finished all available books from the Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson. In German, this amounted to seven separate books as detailed below (separated into sentences and read in parallel with their Spanish equivalents as the flipside fo the Anki card):


The next installment, Rhythm of War will be out on November 17, which makes for a forced break of about eight months and a chance to see how much my reading ability improves or degrades in that timeframe. I read each text in various states of motion and rest, very much in the spirit of the Polyglot Fitness Challenge in which I participate.

With respect to the Stormlight Archives, I put a distraction limit of 30 seconds on each flashcard, roughly the max time any single sentence should take to read. If the time extends beyond that limit, Anki simply does not record it. For me, the data represent a form of time on task with good concentration eliminating most of the drift. The entire setup works pretty well for beginner level reading (young adult) in parallel text format.

Looking beyond those numbers, I took a few curiosity snapshots to see what happened over a few better controlled periods, say 10 hours each on a quiet weekend. I found that I was lucky to spend more than half my time reading at best. On several of my best days, I remember clearing 500 minutes and between 2000-2500 sentences. That explains why I would have trouble reading more than about 8 hours in a day if I were aiming for a max (I am not). It is more about drift and normal life distraction than fatigue and I am not sure I would have seen that clearly without a bit of data. On my worst days, I would not call them a struggle, not with the enjoyment factor anyhow, but I definitely had to pay close attention to clear 1000 sentences or about four hours of time on task.

Perhaps the best visual representation I could get that is not distorted is the snapshot of my last 30 days. Though I am reading slower, I have been somewhat more diligent than normal. That sort of diligence is likely quite short-lived, so I figured the time to take a snapshot is now:

Image

I think it would be unwise to run completely out of food, so I am devoting some administration time to loading a new fantasy series into Anki today. It may not be what I end up going with, but I know not to head into a new work week dry on content. I need a bit of time to think and pick resources that offer enough variety for decent progression, but not at the expense stopping all momentum. I have about 30 chrome tabs open at the moment which is usually a pretty good indicator that the wheels have started churning.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Wed Apr 08, 2020 7:02 am

Patience is a quality defined by its reward. -Steven Erikson, Malazan Book of the Fallen

Abetted by caffeine, narrow focus at last bordered on obsession and it prompted me to write an update. It seems the tunnel of obsession narrows even around language and it is very hard to break from. Then momentum builds and I lose track of time. Fortunately, exercise, work, reading and a peculiar version of vocabulary perusal have found peace in my routine and even coexist. Also in place are soft daily upper limits on time, aimed mainly at averting cases of ‘reader overboard’.

As you might have gathered from the quote above, I have since picked up a new magic book, expressly Die Gärten des Mondes by Steven Erikson. Collaborators from the wikilink below were quite complementary. I am drawn to long epic tales, and this one is easily capable of outstripping a super challenge. With Erikson, storyline, prose and world are all significantly more complex compared to Sanderson's Stormlight Archives. This time, I am mapping English to German in parallel text, again straying far from normal Anki use. I suspect the series may need to be read in multiple languages or formats, and should I eventually finish, certainly in different years. This suspicion arose after noticing that it comprises 10 volumes in English and 18 in German. That counts only the parts written by Erikson. I found it interesting that this world was created as a collaboration between two people and led to separate series. Some of you may know or remember these authors from different walks of life back in the 80's. For those interested in reading more about it: Malazan Book of the Fallen - Wiki
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:59 pm

I would like to take a moment and share the current evolution of a workflow I use to create word lists and to capture meaningful phrases and quotes. As a mild form of justification or why should I bother statement, I view it as important to enjoy the moments I spend learning and to retain some of them for later reference. Moreover, it is worth pausing every once in a while when I catch an impression worth holding onto. My workflow helps to near-automate the process and the current implementation passed the litmus test of habit, a very reliable means of vetting. I believe in specific and detailed to bring us closer to a transferable learn by example state, so I'll describe it plainly for those that may be interested in it or one is its many variants. The dots are as easy to connect as the words themselves. My reason for sharing is that the implementation is smooth and efficient and it allows for depth and expansion without wasting [much] time. For the base case of getting you to rich content, I would estimate that this takes less than a minute to invoke. In short, it strikes a balance and eliminates tedium and delay.

To start, I use googlesheets as a database to house word lists and to build simple URLs, keeping it all within Chome’s web browser and making it transferable across systems and devices. In bullet format and by direct example:

  • As I read on my smartphone in Anki, I grab what I want using clipto. Alternatives abound if you have a different preference. This mirrors the Kindle word and phrase capture feature but can be used on almost anything in case a more well-known reference is needed.
  • When I have collected a handy bunch, I copy all to clipboard and dump them right into googlesheets or into nimbletext, making a set of URLs that point to dict.cc.
  • Two example links include dict.cc/?s=Schlachtross and dict.cc/?s=Haudegen.
  • Both are the most basic URL concatenations that I could muster. The website query is on the left combined with the word on the right.
  • You can make any linkage you want, limited only by imagination or perhaps whatever helps your learning and exploration the most, fitted to your personal needs.
  • In my case, it is not sufficient to just drop them in deepl since I want slightly more exact detail and more flexibility, though Deepl has a mountain of use cases separately.
  • While on the topic, I should also drop a note mentioning that you can just invoke google translate right inside google sheets, but for my needs, that just isn't precise enough at such an early stage and I think google translate will excel more with sentences than with individual words.
  • For me, dict.cc is potentially the best for an early stage learner of German like myself and it should be the first port of call.
  • A second complimentary pick would be context.reverso.net or linguee.de for those looking for tons of example sentences from a reasonable corpus.
  • After I have all my links, I paste them into multi-links so that they all automatically open in separate tabs.
It is thinking and operating in sets that is at the heart of what makes this so useful. You can then move through the 25, 50, or 100+ links you have just opened effortlessly and you have as much rich context as you want. I suspect it would also be possible to link them to short stories and the like using those words, but that is something I have not broached (yet). You can then vary your study time by choosing how long you spend with each tab if you deem that helpful. If dict.cc is not sufficient alone, you can click beside the word inside dict.cc and point to dwds.de taking you, for example to dwds.de/wb/Haudegen. You can also choose from a list of 10 or 20 other reference sources such as duden.de and dict.cc even remembers your choice. That allows you a ton of bonus for experiment and variety. Imagine doing that on different days with 10-20 different links all instantly ready. I think you probably ingrain the words before you ran out of links and you would get a different visual appeal every time. Further, from the dwds.de link, you then have a monolingual treasure trove. It includes etymology, typical word associations, simple examples, a thesaurus, more detailed extracted sentence examples along with direct links to the web, reference, news, and specialized corpora in case you happen to have a personal preference. Both dict.cc and dwds.de give a metric of commonness or frequency that can be used as a reliable filter, each expressed in different and complementary ways.

The only downside to using dwds.de that I see immediately is that it can provide too much info and may even be distracting. I think it is fine for a beginner provided they stick with the simple parts and use something like transover to hover and get instantly past the monolingual hurdle. The potential for distraction is why I point directly to dict.cc first and only move to dwds.de if I want the extra detail. In some ways, I truly favour dict.cc for its bilingual aspects and that is the other half of the reason. The process I describe will have the set of words at your fingertips, with as much richness as you can imagine or glean from a URL in under 30 seconds. In my mind, it is that type of fluid motion that helps much more than it hurts. It is also insanely flexible. For the technically minded, you can automate and improve this with ease, but as is my custom, I want to describe something that pretty much anyone can use. Many of us, sometimes myself included, simply don’t want to bother with anything complex or that would grate against learning.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Wed Jun 10, 2020 8:14 am

Apparently, the Malazan Book of the Fallen series that I discovered recently is an exceptional fit for me and offers enough substance to last me from spring to summer and beyond. The author, Steven Erikson, maintains and in some cases improves the quality of his prose as the series progresses. The prior link includes easily accessible excerpts from his works. I have commenced the fifth Malazan volume and am actively seeking to steer my attention away from the series and toward a more varied language learning experience. Thus far, I have met with scant success and have instead continued reading from the same author in the same genre. Perhaps my only and biggest success thus far has been stepping away this evening to compose this long and long-overdue update.

To date, I have completed the following Malazan volumes in German (Goodreads links), and in grand sum have read 14 books in German thus far (Sanderson + Erikson).

Die Gärten des Mondes - 790 S.
Das Reich der Sieben Städte - 490 S.
Im Bann der Wüste - 580 S.
Die eisige Zeit - 610 S.
Der Tag des Sehers - 740 S.
Der Krieg der Schwestern - 575 S.
Der Haus der Ketten - 580 S.

Through a Reddit thread, it was brought to my attention that the German fandom wiki now comprises nearly 1500 pages, compared to about 5600 pages in English. That I am considering reading the wiki at a later date is a fair indication of having gone too far down the rabbit hole. A German list of translations published, as well as a very helpful English to German book map which forms a one-to-many relation, can be found here: Das Spiel der Götter - de.wikipedia.org

I haven't been especially overburdened with new vocabulary despite the richness in prose. I have stayed faithful to my original method of reading the books in parallel via Anki [EN->DE]. The technique I use to capture and initially explore new words described in my last post is working splendidly. However, my eyes are [much] bigger than my stomach and my diligence in reading does not extend to vocabulary review. To wit, I do an admirable job collecting, compiling and initially exploring what I find, but then set a review pace with such abysmal frequency that I don’t think the process capable of exhausting much of anyone, myself included. Be that as it may, I currently have a very modest stockpile of perhaps 1300 words gathered, 100% of which are in need of review. It is worth mentioning that my gender identification is middling at best, though I do capture gender and have managed a few days of feverish gender rule studying to assist with active noticing. However, that was at least a month ago and it stands out as potentially the only relevant grammar study that I have conducted to date.

I am tracking my Super Challenge data for German in Google Sheets and three of the books listed above count for my May 2020 reading totals. The film tally is equally sparse, a state which makes tracking quite manageable. I watched one film in May 2020, The King, amounting to roughly one more than I predicted.

Erikson is an author that has some of my favourite quotes, though so many of them are highly contextualized within the lore and challenging to pull out and share. A number of them are conversational to boot. I suppose I could say his quote placement and timing are exceptional. All in all, I can look back on the last five months of continuous reading and say, "Man, I would definitely do that again!" For me, that is the kind of life experience that makes the language learning process worth it even and especially in hindsight.

Though I have done a far-from-perfect job at conveying the nuances of my experience here on the forum, I can say that the parallel text Anki method of reading books has been great for incrementally noticing the slow steady acquisition of reading and language skills. I thoroughly enjoy and prefer using my imagination to help out in the process and the fantasy genre is great for opening the door to this type of experience. I may have also permanently solidified a lasting preference for much longer, involved works.
Last edited by coldrainwater on Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Mon Jul 13, 2020 1:37 am

In the last month, I have spent less time with new vocabulary than I have on any other aspect of language learning. Most of my time has been spent indulging in the endless pleasures of reading and in scheming over ways to guide myself into new language learning territory. That said, I have enjoyed my time learning new words and have added a bit of an evolution to my existing method. The TLDR is that I have found more traditional Anki usage helpful for one of my lists and want to describe the details behind what makes it tick for me.

Der Anki-Garten (der Kartenstapel, zumindest seine Anfänge)

The words in my fantasy book list had an aura about them, but it turns out they didn’t learn themselves. Or more precisely, they didn’t repeat themselves very often. Therefore I made the logical decision and ported them into Anki each with a cherry-picked example phrase. Thankfully that was a one-off task and since I now know what works for me, I can make them right from inception. I had to do it to 'get it’ and I doubt any amount of mulling would have spared me the task.

As a general rule, if I felt that a word was too common, I deleted it. It is a tendency that I don’t struggle against and it shapes and hones all of my wordlists, giving them a certain character. What remains are challenging (for me), generally lower frequency, interesting words that I have seen several times via dict.cc, dwds.de and Reverso.

I created the front of each card with a simple but pointed idea in mind. Namely, I put the L2 word with its article, added a few HTML line breaks, then inserted a short phrase or sentence using the term. Finally, I put the word in italics for quick visual identification. I know how to add sound, but did not bother nor did I add plurals. Instead, what was most important to me and what has made the entire ship float is that I pick the phrase to act as a cheat and am very careful in doing so. Unlike Spanish words, many German words stick like a dull dart flung against concrete. With that aim in sight, I include a phrase that is not a dead giveaway, nothing overt like a monolingual definition, but something that offers at least some challenge. On the flip side, I do not get too fancy or obtuse with my examples and elect not to include multiple, poorly known words or overly clever phrases, giving just enough info to jog my memory and get the definition right.

My decision criteria are equally simple. If I struggle, I tend to keep its maturity under a month or revert it all the way back if I sense a more legitimate forgetting. Settings are near default. I don’t really have leeches, just bad example sentences. If I can’t figure it out from the context, then I create a new context. I throw the context out, not the word I like. To avoid having to do that work step, I have become very good very fast at picking acceptable phrases the first time. My goal is passive recall and my cards reflect that goal.

Though I haven’t paused to describe it or dwell on it, I had the usual hump with plenty of reviews as I quickly shoved about 900 terms into play, going against the grain of common advice. Now, even when exercised in rolling fashion and including the addition of new terms, I am down to 80-100 reviews per day and I suspect that number may drop. It takes very little time and is a low-stress activity, which is a nice payoff for relatively low effort. More importantly, I get to experience in detail how my own personal forgetting curve works and have an opportunity to expand my learning skills modestly. When the terms do come up while reading, it is nice to have such quick recall and watch how they then become the pivot point, strengthening my understanding of the content rather than vice versa.

It is still a pipe dream for me, but I would love to eventually have a list of 10k terms that I created, much like I did once as a child with English. However, I fear my tendency to cull and remove is too strong. Only time will tell. For now, surpassing the 1000 word mark is challenging enough. In the long run, if I decide some terms are no longer important, I can move or remove, but now, with such a tiny list there is no compelling reason to do so.

I barely fought back the urge to call this the Anki graveyard, since I knew I needed a sort of final resting place for words after I had completed the first phase of exploration. In the end, I decide on the substantially less morbid term ‘garden’ since I wanted to keep with the slower but ever hopeful farming analogy, replete with all the plotting and plodding that is so apt to describe language acquisition. In addition, I note progression steps. Eventually, I will incorporate direct dictionary and reference material study, hopefully shaping the garden into a terrace over time.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:51 am

As a reading update, in June and July, I have completed the four books below from Das Spiel der Götter and have a good start on the seventh of ten volumes (counting via the original English texts). My interest and appreciation for the world Erikson co-created is still very high and if anything, the residual impact of earlier volumes leaves a more pleasing feel than the initial reading. Prior events echo well across volumes.

Kinder des Shattens - 475 S.
Gezeiten der Nacht - 555 S.
Die Feuer der Rebellion - 645 S.
Die Knochenjäger - 720 S.

I have met more than a few stages of reading comprehension along the way, some of which are recent acquaintances. I blame my inability to describe the process and related stages squarely on a mix of indulgence and enjoyment, factors which are doubtlessly responsible for some incidental learning. One figure keeps bubbling up to the surface. Long ago, I made a back of the napkin estimate on how much reading material in German I would need to consume before I felt comfortable reading extensively without a translation. My original estimate was 20k pages, which I arrived at by roughly doubling my expectation for a comparable new romance language and holding a bunch of other stuff constant. I look forward to that waymarker in my mental scheming since I find it a good point to introduce LR (L2 audio, L2 text). I will come back to this idea closer to when I am ready to implement.

On a much different tract, notably one far more suitable to my current language level, I spent some corona-time investigating patterns around German gender. Before I consume much grammar specific material, I decided to read and review the book below.

Der, Die, Das: by Constantin Vayenas

Overall, I give it high marks and I think it is appropriate for learners that are comfortable with ambiguity and are amenable to taking a probabilistic approach when assigning gender. Initially learning the gender along with its plural may be the German gold standard, but that ideal often does not match the techniques we favour or the natural way we are exposed to the language. As more structures become apparent, the rules as presented will become more useful, so my outlook around the topic should be long-term and heavily interleaved. I doubt I am yet able to reach the oft-referenced 80% mark in identifying gender given an unknown, but one clear positive is that I now pay significantly more attention to it and I have a better feel when I hit material that doesn't fit nicely in a category and needs to be looked at in isolation. Further down the road, I plan to do more dictionary study and I suspect at least a few passes will be needed where gender is the primary if not sole focus. I also look forward to creating some of my own patterns and finding out which are memorable enough to persist. It is good to approach it like a puzzle.
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Re: Coldrainwater's German Log

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Aug 16, 2020 6:07 am

Grammar Update (I did something with it)

Actions, or in my case a lack thereof, speak louder than occasional pangs of studious interest. Time flies doesn't it now? After a year and some change, at last, I completed a cursory grammar overview, the same type of overview many teachers recommend when starting to learn a new language. The following mini-routine may be of interest for those with a similar aversion.

I tricked myself, an easy task, by starting with 50 hours of grammar and beginner listening material. Most materials were downloaded directly from Youtube - German with Jenny and dropped in an audio playlist, and were then consumed in customary passive attentive style. Jenny is highly professional and I appreciate her approach to teaching. The same approach might have fallen flat had I tried as an absolute beginner. That is more because I needed my A2 listening skills before I could eliminate the video aspect and allow for the freedom of a listen and learn on the go setup. I suspect I also needed a nice long pre-soak that might have foiled learning efforts even if I watched the videos from day zero. That is my German language-specific opinion anyhow.

While the iron was still hot, I followed the audio immediately by reading one short text, Langenscheidt German Grammar in a Nutshell. All I can say is that my oh my does a habit like that dwindle fast! Since then I have replaced the budding grammar diligence with a slew of planned and actual German reading material. The Langenscheidt book was the same high-quality material that I have come to expect from the publisher and it included super clear examples with some Assimil-like humour thrown in for good measure. I will return to more grammar practice the next time I can goad myself into it. I suspect there was quite a bit of value in what I did undertake due to how sparse my prior efforts have been.

In contrast, I have done much better with gender identification practice and have internalized many of the rules around it. I download and spent enough time to recommend the simple Der Die Das android app. I found it refreshing and a fun way to practice gender while also being exposed to new incidental vocabulary. I tracked down that the Hammer's German Grammar and Usage source estimates that following a rules-based approach initially can get you to about the 80% mark correctly identifying German genders. After practising with the Google Play app mentioned above, I think the estimate is spot on. I tended to range from about 70-90% correct on a given run, excluding the occasional disastrous outlier. In addition, as I am reading, I also sometimes set meta tasks and identify noun genders to ensure I am doing it well and to help map it to other sentence constructs. I suspect that I finder gender study much more pleasing since the task is essentially synonymous with learning vocabulary, which I always enjoy.

Vocabulary

My German vocabulary overall is still very much a work in progress. That said, I have a few comments and some numbers. It took more than 8,000 pages at 300 words per page, but I have finally reached a point reading Steven Erikson where I am not actively adding an appreciable number of new words to my vocabulary list. That happened somewhere in volume 7/10 (counting English volumes). When I move to different reading sources, I almost immediately catch unknown words and that is why I feel have a hold on that one small microcosm rather than anything larger in scale. It would have undoubtedly happened sooner had I chosen an author with less complex prose, so the data should be considered in the context of that one Malazan series.

Anki

After hitting a very brief dry spell (see comments above), I find that my active wordlist still contains just shy of 900 terms. I will find more to add but am not in a hurry. What I find interesting is that I can see, more in slow motion than realtime, how words move from passive to active recall. I let them go past a month when I get instant recall and bring them back if I need to resort to the context sentence below to figure out what the term means. It has been working well. Despite a tendency to sabotage the algorithm, I suspect reviewing the entire list periodically would greatly help the process.

I have some reading and listening updates to share as well but will include them in a later post. I wanted to address some microlinguistic areas today.
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