Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

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gsbod
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=1152
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Sat May 09, 2020 4:08 pm

Super Challenge Books

As with the films, I'll try and keep a running list of books read for the Super Challenge here:

Elf Tage in Berlin - Håkan Nesser
Last edited by gsbod on Sun Jul 05, 2020 12:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Fri May 15, 2020 6:22 pm

My B1 French course has now officially finished and I'm just waiting to receive my final marks. Based on my performance on assignments and class tests to date, I'm expecting a pretty decent grade overall, but in the greater scheme of things, I don't really care about the grades as much as what I can do with the language.

Things were obviously disrupted quite a bit by the pandemic although we were able to switch to online teaching, which overall didn't work quite as well as the classroom teaching, but I've no complaints about that given the circumstances. I'm pleased that I managed to keep turning up to the class over the whole year and completed all the assessments, since I had a bit of a track record of dropping out of French courses previously. I'm also genuinely surprised by the grades I've achieved, which were on a par with the grades I achieved when studying a B1 German course which was likely too easy for me at the time. I think this says more about the limits of testing at any given level, since the amount of mental effort required at the time of the assignment or test was far greater for French. Even though the output may look similar in terms of quality, when producing my German essays it felt like I was writing them, whereas for the French essays it felt like I was constructing them.

As for how much my French has improved over the year, it's difficult to judge, since I find it easier to reflect on my weaknesses than strengths. I feel like I've got a better grip on the grammar I'm supposed to know, but it still needs work. Turns out I did do something right when I learned French at school, since my intuition for how to use the verbs is a lot better than expected, although some aspects are still weak. Pronouns still need work, but I have made some improvement. My biggest weakness is vocabulary. I can get away with it for B1 (as my grades demonstrate) but that's where the bite will be if I want to get to B2.

Do I want to get to B2? Really tough call. My enthusiasm for French hasn't exactly been great throughout the year (which is why I'm so pleased I managed to stick with it). It's a useful language to have, but I don't feel the same enthusiasm for it that I do for German. I certainly don't expect to take it up to C1+. So the question is, what will B2 give me which I don't already have, and would it be worth the effort to get there? I don't have the answer to that yet.
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Cavesa
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby Cavesa » Sat May 16, 2020 10:05 pm

gsbod wrote:As for how much my French has improved over the year, it's difficult to judge, since I find it easier to reflect on my weaknesses than strengths. I feel like I've got a better grip on the grammar I'm supposed to know, but it still needs work. Turns out I did do something right when I learned French at school, since my intuition for how to use the verbs is a lot better than expected, although some aspects are still weak. Pronouns still need work, but I have made some improvement. My biggest weakness is vocabulary. I can get away with it for B1 (as my grades demonstrate) but that's where the bite will be if I want to get to B2.

Do I want to get to B2? Really tough call. My enthusiasm for French hasn't exactly been great throughout the year (which is why I'm so pleased I managed to stick with it). It's a useful language to have, but I don't feel the same enthusiasm for it that I do for German. I certainly don't expect to take it up to C1+. So the question is, what will B2 give me which I don't already have, and would it be worth the effort to get there? I don't have the answer to that yet.


Congratulations on your B1 and welcome to the land of Fun in French. Now it starts to get interesting and worthwhile. Normally, I recommend tons of native input after B2 (that's what I did), but B1 is possible too, especially if you enjoy stuff like non fiction, audiobooks, documentaries and so on.

Vocab learning is a life long odyssey. But from now on, you'll also be learning it from the stuff you enjoy. But sure, if you also keep using a coursebook and such tools up to B2, it will only help you get there faster and profit from the fun stuff more. The best time/value ratio comes with the Progressives, in my opinion.

What will B2 give you, which you don't already have? Well, when I was at that point, it gave me a huge difference in reading ability and it was a much less steep learning curve in my tv series journey. Is it worth the effort? Unless you look around and get an idea of the French stuff related to your interests that's available, you'll never know. In terms of practical skills, B1 is the highest level of just getting the point across. B2 is the first level of actually caring how to do that the best way and slowly becoming a bit more like yourself in the new language.

You also seem to be in no hurry. So, if you just focus on having fun, you might notice one day: "hey, I'm actually already there!" like I did a few years ago :-) Sans peine.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Sun May 17, 2020 12:21 pm

Cavesa wrote:What will B2 give you, which you don't already have? Well, when I was at that point, it gave me a huge difference in reading ability and it was a much less steep learning curve in my tv series journey. Is it worth the effort? Unless you look around and get an idea of the French stuff related to your interests that's available, you'll never know. In terms of practical skills, B1 is the highest level of just getting the point across. B2 is the first level of actually caring how to do that the best way and slowly becoming a bit more like yourself in the new language.


This is really at the heart of the rough cost benefit analysis I am making regarding my next steps for French.

Taking practical or communicative skills first of all, my main use for French is as a tourist (assuming we can resume normal activities in that respect within months rather than years). For that, I think B1 is a great level to have. A2 is useful for a tourist, but you'll be so much more comfortable with B1. Also at B1 it's much easier to understand what's going on around you, which is really helpful if your travel plans are being disrupted by a strike or a heatwave or whatever. Other potential communicative uses for French I can pretty much rule out for the time being - I have one friend who is a native speaker but our default language is German and I don't think that will change! Also I have no real desire to move to France for work, so at the moment I'm not considering B2 as a stepping stone to professional competency either.

So really the big benefit of B2 would be in terms of access to media - i.e. I could read books quicker and understand podcasts, film and TV better. Certainly at one level, what's not to like about that? I have read, and enjoyed, books by Amélie Nothomb, Fred Vargas and Jules Verne during my last serious French refresher in 2013-14 and I have a few books left from that time on my to be read pile.

Which leads me to consider the costs, as it were. I'm an enthusiastic reader, but I'm not a quick reader. I collect books at a faster pace than I can consume them. Looking at the output of the British and German publishing industries alone over the last 10 years or so, I've got plenty to keep me going. Right now, I've got around 100 German books and around 90 English books on my to be read pile (the French pile is somewhat smaller with around 16 books). Opting for a double super challenge for German means I need to average 500 pages a month, which is doable for me if I'm willing to read less English for the duration of the challenge, and doesn't leave much room for French.

As for film and TV, truthfully I'm not much of a TV person and haven't been since a period of being hooked on J drama in the early 2010s. It's not something I normally think about since I don't have any strong feelings about TV as a source of entertainment, I just don't actively choose to watch TV as much or as often as a typical human. This again is proving an interesting challenge for my German super challenge - when I signed up to watch an average of 2 and a bit films per week I really hadn't considered that this is a lot more than I typically watch per week, so I'm already behind and having to catch up.

The other time cost would be the textbook time, which I would consider a necessary complement to any native materials. As Cavesa suggested, I would be looking to work through some level appropriate workbooks for grammar and vocabulary and would probably supplement with an Anki deck for more vocabulary support. Right now my only language textbook time is about an hour a week which I am spending on Spanish (I'm genuinely chuffed that I'm still hanging in there with Spanish). I'm also considering making a bit of textbook time for German to support my Super Challenge in addition to helping on the long road to mastery - it's not immediately essential though, so no commitments yet. Again, the question is do I have time to fit this in for French, on top of making time for French books and French TV.

The good news is that my achievements so far in French are not going anywhere any time soon. And each time I refresh my French, I leave it in a better state than it was at the end of the previous refresher, even if I tend to leave a long gap inbetween. I'll be ready to pick it up and take it further when the time is right, I just don't think that time is now.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Wed May 20, 2020 7:39 pm

Flicking through my Spanish textbook, Nos Vemos, earlier, I noticed a note at the back to say that it was originally published by Klett under the name of Con Gusto. So I took a look at the sample on the Klett website here and it is pretty much identical in terms of content. The main differences in my edition are the pictures, the colour scheme, and the fact that all of the explanations, notes and instructions have been translated from German into Spanish.

This explains why one of the pronunciation exercises early on in the book only seemed to make sense from a German perspective!!

This also explains why the explanations and instructions use a level of Spanish which feels too advanced compared to the rest of the content (that is to say, the instructions are harder to understand than the reading comprehensions). This is not really a problem for me since I'm quite happy to use a dictionary and figure things out for myself, but it explains why it's so much more effort than, say, the A1 Begegnungen book which is also monolingual, but the instructions and explanations are super simple.

If I'd bought the original German version of the course, I'd probably be racing through it by now. Or at least going at a walking pace rather than snail's pace, and having the satisfaction of learning Spanish through German. This is rather annoying, but I guess having to make more of an effort just to understand the instructions is basically extra Spanish, so maybe it'll help in the long run.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Thu May 21, 2020 9:48 pm

I've finished Chapter 2 in Nos vemos. I completed Chapter 1 over one long weekend (Easter). Chapter 2, on the other hand, took me 5 weeks. If I continue at this pace, I should get to A1 around this time next year. Good job it's not a race :lol:

Still, my approach of spending an hour or so on the textbook as and when I have the time, energy and inclination to do so, and then reviewing new vocabulary, phrases and verb conjugations regularly in Anki (taking around 5 minutes a day) seems to be working - there is a short review section at the end of the chapter which helped to demonstrate I still remember enough of what was covered at the beginning of the chapter, even 5 weeks later.

I got my final grade for my French course. It was ridiculously high and doesn't really correspond with how I rate my own performance in French. I had to remind myself that it's grading me against my performance at the B1 level, and not my performance against my own impossibly high standards. It was almost enough to tempt me to keep ploughing on with French, but I still don't know how to fit that in with everything I want to do with German. And maybe Spanish.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Fri May 22, 2020 1:56 pm

I've got a little plan now to try and give my German grammar and vocabulary a bit of a boost and complement my reading and listening for the Super Challenge. It involves the appendices in Grammatik Aktiv B2-C1, Anki, and a bit of memorisation. The plan is to work specifically on some of the more unusual prepositions (predominantly ones which take the genitive but also a very small handful of dative prepositions for which I wasn't 100% confident of their meaning and usage) and make some simple flashcards in my preferred format of L1 > L2 and L2 > L1 with some additional usage notes to show up on the answer side where appropriate. Looking at the list in the back of my grammar book, this should cover no more than around 40 prepositions, so around 80 flaschards which I can then easily work through in Anki within less than a week (and then for however long I feel I need to continue afterwards).

Next up, if I can maintain my enthusiasm, is the list of prepositional verbs, adjectives and nouns, for which I can set up flashcards in a similar format. Some of these I'm already pretty familiar with, others not so much, or I might be aware of them but not be 100% on the correct preposition and/or case. So it's both a vocabulary and a grammar exercise focussed on the kind of details I'm supposed to focus on at the advanced level. Altogether I'd be looking at around 300 facts or 600 flashcards, plus a month to get through doing the first review of each of them. It's a Bank Holiday weekend again, and I genuinely have nothing better to do ("What about French?" "Shh!") so I don't mind putting a few hours into the data entry for a whole batch of these and see how far I get.

I'm also thinking about setting up something to practice usage of verbs which don't take prepositions but can have tricky case usage. There's a whole list of these in Grammatik Aktiv B2-C1 and in Übungsgrammatik für die Mittelstufe, conveniently including an example sentence for each verb. I was thinking I could set up flashcards with an English translation of the sentence on the question side (which I'll have to make myself when setting it up) plus the target verb in German in brackets, and then to answer it I'll have to give a German translation using the correct cases. This will be a lot more time consuming both in terms of set up and drilling, but feels like it could be useful. Maybe something to think about next time I have time off work, assuming I'm still not allowed to go to the beach, or Berlin.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Sun May 24, 2020 9:00 pm

I've finally caught up to where I'm supposed to be for the film section of the Super Challenge, thanks to a few episodes of Tatort and getting halfway through Dark on Netflix.

I am still miles behind on the reading - and I think my decision to keep reading Das Nebelhaus but not count it towards the challenge has maybe made things feel a bit harder. But I won't close the gap by complaining about that, so I might as well just keep reading.
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gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Mon May 25, 2020 7:38 pm

My thoughts about learning languages are all over the place at the moment, so I am writing this to try and make sense of things.

Firstly, I seem to naturally thrive when I have a nice juicy project that I can throw myself into. All that stuff about women being multitaskers is nonsense. I mean, I can juggle competing interests, act reasonably well on instinct and muddle through when I have to (it's often the default situation at work these days) but there's a world of difference between muddling through and thriving.

I made a great amount of progress on Japanese because getting to N2 and learning to understand TV dramas was a really juicy project. And then I achieved some great stuff when I threw myself into German, although this was at the expense of Japanese. But for the last few months, I've been mainly just muddling through. I've made some (slow) progress with French, but have been unwilling (or psychologically unable) to completely throw myself into French at the expense of German. And now I'm signed up to a double Super Challenge in German and I'm dabbling in Spanish too.

I can see the potential for three juicy projects here. I just started to describe them using CEFR terminology and realised that this doesn't really convey what I need it to (that is to say, to be sure I understand what I mean) so I'll give more detail as follows:

German: Get to a really advanced level. Make sure I am almost 100% confident that I'm always using correct grammar and suitable vocabulary - confident enough to correct others (assuming it's appropriate to the situation!). Reading skills as good as my native English (i.e. same reading speed, same level of comprehension). Same goes for listening skills (although I think I've almost achieved this already).

French: Get to an advanced B2 kind of level. Firm up my ability to understand and use the grammar I've already studied. Build vocabulary. Build enough confidence in my writing so that the thought of writing a short essay under exam conditions doesn't fill me with complete dread. Get comfortable watching TV and listening to podcasts and start reading books again.

Spanish: Get to a B1 level by thoroughly studying a textbook course from A1 up to B1, to ensure that I've laid all the correct groundwork in terms of grammar and vocabulary. This will be a huge help next time I go on holiday to Spain, and will also lay good foundations if I want to take the language further.

Now, given that the global pandemic has completely disrupted my daily routine and expectations for the future, I've been holding back on making any big decisions about what to do or what to drop. And given the stresses of the situation, it's possible that I could decide to focus on one project at the expense of the others and still fail to thrive because at some times I'm too anxious to think straight and at other times I'm distracted because I'm asking myself all the big questions about what's important and how I want to live my life once the crisis is over. And maybe I need to challenge my deep held belief that I can only make huge strides in one language at a time because I might actually be wrong about that. Problem is right now I'm paralysed by indecision, and risking going from just muddling through to grinding to a complete halt.

I'm not any closer to making a decision, but writing this has at least helped get my thoughts in order.
8 x

gsbod
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Re: Tatort und Chill (DE|ES|FR)

Postby gsbod » Mon May 25, 2020 9:44 pm

Thinking some more about this, whilst I'm struggling to make a decision about what/how to study, I can definitely prioritise the 3 languages:

1. German <- my favourite language. If I was forced to choose only one, it would be this one.
2. Spanish <- if I keep going, I will develop a skill which will be useful to me in the future (since I love holidays in Spain almost as much as holidays in Germany). On the other hand, if I stop now, then picking it up at a later date would require me to start again pretty much from scratch. I don't agree with the theory that you need to reach B2 in order to maintain a language/avoid this happening, however I do still need to nail down some fundamentals, which will take a few weeks, if not months.
3. French <- as much as it would be nice to develop my skills further, it doesn't feel as urgent, either for sentimental reasons (I don't love it like I love German) or practical ones (I know from previous experience that it's not too difficult to refresh my French if I let it go rusty, whereas Spanish is not embeded in my brain in the same way yet).

As a result, I think I'm going to drop French, even if it's just on a temporary basis. But the trade off for that is that I need to try and make an effort to properly study both German and Spanish, and also keep going on the German Super Challenge. Although I don't think I've ever managed to make convincing progress in two languages at the same time before, I am going to give it a try. If I make a success of it, I can try and add in a third language (or maybe more). If not, I'll need to make a decision. But hopefully by then, the pandemic will be over and it will be easier to make decisions in general.

To that end, this week I'm going to try to achieve the following:

- Complete exercises 1-9 in Chapter 3 of Nos Vemos and the corresponding exercises in the exercise book
- Stay up to date with the films portion of the Super Challenge
- Finish reading Elf Tage in Berlin and, ideally, Das Nebelhaus (if I don't drop it altogether)
- Keep going with my Anki German Prepositions Project
- Start working through a German grammar workbook
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