Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

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Caromarlyse
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Feb 28, 2021 5:51 pm

FEBRUARY REVIEW
I did almost 26 hours of French. I finished watching Lupin and did a fair bit of other listening/watching. I also read two books - the non-fiction one by Daniel Tammet and the second in the crime fiction series by Olivier Norek - and started a third one (Le liseur du 6h27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent). I’ve got a real itch to read in French at the moment, and the weather over the past few days has definitely increased my desire to sit outside and read. With this book, I’m underlining words I don’t know whilst reading, and I want to go back and look words up in a dictionary. I don’t usually have the patience to do this, but I feel I would benefit from doing so occasionally. This is quite a short book (200 pages, and I’m already a quarter of the way through it), so it doesn’t feel too daunting. I have noticed some words I’ve only recently learnt coming up, such as vacarme (din, racket) and sillage (wake, aftermath), so I clearly am progressing somewhat in French still, if at a lazy snail’s pace.

I did just under 43 hours of German, a lot of which was listening to podcasts again. This month I averaged over an hour a day; I’m pleased I’m able to keep to this goal. I also read one book.

I’ve done less Portuguese this month, just over 28 hours, mainly because I figured I can progress with it more quickly than Russian, so I needed to adjust the proportion of time I dedicated to each language. I’ve done over 40 of the 54 chapters in Gramática Ativa 1, finished Oi Brasil, level A1 (apart from reading the European Portuguese sections so as not to confuse myself at this early stage), and started some of Oi Brasil, level A2. I’ve also covered other stuff in class, and had all the usual speaking practice there (plus some listening and writing as homework). I’ve bought Gramática Ativa 2, because the subjunctive was introduced in class, and I like to go over some drills in the book on my own in support of the class work. I also bought Whitlam’s Brazilian Portuguese reference grammar, because the Gramática Ativa books are good for practice but are a bit light on explanation. I’ve flicked through it and it looks as though it’ll be good to dip in and out of, as and when I need more information on a particular topic.

I’ve done almost 44 hours of Russian. I’ve watched less, but listened to more podcasts - it’s still a real battle, but I’m persevering. I also did some listening work with my course book and in class. In addition, I’ve worked a lot with my course book. The first volume has four broad topics and then two chapters within each topic. Each chapter in turn starts with reading/listening/content-focused stuff, before moving on to grammar. I’ve finished the first two chapters, covering the first topic, and also done consolidation of everything in them. The first of these chapters in particular was very, very heavy in terms of the volume of content. I’ve just started the third chapter, moving onto a second topic, and some of the grammar questions have clearly been designed in such a way as to require you to have absorbed content from the first chapter, so that’s proved to be yet more helpful repetition. Classes have also continued as usual. I didn’t read anything about Russia this month, as I’d planned, because of deciding to read a second French book instead.

NEXT MONTH
Again I’m conscious of not wanting to put pressure on myself, so really I just want to keep up the hour a day of German listening, read three books, and keep up the Portuguese and Russian classes. I have two weeks with no Portuguese classes though; I’m planning on working with the A2 course book then and focusing on building vocabulary. I’d also quite like to get through chapters 3 and 4 of my Russian course book by the end of the month so I’d be on track to finish both books (and complete the B1 level material) by the end of the year, but I don’t *need* to do this, so I’ll just keep it as a vague, ‘nice to have’, to achieve if I can manage it. I might have to have a week off Russian classes too, and if so that might free up some time to work with the course book. However work looks set to be quite busy in the run up to Easter, so no guarantees!
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Caromarlyse
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Mar 07, 2021 6:22 pm

French. I finished Le liseur du 6h27. It's probably the best book I've read in a while; I really, really enjoyed it. It was nice to read something with depth, that makes you feel whole at the end, rather than "just" entertainment reads. From a language learning perspective I was also pleased to get through it, as I usually shy away from "proper" literature. I didn't look up many words at all in the end, because I could get away with not and I'm so lazy when it comes to vocabulary! I feel I really ought to do something about this, but I have a real visceral dislike of intensive reading of anything long and of targeted vocab building! I did pick up some new words thanks to the context alone. Giclée (squirt) for example ;-)

German. Just podcasts. I continue to love Halbe Katoffl, and to enjoy Die Lage der Nation. I do want to start doing some focused study again. It would be nice to get through Erkundungen C1 this year. I should be able to do so if I start doing a little bit each day. I'm thinking of going a bit slower with Portuguese so I can fit this in.

Portuguese. Classes and homework mainly. We're covering a lot of grammar, which is good in terms of giving me plenty of building blocks, but I'm conscious I need to build vocab; at the moment, I'm doing a lot of guessing based on French and what I remember of Spanish, and then just bits and pieces here and there. As I said in my last post, I will have some time without classes soon, so will go through some of the A2 topic areas then. In terms of grammar, though, the personal infinitive has been introduced, which is going to require a bit of getting my head around!

Russian. This has been my main focus. Classes and homework, but also lots of the course book on my own and as much listening/watching as I could persuade myself to do (over 4 hours, which doesn't include some listening that came up in the course book, so not bad for me)! I still feel as though I'm in quite a rut, but this likely has far more to do with my unrealistic expectations than being an accurate appraisal of how things are going.
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Caromarlyse
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Posts: 105
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Mar 14, 2021 6:58 pm

I'll start with Russian, as that's been the main focus this week. I finished the third chapter of the course book I'm working through, including getting 100% on the test at the end of the chapter. I then skipped ahead and covered the grammar exercises from a later chapter, as the grammar point had come up in class and I wanted the consolidation. I think the book is going to feel easier as I go through it, because vocabulary is being repeated, so later chapters don't feel as though they have the same load of novelty as the first chapter did. I still feel as though I will benefit from circling back many times, though, as stuff refuses to stick! I've also done my usual classes and a load of homework (which was hard), but not quite as much listening as last week (due to lack of time rather than putting it off).

Other than that, I've kept up my hour a day of German listening. I've added Eine Stunde Liebe and Einhundert to my rota thanks to a recommendation from here. They are compelling listening because they are story-based, so you want to know what happens, but they can be quite emotionally draining! This week I started listening out for words whose meaning I didn't fully know, and looking them up and noting them down afterwards. This felt like a useful exercise, and it's not too demanding (and, most importantly, the listening out for one or two new words and remembering them is something I can do whilst walking, which is my German podcast time). I have also done a little work in Erkundungen C1. A lot of the exercises are now such that it would be handy to have someone go through them with me and correct what I do; I might save up my work/questions and then pay for an odd lesson here and there just to get such corrections. For example, I had to summarise a text, and there's the skill of how to summarise in German as well as the language skill itself, to be mastered. I also found a sentence in an article that I thought I understood, but there is a nuance that I could do with a native clarifying for me. I also started a new German novel, but I've not been very good at picking it up in the evenings, so need to get back into that habit.

Portuguese got a bit disrupted with a lesson cancellation, and I didn't spend much time on it apart from the one class I did have. I'm going to go back to my A2 textbook and spend a little time on it every other day if I can, to try to get back some momentum (though I only then want the movement forwards to go slowly). No French, either, apart from reassuring myself that the imperfect subjunctive is not used in the language (apart from an archaic/literary use), having come across it and its usage in Portuguese and having a mild panic about my French abilities!
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Caromarlyse
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Posts: 105
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Mon Mar 22, 2021 11:30 am

I'm half a day late with my end-of-week update - pandemic fatigue, if we can call it that, was mainly to blame.

French: I watched the first (2 hour long) episode of L'école du pouvoir. It's about the ENA grande école. I was directed to it in a book I read about two years ago now, but I can't say I was that enamoured having finally got round to watching it. It was fictional, which I hadn't appreciated (a very young Beckriche and Edelman from Engrenages appeared). The action took place from 1978-1981, so you had a bit of French history/politics from that time, which was interesting. But I really struggled to understand, which was disappointing (and I couldn't get the subtitles for sourds et malentendants to work), and it had a sad ending. There is a second episode, which I think I'll nevertheless watch. But not the best week for French!

German: more podcasts and a little vocabulary work from them. I listened to my first episode of Das Interview, a podcast done by one of the hosts of Lage der Nation. Some of the episodes are really long, so I chose one that would fit into my walk time, which happened to be an interview with a sleep researcher. There was nothing really new for me in terms of content, but it was interesting. I'm ploughing on with my novel, but I've struggled - I've not got into it that much, I'm finding it hard to understand, and I've generally been feeling bleh. I really want to finish it this week, though.

Portuguese: I've just done study on my own. I had started three chapters in my A2 book but not finished them, so I went back through those, revising and completing. Some of the exercises are so dull: write how many chairs there are in your home, and in which rooms they are located! I wouldn't say the book is bad, it's just the low level stuff tends to bore me. I'm looking forward to getting back to my classes, where I'm challenged a lot more. I think I might ditch the textbooks for Portuguese after this one; I enjoy them for Russian, which is far less transparent and my B1 book has some interesting stuff in, but I think I should be able to handle muddling through more with Portuguese in the wild.

Russian: I've done loads, but it still feels like a slog! I went back and listened to something I knew I struggled with at the time, and now it sounds sooo slow, so that's something. I'm on track to have got through a quarter of my B1 textbook series by the end of the month, and, as I said above, am still enjoying it. I've supplemented it at times by looking up grammar explanations in Schaum's, where I felt an explanation in English would make things a bit clearer (participles and gerunds, I'm looking at you). I've done my homework (to varying degrees of success ;-)) and listened/read to bits and pieces of native material. All in all, a decent enough language learning week, just one that felt a little lacking in energy and enthusiasm!
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Caromarlyse
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Mar 28, 2021 7:30 pm

No French!

Loads of German podcasts - I'm easily keeping up with my hour a day of listening now, and indeed am ahead of target for the month. The fact I have a large selection of podcasts now to choose from is helping, as is the fact that it's comfortable to put headphones in and listen whilst doing other things. I've also finally finished my novel. It was a bit of a grind, and I actually read the first 220 pages twice, having started the book last year and then put it down for a few months. I hope the next one in the series will be better! At least the pile by my bed is going down slowly. I've got one English book to finish in the next few days, and I'll remain on track to finish them by the end of the year.

Portuguese continued. I got back to my classes, which I'd really missed. I did do another two chapters of my A2 textbook on my own, plus a bit of grammar. I'm looking forward to getting back into the grove with classes, however - I am happy doing a lot on my own, but I really appreciate having an external framework too.

Loads of Russian! The textbook I'm working through on my own is really good - my case endings are now pretty automatic, and I think it's helping with the sophistication of my writing. I've still had the usual peaks and troughs in terms of how I've felt "performing", and there is so much cultural knowledge I feel I need to absorb, but generally all good.

Longer update to follow at the end of the month!
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Caromarlyse
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Posts: 105
Joined: Fri Dec 06, 2019 2:31 pm
Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Wed Mar 31, 2021 6:45 pm

MARCH REVIEW
Looking at my goals for the month, I seem to have met them all: I’ve listened to well over an hour of German each day; read three books (one in each of French, German, and English); done all my scheduled classes; done a bit of work through the A2 Portuguese book on my own; and finished chapters 3 and 4 of my Russian textbook. I’ve also got a lot of hours in overall, because the work stuff I was expecting is not going to come until next month now.

French got a little abandoned, with just one book read and one film watched. But I’m ok with that; it’s not my focus, and I really just want to keep it up so I can use it on the odd occasion I need to.

German got a lot of love with almost 56 hours in total, mainly podcasts plus some television news and one book. I’ve listened to over 100 hours of German this year now. I can’t say I’ve felt any break-through moment yet as such (though nor was I expecting one), but I definitely feel at ease listening to German now. I’m enjoying picking out the odd bits of unknown vocabulary from what I hear; because it is always only one or two (or so) words each day, it keeps things interesting and ensures it doesn’t feel overwhelming (I have learnt I hate consciously trying to learn words!). What I notice I can’t do is absorb the content as well as I would when listening to something in English. If I am listening to someone put forward a complex argument, I understand it in the moment, but I don’t take in the information and store it in my short-term memory as I would do when listening to something similar in English. I suppose I *could* take notes and then recount the argument, to myself or another, but I can confidently say that, realistically, that is not going to happen!

I’ve done just over 23 hours of Portuguese, slightly down on last month. This was 100% due to the absence of classes. I find I need some external motivation to push me along, I think because I have to motivate myself in almost all other things, it depletes my forces! At least it shows me the classes are worth the money. I have done more textbook work on my own, however, plus made more progress in the grammar books, and done some classes, so I’ve definitely not stalled completely. I’ve also just started using songs to learn, which has been nice because they tend to be upbeat, which is definitely called for at the moment.

I’ve done 63.5 hours of Russian. This really ended up being a focus, I think because I had a target of what I wanted to achieve on my own, and then kept getting really extensive homework tasks too. The textbook I’m using has a few excerpts from various works of literature at the back, which are promoted as reading to do “out of class”, as it were. I’ve read a couple of those now, which took forever but was quite gratifying. I’ve also managed to listen to/watch a decent amount, which remains painful! I’m not sure the comparison with German helps me - I get used to understanding pretty much everything in German, so then struggling to follow Russian makes my level seem worse than it perhaps is. I still haven’t read any of my books about Russia, but the pile of books I am working through is getting smaller, and the point is going to come quite soon when I have no choice but to pick one of them up!

NEXT MONTH
I have got to stop putting pressure on myself to keep putting in hours after hours (I have a spreadsheet, which is dangerous in itself, and the fact we still have such limits we have on the lives we can lead on the moment doesn't help). So, small goals:
French: one book
German: one hour per day of podcasts; one book
Portuguese: classes + homework
Russian: classes + homework; chapter 5 of the textbook (it’s short and I’ve done a lot of it already) and make a start on chapter 6; start one book (in English, about Russia)
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Caromarlyse
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Posts: 105
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Apr 04, 2021 6:33 pm

A slow-ish start to the month for language learning as I'm on holiday and have been making the most of freedoms to travel slightly further afield as well as the sunshine.

The very short and boring update is that I've just managed to keep the hour a day of German listening. I've done the bare minimum of Russian. Most of the time I have spent on languages has gone on the Portuguese subjunctive...! I decided I needed something light to read, so have also been reading The Story of Spanish (there's one chapter on Portuguese!) by Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow. It's quite enjoyable. I read their book on the history of French years ago, which I actually think was better, and they also have a couple of books on the French character, which I'd recommend too (all of those I think are available in both French and English).
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Caromarlyse
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Apr 11, 2021 6:28 pm

I've not got the biggest update again, because of having had the week off work. I've not wanted to go into my study because it reminded me of work (thanks, lockdown, for the total blurring of work and home life).

I've just about managed to keep up the hour a day of German listening. My usual habits have been disrupted, so it's been tough to find an alternative slot for the podcasts. But catching up on just a couple of missed days would have been difficult, so I've been quite diligent in getting the time in anyway. Unfortunately the need to clean the house doesn't stop when you holiday at home, so that's been useful listening time!

I've done a whole load of Portuguese. After doing not a lot last month, I was struck by the desire to focus on it. (I think reading the book on the history of Spanish - which I finished this week - might have driven this desire.) I've tried (for the umpteenth time) to memorise words using flashcards, and whilst it's effective to some extent, I don't find them great. I think I'll finish off learning the vocabulary from my A1 and A2 textbooks with the aid of flashcards before ditching them again. I don't find it too hard to memorise the "early" Portuguese words, so it's not a bad idea to have some way of going through them quite quickly and repetitively. On that, I'm pretty far through already. I've also now finished going through Gramática Ativa 1 and have done a lot of book 2, too. The main criticism I have of these books is that they don't cover very well the difference between formal and spoken language. The Whitlam reference grammar does, and obviously my teacher draws my attention to these differences, but as stand-alones, it's not great that these books miss what are quite crucial areas of grammar usage. As is often the case, there are also not enough practice exercises. Some points I've covered but I am far from having mastered. But I guess that's what classes are for! Those have been starting to make my head hurt when they're over, which is a good sign in terms of my learning, but not always pleasant to experience!

Russian has continued. I've completed chapter 5 of the textbook I'm working through on my own (it was short and I'd done a lot of it already). My main criticism here, which I've mentioned before, is that it doesn't provide transcripts for the audio. In some cases it doesn't matter, because the listening exercise is a fill-in-the-blanks exercise, where a transcript is effectively provided. But in others, it's a real lack. I don't think I'm alone in finding it really hard to match sound with text, yet textbooks don't seem to appreciate that learners need some scaffolding here, and won't just magically develop the ability to understand spoken language. Apart from that, I think the books are really well done. On the whole Russian just continues as usual - the same difficulties with remembering stuff but I'm also continuing to feel as though I can write a little better than a few months ago.
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Caromarlyse
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Languages: English (N), French (C1-ish), German (beginnings of C1), Russian (working towards B1), Portuguese (new and shiny), Spanish (in hibernation)
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Apr 18, 2021 5:43 pm

I seem to have given up on French again. I don’t love the language in the same way as my others, and apart from series, haven’t found any native stuff to get stuck into lately. I think I’ve come round to accepting that it is on the backburner again for the moment. In any event, I can’t do everything. Especially not when the weather has started to improve and there is the possibility to do some socialising again!

I’ve kept up with my hour a day of German listening quite easily. I had a couple of podcasts that were 90 minutes long, which I started on my walks and then finished off when pottering about in the kitchen etc as they were quite compelling. Inspired by lunamoonsilver’s log, I added a tab to my tracker spreadsheet to keep a running total of my hours per language this year, and set a (completely arbitrary) hours target for the year, and then made another column to calculate how far through I am, percentage-wise. I’m well on track to be a third of the way through for German by the end of this month. However, I’m chiefly just doing this passive listening at the moment - I have vague plans (still!) to pick up the Erkundungen C1 textbook again and get through that this year too, but this could well be an experiment in how much progress you can make with a year of almost exclusively passive listening! I have also been trying to read another novel, but I don’t think it’s trashy enough (!) so I’ve not been very diligent. I have picked up the Sueddeutsche Zeitung as a form of procrastination when I couldn’t be bothered reading the book, however, so I have done some reading. The whole “K-Frage” (who’s going to be chancellor) is not something I find massively exciting, though - party politics can be a bit dull, in my view, in any language! If I read 25 pages of my book a day for the rest of this month, I should finish, so I’m going to try to do that. It sounds as though proceeding like this would drain the enjoyment out of reading, but I find that when I’m struggling to concentrate on reading, a page target can be helpful.

Portuguese has started to have its very own wild swings between the highs (I rock!) and the lows (why can I not speak?!). Languages start off so innocent when you first start learning them, then very quickly reveal themselves to be the monsters that they truly are and start to consume all of your mental capacity and time. I’ve been doing quite a lot of writing, and the corrections have been useful in correcting some niggles with grammar and helping with proper vocabulary choice. I’ve also found the BBC website in Portuguese quite useful as a source of fairly interesting yet accessible articles. I’m not sure whether to bother completing my A2 textbook - I think I might have gone beyond it already. That’s not to say that I would know everything in there, but I think, having gone over an awful lot of grammar already and started to access native materials, I can probably progress more efficiently by focusing on what’s presented to me in class, supplemented by native materials. But I might still change my mind!

Russian has gone well in the sense that I appear to be very rapidly approaching the end of the B1.1 textbook I’m working through on my own. I only have one chapter left now, and one (the longest!) story left from the reading excerpts in the appendix to the book. As always, I’m definitely not absorbing everything, but I’m trying! There is a test at the end of the book, so I’m thinking I should finish the last chapter, then revise, revise, revise, before trying the test under exam conditions. I’ve got until the end of June to get through the book if I want to give myself the second half of the year to do the B1.2 book, so I can take my time. I did have one new gripe about the book: it introduced telling the time in one tiny exercise that was more akin to what you’d find in a puzzle book (look at this strange language! This is how they say X, Y, Z. Now figure out how they’d say ABC). I found it very odd that there was no further explanation. I had to cross-refer to Schaum’s. Separately, my classes have been continuing. I constantly feel as though I know nothing and that my Russian is pretty poor, but, stepping back, I’m being challenged to deal with some really complex topics so it’s no wonder, really. It is a bit of a beast, though. I’m not under any time pressure so it doesn’t really matter, but I happened across something this weekend saying that you could get to B1 in Russian in 300 hours. Ha, yeah right…
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Portuguese/Russian)

Postby eido » Sun Apr 18, 2021 6:14 pm

Caromarlyse wrote:I did have one new gripe about the book: it introduced telling the time in one tiny exercise that was more akin to what you’d find in a puzzle book (look at this strange language! This is how they say X, Y, Z. Now figure out how they’d say ABC). I found it very odd that there was no further explanation. I had to cross-refer to Schaum’s. Separately, my classes have been continuing. I constantly feel as though I know nothing and that my Russian is pretty poor, but, stepping back, I’m being challenged to deal with some really complex topics so it’s no wonder, really. It is a bit of a beast, though. I’m not under any time pressure so it doesn’t really matter, but I happened across something this weekend saying that you could get to B1 in Russian in 300 hours. Ha, yeah right…

That's a bit odd indeed. You'd think they'd have more examples than that. But I find, with my many explorations of texts (and courses) meant for the learning of language, that time is hard to learn from a book. It's much easier to learn from the Internet (which we wonderfully have access to nowadays) where there's the possibility of there being language tutors and exchanges and exercises to help you along. I know I always do better with practical application. Maybe you're the same way. I think the number seems accurate if you're ambitious or know a related language.
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