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/Spanish)

Postby Caromarlyse » Tue Jan 07, 2020 9:52 pm

First seven days of the new year done and I've managed a total of 1,698 minutes of French and 1,433 minutes of German. Some dedicated grammar and vocab work, lots of podcasts, some Netflix, a good amount of fiction reading, the first French tutor session of 2020, and a lot of prep (intensive reading and preparation of speaking notes) for that session. I'm not feeling particularly chatty now and I keep getting logged out of here, so a longer update will have to wait until next week.
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Caromarlyse
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Spanish)

Postby Caromarlyse » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:38 pm

Week in review – 1-7 January

French
1,698 minutes total (just over 28 hours). 7/7 in re: 366 challenge goal.

I had a good session with my tutor. We went through a text I’d written, summarising a radio programme, and corrected it as we went through it. We then had more of a discussion around the topic, which went much better than last time as I’d prepared a lot of ideas and vocab beforehand. Of course, only a tiny fraction of my preparation ended up being used, but I seem to need this level of preparation, and reading lots and writing it out won’t have done me any harm. I suggested an article to use as a starting point for next week; for this I would have to watch a couple of films as well as prepare vocab and ideas.

I also, as mentioned in my brief update, did quite a bit of grammar review, vocab building (attempts), podcast listening, fiction reading (I’ve moved onto a young adult fiction book as I am struggling with motivation/interest), and Netflix watching. I am finding vocab building in isolation quite hard, but reading an article (that I then took to my tutor) intensively seemed to work much better in allowing me to pull unfamiliar vocab or vocab I understood but wouldn’t use myself.

German
1,433 minutes total (just under 24 hours). 7/7 in re: 366 challenge goal.

The fiction reading bumps up a lot of the time here, as I am enjoying it so much! I’ve also found a podcast I really like. It’s called Lage der Nation – der Politik-Podcast aus Berlin. It’s quite advanced – apparently they speak really quickly even for native speakers – but I find they give an interesting, analytical take on current affairs. It keeps me interested and my mind doesn’t wander, even if the podcasts are often 90 minutes long. I also borrowed a copy of Deutsch Perfekt and read some of the articles – even though they’re easy-ish for me, I think going down to learner material is helpful in picking up vocab. Though I read a whole article on Schaufel/Schippe and which regions prefer which word, but how the verb is usually schippen, to find my fiction book using schaufeln as the verb!

Week in review – 8-14 January

French
878 minutes (14.6 hours) total. 7/7 in re: 366 challenge goal.

I was hoping that a friend of mine might take an in-person course with me, but she’s decided she’s not quite at my level yet. Since I was only really interested in the course for social reasons, I’ve decided not to do it on my own. However, I did take advantage of the free short face-to-face assessment of my level. They put me at C1.4 based on my speaking. Given that my speaking is probably the worst of my skills, I was pleasantly surprised by that assessment. It was quite confidence-building, as I still feel when speaking as though it’s incredibly painful, but apparently that still means I am quite good! Having decided against the course, I decided to try out another tutor, as I felt I needed someone prepared to take a bit more of a role in guiding the sessions. I found someone who looked as though they might fit the bill, and booked a session. However, it ended up being a bit disappointing. I suppose it’s not bad to show what is out there, to compare what’s on offer, etc. It was again quite confidence-building, as I asked for mistakes to be highlighted to me, and there weren’t many, even though I’m convinced my grammar can’t be accurate when speaking. I think I’ll stick to the tutor I’d already found. I had another session with him, and it went pretty well again – I summarised one of the films I’d watched that he hadn’t seen, and we then had a discussion around points raised by the films. All in all, quite a lot of talking this week. I found it exhausting – I can almost feel my brain expanding with the mental effort!

For my tutor session next week, I’ve picked out another article and a France Culture programme, so again I’ll be focused mainly on preparing to summarise these and building relevant vocab. I have also been reading my young adult fiction book – I’m on page 100 now but really not getting into it. I’m pulling some interesting news articles instead, and finding if I choose right I can enjoy them, and get some pretty complex language in too.

German
1,056 minutes (17.6 hours) total. 7/7 in re: 366 challenge goal.

Number 3 in my crime series now finished! This one seemed to have an awful lot of idiomatic expressions in it; I should probably go back to the book at some point and mine them. At the moment I’m too hooked on the stories, however. I started the next one, but haven’t got very far in it yet. I did some small bits of podcast listening too. And some work memorising irregular verbs (which worked well as I’ve found a method that seems to work).

I had a tutor session, which was good. I felt I was speaking a lot more fluently already. Perhaps the reading is having an impact? We did some DW grammar and vocab exercises, which were too easy for me (though to be fair I wouldn’t have been able to produce the vocab actively, so it’ll go on a to-learn list), then moved on to read an article and discuss the issues raised. We finished off by doing some exercises on Nomen-Verb-Verbindungen, which were C1 level exercises and almost impossible for me as I just didn’t know which verbs went with the nouns in question! This seems to indicate that I’m right at the beginning of C1 in German (grammar at least). I got some more exercises for homework, plus another DW video to watch. I’ve done all the exercises linked to the video and am going to focus over the next few days on learning the relevant vocab and getting ready to summarise the video and discuss the topic. I subsequently went through both B- and C-Grammatik on Nomen-Verb-Verbindungen, and started trying to learn them. I’ve got a massive document now on them, grouping together loads of example sentences drawn from the books, which I’ll carry on working on.

***

Generally I’ve found the tutor sessions have eaten up quite a lot of my study time, but I guess it’s because they’re so intensive. I’m also trying not to feel bad that the time I’ve spent this week is significantly down on last; I have a job and a life so of course languages are going to take a hit now the new term has started. Bring on Easter!
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Caromarlyse
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Spanish)

Postby Caromarlyse » Tue Jan 21, 2020 8:53 pm

Week in review – 15-21 January

French
924 minutes (15.4 hours) total. 7/7 in re: 366 challenge goal.

Another tutor session, this time quite a painful one. The France Culture programme I chose to listen to was difficult – not so much from a language point of view (though there were a few words/phrases that were new to me) but from a logical point of view. Some questions asked were answered with a completely different answer, and one of the concepts discussed just didn’t make sense to me. That made it so much more difficult to summarise. We ran out of time to cover the topic fully, so we will continue with it next week. I’m planning on doing a synthèse of a couple of relevant articles before then, and see if we can go through corrections of my written work in the class. I could do with some writing practice again, and it’ll be a change from speaking solidly for an hour.

Generally I’ve been struggling with French a bit this week: I haven’t got any one thing that is really interesting me, and the tutor sessions are good speaking practice (and definitely a stretch; it’s not just chit chat) but I don’t feel there is much teaching going on. I’m pondering whether I should consider an in-person course after all; what I really want is a bit more structure. I also want a weekend activity, as an existing one is being dropped, so this could kill two birds with one stone. I’ve got a while to make my mind up.

I’ve read quite a few more news articles intensively this week. I find this particularly good for vocabulary building for me. One new word from the France Culture programme magically appeared in the first news article I printed out for myself to analyse – it’s so funny how this always seems to happen. Engouement is part of my vocabulary now! The same thing happened this evening with the word punaises... I also found the Bonjour de France site, and did some exercises on there, some on idiomatic expressions in French that come from ancient Greek and some on slang. I like the site a lot apart from all the ads, and will continue to use it until I’ve exhausted what is there of use.

German
968 minutes (16.1 hours) total. 7/7 in re: 366 challenge goal.

I’ve got into number 4 of my crime series, though it’s slower going as the pages are bigger and the font size smaller! I got to page 100 this week.

I did a lot of work on Nomen-Verb-Verbindungen. As well as trawling through B- and C-Grammatik, I borrowed Sag’s besser and went through a lot of the relevant exercises there. I’ve got a long document now with a whole list of Verbindungen and example sentences. The more common ones are sticking, but obviously this is going to be a long-term project.

The tutor session went quite well again. I’m pretty solid on the exercises we’re doing, but the practice is good to try to bring the fluency back and also correct little errors that remain. Although I like this tutor and look forward to the sessions, I’m going to try another one out. I’m mainly after some more structure. She’s going to pitch it at the B2 level and we’ll see how it goes.
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Caromarlyse
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Russian/Spanish)

Postby Caromarlyse » Thu Nov 05, 2020 4:12 pm

So, it appears as though I took a little break… The 366-day challenge didn’t work for me – I think I work better with a looser structure and more of an ability to do what I fancy as and when. Despite the break from here, I have been quite busy, language wise.

French
I did a C1 exam prep course for French. First, the positives.
1. I tend to be quite hard on myself, and the course definitely showed me that I have this level (though I am not going to sit the exam – for logistical reasons and also because if I want/need any further French qualification, I think only the C2 would be worth the money). I got around 80% or more in everything I was assessed on, and bumping that score up would be easy in some cases, as it was just a question of not understanding quite what was expected (e.g. in the oral exam you need to shoe horn in a subjunctive or two, a conditionality, etc).
2. I got a lot of written work corrected. The consigne is very French, and it was useful to understand exactly what they expect for the synthèse and the essai argumenté. Once you understand what they expect, producing texts becomes quite easy. I found I had to dumb down my thinking quite significantly.
3. It highlighted my strengths and weaknesses. I could do with making complex grammar structures more automatic so that I can produce them orally. Whilst I can produce naturally sounding French language, I could also do with expanding my vocabulary. I found here that reading, and analysing, native French current affairs journalism was very helpful in giving me new vocabulary, especially expressions that are not a direct translation of a similar English expression, and synonyms. Although I understand most of what I hear, some intensive listening practice wouldn’t go amiss, to force myself to concentrate properly and really engage with the text, in the way I would be able to in English. I think it’s about trying to recreate the kind of learning environment you get in your native language from about 16-21. I could also do with getting to grips with French literature, which has just never gelled with me – and as a result I find literary French very difficult.
The negatives:
1. As discussed elsewhere here, the classes were not very efficient. Most of what you get out is what you do in your own time, which is of course always the case but the difference with, say, 1:1 lessons, is that the utility of the class time is much reduced.
2. Probably as a result, it was a bit boring. I also felt I was not making improvements in the language, but rather in the exam technique. I suppose that’s the point of an exam prep class, though…
Overall, I think it did give me more than I would have achieved myself, but I won’t be doing something similar again!
Since then I have not done much with French. I’ve got into Le Bureau, but am watching it with my husband so can’t avoid the English subtitles and I don’t therefore think it’s been very educational. I’ve just got another tutor to try to build my vocabulary, but I’ve still not yet rekindled my love for the language; it all feels a bit of a chore so I’m avoiding doing what I know would help me. I have some fiction that I could be reading but I’m not. I have binge-read some easy French fiction this year; once I get hooked, I sail through books, but then I get bogged down until I eventually find something new to binge on. I also feel that I should be able to do better than trashy French books. I think what I really need is to find stuff in French I want to do anyway, because then I won’t find excuses and will just get on with the exposure, which ultimately is all I need. I have just signed up for a trial with L’Express - one euro for two months - and am going to try to read a few articles each day. If I have it up in the background, I might be able to make myself procrastinate with something useful.

German
I’ve been working through a B2 course with a German tutor. The first half was quite straightforward. It got a bit more challenging, but I don’t think I’ve been pushed/pushed myself enough. I’ve worked through all of B-Grammatik on my own, and am doing the same with Erkundungen B2, which I think is a much more solid course than the one I have followed with the tutor. I want to finish it before moving up to C1 material. I’m hoping to continue down the Erkundungen route for C1, because its approach is one I respond to. I’m doing a lot of writing to practise the new vocabulary, because I hate flashcards anyway and they don’t seem to work well for me with a non-beginner language. I’m also continuing to listen to podcasts on my walks (mainly Halbe Katoffl, Die Lage der Nation, and Zeit Verbrechen), and to read crime fiction. I’ve finished all the Nele Neuhaus books, and am on book 2 of the Kluftinger series (the idea shamelessly stolen from RadioClare’s logs). I tend to listen and read extensively with the books and podcasts, and then do intensive work with the textbook and grammar book. I do occasionally look up a burst of words from my fiction reading, but only for a few pages and then I stop. It seems to be a good balance, with words I’ve come across during intensive work cropping up in my extensive reading, for example. I know I wouldn’t have the patience to work with a dictionary all the time. I love German (far more than French), so the massive input that I feel is what I really need now should be easy to acquire. I’ve also got a subscription to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and feel as though it’s getting easier to read and understand articles. I haven’t so far got on with German series, however. I’m not a massive TV/film fan unless I find something I really like.

Russian
I’ve also started learning Russian. I’ve found a fabulous teacher, and am really just being guided by her (she sets a lot of homework!). I passed the A1 reading, writing and grammar exams she gave me after a few months, and then the A2 equivalents more recently, and I guess she’s happy enough with my speaking progress. I think my listening skills are a bit dodgy, but I’m sure they’ll come with time. I should be listening more, but, as I said, I don’t really enjoy TV/series, so it’s a bit of a struggle to find something I’m motivated to watch/listen to. My pronunciation is not great, either, but that’s a problem I have with every language. In any event, I’m enjoying it, if feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment by the amount of grammar and vocab (which I’m not finding all that easy to retain). After the grammar dump that is the A levels in Russian, the vocab now seems to be more of a problem in B1; well, that and trying to get verb conjugations down. Such a memory load! I do really enjoy it, even if makes my brain hurt.

Spanish/closing thoughts
Spanish has therefore not got a look in. I do intend to go back to it at some point, but I just wasn’t feeling that motivated to do so. I did an online test and got a B1 result, which might reflect my passive skills but definitely doesn’t represent my active skills. I am tempted, but definitely don’t have the bandwidth to add it in at the moment - my true limit is a focus on two languages I think, but I’m stubbornly trying to make progress in three, which is just about doable when they’re at different levels and I’m doing different things in all of them (and, to be honest, I have very little else to focus on at the moment!).
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DaveAgain
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Russian/Spanish)

Postby DaveAgain » Fri Nov 06, 2020 6:53 am

Caromarlyse wrote: I haven’t so far got on with German series, however. I’m not a massive TV/film fan unless I find something I really like.
Channel 4 (UK) have some German series on their catch up app 'categories' > 'world drama'. I thought Bad Banks was pretty good.
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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/Russian/Spanish)

Postby Caromarlyse » Sun Nov 08, 2020 10:25 am

DaveAgain wrote:
Caromarlyse wrote: I haven’t so far got on with German series, however. I’m not a massive TV/film fan unless I find something I really like.
Channel 4 (UK) have some German series on their catch up app 'categories' > 'world drama'. I thought Bad Banks was pretty good.


Thanks. That does look to be something I'd like. A good reminder too to check Channel 4 for their non-English language content.
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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/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:39 pm

I'll use the mid-afternoon slump to write an update...

French
I had one session with a tutor. It gave me a bit of a kick to do some work beforehand, mainly reading loads of stuff about the topic we were going to cover, pulling out vocabulary, forming arguments, etc. I also watched an episode of 28 minutes on Arte (no idea why that's the name of the show when it lasts more like 45 minutes) and read some articles in L'Express. Still no love, but I'm plodding on...

German
Also a tutor session, which we mainly spent going through some of my written work. Apart from some ridiculously stupid mistakes, it was fine. If I stop making mistakes with stuff I already know, there should actually be very few remaining... My plan is to go through my texts again and highlight stuff, as I'm using this writing practice also as a means to solidify vocabulary. I also need to remind myself what not to get wrong! I also listened to a podcast episode on Halbe Katoffl, where Kristina Vogel was interviewed. For those who can understand German at a native level, I'd highly recommend it. All interviews on the show are great (very sensitively done, and always interesting life stories), but this one was particularly good, given the hurdles the interviewee has faced in her life. I also listened to this week's Die Lage der Nation, which was of course dominated by the US elections. I also really enjoy this podcast for its intelligent analysis of current affairs. I've read a bit of my current novel too, and done some more textbook work on my own. Sadly none of this translated into a fluent conversation with my tutor, but that's the way it is sometimes.

Russian
So much vocabulary, so much homework! I have managed to figure out Quizlet better now, though, working out how to go through lots of my separate sets of vocab in one go. I've currently got about 3,000 words on there, of which 900 just from the past six weeks, so no wonder I feel as though I'm drowning! A few minor wins in the sense of revisiting grammar and it feeling easier, and reading and responding to longer and more complex texts, but generally just trying to keep on top of the work I'm set to do.
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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/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:28 pm

I don't feel as though I had a particularly productive week. I've felt tired all week, which hasn't helped. I've got a long weekend, though, so am hoping that will recharge my batteries. My French progress also wasn't helped by a session being cancelled last minute (again). I've given up on that particular avenue as a result. I did read L'Express from last week pretty thoroughly. Some of the articles have audio to accompany them, and whilst I don't really need anyone to read me French, I did find I quite enjoyed being able both to read and listen. I also watched some news on TV5 Monde. I think I'm going to abandon my attempts to have interaction in French for a while, and just keep up contact with the language.

My spoken German continued to be shocking... I got more written stuff corrected, and started to dabble in creating a Memrise course for all my vocabulary. I really do need some way of at least going through new words systematically, so I'll give this a try. I've listened to the news a lot on Das Erste, which has shown how parochial UK news has become - the German news broadcasts are shorter but seem to get round a lot more of the world! It does remind me how nice it is to be able to access different perspectives. I think I also did the usual podcasts, but nothing of particular note.

My Russian - well, I'd say it hasn't gone great, but I think to be fair to myself, it's been more a question of doing a lot harder stuff and therefore struggling. It's not the most enjoyable way of learning, but I know it's effective so I'll suck it up. I felt I needed a break so have also spent some time reading about Russian history in English. I've got a pile of things to read in an attempt to remedy the outrageous gaps in my knowledge. I figure that if I want to progress in the language, I'll need to do this anyway, and it is weirdly comforting at the moment to get absorbed by the past, rather than the present!
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Caromarlyse
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Fri Nov 27, 2020 3:47 pm

Again, a week that didn't feel all that productive. Things went wrong at the start of it, but have improved since, so I won't go into the negatives. I find it hard to concentrate when feeling negative, so that had an impact. The good thing about having Russian lessons booked regularly and well in advance is that I just do the work, whatever I'm feeling, so I've cracked on with that. I'm now writing 1,000-2,500 words total a week (some free form, some answering grammar and reading comprehension questions) - I feel as though I can't fail to improve with all of that! Vocab continues to be a struggle, but at least now I can build some links (and hence more stickiness) based on recognising words within words. My speaking actually didn't feel that bad this week. I need to force myself to listen to stuff over the weekend, as I feel this is one aspect I'm neglecting.

I've written another big chunk of text in German, again based on the exercises in Erkundungen B2, which I should get corrected in the next week or so. I think the book is really well done. I tried to add to my Memrise course but it hurts my neck to refer to a book and the computer screen, so that (and a lack of patience) cut that session short before I'd achieved much. It remains on the to-do list, though. I had to refer again to the B-Grammatik book on rules on where the reflexive pronoun goes in sentences. It's weird, but this seems to be the one mistake I make over and over again. I don't think I can ever have learnt the rules, so have always just gone on feel, which is often wrong. The rules are well explained in the book, but aren't sticking very well. This week I had to look up the form of relative pronouns as well, which at least made a change as to which page in the book I was going back to. I want to get back to the novel, as I'm not far off what would be double SC pace for reading. I also need to start procrastinating again with German news.

No French. This week's edition of L'Express awaits.
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Caromarlyse
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Re: Caromarlyse’s log (French/German/Russian)

Postby Caromarlyse » Fri Dec 04, 2020 4:31 pm

It feels like I'm on a long, slow crawl to the end of the year, and nothing is happening with a huge amount of energy. Nonetheless, I did do my usual amounts of Russian, that is, loads of it! I went back to some A2 material to look something up, and I can really notice that those texts seem very easy to me now (whilst at the time I remember I found them hard). Perhaps all of this reading I've been doing in the past couple of months is paying off. I've got slightly less "work work" to do with the language this weekend, so am planning on finding some things to listen to. I've also got flashcards to go through, and I want to go through the work from my last class. It's tempting to use the fact that I don't have anything big I *have* to do as an excuse for a rest, but I will resist!

I finished off the last bits of writing that I'll get corrected over the weekend in German. I also finished a Memrise set for another chapter. I found a new podcast - Eine Stunde History - and listened to an episode on Angela Merkel and a separate one on the history of pandemics (!). I really enjoyed both and liked the format, so that one is a keeper. Apparently there's a whole episode from 2017 on the black death, which might be next... I also read some newspaper articles and watched some TV news. I want to do some writing this coming week using prompts from another chapter, and also *must, must, must* get back to my novel - it should be good for my state of mind (promoting some relaxation) as well as my German.

I did a bit of French reading from L'Express and listened to a (French) Canadian current affairs podcast. Both were so-so, which pretty much sums up French for me at the moment!
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