Page 4 of 6

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

Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2021 8:15 pm
by Caromarlyse
I finished my French book! As is always the way, the last third I read in about a day, once I was hooked on the story, having spent months trying to get past the first third. Some of the story was quite dark/disturbing, and you could definitely feel the similarities between it and Engrenages. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it as such, but I am pleased to have read it. I have the sequel, which I will move onto, but next up is going to be Eisenberg by Andrea Foehr (which is a German, not French, Krimi). I started it last night and it seems as though it will draw me in. There are just two books in this particular crime series, which makes it feel more manageable. I've got a huge pile of books by my bed, and the aim is to read them all this year, and to move each when read to a pile in my study. I think this visual reminder is encouraging me to read more already.

German listening has continued. I've done some study from Erkundungen C1 too. I've learnt that my memory of prepositions and their correct use is a little hazy... I am feeling pushed by this book already, but in a good way - I think it's where I need to be. I hope that by getting things wrong yet again and looking the rules up yet again, they might at some point stick properly. The downside is that it feels more like hard work to sit down with the book, but I think this is just another indication that this is the right level of book for me.

Russian is being done, but I'm still feeling slightly stuck. I think I'm just at a natural stage where progress is slowing, and Russian words are just so hard to remember! I'm trying to do a page a day from my new course book, and this pace feels doable. I have left an exercise involving writing sentences using certain given verbs for later, though, mainly because I had no idea what sentences to make up with the verbs given! I think, however, it does make more sense to go through some of the more guided exercises first before producing my own output. Those exercises are helpful - they are based on a text that at first I was daunted by, as I had to look loads up, but by dint of doing the exercises, the vocab is starting to become more familiar. I have more homework to do tomorrow, on a separate topic, so at least I'm not giving up, which I think counts as success at the moment!

Portuguese is at the stage where classes (and having to speak) is really exhausting, and my head physically hurts afterwards. Oh the joys of language learning! I'm working through Oi Brasil in parallel to the classes, and have got through three of the nine chapters already (the first two were quite light). This A1 book seems to introduce only the present tenses and the simple future, whereas we've also covered both the imperfect and perfect preterite tenses in my classes, so there is not much overlap and the classes are outpacing the book. The book is providing vocab, though, and is good consolidation. I'm also conscientiously doing the pronunciation exercises, but it is always a tricky area for me and I'm not sure how much they are helping. I only ever aim to be understandable, though, as I know it's something I always struggle with, so I'm not stressing about it. It has been a very long time since I last started to learn a Romance language, and the rote learning of verb conjugations is giving me flashbacks to school! The vocab sticks noticeably more easily than with Russian, even for the words that aren't cognates - I'm not sure how much of this is because I'm only dealing with basic vocab for the moment, or how much of a role the more familiar alphabet plays, or something else...

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

Posted: Sun Jan 17, 2021 5:45 pm
by Caromarlyse
I'm in a bit of a funk, but I think it's less to do with language learning and more with the fact that opportunities to get out and do anything are so limited at the moment. This is putting a lot of pressure on languages to be interesting and rewarding and fun, and it's probably a little unrealistic to expect this of a hobby!

Anyway, I've not done much French. (I'm keeping a running total of the time I've spent on languages for the month, but I can't tell from that what I've done since I last posted - I think the answer for French is "nothing". My running totals will become pretty charts at some point, I hope.) Instead I have got really into my new German novel, which is just the right amount of easy reading, page turning whatever that I need at the moment. I'm now 200+ pages in, which is the most intensively I've read in a while. The whole book is about 500 pages, so it's probably going to take me another week to get through it. I then have the sequel of it to read, before I'll have to turn to something more worthy. I've also listened to loads of German podcasts, but haven't got back to the course book - now I know it needs a decent amount of attention, there's a bit of a mental barrier stopping me from picking it up! I'm also about to stumble upon the first of the writing exercises, and I'm not sure how I feel about writing a weather report of a place of my choosing... A word from the first couple of pages of the course book (Bö: gust (of wind)) has come up in my novel twice already, so it doesn't feel completely useless.

Russian is continuing to be difficult. I have started to listen to more things more consistently, but I swing wildly between understanding a lot to thinking I know nothing because I struggle to get even the gist. The e-books haven't appeared yet, either, and I really need some reassurance that I'm getting answering exercises correctly in my new course book, so that's not been going well either. It is definitely an intellectually solid course! And why are Russian textbook authors so resistant to having a nice list of verbs (+ prepositions) + cases?! Even the paper dictionary I have doesn't consistently help, so I find I have to look in several places to try to find myself an answer. I think I need to start my own running list with example sentences as and when I come across them and know what I've written is correct. I have prodded the shop today for the codes to access the answer keys - I hope they get back to me tomorrow.

Portuguese is a bit of a weird one, in that the classes are going well, and it's clearly going to be a lot quicker than Russian, because I have such a head start, but the flip side of the head start is that the beginners stuff is a bit dull. I think I just need to get my head down and get through the early stuff asap (whilst still actually covering it properly), so I can get into meatier and more challenging stuff. (I am mildly amused in what you get taught at the beginning in different languages: Russian - going hunting, seeing bears' footprints, gathering mushrooms and berries; Portuguese - going to a nightclub and various types of drink, musical instruments, and dances.) I have a really weird relationship with the difficulty levels of things - I can let myself get really dispirited when something is (too) hard, but equally I have a low boredom threshold and don't have much patience when things are too easy. I think I might have shot myself in the foot a bit though - my homework is to go through a couple of videos and report back on what is said in them, and in one of them the accent is so strong I am only picking up fragments, and then of course those fragments do not contain the most important information. See, never happy!

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

Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 6:31 pm
by Caromarlyse
I've finally got the answer key e-books. I'm going to try again doing some exercises tomorrow, and hope that being able to check my answers will give me the encouragement I was lacking to keep going. Having had a quick look, it does seem as though I was getting stuff right; I had just convinced myself I wasn't, and lost all confidence. The format of the answer keys is probably the prettiest/most user-friendly I've ever seen - they replicate the layout of the workbook, and add the answers in a different colour, so it's easy to orientate yourself. This is quite honestly probably the most exciting thing to have happened to me all week.

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

Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2021 4:12 pm
by Caromarlyse
French has just continued with more episodes of Spiral. I noted the use of "plaque tournante", which I'd got praise for using in a French class last year ;-)

German has continued with Eisenberg - as I've said before, it's just the right level of easy reading I need at the moment. I'm at around page 350 of 500, so hope to finish it by the end of the weekend. I've also continued listening to podcasts on my walks, but nothing has particularly captured my interest recently (i.e. I've listened to it anyway, but nothing worth reporting here!).

Russian has continued to be frustrating! I've been back through the first six or so pages of the I love Russian textbook, going over everything again (reading unfamiliar vocab through etc), checking my answers against the answer key, even writing some sentences, which I'd skipped over the first time through! I don't understand the difference between жалеть/сожалеть о чём and жалеть/пожалеть кого, but I think my level right now is such that I have bigger things to worry about, so I'll put up with a hazy understanding for the moment. The next exercise is a listening one, to fill in the missing words from a dialogue. I started to try to do it, but it was at the end of a study session and I didn't understand a thing, so I need to make sure I'm fresh when I pick it up again. I did the publisher's online test out of interest, and whilst everything up to A2 was straightforward (well, verbs of motion remain a nightmare, but I know where to look on my crib sheet to find the right answer, so the path - memorisation, practice... - is clear), everything marked B1 onwards was simply unknown to me (some of the forms I kind of recognised and know I've seen them when reading and can decipher them, I just haven't learnt about them). It was reassuring on the one hand that I'm solid at what I've learned, but I do need to ramp back up to the intensity I was working at for large parts of last year and tackle new grammar. Working on it!

Portuguese has continued. More tenses: the future and conditional. I have Gramática Ativa 1 and am working through it on my own, though jumping to whichever page covers whatever has just been introduced. It's a decent enough initial overview, but the exercises are not particularly challenging. There is audio with the book, which reads out the answers for you, so it's been quite useful to check that whilst kind of shadowing at the same time. I've also been working through Oi, Brasil! I'm now on chapter 6 of 9. I'm experimenting with not using flashcards and instead am just trying to go back and read through what I've already covered at intervals. I've learnt some words in German too - strangely enough, cassava and passionfruit had not come up before... The classes I'm doing are good as they push me a lot harder in terms of making conversation and provide some more difficult material to work with, such as accented audio. I do still obviously need to build the vocab, and this combined approach of being pushed by someone else and building a solid foundation/filling the gaps on my own seems to be working well. It is very triggering at the moment, though, learning about eating in restaurants and going on holiday!

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

Posted: Sat Jan 23, 2021 12:56 pm
by Caromarlyse
I'm quite pleased to have learnt that a new season of Dix pour cent (Call the agent) is now on Netflix - so much French stuff to watch at the moment!

I'm so close to finishing the German book! I want to get through it and then start a new book in English about Russia next week, to try to stay on track with the pile of books I want to read this year.

For Russian, I've worked through more of the textbook, which has gone well. I wondered why I dreamt of crocodiles in cages last night, and then realised that the text of a Russian family dynasty of circus animal trainers probably had something to do with it...

Portuguese I've got a whole load of drills for the preterite to go through. I want to learn (again...) the common irregular forms before doing these as a closed book exercise.

Oh and I realised last night that I've been pronouncing "chasm" incorrectly all my life. Oops.

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

Posted: Wed Jan 27, 2021 3:40 pm
by Caromarlyse
French has continued to be low-key: several Spiral episodes and I've also watched a few episodes of Le Dessous des Cartes on Arte.

German has also been quite low-key: the usual listening each day, but nothing beyond that.

Russian has got more time: I've finished the first module of the first lesson in my textbook, essentially the first chapter of eight in volume B1.1. The way my book looks now makes me think of a quote about GK Chesterton: when he read a book "he turned it inside out, dog-eared it, pencilled it, sat on it, took it to bed and rolled on it, and got up again and spilled tea on it - if he were sufficiently interested". So I think we can safely say that my interest has been sufficiently engaged. It's taken me just over 10 hours to get through the 14 pages, so it's not quick going. I've written out almost 40 verb pairs with the prepositions (where applicable) and cases they take, and I'd say my passive recall of most of them is now pretty good because most got repeated several times, but I don't think I've internalised them all by a long stretch. I think I'll just have to keep going back and reviewing. I did ok in the test at the end of the chapter (75% right), but over half of my "wrong" answers I think could have been alternatives - I presumed the model sentence (into which the verbs had to be inserted) was talking about the future, not the present, so I think both would be acceptable options (though unlike with French and German, I'm not able to assess this definitively for myself). The test was mainly designed I think to see if you'd grasped the use of a reflexive verb vs its non-reflexive counterpart, and I did fine on that, it was getting aspect right that tripped me up! No matter how many explanations I read on distinguishing between process and result, I often don't seem to be able to follow the logic to get to the right conclusion that it is a process or a result that is being described and therefore choose the right aspect. I keep having little crises of confidence, but just got to keep plodding I guess and hope to feel a little spurt of progress sometime soon! I've also been reading a book in English about Russia, which is quite a quick read so I should finish it by the end of the month, to make three books read this month. Keeping going at that rate would get me through all the books in my pile this year, but some of the books are denser, and at least one has such small font that I'm seriously considering reading it with a magnifying glass (and my eyesight is near perfect)...

Portuguese has also continued as per my usual routine. I feel as though my ability to memorise verb conjugations is worse than it once was, but perhaps I'm mis-remembering... I'm definitely making things harder for myself in putting myself in front of a teacher and having to recall everything on the fly. Generally, though, I'm happy with the decision to start Portuguese this year - it makes a nice contrast to Russian, in the sense that it is more familiar and hence easier and so is a bit of a break, but also in the sense that I think I'd be bored going through the beginner stages of a Romance language if I didn't have it in contrast to the difficulties of Russian. I want to be able to use Portuguese and know I need to put the work in to get there (and reading shouldn't really be that far off), whereas Russian is more of an intellectual adventure.

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

Posted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 3:58 pm
by Caromarlyse
I did just under 17 hours of French, which was mainly watching Spiral and some other stuff here and there. I also read one book.

I did just under 49 hours of German, over half of which was listening to podcasts. I was aiming for an hour a day: I averaged 59 minutes a day, so I think we can say I hit this goal! I have chosen foreign language podcasts to listen to on my walks, which was the idea; the only problem has been when the weather has been so horrible that my walks have been a bit shorter than usual and I've had to find time inside the house to listen to stuff too. I also read one book.

I made a good start with Portuguese, doing 43 hours in total. Here more of the time was active study, including class, homework, and work with a course book and a grammar book on my own. I'm now on the last chapter of Oi Brasil, level A1. The penultimate chapter was possibly the most boring chapter I've ever worked through: directions to various buildings in a town as shown on simplified maps. I'm fairly tolerant of learning random stuff, as who knows when it will come in useful and it's just something you have to do, but it was done in a very dull way! I was already a little tired by the fact that the book is clearly focused on university students, so I'd already had a quiz on how much stuff you do around the house (in which I came out as a "champion" - or functioning independent adult as I'd call it...) and a "write about student life in your country" exercise. I like the pronunciation sections in the book, which come up at the end of each chapter, and the vocab lists are helpful. I think some of the vocab is a bit light, however: for example, the food chapter really didn't seem to cover much more than what you'd need to have a barbecue and accompanying cocktails! There is not much grammar either (though the grammar summary section does give you more, and provides some helpful information on differences between "correct" and spoken BP). But I suppose that's why it's an A1 level book. All the more reason to get through it asap. I'm not sure yet if I'll look at the European Portuguese parts - I worry I'll confuse myself too much at this early stage, and think that perhaps I should instead go back to it later. I should have the A2 book from the same series to work through soon (more delivery delays...), and then I'm thinking of getting Novo Avenida Brasil 3 to get to the end of B1. Then it looks as though I'll be forced off piste, as course books seem to stop. I do like a nice framework, but if I continue enjoying my classes then they should provide that and I'll supplement with native materials. (Though I'm getting ahead of myself a bit here!) I've covered a lot of grammar already too: about half of the book I've got, which is meant to be levels A1-B1. Obviously everything needs a lot more practice and consolidation, and the only reason I'm speeding through is a desire to get to more interesting content. Also, it's not conceptually difficult at the moment, so I don't get fatigued in the same way I do with Russian when studying.

I've done just under 44 hours of Russian. I did manage to spend a fifth of that time listening to podcasts or watching videos, which I still need to force myself to do as my listening ability is so rubbish, so I'm pleased with that. I have also enjoyed working with my new course book. I was thinking that the second chapter was easier than the first (more relatable content, if slightly sexist!), but then the grammar section used Pushkin's poetry as a jumping-off point and I had a rethink! I find literary language difficult in every language. It also seems as though there are no transcripts of the texts for the listening exercises. I can do the exercises most of the time, but I'm very much only getting the gist of the audio, and I would really like to be able to listen and read so I could try to start making connections between the written and spoken language (I remember/recognise words so much based on visuals, not sounds). Anyway, I am still oscillating between loving the challenge of Russian and feeling frustrated! As well as the language study, I also read one book this month (in English) about Russia.

More of the same, really, would be fine! I want to read another book in each of French, German and English (about Russia). I also want to continue the conscious choosing of foreign language audio material when walking. The split of my time for Russian and Portuguese is something I'm happy with, but I would like to try to do some more explicit study for German if I can. However, I also don't want to put too much pressure on myself - this is meant to be fun, and keeping this amount of hours up is not going to be realistic for each month of the year (if, as I'm hoping, we get to, you know, live in something approaching a normal way again at some point).

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

Posted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:02 pm
by Caromarlyse
I've watched a few French current affairs TV shows, but nothing much. (I am going to check out Lupin on Netflix tonight, though.) Instead I have done much more German, including reading all of Eifersucht by Andreas Föhr. This was the sequel to the book I read last month. This meant I got into it immediately, as the characters were already known and there was some continuation of plot lines. I really enjoyed it (until the ending, which I wasn't a fan of, but I won't give anything away), and definitely feel as though these light reads are good for my German. I also continued to listen to podcasts each day. I love Halbe Katoffl so much - the interviewer is so empathic, very talented in drawing out people's stories in a sympathetic, non-judgemental way, and the guests he has on tend to be very interesting individuals too. Relatedly, this week I came across an old log on here (by whatiftheblog, I think), and that inspired me to listen not just on my walks but during other downtime. It's pretty amazing how much extra time I have been able to find. I only seem to be able to tolerate long periods of listening for languages where I understand a lot, however, so for Russian, for example, my stamina is a whole lot lower than it is for French and German. But at least I've found a way painlessly to up my exposure to those two languages.

Speaking of Russian, I've continued with the usual mixture of classes and work from the course book. I had to supplement with Schaum's to get a more thorough explanation as to the use of long and short adjectives when used predicatively. I'm still not sure I understand fully, as I have examples of supposedly correct sentences that don't seem to fit into the rules set out in the grammar book. After finishing the first two chapters of the book, I've now jumped to the last two chapters of the B1.1 book, as I wanted to cover that specific vocab. In doing so I came across кислород, meaning oxygen, which seemed impenetrable until I learnt it is a calque of oxygen, itself derived from/formed of sharp + birth, referring to oxygen's role in the formation of acids. I had been struggling to remember the names for the different types of tastes in Russian, but now at least I have кислый down!

Portuguese took a bit of a back seat after the A2 book that I was meant to be receiving two weeks ago and that I'd like to move on to is delayed (with no ETA) due to it coming from Germany and the after-effects of a certain political situation I won't go into! This is quite annoying and doesn't bode well for me buying other German books in the future. Suddenly the decision to buy a huge box of German secondhand books and DVDs last year in one go doesn't look so silly! Anyway, I have class work to go over, homework, vocabulary and grammar to revise and other grammar to learn, so I should get back to it really.

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

Posted: Sun Feb 14, 2021 3:48 pm
by Caromarlyse
It's been a bit of an oppressive week, with the general situation weighing me down. This definitely impacts on the bandwidth I have for language learning. I have nonetheless done a fair bit in French, including a lot of Lupin episodes and a fair bit of reading of Chaque mot est un oiseau à qui l'on apprend à chanter by Daniel Tammet (originally written and published in English as Every word is a bird we teach to sing, but I'm reading it in French; I figured that as the author now lives and works in French, the translation should be reliable). I'm really enjoying it - so much about language learning, different languages, poetry, humanity... I might write some kind of review when I've finished reading it, as there are things that I don't want to forget.

For German I've just listened to podcasts and done a tiny bit of reading here and there.

For Portuguese, I finally received my A2 book, so can start working through that this week. In the meantime I've continued with classes, homework, and some independent grammar work. The classes incorporate some native material, and I'm required to, for example, give a summary of what was said in an audio excerpt, predict what happened next after having read a written report, so I'm being stretched at the same time as covering fundamentals.

Russian continues. I'm getting through the textbook at the completely arbitrary pace I'd set myself of a page a day. I'm actually ahead of myself at the moment, so I'm planning to take a few days now just to consolidate. Skipping ahead to the last topic of the first book was a good idea in terms of reviewing vocab on a topic I needed to talk about, and in fact I found the chapter easier than the first chapter of the book had been. The grammar points covered were ones I'd come across before, but it did assume knowledge of one grammar point I'm vaguely aware of but haven't covered, so I think now I've got use out of that chapter for vocab, I'm going to go back and follow the book in the correct order. I did discover some missing audio, which meant I could not complete a couple of exercises. Language books generally don't have the greatest processes to catch errors, it often seems to me.

Next week I might have to drop down to more of a bare minimum, as work is threatening to demand more time/energy. I've also got a book or two in English I really want to read. But I think I've got a good bare-bones structure up and running down, so even when I have to cut back, languages don't disappear completely.

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

Posted: Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:50 pm
by Caromarlyse
I finished my French book and am already 80 pages into the next, a sequel to Code 93 I read in January. I started an English novel, but it was a bit too deep and emotional, so I went running back to escapism! Though today I read a really horrible scene which ended in a cat being tortured, so... We also finished watching all the currently available episodes of Lupin, which I've enjoyed a lot. One weird thing I saw in my new book (written in French by a French author) was that the word suricate (meerkat) got footnoted with an explanation as to what kind of animal it is. Is this really such an unusual word in French? The German equivalent (Erdmännchen, though I think Surikate can also be used) came up in a book I read last year. (I seem to retain the words to name animals very well; if only this would work for other words!)

German has principally been podcasts. I'm not sure how much listening helps if I'm not doing anything else, or, rather, I notice that I listen more attentively and pick up more when during the same period I'm also reading or studying. I did notice today though that I said the verb to myself that I knew would be coming at the end of a sentence, before it actually came (kleinreden, for the curious), so it can't be entirely useless!

Portuguese has continued as per my now normal routine of classes and independent study alongside. The tutor has pointed out areas where formal and informal language differ quite a lot (direct and indirect object pronouns and the imperative), and that's been useful, especially as the grammar book doesn't acknowledge the informal usage of either point at all.

Russian has also continued as normal. With the textbook I've spent the whole week doing consolidation, which has highlighted just how much content there is in the first chapter. It's definitely sunk in a bit better now. I also went back and listened multiple times to the audio where I had a full transcript, trying to link the sounds to the letters on the page: I could understand it when reading without much problem at all, but I really struggle still with understanding spoken language. Some of it is I think how sentences are stressed; I don't meant the stress in individual words, but the cadence within sentences. It seems to my foreign ear that sometimes less important parts are enunciated strongly, and then the key points get eaten somehow. It's also a memory load to take in context before the main point comes at the end of a sentence - this happens with German too, and I know you get used to it (and the declinations give you clues enabling you to guess what is going to come), but I'm not there yet!