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tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Tue Dec 10, 2019 4:57 am
by tatsuzu
I've dabbled in language for years but have never been able to buckle down and really focus on one. I decided that enough's enough and I need to just pick one and stick with it. I feel like keeping a log here that I update weekly will be a good way to keep myself on task. I'll be casually studying Mandarin as well just because.

French is the language I have the most experience with as I studied it in high school, but I haven't touched it in a very long time. I've dabbled in many difference French resources, but never actually pushed myself to complete any. I have Pimsleur French I-IV and Assimil French at my disposal, so I'll start with those and see where it gets me.

I briefly studied this in college and then never looked back, but I've always really liked it. French will be my focus, but I have subscriptions to Lingodeer and ChineseClass101, so the plan is to do a lesson or two most days, but I'm not going to push myself if I don't feel like it.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Tue Dec 17, 2019 12:42 am
by tatsuzu
Week One
Well, last week was an exhausting week at work. Despite that, I managed to push past my exhaustion and at least do a Pimsleur lesson a day. It looks like my comprehension of beginner phrases is still pretty good. My production, not so much. I fumbled a bit with a few phrases and some are really slow to come to me. "Je ne sais pas" comes out quickly and naturally, though. :lol: Assimil French basically did not happen. I managed to do three lessons, but the rest of the days, I went straight to bed after finishing a Pimsleur lesson. And Mandarin did not happen at all. I'm a bit disappointed, but French is my primary goal so I'm not going to let myself stress over it. My goal this week is to be more consistent with Assimil.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:34 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Two
I was able to complete five lessons of Assimil and five lessons of Pimsleur this week. Pimsleur has made it pretty clear that my pronunciation needs work. It seems like I have some bad pronunciation habits from high school French that are going to be tough to correct. I considered finding additional resources to help me with that, but I ultimately decided against that since the important thing for me right now is to focus on actually finishing the courses I start. Zero Mandarin again this week, but I think I need to focus on improving my consistency with French before I worry about that. My goal this week is not to miss a day of Pimsleur/Assimil. I'm going to give studying in the morning a try by waking up an hour earlier. Just got day one of that out of the way, can't say I'm a fan so far.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Mon Dec 30, 2019 12:07 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Three
I managed six days of Pimsleur/Assimil this week. I ended up giving myself a break on Christmas since I was exhausted after shuffling between three different households. I'm still pretty happy with my consistency this week. I'm aiming for 7/7 this week, especially since I don't do much on New Year's. Pimsleur is starting to get a bit more difficult. I ended up repeating lesson 15. The sudden math problems in that lesson threw me for a loop, and I completely flubbed that up. I'm not that great at math in English either. :lol:

I finally managed to get some Mandarin study in. Getting French out of the way in the morning made it much easier for me to find time for it. Lingodeer is quite nice and I'm enjoying it. I played around with it ages ago and they seem to have added some things that I don't remember being there before, like short video clips featuring native speakers and some fancier voice recognition testing. I also remember that Lingodeer used to give me simplified characters for the handwriting practice bits even though I had selected traditional characters in my settings. This seems to have been fixed at some point. ChineseClass101's interface is a little too clunky and messy for me. And I also don't like how there doesn't seem to be a way to set it to show me traditional characters by default. I have to set it manually each lesson. It's just one click, but it definitely annoys me a bit.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Mon Jan 06, 2020 11:36 am
by tatsuzu
Week Four
I was hoping that I'd be able to go the full week, but I only managed five days. Had no problem waking up early on weekdays to study, but I lost all motivation this weekend. I've had to repeat Pimsleur lessons more often and that's been a little annoying. A big part of the problem is I find my mind drifting during the lessons, so my goal this week is to improve my focus during Pimsleur lessons and hopefully reduce the number of lessons I need to repeat.

I was able to get some more Mandarin study in. I find myself just opening up Lingodeer while I'm eating or cooking and getting a lesson in.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Mon Jan 13, 2020 4:29 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Five
I finally managed to do a full week of Pimsleur and Assimil. It only took me over a month to manage it. :lol: I started running on the treadmill while doing Pimsleur, which has done wonders for my focus as I'm too terrified of falling off the treadmill to let my mind wander. I didn't have to repeat any lessons this week. The exercise also puts me in a great mood so I end up completing my French study for the day on a high note. I also tried my hand at following a French yoga video. I figured that I've watched so many yoga videos in English that I could probably reasonably guess what was being said since I'm pretty familiar with them. No dice. I was able to pick up some stuff, but not nearly enough to comfortably follow.

I did get some Mandarin study in this week, but I focused a lot more on French this week. I've been thinking that it would be a good idea to take a break from Pimsleur/Assimil one day a week and do something else to keep things fresh, so I've been exploring different options. I haven't liked anything I've tried so far. I may just try translating lyrics or something to keep it fun.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Mon Jan 20, 2020 11:43 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Six
I managed to keep up my daily streak of Pimsleur/Assimil for another week. I finished Pimsleur I! I bought Pimsleur French I-IV and Pimsleur Mandarin I years ago, but I had never made it past the first 10 or so for either. I'm glad I was able to finish one volume. I'm also past the point I had stopped the first time I tried to go through Assimil, so I'd consider that a small win. I tried translating some lyrics to mix it up a little bit. That was fun, so I think I'll continue doing that since I have quite a bit of French music saved on Spotify and I've just been listening to them for years without knowing what most of them are about, haha. I've been keeping up my Lingodeer streak for Chinese, but I mostly focused on French. I think for week seven my focus will be on my pronunciation.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Wed Jan 29, 2020 6:41 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Seven
I updated yesterday, but it looks like I never actually hit submit. I've managed to keep up my Pimsleur streak. Unfortunately, my Assimil streak is over. I was a bridesmaid for a wedding this past Friday, so I was planning on giving myself a break that day. However, I ended up having nothing to do while waiting for my turn to have my makeup done. Thankfully, I have the first two volumes of Pimsleur French on Dropbox, so I just found an empty corner and did a lesson while I was waiting. I have the Assimil audio files on Dropbox as well, but unfortunately I left my book at home.

I've started recording myself doing Pimsleur so I can compare to the original audio and try to spot any glaring pronunciation problems. I think it's been a bit helpful, but obviously I can only really spot the really obvious mispronunciation problems. I briefly considered doing the FSI Phonology course, but I decided against it for now. There's a limit to the amount of boring material that I can take lol, and it looks like each chapter is an hour long. I do think I need a better method of improving my pronunciation, so I'm going to try to start learning IPA for French this week so I can incorporate it into my studies.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2020 11:41 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Eight
A little late to update this week because I didn't realize that I hadn't. My friend's website imploded last week and I've spent countless hours trying to help her fix it, so my brain's a little addled. Not much to update on the language front. I've gotten pretty comfortable in my routine of Assimil/Pimsleur. I start the active wave for Assimil next week, so I'm interested to see how that goes.

I'm pretty happy that I've been able to be consistent so far. Aside from high school, where I didn't have a choice, I've never managed to stick to any language this long. I know I'm not out of the woods yet though. For the past two or three weeks, I've been adding things like translating lyrics and Clozemaster to my routine. I feel myself getting tired though, so maybe that wasn't the best idea even though I really enjoyed learning lyrics. I've dropped down to just Pimsleur/Assimil this week and am actually giving Mandarin more attention. Hopefully this change of pace will help me stay the course. I actually woke up to an email on Friday from one of my bosses asking if any current employees are fluent in French, because we might have a new French-English project soon. I couldn't help but think, "If I had forced myself to buckle down years ago, then maybe...!" But I'm getting ahead of myself lol. If When I manage to make it to a high level in French, I'll properly kick myself then.

Re: tatsuzu's log (French and Mandarin)

Posted: Mon Feb 10, 2020 3:03 pm
by tatsuzu
Week Nine
I feel like I never really have much to say about Pimsleur/Assimil now that I've gotten into a rhythm. I should be done with Pimsleur II soon, so that's very exciting. I haven't ripped the CDs from Pimsleur III yet, so I'll need to go hunting for those discs. I started the active wave in Assimil this morning, which I've been anticipating for a couple weeks now. I'm pretty curious to know how well Assimil works if you just follow Assimil's instructions. I did forget a few words in my translation, and I'm not sure how I'm supposed to handle that. For now, I've marked those mistakes and I'm going to try translating it again tonight.

As I said in my last post, I focused more on Mandarin this past week to give myself a bit of a breather. I finally spent more time on ChineseClass101, which I had only previously completed a few lessons of and hadn't touched since. So far, I can't say I like it. It has "pathways," which are sets of lessons based on difficulty level, so I do like that there's some organization to the course. I guess I expected ChineseClass101 to be similar to ChinesePod101 where each lesson is centered around a dialogue. But as far as I can tell, it doesn't. Each lesson has a topic, and you're just given related words/phrases as well as some information on how it's used, which is pretty boring. That's my biggest issue so far. But I few more minor complaints as well:
  • Some lessons only have simplified characters and no traditional characters. Also, cultural notes, explanations, etc. just use simplified characters.
  • Sometimes the lesson transcript shown on the page is incomplete, so you need to download the PDF to see the full transcript.
  • I've mentioned this before, but there doesn't seem to be a way to mark traditional characters as a preference, so I need to select it for each lesson.
  • The option to toggle traditional characters on/off for the vocabulary list seems to be buggy. When you toggle it on, the traditional characters are supposed to be listed in brackets next to the simplified characters. However, this doesn't seem to work all the time.
  • Lessons that include an accompanying video only show simplified characters on screen.

I'm glad traditional characters are at least an option, but it's unfortunately not implemented very well at least with the earlier lessons. I'll have to see if it improves with later lessons since I'm guessing the addition of traditional characters probably came much later. I have a two-year subscription, so I'm planning to get as much out of it as possible even if I don't particularly like it so far, haha.

Aside from ChineseClass/Lingodeer, I've also pulled out my copies of Integrated Chinese from college and am going through them again slowly. I bought the audio for the first book years ago and was happy to find that I was still able to download it from the website. For French I've decided not to use Anki, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea for Chinese. I haven't been using it so far, but we'll see if I change my mind later down the line.