Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

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Radioclare
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Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Radioclare » Wed Jan 01, 2020 10:41 pm

Time to start a new log for the new year :)

I've been struggling to formulate my language goals for 2020 in a nice concise way, but these are my thoughts...

  • I really want to try to keep up the consistency of language study which I somehow managed during 2019. I've signed up to the 2020 365 challenge with "generic", because I want to continue to study for 30 minutes per day, but I don't want my focus to be exclusively on Russian.
  • That said, I do want to try and maintain the momentum which I've had with Russian during 2019. Specifically, I want to feel by the end of 2020 that I have a better grip on Russian grammar. I still have a pile of courses which I want to work through. My initial plan is to finish Penguin Russian, which I'm currently partway through (chapter 19). I haven't made a firm decision about what to do next, but I have a German-language version of Russian Assimil which I'm considering going back to (I completed the passive wave a couple of years back, but was totally out of my depth with the active wave. I'm hoping that I've improved enough to be able to manage the active wave now). I also have Colloquial Russian 2 and some new B1 textbooks that I got for Christmas. Plus I would like to finish the RT online Russian lessons, because I think they're a really cool resource.
  • I don't want to be completely obsessed with completing Russian courses though, so I think this needs to be the year I start trying to read in Russian. I have a small pile of books which I hope to at least start tackling this year. If the Super Challenge starts running again in May, I might sign up with Russian to give me the motivation to get started with this.
  • At the end of 2020, I want to re-take the Online Diagnostic Assessment for Russian and score higher than I did at the end of 2019 (I scored 1+ in Dec 19).
  • I want to restore some balance between studying Russian and studying Croatian during 2020, because I feel like Croatian lost out quite a bit to Russian in 2019. This is sad, because Croatian is definitely my favourite language. This is the first time I've studied two languages from the same family and so I'm also a bit nervous about the potential for me to start getting Croatian and Russian mixed up, i.e. that my Croatian could become worse the better I get at Russian.
  • I don't think I can come up with a measurable goal for what I want to achieve with Croatian this year, but I'm planning to track my time spent on all languages this year (in 2019 I only religiously tracked Russian time) and so hopefully by the end of 2020 I can at least see that I have spent a reasonable amount of time on Croatian. Obviously I want to continue reading in Croatian, and I have a pile of novels to get through, both translated and original. I want to finish watching the second series of 'Na granici', which I'm partway through, and then find another series to get hooked on. But I think I also want to do some proper "studying"; perhaps revise some textbooks, work through some of the Croatian-language grammar books I have, maybe even deal with the 2000+ outstanding vocab reviews that I've had pending in Memrise all year :lol: Once I've done all that I should probably try to start writing in Croatian again (but I am definitely not signing up for an Output Challenge!)
  • I want to continue reading in German, which is something I really enjoy. My active German is rusty at the moment, but the fact that I continue to be able to read in German with a level of ease that I could only dream of achieving in Croatian (or even in Esperanto!) reassures me that I haven't lost it.
  • I also received three novels in Esperanto for Christmas and they are all things which I genuinely want to read, so I guess I have a goal of reading at least three books in Esperanto this year :)
  • I would like to have time to start learning Bulgarian, but I'm not sure how realistic this will turn out to be in 2020. I'm not planning to do anything in the first quarter of 2020 anyway; it will be later in the year, if I do start.

I should also say that I don't think I'm going to update my log on a daily basis in 2020. I'm thinking of setting up a spreadsheet to record my times for each language instead, and then updating here a bit less regularly with summaries of what I've done. We'll see; perhaps daily updates have become so much of a habit that I won't be able to stop ;)
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Daniel N. » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:56 am

After a year long adventure in learning Russian, how would you now compare Russian vs. Croatian? It has always seemed to me you had it a bit easier with Croatian, despite Croatian having more tenses and cases (at least on the paper)?
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Radioclare » Fri Jan 03, 2020 3:16 pm

Daniel N. wrote:After a year long adventure in learning Russian, how would you now compare Russian vs. Croatian? It has always seemed to me you had it a bit easier with Croatian, despite Croatian having more tenses and cases (at least on the paper)?

My experience is that learning Croatian is significantly easier than learning Russian. Croatian might have more cases, but I've found the case endings in Russian harder to master. There isn't the benefit of dative and locative endings being the same, for example. And you can get a grasp of the genitive plural in Croatian pretty quickly, whereas I think I could spend an entire year trying to learn Russian genitive plurals and still not master them. There are also other bits of grammar which feel significantly more complicated in Russian compared to Croatian, for example verbs of motion. Additionally, the complications of Russian pronunciation and stress have been a huge barrier for me to overcome as a beginner.

So overall I think Croatian is a much more accessible language, at least for native English speakers. The big plus of Russian is that it has a lot more resources; there are a lot more textbooks for English speakers and it is also a lot easier to find interesting content, for example podcasts or YouTube channels. But this plus is probably cancelled out by the difficulty of travelling to Russia vs Croatia; obviously it depends on your nationality but for me, getting a Russian visa felt like an extremely difficult and expensive process and it definitely puts me off planning another trip to Russia any time soon.
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Daniel N. » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:08 pm

One more question, if I may (since it will be of interest to many people). How much in Russian you felt you already knew from Croatian, so it clicked immediately? Obviously, knowing another Slavic language helps learning Russian, but how much really? (IMHO some things in BCMS and Russian are identical, and many are similar.)

Also, what about the Cyrillic script? Did you reach the normal reading speed quickly and stopped noticing it's another script?
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Radioclare » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:57 am

Daniel N. wrote:One more question, if I may (since it will be of interest to many people). How much in Russian you felt you already knew from Croatian, so it clicked immediately? Obviously, knowing another Slavic language helps learning Russian, but how much really? (IMHO some things in BCMS and Russian are identical, and many are similar.)

It didn't help as much as I expected. I was hoping that learning a second Slavic language would be significantly easier than it has been. The two main areas where Croatian has helped me are:

1. Learning vocabulary. There are lots of Russian words where I can either guess the meaning from the Croatian word or where knowing the Croatian word helps me to remember the Russian word. It has definitely been a big help that not all the vocabulary has been new to me.

2. Understanding grammatical concepts. Because I already had to learn with Croatian how aspect works, for example, I haven't had to learn this afresh with Russian, but rather just learn how Russian might be different to Croatian. Last time I was in Zagreb my boyfriend bought me a Russian grammar book in Croatian and I'm looking forward to reading this hopefully some time this year to get a Croatian perspective on what is different/ similar between the two languages.

Also, what about the Cyrillic script? Did you reach the normal reading speed quickly and stopped noticing it's another script?

No, I found it quite hard to start with and I still read more slowly in Russian than any other languages. With Russian I still have to sub vocalise, so I feel like I am reading like a child, whereas in my other languages I don't do that. Cyrillic caused me lots of problems at the start because I mostly learn by taking notes and I didn't have the ability either to type or write by hand properly. So I invested a lot of time in learning cyrillic handwriting and learning to type on a Russian keyboard. It was a pain but I can do both these things naturally now, although my typing speed in Russian is less than 30 words per minute.

What I will say is that I can read Russian more easily than Serbian Cyrillic. At least with Russian, I have learned each word in cyrillic and so I recognise the shape of the word when I see it. With Serbian, when I try to read Cyrillic it isn't really any easier than if i was trying to read English written in Cyrillic; I have to spell each word out letter by letter to see whether it is a word I know.
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Radioclare » Sat Jan 04, 2020 9:52 am

An example of how much Croatian helps with Russian comprehension: I sat the ODA for Russian reading before Christmas and scored 2+. I deliberately didn't post this in my 2019 log because it is most definitely not an accurate reflection of my level in Russian (I scored 1+ in listening, which I think is accurate). But it is a good illustration of how much Russian you can guess when you already speak a certain amount of Croatian :lol:

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rsz_screenshot_20200104-104738_chrome.jpg (107.11 KiB) Viewed 1345 times
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby IronMike » Sat Jan 04, 2020 5:54 pm

Radioclare wrote:
Also, what about the Cyrillic script? Did you reach the normal reading speed quickly and stopped noticing it's another script?

No, I found it quite hard to start with and I still read more slowly in Russian than any other languages. With Russian I still have to sub vocalise, so I feel like I am reading like a child, whereas in my other languages I don't do that. Cyrillic caused me lots of problems at the start because I mostly learn by taking notes and I didn't have the ability either to type or write by hand properly. So I invested a lot of time in learning cyrillic handwriting and learning to type on a Russian keyboard. It was a pain but I can do both these things naturally now, although my typing speed in Russian is less than 30 words per minute.

What I will say is that I can read Russian more easily than Serbian Cyrillic. At least with Russian, I have learned each word in cyrillic and so I recognise the shape of the word when I see it. With Serbian, when I try to read Cyrillic it isn't really any easier than if i was trying to read English written in Cyrillic; I have to spell each word out letter by letter to see whether it is a word I know.

What's weird, is that having had Russian first, I find reading BCS Cyrillic very difficult and I am nowhere near as fast as I am in reading Russian.

And as one who went the opposite way as Clare, I can tell you that Russian to BCS you get much benefit. The hardest for me was BCS syntax with those damn enclitics. But nothing in BCS drives me crazy like Russian's motion verbs, and I'm 33 years past first learning it. :oops:
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Radioclare » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:13 pm

I'm back from an amazing time in Norway and Sweden now. So far my study stats are:

1 Jan - Russian: 33 mins
2 Jan - Russian: 66 mins
3 Jan - Russian: 31 mins
4 Jan - Russian: 34 mins, German: 288 mins
5 Jan - Russian: 30 mins

As you can see, I've been continuing with studying Russian while I was away, mainly because I didn't have any Croatian materials with me. I've finished chapter 19 of Penguin Russian now and entered all the vocabulary into my Memrise course. I'm also partway through chapter 20, which as I expected is about verbs of motion. I'm taking it slowly and so far I think Penguin Russian is explaining it pretty well. I did a couple of exercises yesterday which were mainly about guessing whether a multi-directional or uni-directional verb should be used in a given sentence. I didn't get them all right, but the answer key was quite good at explaining the reason for each answer and I felt that I at least temporarily understood why I was wrong :lol:

I spent over 9 hours in Oslo airport between flights yesterday, so I had a lot of time for reading. One of the books I read was 'Der Augensammler' by Sebastian Fitzek. This falls into the category of "psychothriller" again and it's really hard to describe what it's about without spoiling it for anyone else. On the face of it, it's a story about a murderer who abducts children, kills their mothers and then gives their fathers and the police a deadline by which they have to find where the child is hidden, else the child will die as well. That sounds like it could just be a regular "Krimi", but because this is a Fitzek novel it is written in a way which really messes with your head. The chapter and page numbers deliberately run backwards, for example, which is quite confusing while you're reading, but the reason for it becomes clear as part of a twist at the end. I definitely recommend it, but it's not one to read when you're on your own in a dark house :lol:

Technically (at least, according to Goodreads), I've read two German novels in 2020, the other being 'Invisible' by Ursula Poznanski and Arno Strobel. This is the second in a series of more traditional police procedurals, written from the point of view of two police officers in Hamburg. The chapters alternate between the point of view of each police officer, so it can be a bit confusing when you start a new chapter and have to try and remember which character the "I" refers to. But it's really well written and in addition to a very original murder mystery, there is also good sexual chemistry between the two characters, so the "will they, won't they" keeps you reading almost as much as the resolution of the case itself. I say that I've only "technically" read this in 2020 because strictly speaking I started it (and read over half of it) in 2019, but I finished it around 1am on New Year's Day :)

While I was travelling home from Norway yesterday I also read an interesting book in English called 'To the Edge of the World' by Christian Wolmar. This is a history of the Trans-Siberian railway and I found it really fascinating. I learned all sorts of things I didn't know about the railway from it and I will definitely re-read it one day if I ever have the time/money/courage to do the journey myself :) I'd recommend it if it's a subject you're interested in.

In other news, I'm contemplating blocking my social media again. Not specifically for language learning purposes (more because all the news is so depressing at the moment!) but it may inadvertently free up more of my time for studying.
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby LunaMoonsilver » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:45 pm

Radioclare wrote:I spent over 9 hours in Oslo airport between flights yesterday, so I had a lot of time for reading. One of the books I read was 'Der Augensammler' by Sebastian Fitzek. This falls into the category of "psychothriller" again and it's really hard to describe what it's about without spoiling it for anyone else. On the face of it, it's a story about a murderer who abducts children, kills their mothers and then gives their fathers and the police a deadline by which they have to find where the child is hidden, else the child will die as well. That sounds like it could just be a regular "Krimi", but because this is a Fitzek novel it is written in a way which really messes with your head. The chapter and page numbers deliberately run backwards, for example, which is quite confusing while you're reading, but the reason for it becomes clear as part of a twist at the end. I definitely recommend it, but it's not one to read when you're on your own in a dark house :lol:


Ooooh, I have Der Augensammler but haven't read it yet, so this just bumped it wayyyyy up my TBR list! :D
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Re: Radioclare's 2020 log (Russian, Croatian)

Postby Radioclare » Wed Jan 08, 2020 11:05 pm

6 Jan - Russian: 52 mins, Croatian: 93 mins
7 Jan - Russian: 33 mins, Croatian: 84 mins
8 Jan - Russian: 38 mins, Croatian: 82 mins

Is it just me or do the first few days of January always seem to go on forever?! I feel like it should at least be February by now, and the novelty of being back at work has definitely worn off :lol: The time between now and Easter is without doubt my least favourite part of the year.

So far I've continued to do 30 minutes of Russian every day in 2020. I've caught up on some Russian Progress videos which I missed while I was travelling, cleared my Memrise reviews and am slowly progressing through chapter 20 of Penguin Russian. I've been trying to spend about 20 minutes a day on Penguin Russian, because this is the verbs of motion chapter and I feel like verbs of motion are best tackled in small doses.

At the moment it feels like I could spend the rest of my life studying verbs of motion and make no noticeable forward progress! That said, I do think this textbook presents them very well and it has explained some points about aspect which I don't think were covered at all in either TY Russian or Colloquial Russian. It does also try to break you into things gently, with the first few exercises in the chapter only requiring translation of Russian into English rather than vice versa. On the English-to-Russian exercises I'm only averaging about a 50% success rate, because even if I correctly identify whether the sentence requires a multi-directional verb or a uni-directional one, there's a chance that - depending on the motion - I'll forget which verb is which, and even if I get that correct, there's every chance that I'll conjugate the verb incorrectly :oops: I did decide to block my social media again, but even a lack of Facebook and Twitter doesn't make failing at verbs of motion an attractive way to spend an evening :lol:

What else? I got billed for my annual subscription to Croatian TV. This works out as a mere £36 for more so-bad-they're-addictive telenovelas than I can ever hope to watch, which feels like amazing value. But it did motivate me to go back to watching season 2 of 'Na granici', the comedy series I've been following about a group of villagers smuggling across the Bosnian-Croatian border. I've watched three episodes this week so far.

I started reading a novel called 'Poslije svega' in Croatian. It's a translation from English of the novel 'Afterwards' by Rosamund Lupton. Going into reading this straight after reading a novel in German really hammers home how much easier reading in German is for me than reading in Croatian. Reading in German verges on being effortless, whereas reading in Croatian still has a definite element of hard work. I need to expand my vocabulary, but I'm not sure what the best way of doing this is... The novel itself is gripping though. It's about a woman who is seriously injured in a fire at her children's school, while trying to rescue her eldest daughter from the blaze. The daughter is also critically injured and so far the entire story has been written from the point of view of the mother, who is having an out-of-body experience whilst in hospital in a coma, from which it's not clear whether she will ever wake up. I have a huge pile of books to read after Christmas, but I deliberately chose to start this one this week because it sounded exciting, and I think I'm more likely to get off to a good start with my 2020 goal of trying to read more if I'm partway through an exciting book :)

Tomorrow will be the first day of the year which really tests whether I can study for 30 minutes or not; I've got to go out for a team meal after work (enforced socialising - yay :roll: ).
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