Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

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Stelle
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Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby Stelle » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:34 pm

Hello LLORG! It's been a while!

Life got in the way, and I realized a few days ago that I've done nothing language-related in well over a year. And I'm not just talking about formal study. Somehow I find myself in a position where I haven't read a novel or watched a single episode of a TV show in Spanish since 2018. Don't ask me how it happened, or why the switch flipped so suddenly, but there it is.

Anyway, I guess I'm back!

Language background

I grew up in a bilingual city and a bilingual family, speaking both French and English. I teach in a French Immersion public school, and I have a side-gig teaching ESL online, so second language acquisition is both my career and my hobby.

I started learning Spanish in 2013. I started with self-study using a mish-mash of resources, connected with language partners and tutors over Skype, and then spent six weeks in 2014 walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I completed the Super Challenge, which helped me solidify my Spanish through reading and watching/listening. In 2017, my husband and I took a sabbatical and spent six months studying and backpacking in Central America. I'm comfortable calling myself an advanced Spanish speaker.

In the years since 2014, I've dabbled in a few languages. I casually studied Tagalog to probably an A2-ish level (although as far as I know, there are no formal language tests for Tagalog). I can understand most of the dinner conversation at my in-laws' house, and that's more than enough for me. I briefly studied Esperanto, and was able to comfortably hold an hour-long conversation with someone on italki, but I quickly learned that a conlang wasn't really for me. I played with Italian, getting to a decent receptive level, although my productive skills are laughable. I can comfortably read simple novels and watch dubbed TV in Italian, but I can't hold a conversation to save my life.

I spent about a month in 2018 dabbling in Russian, and I absolutely loved it! I loved the challenge of learning Cyrillic, and for some strange reason I found it especially fun to work on my pronunciation. About a third of my second grade students speak Russian at home as a first language, and I loved saying random stuff to them: "I eat chicken! I see a horse!". They thought it was the most hilarious thing ever. I didn't commit fully to learning Russian, because it just seemed like too much work. But I have some new-found motivation, and this is my current language focus - and the impetus for reviving my language log.

Looking forward

My Spanish is solid. I can do everything that I want to do with it. I picked up La Casa de los Espíritus last night, and - while I'll admit that my brain did a few somersaults on that first page - I settled in quickly and found myself reading comfortably. I would like to improve slowly by reading novels and watching TV shows. I had a long-term Skype conversational tutor, but my last session was in July 2018. Money is tight this year, so no tutoring for the foreseeable future. I am considering finding a language partner instead.

I'm committing to 30 minutes per day studying Russian. I started on Friday. Woo-hoo! I'm on day three! This is meant to be relatively stress-free and fun, so no serious textbooks for me. I'm using Memrise, Duolingo, Anki, and a program called Living Language that I received as a gift. I realized that I have 80 dollars' worth of italki credits, so I booked a 30-minute session with a tutor on Monday. I'm also in contact with some potential language partners. I know that I can dabble as much as I like, but I will not commit to learning a language until I start speaking to someone, even though it feels scary and impossible at first.

All right, Пойдем!
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Stelle
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby Stelle » Sun Feb 16, 2020 3:35 pm

2020 Resources

Spanish

- Gramática del uso del español C1-C2
- novels: La casa de los espíritus
- TV shows: Casa de papel

Russian

- Duolingo
- Memrise
- anki (self-made deck with L1->L2 and L2->L1 cards)
- Living Language Complete
- Pimsleur (first 20 lessons)
Last edited by Stelle on Wed Feb 26, 2020 11:45 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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reineke
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby reineke » Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:07 pm

Hey Stella! Stella!

Welcome back. :mrgreen:
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Stelle
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby Stelle » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:47 am

So I wonder if I made the right choice booking a half hour iTalki session for tomorrow, exactly four days after starting Russian. I booked it very impulsively, when I realized that I had 80 dollars’ worth of referral credits on iTalki. I’m pretty sure that I’m jumping the gun, but go big or go home, right? :?

Half an hour of Russian conversation would be absolutely impossible right now, so I’ve prepared a document to structure tomorrow’s session.

Part one: basic greetings and pleasantries (hello, pleased to meet you, how are you, what’s your name). Practice that several times.

Part two: I copied and pasted a bunch of pictures of very random vocab from the first lesson of Duolingo (taxi, bicycle, backpack, radio). This will let me use the vocabulary I’ve already learned to build some very basic Russian sentences using sentence frames:

Это…
Это не...
Я вижу…
У меня есть…
У меня нет…

I’ll have my tutor ask me questions to tease out these sentences. For example, on the picture of a bicycle: What do you see? I see a bicycle. Is this a taxi? No, this is not a taxi. This is a bicycle. Do you have a bicycle? Yes, I have a bicycle. I’m pretty sure that my poor tutor will burst into tears of boredom before the 30 minutes are up.

Part three (if time): photos of the dialogue from lesson one of Living Language. If we have time, I’’ll practice reading it out loud. If we run out of time, no problem!

Part four: practice closing pleasantries: thank you, good-bye, see you soon

I’ll report back tomorrow. Wish me luck!

reineke wrote:Hey Stella! Stella!

Welcome back. :mrgreen:

Thank you! :D
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iguanamon
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby iguanamon » Mon Feb 17, 2020 12:57 am

I've missed you, Stelle! Good to have you back here again.
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Stelle
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby Stelle » Mon Feb 17, 2020 4:16 pm

Yeah. It was probably too early to start tutoring. My plan to just plug words into sentence starters didn't really work, because I haven't actually learned how to use cases yet. The following sentence starters are the only ones that worked:

Это…
Это не...
У меня есть…
У тебя есть ...?

I need to remove the following sentences starters from my list because I don't know how to use cases:

Я вижу…
У меня нет…

I did learn some new words and sentence frames that will help me talk about my family in very simple terms:
У тебя есть...?
Как зовут твою маму / сестру? Как зовут твоего папу / брата?
Её зовут... / Его зовут...

My teacher was very patient and kind. She corrected my pronunciation and gave me lots of wait time. I need to gain confidence and feel less awkward repeating stuff over and over. Note to self: it doesn't really matter if my teacher thinks I'm boring. I'm paying her because I'm not yet interesting enough that people want to talk to me for free.

Tutoring was definitely useful to practice greetings and pleasantries! I blanked completely on how to say the simplest things: "How are you? I'm fine!" I need lots of repetition and practice there to help with automaticity and muscle memory.

I'm booking a session with a second tutor on Wednesday. I will use the same document, with some slight changes (fewer sentence starters, fewer pictures, family photo). At that point, I'll decide whether tutoring is useful at this particular point in time, or whether I should wait. Either way, I had fun today, and I'm glad that I ripped the bandaid off and tried to speak!
iguanamon wrote:I've missed you, Stelle! Good to have you back here again.
Thank you! I'm glad to be back! I'm looking forward to catching up with everyone's logs.
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Stelle
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby Stelle » Sat Feb 22, 2020 9:11 pm

Russian

So I tried out half-hour iTalki sessions with two different Russian tutors. Both of them were warm, encouraging and helpful. That said, I do not think that Russian tutoring is an efficient use of my time and italki credits at the moment. I mostly stared up at the ceiling as I tried to put sentences together, and then we practiced reading the dialogue from lesson 1 of Living Language. I don't necessarily need a tutor to help me do this. I can stare up at the ceiling and talk to myself, and I can shadow the dialogue recordings on my own. I would rather work with a tutor when I'm ready to have at least a very basic, rudimentary conversation. I was able to do this very quickly in Spanish, Tagalog, Italian and Esperanto. Russian is a very different animal! I'll hold on to my italki credits for now.

I do have a Skype date with a potential language partner tomorrow. We'll talk in English for half an hour, and then switch to Russian. If we click, then I will continue to meet with her weekly. Even though it might not be the most efficient use of my study time right now, I would really like to have a language-loving Russian friend to practice with!

While I'm not ready to speak freely in Russian, I do think that it's important for me to speak out loud. I want to build muscle memory and work on pronunciation and intonation from day one. Several times this week, I walked the dog in the park while doing a Pimsleur lesson out loud. For now, I think that this will meet my needs. When I was teaching French on italki, I was always impressed by the accents of people who had completed the Pimsleur program.

week one summary:
- daily: Memrise, Duolingo, Anki
- Living Language Essential Russian: lesson 1
- Pimsleur: lessons 1-4
- two half-hour Skype sessions with iTalki tutors

next week's goals:
- daily: Memrise, Duolingo, Anki
- Living Language Essential Russian: lesson 2
- Pimsleur: lessons 5-9
- try a Skype language exchange

Spanish

I completed the first five lessons in Gramática de uso del español C1-C2. I bought this book two years ago, after coming back from Central America, but I never used it before this week. It's been years since I last studied Spanish by completing grammar exercises. I'm enjoying the book, although I'm not sure if I'm doing it "right". I read the left-hand page (grammar explanations and example sentences, all in Spanish) and then I complete and correct the exercises on the right-hand page (mainly fill-in-the-blank sentences). One lesson (a 2-page spread) takes me about 15 minutes to complete. As of now, I have no plans to review past lessons. I just plan on working my way through the book in order. I'd be interested in hearing how other people have used this resource!

I also read the first 50 pages of La casa de los espíritus by Isabel Allende. This book has been sitting on a shelf in my living room for years and years. I can't even remember when I bought it! It's a really beautiful book so far. This is my second foray into magical realism (the first one being Como aqua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel, a book that I read a few years ago along with a few other LLORG forum members). I've only read the first chapter, but I love it so far!

week one summary:
- Gramática de uso del español: lessons 1-5
- La casa de los espíritus: up to page 50

next week's goals:
- Gramática de uso del español: lessons 6-10
- La casa de los espíritus: up to page 125
- find a TV show to watch
- set up a Skype session with a language partner
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Stelle
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Posts: 580
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 1:37 pm
Location: Canada
Languages: English (N1), French (N2), Spanish (advanced), Tagalog (basic), Russian (beginner)
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby Stelle » Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:08 pm

My husband is picking up his Spanish again! I’ve been singing the praises of Veinte Mundos, my absolute favourite high beginner/early intermediate resource. Imagine my heartbreak when I realized that it no longer existed! I was so disappointed. Does anyone know of a similar resource, with high interest articles, full audio and mouseover dictionary?
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James29
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby James29 » Sun Feb 23, 2020 7:29 pm

Stelle wrote:
I completed the first five lessons in Gramática de uso del español C1-C2. I bought this book two years ago, after coming back from Central America, but I never used it before this week. It's been years since I last studied Spanish by completing grammar exercises. I'm enjoying the book, although I'm not sure if I'm doing it "right". I read the left-hand page (grammar explanations and example sentences, all in Spanish) and then I complete and correct the exercises on the right-hand page (mainly fill-in-the-blank sentences). One lesson (a 2-page spread) takes me about 15 minutes to complete. As of now, I have no plans to review past lessons. I just plan on working my way through the book in order. I'd be interested in hearing how other people have used this resource!



I worked through the full B level book and did it exactly as you are doing it (except I recall it taking me more like 25-30 minutes for each lesson). I have the C level book and it looks identical (except obviously at a higher level). I've had the C level book on my bookshelf for years and hope to get to it this summer. Let us know if you like it. And, in particular, if you find it "hard" or "easy." I found the B level book much easier than I was expecting it to be.
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Re: Stelle's Log (Spanish and Russian)

Postby rdearman » Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:45 pm

Stelle wrote:I’ve been singing the praises of Veinte Mundos,

www.veintemundos.com ... hummm, seems to be a dead link? Do you have the URL?
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