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Log of Lamonte the Dilettante

Posted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 9:22 pm
by Lamonte
A dilettante is someone who is interested in a subject but doesn't have the knowledge. Which leads me to:

Languages I know am interested in: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and Esperanto. Dabbling in Scottish Gaelic and Welsh.

For a rating at CEFR A0-C2 levels: I think of myself as swimming in the shallow kiddie pool. Wearing floaties.

Formal coursework: 1 year Spanish in 8th grade, 2 years each of Koine Greek and Hebrew while in seminary.

Materials begun but never finished: Destinos, French in Action, Wheelock's Latin, FSI Spanish, TY Esperanto, etc.

Recent language journey:
Last year I wanted to really study the languages. I thought that if I just focused on a single language for 3-4 months straight I could make progress. However, I was too indecisive and feared missing out on the others. So I turned to Duolingo to prime the pump and maybe help me narrow it down to one. I thought I was above the gamification, but no, I was pulled straight into the Duolingo gamification. After a month of racking up XP I noticed an improvement in all the languages.

So I gave up on a single language strategy. While Duolingo is fun, I felt the need for a better method to review vocabulary. Memrise and Anki are good tools that I have used in the past. However, I decided to go with a paper-based system. I wanted more control over reviews, more flexibility and less screen time for the eyes. So I revived my old spaced repetition system using index cards from a few decades ago. In the system, I use sentences instead of individual words. After a few months, I noticed significant progress across the board.

I wanted more sentences so I turned to ClozeMaster. That helped me become aware of a wider range of verb tenses and vocabulary. At first, I thought I could remain above the ClozeMaster gamification. I was wrong.

With Duolingo and ClozeMaster, I take a slow, steady, little and often strategy. I maintain streaks for each and then do a little more if I have time. My main focus is on the paper-based system with the sentences. Besides doing the translation, I sometimes write, pronounce or listen to them. Or create new sentences.

So far it has been sustainable and fun. Progress is encouraging and it also has helped me become aware of areas where I am deficient.

Re: Log of Lamonte the Dilettante

Posted: Sat Mar 07, 2020 3:23 am
by Lamonte
Last year I had a 74 day streak and then missed a day due to my daughter's wedding. Started with day 1 the next day and now I have a 203 day streak. My individual language levels are French (15), Spanish (14), German (14), Esperanto (13) Italian (12), Greek (12), and Hebrew (12), Welsh (10), Latin (9) and Scottish Gaelic (7).

On a daily basis I do a minimal first wave enough to maintain the overall streak: 10-15 minutes on 3-5 lessons.

I have a 123 day streak on ClozeMaster for French, Spanish, German, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, and Esperanto. While Duolingo streaks are generic regardless of language, ClozeMaster streaks are language specific. I also have a 41 day streak for Scottish Gaelic.

With ClozeMaster, I also do a minimal first wave enough to maintain all the streaks. I typically review 10 sentences in 1-5 minutes, so it ends up around 15 minutes a day.

I have seven binders, one for each language. In each binder I have printed pages with 10-35 sentences per page. I pull sentences from Duolingo, ClozeMaster, and language books. The printed pages help me to do a slower, methodical deeper dive. I'll make handwritten notes, write and type the sentences, read aloud, or listen using Forvo or Google Translate.

I use an index card for each page in the spaced repetition system (SRS). Then I read/translate the sentences on each page. 3-5 cards usually takes me about 15 minutes.

So each day I first complete the daily minimal requirements for the three areas. This takes around 45 minutes. After that I'm "free" to pursue other language activites. This second wave is usually 15-45 minutes. I might go back to Duolingo, ClozeMaster or the sentences - or reading, watching or listening.

Here are some "second wave" activities from the past week:

French, German, Italian, Spanish and Hebrew: Reading through Genesis 1. Initially I read (or try to read) aloud without the audio. Then I read with the audio.

French: Watched 30 minutes of Kaamelot on YouTube - what a funny show. The French is too quick for me, but I'll work on that. Also watched a couple of episodes of Spiral (Engrenages) with my wife. We are almost at the end of season 1. My wife had three years of French in high school.

German: Watched Türkisch für Anfänger episodes 10-11. I started watching it last summer, and I thought the German was too fast. I worked with it and now it seems like normal speed. Also reading/working through a short story called "Zussammenfassung."

Greek: On lesson 28 in Language Transfer Greek. Also reading in the Greek Bible book of Acts while in church. When the pastor reads the English, I follow along in the Greek. Also watched "The Greatest Treasure" in Greek on YouTube. Again.

Hebrew: Slowly reading Call of the Wild (קול קדומים ) by Jack London. The book is a physical copy with pointed Hebrew text, which makes it a bit easier for me to pronounce. Also read the first three of fifteen chapters of A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew, by Coffin and Bolozky (2005). They have an interesting example on stress. In Hebrew, "boker" (בוקר ) means "morning" with the stress on the first syllable, and it means "cowboy" with the stress on the last syllable. In non-pointed writing they are identical. So "good morning, Cowboy" (בוקר טוב בוקר ) will be a handy phrase for that next meeting of "the Hebrew Cowboys of Texas." ( הבוקרים העבריים מטקסס )

Log of Lamonte the Dilettante

Posted: Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:54 am
by Lamonte
Since the last post, reading and researching the coronavirus absorbed the extra time that I usually spend on languages. I did maintain the three areas - extending the streaks with Duolingo, ClozeMaster and the sentences.

Currently have a 168 day streak for French, German, Greek, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew, and Esperanto. French is in the lead with 100,000 points and 2500 reviewed sentences. The rest are over 50,000 points each and 1300 sentences reviewed. A few weeks ago I switched to text input for all the reviews. Initially it was harder and took more time, but after a while I found it to be a better learning experience for me.

Surprisingly I was 3rd or 4th in the overall top 10 last week. I also finished in the top 10 for Greek, Hebrew and Esperanto. It was probably an off week for most.

Currently have a 254 day streak. I am doing a minimal number of lessons, around 3-5 per day. Duolingo also facilitates local meetings. Last year I went to Hebrew and German group meetings. In March the group meetings were cancelled due to the coronavirus. I thought maybe I wouldn't get to hear those common phrases again, like when they tell me "Wann gehen Sie los?" (When will you leave?).

However, some groups are meeting together using Zoom. Tonight I "met" with the Spanish group, and we read the Three Little Pigs in Spanish. In a few weeks I'll meet with the Greek group.

I am plugging along with the sentences. I collect these from different sources, then read, write, listen and take notes. While I quickly speed through Duolingo and ClozeMaster, I slow things down with the sentences.

What are my ultimate goals? I want to deepen reading abilities and speak basic conversations.

Re: Log of Lamonte the Dilettante

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:24 am
by Lamonte
ClozeMaster streak is now at 348 days. Duolingo streak is 432 days.

As for the sentences…

No todo el mundo conoce mi plan. Inclusio no lo sé. [Not everyone knows about my plan. Not even me.]

Originally I reviewed sentences and translated them. It served its purpose well. Now I focus on writing down sentences that interest me. I write them once, come back days later, write them again and work to internalize them. It seems to help me move sentences from passive recognition to active recall. C'est bon! Peut-être que non. Je ne sais pas si c'est bon. [It is good! Perhaps not. I don't know if it is good.] Ils viennent lentement. [They come slowly].

I signed up for an online course called Benvenuti in Italia! Orientarsi con l'italiano. There is also a second course. The first course runs from Sep 29 through March 2021. I am nearly done with the first of four parts. È facile. Finora. [It is easy. So far.]

I also watched a Netflix Italian show - Roberto Saviano: uno Scritorre sotto scorta. He is the author of the book Gomorrah, which is also a TV series. Crime figures have threatened his life and has had to seek protection. I enjoyed it and was able to understand a good bit of it.

Modern Hebrew is hard, hard, hard. זה לא פשט! [It is not simple!] I have a pointed Hebrew version of Call of the Wild, but it is still tough sledding. I read it infrequently. I was halfway through A Reference Grammar of Modern Hebrew when I had to return it. My eyes glazed over parts of it, but it held my interest because it made comparisons between Modern and Biblical Hebrew.

My wife is interested in learning Hebrew, and we began watching a Teaching Company course called Biblical Hebrew. It is an excellent course. I am very motivated to finish it out. However my wife had enough after two lectures. So I forged ahead and as of today I have finished lecture 10 of 36.

I read the Greek New Testament here and there. I made it to the 30s in Language Transfer Greek lessons and then lost momentum. I thought of starting it back up, or finishing Kypros, or starting something new. Πρέπει να πάρουμε μία απόφαση. [We have to make a decision].

I watched most of the first season of The Grand Hotel - with my wife. I am enjoying it and understanding much of the Spanish. Also been listening and reading to Spanish Short Stories for Beginners. No sé qué más decir. [I don't know what else to say].

Watched Schubert in Love (with the wife), Victoria, and Deutschland 83. I enjoyed all three, but loved Deutschland 83. I would like to start the book German Quickly. Es ist nur eine Frage der Zeit. [It is only a matter of time].

With my wife, we watched the first season of Pour Dix Cent (Call My Agent) and the first season of Spiral (Engages). It was my second time through Call My Agent, and I understood a lot more French than in Spiral. C'est tous pour instant. [That is all for now].

Re: Log of Lamonte the Dilettante

Posted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 11:00 am
by tangleweeds
Congratulations on all those impressive streaks! I also very much enjoyed your single sentence comments + translations, especially as I know so few of (or barely know) those langages.