Brian84's Spanish Log

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Brian84
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Brian84's Spanish Log

Postby Brian84 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:41 am

I've lurked here off and on for a long time, but I'm finally investing time in learning languages instead of simply reading about other people learning languages (as interesting as that may be)... so I'm starting this log for accountability. And if anyone who's trod this path before feels like sending some advice my way, all the better.

This isn't technically the first time I'll be learning a foreign language, though it feels like it because it will be the first time I attempt to self-study one. I learned a good bit of German through traditional classes in high school and college, including a summer immersion program during undergrad; but that was years ago, and my German skills have decayed dramatically since. I'm leaving it in square brackets in the subject line for now because I verrrry occasionally attempt to hang on to what I still know, and hope to learn much more again someday.

For a variety of reasons, I'm choosing to focus the bulk of my efforts on Spanish for the foreseeable future. Long term goal? Let's say a solid B2. If I get there eventually, I'll consider it a great success. If I make it further (whispers 'C1+')...absolutely fantastic, but let's not get ahead of ourselves, any more than a goal of B2-via-self-study already may.

So, the plan.

Spanish:
I'm about a month in. After playing around with a few resources to see how they felt, I've settled into a routine with the following courses.
  • Primary: Assimil Spanish with Ease
    - I've never used Assimil before. I'm... shocked at how great this seems, thus far.
  • Secondary: Learning Spanish Like Crazy
    - started with Pimsleur, which was good but felt pretty slow. I got Learning Spanish Like Crazy for free through an Audible trial, and I'm liking it a lot so far, after 10 lessons. I appreciate the conjugation drills being there from the start, as well as how blazingly fast the speakers seem to talk during the listening exercises.
  • For extra listening, as time permits: Destinos; Easy Spanish (YouTube); Notes in Spanish (podcast)
    - these are fun breaks that feel much less like studying than just chilling
  • Just for fun: Forcing my husband to watch Netflix series in Spanish
    - this is with English subtitles, but I'm trying to get familiar with some shows that I can go back and watch w/o subtitles later
My daily goals are just 1 Assimil lesson + 1 Like Crazy lesson. Anything else is bonus.

Tagalog:
Perhaps (or likely?) ill-advised, but I'm attempting to very casually learn Tagalog on the side. I don't have any concrete goals here. My husband is Filipino, and this is something we've both wanted to do for a while. He's not super into the idea of learning languages as a hobby, but wanted to try out the Pimsleur lessons. I think I'll keep pace by just doing a Pimsleur lesson every day or two while I go for a walk or run, but if juggling this with Spanish gets to be too much, I'll put it on hold for now. I did preemptively impulse-buy the Living Language course when I found out about it, though, as a follow-up course if/when we make it through all 60 Pimsleur lessons.

Excited to be here. Here goes nothing! :)
Last edited by Brian84 on Thu Oct 15, 2020 1:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
7 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

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rdearman
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby rdearman » Tue Aug 04, 2020 8:13 am

Brian84 wrote:Perhaps (or likely?) ill-advised, but I'm attempting to very casually learn Tagalog on the side. I don't have any concrete goals here. My husband is Filipino, and this is something we've both wanted to do for a while. He's not super into the idea of learning languages as a hobby, but wanted to try out the Pimsleur lessons. I think I'll keep pace by just doing a Pimsleur lesson every day or two while I go for a walk or run,

Are you saying that your husband is a heritage learner? E.g. He is of Filipino descent but doesn't speak the language?
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Brian84
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 4:05 pm

rdearman wrote:
Brian84 wrote:Perhaps (or likely?) ill-advised, but I'm attempting to very casually learn Tagalog on the side. I don't have any concrete goals here. My husband is Filipino, and this is something we've both wanted to do for a while. He's not super into the idea of learning languages as a hobby, but wanted to try out the Pimsleur lessons. I think I'll keep pace by just doing a Pimsleur lesson every day or two while I go for a walk or run,

Are you saying that your husband is a heritage learner? E.g. He is of Filipino descent but doesn't speak the language?


I haven't heard the term "heritage learner" before, TIL. But yes, he is a heritage learner. His parents live nearby and are native speakers, but the kids in the family never learned. We have family in Manila still, too, so no shortage of native speakers to motivationally laugh at us along the way. Ideally, we'd like to raise our kids (once they're here) speaking at least a little Tagalog at home... but we'll have to learn some first :D
3 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

Brian84
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:42 am

Staying on track with Spanish, so far. I'm guessing I'll have to slow down with Destinos at some point. Assuming it's intended to be watched as 52 weekly episodes, an episode a day is going to outpace my Assimil-based knowledge pretty fast. I'm interested to see at what point that happens.

8/4/20:
Assimil - lesson 23
Learning Spanish Like Crazy - lesson 10
Destinos - episode 6

8/5/20:
Assimil - lesson 24
Learning Spanish Like Crazy - lesson 11
Destinos - episode 7

I'm already getting curious about grammatical details that Assimil is glossing over, but I'm trying to "trust the method" for now. I'd like to start working through a grammar workbook eventually, but I don't have time to devote to it currently. Maybe I'll follow up with FSI and a grammar workbook once I make it through Assimil and Learning Spanish Like Crazy.

A question for any seasoned learners who might read this...
Should I try to start learning supplemental vocabulary (from a frequency list, maybe) this early? Or assume my courses are covering plenty of vocabularly to start with?

As for Tagalog – this is going to be very interesting :lol: Two Pimsleur lessons in, and feeling verrrry humbled. It's so different from learning a European language. That makes it really intriguing though, so hopefully I can keep up with it on the side.
2 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

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eido
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby eido » Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:51 pm

Brian84 wrote:A question for any seasoned learners who might read this...
Should I try to start learning supplemental vocabulary (from a frequency list, maybe) this early? Or assume my courses are covering plenty of vocabulary to start with?

From my experience, it's best to learn the words you'll use most immediately. Your courses should be covering enough to help you get used to the language, but not actually provide you the most practical set of things to use. Sometimes Assimil teaches you odd stuff like "baggage carousel," which although useful to know at some stage of your learning, may not be useful at the beginning, especially if you're not travelling or studying a topic related to that.

In my own experience, as of late, I'll forget words unless I really find them pertinent. And as I'm not going to need to speak to a Spanish speaker at an airport anytime soon about baggage claim, I think I'd have a harder time remembering the word for that concept even though my memory's pretty good and honed to Spanish for the love and fun of it.

So if you want to write a story about magical flying unicorns, look up the vocabulary that will go with that, and actually write the story so the words stick better, context is clear, and usage makes sense. And keep going through themed topics that fit your interest until you think you'll run out... then keep going.

Of course, supplementing is always good, like through reading or listening, but I find this an excellent way to do it, if not the best for me since it forces you to produce the language and keep the words in active memory. Of course, this is just for me. It may not work for you. You have to find something you can jive with and get in the groove to. Language learning is very personal.

By the way, nice log!
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Brian84
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Sat Aug 08, 2020 12:35 am

eido wrote:So if you want to write a story about magical flying unicorns, look up the vocabulary that will go with that, and actually write the story so the words stick better, context is clear, and usage makes sense. And keep going through themed topics that fit your interest until you think you'll run out... then keep going.

Thanks for the suggestion, eido. I think I'll try that approach out, once I'm a little further into my courses (perhaps as a supplement to the "active wave" of Assimil, which isn't all that far away).



Spanish:
I took a break from Destinos the past couple of days and used the time to work with some native source material online. I'm finding that the multi-track approach really resonates with me – I love the synergy moments when I come across something in one resource that I recognize from prior exposure in another resource. I was initially concerned that I'd feel distracted, or like I was juggling too many resources at once. Instead, I really enjoy it and feel like I'm learning a ton.

Iguanamon, I don't know if you came up with the multi-track approach or just detailed it in your very-helpful blog post, but thank you either way.

8/6/20:
  • Assimil - lesson 25
  • Learning Spanish Like Crazy - lesson 12
  • Watched a couple of "Easy Spanish" videos on YouTube ("Super Easy Spanish", technically). Resources like this make me feel very lucky to be learning a language in the age of the internet.

8/7/20:
  • Assimil - lesson 26
  • Learning Spanish Like Crazy - lesson 13.
    I hope this continues to be a good resource. It seems like it's gotten significantly less challenging all of a sudden, and it may have also stopped reviewing material from prior lessons altogether (I could be wrong, but it feels that way). I'm going to keep going for a while before I make any kind of decision about bailing on it.
  • Spent some time translating the first paragraph of lyrics from a song that got stuck in my head from Spotify's "Latin Pop Hits" playlist. It was interesting to hear the difference between what the lyrics look like, and what they sound like. After many repetitions, I can automatically hear and understand the words in the section I studied, which is a fun feeling.



Tagalog:
Pimsleur Tagalog - Level 1, Lesson 3

This doesn't seem to be interfering with my Spanish efforts so far, and going through the lessons together with my husband has proven to be unexpectedly fun (we laugh a lot). In the middle of the last lesson, we hit pause and called his parents to show off the handful of words we know. They loved it, laughed hysterically, and then rattled off several sentences of machine-gun-fast Tagalog that neither my husband nor I could follow. But I'm proud to report that we remembered how to say "I don't understand much Tagalog" in response.

Also, I'm still just completely fascinated by how different Tagalog is from any of the (small number) of other languages I have experience with.
4 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

Brian84
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Mon Aug 17, 2020 6:32 pm

Life (at work and otherwise) has been kind of crazy the past week or so, so I haven't had time to update this log. The good news is that I've still been able to make time for Spanish study (I missed two Assimil days, but that's bound to happen from time to time).

TL;DR: Still enjoying Assimil a third of the way into the passive phase, but noticing how unrealistically slowly and clearly the voice actors speak (my only complaint so far). Still going with Learning Spanish Like Crazy; it feels a bit unorganized, but the speed and enunciation of the dialogues seems much more realistic, which I appreciate. Experimenting with a variety of native source materials on the side – Easy Spanish on YouTube, some short NHK news items, and as of yesterday I'm trying out Learning Languages with Netflix. That seems like a pretty awesome tool.

Assimil:
I'm 1/3 of the way through the passive wave with Assimil. I'm still enjoying it and feel like I'm learning a lot. As I try to wade into the depths of native materials for listening practice, though, I'm noticing just how slowly and clearly the Assimil voice actors speak. That may be my only complaint with Assimil so far. As a point of comparison, I rarely have to replay the Assimil audio due to completely missing what they're saying, but I frequently have to re-listen to LSLC dialogues multiple times.

Learning Spanish Like Crazy:
I'm approaching the end of the "beginner" set of lessons for Learning Spanish Like Crazy. From the little bit of Pimsleur I've tried in the past, LSLC feels much less organized – I don't think there's any chance that they structured it using any actual spaced repetition schedule, they just occasionally review random topics – but I'm still appreciating the drills. It's ramping up fairly quickly, and given the lack of organization, I'm interested to see how severe the jump between beginner and intermediate lessons might be. Interestingly, they started using a different woman as a native speaker now, and I find her a good bit harder to understand. I'm curious if she's from a different region or if she's just difficult to understand in general.

Native source materials:
After watching a few of the "super easy" videos from Easy Spanish on YouTube, I got the feeling that I wasn't gaining much from the unnaturally slow speech, so I've moved on to listening to the regular street interviews. They are decidedly not super easy :D but seem like a great way to get quick exposure to how Spanish is spoken in daily life.

NHK seems like it's going to be invaluable. At first, I tried to find parallel stories in Spanish and English to use as parallel texts, but that was taking a lot of time. I tried using just the Spanish transcript and Readlang, instead – and that seems like a much easier/more productive way to tackle NHK stories, at least for me.

Learning Languages with Netflix (LLN)...seems pretty awesome. My husband and I finished watching La casa de las flores with English subtitles, so I'm going to try working through that with LLN. I spent a while working through the first 4 minutes of the first episode yesterday, and it was pretty humbling lol. Wow they speak fast. I'm toying with the idea of trying to use LLN with Audacity and Anki to make subs2srs-style cards. I think I've found a way to do that pretty quickly and easily, but haven't actually tried it yet. Hoping to tonight, and I'll report back.



Last but not least...... Tagalog. That seems to have stalled out for now. My husband hasn't really had time to keep up with the Pimsleur lessons, and I'm not super motivated to spend time on it alone. I may keep trying to learn it as time permits, but it will be very slowly and very casually for now.
3 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

Brian84
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Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:31 am
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Fri Aug 21, 2020 10:03 pm

Still making progress at a pace of 1 lesson per day in both Assimil and Learning Spanish Like Crazy, and continuing to supplement those courses with Destinos episodes and some native materials (most recently, this has been NHK stories and/or Peppa Pig episodes).

Current progress with courses...:
- Assimil, lesson 36
- LSLC, lesson 27
- Destinos, episode 11

...and with native materials:
- I'm trying to listen/read to one NHK story a day (just one story, not the entire 15 minute segment). This has been a fun way to take a break in the middle of the workday.
- I haven't gotten around to making subs2srs-style flashcards for any Netflix shows...but I'm hoping to find time to try that out this weekend.
- I've stepped into the world of Peppa Pig. It's awesome that Peppa Pig Español Latino - Canal Oficial is available for free on YouTube. I wish it had Spanish captions, but even without them, it feels challenging without feeling impossible. I decided to try transcribing the first full episode the other night. It took a long time, but after running it through DeepL, I'm fairly confident I ended up with an accurate transcript. I'm curious how useful of an exercise it would be to keep doing that vs. watching episodes extensively (and shrugging it off when I just don't know what they're saying).

My feelings about Learning Spanish Like Crazy are still mixed. I got LSLC for free, so I'm not out any money, and I don't feel like I've been learning all that much from it – its primary benefit, at least for me, seems to be the drills. At this stage, I think I'd rather focus on learning as much as possible, to get to more challenging native materials sooner. That is the end goal, after all. I definitely see the value in drills for building automaticity, but I'm planning on using FSI for drills after completing Assimil anyway.

I'm going to give LSLC a few more days until I see how the "intermediate" lessons feel (starting with lesson 31). But I think there's a strong chance my new plan will be:
Assimil + Destinos + lots of native material (which might include subs2srs).

There's also the issue of starting to speak. I need to rip off that bandaid at some point, but I don't feel quite ready yet. Maybe I'll start working with a language partner or tutor in parallel with the active wave of Assimil?
3 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

Brian84
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Spanish (beginner)
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Wed Sep 02, 2020 12:17 am

I'm hoping to be more active on here eventually – both with my own log, and with reading/replying to others' posts – but I keep finding myself short on time. And given the choice between posting here or studying Spanish, I figure I'll be of more use to the community in the long run if I choose to study at this point. :)

I've stopped using Learning Spanish Like Crazy at this point. I just wasn't enjoying it enough, and had other resources/approaches I was more interested in using.

I'm still really enjoying Assimil. I'm nearly to lesson 50, so "la segunda ola" (as my book calls it) is just around the corner. I'm looking forward to using the active wave as a chance to review/consolidate the first half of the course, and hoping it might give me the confidence boost I need to start working with a language partner or tutor occasionally. Though if it doesn't, I'm gonna have to start that sooner or later, anyhow.

Destinos is still proving useful and fun, too. I'm not investing a lot of effort into it, but there are still plenty of "synergy" moments where I hear something that I've already begun learning elsewhere. I mostly just watch an episode during my lunch break every few days, as time permits. Depending on my mood, I either go without subtitles and shrug off anything that seems completely unintelligible (as long as I can follow the story)... or pause and rewind a few times to try and figure it out. Occasionally, I hit pause and look something up online.

The most intense part of my study routine at this point is subs2srs work. Over the weekend, I finally got around to making subs2srs-style cards from some Netflix series. For anyone else who wants to try doing that, here's my basic setup:

(1) Grab audio or video from an episode.
- I've been using a free trial of PlayOn Cloud to grab video, but I may try just using audio at some point.
(2) Get the .srt files for Spanish and English using the Subadub Chrome extension.
(3) Use SubShifter's linear correction to clean up the subtitle/video alignment.
- This has been fairly easy to do, and works surprisingly well. More than accurate enough for my needs, so far (I've done 3 episodes).
(4) Use emk's substudy tool to create a ton of Anki cards.
- This is awesome. Thank you so much, emk.

It took me at least 2 hours to figure this out and do it for the first episode. For subsequent episodes, it's been much faster – maybe 20ish minutes per episode? For 400+ cards per episode (granted, a chunk of those are garbage that I immediately delete), not a bad investment.

I've been working through cards for Gran Hotel the past few days. They speak incredibly fast (at least to my ears), and don't always speak clearly, so it may not be the best choice. I'm guessing it would be miserable if I were starting from scratch. But with about half of an Assimil course behind me, it feels quite challenging but still manageable. I'm pretty impressed with how much easier many cards feel after just a few days... I'm skeptical, but hopeful, regarding what kind of results I might get out of this.

Here and there, I'm watching a Peppa Pig episode or listening to a short NHK news clip. Gramática de Uso A1-B2 came in the mail today, and I'm excited to start slowly working through it to answer some burning grammar questions. I want to start reading an easy novel, but I have my hands pretty full at this point.

This has been an awful lot of fun, so far.
3 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos

Brian84
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Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:31 am
Languages: English (N)
Spanish (beginner)
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Re: Brian84's Log (Spanish, Tagalog[, German])

Postby Brian84 » Tue Oct 06, 2020 10:08 pm

Maybe my new goal should be to update this log more than once a month? :oops:

I took an extra long lunch today, and was super excited to find that I could follow episodes 19 and 20 of Destinos pretty much fine without using subtitles or pausing/rewinding. And not just because I could tell what was going on from visual cues, but because I actually understood most of what was said. I'm certain I missed or misunderstood some details, but not enough to make me feel the need to turn on subtitles or rewatch any segments. That was a great feeling, and some much-needed motivation. I've been feeling pretty restless with Assimil lately... the same lesson structure day after day is getting kind of monotonous. I credit Assimil with the majority of my progress, would recommend it to others, and will likely use it for other languages down the road... but I'm really looking forward to moving past courses and using native materials as my primary learning resources. I don't think I'm quite there yet, so I'm going to grit my teeth and hope that 32 more Assimil lessons will get me there. In the mean time, I'm thankful to also have 32 (coincidentally) Destinos episodes left, which I think will keep me motivated along the way.

I've also continued using the audio flashcards I made from some Gran Hotel episodes using substudy. I've worked through most of the flashcards for the first episode (~400). It's a little hard to tell what kind of impact that's had on my Spanish. There are cards that I couldn't remotely understand at the beginning, but are now super obvious when I hear them... though I wonder for some of them whether I actually understand what's being said, or have associated the full meaning of the card with just a few cue words that I hear. Maybe that is "actually understanding" them, though? I haven't taken the time to test the results yet, but I'll report back after I try watching the episode the cards covered, and see how that compares to watching an episode I haven't explicitly studied. I'm pretty sure this must be having some impact on my listening comprehension, but it's hard for me to imagine using it to start from scratch with a language the way emk has. Maybe I'll try that with L3? Of note, I didn't take the approach of starting with simple cards and working upward in complexity – I just went straight to full sentences and worked through the episode in order. Maybe that's not the most effective way to use substudy cards.

I'm trying to get started with extensive reading, but finding a book that's (a) not overly difficult and (b) doesn't bore me to tears has been tricky. I'm sure I'll love Isabel Allende's La Ciudad de las Bestias, which I've seen recommended on the forum a few times, but the first few pages seem a little too challenging for me still. I tried children's stories, but I didn't enjoy that enough to justify how much of a chore it felt like. This is supposed to be fun. A friend said she had good luck reading a translation of The Phantom Tollbooth, so I'm going to try that out. The first page in the online preview looks like it might be just right. Fingers crossed.
4 x
Spanish:
: 80 / 100 Assimil Spanish with Ease
: 27 / 52 Destinos


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