Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

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Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Sun Jan 03, 2016 2:40 pm

So, here is my 2016 log! I have been mentally rehearsing a lot what I should write here and whatnot. I tried my best not to make a usually long post even longer than usual, but there is so much reasoning I have to do if I want to set some reasonable path for my language learning this year.

2015 was a year of direction correction. I acknowledge most of what I had done wrong in 2014: too much extensive+careless learning, too little output. I didn't fix it in 2015 but there was a start, thanks to apps such as HelloTalk and Speaky.

Two guidelines for 2016:

1. Write more often.
No excuses. Resist the temptation for more input. No waiting for the ideal moment, for the clearest mind. Just write one line after another. Not to worry if I'm writing the same as the previous time, this may even work as a sort of 'graded writing' for keeping building on the main islands. Stop seeing writing opportunities as an interruption to the normal study flow. On the contrary, take them to their most even if means skipping a couple of film watching or bilingual reading at the end of the day.

2. Be present. Gegenwärtig sein, as I've read "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle in German. Be attentive. Concentrate. Focus. Pay attention. Even when I'm watching native material without subs and I'm not following properly. There is a minor issue that the sound volume in the computer I usually study from is quite low. I even thought of fixing this with bringing speakers from home, but that would be too much of a stretch. Anyway, I noticed much of my lack of progress in listening in 2015 resides in the lack of an active effort to understand the scene. It got better towards the end of the year, but I still have to improve a lot or else those 10 minutes at each language will keep simply being a waste of time.

I also wish 2016 to be a year of community learning. The crash in 2015 led to some dispersion of the community, especially the TAC teams. Some of my languages have no other active learner at the forum, and I have to learn from it, but I want to discuss with people more often. I want to participate more, and I've already been trying since the end of last year.

Another issue: I need to get rid of crutches. Or at least perform part of the tasks with them and another one without them. I'm still watching French films without subtitles and reading German with accompanying translation, and I think I'd be making much more progress without them. Also, 2016 will be mostly a year of intensive reading. That's what worked for me in my early studies and I think that's what's been missing from my learning equation and which prevented me from making real progress in my languages all those years.

Now by language. I'll refuse to set CEFR goals as they don't mean much for someone studying alone and not doing any exams anyway, but I want to apply those guidelines consistently and I'm going to aim for basic fluency in all of my existing languages: Norwegian, German, Russian, Mandarin and Estonian.

Plus, I'll be starting Greek when I'm done with studying Russian from textbooks. I noticed I can't do without it anymore. I want to reach B1 by the end of the year. I set this goal just randomly but I have a strong sense of intuition that Greek is going to be much less difficult than Russian.

Estonian
My favorite language in 2015. I like the sound, the spelling, the logical grammar and the culture on top of it. Unfortunately I have little access to native speakers and to native materials. I have a good set of books, but more the 'classical' type. All I have in terms of native media with subtitles/transcription is in a thread here I have to search for again, but I think if I start now I won't make a good use of those videos and will end up wasting a resource. So I want to improve reading first. I'm almost running out of textbooks but I want to review the main ones for polishing grammar, the way I did with Georgian this year, but in order to internalize grammar I also have to write a lot.

French
It was neglected in 2015. My listening skills worsened and I wrote even less than in 2014, with only occasional chatting. I want to use the language more consistenly and attentively. I'm not even talking about time here: I already spend a good 30 minutes a day on the language and with some 15 minutes more for writing that will be ideal to keep progressing.

German
2015 was 'almost there' for German. I saw an improvement in my vocabulary thanks to listening-reading, but I haven't been paying much attention to form & language, only to content. So, I didn't retain much of what I read. Therefore, I'm going to read intensively this year, and even when I read bilingually I will try to pay more attention to the German sentence before just flipping to translation.

Georgian
I'm glad I could put Georgian back on track in 2015. I have some ambitious goals for 2016, including developping learning resources. I need to write more often and I'm excited with the fact that the combined strategy of non-subtitled native series and subtitled dubbed movies is boosting my reading comprehension. There is still a long way to go, though, and most of the vocabulary learning should happen through concentrated reading. So far I'm just flipping my eyes from Georgian to translation, not making an active effort of understanding the phrase.

Italian
Italian is my take-it-easy language. I went through Assimil beginner and intermediate, Duolingo and a few other textbooks, then went to Italy and talked there, then came back and started native materials, mostly reading. I'll keep just using the language. I do write a bit at Speaky but it's not my main focus, I will do so when I'm on the mood to. What I want is enjoy good books, series and films.

Mandarin
I enjoyed studying it in 2015. I'm chatting through HelloTalk and making progress, it's only that I don't commit to talking to the same people over and over again in order to establish long-term relationships. People are usually very friendly and it's only up to me to start writing longer sentences after the initial presentations. That'd be important both language-wise and socially-wise. As for listening, I have to try some audio with no subtitles to force my comprehension. Same goes for some extensive reading without crutches.

Norwegian
The most neglected language in 2015 which makes me feel sorry. I was the captain of Team Sleipnir when the ship collapsed and the community never really got back, though we have people visiting tricours' Monthly Challenge. To tell the truth, most Scandinavian learners are fairly independent now and there weren't many newbies, especially for Norwegian, to keep the ball rolling. That said, I'm really looking forward to getting in touch with my fellow Scandinavian learners and discuss learning strategies. I have a long road to advanced fluency: I have to keep doing intensive reading to fill some important vocabulary gaps that will raise my reading comprehension from about 85% to 98%. As for listening, I have to reinvent myself. Probablya alternating subtitled with subtitleless videos.

Russian
The past year was good for Russian, so I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. I have to write more often in order to lose the fear of cases. Severla native speakers have contacted me this year and I need to make those interactions more often.

New language: Modern Greek
I'm really looking forward to starting Greek this year. I dabbled a bit in the past with the kypros.net course, but that was before my HTLAL time. I have loads of good resources and I'm motivated. It's not just about culture, I want to visit Greece next time I go to Europe and I want to converse in the language.

===================================================
Side languages
These are not dabbling languages, they are just languages I have contact with somehow. I believe just this occasional contact allows for some progress. One day I will have to tackle specific issues I have with those languages. They are English, which I write full of mistakes here at the forum; I'd benefit from writing language material and have it corrected by a native speaker. Esperanto, which I studied up to a shaky A2 and I consider a Romance language for learning priority purposes: I will start it when my Italian and Spanish finally reach a B2 or C1 levels; meanwhile, I will be following the Esperanto team thread. Spanish: I don't claim to speak Spanish because what I speak is mostly Portuñol. I have zero training in watching native materials, but I'm comfortable with using Spanish as a source language: i'm reading a book in Estonian followed by the Spanish translation and I want to read Como agua para chocolate in German+Spanish. When I'm comfortable with Italian, I will follow the Assimils+Duolingo path.

That's it for the time being. I've taken a break since my old log ended and I start over tomorrow. Looking forward to writing an interesting and useful log and to receiving support from the great community here. Speaking of writing: my focus on it is reflected on the title of this log. I want to stop postponing it and start doing it consistenly, as a habit. I have succeeded at creating habits in the past and I hope I will this year, too.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:28 pm

Back into life! (And not to work yet, which is even better). I went to the gym again after Xmas-NYE food assault. Now I'm reading a nice text from the Estonian textbook about a kid who is left home for the first time (unthinkable here in Brazil). He goes have a shower and plays with his trucks and cars. Makes me want to teach my kids Estonian!

Today's lesson was very difficult with many words to look up, but at least I could understand the final poem really well. The more difficult the main texts become, the narrower is the distance to the literature excerpt, so I start to have a better grasp of literature as well.

Watched 10 minutes of Georgian while having lunch. I said I wouldn't multitask, but in this case it went pretty fine and I really understood what was going on. I even started to understand some short, clipped sentences. 2016 sounds promising!

I'm not sure I can call it a day. I was busy despite being still on holidays, spent some hours in town and then we had guests in the evening. So I ended up doing only six out of over 20 tasks I usually do. Better luck tomorrow!
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby AiyaLianxi » Tue Jan 05, 2016 1:22 am

2016 looks like it's off to a good start for you.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:27 pm

Thank you, AiyaLianxi. I hope our East Asian Team can have a lot of fun and learning this year!

One of the best days with reading Chinese. I read it with Pera-pera, it's a book by Dan Brown in translation. Today if felt like I could just read it extensively, as I knew most of the words. The problem is the missing words in my vocabulary are usually nouns that are essential to the story. So I keep using Pera-pera but it just gets faster.

Today's Norwegian listening-reading was the sum of all features: I was lying on my bed, reading the Norwegian text at one iPad, the Portuguese original at another and playing the audio at the smartphone. I remembered to slow down when I noticed I wasn't linguistically aware of what I was reading/listening (content-wise I could understand just fine), not all the times but almost all of them and I'm getting better at it, which is what matters now.

Had fun reading-listening to Chinese Breeze's book. Not a single unknwon character. I started to mentally rehearse the phrases I'd read. I noticed that even those that sound pretty idiomatic would be my first choice if I had to express the same concept on my own. That means my conversation skills are becoming automatic.

Almost everything done from the routine and a little more,except for Glossika, as it takes away much time. On the other hand, I didn't have time for anything else, not even for reading all the threads I wanted on the forums.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:13 pm

So far I haven't been honouring the title of my log, in the sense that there were no paragraphs written, but I'm actually chatting a lot in Mandarin through Hello Talk and a little less in Russian, italian and German. The importance of writing one's own paragraphs can be seen for the other languages that don't have thriving chatrooms in any platform, be it IRC, HelloTalk, Speaky, Telegram.

Most of the Chinese people I've met have a worse English than my Chinese, but when I meet someone with a good English who is really looking forward to improving it I feel guilty for chatting only in Chinese. I like to chat in English with B1-level people and with both beginners and more advanced people I tend to stick to Chinese. Go figure. I think one issue of chatting is that I'm not focusing on pronunciation. I learned to input pinyin on Android and so I don't even reflect upon the tones I'm supposed to be using. I hope to fix this when my reading skills are better and I can actually listen-read proper novels instead of just reader textbooks. Then I'll be able to associate meaning and sound on-the-go.

An important new word I learned today:入迷, as in "雷切尔看上去似乎入迷了" = Rachel seemed apparently fascinated.

Finished reading "Une nuit de trop", by James Patterson. I decided to read a novel and translated book to take a break, but it turned out there were several new and important words at this novel. I didn't expect those many at a translated novel, and towards the end I decided I had better look them up. The translator wanted to adapt all the american thug life vocabulary into French and apparently has succeeded, though I still found it quite slangish for a female narrator. Now I am tempted into reading more from the same author and in French, but I am going to take a non-fiction break anyway.

I notice that it's becoming easy to read a language when I can quickly find the line where I stopped (believe me, it can get real tricky especially with different writing systems). Now it's becoming easy with Chinese. What does that probably mean? That I have more words in my 'picture vocabulary' (words, i don't mean sinograms, I mean words in general as this is valid for other languages as well, as people were discussing at another topic). Thus I can recognize the words I read last before pausing reading more quickly.

Once again I had a busy day and couldn't do much apart from the usual schedule. At least I remembered to read the news in Papiamento again. The bad thing is that I have some other pending tasks I have to deal with.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Cavesa » Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:52 am

Expug, you're crazy!!!

Now really: I love your logs and reading about your awesome language adventures! I wish you a great year.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:59 pm

Cavesa: thank you for the support throughout the past year, at times it was really comforting. I see you're learning Italian and taking it easy too, that's cool to hear. I'm not even planning on using a grammar book by now!

Learning throgh textbooks, especially those that have long lessons, loads of new vocabulary per lesson and untranslated texts AND are written in a weaker source language, qualify as my longest activities within a day. Right now I have two of these: the Estonian one in Russian and the Georgian grammar in German which I'm reviewing. Fortunately I'm done with the latter today and with the former tomorrow. That will release at least half an hour a day, provided that my next resources will have shorter activities. In the case of Georgian, I want to keep reviewing grammar as I'm having good, comprehensible input elsewhere (reading and video). The natural option would be Aronson's grammar, which is fairly comprehensive but also has long lessons. I will have to try the first ones and see. I am pretty sure I'm going to skip a lot of explanations I've already understood actively and focus on the ones that seem still difficulty. Georgian verbs are really something out of this world. Oh, btw I do have some books specific on verbs so maybe it's time to give them a try. I'm already going to check them when doing output so why not give them a quick read? As for Estonian, I'm clueless. I don't have many textbooks left without studying, and I do need to review grammar. Besides, I'm already doing native material as parallel reading. I'll see what to do on Monday.

I can call it a day. The longest conversation in Mandarin ever. I skyped with a guy from Taiwan which I met on Speaky. He complimented for my Chinese, which is normal, but most important is that he understood most of what I said, except for two times I had to repeat. We talked for about half an hour as after some fifteen minutes my phone rang in the middle of the conversation and then we talked more again after that for some other fifteen minutes. Then we talked in English, so I think the exchange was useful for both. It's great to realize that my Chinese is for real, it already has some practical use. I'm not simply 'trying to learn' to see if it will be useful one day. My current skills already mean something.

I started reading Ogrim's suggestion "Discours sur l'origine de l'univers". Good so far. Language-wise it's easier than a novel but content-wise it's quite mind-boggling. Let's see how far I can take it with 20 pages a day. I'm reading French intensively again, by the way.

I don't know if my listening comprehension of Norwegian is going anywhere this year, but listening-reading the language is amongst my favorist activities. I can understand enough to follow the story AND to feel I'm learning more from the language. I really like the sound of Norwegian and it feels so natural now. I think the narrator of the audiobook of Pilegrimsreisen/O Diário de um Mago by Paulo Coelho is the same of a couple of other audiobooks I've listened to, and even if this isn't the case, the language sounds familiar enough to me, even comforting. I'm enjoying the book a lot, by the way, the best from Paulo Coelho so far. By the way, today I listened to the sound directly from the smartphone, no headphones. This helps becoming used to ambiance sound, though clearly an audiobook is enunciated discourse free of background noise.

Finished watching the light teenage film Lol!, which is interesting in terms of slang. You get to know a bit the differences in the language of the teenagers, of their parents and the subtitle language. It's just that with films you don't get much dialogue as in TV series. I'm probably in need of another season of "Fais pas ci, fais pas ça" to really get my French listening in shape.

Not forgetting to read some news in Papiamentu. Today I learned the abreviation e.o. which means 'e ora' = in the(that) moment. I still need to do some output, which is mostly asking language questions at the Facebook community. Not sure how they would react there to just opening a general discussion IN the language instead of a question ABOUT the language. Not to self: the most useful online newspapers and 24ora and La Prensa. Extra has long articles but demands subscription. I don't try Aruban newspapers because I tend to stick to Curaçaoan orthography. In the future I may combine 1 text from Curaçao and another one from Aruba.

I've been able to understand well enough from the Georgian soap opera to actually follow the story and have fun. This feels great. 2016 looks really promising so far!

Once again, no time for the Georgian dubbed movie or Glossika. I just try to read Italian as Estonian as bedtime reading, but I'm leaving lots of unread posts and unfinished tasks. Things really need to go smoothly next week, though now I don't regret being late because most of the 'missing' time was spent on language exchange.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Fri Jan 08, 2016 7:25 pm

Accomplished Language Textbook: Räägime Eesti Keelt, by Helmi Leberecht

Image

This textbook was a great surprise. It starts slowly with little vocabulary, it gets steep with time but overallit contains quite lively dialogues and insightful texts. It worked more like a graded reader to prepare me for native materials. I didn't really use the Russian explanations that are minimal anyway. The final lesson from the textbook is a sequence of over 18 situations that have loads of questions and that could work as a writing prompt for writing dialogues, as a sort of role-playing. Reminds me of the dialogue writing challenge I proposed once. It is really extensive, it makes you think about what to do at each situation. An example of those prompts:

Helmi leberecht wrote:Te olete külas. Perenaine palub teid lauda. Laual on salat, liha, kala, juust, vorst, leib, või, küpsised, koogid ja nii edasi. Laual on ka morss ka kohv. Kuidas perenaine pakub ja mida teie soovite? Mida te veel räägite lauas (oma elust, perekonnast, tööst, lastest, ilmast ja nii edasi)? Te räägite ka ühe anekdoodi.
Aeg on koju minna. Kuidas te koju lähete.? Võib-olla tellite takso? Kuidas te seda teete? Kuidas te tänate perenaist?


I could imagine myself performing those actions. I wonder at which languages I'd have the necessary skills for each of these. Here is a loose translation, pardon my low level:

You are a guest. The hostess dresses the table for you. On the table there are salad, meat, fish, cheese, sausage, bread, butter, cookies, cakes and so on. On the table there are also berry juice and coffee. How does the hostess offer you and what do you want? What else do you talk about at the table (your life, family, work, children, the weather and so on)? You also tell an anecdote/story.
It is time to go home. How do you go home? Maybe order a taxi? How do you do it? How do you thank the hostess?


Imagine doing this exercise in 17 other situations (shopping, meeting a friend at a coffee shop and so on). Whatever the language, it would be hard to imagine not reaching basic fluency if you really could excell at all these. Actually each prompt is a review from previous lessons (not all, as there are 31 other lessons).

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Now i'm going to review Tuldava's textbook as it is the most consistent grammar. I still think I'd need a more detailed work especially for noun morphology, but then I am going to review 'Basic Course in Estonian' next. My idea is to work on it when my vocabulary is consolidated and so I can focus mostly on grammar. It's an FSI-type course and those are heavy on vocabulary, so you don't have mental space left for grammar. Now that I'm approaching an intermediate level, it will probably be easier. Anyway, first Tuldava's textbook again.

Estonian is such a fun language that I really feel sad that I'm learning it alone at this forum. If only an experienced Finnish learner would join this journey as a tandem! Anyone?

I was going to write that "Intermediate Russian: a grammar and workbook" wasn't being much useful because there was too much unknown vocabulary for me to focus on the grammar, but then I had a lesson on идти X ходить
, then ехать X ездить, then the same ones in the past tense. This grammar got something right here: most grammars or textbooks try to teach all motion verbs at all situations at once, making charts and so on. Useless. Just with this lesson I learned more and more clearly than with all other resources I have used.

Reviewing "Georgian: a learner's grammar" by Hewitt. It's going to be useful after all. I will try to do the translation exercises as well, especially the version into L2, even if just mentally. I really struggled with this book back in 2012-2013. The main reason besides the steep learning curve? There was no Google Translate back then, and after the first few lessons the dialogues aren't translated anymore.

I begin to suspect my issue with reaching reading comprehension in Georgian is the same as with German: it's perhaps time to try some really intensive read apart from parallel or L-R. because I need to look words up slowly and have a better comprehension at the sentence level. At languages with a different word order (both) you often fail to understand a sentence at first sight because you don't know one word and it isn't the syntactical element you would expect, due to the unusual word order, and so you don't know exactly what that missing word you don't know is doing at that sentence. With this, you miss on who is doing what to whom and it escalates much more strongly than in a plain SVO language.

Today I had an appointment early in the evening, so I have to interrupt my studies again after the Russian phase. I read Italian but didn't look words up, I just highlighted the unknown ones. They average 4 per page, and even considering the font is large I think there are no less than 200 words each page. Meaning I have a good coverage. Will keep reading intensively though, because since there are so few unknown words, why not look them up and immediately improve my vocabulary with higher-level words? By the way, with French my score isn't that different even after all those years. Italian quickly catches up.
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Elenia » Fri Jan 08, 2016 7:32 pm

Expugnator wrote:Estonian is such a fun language that I really feel sad that I'm learning it alone at this forum.


Actually, every time you mention that textbook you make me jealous! But there will be no estonian for me, I have my hands full enough!
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Re: Expug's TAC 2016 - Writing the lines of fluency

Postby Expugnator » Mon Jan 11, 2016 8:44 pm

@Elenia, if you ever change your mind...You don't know the cool language you're missing to know =D

Back into routine. I do like it as long as it is not too stressful. I have a better performance when I needn't be interrupted all the time or don't feel like wandering mysefl.

First, the weekend. Chatting in Mandarin is really becoming second nature! Longer conversations, looking up a few words here and there just to improve my active vocabulary, very little misunderstanding. The best news is that a Whatsapp group was created in Georgian, so far with two other Brazilian learners and a native Georgian who lives in Vienna. Lots of fun! I have the highest level among the learners, it seems. Looking forward to practicing the perfect tense, which I still have trouble with.

Another good thing about the weekend: I nearly solved my issue with dubbed German series!! I'm going to watch a series I'd really want to watch regardless language learning, instead of just keeping watching films with very little dialogue. Impressive how it only took me a couple of days after I asked the "Reyes magos" for it at the Spanish forum! (Thanks iguanamon for opening that thread).

The grammar "Intermediate Russian a grammar and workbook" is proving useful. Today I had some drills using когда as a conjunction but what it really helped was drilling perfect verbs. I have a better passive knowledge than I thought I did, as most of the times I was aware of the perfective verb's form. I learned Коли as a form of если used in proverbs (archaic?). A cool one: Коли нет кота в дому,играют мыши по столу. (In Portuguese: Quando o gato faz, o rato fas a festa, which is even funnier).

A friend linked me this video at the chat and asked me if I could understand it without subtitles. At first I thought it was the visual clues that were helping, but as I left it on the background I noticed I had to make an effort NOT to understand i.e. to tune out instead of making an effort to understand it.

There is so much less stress now I don't have to take note of how many pages I read or minutes I watched. I feel free to focus on the actual learning. Challenges are motivating but sometimes they are just extra burden. Since I was already doing the same amount of work before the SC and kept doing the same after it, I don't really need to join a challenge for motivation sake.

I finished listening-reading "Life, the universe and everything" and started "So long, and thanks for all the fish", by Douglas Adams. I understand more and more, though it's still not proper listening-reading as sometimes I have to read further in English just to make sense of the story and othe times I just feel the weird made-up words and situations aren't worth paying attention in Russian. Looks promisiing so far, though. Still in Russian, I am watching Interny and I still have trouble making sense of some constructs but when it's plain SVO language I can understand fairly well. And this with subtitles in Russian and Google-translated English (the problem is when the grammar is more atypical then the translation by Google totally fails and so I'm helpless either way). I'm confident, nonetheless. Maybe next weekend I will try extensive watching Kuxnya.

Resuming Glossika Business German, first time in 2016. I have some typing work to do and it is being played on the background.

I still need to make some adjustments in the routine. Fact is, Estonian is taking less time but Georgian is taking more, because Hewitt's book is famous for the very long lessons. I'll see how things go tomorrow, today is the first day of the new routine anyway. I could only go as far as Russian plus Glossika, no Italian or Estonian reading and I start to miss my session of a dubbed film in Georgian, as it has helped greatly with listening.
3 x
Corrections welcome for any language.


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