Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now German!)

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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some Greek)

Postby garyb » Mon Dec 02, 2019 8:59 pm

German so far:

The MT course is hard work: as usual for the beginner stage I'm forgetting half the things I hear but I'm trusting the spaced repetition to do its thing, and it certainly has its weak points especially for pronunciation. The female student in particular keeps adding and removing sounds (at the moment "möchte" is becoming something like "meurscht"...) but nobody is perfect, not even Michel himself. I'm having to look up quite a few words not only because seeing them written makes them easier to remember but also because my ears are getting so many mixed messages. It feels like proof of the point I keep banging on about in threads about pronunciation improvement, that just listening and repeating is not an adequate method for most learners. I'll keep ploughing through Beginner as I think the good points outweigh the bad; not sure if I'll bother with Advanced but with other languages I've found MT unbeatable for understanding the complex tenses.

I'm also having more Greek interference and I've responded to a few prompts in Greek. Like I said with Portuguese, my brain is getting confused about which language it's supposed to be learning. And again, poor Greek, being forced out after all the work it took to get it in there.

I'm doing a bit of DuoLingo too, just for some more phrasebook-type knowledge and filling in other gaps, but it's just a little extra for when I have time.

Complaints aside, I'm happy to be learning German after it having been on my list for so long and having always been attracted by the countries and language, and despite the initial difficulties it doesn't feel like it'll be too arduous. And unlike Greek there's a wealth of good learning resources available, so if Assimil doesn't work out or I want to complement it with something else I can look up the Goethe stuff Dave recommended (and I've heard great things about their material in general) or lots of other options. There are a few series on Netflix that I'm keen to check out too, like Dark and Dogs of Berlin, so that's a bit more motivation.
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DaveAgain
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some Greek)

Postby DaveAgain » Mon Dec 02, 2019 10:11 pm

garyb wrote: There are a few series on Netflix that I'm keen to check out too, like Dark and Dogs of Berlin, so that's a bit more motivation.
Channel 4 have a German series on their website I rather liked, Deutschland 83. There's a sequel Deutschland 86 that was OK, but less good I thought.
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mentecuerpo
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some Greek)

Postby mentecuerpo » Thu Dec 05, 2019 4:30 pm

DaveAgain wrote:I second your plan, but just to let you know that from a scottish IP address you should be able to use the Goethe eLibrary, which has a variety of books/audio/graded readers/courses.


You are a computer geek! I don´t know how you can see IP addresses here. I am using an Italian one in my PC from Phoenix, Arizona. It is a dedicated IP address, unlocks sites in Italy.
Helpful tip about the Goethe E-Libray.
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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby garyb » Sat Dec 14, 2019 6:24 pm

Things slowed down over the last few weeks as I got sick and didn't have my usual energy and motivation. I even had to pause MT German for a few days because I couldn't speak much with a sore throat, never mind concentrate on it. I did however have some time off work and enough energy to watch lots of Spanish TV, so I finished the second season of Elite and have now watched most of La casa de papel (what Netflix calls Part 3). Both are obviously not as good as the first seasons but are watchable enough and aren't the worst sufferers of Shitty Spanish Second Season Syndrome. The writing and pacing of La casa de papel seem way off compared to the first season, there's a rushed feel to it overall, so it doesn't grip the way the first one did but it's still exciting enough to keep watching.

The virus is on its way out now and I'm getting back onto the wagon with German. MT feels a little more focused on vocabulary and less on grammar than it does in other languages: the Basic course hasn't touched on cases at all and has only briefly dipped into non-present tenses, but it has taught me more words than I can remember especially in the last part so I've decided to go through the Language Builder before moving onto Advanced. The Language Builder is a strange mix: mostly revision but every so often he throws in new words and phrases. I'll probably work through Advanced fairly quickly, accepting that I won't remember it all, and then move onto Assimil as I'm feeling the need for something with text.

Thanks to a recent forum post I discovered Language learning with Netflix, a browser extension that gives you dual subtitles on Netflix, and I love it! The English subtitles are just right: smaller and greyer so they don't attract too much attention and I only look at them quickly when I need to or want to. It's ideal for more challenging series with a lot of idiomatic language (which describes most modern series) even in languages I'm more advanced in, and it could even make the German series I've mentioned accessible earlier on in the process than I had thought. I've always believed that subtitles are one of the most powerful tools for language learners at intermediate and even advanced levels, and this is a very convenient way to get the most out of the ones that Netflix already provides and save the hassle of manually finding and matching up subs or following transcripts.
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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby garyb » Mon Jan 06, 2020 12:20 pm

New year! I'd love to write about all my studies over the holidays and my big plans for 2020, but to be honest there's been very little of either. The holidays were mostly taken up with social life, family, and healthy relaxation; sadly my German effort has fallen off a cliff, and since the beginner stage is where daily consistency is most important I've already forgotten a lot. This brings me to the confession that the reason I started to learn it was because the fantasy of moving to Germany was getting strong, fuelled by dissatisfaction with my current job and life as well as the results of the recent UK election, but after some thinking and just getting out a bit more I've realised that I'm actually quite happy staying where I am for the time being. In fact I'm probably happier than ever in my city even if I'm the kind of person who has a strong tendency to always see the grass as greener on the other side.

There are still plenty other things attracting me to the language, and I would still seriously consider German-speaking countries for future opportunities, but I don't have that immediate motivation anymore and out of all the things going on in my life it's a pretty low priority. Music, exercise, friendships/relationships, and work are all more important to me than languages right now. However I don't want to let it become yet another short-lived beginner language that I might pick up again at some unspecified point like Greek and Portuguese, so I'll see if I can get it back into my routine. Right now I've just gone back to work so am still trying to figure out how to organise my time.

I've done little Spanish or Italian too, and with the break I've got out of the habits of podcast listening, reading, and Netflix. Again with the return to the routine I'm trying to fit these in again.

No real plan for this year, I'll just try to continue as before.
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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby garyb » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:54 am

I've got back on the language learning horse in the last few weeks!

I've started Assimil German and am enjoying it. I've got a slightly old edition (80s-90s maybe? Similar style to the "Italien sans peine" that I used and loved years ago) so some usage is a touch outdated but I'm happy so far. I'm also listening to Coffee Break German, which I know isn't really a "serious" resource but it's a nice complement and has a good balance between phrases, vocab, grammar, and culture and is a nice motivator to keep up the serious study. German is quite a pleasant language to learn: it's new and exciting without being arduous and while I'm still very much learning the basics I'm feeling very chilled about the whole thing since I've been through the same process for languages of a similar difficulty level a few times now.

I've binned DuoLingo as I dislike their business practices and gamification (some recent discussion about this in Cavesa's log) and might look for a substitute for times when I have a few minutes to spare but don't really feel a need at this stage.

My adventurous side is still quite keen on the idea of a move to somewhere like Berlin; with the current political situation the time to do it would be this year, and the company who offered me a job still have me on their radar, but for various reasons and commitments I don't want to do it immediately and it could depend on how things go in the next couple of months here. In any case I'd love to explore the German-speaking areas more.

I recently got a pair of Bluetooth earphones and they've revolutionised my podcast listening! Not having to always have my phone directly on me and have cables getting in the way makes it easier to listen around the house and on the go so I've been doing much more of it.

My Spanish motivation is returning too. I've almost finished reading La sombra del viento (nice story but man it drags on) and want to finally tackle Cien años de soledad after that. TV-wise I've got back into El ministerio del tiempo. My main objections to that show in the past were that it was too challenging and too silly; now it's feeling easier and Language Learning with Netflix fills in the gaps, and I'm quite enjoying it for what it is.

However I'm still unsure whether I really want to take Spanish to an advanced level at this point. I went through so much shit to get my French and Italian to that point and it's hard to rationalise it as having been worthwhile; by choosing a more input-focused approach for Spanish I've avoided a lot of that, but it's also far slower and doesn't have the built-in motivation and positive feedback loop of a more hands-on method. Plus free time is just limited as always. On the other hand, Spanish is certainly a useful language and I'd love to speak it better, and I'm now a bit older and wiser and socially thick-skinned so would (hopefully) be less bothered by bad attitudes and not waste time with people negative about my interest. There are a few Spanish-people at my work but I've not had the guts to ask about practising with them yet.

Italian is still ticking away and I'm doing a bit more listening in that again too. Not spoken it for a while but should see Italian-speaking friends soon.
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DaveAgain
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby DaveAgain » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:06 am

garyb wrote:I've got back on the language learning horse in the last few weeks!

I've started Assimil German and am enjoying it. I've got a slightly old edition (80s-90s maybe? Similar style to the "Italien sans peine" that I used and loved years ago) so some usage is a touch outdated but I'm happy so far. I'm also listening to Coffee Break German, which I know isn't really a "serious" resource but it's a nice complement and has a good balance between phrases, vocab, grammar, and culture and is a nice motivator to keep up the serious study. German is quite a pleasant language to learn: it's new and exciting without being arduous and while I'm still very much learning the basics I'm feeling very chilled about the whole thing since I've been through the same process for languages of a similar difficulty level a few times now.
There are some polyglot gathering talks in German, it can be fun to listen to them and see how much you understand:
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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby garyb » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:57 am

I've been a bit tired in the last week so have gone for some more relaxed activities, and I was thinking it had been a long time since I had watched a really terrible modern Italian drama/comedy. Conveniently The App appeared on Netflix recently and it was suitably awful. On the scale of self-indulgent nonsense by inexperienced directors it wasn't quite at the same level as Parlami d'amore, but... getting there. Quite easy watching and mostly just about stayed on the funny rather than painful side of bad.

I finally had a Spanish conversation with colleagues last week, and hopefully now that that line has been crossed there will be more to come. As usual for a decent but rusty language I was speaking fairly correctly but with quite a few pauses to think about what to say and how to say it.

I'm keeping up with German, barely. Coffee Break is actually pretty good and advances fairly quickly. I reckon that if you used all the notes and supplementary material it would be a relatively complete course on a par with Assimil etc. A bit more focused on touristy and thematic language, but the usage examples and grammar explanations are pretty solid. Way better than what I remember of their French course. I'm just using it as a supplement to Assimil but might re-listen to some episodes and go into more depth later. Assimil is also rather fast-moving with a lot of new vocabulary in each lesson, but there's enough repetition that it should stick if I keep it up. I'm not worrying too much about all the case endings and word order for now, just trying to get a feel for how and when they're used, and I might do some proper study to tidy things up at a later point.
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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby garyb » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:38 pm

I've lost momentum on German again. Assimil is getting tough after the first couple of weeks and to be honest I just don't have the motivation right now and I'm trying to do too many things in my spare time already and feeling the resulting stress so at the moment I'm trying to simplify life a little. If I take a job in Germany or plan a trip to a German-speaking area then I'll pick it up again but right now it's too low in the priorities. Shame to drop yet another language as I said I hoped not to do a few posts ago, but never mind. Plus there's the whole psychological effect when I do get into my studies and I start to think more about Germany and wonder whether I made the right choice; as someone with a history of romanticising foreign cultures that could be a fantasy versus reality thing and I don't need the doubts. I'd still consider the move of course but I need to sort things out here for the moment.

I'm still quite happily getting Italian and Spanish input, and my recent language attempts have just confirmed that I get much more satisfaction from improving my already-good languages than learning shiny new ones, even if it doesn't give me a big long list to show off about and knowing a few languages at a higher level is probably less pragmatic than knowing more at an intermediate level.

I found out about a new language exchange event in town and I'm half-tempted to give it a shot, but again life's busy and complicated enough. As I said recently I'm a bit more mature so could probably deal better with the dodgy people that these events attract than I have in the past, but is it worth it? I'll see how I feel.
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garyb
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Re: Languages and Life: Gary's log (Italian, Spanish, bits of French, and now some German)

Postby garyb » Fri Feb 28, 2020 12:03 pm

I gave the language exchange a try last night, and it wasn't bad. Fairly friendly and relaxed crowd with some interesting people. It did fall into the classic problem of much more speaking about languages than speaking languages although I did have a good one-to-one chat with an Italian. No chance for Spanish but these things are always hit-or-miss. Seems like it's worth going if I have the time and am in the mood, and the location is handy enough for me, but nothing unmissable.

Apart from that just the usual, plenty listening, and I finally looked up how to enable the repeat feature in Podcast Addict so I can do what all the "automatico" people say and listen repeatedly to the same episodes. Started reading Cien años de soledad which as expected is good but has a lot of unknown vocabulary so it'll take a while. Watched a couple of Spanish comedy films on Netflix which were okay, nothing special but nice to have them, although it looks like they've removed El ministerio del tiempo just as I was getting into it...
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