M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

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M23
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
Languages: English (N), Spanish (intermediate), German (absolute beginner)
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M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Sat Feb 20, 2016 8:16 am

Why am I here?

I have been following the original site for quite some time now. In fact, I started reading it when I was a monolingual and it was one of the things that finally nudged me in the direction of taking the project of learning a second language seriously. I tried signing up a couple times but... well, I am sure you all know the story there. I am glad that this forum was created because I have been finding myself in need of a little communal support with my language learning projects as of late. I have been finding it quite challenging to break out of intermediate limbo with my Spanish, and to cross over into the upper intermediate/lower advanced stage of the journey. My German has been even worse with repeated starts that stalled out. My main challenge in both instances has been time. My work day takes up a rather large chunk of time and what I am left with is time that I am either at the gym, or on the verge of going to bed. On my weekends I can carve out an hour or so for actual study if I do not have a flurry of errands I have to get done. Needless to say I do my best to make use of all those spare moments in my day to get a little bit of something in here and there, but lately I have been finding it increasingly difficult to muster the energy for even that. My hope is that being part of this community will help give me a little extra layer of support so I can learning and growing.

German

Like I said previously, I have started and stopped trying to get the basics down for this language a few times now. I may have turned a small corner with it recently (I was in Germany in December to celebrate Christmas and while I was there I felt like I was growing a new brain) and I want to take advantage of that momentum. I am using the following materials to help me get to the A1 stage:

1. Pimsleur German audio course
2. DW Interactiv course
3. German Made Simple by Arnold Leitner
4. Duolingo


These are the principle materials, and I supplement them with some of the other materials offered by DW (e.g. the "Deutsch, Warum Nicht" podcast, and more recently the "Harry" series that they just launched) as well as picking up a little extra vocabulary and listening/pronunciation practice with some music that I picked up from my last trip to Germany.

Spanish

I cannot say I have been really studying Spanish much lately. I attend Meetup groups to practice my spoken Spanish, I listen to music/radio in Spanish, watch animated series (e.g. Star Wars: Clone Wars, Beware of the Batman, etc.) and movies Spanish, read and comment on news forums in Spanish, play video games in Spanish, and I read books in Spanish. These things have no doubt helped me maintain and perhaps improve a little here and there... but I cannot really call that study.

I had an exchange with a polyglot not too long ago where I asked him how he bridged the gap from intermediate to advanced, and his answer really stuck with me. He told me that to bridge that gap it was important to go beyond just wanting to understand. I do not have solid plans at this point - so I am open to suggestions here - but I am leaning towards picking some form of native material to utterly pick apart and not put down until I can use all the vocabulary, grammatical forms, and other conversational oddities contained within it myself.

Other odds and ends

Right now I am alternating focus on one language per week to keep things fresh. Certain things in each language happen daily regardless if it is an "on" week or an "off" week. For example I do my daily Duolingo session in German even if it is not a German week, and I talk with some coworkers in Spanish or enjoy other native materials in Spanish even if it is a German week. Since the languages are so different and since my Spanish is at a higher level (and much more ingrained in my brain) than my German I do not worry about language confusion too much. The only time I get close to this is when I am well in to my German week and have had extra time to study and really get the gears in my German mind turning. If a coworker or a friend tries to engage me in Spanish conversation at that point I notice it is a little challenging to get switched back over.

Having laid all of this out, if any of you seasoned language learners out there see that I am treading the wrong path or otherwise note that my head is not in the right place, please feel free to leave me a comment.
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Hank
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby Hank » Sat Feb 20, 2016 1:28 pm

Welcome!

I can't offer any advice except to say make sure you're having fun. I'm only a few months into my language learning journey.
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Future travel plans:
January 2019: We booked a cruise to Mexico, Honduras, and Belize
2020: Wales and Ireland

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M23
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Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2015 6:58 am
Location: Denver, CO (USA)
Languages: English (N), Spanish (intermediate), German (absolute beginner)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Sat Feb 27, 2016 9:16 pm

I am a little overdue for an update...

German

The other week was my German week and I was actually able to squeeze some studying in. I got a couple sessions in with the Deutsch Interactiv course, I listened to a couple Deutsch, Warum Nicht? podcasts, I did some lyric translation and vocabulary learning (from the song), and I did one Pimsleur lesson while I was doing the boring stair climbing machine at the gym.

Today while I was at the gym I listened to a couple Ramstein tunes that I had not heard in a while and was pleased that my brain was able to understand more of what was being said.

Spanish

This week was my Spanish week and I did not study a single word. I am not happy about it, but there it is.

I went to Spanish Happy Hour last night and had some really enjoyable conversation. Normally I am fairly quiet and find myself listening the majority of the time - which is a problem because I really need to work on speaking more - but last night I was quite chatty. I was asking tons of questions, adding little comments and stories, and doing pretty much what I would do in my native language so I consider that one a win.

I decided on using a book I picked up in Guadalajara at a book fair from a local writer and the movie Big Hero 6 as my native material study. I picked up a copy of Big Hero 6 last weekend and watched it once all the way through in Spanish, and then halfway through last night to pause and jot bits down that had unfamiliar vocabulary or ways of phrasing that I might not think to use. Some parts flew by a little quick so I switched the subtitles on and found that the audio track and the subtitles do not match up. For example:

The audio track had Baymax saying this: "En una escala del 1 al 10, ¿Cómo calificarías tu dolor?"
The subtitles read: "En una escala del 1 al 10, ¿Qué puntaje le daría a su dolor?"

Aside from the differences in formality, it is the same thought communicated differently.

This will be a little tricky in places where the characters are smashing unfamiliar words and expressions together, but so far I was able to get my ear to hear what they were saying by using the subtitles because even if it was not the same, I understood what they were trying to communicate and my mind was able to hear the words once I got the meaning (and was able to hone in on alternate ways of phrasing it).
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M23
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Posts: 81
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:15 am

I would love to have an update to scribble in my log that is full of win, but unfortunately that is not the case. Work has become a real pain lately. They are loading off some of the work of another department on to us that is, for the most part, out of our field of expertise. We have been also taking on additional responsibilities and pretty much beta testing a really buggy piece of ticketing software. Needless to say work has been sucking up most of my time and most of my energy leaving little to nothing for my studies. I have been in "maintenance mode" with both languages, and here is what I have been using to keep my brain warm:

German

I have been binge listening to the Harry: Gefangen In Der Zeit podcast from DW for the past couple weeks. I am just taking in whatever I take in this first go-around. I still get a Pimsleur lesson in every week or so when I go to the gym for my cardio day so all is not completely lost in the study department. I am a lesson and some reviews away from advancing to the 2B set. I try to weigh in on the daily quizzes from DW's Learn German Facebook page that are roughly around my level when I can. I have been keeping German music in the rotation to keep getting the ear used to German sounds.

Spanish

I have been using my standard "maintenance mode" activities for this one: Daily conversations with co-workers, reading books, reading online news stories, watching movies and the news, listening to music, and playing video games. This past weekend my girlfriend introduced me to a Scrabble app that can be played in a handful of languages including German and Spanish, so I have added that to the list of relaxation activities that I can do in my target languages.
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M23
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:11 am

Spanish

In February I put in for some time off this month so that I could have extended weekends for the entire month, and today was three-day-weekend number one. I took advantage of the time by doing a little Spanish study and reading a bit from a book I picked up while I was in Madrid. Later on I went to a Spanish meetup to practice speaking. As it happens sometimes the host was not around so I could not tell who was there for the group and who was there to just get a quick bite to eat and enjoy the fresh air, so I sat around and did some people watching. I saw a guy with a English-Spanish dictionary so I went up to him and asked if he was here to practice his Spanish. Once he affirmed that was the case I sat down and started chatting with him and that was all it took to lure in a guy from Mexico who was there for the meeting but did not know what was going on or who to talk to. The first guy I sat down with was a beginner so he mostly just sat and listened to the guy from Mexico and I chat. We tried to include him but it was a bit of a struggle for him to really say what he wanted to say. We have all been down that road (as I currently am with German) so it was no big deal to just sit and let him do his best. The guy from Mexico was really nice and was looking for someone to do a language exchange with so he could get to a level where his English would be good enough to get him to the next level at his job. He was quite easy to talk to so I gave him my number so we can get together sometime soon and do an exchange.

During the conversation I was able to push myself a bit and discover that I was able to recall some of the material that I have been studying, while some of it still needs more repetition. Hopefully the exchanges will work out because it would be nice to have some focused one-on-one speaking where I can bring some things I want to work on to the table.
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M23
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:37 am

Spanish

Once again I did not get much done in the way of studying during the work week but once the weekend came around I was able to get some study time in. I did some review with the infinitive today and picked up a couple things that did not stick the last time I went over it. I had a fairly high amount of speaking practice yesterday and got to chat about a number of things in Spanish for a few hours. I sent a message to the guy I met last weekend and asked about having an exchange some time soon. I have not heard back from him just yet, so we'll see how that goes.

This week I'll swing back over to German and hopefully be able to squeeze in some study sessions during the week.
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M23
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Wed Apr 27, 2016 7:19 am

I am overdue for an update...

German

I have not been as consistent as I would like to have been with my German lately. Having said that I have been doing some conjugation drills to try to get some of the irregular present tense verbs in my head a little better as well as dabbling in a few of the other tenses. I have been keeping the Duolingo streak up. I did some review and a once over of the next lesson in the book I am working from this past weekend. A couple more episodes of Harry, Gefangen In Der Zeit were listened to, and I have been reviewing some Pimsleur lessons I had difficulty with before moving on to the 2B series.

Spanish

I would love to say that I have had a couple sessions with the guy I was going to arrange a language exchange with but he has been a pain in the ass to schedule with. This past weekend, for example, he asked that we meet up on Saturday at noon and then Friday night texts me and asks if we can meet later in the evening because noon does not work for him. I had already made plans so I had to say no. Fortunately I got some good speaking time in when I went to a Spanish Happy Hour this past weekend and had some really enjoyable conversations. I have been trying to try to get my abilities on the subject of gaming to become less tortured, and surprisingly this time around I was able to explain a game I am currently playing without too much strain.
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M23
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Posts: 81
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Thu May 19, 2016 6:15 am

Once again, time for an overdue log update...

German

I have been continuing on with my nickel and dime approach to learning a language, and at this rate I will hit the intermediate stage when I am in my 80's. I finished up with the Pimsleur 2A course and I have started up with 2B. I have been really lazy about working with the Deutsche Welle course and the book I am working with.

This past weekend I was playing a video game online and was in a group with a Spanish speaker and a German speaker, since I am still a total beginner in German I cannot do much with the language but I was able to have some brief exchanges with the German speaker. I do not get much of a chance to use what little German I know on a daily basis, so it was nice to have an opportunity to give my growing German brain a little exercise outside of a trip to Germany.

Spanish

I have not been doing much in the way of studying. I have been relying on my maintenance activities (e.g. chats with Spanish speakers in my daily life, reading, playing video games, and watching/listening to media in Spanish) quite a bit lately. My chats with my Spanish co-workers keep getting more involved, so that has been helpful with regards to output. I have been lazy/busy with regards to getting to meetups so I am extra thankful for the longer conversation breaks at work. I also took my dad to one of my favorite places to get tacos in his area when I was up for a visit a few weekends ago and got to practice ordering food. Sometimes I get the impression that my parents do not know what to make of the sound of another language coming out of my mouth.
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M23
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Sat Jun 11, 2016 8:24 am

Unfortunately I am going to have to suspend my language studying until further notice due to conditions at work (we are being merged with another department and have to learn their jobs - which involves lots of additional technical knowledge like Linux and networking). I will continue on with my daily Duolingo and Pimsleur lessons when I am doing cardio at the gym for German, and I will continue with my maintenance activities for Spanish. For now I will use this log to chat about books, movies, conversations I have had, and other language-learning odds and ends until things have calmed down at work and I can resume studying.
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M23
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Location: Denver, CO (USA)
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Re: M23's Language Log: Spanish and German

Postby M23 » Wed Jul 06, 2016 6:09 am

Since the powers that be have been dragging their feet on getting our access to certain items set up for cross training, I opted to not do cross training today. Instead I went to my Tuesday morning Spanish group. My Spanish felt a bit on the clumsy side since my output levels have not been what they usually are. I also had a pleasant surprise while I was chatting with one of the multilingual folks in the group: A woman with a noticeable accent came up to us and asked about our group. She turned out to be German, and she was curious to see if we had a German meet up group as well. Since the person I was speaking with knew a little German he launched in to it and I got a chance to add my (limited) two cents in their brief conversation. The German muse had moved me after that exchange, and once I got back home I studied some German with my poor neglected Deutsch Interaktiv account before running off to work.

I have been slowly chipping away at Los Besos en el Pan when work has not zombified me too much. I have quite a ways to go and I am already missing the Spanish of the Americas. There is quite a bit of slang in the book I do not understand - nor have the desire to understand due to the fact that the majority of people I interact with on a daily basis are from Mexico/South America. When I come across some slang I do not get I just move on. It has been the same with one of the video games I have been playing in Spanish: It is packed to the gills with Spain-isms that I am content on just shrugging my shoulders and passing over. Once I finish up with the book I am reading I am considering getting in on a book that is being read by one of the clusters of learners on this forum. We'll see how things shake out there when the time comes.
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