Meanderings on Languages and Life

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Kerrie
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Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:33 am
Location: Midwest USA
Languages: English (N), Spanish (passive)
Studying Italian, French, Portuguese, German
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2683
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Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Kerrie » Wed May 04, 2016 1:15 am

A new year, new goals. Or rather, mostly the same goals as before, but with a renewed sense of purpose.

Or something like that.

Wait a minute. It's May. What are you talking about, a new year? The Super Challenge, you say? Oh, right.

And what better way to start out my third Super Challenge than with a broken foot, and doctor's orders to sit on my butt for the next two months! A combination of the 6WC and the Super Challenge starting at the same time as I'm forced to sit on my ass? Am I dreaming?

Unfortunately, no, I'm not. Now, before you start offering to switch places with me and giving up your busy life full of work and physical activity for unlimited language time, think about staying completely off your feet for three months. And be glad you can go to work and earn your paycheck. :lol: :lol:

Okay, it's not THAT bad. I broke my foot at the end of February, went through a whole lot of shite from doctors saying "It's not broken" to "Well, let's do a CT scan" to "Oh shit, it IS broken, you need to have surgery" and then "You need to stop everything you are doing for the next three months and. PARK." No work, no walking, no driving. Crutches? How the heck do adults do anything with zero hands and only one good leg? Oh, right. They don't.

So I had the surgery, I've been completely off the damn thing for the last six weeks, and now I am allowed to walk on it, my doctor says. My foot says otherwise. I used to be one of those people who counted their steps. (I love my pedometer! Especially when it told me I hit my 10 miles for the day.) Now I am lucky to be able to walk from room to room in my house with this clunky plastic boot. Maybe ten steps before it hurts. Okay, that is an exaggeration. That was the first day. Yesterday. Today I could walk about twenty.

Do you know what happens if you have a penny and you double it every day? You are filthy rich within a month! So I am holding out hope that I will be able to start walking more while I listen to my Assimil and Michel Thomas lessons. Still, the next few weeks will be slow going, and I will be spending a lot of time working on my Super Challenge languages.

SPANISH
FULL - 100 books, 100 films
My Spanish reading is at a relatively comfortable level, since I've already done two SCs in it. I want to focus my reading more on native materials, books that were originally written in Spanish. I might throw some classics in there, but it's much more likely that I will just find some good fiction and devour it.

FRENCH
FULL - 100 books, 100 films
My French has been on the back burner for too long, and this year I am going to buckle down and finish the SC. I will probably stick with translations of books I've already read and enjoyed, at least at first.

ITALIAN
HALF - 50 books, 50 films
I've studied Italian before, but never much more than glossing over Assimil. I can decipher some of it, since it's a Romance language and my Spanish is pretty strong. I actually was going to do the 6WC in French, and decided to do Italian instead. Now I'm remembering how beautiful the language is, and I want to get my reading level up to a place where I can sit down and read a book without too much effort.

PORTUGUESE
HALF - 50 books, 50 films
I'm thinking of doing something different with Portuguese. I want to take a few familiar books (Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Divergent, maybe) and massively L-R them. I'm not looking for active skills, but I want to be able to read and understand Brazilian Portuguese, since I have a lot of friends from Brazil. I think with my Spanish, this might be enough to understand. We'll see.

Now, if that isn't enough, I am also going to be logging English, although I'm not aiming for a Super Challenge proper with it.

ENGLISH
50 books
As Brun Ugle and a few others have mentioned, focusing on the SC in our target languages often leaves our native language in the dust. I often feel like I am searching for words, and my vocabulary seems to diminish when I'm not reading regularly in my native language. When I log these into the bot, I will just be recording the book title, so it counts as one book. I'm not counting (or trying to rack up) pages. If I log movies or TV shows, same thing.

I also think this is a good way to expose non-native speakers to ideas for their reading. During the last two challenges, I liked to look through what other people were reading in my target language, to get ideas of things I might enjoy.

Now, about the Super Challenge. And Rules. I make my own rules here. I base them on what the spirit of the Super Challenge originally was, and how I can push myself in regards to that. Sometimes I break the rules. I vaguely remember it being against the rules for me to count Spanish subs (on a Korean drama) for Spanish reading. I don't even remember how it could be against the rules - maybe because it was video? (I'm sure Serpent could help me out there.)

But holy cripes, do you know how capable you have to be to keep up with reading subtitles in your target language? If you understand the audio, it's easy. But if you don't understand any of the spoken language, you will get lost really quickly if you can't keep up. To me, that was in the spirit of the challenge. I was really pushing myself. I'm not going to debate Cristina's rules, I respect her 1000%, but I think that we all have to look at it as a challenge for ourselves. I don't do stuff like that to cut corners, I do it to challenge myself. I can 100% understand not counting subtitles as reading, 99% of the time.

I guess I'm just a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. Or something.

As the title of my log might suggest, my log is not going to be only about languages. You know that thing called life? It has a tendency to interfere with languages. I know you know what I'm talking about.
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Kerrie
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Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2015 2:33 am
Location: Midwest USA
Languages: English (N), Spanish (passive)
Studying Italian, French, Portuguese, German
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2683
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Kerrie » Wed May 04, 2016 1:54 am

Placeholder for future accomplishments and resources. :D

Spanish Books
Las Islas de las Mariposas (Corina Bomann)

English Books
A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)
Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness)
The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness)
Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (Gary Taubes)
Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space (Derek Fell)
All New Square Foot Gardening 2e: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space (Mel Bartholomew)
Last edited by Kerrie on Sat May 14, 2016 3:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Kerrie
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Posts: 37
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Location: Midwest USA
Languages: English (N), Spanish (passive)
Studying Italian, French, Portuguese, German
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2683
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Kerrie » Wed May 04, 2016 1:58 am

I had, for a long time, tried to "teach myself" Spanish, but it wasn't really until I took up the Super Challenge (the first time) that I really made much progress. At first, it was a huge chore just to get through a page. If felt like every other word was something new, and I had no idea how I could ever do it.

Part of my mistake was starting with a book that was WAY over my head. I started with Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) because it was one of my favorite books. Then I wisely moved to something a little easier. Harry Potter.

Do you know how much vocabulary there is in that book, though? Wowsers. Knowing the story definitely helps, wherever you decide to start. I would sit down with my book (or my Kindle) and a notebook, and I would just write down all the words I didn't know. I would have two or three columns on a page, so probably 50-75 words on a page. (I also had the English translation nearby, so I wasn't completely lost!) Then I would go to the computer, open up Google Translate, and put in all my words. I put them in a spreadsheet, and imported them into Anki.

By the way, if you want to do something like that, you need to look at the translations and make sure they're right when you translate them. It is very easy to do it this way - just hit enter between each word, then copy and paste the whole entire bit into Excel in two columns. If I had 100 words that day, I would import them into Anki and work on them for the next few days. If you try to do more than 20-25 new words a day, you will be overwhelmed with reviews very quickly. If they are new words, just pace yourself. :D

I know a lot of people don't like SRS. Some people love it. I kind of have one foot on each side of the fence. I can do it for short periods of time, but it is really tedious.

But, for me, it worked. That's how I learned to read Spanish, and as I learned to read better and better, I found that I could understand better and better. That's what worked for me, and that's why I'm pushing myself to do four Super Challenges this time around. Part of my goal for the next 20 months is to focus on building my active vocabulary in each of my target languages. For French, Italian, and Portuguese, I will be adding a fair number of words I already know (or can guess at), so even though these numbers are pretty big, that's something to keep in mind. For Spanish, I'm just adding new words I don't actively know.

Spanish
: 0 / 100 100 books
: 0 / 100 100 films
: 0 / 5000 5000 SRS

French
: 0 / 100 100 books
: 0 / 100 100 films
: 0 / 10000 10,000 SRS

Italian
: 0 / 100 100 books
: 0 / 100 100 films
: 0 / 8000 8000 SRS

Portuguese
: 0 / 50 50 books
: 0 / 50 50 films
: 0 / 5000 5000 SRS

English
: 0 / 50 50 books

Call my crazy. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Mani
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Location: Germany/Luxembourg
Languages: speaks: German (N), English
understands: Luxembourgish (but can't really speak it)
studies: French (intermediate)
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Mani » Wed May 04, 2016 2:02 pm

Kerrie wrote:Call my crazy. :lol: :lol: :lol:


Crazy! :lol: ;)

Nice to see you again and I hope your foot will be better soon!

Reaching for the stars as always - but as always very inspiring. :D

For me it's the 3rd time French and I'm trying this time to stick to only this one language (at least if I have learnt something from the previous Super Challenges).

Good luck to you and have fun!
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: 13 / 100 SC films
: 9 / 100 SC books
: 3 / 52 Grammaire
: 20 / 100 Assimil PT (1993)
: 5 / 36 SSIW 1 (old)

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Kerrie
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Location: Midwest USA
Languages: English (N), Spanish (passive)
Studying Italian, French, Portuguese, German
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Kerrie » Wed May 04, 2016 2:14 pm

Mani wrote:For me it's the 3rd time French and I'm trying this time to stick to only this one language (at least if I have learnt something from the previous Super Challenges).


I know, right? Spanish will take care of itself, I'm sure. I want to maintain it and maybe work a little on vocabulary. English, too. I think just setting those goals for myself will keep me moving, rather than stagnating.

Right now, I'm focusing on French and Italian. Normally, I'd agree that it's better to stick to one language, but I need a little variety, since I have a lot more time on my hands than usual. Over the next few weeks, I want to get my Italian to the point where I can pull out Harry Potter, make vocab lists, and plow through a little at a time. I think once I finish Assimil and Michel Thomas, I'm just going to hit the books. It's what worked for me with Spanish, and I know it's just a matter of disciplining myself. :D
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Kerrie
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Kerrie » Thu May 05, 2016 4:56 pm

I just finished A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Goodreads wrote:Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

I remember reading Anne Rice when I was younger - both her vampire and her witch books. One of the reasons I loved her books was the world she created. I typically have a hard time getting into fantasy books, because I have a hard time seeing the world the story is set in. Anne Rice was really adept at transporting you into the world where the story takes place.

This is also one of the reasons my daughter really enjoyed the Twilight series. She said she was less impressed with the story per se, and even less so with the "heroine," but she really enjoyed the picture into a different world.

When people ask me what I like to read, I always tell them that I enjoy anything with a plot and real characters. In order for me to believe the plot and the characters, though, I have to be able to see the world they are set in. Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Divergent are all really excellent examples of this. The authors paint a vivid picture of their world and how it works.

It's funny, looking at the reviews on Goodreads for A Discovery of Witches. I like to read reviews (on both Goodreads and Amazon) to get an idea if a book is for me. Like most really good books, most people either love it or hate it. I actually like reading the negative reviews. We all like different types of books, so ... one man's trash is another man's treasure, right? I love books that paint detailed pictures. Some people just want to see the action. This book has both, which means it is definitely my thing. :D

This book has quite a bit of history and alchemy woven into it, but it all comes together to enhance the story. I really loved the character development, the world Harkness created, and the story. I'm really glad I didn't find this book when it was published, though, because the third in the series only came out last year, and I hate cliff-hangers! :lol: :lol:
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alexraasch
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby alexraasch » Thu May 05, 2016 5:18 pm

Not going to call you crazy but that is some agenda!
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ES: 2682 / 5000 5000 Words
RU: 0 / 500 500 Words
ZH: 362 / 500 500 Characters : 51 / 90 Pimsleur 1-3

jeffers
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Languages: Speaks: English (N), Hindi (A2-B1)

Learning: The above, plus French (A2-B1), German (A1), Ancient Greek (?), Sanskrit (beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7991
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby jeffers » Sat May 07, 2016 10:17 am

Nice to see you've got a log going for the SC. I'll be keeping an eye on it, especially to get good ideas for French reading.

Regarding what you said about counting TL subtitles as reading, I think the question came up once, but my memory is hazy on this one. Cristina considers TL subtitles as film (because I think her definition is more about medium than which of the four classic skills you are using). However, I think she added when pressed that people could count subs as reading if they really want to. Like I say, it's a hazy memory so don't quote me! :)
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Fresh new progress bars for the 2018-19 Super Challenge:
Fr books: 14 / 100films: 24 / 200
Hi books: 0 / 50films: 0 / 50

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Stelle
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Stelle » Sat May 07, 2016 1:19 pm

Welcome to the LLORG! ;) Nice to see you starting a log here. You've got some very ambitious plans!!!
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Kerrie
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Re: Meanderings on Languages and Life

Postby Kerrie » Sat May 14, 2016 3:52 pm

Thanks, Stelle! :D

It's been two weeks since the Super Challenge started, and two weeks since I started walking hobbling around after my foot surgery. After a rough start, the walking is coming along. I still can't go out and go for walks, but at least I can get around on my own, albeit a little slower than usual.

I focused the past week or two on getting a full book read for Spanish. Just to get it on the board. :D

Now, I usually pick a book to read, start it, and then get bored and look at what else happens to be on my Kindle. I was exaggerating a little when I told Stelle last week that I had gotten through half of the 3.5 million books on my English to-read list during my forced convalescence. My Kindle (well, the app on my phone, where I read the most) has 512MB of books, which is probably more than a thousand. So if whatever I'm reading is not catching my interest, I go look at the other books.

My intention with Spanish this time around was to read things originally in Spanish. La Sombra del Viento was supposed to be next (and I will get to it), but Las Islas de las Mariposas (Corina Bomann) somehow caught me first. The Island of the Butterflies. It was originally written in German, and has been translated into Spanish (and Italian I think, but I didn't see an English translation).
¿Qué secreto esconden una enigmática carta, una antigua mansión y una plantación de té heredada? ¿Cuánto sabemos realmente de nuestra propia familia? Una carta misteriosa, un romance del pasado, una casa llena de secretos.

El mismo día en que descubre que su marido le es infiel, la joven abogada Diana recibe la noticia de que su adorada tía abuela Emmely está muy enferma. Sin pensárselo dos veces, Diana toma el primer vuelo a Inglaterra para despedirse de ella. Emmely tiene una última voluntad: Diana debe esclarecer un antiguo secreto familiar. Para ello, la anciana ha dejado pistas por toda su casa, la imponente mansión Tremayne House, que su sobrina deberá encontrar e interpretar, con la ayuda del leal mayordomo, el señor Green. Poco a poco, Diana desenmaraña una compleja historia familiar que se remonta al siglo XIX y la conduce hasta las hermanas Grace y Victoria Tremayne, propietarias de una plantaciónde té en Ceilán. La joven abogada se verá obligada a los pasos de sus ancestros y viajar a la hermosa y exótica isla de Sri Lanka para desvelar el misterio.


Well, it sounded interesting. I'm not really sure what piqued my interested when I started this, because the first 75% of the book was pretty slow, and I didn't really understand why Diana felt so obligated to follow these little clues halfway around the world to decipher a story she didn't know was there. It denigrated into a disgusting tale of sick, perverted men of the 1880s (and a helpless young woman), then turned into a weak love story.

Actually, a double love story, but they were the same. In the 1880s, Grace is falling in love with a half-Tamil hunk while Diana is falling in love with a half-Tamil hunk in 2008. Blah blah blah. It was like watching the same movie twice, but with different actors.

Then, after the love stories came to an exciting (or not so exciting) climax, it turned into a weird murder story, confession an all. I thought it was really bizarre in it's entirety.

Spanish
★★★☆☆ Las Islas de las Mariposas (Corina Bomann)
: 9 / 100 100 books

English
A Discovery of Witches (Deborah Harkness)
Shadow of Night (Deborah Harkness)
The Book of Life (Deborah Harkness)
Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It (Gary Taubes)
Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space (Derek Fell)
All New Square Foot Gardening 2e: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space (Mel Bartholomew)
: 6 / 50 50 books

One of the things I did like about this book was that it took me to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and gave me a little taste of cinnamon Indian and Tamil culture. Serpent suggested something a while ago in the Challenges forum that we have a World Challenge, and we read books from different places and cultures. I was thinking of trying to incorporate this idea into my English (and Spanish) reading for the Super Challenge.
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