Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

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blaurebell
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=3235
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:11 pm

I actually used a subjunctive today *on purpose* and I knew that I used it correctly 8-) Normally I avoid them like the plague, but today the subjunctive exercises from GdUdE were fresh on my mind. Our discussion in another thread here the other day, reminded me that for English all the grammar study I did over the years definitely made a difference. In Spanish I've done too little grammar study in comparison. Only half of my lessons in the immersion school were related to grammar and usually they weren't overly focused. You don't torture paying customers, so it was all "fun" and not too strict. It amounts to about 150h of light grammar study, whereas in English it must have been north of 500h, only counting strict school classes with dragon like teachers! That's why I'm now aiming for about 350h of grammar/courses for Spanish. And of course PMs courses courses courses strategy got him to excellent production scores in his B2 exam too, which is another reason why I'm focusing more on grammar now.

I'm a big fan of input, but it can only get you so far on the production side of things. From all the hundreds and hundreds of hours of input in Spanish I can definitely hear when I make a mistake, but before the grammar study I often didn't know how to say it right. There are of course many things that are more automatic thanks to lots of input, but beyond set expressions this doesn't necessarily help much. Of course my French Dialang scores also show that massive input, especially reading, improves comprehension a lot. It's useful already for that. I still only got A2 in the production side of the test though - active vocabulary, structures -, despite a good 800h of input. I doubt that another 800h will change much in that respect. My French still needs some work on the listening comprehension front and I'm simply enjoying French content, so I don't mind more input, but if I wanted to "efficiently" improve my French, this would be the point where I would start grammar study followed by writing to develop my production skills. Due to my work on my Spanish this will have to wait for now, but I will definitely follow this strategy for all my languages where I want good active skills - massive input, followed by grammar over-learning and massive output.

French will be the first language where I put this strategy into practice from scratch, but I'm also using the strategy to improve my Spanish, which means that I'll have a bit of a test run with my Spanish C1 exam next year. Between now and the exam - probably next summer - I will try to read another 10,000 pages, 5000 of which intensively, I will listen to another 200h at least, probably more, I will try to clock about 300h of grammar / courses - or at least finish all the courses currently on my list -, write 50,000 words, 50h of recording myself speaking and spend at least two months speaking Spanish daily, one month in October, the other sometime closer to the exam. I will also use any other opportunity to speak Spanish, which includes doctor's appointments, driving lessons and possibly I'll look for a bunch of exchange partners too. I will also try to find a tutor to speak with me about Argentinian literature from January onwards which should be really interesting. And if I can possibly find the time I'll also try to make something like an Argentinian Glossika from Inés Efron movies, although this one is actually something that I might only tackle after the exam, who knows. I'm probably looking at another 1000h of Spanish at least before the exam and most of it will happen outside of my comfort zone. Right now I only feel comfortable with listening, so I pretty much need to work on everything else before I'm ready. I don't really need to take the exam, but I think it will be a good motivator to stay on track with my Spanish improvement.
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Re:

Postby Morgana » Thu Jul 13, 2017 6:50 pm

Last edited by Morgana on Sun Nov 26, 2017 11:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:36 am

Morgana wrote:Good luck Lilly, I know you're going to impress everybody with your results from this plan of attack, just as you have done with your comprehension!


Thank you Morgana :) To be honest, if that plan doesn't get me to C1, nothing will :lol:
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:03 pm

Spanish

I have now done almost two thirds of the GdUdE B book. Today the past subjunctive appeared and it's very noticeable that I'm less comfortable with it than with the present tense subjunctive. I definitely need to concentrate a little more to get those right. So, this is definitely one of the areas where I'll need extra work. Good that I already have the Spanish Subjunctive up close book to go through afterwards and there are also more subjunctive exercises in the GdUdE C book.

Russian

I managed another 5% of my book in Russian and I'm now up to 63%. After those horrific few pages with 19.4% unknown words it suddenly dropped down to 14.5% again and that was much more comfortable and fast. The erratic writing style is frankly getting on my nerves from a language learning perspective, but I think I'm still making progress, since I'm now down to about 12-13min per page. Not long now and I might drop below 10min! In any case, I think I will manage my first 500 pages before the end of the month as I had planned. And then the next 500 should go a lot faster still. By the way, I have now studied more than 400h of Russian. Still quite a bit to go I suppose, but it's a decent milestone nevertheless!

French

I'm still reading Irène Némirovsky's La proie and although it's another good book, I'm getting less and less patient with all the odious characters in Némirovskys books. I'll still read the last two of her novels I have left, but then I might move on to something else. I picked up a few French books in the second hand bookshop the other day: There was Camus' La peste, I'm looking forward to that one! It turns out my husband also has La chute in French, hidden in his overstuffed bookshelves I of course had no idea. I also picked a novel by Simone Signoret - strangely enough she's actually an actress but the novel has a good rating and she studied literature. Randomly it's a novel about exile too, so somewhat related to my PhD. I also picked a Maigret novel for some light beach reading - if summer ever reaches us - and a collection of essays by Baudelaire to challenge myself a little. I might already have my next 5000 pages all lined up! And yes, I better stay away from that bookshop for a while now or I'll never get started on Spanish reading :lol:
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby smallwhite » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:28 pm

blaurebell wrote:I have read many different estimates for a good sized core vocabulary for reading in LWT or LingQ, anything 35,000 and 60,000 word forms.

Thanks for pointing me to that. I read up on such discussions, and I now have better idea what levels such figures represent. Which is great as now I can understand your progress better (and others' as well).
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:20 am

Spanish

66% of GdUdE B done! So, today I did some more subjunctive exercises and I got into other tenses vs subjunctive territory. Well, I get the subjunctives right in the exercises, but then suddenly fail at deciding between present tense and simple future again when I'm paying attention to the subjunctives :roll: I guess, whenever I don't pay attention I fall back into my old mistake patterns which I haven't managed to change properly yet. How annoying! Stupid fossilised mistakes! I guess the only way to change it is to drill more :?

Russian

68% of my second book done, and I'm down to 11min per page. Not bad, not bad at all. And there is finally also some movement in the known vs unknown ration - I'm now at 50% rather than 47%. Not a huge improvement, but it's going in the right direction. My Russian journey definitely hasn't been easy, but well, it's a difficult language and I'm now definitely approaching that area where reading in Russian at least isn't a drag anymore. Not exactly fun yet, but not too much torture either.

My husband was joking that I'd be reading this fantasy series until 2020 at my current rate, but that's actually not true. if I'd continue at 1h a day I would be finished in 2019 at the latest even without additional improvement in reading speed :D That said, I will try to continue at 4h+ a day so that I'll finish this year for sure. One thing is true though: When I decided to learn Russian for my PhD a couple years back I really had no idea how hard it would be. I've already advanced a great deal, but it's been a huge struggle too. At least it's now only a matter of time rather than this unpredictable mess that generally is "learning Russian". 400h done. Some 400h more and I'll be almost there I suppose.

French

I finished La proie by Irène Némirovsky. I really appreciate her writing skills and her story telling techniques are first rate. She has a tendency to come up with the most disgusting people as her main characters who usually get what they deserve, so these aren't exactly happy books, but so far I haven't encountered even one mediocre book of hers. Kind of amazing! Doesn't mean that they're all "enjoyable", but they are definitely good. The next one I'll be reading is Deux. 10,488 pages in French read so far. At this rate I might actually hit 15,000 pages before the end of the year, especially if I get more time for French reading after getting all my Russian reading out of the way.

Italian

More Star Trek TNG in Italian.
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:23 am

Russian

Yesterday I hit 78% of the second book read, that's 10% in one day 8-) There was just a long chapter which was pretty decisive to the story, so I simply wanted to know how it turns out. Afterwards I felt super drained though, because reading for such a long time in Russian at about 14% new words, is actually quite straining still. I need to be more careful and try not to overdo it!

Russian hours: 6.48h

Spanish

I did my usual GdUdE, which went in the usual fashion. Steady progress, and I'm managing about an hour a day lately. We also listened to some La venganza será terrible which was a long meditation on the kind Midas and ... panchos i.e. hot dogs. We laughed an awful lot! Before bed I looked at my next Irène Némirovsky book and decided I needed something else. So I picked a Piglia book from the shelf and I'm now reading Respiración artificial. It makes me feel like one of these people who don't know anything about Latin American history - although I know quite a lot - so it's actually very interesting. I would probably enjoy it more if I had already done my Spanish LWT reading challenge, but well, I don't have the mind-space for that right now with all the Russian intensive reading. In any case, extensive reading is better than no reading at all!

Spanish hours: 3.46h

Italian

Some Star Trek TNG in Italian was exactly what my brain needed after all the strain of Russian reading. That said, there was Deanna Troi's mother in the episode. She speaks way too much way too fast and that was pretty much incomprehensible to me. I suppose my brain didn't have time to make all the Spanish connections in time. But well, she's also an extreme case of babbling in weird vocabulary, so maybe it was that. The rest of it I understood just fine though, as always. I'm definitely enjoying it. It's relaxing to do something that is just ever so slightly more taxing than Spanish but still almost fully transparent. And I don't feel like I'm wasting my time while re-watching TNG again although I pretty much know it by heart.

Italian hours: 0.75h

Total: 10.69h

General

Yesterday my husband said: "I don't know why you are so tired, you haven't really done anything all day!" What?! Well, you can imagine that I wasn't too pleased about that quick judgement. I had just read 6.5h in Russian and done an hour of Spanish grammar!!! I suppose when falsely assuming that Russian isn't any more difficult than French or Italian, one doesn't really realise how straining it is to learn a language that is so different. In any case, it didn't take long for him to say the exact opposite: "What?! 6.5h, that's way too long! And on a weekend no less!!" Clever boy knew how to save his neck :twisted: :lol:
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby blaurebell » Sun Jul 16, 2017 7:13 pm

Russian

So, today I've been messing about with text analysis to see how Russian and French LWT numbers relate to each other. With French I felt comfortable to read with good precision after I hit roughly 28,000 word forms in LWT. After fiddling about with LWT I managed to export all the known terms as a txt file. I ran this list through AntConc with a French lemma list and it came up with 9,800 separate words, ~3:1. So, roughly 10,000 words, that kinda makes sense. Now for Russian there was no pre-made lemma list and I didn't want to mess about with any kind of programming for this, so I found a neat little python script that does the job for Russian. After running my 11,960 known word forms in Russian through that one it came up with a list of 1500 words. That would be roughly 8:1! Well, that's not very surprising, since Russian has an awful lot of cases. So, for 9800 words in Russian I will have to deal with about 78400 word forms, yikes! I have already 24000 word forms in the database in total, so if I want to get to those kinds of numbers I will have to plan a total of ~630h of reading. So far I'm at 193h, so I still have a bit to go. The question is, will I need more or less words to get to 85%+ known vs. unknown ratio? I will let you know when I get there!

EDIT: The numbers for Russian are wrong because the script wasn't counting all the words in default mode. Total number of words in the database 9799 with 24,484 word-forms. Number of words learned: 4373 words! Phew! That sounds a little less depressing :D

It made me wonder, would using Anki be more efficient? Let's do a bit of math. Once upon a time I learned about 1200 words with Anki in about 50h (and promptly forgot them again, but that's a different story). So about 400h of Anki would probably do. Reading 5000 pages takes me about 150h in French, so I'd consider that a bare minimum. So even at a pretty decent reading speed I'd already be at 550h. Add to that a bit of puzzling about thanks to inexperience with strange word order and recognising the more arcane participle constructions, not recognising words etc. and we're at around 600-650h. In the end it's probably the same, only that I wouldn't be able to bear 400h of Anki and that I probably remember the words better now because of all the context. It also seems that after almost 200h it's actually starting to become proper fun, whereas with the other strategy it would be 400h of guaranteed torture. At least the dialogue heavy chapters are fun already at about 10-12% new word forms, and even the description dense chapters are already at 16%, close to becoming comfortable. In any case, it's definitely enough to keep me going for 6h+ just to see what's going to happen next in the story.

I think I'm almost done with the difficult part! For the next 6WC I will definitely do a lot of Russian reading now that it's getting less straining. It has taken a bit longer than I had hoped - speaking in months -, because it was too much of a strain to read for a long time, but I'm definitely getting there now.
Last edited by blaurebell on Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby smallwhite » Mon Jul 17, 2017 6:25 am

blaurebell wrote:Once upon a time I learned about 1200 words with Anki in about 50h (and promptly forgot them again, but that's a different story). So about 400h of Anki would probably do.

If you prefer repetition via LWT to repetition via Anki then it does not matter which works faster. I understand people prefer reading to Anki because with reading you happily repeat easy words more ("the", "he", "said") and hard words less, and because if you forget a word there's no uncomfortable consequences such as facing failure and having to press "Again", and because words are so much easier to recall when they're in context. It's simply more gratifying to read and not care about whether one can translate a word out of context. But since you want to compare the two...

If LWT works like LingQ then you have to process every single inflected word - even if it's a cognate and even if it's your own name. And like you said, you have to process every lemma 8 times - again, even if it's a cognate and even if it's your own name. Whereas with Anki, I believe no one in their proper mind would create a card for every single inflected word they come across including their own name. Personally, if I have already learned "fright" then likely I won't create further cards for "frighten", "frightening", "frightful", etc. And of course I don't need a card for the French word "France" or the word "smallwhite".

So, if there are 6 lemmas in each word family, then with LingQ you'll have to process each family 6 lemmas x 8 inflections = 48 times no matter how easy it is, and with flashcards I only create 0 to 3 cards, not 6 cards as you wrote. I don't know if you remember every inflected word on first pass or if you need further processing on top of the 48 times, but I review each card about 8 times so 0 to 3 cards x 8 reps = 0 to 24 reps per word family covers everything.

Though of course there's nothing wrong with doing more than several times the necessary work if you're enjoying it so much. Smell the roses!
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Re: Lilly's log - French, Russian, Spanish and Italian

Postby smallwhite » Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:13 am

blaurebell wrote:French... 28,000 word forms... 9,800 separate words...
Russian... 11,960 known word forms... 1500 words... 193h...
So, for 9800 words in Russian I will have to deal with about 78400 word forms, yikes!

The numbers somehow don't remain constant. Heaps' law or something.

blaurebell wrote:Russian... 11,960 known word forms... 1500 words... 8:1... 193h...
I have already 24000 word forms in the database in total

By "11,960 known word forms" do you mean "dog" and "dogs" are 2 word forms?
By "1500 words" do you mean "dog" and "dogs" are 1 word?

I know very little Russian but those numbers don't look right to me. Do they look right to you?
After 193h you only know 1500 words?
And your database, which I guess is a book or three, has only 3000 different words? That sounds like a reader.

If that's the case I really should learn Russian :P In fact that's why I've been so interested in stats for Russian - Greek has been easier than I had thought, and if Greek and Russian are both Cat IV langauges without asterisk, I might as well go back to Russian which has far more speakers.
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