A Words Enthusiast

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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Mon Nov 20, 2017 4:20 pm

Really I'm just trucking along. The German translation comes in fits and starts, but it's easier every time.

Still doing classes for most of my Indonesian time. I had a short culture camp homestay through the school but since it was mostly Chinese students going with me I didn't stick at all to only Indonesian. Interesting hearing the host family's language as it wasn't Javanese but it seemed to be a more clipped and shortened Indonesian. Very quiet host family so not much conversation practice. Also Glossika and Anki on a mostly-regular schedule.

I met another language enthusiast at that camp, originally from Hungary. He kept listing off languages and I kept waiting for us to overlap but we never did. Arabic, Korean, Hindi, Turkish, Persian, Finnish... All languages I've never touched. He was very okay with forgetting languages after a while, but I can't say the same. Even in Russian or Polish, probably my rustiest languages, I still keep the life support on by reading something short now and then.

And then Mandarin. I did a short writing exercise for fun and got native corrections, which was nice. Every time I do this I'm told "This isn't how we would say it, but it's not wrong..." Well-meaning, sure, but I feel like I have to cajole a more natural sentence structure out of the native sometimes. Anyway a neat side effect: I spent about 30 minutes composing my little 300-character text, and at the end my brain was solidly in Chinese reading mode. I read a WeChat article afterward with almost no trouble. This is after quite a long time of only really practicing spoken Chinese, very little written. Good to know there's a sort of magic bullet for kickstarting my reading speed.

I did end up listening to some world radio at the gym the other day. In the course of an hour I think I hit Mandarin, Danish, Dutch, and German. And in these last three weeks I watched a few Easy Spanish videos as well.
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:39 am

I just had my last Indonesian class of the semester!

In December I noticed a lot of Indonesian falling into place. A lot more automaticity, for one thing, but also a lot of ease in reading, writing, and listening. I've met some native speakers for conversation practice and that's been loads of fun and definitely helpful. At the gym I tend to watch TV in English while I bike, but if it's a movie I've already seen I read the Indonesian subtitles. I'd like to coin this "passive reading." Then I switch to world radio, about 50/50 Indonesian and other languages.

EDIT: Just moments ago I found this Indonesian channel. Its videos have accurate Indonesian subtitles!!!!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9r0Vo ... BMe8slmbpw


Unfortunately my Mandarin seems to be lagging a little. I really want to get back into it, and it's always been my plan to start back up once the first semester of Indonesian classes are over. I still use it every day so it's definitely not gone - what I mean is I forget words more frequently and stumble over some pronunciations. Looking forward to dusting off my Anki deck that I haven't touched in four months.

I've had little opportunity to produce any German but I'm still doing the transcription/translation and having a good time with that. Just recently I've started collecting new idioms from the videos. There are quite a few that I understand but couldn't use, and one or two that I've had to look up to translate. I have a German Anki deck but I don't think I'll use it too heavily.

I mentioned other languages with world radio, and I've kind of settled on rotating my wanderlust between Danish, Dutch, Polish, and Romanian. Vietnamese is on the list but I understand so little that listening to talk radio isn't very fun. Thai is a little interesting but I probably won't learn it for a few years.

I predict in the upcoming months I'll get my Mandarin vocabulary back up to where it should be, make more slow progress on Cantonese, and become fluent in Indonesian. Stretch goals include learning more Hokkien and fixing holes in Spanish, French, and Russian grammar. If only there was a way to slowly absorb Vietnamese vocabulary without trying...
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Adrianslont
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Adrianslont » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:16 am

Good to hear your BI is going well. I have been distracted by French and do just a few minutes of Indo per day - my anki cards.

That YouTube channel got me excited but it’s a pity they haven’t done subtitles properly - I like to download the subs and read them separately from the video at my own speed. Still, I like the light magazine style topics and those hard subs are better than none.

I’d appreciate you sharing any other good media finds - especially ones with matching subs!

Cheers.
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:56 pm

Adrianslont,

I certainly will! In fact, I'm going to start up an Indonesian/Malay study group in the other section so we can pool our resources. Hopefully this will keep me motivated to keep studying on my own instead of just coasting into comfortable non-fluency.
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Sun Dec 31, 2017 3:04 pm

I made that Indonesian study group thread and posted a few resources, but I don't know what else to put there and I'm not sure anybody else does either. If I find more exciting resources or have anything general to say I'll add them of course. I'm thinking about making a video where I go through a simple newspaper article and explain its parts.

Of course my thoughts are turned toward video because of the one I made with leosmith. That idea took shape incredibly quickly, and I was close to backing out since I felt for sure that I would forget everything. Somehow I pulled out enough Spanish to make up for forgetting all my French and Russian. I'd be up for more videos in German, Spanish, Mandarin, or Indonesian, talking about hobbies of mine: historical linguistics, city planning, Chinese language policy, modern Asian history, photography, world travel, fitness, folk music, computer graphics... just give me a few days to learn the related vocabulary :D Actually, listing these out here is a good way for me to find things I like to talk about in English but would have a hard time discussing in foreign languages.

Interestingly, just speaking for a few minutes in Spanish seemed to sort of solidify the boundary between Spanish and Indonesian in my mind, since today I had a short dialogue with myself in Spanish without much trouble.

These last two weeks without classes have coincided with one of those colds that stays around. I wrote about 850 words in Indonesian for two short assignments. I also read through The Three-Body Problem in English, and I'm glad I didn't tackle it in Chinese first because I never would have completed it. But that got me thinking more in science fiction terms, so I pulled out my copy of 安德的游戏 (Ender's Game) and gave it a try again. Chinese reading is hard but practice is the only way it's going to get better.

Otherwise I just kind of dabbled, playing with Southern Vietnamese on Glossika and Russian on Duolingo. I think I did three days of Indonesian Anki.

---

2017 was a year full of lots of things for me, but honestly it was really mostly languages. I don't know if that's maybe a bad thing, making so many big decisions about my life because of this hobby/passion that I have. It's an enjoyable thing, for sure.

It's been about three months now that I don't really feel too much new wanderlust. Only a little bit, for Thai, but the rest of the wanderlust is more like "get a handle on the five or six languages you kind of know." This is the first time in my life where I'm really very comfortable switching between languages quickly (Indonesian, Mandarin, English, German) - something that I really would have been amazed at two years ago when I was just finishing up German classes. Now that I take it for granted, I think "yeah, that's cool, but what if I could really handle French, Russian, Spanish, Cantonese, Polish, and Vietnamese too?"

I learned Indonesian all through 2017, starting pretty much on January 1. It was definitely low priority until about August but that time was necessary to build up the sounds and syntax. I don't have the "spontaneity and fluency" for B2, so I would say I'm B1 more often than not. Not too bad. And I've got six more months in-country.

Selamat Tahun Baru!
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:29 pm

I've been thinking more about what it means to balance lots of languages. I'm always really impressed by people who tally up all the hours they spend on study - and jeff, it's not boring at all! How great would it be if I could muster even 50 hours on each of my 10 favorite languages this year. That would translate to enormous gains in some, for sure. But I think Expugnator has shown that the length of study matters quite a bit as well, since he's made great progress with 10 minutes a day x 365 days x 2 years = 122 hours. Allowing for some flexibility, that shows how much you can do with 100-150 hours as long as you don't let the language out of your sight.

I learned how to make progress bars and I want to stick to updating them. I'm thinking as I approach completion I'll shift the goalposts more. Sustainable, achievable goals, that's the idea.

I'd like to be able to read comfortably in another language besides German and Spanish this year. It's probably going to happen with Indonesian since I still have six months to study it, so it would be really nice to gain that skill in something hard like Russian or Chinese.

So I think I don't want to measure hours on-task. I just want to do more of them, and perhaps this year try really hard to do more internet browsing in non-English languages. I set aside some time recently for mindless browsing in German and it was pretty easy - and of course will only get easier the more I do it. I probably spend an avoidably large number of hours a day reading texts, Facebook, this forum, and English websites.

A stretch goal? Output. It's tough to press that record button or sit down to write imperfectly, but every single time I do it, I improve. I had two lengthy (90+minute) conversations in Mandarin the past few days. The first one was kind of rough since it was the first time in a while, but the second went so much easier and I had some surprisingly fluent moments well out of my language comfort zones.
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:08 am

Time has been moving incredibly slowly the last two weeks. They must have snuck some extra hours into my day.

In summer 2015, I came back from a trip to Europe and put a sticky note on my computer, reminding me to stick to German, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Polish, with a nice little schedule of two a day on alternating days. This routine lasted roughly three weeks before I planned a much more elaborate trip and decided to learn three more languages. In 2017, I decided to learn another language and discovered (and wrote about in this log) that it's difficult for me to study more than 3 a day.

So now that it's 2018, maybe the best way to get me to study several different languages every day is to give me a bigger pool to choose from, and making it more okay for me to miss one or two. I've been sticking to my favorite 9 languages besides English lately, and here's what I've been doing:

I've made some Spanish recordings and plan to keep up a regular exchange of short recordings with a friend of mine. I also browsed some forums and articles on subjects I don't really read about, as well as some light culture articles from Spain. I believe my Spanish, while far from ideal, is good enough that I don't have to review much vocabulary. I looked up some words while doing these readings and I can call them to mind right now, no flashcards in sight.

I should really be doing more German translation because they don't pay me until I do the work. But I wrote some short articles about German and ended up doing some reading for that.

I've been very happy with the Duolingo French stories, because they're high quality and short and come with built-in questions (in French) to check your comprehension. Just right for me. I've done like eight of them and sometimes speak aloud after the recording. If they ever add Russian to their stories section I'll be all over it.

I found the Russian site TheQuestion.ru, and I browsed around on there three or four times and made a short wordlist. Also watched an Easy Russian video. Lastly, an almost-daily Russian practice session on Duolingo. After about five of these my Russian typing pretty much came back, and I can actually recall Russian words more regularly now. This is exciting because we're really talking about a bare minimum of perfunctory practice here, and I'm already seeing actual results in raising my Russian from the dead.

I've been assembling a large spreadsheet of Cantonese tone pairs and triplets for later practice. I watch Easy Cantonese videos and then steal all the two and three character words to put in the sheet, and later I'll grab recordings from Forvo to practice pronunciation. This has the side effect of teaching me more Cantonese before I even truly begin the study. I switched my Forvo site language to Polish so I can even pretend I made progress there.

I kind of abandoned Glossika for a while but I did an Indonesian session the other day. I want to make it a habit again, and with 9 new sentences per session the length is a lot more manageable than 11. Most of my Indonesian has been watching Doraemon and EpicVice videos with subtitles and reading magazines and novels. Daily practice.

I started consolidating some of last semester's notes and came up with a wordlist idea. It seems like it's working, so after more testing I want to apply it to Vietnamese. I might have found the effortless way to learn Vietnamese that I was looking for. Otherwise when it comes to Vietnamese I just watched some Learn Vietnamese with Annie videos.

Lastly, I still get an okay amount of Mandarin listening exposure every day, and I've been trying to do some reading with a kids' book I have. Nothing new with Mandarin, just slow and steady progress with a couple of new words every week or so. Last night's, for example, was 推车, literally pushcart, like a street food vendor has.
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:30 pm

Surprising nobody, I did not manage to stick to my fervor of the last post. I made only a little progress with Vietnamese, Cantonese, and Polish. Still, two things kept me going more than I expected. First was the progress bars in my signature reminding me to keep up the Indonesian reading and listening. Second was the idea I stated before of keeping my wanderlust fenced in with 9 foreign languages I like.

I've kind of kept up the Indonesian wordlist strategy I hinted at before. It's very simple, just combining a few elements of other methods. I write 20 words (more than that doesn't quite work for me yet) on the page with Indonesian in one column and English in the next. I repeat the word aloud as I write it and as I write the translation. Once I have the page finished, I read the Indonesian aloud while looking at the English. I read 5 words and then go back 4, so each word gets repeated 5 times. Then the next day I distill the words into the next page and add new ones up to 20.

Then the rest of the Indonesian work was watching videos and reading articles and nonfiction books. I noticed quick progress with the articles, which means that I haven't had nearly enough of them. Learning simple things like the use of "tersebut" as an alternative to "ini." I did some vocab lookup but should really do more.

I've expanded my article reading to German and Spanish as well, mostly Spanish if I'm honest. I still trade short recordings with my friend to work on our accents. I realized I've pretty much never read news from Spain, and there are a few differences in vocabulary compared to Mexican Spanish that caught me off guard. Simple first year stuff, again pointing to the idea that I need to be reading more. When I read a Mexican camera/photo website my comprehension was over 99 percent. Figures, since nonfiction "explaining" writing is where my Spanish is strongest.

I got a great book of Mandarin vocabulary at the HSK 5 level. It's great for several reasons: I already know a few words on every page, giving me a psychological boost, plus there are great example sentences without English or Pinyin, keeping my mind in Chinese reading mode. I intensively read a few articles and I know most of the characters, but the words are still above my level. Fortunately I learn words much faster once I know their component characters. I've also watched three or four hours of Chinese reality TV the last few days.

I completed the first batch of Duolingo French stories but some connection problems have kept me from finishing many more. But I've also done the odd Russian practice exercise, which really does seem to be enough to stop me from forgetting the language. I wouldn't say I'm learning a ton from either of these, but they strike a perfect balance between time, difficulty, and language stimulation.
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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:37 am

I finally got up the nerve to do a video. The subtitles reveal how simple and error-filled my speech is, but it's honestly a lot better and more watchable than I expected. I think the two biggest mistakes are saying "di atas trotoar" instead of "di trotoar" (more unnatural than wrong) and saying 成语 instead of anything meaning "switch languages."

Inspired by zenmonkey the other day saying "Perfection is the enemy of good enough." I was fantasizing for half the walk, thinking how nice it would be to do a video, then I remembered that I never have to share it with anyone and I can just delete it if it's awful. Pulled out the phone and here you go:

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Axon
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Re: A Words Enthusiast

Postby Axon » Thu Feb 15, 2018 3:03 pm

I started up a new semester of Indonesian classes this week. I also picked up another freelance writing gig. Some of you may have already read my articles ;) Surprisingly, although I'm pretty busy, I've still managed to give my languages a good amount of attention.

By staying in Indonesia during the long break and practicing Indonesian every day, I have started the new semester with noticeably higher fluency than when I ended the last one. On the second day of classes I frankly shocked myself by fluently describing what I think "culture" means and giving examples. Back to normal with other topics though - hunting for words as usual. Still it was a fun outlier.
I'm in the B2 class (the most advanced offered), up from the A2/B1 class last time. The grammar teacher expected us all to have mastered the affixes but we're all far from mastery. I've looked up some linguistics papers to clarify some aspects and I may post them in the study group. I have a diary homework assignment this week and it's an absolute breeze - can't wait to get it corrected and see where my mistakes are, because I should not be able to write this fluently.

I speak a little more Mandarin than usual now that classes have started because I have Chinese classmates. Vocabulary is absolutely my weak point, which makes it critical that I memorize that book of HSK 5 words as soon as possible. Unfortunately the book itself smells terrible - does anybody know how to remove the smell of cheap book glue? Anyway I've been watching a bit of Chinese news and continuing to read my two books: Ender's Game and pinyin-annotated 1001 Nights.

At the gym I've started to rotate ten-minute slots of radio in French, Russian, and Spanish. Still enjoying the Duolingo French stories, still working on making the Russian tree as golden as I can. I have played with the Spanish grammar exercises on Clozemaster but I can't seem to make that stick as part of my routine. It's very valuable and I've already paid for it, but I just don't really enjoy it. I think I'd enjoy just working through the tree more. Also still reading and reading aloud in Spanish. The friend I'm trading recordings with usually reads about baseball, so inadvertently I'm picking up baseball knowledge and baseball vocabulary from him. I have downloaded some Russian podcasts and any day now I may listen to them - probably at the gym.

Still translating German, still reading sometimes. I've bookmarked some random literature or travel blogs I've come across.

As my weekly schedule evolves I want to see if I can fit in vocab study time for Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Polish.

Oh yes, a once-weekly Javanese class is now part of my curriculum. So far it's very complicated - much like Indonesian grammatically but with entirely different sets of vocabulary for different politeness levels. I really like the look of the writing system, and so far I've learned half of the consonants and all the regular vowels. I will be satisfied if I approach A1 Javanese by the end of the semester - very low priority, since everyone I've met speaks flawless Indonesian.
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