Hedgehogs: Creatures of the Night (ES)

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coldrainwater
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Minimally Invasive Education

Postby coldrainwater » Tue Feb 14, 2017 8:32 am

My course on learning references a relatively new technique that has received substantial media coverage in the recent past. Namely, minimally invasive education (often used in poor rural areas by example) is often incited using little more than a hole in the wall with a computer(s). It may lead to some brainstorming on my part as I believe we can optimize (perhaps individually) this idea for language learning in adulthood. The time is ripe to mention that there is little new under the sun, and we have likely all seen this technique at the adult level. Clearly it is directly related to following your natural language learning interests. Additionally, I can think of a string of books on creativity that I have perused over the years that emphasize the same concept often couched in much more complex and adult terms. It is no doubt extreme, but I have read language learning stories where the term ´obsessive´ is bandied about and where learners create immersive environments and I can´t help but draw parallels with the ´minimally invasive´ education approach used in the MOOC I am watching now.

Off the top of my head, the closest instance of this relates to creating a ¨bubble of creativity¨ a la Twyla Thwarp (sp) similar to how a dancer or writer might cordon off a mental space for creative endeavors. I have a preference for one of the last lines in her books. Paraphrased liberally, she prefers to ¨Walk into a blank white room and come out dancing¨.

I leave the post now for later reflection as I have once again overstayed my wakeful welcome. Ya son las dos y media.

estimado lector | hasta pronto | -out ¨Erizo¨
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coldrainwater
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Fuel

Postby coldrainwater » Wed Feb 15, 2017 5:30 am

This evening is going well. It is still shy of a midnight sky and I have consumed more than one hour of Coursera lecture material over the topic of cognition bringing me to the end of week one lectures.

Three factors influenced this small burst of productivity. The two that I can replicate are a good night´s rest and an intentional increase in protein intake around study hours. The cognitive benefits of the two worked in tandem since I did not feel the need to take a nap upon leaving work and my protein-laden sup also failed to create mental fatigue. Factor three is a cool front that is ephemeral at best in the hot clime I call home.

I will switch gears now and spend what time I have remaining reading quietly without the influence of video and audio input. Mini learning steaks may not be a thing, but at times (such as tonight) I feel they can be useful to encourage and track progress. Having good video with visual and audio inputs seem like a major upgrade compared to using one modality at a time. I played the material at mixed speed, slower (ironically) when the quality was good and faster when it was bad. There seem to be a number of Spanish documentaries where English is spoken concomitantly and I stumbled on one tonight. The background English was somewhat unpleasant so I listened to about ten minutes before switching to a better resource. So far these waters I am treading have been kind.

-Erizo
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coldrainwater
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Turning Over a New Leaf

Postby coldrainwater » Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:33 am

Socio
I had a bout with serendipity today. One of my Spanish speaking friends is interested in learning English and I agreed to give it a try one soon Saturday. We decided it would be best to structure it as an intercambio weighted toward learning English. Sin cobrar por supuesto. He and his wife plan to join me for the first meeting. I believe our respective skillsets are at a similar level, though with widely varying weight factors (considering reading, listening, speaking and writing).

Lectura
In my day, I have sampled a fair number of Spanish texts. From an English perspective, Blood Meridian is one of my favorites given the exquisite prose. However, when I quoth a bit from it in parallel, my Chilean friend said (and I strongly agree) that a fair amount was lost in the translation to Spanish. Blood Meridian is best read in its native English. It is also very much a period piece and domain specific to the Old West.

In contrast, I am now reading (sampling) ¨El amor en los tiempos del cólera¨ (Love in the Time of Cholera). I have the text in parallel on Kindle so that I may reference a human interpretation in English when needed rather than relying on Google´s less than perfect rendition. I also can´t help but note the same phenomenon. Namely, the English translation seems to loose a tiny bit of force and I prefer the Spanish. From the small bit of research I conducted, it seems like Márquez is a very good author to learn from. I have a strong belief that we mimic our ambient environment and, for this reason, I often avoid slang, and can be selective with respect to author, given that I needs make a decision of great import. His works are works that I will take slowly. I feel like my Spanish is improving a bit when I start to read slower (rather than faster). More and different pieces gnaw at my attention. For what it is worth, Don Quixote is also near the top of my reading list.

-Erizo
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coldrainwater
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Weekend Warriors

Postby coldrainwater » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:16 am

Studying algorithms and data structures in Spanish led me down a new path that I did not anticipate. Twists and turns of life are part and parcel for the weekend I suppose. As such, I tweaked my study strategy and partitioned it across a few areas of focus (or perhaps I should say that I will need to invoke the divide and conquer method). How I integrate computer science with my language studies now looks like:

    Academic university-level lecture videos completely in Spanish.

    Reading material in several languages (mostly mix of Spanish and English). Here I choose the best source of information in a language agnostic capacity. Many are in English and I must accept this even though it bifurcates my time somewhat reading a language where I am already fluent (not ideal in my opinion). It is not practical to shun some books based on language.

    Programming (the bulk of the learning) is in English when viewing the computer language syntax itself (IDE interface in German). Here coding practice and solving real-world problems take precedence over all else. The interface language barely matters once you know your development environment (and I would likely pick German for that anyhow).

A little explaining is in order as I learned a great deal this weekend about online education in foreign language. Many of the Coursera courses are offered on quasi-international terms where the writing and reading is in [Spanish for example], but the videos are staunchly in English. To that end, and for listening practice, I'll take Youtube over Coursera since it is easy to find high quality lecture material in Spanish. I also thrive on the flexibility that Youtube provides as my learning style can be very non-linear and unstructured. I stumbled upon a series today of more than 40 videos on algorithms and data structures in Spanish. To my surprise, I was able to follow the lecture easily and might have mostly done without the subtitles. That was likely due to the presentation style where a whiteboard kept track of the introductory concepts and the professor was a slower speaking male.

The real strength of listening in Spanish is that it makes nearly every subject I approach interesting academically. That value will ultimatley extend far beyond the confines of CS or any other single discipline as it ignites the right level of focus and motivation over the long-term.
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coldrainwater
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Love in the Time of Cholera

Postby coldrainwater » Mon Feb 20, 2017 5:24 am

Given that reading practice is not likely to be overly challenging in the computer science world (there are tons of cognates and the difficutly of the subject matter overall lends itself more to abstract math than lengthy Spanish prose), I dedicated at least two hours this weekend to reading Love in the Time of Cholera. In contrast, I found the native Spanish reading at once challenging and beautiful. I will need to knock out a fair number of literary works from diverse sources, but I am not in a particular rush to do so. Reading is a habit much like cardio for me now. I will go for it without thinking and need not push or worry about forgetting. Reading, linguistics and etymology may be my strongest points of interest in Spanish and I very much am enjoying the experience. As they say, slow is fast and less is more.
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coldrainwater
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Reading and Listening

Postby coldrainwater » Tue Feb 21, 2017 4:46 am

I am not sure what might have foreshadowed it, but tonight I had a clear mind with a smooth bent toward learning. Writing my last journal entry had its intended impact in that I came up with a way to make the pieces fit together and am at piece with my humble learning plans (mixing computer science and language learning).

Reading
I read Márquez for at least an hour (with an author like him, who is keeping track?). Between my first couple of nights, I scribed about 40 new vocabulary words onto a running list and gained exposure to some excellent prose. Indeed, Márquez weaves a yarn as smooth and elegant as the Castillian language in which he writes. I am leading by reading and sometimes transcribing the Spanish, one or two paragraphs at a time and then looking at the professional translation if needed (and it is often beneficial).

Listening
I am spending the balance of my study time listening to basic algorithm lectures given by a profesor from La Universidad de Antioquia. The subtitles actually stopped working about half way through the first video and I didn´t really miss them (they block part of the screen and glitch out lot). The whiteboard and slow speech was more than sufficient for me to follow.

For listening practice in general, I am strongly tempted to just dive 100% into academic lectures, even when I am not officially studying computer science topics. I believe somewhat strongly that who you listen to and read from in times formative heavily influences what type of language you acquire (as we humans mimic to no end).
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coldrainwater
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Nutrition Videos

Postby coldrainwater » Tue Feb 21, 2017 7:02 am

I decided to spend some of my procrastination time on Youtube watching Spanish nutrition videos. The videos I watched were made by youthful and very fast talking Spanish speakers and I found them very challenging. Comprehension was probably somewhere between 40-75% depending on the speaker and level of energy that they were trying to convey. The subtitle rendering did better than I did but it couldn't really figure out a good percentage of what they were saying either (so I didn't feel so bad!).

The topic is familiar to me so I definitely followed the recommendations and what they were saying (easily picking up on many nouns). Note to self: avoid reading the comments sections under 'all' youtube videos. They are mostly a waste of time!
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coldrainwater
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Deliberate Reading

Postby coldrainwater » Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:41 pm

Having found a novel to engage my attention, I spent a good time this past week paying close attention to how I was reading. The bad news is that I often misinterpret the subtle nature of some sections (as discovered by reading the translation later). The good news is that I realize it and can see the holistic faults of my current awareness that can and should be improved by reading deliberately. They are the kind of things that grammar and vocabulary often do not teach. I also learn new words and the new vocabulary can distract my attention as well. I see the wisdom in having learned most vocabulary before tackling intermediate level readings.

Specifically with regard to deliberate reading, I like to interleave my reading practice via:

  • Juxtaposing whether I read the translation first or the orginal work (to become more familiar with one over the other), though I do not often read the English first as it reduces the challenge that I so love.
  • Typing out the Spanish to cement shadow writing practice. This tends to make me focus a bit too much on the individual words and I sometime lose the forest for the trees.
  • To counterbalance the point above, I have taken to making an effort to read and translate intentionally before typing out my response.
  • To improve efficiencies, I still do not type out all portions of the text as some of them are fairly well known to me.
  • I think about key phrases and specifically look for new linguistic constructs keeping in mind not to rush.
  • Reading and listening is still happening daily, but on more than one occasional, I have kept reading since I didn´t want to break focus and I intuitively sensed the extra benefit that reading is giving me.

Cardio and Diet

  • Daily cardio continues to be a huge boon for language learning and can often yield critical hours of focus.
  • I finally dropped the last major hindrance in my diet by dropping my age old coffee creamer. Sounds like nothing, but it has been a big imrpovement for me (they came out with a new sweet cream natural coconut milk flavor that I take to fancy).
  • Diet is now gluten free, lactose free, grain free and full of mixed nuts, veggies, fruits and lean meats. I still have a ways to go on the diet front as there remains tweaking to do, but the pattern looks positive.

Overall, a simple reminder of at least one hour reading and one hour listening has kept me happy and on track for progress this last week.
Last edited by coldrainwater on Mon Mar 20, 2017 2:36 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Audible: vale la pena?!

Postby coldrainwater » Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:37 am

We shall see. I was reading a thread discussing the relative merits of listening versus reading. Since I have some interest in classic literature and history, I figured why not dust off a very old audible account and purchase a few good aural translations to accompany the native Spanish texts that I am reading now. The main downside seems to be the high cost of each book and sketchy availability of translations. I am professionally and personally skeptical that it may be a challenge managing audio software, kindle software, and at least one lexical engine at the same time. I chose a laptop with a high resolution display as my first weapon and spent so long getting everything setup that I am only left with a few minutes more of listening this fine morning.

In other news, YouTube watching of a 45 minute documentary on the history of the Iberian peninsula was worth it. I was repeatedly thrown off by toponyms and names of various Carthaginian/Roman characters of bygone days.

Audible will be a bit different in that I know the author and I are reading the same book (the AI engine from YouTube I think may have been dispatched from Dune and the narrators didn't sound much more human).

Radio on,

-Erizo
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coldrainwater
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Intensive and Extensive Study (and some Practice Makes Perfect)

Postby coldrainwater » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:32 am

I have much more that I would like to plaster about my journal than I have time to write. This tends to happen when I spend my language study time actually studying language. This may not be a bad thing. So I choose one topic and kick off the banter boat....

Within the last few days, I came across nominal descriptions of intensive and extensive reading. As happens with most dichotomies, I immediately set about to view these two stratagems as a continuum. The ensuing thought walk was eventful and made a nice little neural web upstairs. I am the strange type that can read a dictionary or a book on etymology as pleasure and do it extensively and then turn around the next day and try to do the same with novels. The converse is also true (as in I show some level of normalcy and can pursue some topics extensively for hedonistic purposes). When I think about how to fit Intensive and Extensive reading into my existing base of knowledge, it makes me want to invoke a mind map since I see connections to many places (anxiety/boredom/flow axis, spaced repetition and intentional forgetting, interleaving practice, conscious vs unconscious learning, played time (chess) versus analysis and study time (chess), general theory versus practice, abstraction ladders and needing the dexterity to move deftly from one layer to another...to name exactly seven).

Perhaps out of curiosity and to see how I faired, I figuratively popped open a book on intermediate Spanish grammar, one of the series Practice Makes Perfect. I definitely find it helpful and clear (I am about 1/3 of the way through the book using the strategy of working their exercises mentally before getting immediate kindle feedback and verifying the answers when in doubt). From a meta-cognitive level, this is obviously intensive reading practice without much direct extensive benefit. The author´s style is to use simple, everyday Spanish vocabulary that is sufficiently interesting and practical to barely avoid boredom and then focus on proven techniques that highlight grammar. Very good strategy they have.

I have a sort of insane curiosity to understand my own scatter-brained and non-linear thinking and am always happy when I find what I am looking for (another piece to wedge in the puzzlebook). And with that I bid you adeiu for the night.

Quoted from Bloch...¨a conclusion is the place where you get tired of thinking (or get sleepy -Me)¨,

-Erizo
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