aaleks's log

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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English ( ? )
learning:
Italian, German, French
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sun Feb 21, 2021 1:48 pm

Sometimes I think "today I'm going to write an entry in my log", and then weeks will pass before I'm actually doing it. The problem is for these passing weeks I have forgotten what I was going to write about. This is exactly the case with this update :) but I've decided I'll write it anyway :D

I remember that initially I was thinking about writing a bit about each of my languages, so I'll start with my weakest one - German.

There's some a bit sad irony in the fact that my first ever foreign language - the language I started learning in school when I hadn't turned 10 yet - is my weakest language at the time. And it is the one of my languages I'm worried about the most. The problem is I seem to have failed to somehow insert German in my language-learning routine. At first everything seemed to be fine, I would watch an episode of one or another series on ZDF Mediatek, but then I lost interest in one of the series I'd watched (some changes in the cast), later I realized I didn't find ineresting another series I used to watch as well. I've tried to watch some others but have not yet found one interesting enough to spend 40 minutes of my language-learning time on watching it every week. And I don't really find Easy German interesting. I'd like to find something like Italiano Automatico or innerFrench but for German so I would watch the videos regularly.

Italian is doing okay thanks to Italiano Automatico in the first place. Sometimes I feel like it's getting worse a bit but in general my Italian seems to be steady. I don't spent much time on it because of it closeness to French but I'm really missing the language.

French and English. I've been thinking recently about the learning one language vs learning several languages question, and I think I'd really like to learn at least one language to a high level. Not the level my English is right now but a really hight level. These two language are the best candidates for the project by an obvious reason - they're my strongest languages at the moment. I'd say so far I'm leaning in the Frech directions. While my English is not perfect but obviously at a higher level than my French is, the lingua franca status of English is rather an interest killer for me. I mean, there are a lot of non-native English speakers out there, and I think as your average non-native English speaker I'm doing fine. Not great, not excellent, but somewhere in the middle between the best and the weakest ones. French is a big language as well yet it doesn't have such a huge population of non-native speakers, and that makes it a bit more appealing to me than English.

Another reason is the French culture seems to be closer to Russian, or just my personality, then the Anglophone one. If nothing else, look at Russian classic literature, Tolstoy's and others of about that time, I don't know how their works look in translations but in original Russian versions there are a lot of French in the books. Sometimes it's just a word but sometime you might see a whole dialogue or a whole paragraph in French, and then a translation to Russian in the footnote. I believe I wasn't the only soviet/Russian kid who at some point toyed with the idea of learning French from these, kind of bilingual, texts (the French pieces and the footnotes).

The third reason is my French experiment.

But I haven't made the decision yet.
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MorkTheFiddle
Brown Belt
Posts: 1294
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:59 pm
Location: usa
Languages: English (N). Read (only) French and Spanish. Studying Ancient Greek, aiming for mastery by 2424. Studying a bit of Latin and Japanese. Once studied Old Norse. Dabbled in Catalan, Provençal and Italian.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 11#p133911
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Sun Feb 21, 2021 6:53 pm

aaleks wrote:If nothing else, look at Russian classic literature, Tolstoy's and others of about that time, I don't know how their works look in translations but in original Russian versions there are a lot of French in the books. Sometimes it's just a word but sometime you might see a whole dialogue or a whole paragraph in French, and then a translation to Russian in the footnote.
From what I remember, English translations note when Tolstoy was writing in French and French translations note that the original was French.
How is Tolstoy's French, by the way?
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Tu sabes cuando sales pero no sabes cuando regresas.

aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English ( ? )
learning:
Italian, German, French
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sun Feb 21, 2021 7:13 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:How is Tolstoy's French, by the way?

My French is not good enough to judge anyone else's, including Tolstoy* :D , but, for example, War and Peace starts like this:

– Еh bien, mon prince. Genes et Lucques ne sont plus que des apanages, des поместья, de la famille Buonaparte. Non, je vous previens, que si vous ne me dites pas, que nous avons la guerre, si vous vous permettez encore de pallier toutes les infamies, toutes les atrocites de cet Antichrist (ma parole, j'y crois) – je ne vous connais plus, vous n'etes plus mon ami, vous n'etes plus мой верный раб, comme vous dites.

Actually the entire book is full of French. Some of the French insertions may be really long - a couple of pages or so.

*I believe his French was really good though
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IronMike
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
Posts: 2010
Joined: Thu May 12, 2016 6:13 am
Location: Boston
Languages: Russian, 3/3 (DLPT, 2021) 2+ (OPI, 2021)
Esperanto, C1 (KER skriba ekzameno, 2017)
Italian, 1L/2R (DLPT, 2019)
BCS, 3L/2+R/2S (DLPT in, oh God, 1999!)
Slovene, 2+L/3R (DLPT in, yes, 1999)
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=5189
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby IronMike » Mon Feb 22, 2021 3:08 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
aaleks wrote:If nothing else, look at Russian classic literature, Tolstoy's and others of about that time, I don't know how their works look in translations but in original Russian versions there are a lot of French in the books. Sometimes it's just a word but sometime you might see a whole dialogue or a whole paragraph in French, and then a translation to Russian in the footnote.
From what I remember, English translations note when Tolstoy was writing in French and French translations note that the original was French.
How is Tolstoy's French, by the way?

The version of W&P I read recently didn't translate the French. That was exciting...and challenging. ;)
2 x
You're not a C1 (or B1 or whatever) if you haven't tested.

aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English ( ? )
learning:
Italian, German, French
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sat Apr 03, 2021 5:41 pm

I'll start this post with quotting this:
einzelne wrote:
aaleks wrote:use a textbook to improve my English grammar, it had a very negative effect on my English in general, and my confidence as a language learner. To say this "common sense" advice hampered my progress would be an understatement. But should I blame the people who give it? No, I don't think so. In fact, I still find that approach reasonable, it just doesn't work for me the way it's supposed to.


Well, try sitting an official language exam, it will also significantly shake your confidence 8-)

this was taken from here https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 12#p184909

I remember when I read this answer to my post back then I didn't get it. Why would someone suggest me to take an exam to "significantly shake your (my) confidence" when it was already quite shaky? It's kind of uhmm... not too kind. Back then I thought that maybe there was some joke hidden behind the lines that I failed to understand. That conversation left me puzzled. Not only the quoted part above but the following posts of the same forum member as well.

Not that I've been thinking of that little exchange all this time but sometimes I read something on this forum or Reddit that reminded me of that conversation. So, about three or so days ago I reread the thread and now I think that maybe some misunderstanding occurred there. Maybe my comment was read as story of losing illusions about my true level of language proficiency after working with textbooks. Like if I was overconfident before, and then the reality in the form of a language textbook hit me in the face. No, this is not what I was talking about in my post.

Actually, I have written my story about failing to learn the English grammar by using a textbook many times but I'll write it again, maybe with some new details.

The first time I tried to write something in English after about four years of watching tv and reading books in the language. As it turned out, I couldn't write a sentence without making really basic mistakes. Was I upset by the fact? Yes, I was. But. That was just it. Nothing more. I wasn't some kind of "true believer" in learning a language through immersion, acquiring grammar from input, etc. My goal at the start was just not to give up, not to quit again after a week ot two as I had done a couple times before when I tried to learn English the "traditional" way. I thought - okay, maybe the approach I'm going to use not the best or effective one, but learning something is better than learning nothing. I had no ambitious plans like reaching C2 or anything even remotely close to that. I wasn't completely avoiding texbooks, though. I skimmed through a couple of them in the beginning, and I remember some things I had learn in my earlier attempts to learn English. Also I was hoping that I might understand some difficult grammar topics that, I believed, I wouldn't understand from textbooks, through listening ang reading. But when it didn't happen it wasn't an end of the world for me. I thought - okay, now I'll try to do it the right way. I saw a problem but I thought I had a solution.

Unfortunately, I couldn't be more wrong. At first learning grammar rules explicitly seemed to be helping. Bur then I become more and more confused. I didn't trust and almost lost the feeling of the language had developed in the four previous years, and with rules I was never sure that I understood them right and applied them correctly. It was like never feeling a solid ground under your feet. Never be sure of anything. Besides, I felt that instead of making progress I'd made a rather big step in the opposite direction. I felt like even my passive skills were falling apart. When I was reading a book I saw a banch of grammar constructions instead of a story the author was trying to tell. I started to think that I was not capable to learn a foreing language. It felt like an impossible task for me. I felt lost, and, of course, I confidence in myself as a language learner. My problem now had no solution - I tried an approach that was claimed to work for everyone... and I failed. So what as a language learner I was supposed to do?...

That's what I don't like about the advice "grab a textbook, learn grammar explicitly" - it's always presented as some universal truth, something that fits all sizes, and works for each and everyone. If you think it doesn't work for you, you just haven't tried really hard yet. When it comes to learning words it's okay to use different approaches - Anki, lists, just looking up words in a dicrionary, and even guessing from context. The last might be frown upon but still legit. But for some reason grammar is supposed to be learn only one way - explicit explanations and exercises, even if you can learn it better, effective, and faster using a different approach, or maybe by combining several approaches.

This post wasn't supposed to be a rant, let alone such a long :o rant :mrgreen: . I thought that I'd write more about how my new approach to learning French is helping me untangle some of my old problems with my English. I'll probably write about that in my next post, and let the rant post be a rant post ;) . And since this is a rant post I'll share one thing that annoyed me the most during that conversation in the other thread - the way I was treated by my opponent in their following posts. The kind of unsolicited advice that was given to me as if I were a newbie starting learning their first language. And then all those not too veiled hints that I overestimate my real level of ... I don't even know what language exactly :mrgreen: . I really don't understand what all that was about. And why. But I think that having learn at least one language maybe not to the highest but a good enough level completely on my own (without teachers, tutors, classes, or living in the TL country) I'm already beyond that kind of advice I was provided with in that thread. Thanks, but no thanks.
7 x

aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 800
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English ( ? )
learning:
Italian, German, French
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Thu Apr 08, 2021 5:24 pm

My approach to learning new French words from context has changed with time and experience. I guess, the main change is that now I'm using conscious thinking less than I used to do in the first months of my French experiment.

I've read my first French book twice. The thing that surprised me at my second read was that there were words in the book I didn't remember having seen before. But this was the same book, so I should have seen them. This experience led me to the conclusion that the brain kind of chooses (?) what words I should pay attention to, and which ones aren't really important at the moment. Like if the brain blocks those words from reaching the conscious mind. So, a lot of things happen somewhere in the subconscious. Not that it was something new I hadn't known before but that was the moment when I could actually see it happening.

It seems like there is some order according to which the brain decides what word to bring to the front. Sometimes the meaning of the word is obvious right away, sometimes after several encounters in different contexts. Either way, sooner or later but the word will reveal its meaning, and when it happens it feels like I knew that word all that time. The same goes for short phrases like "rendre compte" and grammar.

After all the problem I had with the English grammar, I was worried about how it was going to be with the French one. But then I noticed that the process of acquiring grammar seemed to be very similar to the way I was learning words. At some point I just start noticing a certain pattern and some time later somehow it's all becomes clear.

The order in which the acquiring of words and grammar structures happens more likely depends on the frequency and the content used.

The skills and habits I've developed while learning French I'm applying to my other languages now. In the first place English. On the one hand, the new experience helped me better understand what went wrong with my English. On the other hand, now, I can see ways how to fix those problems.

I want to finish this post by mentioning one of the mistakes I did when learning English. I never used extensive reading. Of course, I rarely look up words in a dictionary now but I won't call it extensive reading. It's one thing when you have 5 new words a page, but whith 5 new words a book it's not the same. I think if I'd used extensive reading in the first years of my English learning I would've had a better grip of the language and its grammar, and maybe a wider vocabulary.
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