aaleks's log

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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English (?)
Italian (beginner)
German (false beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Sat May 04, 2019 7:13 pm

There's something I'd like to add to the posts above.

Now learning Italian I don't try to do it the same way I did it when I was (have been) learning English, I'm not following the same path. There are several reasons why:

1. It's just impossible because I was a false-beginner when I started English, but I was really a beginner in Italian.
2. I don't want to repeat the same mistakes I've made when learning English.
3. I've noticed that my brain is dealing with the task -- learning a foreign language -- a bit differently now because it kind of knows what to do. I don't know if it's a psychological or physical change but it's different.
4. I want to try a bit new for me approaches that I was interested in but being a newbie language-learner wasn't bold enough to use before. Nothing revolutionary though (I won't listing any examples. If some of them works I'll write about it here anyway. Besides I change my plans and mini-approaches so often so it would be just pointless)
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Fri May 10, 2019 12:56 pm

It seems that I'm starting to understand what language wanderlust is. When I try something for Italian and feel it works I often want to try it on another language. Besides it would be really interesting to try to learn a language purely from input -- with the help of a dictionary, native language subtitles, but without using textbooks -- at least in the beginning, and in case with Italian I have already spoiled it for myself because I've half-read/half-skimmed about a half of a textbook (a self-teach book). In fact I barely remember the little I've learned from it, I could have just read the same stuff on the Internet with the same result, but technically I did use a textbook so I'll never know how it would've been like without using one. But the thing is I don't really want to learn one more language, probably not just now but ever. It's important for me to learn a language to a really high level, and I know I won't be able to keep more languages from sliding. And even though I don't have a chance to get up to that level in both -- Italian and English -- I really want to know them at a native-like level. Not C1 or C2 -- these are about different things. Recently I've noticed two things: a) when I'm taking something like a grammar test I chose the right answers by how they sound. I kind of chose the most "smooth", naturally sounded one. If the test is too much about grammar so the examples I need to chose from don't sound natural in most cases I will fail the test. b) It actually happened yesterday I was watching an Italian series and realized that I didn't (don't) want to know the grammar theory behind those phrases I was hearing at the moment. Not yet.

p.s. The post was going to be longer actually :mrgreen: but it seems I can't gather my thoughts, maybe yet, so there may be a follow-up post later. We'll see :lol:
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aaleks
Blue Belt
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Fri May 10, 2019 3:50 pm

Okay, the follow up.
Why I'm interested in reaching a native-like level instead of a more logical choice like a C2 level? One of the reasons is that I'm often not impressed by the real level of English the people passed such an exam have even though I don't think that if I were to take such an exam today I would pass it with flying colors, or would pass at all. And yet I can see such problems in their writing as stiffness, unnaturalness, mistakes that might be (sometimes but not always) seen as minor but indicate a lack of feeling for the language. Another reason is that I want to really understand the languages I'm learning, and I believe that the closer your level to the one of native speakers the better you are able to understand that language at many different levels.

On a different note...
I've been thinking that maybe I need some kind of a schedule for Italian I'll stick for a while. Maybe not a schedule but just something like the "reading 10 pages a day" goal I had for English in the beginning. Technically, I've been learning Italian for more than a year, practically for the most part of the year it was more like dabbling than learning -- about 3 hours or so per week. The things changed only when I shifted the focus from English to Italian maybe 3 (?) months ago. Maybe it's time to push myself a bit to speed up the process/progress? But it's easier said than done...
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StringerBell
Blue Belt
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Languages: English (n)
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby StringerBell » Fri May 10, 2019 7:18 pm

How would you describe your level in Italian in terms of the kinds of things you can comfortably listen to/read, or the kinds of things that are challenging but you still enjoy?
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Italian goal: transcribe 10 episodes of Lucifer : 2 / 10

aaleks
Blue Belt
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Fri May 10, 2019 8:17 pm

StringerBell wrote:How would you describe your level in Italian in terms of the kinds of things you can comfortably listen to/read, or the kinds of things that are challenging but you still enjoy?

Hmm... I'd say I can understand Italian a bit. I can comfortably watch dubbed American series. I don't understand every single dialogue but I understand enough to know what's going on, and more than just a gist. My level of reading is lower because at the moment I'm focusing on listening and only occasionally skim the headlines on the efficacemente site. In other words, my level is all over the place now :D but usually I think of myself as a beginner.
I think any native material is challenging for me at the moment but I still enjoy them because it seems I have a high tolerance to not-understanding. At the same time my listening comprehension keeps improving -- I can see the progress and that's enough to make me keep going, and don't feel frustrated that I can't understand Italian at the same level as English.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Sun May 12, 2019 4:58 pm

Contemplating about my level in Italian I decided to do the listening part of the Dialang test again. The first time I did the test about a month/month and a half ago (Mart 28). Back then my score was B1. Now it's... :?

Your test result suggests that you are at level B2 in listening on the Council of Europe scale. At this level, people can understand longer stretches of speech and lectures and follow complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar. They can understand most TV news and current affairs programmes

29/30. I made only one mistake. I didn't read the question properly (well... I barely read it at all) because my reading isn't really good, so I just got lazy but when I started the recording I realized that I should have read it.

I don't know what's wrong with the test because B2 for my listening, considering my overall level, is a huge overestimation. It's funny though that in the past when I did that test for English I thought that the test was underestimating my level ( https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 325#p99325 , https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 841#p99841 , and maybe there are several other posts on the topic).
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aaleks
Blue Belt
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Location: Russia
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Wed May 15, 2019 8:45 pm

Yesterday I mentioned in Morgana's log my lack of self discipline, and then I've started thinking what I do not do as a language learner.

#1. Learning vocabulary. Of course, I learn it. Somehow. But I'm doing nothing to really improve and enlarge my English vocabulary. If I see a new word sometimes I look up its meaning/translation, and sometimes I don't do it. If I look up the word in a dictionary I will probably memorize it, but if I never see the word again I will forget it. When I only started learning English, and especially when I started reading books, there were a lot of new/unknown words but mostly those were high frequency words. I saw the same words again, again, and again so it was easy to learn them. Once I tried writing down such words to review them later on as most people seemed to do, but during that first attempt I realized that it was less effective for me -- I'd need to spend some additional time on reviewing the words plus the time I'd spend on making the notes, so it was just faster to learn words along the way while reading. Back then I thought that I would making word lists or the like later to learn rare words. But some time ago I've come to the conclusion that I don't really need it. The size of my English vocabulary isn't impressive but it covers all my needs. Btw, I know, have met on the other forum, people who seem to learn rare words as a kind of hobby. They use frequency lists, etc. Fortunately sometimes they post lists of the words they haven't learned yet, and often I find the words I know long and well on those lists. It helps me not to feel too bad about my own vocabulary. As I wrote yesterday almost every time I encounter a new word I feel a bit frustrated and it makes me think how poor my English is, etc. but at the same time I'm not ready to put a lot of time and effort into something I will probably never have a need for.
For Italian I tried to play with Anki for a while but it seems I haven't been able to figure out how it's supposed to work. I learned something from it but when I started using native language subtitles a la bilingual text to learn words my Italian vocabulary started growing at the speed of light and the words I learn stick. So no lists or SRS too. Maybe later something will change, we'll see.

#2. I've never completed even one textbook. I read them, skim through them, look stuff up in them, sometimes even do some exercises, but I don't go from cover to cover reading every lesson and doing every exercise. I use them as a reference book, maybe that's my problem -- the reason why I barely learn anything from them. But what I've realized not so long time ago it's the same tings like with writing down words. In the past there were the grammar topics I would be reading again and again, doing the exercises, but in the end I learned nothing new, or that new information was so insignificant it just wasn't worth the time spent. Basically, the first skimming was/is enough. Then I might need to clear some nuances and details, but going through a textbook with all the exercises from cover to cover is not really an effective approach for me. I've noticed that if I feel bored just by looking on a textbook or other materials it means I won't learn anything from it. That book or whatever material I'm using at the moment doesn't provide me with new information, subconsciously I know there's nothing new to learn, I feel I'm wasting my time -> I get bored and have to push myself to continue. What now I know from experience is if I have to push myself it's time to change someting in my approach, switch to another material, or even take a break. As they say in American series "you need to trust your instincts", and I think that is the luxury of learning on your own -- you can choose what, in what order, and at what pace to do.
For Italian I've read a half of a textbook, now I really want to know how much I can learn without reading the second half. We'll see.

#3. I'm not working on my speaking and writing purposely. I've tried several time to keep a journal as a computer file and as a real notebook -- it never lasts long. Let alone the fact that I wasn't writing or speaking at all (almost) during the first 4 years out of soon be 7. I hope it won't take me so long to start writing in Italian. But yes, we'll see :) .

So it seems that I'm just having fun with my languages and doing nothing to reach my ambitious goal. But after all it's just a hobby. Besides I don't think that I'll add one more language to English and Italian. I'm not gifted and diligent enough to learn many languages, I barely know how to deal with these two. And there's one more thing -- I doubt that there ever would be a language that might compete for my attention with Italian ;) .Maybe later I will dabble in some but it's different.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Sun May 19, 2019 6:42 pm

It's a link to a (relatively) new video from the Italiano Automatico channel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aG03ki_RRH0

I decided to put it here because what they're talking about in this video reminds me of my own language learning experience. They call it piacere -- you like (take pleasure in) what you're doing, I'd call it "interest" but basically it's about the same thing. (Speaking of my Italian. I can't say that I understand the video 100%, more like 80% or so. But I can comfortably listen to it, and I don't think that I've really misunderstood something).

And there's another thing that I'd like to say regarding CI. I remember that in my first posts on this forum I said that CI didn't work for me or something like that. At the time I believed that I failed and my English was really bad and broken (well it was bad actually) because I had been learning English mainly through input without studying/drilling grammar. I've written about that many times but in different words but I feel I need to write it once again if not for anyone else but myself. As I see it now the mistakes I would usually make back then were two categories:

1. in some way were similar to ones uneducated native speakers make. At least I've seen this kind of mistakes in books, or as examples of that kind of spoken language on the Internet.
2. I'd call it "passive grammar" in the same, or similar sense as "passive vocabulary". There were grammatical constructions I remembered only partially. I would recognise and understand such constructions if I saw them in a book, or heard in a movie but I couldn't produce them because I didn't remember a whole phrase, etc. so I would fill those "blanks" -- the part of such a phrase I didn't remember -- with something that I assumed was grammatically correct. But the problem was my knowledge of the English grammar was really limited so it was just guessing and trying to fill those blanks with the first thing I could think of.

But what seemed I had was what you call "flow". If sometimes I manage to write in a somewhat natural way that's thanks to CI. And I believe now that I'd learned the grammar passively for those four years of just reading and watching TV. What I really needed to do back then is to activate the knowledge. I won't elaborate this because this post is already too long, and I was going to write just a couple of short paragraphs haha :mrgreen: . And I'm afraid I'd be just repeating myself anyway. The point was and is -- I was wrong in thinking that CI didn't work for me. It works (even if this post is fool of stupid mistakes and unnatural wording. I haven't had enough of CI lately ;) Even though I write mostly about English here, I'm spending my language-learning time mostly listening to Italian)
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 701
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby aaleks » Fri May 24, 2019 11:19 am

This post is supposed to be about CI and/vs traditional methods, what I think, do, how come that I learn my two languages through input, etc. But since I don't make any drafts before posting my texts here I can't guarantee that it's what the post is really going to be about :) .

First of all I didn't choose CI over learning grammar etc. I had known nothing about CI or Krashen when I started. I learned about him during my first year of learning English, maybe even the first half of the year, and even tried to listen to some of his lectures on youtube but at the time my English was probably at the same level as my Italian now, or just a little better (I guess I had already started reading English books) so I didn't learn, or understand much of his ideas besides that it was about reading a lot, and something about the silent period. Last year I watched several of his lectures and realized how much information I missed back then. So Krashen and his ideas weren't the reason why I decided to learn English through input, that was because of my own views and understanding of the process, as well, as all my previous unsuccessful attempts to learn at least one foreign language using traditional methods, and the fact that the only time I more or less succeed was when I tried to do it through reading a boring 19 century book and watching Deutsche welle. Learning a language through textbooks had (has) always felt for me like an unnatural and pointless process. My problem with so called traditional methods has always been that I don't see a progress. Being able to complete some grammar exercises successfully has never felt as achievement for me. And in my case drilling is the least effective way to learn anything. I need to see the whole picture, deal to a real language or I'll loose motivation before I even start. I know for sure, for a fact that I would never learn English using traditional methods aka grammar exercises, textbooks, and the like. At least if I had a choice.

When I decided to start learning Italian I didn't know how to begin because it was and is a different experience than it'd been (was/is/has been) with English. This time I was a true beginner, I don't have even such a stupid goal as I had when I started English. I didn't know what learning or/and native materials to use. But I knew I needed something like TV in Italian, and that was how I began -- watching dubbed series in Italian since day one. At first I understood nothing but because I just started I didn't feel frustrated. Then the noise became words, then I started recognizing words I'd learned from my textbook, a grader reader and a Frank method book. Some words I was able to guess from context and because I knew what people were supposed to say in such or such situation. But what really speeded up the process was watching Italian series with Russian subtitles. There weren't many of them but rewatching a couple of times (or three times) the same series worked too. Having that experience, I'll try to sum up my thoughts on how to learn from listening and through CI. One of many approaches. I probably need to say that my CI and the way Krashen see it may differ. I use the term because it's convenient but I've never read his books, so I don't know what exactly the theory is. In my case it's just input which may be not so comprehensible by Krashen's standards. Anyway. I think/assume/suppose that learning through input might seem slow and not effective because you can't see the results fast. I mean that if you use a textbook and in the first lesson you've learned some greetings and other simple phrases, or grammar terms you can see the result right away. Or you've read an explanation of a grammar rule and been able to do all the exercises without making a single mistake -- you see the result. If you are learning words using flashcards you'll know how many words you have learned at the moment. I don't know how many words I know either in English or Italian. The real number. Sometimes it's frustrating. So the first thing anyone who want to learn from input needs is patience. I remember that reineke usually said that you shouldn't be trying (or something sounded more coherent and grammatical). As I understand it, you shouldn't try to guess before you are ready to make the right guess. You should not jump to conclusion. You need to keep observing and wait when the concusion will kind of form itself. In fact the process usually doesn't take too long, it's just really hard to hold yourself back and not to jump to any conclusion. While using traditional methods we strat with easy material and simple tasks, and then the difficulty will grow, in case with learning trough input it happens more like how the fog lifts. At first you see nothing, then rough outlines of the objects, then you can see some of the objects more clearly, etc. And the process is not linear. And I forgot one thing that is appealing for me but might have the opposite effect on someone who like to speak from day one -- the silent period. I wouldn't feel comfortable being forced to speak since the beginning so I really like the silent period idea.
And as a conclusion, I might be wrong but at the moment I think, assume, that when in the short run traditional methods might win in effectiveness, in the long run it doesn't matter what approach you use if it works for you.

P.S. I hope in my log I may write any silly thoughts and conclusions? After all in my case as an English learner it always might be seen as writing practice, the kind all those strange exam essays are :roll: .

P.P.S. What I've written in this post are just my thoughts and observations, not instructions!
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Ezra
Yellow Belt
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Re: Just a log (English, Italian)

Postby Ezra » Fri May 24, 2019 12:12 pm

As for Italian, you might want to check «L'italiano secondo il metodo natura». I used it to reach necessary proficiency to read in Italian.
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