aaleks's log

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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Tue Aug 13, 2019 5:39 pm

I changed the log's name. I could've just added German to English and Italian but I decided that it'be better to make it more neutral. It seems most of my posts here are rather about language learning in general than about one/two/three languages I'm currently learning/maintaining. I've listed all three languages in my profile, so I think it should be enough.

This forum often gives me food for thought, recently it's been a couple of new threads in the General Language Discussion section. What do your target languages have in common? - I have no practical use for any of them, even for English. And speaking of English, the second thread is this The implications of English proficiency among non-native speakers. Recently I've been thinking if I really need or want to improve my English. The thing is an "it will rain" level is more than enough for me, the fact that I don't even need to think to say/write 'It's going to rain' changes nothing. So what's the point? Vanity?.. I think if English were the only language I was learning I wouldn't have even thought about it but when there are more than one language, and me being not really good at learning languages, time is always a problem. And the brain capacity as well. Another reason might be that right now I feel a bit disappointed in the level I have reached in these 7 years. Will I (my English) ever improve? I'm starting to doubt it.

Italian and German are doing well enough, I think. I'll write about them someday later.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:47 pm

Italian

This summer I was going to focus on Italian, or more precisely on my experiment of learning/acquiring Italian through input without textbooks and dictionaries. Not that I wasn't/haven't been following the plan. I did and I'm doing now. It just now I have less time I can spend every day on Italian. But still I am satisfied with the result I've gotten. I've become better at guessing the meaning of new words from context. And what is probably more important to me now I know from my own experience that it is possible. Sometimes I heard a word and thought I would never be able to fugure out its meaning, but then I would hear it in another context and one more, and more, and at some point the meaning either kind of resurfaced, or it just became clearer every time I heard the word. What I like about this approach to learning words is that the words I've learned this way stick in the memory because 1. while I was trying to figure out the meaning I had to pay attention to the word, 2. I heard the word in many different contexts so it's more than just a translation to me. In fact, usually I remember the meaning of a word but not the translation.

I think at this stage I need to start reading more in Italian but I often forget about it and then, later, do not have the time :( .

German

German came on the scene rather unexpectedly. I definitely wasn't planning taking on one more language while I'm still a beginner in Italian. But today thinking about that question - What do your target languages have in common? - it came to me that they may have one more thing in common - they seem to kind of choose me, in some way. German is, of course, a special case because I learned it in school. When I started noticing that my listening approach to learning Italian seemed to work sometimes I thought about trying it on another language. But I understood that it was too early for starting a new language so no matter how curious I was I decided against it. But German is not a new language for me which makes things a bit easier. Just a bit but still. The process itself feels more like recalling the language rather than learning it. I guess in really it's both. And I've noticed that I'm having a similar feeling about German as one I had when I started learning Italian more actively - I want to know more. I'm not sure that I really can make clear what I mean by that but I think it might be what Steve Kaufmann is talking about in his last video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn565DaMC18
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iguanamon
Black Belt - 1st Dan
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Language Log: viewtopic.php?t=797
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby iguanamon » Wed Aug 14, 2019 7:40 pm

aaleks wrote:Recently I've been thinking if I really need or want to improve my English. The thing is an "it will rain" level is more than enough for me, the fact that I don't even need to think to say/write 'It's going to rain' changes nothing. So what's the point? Vanity?.. I think if English were the only language I was learning I wouldn't have even thought about it but when there are more than one language, and me being not really good at learning languages, time is always a problem. And the brain capacity as well. Another reason might be that right now I feel a bit disappointed in the level I have reached in these 7 years. Will I (my English) ever improve? I'm starting to doubt it.

Those of us who live outside of TL countries and with few native-speakers to speak with, we tend to end up where you are right now with English. I like to focus on what I can do with my languages... which is quite a lot. There will always be vocabulary and usages that I won't know. That's ok. I continue to learn new things in my advanced languages everyday. I hope I can get a little bit better every year as I continue to read, write, listen and speak.

As to your English level, you have done a good job with your learning. I've enjoyed reading your log and following your progress. It's a pleasure to follow your posts about what you are doing with languages. If you ever do travel to an English-speaking country, you will have no problems communicating with native-speakers... even if the weather forecast calls for rain :lol: ! I wish you best of luck with German and Italian!
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Cavesa
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby Cavesa » Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:19 pm

I agree with Iguanamon.

And since I am one of the people often advocating that "nope, improving one's English doesn't have to be the priority at all", I'd like to add that vanity, as you too severely call it, is actually one of the best reasons to work on it nonetheless. If C2 English is likely to bring you joy, satisfaction, pride, more confidence, or anything like that, it could be worth it.

If you decide to put more time into other languages instead:great. If you decide to keep pushing your English to an even higher level (as you are already really good at it), great. There is no wrong option here, as long as you're freely choosing what you want.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sun Aug 18, 2019 6:17 pm

Okay... I thought of what I'm going to, I want to do with English one more time and the conclusion I came to is - the job is done. There's of course a room for improvement but at the moment it would've required too much time and effort on my part. Besides, I'm afraid I would've had to turn my fun language learning into real studying. I don't want doing that, learning English, as any other foreign language, is just a hobby for me after all. So either English is going to improve itself on its own, so to speak, or it's going to wait till one day I need a C2 certificate. Maybe. As for now my goal is not to let my English slide too much. I'm not going to drop the language but just kind of stop being/feeling as an English learner, and start to treat English as a language I know. It's more psychological than anything else I guess; I know that I will keep paying attention and learning new things, words, etc. but, well, I keep learning (about) my native language too. I want to focus on Italian and German, and among other things learn how deal with more than one foreing language in my head, how to switch between them, etc.
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aaleks
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Posts: 713
Joined: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:04 pm
Location: Russia
Languages: Russian (N)
English (?)
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German (false beginner)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=6724
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Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Tue Aug 27, 2019 12:14 pm

A kind of summary of the summer

It was going to be about learning Italian. I mean - the summer. But life is unpredictable and plans can change. I think it would be wrong and even rather uhmm.. stupid not starting to learn German when it kind of come to me by its own will. I'm joking, of course. But, really, I always felt a bit sad about losing German. Not becuase it was a language I was learning in school but because it was the first language I'd('ve) ever tried to learn by myself. 7 years in school, one year in uni, and at some point after it I was even attending language classes - working with a tutor in a mini-group. It's funny but it seems German was, is, and will :mrgreen: the only foreign langauge I've tried to learn using the traditional approach. But I'm not sure that I really would think of re-learning German if it weren't for that one or so year I tried to learn it on my own. That was the first time when I really got result. It's hard to tell now what level I had at the time I quitted, maybe A2, nothing to be proud of I guess, but it helped me to see that learning a language was not an impossible task to me. It's doable. Who knows, would I even think of learning English if I hadn't had this positive experience with German before?

Okay, I'll a little more about German later. Now back to Italian and my summer experiment. Conclusions and results, sort of. First off, I've realized I like guessing the meaning of words out of the context. So even though I'm going to start using a dictionary again but only for the words I have seen already more than once and spent some time on figuring out their meaning. One of the reasons/goals why I started that experiment was developing and improving my word-guessing skills, and now I see that it has really worked. I learned how to not jump to conclusion, gather information about a word from the context I see/hear it in, and what I find especially important - now I know from my own experience that it is possible to guess the meaning of almost any word correctly. "Almost" - because, of course, there may be exceptions. But in these three months it's happened more than once that I thought "No way I'm going to figure out the meaning of this", and then, after not really long time, I would do it - I would crack the meaning of the word. And since guessing is a skill, and practice makes perfect, the more I practice the better I become at guessing meanings of new words, and the more I like the process. By the way, Peppa Pig is a great training ground for that, but I've stopped watching it because first I was watching Peppa Pig in Italian, and then I started watching it in German, but it started getting me confused. Two weak languages for one cartoon seemed to be too much for my brain. Sometimes I watch Peppa Pig in German but not every day as I did for Italian before. Either way, I think that cartoon is really a great language-learning tool for beginners because they almost literally point out to this or that thing, etc. and name it. Of course it'll work if the beginner doesn't hate the pigs :D .

If I find time I'll write about German a little later.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:33 pm

German

First off, why and how I chose German over French back in school. How can a 10 year old, in fact I wasn't even 10 at the time, choose a foreign language to learn? What did I know about German and French back then? Really not much. And to be honest, I didn't know much about English either. It was just a foreign language my older cousins were learning (or had learned). So I just followed the same logic and chose the language my other relatives had learned when they were in school. Even though I felt a bit disappointed that I wouldn't be learning English, German was a foreign language too, so I was looking forward to those lessons. For the next 7 years German was one of my least favorite school subjects. When it came to German I was a straight C student, sometimes B/C student (I graduated with B in German but it doesn't really matter or mean anything). I wrote before that "...the problem I always had with German was that it was a school subject...". That is not exactly true in the sense that I did have a problem but with a school subject called "German" not the language itself. I didn't understand how learning rules and memorizing words were supposed to lead us to speaking the language. I wasn't doing anything like that when I was learning my native language (I was a 10 year old, it's okay for such a young child thinking like that ;) ). Besides at that age I was against rote memorization in general, and back then I tended to hold to my beliefs and principles :mrgreen: . So I tried to learn as much as I could during the class, I did the part of homework that didn't include any rote memorization, which means I usually didn't learn word lists. Somehow I managed to learn things like: Ich bin, du bist, er ist, etc. or grammar sturctures like: Ich habe gefragt, ich weise nicht. Simple words: Schule, Buch, Tisch, gehen, sehen, and the like. It's funny but the things that didn't get lost from my memory when I dropped German were those grammar rules and words I learned as a kid. Another, maybe less funny, thing is that even though I didn't like the grammar-words approach when I started learning German on my own I tried more or less follow it, with one exception - I was learning words not through word lists but, as I now understand, intensive reading. I just didn't know any better. So back then I was trying to learn German through learning grammar and translating (I had 40+ paper cards with grammar rules and other grammar related things I copied from a textbook). For some reason I believed that I should translate words in my head to my native language when reading a book, or watching Deutsche Welle. I think it was one of the reasons why my progress was rather slow, even though back then I didn't realize that - comparing to my school experience the result seemed to be really great.

My goal for German. I wrote before, not exactly in the same words, that I'd be happy with B2 in passive skills but later I realized I'd like to get to C-levels. And that is why I'm never going to become a polyglot :) - it seems I always want to learn as much as possible. Three foreign langauges - are more than enough for me. The good thing is that my brain has kind of started slowly adapting to the fact that there are three languages now (four in total, brrrr..... :| ) , or maybe I just get used to it. Either way, alternating between Italian and German doesn't feel so frightening as dealing with English and Italian at the same time a year ago. Funny Komisch but true.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Thu Aug 29, 2019 5:14 pm

To the post above
When I wrote this
And that is why I'm never going to become a polyglot :) - it seems I always want to learn as much as possible.

I was speaking of myself. I just wanted to clear this because I'm afraid it might be taken wrong. The thing is I don't have that ability to learn several languages to a high level. I think it would be a miracle if I manage to do that with these three (I mean maintaing English, and learning Italian and German). It's really hard for me to "jump" from one language to another. So I need to prioritize, so to speak...
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Thu Sep 19, 2019 4:54 pm

Rdearman's thread about happy B2 made me think and ask myself "Am I a happy A..., B..., C...?". My main problem with the question though is that I don't really know my levels in each of my languages, even in English. Of course, there are on-line tests and the CEFR levels descriptions, but the tests aren't accurate, and I seem just not to understand the levels descriptions. Besides, my way of learning languages has no structure, etc. And just as an example, I've noticed that my (English) vocabulary and the vocabulary of the people who use frequency lists or exam prep books are different. I mean, we may have a vocabulary of a similar size but the words we know are different - they know the words I don't know, and I may know the words they don't. With idioms will be the same story. So I'll better "stick" to happiness without defining A... B... C... :D .

The language I'm most unhappy about is of course English. I guess it was one of the reasons why I decided to stop learning it. I think it's all about expectations vs reality. I just know that I'm not going to make any noticeable progress any time soon. Or maybe I would but only if I started really studying the language, not just having fun with it. So I have a mixed feeling of little disappointment and recognition of my limits. But I can't say I'm really unhappy with my level of English (whatever ABC it is). My current level is good enough to do everything I want to in the language. I rarely need to look up a word in a dictionary, I don't need to form my thoughts in Russian first and then translate them to English, I actually often think in English (sometimes without being aware of it at first).

I feel more happy with my Italian and German because I am just in the beginning of the "journey". I don't get frustrated if I don't understand something, I know I am just a beginner, maybe upper-beginner :D but still. I can see progress. I can make my little language-learning experiments and see results. By the way, the experiments are a very important part of my language fun. What is also important - I like my languages and I like spending time in their "company". And I realized just now that the CEFR levels don't matter so much to me as they used to not so long time ago. My comprehension of the language - that is what really matters to me. And from my experience with learning English I know that if one day I really need to I could activate my so-called passive skills. I came to this forum after practicing writing not-too-long post on a forum for English learners for 3-4 months. And I wasn't posting on there everyday, but just occasionally. I remember being surprised that native speakers could understand me at all back then :) . But since they (you ;) ) were able to understand my writing I think I can do the same with my other languages - start working on writing/speaking when I either really want to or have to do that.
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 713
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: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:00 pm

Restarting learning German made me think about my previous attempt to learn the language on my own, and the way we were taught in school. Often the traditional approach (grammar+word lists) is claimed to be if not more effective but at least faster than learning a language through input. Now I'm starting doubt it. It might be that I didn't learn much in school because I wasn't a good student who follows all the teacher instructions, makes all the homework, etc. but when I tried to learn the language by myself I followed the same grammar-translation approach because I thought that it was the only possible way to learn a language, and that I'd failed to learn it before because I was lazy etc. The only thing I modificated a bit was the process of learning new words - instead of the words lists approach I hated so much I used intensive reading, meaning I looked up every word I didn't know in a dictionary. Also I leafed through my handwritten (copied from a textbook) grammar cards, and watched about 30 min ~ 1 hour to Deutche Welle. Back then I thought that I was progressing fast, now being a little more experienced language learner I can see it was true. I believe that for the last two months my listening comprehension has reached the same level as I had after a year or so of every day watching Deutche Welle + reading + grammar. Two months ago (2 or 3, I guess) I wasn't a more false beginner than I was ~ 15 years ago. Let alone the fact that back then I remembered the words and grammar I'd learned in school better - the knowledge was more fresh. Almost everything I learned later on my own evaporated from my brain within a year after I dropped the language. Because of that experience I was always afraid of making breaks in learning a language.

Closer to the point. Yesterday I read Mista's post in StringerBell's log and it helped me to see one of the mistakes I made while learning English. For about a year or a year and a half I was reading books intensively. I'll quote the last sentence from that post:
One of the secrets to language learning is that you have to deal with the language in an automated and subconcious way, and that's what you lose if you only read intensively and not extensively.

Basically that's it.
And I didn't just looked up the words I translated, sometimes the whole sentences. I might be mistaken here but I suspect that such an "exercise" makes one kind of blind to the language they are reading or listening to. Actually I was able to translate even spoken language. Even at high or close-to high levels. Getting rid of translating in my head was really hard to me, to be honest. Now I think that all that translating thing was holding me back for a long time.
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