aaleks's log

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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 715
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 » Fri Oct 18, 2019 10:06 am

Recently I've been googling/reading about language learning a lot as I often do. It might seem that I don't need it anymore since I have my own experience but the thing is I find too many flaws in my approach(es) to learning English. I'm okay with the result (more or less) but in my opinion it took me too long to get to this level. And speaking about approaches, I think I'm just starting to figure out what the best language-learning approach for me is. I'd like to stress this "for me" because this is what I'm doing. I'm looking for the ways and approaches to learning a language that would work for me the way I'd like. Because to me it is not only about the fastest etc. but it's equally important that I like the process.

I'm interested, of course, in learning a language through a lot of input. Even though it might seem that it was how I learned English, in reallity I used rather a half-input approach, if I may call it so. I wasn't so open-minded and bold at the time I started learning English, or simply not young enough - not a child. I'm slowly starting to come to conlusion that one of the main difference that helps kids learn language seemingly effortlessly is the fact that they don't know yet that learning a language is long and boring process. According to one of the theories, teens are not so good as little kids - well, maybe because they already know? School lessons, maybe?.. :roll: Anyway, I wasn't a child, and had been taught a foreign language in school, so even though I didn't like the traditional approach I wasn't able to drift too far from it. I didn't read extensively, I didn't really try to figure out words and grammar from context. It just happened that I seemed to figure out some of grammar on my own partially because I remembered some German grammar, partially by accident, and the third (tiny little) part was the grammar I'd known already from textbooks. Now I want to uhmm... explore an input approach more, especially because I like the result I got from my three months no-dictonary-no-textbook experiment.

To be honest this searching-reading has led me to the conlusion that even though there are enough hypotheses наука пока еще не в курсе дела (с) it seems no one knows how language is really learned, acquired, whatever by the brain. Fortunately, I am not a linguist, so I don't have or need to back up my thoughts by research. Besides, it's not really thoughts but more like observations.
It seems lots of people have the experience of learning a language through media. Of course, the language in the most cases is English, and the learners are kids watching cartoons or random vids on youtube. And, of course, most of them was learning English in school at the time or started right after. What is interesting or somewhat funny, or maybe ironical, the quality of their English is different and sometimes may be not really good. I find it a bit ironical because it kind of proves ineffectiveness of both approaches - the traditional and input-based one. Probably one of the most (ab)used argument that's usually used to dismiss all such stories is "they/you had English in school" meaning the school lessons, i.e. the traditional approach - grammar drilling and the like - gave them the base: some vocabulary and grammar. But it seems explicit grammar instructions are not as effective as even I used to think. I mean coupled with a lot of input they should, are supposed to, give a really good result. So maybe the quality of output depends on how much one really cares? Or just is able to notice these sometimes really small differences between one's native language and, in this case, English? For example, I care but sometimes fail to notice small details like prepositions etc. ...

... Okay, it's again too long so I'll stop now but maybe muse on it later. We'll see

P.S. to anyone who reads this - don't take my musing too seriously, I'm still such a newbie when it comes to language learning :)
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 715
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
x 1291

Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Wed Oct 30, 2019 5:01 pm

A little update on my German. It seems now it's good enough to understand Peppa Pig. I can understand about 90~99.99100% of the cartoon. I mean I can it 100% understand because even when I don't know a word or two my comprehension is still 100%, but since there are words I don't know it's more like 90%. The words I don't know are usually the names of vegetables, insects, and the like. I wasn't watching Peppa all that time, I tried watching it in the beginning but because I was watching it in Italian at the time it felt confusing so I stopped doing that. Today I watched it just to kind of test my German. Of course I knew I'd made progress for these 3+ months (I started late July) but it was interesting and encouraging to actually see, meaning hear, that progress. Speaking of my German learning history: school, learning on my own in the early 2000'th, it seems the words I have remembered are the words I learned in school. Most, if not all, of the words I learned later are gone. Even though I didn't learn words lists for school I still managed to learn some of the high frequency words. I wanted to learn the language I just didn't like the approach so I was trying to learn something, remember words from the lessons, textbooks' texts but learning them rather along the way, not memorizing as a list. So I definitely learned words like gehen, stehen, sehen, sprachen, sagen, machen, Tisch, Bleistift, and the like back then - in school. At the same time the word reden was completely new to me. But how's it possible that I had never heard it watching Deutsche Welle? So I think "reden" was one of the words I memorized during that year in the 2000's, while sprachen and sagen I picked up during the school lessons and watching Детский час with German lessons. I think it happened because the words I learned during that year when I was learning German by myself were stored in my brain in the "word -> translation" form. Since translating back and forth was the only way I knew to learn a foreign language I didn't give the words a chance to develop some other connections. They were "laying" there like a pile of factual information that got discarded when wasn't needed anymore.
4 x

aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 715
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
x 1291

Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sat Dec 07, 2019 6:09 pm

This has been probably the longest time without an update. I did that rather on purpose; in this post I will explain why.

I’ve mentioned before that I like googling and reading about language learning, one day in my searching I came across this link https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/data/U ... tNvIixOg__ It seems to be a PhD thesis written by an Australian who conducted an experiment of learning a second language through media and immerson (‘Picking Up’ a Second Language from Television: an autoethnographic L2 simulation of L1 French learning). It’s about 300+ pages long. Reading it from cover to cover would’ve taken too long time, so mostly I was skimming and scrolling, that way it took me two days or so to read it. If anyone read the thesis too they'll see that the final result of the experiment was not the one that'd been expected. My hypothesis on why it might happen is that there was too much conscious work involved. It seems he was trying to figure out meaning of words while watching tv. Maybe I'm wrong in this assumption but that is how the process looked to me when I was reading the thesis. Another problem might be that the author of thesis often wasn't really interested in the stuff he watched, so he had to make himself to watch it. One of those "boring" shows was Hélène et les garçons. I watched the series in the mid 1990's being a teenage girl at the time (kind of the target audience of the show :) . Btw, at the first page of the log I posted an youtube video with the top 20 shows of that time in Russia. Hélène et les garçons is #4 of that top). I liked the series back then, and reading about it made me want to watch it again, just of nostalgia. Even though there's the series dubbed in Russian on youtube I wanted to watch it in original. Of course there was a little problem - I didn't know French. Yes, I was dabbling in the language for a while ~1.5 years ago but I didn't learn much and then forgot the little that I learned. So I decided that it would be a great opportunity to try to learn a language from input, without dictionaries, textbooks, and subtitles. Everything seemed to be almost ideal and according to Krashen - compelling native material to watch and at the same time I wasn't interested in learning the language, just in watching the series. To make that input comprehensible I had visual clues, and that was the theory/approach I wanted to test in the first place. I liked/like the theory and found it logical (visual clues + processing the text mostly subconsciously and a bit consciously. I don't think I need to write it in more details, everyone seems to have figured out how that works way before me). Unfortunately, the experiment couldn't and can't be pure because of the dabbling, and Italian, and me not being a monolingual. But it is what it is. I started on November 11th so it's been almost four weeks now. The goal was to watch all the 280 episodes of the show and see how much French I would have learned. At first I thought that I wouldn't post anything in this log up till the end of the experiment but then I realized that at my pace - 3-6 episodes per day - it was/is going to take about two months to watch all of them, so I decided I'd take an one-month break and then write an update. And that what I'm trying to do right now :) .

When I started watching the first episode I could understand nothing, except maybe for the words like oui, non, bonjour, au revoir, and je m'appel (the latter I learned when I was 10 or 11 y.o.). The dabbling in French and learning Italian seemed to not be helping at all. I could follow the storyline because of visual clues and, of course, because I'd watched the series before and vaguely remembered the relationships between the characters. But I didn't and don't remember the stories, after all I watched it 20+ years ago. Not much help either. But with each day my comprehension became better. Sometimes I could understand a whole dialogue. The language that helped me the most wasn't Italian as might be expected but English. I think the reason is that my Italian is still weak, so it seems often I can't recognize Italian words in the "French disguise". Usually first I will figure out the meaning of a word, and only after realize that there is an Italian word that sounds similar (there've been 3 or 4 of such words so far). I've watched 134 episodes by now. It's hard to tell how good my listening comprehension is at the moment, but for example at the end of 132 episode there is a dialogue between Laly and Helene, more like a monologue actually :roll: , Laly says to Helen "I need a favor but it should stay between us. Go to Nathalie's room and call me from her phone". I wrote this from memory so it's not word by word, but anyway, anyone who knows French can watch the scene to check how good or bad my comprehension is :) .

I was going to write about other languages and my plans on French but the post is too long so maybe some time later.

edited: fixed an incorrect link
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aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 715
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
x 1291

Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sat Dec 28, 2019 5:17 pm

I guess this is going to be a summary of some kind.

Well... If at the beginning of the year it was just English and Italian, and I thought that were too many languages for me, now it's English, Italian, German, and French :o . I don't know, or remember, what were my plans on French I was going to share in the post above because I really don't know what I'm going to do with it. My only plan is finishing Hélène et les garçons, and then we'll see (and who is those 'we' anyway? :roll: ). At the moment I have watched 200 episodes of the series (lately I watched ~2-3 episodes a day, besides I skipped a couple of days). I can pretty much follow the plot of almost any episode. I guess it is half understanding/half guessing from the context etc. I like the progress - after all I've been watching a series made for natives, and mostly can understand what's going on after ~ 1.5 months of watching that series without subtitles, looking up words, and drilling grammar. And I like the process. I guess the process of acquiring a language like this is my main motivation to keep going, to continue the "experiment". Now it is not only listening but reading as well. At some point I started reading those short preview below the video, or how it's called, to each episode. When I just started I was surprised to find out that I could understand it. Not 100%, of course, often it is just a gist of the text. Anyway I'm having fun and I like the approach, and the results. But, as I said, I don't know what I'm going to do with French when I run out of the episodes of the series. I just know that I want to keep French, and I want to keep all my language - all four of them. What I don't know is how I'm going to do it. I guess that is what I'll have to figure out the coming year.

Italian and German are doing well considering. They would do more well if they didn't have to share their place and time with other languages. How's doing my English everyone can see from this post. I think, I need to read more books in English but for some reason I don't read enough or often at all. Sometime I think it's because for a rather long period of time I read books I didn't really like. I would start reading one and then realize I didn't like the book but since I had already started reading it I felt obliged to read to the end. And then the next book, and the next book, and so on. Besides I was reading for learning (English), and back then I tried to read at least 10 pages a day. So maybe I just need a rather long (longer than I thought, and would like) break from books...
4 x

aaleks
Blue Belt
Posts: 715
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
x 1291

Re: aaleks's log

Postby aaleks » Sat Jan 04, 2020 7:04 pm

Decided to take Dialang test (listening) for French just for fun of it. And... this is the result :o

Your test result suggests that you are at level B1 in listening on the Council of Europe scale. At this level, people can understand the main points of clear "standard" speech on familiar matters connected with work, school, leisure etc. In TV and radio current-affair programmes or programmes of personal or professional interest, they can understand the main points provided the speech is relatively slow and clear.

22 correct answers out of 30

I don't believe the test. It just can't be true. Even if it were A2 I wouldn't believe that. But.. well.. it's just funny that I managed to get this B1 after less than 2 months of watching Hélène et les garçons
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