James29's Spanish and French Log

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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:28 pm

OK, it is time for my weekly update. I did a lot of Spanish again this week. I primarily just read from El Manantial. This is a very long book. The English audio book is over 32 hours. My kindle says I am now 76% done with the book. I like the book. It is different than anything I have ever read. It is not the greatest thing I have ever read, but I certainly like it better than most books I read. I had a few traveling days where I probably read 4-ish hours in the book.

I did not really do much else. As usual, I listen to the news on the way to work. I also went to the weekly meetup. I had a few skype talks, but they were mostly in English. I've found a good partner who can give me good business advice so I trade my English for free business consulting. It's a great deal.

I don't think I watched any episodes of Los Miserables. I'm thinking I might watch one tonight. I'm home alone and I actually have a nice quiet house! I can hear birds chirping outside! I never knew my house could be so peaceful. I only wish I had a nice cold Mexican beer in the fridge and some chips and salsa.

I saw a bunch of my French speaking relatives this past week and it got me even more motivated to plunge into French. I really need to put off the French dreams for a while. I simply have way too much to do. I want to finish off my goals for the year in Spanish. I also have a major personal goal I really want to get accomplished before I think of studying French.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Sun Aug 16, 2015 2:35 am

I'm going to quickly update my log now because I won't likely have much free time tomorrow.

It's been a pretty good week for Spanish. I've been traveling for the last several days so I've had a ton of free time. I read a ton of hours in El Manantial. I am now 86% done according to my Kindle. It is good book and it keeps my interest. I want to read whenever I have free time. My telenovela has been put on the back burner until I finish the book. I am a bit let down, however, as I was hoping this book would equal the quality of Atlas Shrugged. It is a great book, but definitely falls short of Atlas Shrugged. I'm picking up a ton of passive vocabulary.

I also had a few very long skype exchanges with a new partner I have who is working out quite well. Most of these talks were in Spanish.

I think I forgot to mention last week that I had a very nice chat with the receptionist at my dentist's office. We chatted away in Spanish. I'm not bashful anymore about asking people if they speak Spanish. I just charge right in. We had to talk about a ton of stuff and she did not hesitate at all speaking with me in Spanish. She complimented me on my Spanish and said that it was just easier for her to do her job with me in Spanish (e.g. my Spanish was not an impediment at all to the various things we needed to talk about). That was cool.

I still always listen to the VOA news in the morning.

I had a customer call me in Spanish this past week. It was a very successful conversation. This is the hardest Spanish situation I face... speaking with new customers in Spanish. I'd say it went quite well this time and I'm at the point where I really could do my job quite well in Spanish. I won't be able to take it seriously without an assistant who can speak Spanish, but that now seems like it would be a good idea to think about.

I've thought more and more about French. Eventually I'll dive in seriously. Now, I simply have too many things going on. I kind of like the idea of just learning passive French and doing a lot of reading in French.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby Bebetter » Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:10 pm

James29 wrote: (e.g. my Spanish was not an impediment at all to the various things we needed to talk about). That was cool.


I think this is my over all goal in Spanish.To be able to have a full conversation with a native Spanish speaker and not have it be a challenge for them to understand me. Its also really cool to hear that you don't have any fear of jumping right in and asking if they speak Spanish. Everytime I have even a small conversation it feels like my heart is going to explode out of my chest, lol.

Great update!
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:45 am

Well... I do have some "fear" of jumping in. I think my biggest fear is just being wrong about if the person's accent is Spanish or not. I've recently met some Hungarian folks and I mistakenly thought their accent was Spanish. Luckily I did not say something stupid. The really cool thing I have noticed is that Spanish speakers are very noticeably helpful and respectful if you speak to them in Spanish. I have never once had someone respond in a rude or dismissive way and I've never had anyone switch to English unless I requested to.

It is funny to notice things that I never would have thought would make a big difference. At the dentist's office it was quite noticeable that the receptionist just did not care that Spanish was my second language. Her English was perfect (but with a noticeable accent), but it was obvious that doing her job with me in Spanish was just as easy and no effort for her.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Sun Aug 23, 2015 6:32 pm

I finished The Fountainhead/El Manantial today so I'm going to update my log and goals for 2015.

1. Finish Gramatica de Uso del Espanol B1/B2. -> DONE.

2. Read novels totaling 1,000,000 words. -> DONE. Finished eight novels totaling 1,022,000 words (En Llamas with 105,000; El Fiscal en el Candelero with 66,000; Diez Negritos with roughly 66,000; Los Litigantes with roughly 127,000; The Black Echo with 152,000; Alex Rider #4 with 58,000; Theodore Boone #4 with 57,000 words and The Fountainhead/El Manantial with 391,000 words).

3. Listen to Spanish every morning on the way to work. -> So far, so good (although I have listened to some French in this time period).

4. Watch any 100 30 minute TV episodes. -> So far have watched equivalent of roughly 80 episodes.

5. Write 12 letters or memos for correction. -> No progress.

6. Read the Spanish side of Assimil's New French With Ease (Spanish Base). -> DONE.

Discussion:

I finished a major book today. I liked it a lot and really enjoyed pushing through it. There were several days where I read three or four hours. I had extremely high expectations for this book because I had heard a number of people say it was better than Atlas Shrugged, which I loved. Unfortunately, I was a tad bit let down. It was a great book that kept my interest the entire time, but it was certainly not as good as Atlas Shrugged.

In terms of my Spanish, I really had no problem at all reading this book. There were a couple of times where I went back a few pages and re-read what I read, but that was not always because of the Spanish. Some of the things in the book were just hard to understand. There was a ton of descriptive vocabulary and I often skipped over words I did not know if I knew that they were words that did not totally matter. She would often describe the sky, clouds, landscape, etc in a way where I am sure it was quite beautifully written in English, but really did not make too much of a difference to the story. In these situations I did not really care if there was a description of a cloud or something that I did not totally understand.

Most important, I finished my reading goal for the year and went well over one million words for the year. Reading this much has been really great for my Spanish. I now feel quite confident that I can enjoyably read any novel that has been translated into Spanish. That was my ultimate Spanish reading goal and I feel comfortable saying that I have now achieved that goal. If I never get any better with reading I'll be fine. I can enjoyably read books that I would read in English.

This week I also watched one more episode of Los Miserables, the telenovela. I have now finished episode 31. I'm going to get back into this now that I finished El Manantial. I pretty much abandoned the telenovela as I got more and more into the book. It is also so much easier to just bring my kindle along with me wherever I go and read a chapter every now and then. I think I am going to make getting through this telenovela my primary goal now. I'll hopefully get it done before the end of the year.

I've had some great skype exchanges with my new partner. These are simply wonderful and I'm using it more for business advice than Spanish practice. We usually speak about business and I get free consulting advice as long as we speak in English. We do have conversations in Spanish too.

I had a really cool meetup experience. There was a guy from Cuba who I sat next to. He was a "freedom fighter" who spoke out against Castro and communism. Castro jailed him for nine years because he would not retract his statements. It was one of the most amazing conversations I have ever had in Spanish. It was simply amazing to hear about all the atrocities in Cuba and all of the men who have been jailed simply for speaking out against Castro for using force against innocent people. This guy did not speak English and I never would have experienced this if I had not learned Spanish. I must confess that, at times, I had a difficult time understanding him as he was quiet emotional and spoke relatively fast.

I still listen to the news every weekday morning on the way to work. I'll keep up that habit as now it just feels wrong not to listen to Spanish on the way to work.

I keep thinking more and more about French, but am putting it on the back burner until I get some non-language related goals accomplished. I set one major personal goal to accomplish in 2015 and I am much more behind in accomplishing that goal than I'd like to admit. I'm going to start putting more of a priority on getting personal things done than my language and business goals.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Sun Aug 30, 2015 5:16 pm

I'm going to update my goals because I'm almost done for the year. I was hoping to watch two more 30 minute blocks of TV, but just did not get to it.

1. Finish Gramatica de Uso del Espanol B1/B2. -> DONE.

2. Read novels totaling 1,000,000 words. -> DONE.

3. Listen to Spanish every morning on the way to work. -> So far, so good (although I have listened to some French in this time period).

4. Watch any 100 30 minute TV episodes. -> So far have watched equivalent of roughly 98 episodes (currently finished 40 telenovela episodes and 18 half hour shows).

5. Write 12 letters or memos for correction. -> No progress - I'm likely going to quit this and not do it.

6. Read the Spanish side of Assimil's New French With Ease (Spanish Base). -> DONE.

I did a ton of Spanish this week because my family is away while we are getting work done on the house. I've been chugging through episodes of Los Miserables and loving it. I watched episode 40 last night so I'm exactly one third done. I do think watching telenovelas is going to be exactly what I need for the next year or so. My focus is really on comprehension of spoken native Spanish. It is a lot more inconvenient than just reading a book, unfortunately. It is so much easier to just take a book or my kindle along with me wherever I go than to take my laptop, find a wifi connection, charger and headphones. I'll still always have some sort of book going.

I generally say I can fully understand the telenovela which is true, but that does not mean I understand everything that is said. The last few episodes I really tried to note when I was not understanding the actual words spoken. Whenever characters are emotional... particularly when they are angry... I miss the words. When the bad guy talks he uses a ton of Mexican slang and I don't understand a lot of that... but I often "understand" when I don't know the words because the content is obvious. I wonder if I am missing some subtle sub-plots and just don't know it. One good gauge I've noted is that I tried watching one show with the Spanish subtitles on and it was so annoying I just turned them off. I found that the annoying factor of the subtitles far outweighed the assistance with understanding.

I've also started the fifth (and last Spanish translation) of Alex Rider. It is easy, but because it is paper I'm noting how much I like using the kindle. I don't ever really want to go back to paper. Kindle is so much better. I've noticed that a lot of what I am doing now is somewhat geared toward the possibility of doing French someday. All ten Alex Rider books are translated into French and available on Kindle. This series would be perfect for reading if I ever really get into French.

I've had a few marathon skype exchanges which were wonderful. I have a good relatively new partner who I can talk with about business issues and learn a lot while also being really helpful for my Spanish. I have never really used Spanish to discuss actual underlying business issues so I struggled a bit with one conversation where we were discussing business metrics... the various margins, elasticity of my prices, product mix, etc. My Spanish just could not keep up with the conversation in some parts... there is just no way to use the "talk around" method to make the distinction between various types of margins. It is really just a matter of vocabulary (e.g. what word do you use for "gross" when you want to say "gross margin"? That sort of thing).

The weekly meetup and daily news radio are pretty much permanent in my life now.

I'm really itching for a trip and am starting to search for options for the fall/winter.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby iguanamon » Sun Aug 30, 2015 6:21 pm

James29 wrote:...I have never really used Spanish to discuss actual underlying business issues so I struggled a bit with one conversation where we were discussing business metrics... the various margins, elasticity of my prices, product mix, etc. My Spanish just could not keep up with the conversation in some parts... there is just no way to use the "talk around" method to make the distinction between various types of margins. It is really just a matter of vocabulary (e.g. what word do you use for "gross" when you want to say "gross margin"?...

Funny, listening to the news taught me "PIB", "Producto Interno Bruto"- or "Gross Domestic Product", with "gross" in a business context meaning "bruto" in Spanish . I've never had the need or desire to talk about "gross margin" but I figured "gross margin" must be margen bruto and I confirmed it with linguee. Linguee is highly useful to have open when talking about unfamiliar subjects online. When you have a high level in a language you can filter out the extraneous results quite well.
James29 wrote:... It is a lot more inconvenient than just reading a book, unfortunately. It is so much easier to just take a book or my kindle along with me wherever I go than to take my laptop, find a wifi connection, charger and headphones. ...

You can take a telenovela with you by downloading it to mp4 with the Flash Video Downloader 7.5.1 extension for firefox. You'll still need headphones and maybe a charger but no laptop or wifi. Downloading the video is easy and you can move it to your phone's files. I typically do this when I know I am going to be traveling on a plane or waiting somewhere, like an airport for example. I find I pretty much always have my phone with me so, I will load materials to use if I am in a situation where I have time to fill- pdf's, my synced kindle app, vlc for android for watching videos, podcasts I intend to get around to listening, etc.

If downloading videos and putting them on your phone seems like too much work, there is also a Telemundo app which will give you access to telenovela videos. Of course, with the app you'd be buffering, sucking data and battery life big time.
James29 wrote:The weekly meetup and daily news radio are pretty much permanent in my life now.

It's amazing what happens when we make a language a habit. It's easy to advise people to do that. It's easy to acknowledge it, but so few actually heed the advice. Making a language a part of your life does a lot of good things. :) Spanish is a part of your life now, and that won't change because you've made it a habit. It's something you want to do. It's a part of you.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:28 am

iguanamon wrote:downloading it to mp4 with the Flash Video Downloader 7.5.1 extension for firefox.


What language are you speaking??? :) It is not that it is too much work, I just don't have a clue how to do stuff on computers. I am getting better and sometimes I surprise myself, but I just don't like fiddling around with computer stuff.

I have occasionally watched the Telemundo telenovelas on my phone and that is good advice. I really like the fact that they don't have those incredibly annoying commercials that break in mid sentence when you watch on a mobile device.

The habit thing is funny... particularly with the meetup and the radio news. I have sometimes thought that I probably don't get too much out of these things anymore... the meetup is always very formulaic.... we just chat about stuff and, if there is a new person, we always ask them the same introductory questions. The news is very easy to listen to and also quite formulaic. But, when I think about it, my life in English is extremely formulaic also. The ongoing repetition is quite helpful for a number of things and it is actually quite "comfortable". I love having the feeling of being completely "comfortable" in Spanish. When I think about it now, I just cannot believe I would just listen to music or local talk news on the way to work. The VOA Noticias news is quite good and gives me basically what I need to know. The variety is such that you hear a few days of the same story and then they move on to something else. I think it is actually cool because it is something like natural spaced repetition.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby James29 » Sun Sep 06, 2015 12:28 pm

Well, it is Sunday so I'm going to briefly update my log. Not much new. I'm just doing the same old stuff. I'm reading the fifth (and last Spanish translation) of Alex Rider. Great book. So far, I'd say it is the best of the series. I really wish they translated the rest of the books. It is definitely very easy for me to read. I am whizzing through it pretty fast. It is interesting that there are still a decent amount of vocabulary words I don't know even in a book like this.

I've been focusing mostly on Alex Rider and have only watched a couple episodes of Los Miserables. I still want to finish the telenovela before the end of the year. I just get going on a book and want to finish it.

I've had some good Spanish talks with natives. Meetups are always good, but this week I went back to a Mexican restaurant I used to frequent a few years ago. It was nice... all the wait staff remembered me and I had a number of good talks with them. I don't think I'd been in there for about a year. One of the guys there is from Guatemala and we chatted for quite a while. He was difficult to understand as he kind of slurred his speech, spoke softly and did not enunciate anything. Once I got used to his speaking I adjusted pretty well.

I still listen to the VOA news every morning. Nothing new there.

I don't recall any skype talks this week. I have a pretty good partner now, but I'm quite busy with stuff so it has been a bit difficult.

Well, I've got tons of things to do today.
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Re: James29's Spanish Log

Postby Cavesa » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:40 pm

Hi, James. I just wanted to say I finally caught up with your log and congratulations to all your progress this year. Completion of majority of your goals already, that is seriously impressive! You're an inspiration.
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