James29's Spanish and French Log

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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:10 pm

Well, I'm still chugging along with Atlas Shrugged in Spanish and Sobreviviendo a Escobar.

I'm about 40% through Atlas Shrugged. It is amazing to me how "easy" a read it is for me. The last time I read it in Spanish was exactly five years ago. That's hard to believe. I remember I bought the book and audio because it was the longest audio book recorded in Spanish... about 60 hours. I did the classic LR method with it. It is really not much different than reading English for me. The fact that I know the story pretty well makes it all the much easier.

I have five episodes left in Sobreviviendo a Escobar. I cannot wait until it is done. I'm not really even trying to follow the "story". Of course, story is in quotes because there really is not a plot other than killing, drug smuggling, jailbreaks, more killing, drinking, double crossing and more killing. I would have quit but for the audio description narration. I really like it. I really "study" what the narrator says and what words she chooses to use. I'm definitely picking up vocabulary and, more important, nuances.

I'm using Spanish more and more at work. It is a bit of a snowball. It is growing slowly, but it is growing. My business is cruising along quite well without needing more customers so I'm not devoting any energy to the Spanish side of things. It is really just for fun. I'm noticing I'm getting many more compliments now from my customers. They really appreciate the service. I also have a Mexican employee now who helps with the Spanish speakers. That has lead to random conversations in Spanish throughout the day. We speak in English if anyone else is around, but if it is just the two of us we use Spanish.

I've been searching quite a bit on Netflix for my next series. I think I've decided on watching Club de Cuervos. Hopefully it will be good. I have high expectations.

That's it for now.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby mjfleck2000 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 11:57 pm

Have you watched the Netflix series La Niña? It is in Spanish (subtitles in English and Spanish available) about a young lady returning to her family at age 15 after having been rescued from the gorilla fighters in Colombia. I am B2-C1 in Spanish and this series is really pushing me.... they speak native fast, with slang, cursing, yelling, etc.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:36 pm

mjfleck2000 wrote:Have you watched the Netflix series La Niña? It is in Spanish (subtitles in English and Spanish available) about a young lady returning to her family at age 15 after having been rescued from the gorilla fighters in Colombia. I am B2-C1 in Spanish and this series is really pushing me.... they speak native fast, with slang, cursing, yelling, etc.


Yes, I watched La Nina. I really liked it. For learning/practicing Spanish it is a great telenovela. Make sure you are using the audio track with audio description. It will triple the amount of Spanish in the show and is really helpful. I wish there were more telenovelas like this on Netflix... numerous episodes, nice story (not about drug dealers) and audio description.

Well, in terms of Spanish I'm doing more and more of the same. I finished Sobreviviendo a Escobar yesterday. It was 60 episodes. It was definitely good for my Spanish, but I definitely cannot recommend this series to anyone. It was a terrible story. Anyway, onward and upwards. I'll start a new series soon. I watched the Spanish movie 100 metros this morning. Nice story. Super easy for me to understand. It felt basically like English to me. It has audio description Netflix which is nice. I'm going to watch Club de Cuervos next and maybe mix in Better Call Saul. I noticed they removed the Spanish version of Breaking Bad. I was hoping to watch that. They have the Spanish audio still, but not the actual show, Metastasis, in Spanish. I'll also bang out the other short series that have audio description. There is a three series show about Kate del Castillo meeting El Chapo and also a four episode biography of the current Pope. I'm undecided about Narcos. I think I'll put that off for a while.

I was never really a huge Kate del Castillo fan, but after Ingobernables I notice myself searching for her telenovelas more often. I think it is because she is a good actress and if she is in the show it is going to be of higher than average quality. There are a couple other of her telenovelas on Netflix and I'll add them to my list.

I'm still chugging through Atlas Shrugged. I am on page 509 out of 1250 or so. I like slowly working my way through such a long book. I'll always like this book and I've noticed I am picking up on many things that I never noticed before. There are things in the beginning that you "understand" better if you have previously read the book. I think I'll finish the second third (the book is divided into three distinct parts) and then set it aside for a little bit.

I'm speaking more Spanish at work... especially with my employees who speak Spanish. That's nice. It actually feels pretty natural to use Spanish for just small talk and basic office talk. "Natural" in the sense that it is just as easy for us to talk in Spanish as it is to speak in English about work related matters.

I have not done much, if any, French for a long time and I'm considering French on the back burner for a while. It still interests me somewhat, but it really is not that important.

Well, I've got to do some thinking about what to watch next on Netflix.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby iguanamon » Sat Nov 25, 2017 3:29 pm

I watched "El día que conocí al Chapo" last week, and I enjoyed it. It doesn't have a focus on narcos or trafficking per se, although obviously, it's a peripheral part of the story given who El Chapo Gúzman is. It's more of an explanation for why Kate did what she did, the politics of it and how Kate and her attorney shows that the Mexican government spun that to its advantage in the press. You'll appreciate it having watched "Ingobernable" and you'll recognize the theme. I would say that this "series" is more like a documentary. It's well done. Some of it is in English but I purposely watched with Spanish subtitles to avoid concentrating too much on the English. I think you'll find it worth your while... vale la pena.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Dec 03, 2017 4:49 pm

Well, I'm still just chugging along with Spanish. I'm back to 10+ hours a week of running and about 6 or 7 is on my treadmill watching Netflix in Spanish. I'm watching Better Call Saul. I'm really not sure why I'm watching this. For some reason I was in the mood to watch a dubbed comedy of a popular US show and that was about all I could find on Netflix. I am really liking the show. It is actually pretty funny and I'm not an easy guy to make laugh. There was one point recently where I actually was a bit worried for my safety because my laughing caused me to start to wander around a bit too much on the treadmill. I'm moving through the series pretty fast and am almost done with it. There are only 20 episodes on Netflix and I must be somewhere around episode 12 or 13. I'll finish it this week.

The extra time on the treadmill comes directly out of my Spanish reading time. So, I'm moving slower through Atlas Shrugged. I finished the fourteenth chapter (out of 30) this morning and am on page 544 (out of 1250ish). I love the book. I am able to really enjoy it this time in Spanish instead of worry so much about reading in Spanish. There is some vocabulary that I don't know but I am completely ignoring it as it does not impact my comprehension. I am going to continue through chapter 20 and then stop for a while and read something else. Then I'll come back and finish the book later in 2018.

I cannot think of much else that I've been doing in Spanish. I have fallen out of the habit of listening to the VOA news every morning on the way to work. Maybe I'll start doing that again. That was a good habit. I got a new car and I have not been able to figure out how the blue tooth works so I just don't do it. My new car has a plug where I can simply plug my phone into the audio system and it will play on the car's speakers... so there is no excuse for me not to be listening to the VOA news every morning like I was doing for a couple years.

I was doing quite a bit of day traveling this past week and did not make it to a meetup. I do periodically speak in Spanish with my employees and I really like that. The Mexican woman I work with speaks perfect Spanish and is very easy to understand. It is interesting to see how she and I sometimes have difficulties deciding which language to use. Both languages are easy for both of us.

I'm dreaming more about French and even a bit about Portuguese. I really wish my French was at a point where I could just watch Netflix in French and pick up the language. Unfortunately, I'm just not that good and I don't want to spend time doing "hard" work in French. Portuguese is interesting because I think it would be easy but I could also see a future for it in my business. Every time I think about a third language I always come back to the thought that I really need to bump up my Spanish a bit more and get to a point where I can devote some time to marketing to Spanish speaking customers. I have done zero of that.

Well, I'm loving the Spanish journey and am happy to report that it never seems to end. There is always more to learn and there are always more things to experience and conquer.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Tue Dec 12, 2017 12:35 pm

I'm going to do a quick update because I did not get a chance to post this past weekend. More of the same with Spanish. I'm now watching Call Me Francis and Club de Cuervos on Netflix. I'm not too crazy about Francis. It really seems like a boring PBS-type documentary. Club de Cuervos seems like I'll like it. It is great to have a show with several episodes that is not about drug dealing. Something is screwy with my Netflix or my computer as the audio is not coming out very loudly. On the treadmill this makes it very difficult to hear/understand. I watched the first episode of Club de Cuervos twice just to make sure I had a good/solid understanding of what happened. The second time I did not get much extra out of it which made me feel good that I did not miss anything the first time.

I'm still reading Atlas Shrugged. I'm moving through it at a rate of probably something like two to three hours a week. i am listening to the audio and following the text.

I had a couple new Spanish speaking customers come in to meet with me yesterday. No problems there. I am quite confident now speaking Spanish for work. This is good.

I'll just keep chugging along and enjoying the Spanish journey.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 4:06 pm

I am watching Club de Cuervos on the treadmill during the week. I like it. I am finding the audio difficult. It seems like it was not recorded well or something. There are numerous scenes where the audio is so faint that I can barely hear it. Other times it sounds hollow or something. The narration is great. I am also getting frustrated because for some reason Netflix is now changing my audio/subtitle settings with each new episode. I like to watch with audio description in Spanish with no subtitles. Every time a new show starts it defaults to Spanish audio (no description) and English subtitles. I find the subtitles incredibly distracting. I definitely do not need them.

I also finished Call me Francis... a mini-biography of the Pope's life. I had the same audio and setting problems. I ended up spacing out quite a bit during this series. It really did not keep my interest.

I'm still chugging through Atlas Shrugged. I'm about half way through now. I'm liking the story just as much as I did the prior times I read it. Nothing is like the first time through, but this time I'm picking up more details that the reader misses if they don't know the whole story. I'd have to say that my reading comprehension of this book must be very close to my level in English. There are some unknown words, but not many. I'm just starting to look for a book to read when I pause Atlas Shrugged. I think I might read another Michael Connolly or John Grisham. I have not looked for books for a while so it is kind of fun.

I still do my regular meetup. Nothing new there.

Spanish is not something I worry about now. If I miss a day it is no big deal. I rarely miss a day.

I'm not doing French, but maybe I'll get back into it. I wish my French was good enough to watch TV and comprehend reasonably well. I'll need to take some time off from running in order to get my French up to a more respectable level.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:10 pm

Almost another year down. That's pretty amazing. When you get older the years just fly by... especially when you are having fun.

I now forget how long I've been working on Spanish. I believe it is a bit more than eight years now. For the past few years I've just been reading books, watching TV and having conversations. When I think back on my first few years I wonder how I did all those runs through Assimil, FSI, Living Language, etc. I'd have a hard time doing that now.

Anyway, this past week was pretty good. Nothing too unusual. I'm getting back into the groove with my running so I'm on the treadmill more hours now. I'm cruising through Club de Cuervos. I am somewhere near the middle of the second season now. It is much more juvenile than my likes but I must admit there are some parts that are really funny. The Spanish seems very slangy and regional thus making it a bit more difficult to understand than a "typical" telenovela. I really like the unique story line. The acting seems pretty high quality and the production is good... except one big thing, the audio. The audio is, at times, very faint and hard to hear. I started watching with earbuds to deal with this but that still does not fix the "problem." I guess it is good for practicing my Spanish.

I also started La Casa de Papel. Wow! This is going to be great! It is about a heist where a bunch of criminals get organized by a "professor" to rob the central monetary reserve of Spain. I've only seen the first two episodes, but I'm hooked already. I'll give a more thorough review when I've seen a few more episodes.

I finished Cuando Conoci al Chapo. I liked it. Just as Iguanamon said earlier, it is an interesting documentary-like explanation of Kate del Castillo's meeting with El Chapo. I thought it was well done and, even though it was essentially a documentary, it always held my interest. I was never a Kate del Castillo fan, but she has been growing on me with this show and Ingobernables before.

Netflix seems to be releasing more and more shows with audio description in Spanish. This is great for Spanish learning/practice as it more than doubles the amount of Spanish in most shows. Casa de Papel is a new one they released, there is also a new season of El Chapo and a new season of Chicas del Cable being released soon. I'd LOVE it if they released a full length (60+ episodes) telenovela with this feature.

I am also reading Atlas Shrugged with the audio. I'm over half-way now and really hope to finish the second part before my January trip to Costa Rica. I'd like to bring my Kindle with me to Costa Rica and read an easy to read mystery. I started searching Amazon for a good read. It has been a long time since I read a book on my Kindle. I cannot wait.

Speaking of my Kindle, I am realizing how much reading on the Kindle with a pop-up translator is really the best way to advance/improve a language. I have probably read about 50 books and also watched 12+ telenovelas. There really is no comparison between the two methods. Reading really pushes the language along so much faster. There is MUCH more vocabulary in a book. Plus, you actually learn the unknown words by looking them up. You also see them. True, watching telenovelas has brought my comprehension up to a very high level that I would not be able to get with reading. But, I have noticed with all the telenovela watching over the past year that I think my vocabulary is actually decreasing. I much more often find myself grasping for words I know I previously had in my active vocabulary. Anyway, that's just my two cents. Both reading and watching TV are necessary and useful, but maintaining sufficient reading seems critical.

At work I am now chatting quite a bit with my co-workers. I'm learning work related vocabulary that I never knew before. In some ways, however, I'm not getting in as much Spanish. My Spanish speaking assistant is now doing all the communications with Spanish speakers... this is great (and as designed) as it allows me to focus on more productive things, but it also takes me away from using Spanish with customers.

I do the local meetup almost every week. I'm not sure it is really worth too much in terms of advancing my Spanish but it is fun.

My trip to Costa Rica is only a couple weeks away and I have not done hardly ANY planning. I don't even have a hotel for half of the nights. I need to figure out if I am going to rent a car. I am inclined to rent one, but nervous. It is hard to know without having been there. I felt fine renting a car in Cabo San Lucas and Valencia but it would have been horrible in the Dominican, Ecuador and DF.

I still think about spending some time with other languages. I actually searched through Netflix for shows in Portuguese. Unfortunately, there is not much in Portuguese... or at least the searching for Portuguese audio does not work well. I have a ton of shows saved in my list for French. Someday I might see if I can learn French just by watching shows on Netflix. For now, however, I'm going to stick with advancing and using my Spanish.

Merry Christmas to all.
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Stelle
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby Stelle » Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:52 pm

James29 wrote:My trip to Costa Rica is only a couple weeks away and I have not done hardly ANY planning. I don't even have a hotel for half of the nights. I need to figure out if I am going to rent a car. I am inclined to rent one, but nervous. It is hard to know without having been there. I felt fine renting a car in Cabo San Lucas and Valencia but it would have been horrible in the Dominican, Ecuador and DF.

Where in Costa Rica are you going? We rented a car for a month in Costa Rica, and were really happy to have done so. We never felt unsafe (well, except when trying to find a place to park the car for a few days on the border with Nicaragua - in hindsight, it was fine, but at the time it felt a bit sketchy). We were able to do a lot of hiking and exploring that would have been much more difficult without a car. For lodging, we used AirBNB quite a lot.

Enjoy your trip!
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby Snow » Mon Dec 25, 2017 6:42 pm

Thanks to your log, I started watching La Casa de Papel today and I'm loving it! I rarely finish Spanish series because I don't like the random nudity in most of them. This one, though, I'm willing to tolerate such scenes because I am enjoying the main plot - heist.

How do you watch series? I'm watching it with English sub because when I try with Spanish sub, I'm more focused on reading. With English, I only sometimes look at the sub. I'm more focused on listening and copying what the characters say. If I don't understand something, then a quick glance usually fixes the problem.
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