James29's Spanish and French Log

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emk
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby emk » Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:03 pm

James29 wrote:I'm feeling bad for setting French aside. It was calling me this week. I did not do anything in French, but I'm starting to think about getting back into it. There must be an easy way to get to a decent conversational/reading level in French.

Hi, I'm a tempter, in the French language division. :-)

(But no, seriously, I know what's it's like to have a single language that matters more than all the others combined, but to be occasionally tempted by another Romance language. I'm not actually trying to talk you into studying French, merely pointing you to some stuff that might provide a bit of fun in French at your level if you happen to look for something. Feel free to retaliate with suggestions in Spanish, of course. :-) )

Did I mention that the first 5 pages of XIII: Le Jour du soleil noir are available online for free? Just click on "Lire l'extrait gratuit" and you can flip through it online. The English edition has the same pages available for use as a parallel text.

The plot will seem curiously familiar:

A man washes ashore near an old couple’s house, barely alive. When he comes to, he has forgotten everything, including his name. The only clues to his identity: a key sewn into his clothes, a bullet wound to the head... and the number XIII tattooed on his shoulder. A meagre start to reconstruct one’s self.

…but the story soon goes in very different directions than either Ludlum's book or the movie.

Another good one which I know I've mentioned before is Largo Winch : L'Heritier, where a young man is suddenly thrust into the leadership of a multinational corporation, and lethal conspiracies abound. There's an English version and a movie trailer.

Or if you were in more of a Spanish-speaking mood, Blacksad is a fun classic gritty noir detective story, written by a Spanish author but published first in French. (Definitely not for small children, though.) The Spanish edition is available used from a bunch of places in the US, but you'd probably have more luck finding a cheap source than I would. Unfortunately, the French and Spanish texts diverge a lot in the details, so you need to be able to be at a level where you can mostly guess the French based on the Spanish.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:24 pm

Well, I definitely have enough temptations to learn French! I don't need more.

I would thoroughly enjoy French if I could just fast-forward to a B1 or B2 level. My problem is that I just don't want to put in the time and work to get there. I'd rather spend my free time in Spanish (or doing other things). I have a very strong desire to know French, but not to learn it.

I read quite a bit about Largo Winch a few weeks ago (from one of your other posts, emk) and it looks quite interesting. My list of things to read is quite long already and I cannot even use the language. I thoroughly enjoyed the first five Alex Rider books in Spanish and wish there were translations of the last five. Those books were the bridge for my Spanish from super basic reading to adult books. All ten have been translated into French and they are on Kindle! If I could just get to the point where I could read those in French I'd be all set.

I have also been thinking more about traveling to French speaking areas (I've done the Spanish trip thing already) and it is like opening up a whole new world. Montreal is on my short list. I've been to Quebec City in my prior life, but I'd love to return. I also recently scoped out trips to Guadeloupe and Martinique. Those would not be too hard. For some reason those islands seem more appealing to me than the Spanish speaking islands.

I'm basically at my limit with 60 minutes a day and I definitely do not want to abandon Spanish. I am finally able to really enjoy Spanish and I like it. Sixty minutes just does not leave me much time to progress in French very fast.

I'm sure I'll get back into it at some point. I've always done well just doing whatever I want in Spanish and that will be my approach with French as well.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 1:43 pm

Wow, there are quite a few new year's logs. My log is all the way over on page four of the logs page after one week.

I'd say that, under the circumstances, this was a pretty good week.

Spanish:

I'm just reading The Black Ice by Michael Connelly and I'm almost done with it. I'm on chapter 31 out of 34. I can read it almost effortlessly, but that does not mean my Spanish doesn't need to improve. There have been a few parts that I needed to read over. When there is some sort of new important information or a twist or something unexpected that pops up I do not get as much benefit from having the context help me with the meaning. There were a couple important paragraphs I had to go back and re-read.

I also note that the Kindle really makes reading much easier. I don't think I'd have as easy a time if I was just skipping the words I did not know. I don't look up too many words, but it really does help in some situations. I find it interesting that often times when I look up a word on the pop up I look at the word again and say, "duh, I could have figured that out."

The most recent chapter was the beginning of the climax of the book and there was a ton of action. It was definitely harder to understand. Bosch teamed up with the DEA and FBI to do a raid on a drug dealing compound. There were descriptions of military type equipment and helicopters and attacks. I have never read things with this sort of vocabulary so it was noticeably more difficult. There was one part where something unexpected happened (during the assault when the helicopter landed in the ranch in the dark Bosch got charged by a roaming bull) that I just did not follow. I had to go back and read it. I was just not expecting that.

I'm really liking the book and I might try to find another hour or so to finish it today.

French:

I'm feeling like getting back into French again. I made a ton of progress late last year with just doing Paul Noble, a few weeks of Assimil and a few weeks of French for Reading. I'd really like to be able to read regular books in French. I think I can get to that level fairly quickly if I just suck it up and spend six months or so doing French every day.

I know that eventually I'd like to be able to be reasonably competent in French and I don't really feel like losing what I have already learned. I don't have any real desire to be as advanced as I am in Spanish, but I'd love to be able to do the following in French: 1) read popular fiction translated into French 2) be able to bumble through (B1-ish type level) an every day type conversation with French speakers 3) travel to a French speaking country and do the basics of everyday travel type things in French 4) meaningfully participate in local French meetups.

I think tomorrow I'll try to get back into French for Reading. When I stopped it last time I had gone through chapters 1-9 twice and 10-13 once. I'd like to see if I can pick back up at chapter 10 and try to work through 10-13 again without having to go all the way back to the beginning.

My wife has officially lost my French Assimil. I do still have the audio discs so all I need to do is buy the book this time. It is cheapest on Schoenhof's so I'll order that today. After I finish French for Reading I might try to just work my way through Assimil. Maybe not. I'm not really sure if I'll want to do Assimil or just try to start reading. I'll wait and see what I feel like doing, but I'd like to have Assimil ready.

I was searching for flights for a spring trip somewhere and was astonished at how low the prices are on Norwegian Air. There are round trip tickets to/from Martinique and Guadeloupe for $129+ from some of the major US cities (LA, Chicago, Boston, etc). I was really tempted to buy tickets and go down there for a week. Unfortunately, the flights seem to stop at the end of March and I'm not going to be able to take a week off until April. If anyone is looking for a quick getaway to a French speaking place with nice beaches you should check out Norwegian Air.

General thoughts:

A long time ago I always had it in my mind that I wanted my Spanish to be at the level where I could read popular fiction in Spanish. That was really one of my major goals. I have definitely accomplished that. I can do it quite effortlessly. I can also have very satisfying conversations with natives. My speaking/understanding is at such a level that I could definitely use Spanish at work and, if I choose to do so, I could actively and aggressively pursue Spanish speaking customers.

I think I need to remember that I have really accomplished what I set out to do with Spanish. I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. Sure, I could definitely improve. But, I will always be able to improve.

I have a very stressful job and I am busier than I have ever been in the past 10+ years. My Spanish time is satisfying and really brings me peace of mind. I don't want to lose that. Every morning when I finish my Spanish I still say to myself "I really like learning Spanish." Then I am ready to conquer the day.

Now I am thinking that I could pretty easily maintain my Spanish level while also getting that same satisfaction out of learning French. I think that is what I want to do. Getting past the beginner stage in French will be the hardest part.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby evilado » Sun Jan 10, 2016 2:58 pm

Congratulations on getting there, it's always nice to realize you've hit the point you'd been working for in your studies. I've also been almost exactly where you are now. After an amazing trip to Guatemala and reading great novels written in Spanish, I booked a trip to France with my mother and spent the year getting my French up to a usable level, always with an eye on keeping my Spanish level where it was. Had an amazing time with French, and I'm now returning to Spanish, to get my active skills back and better than before.

Your Spanish will suffer especially if you only read, but it's always going to be easier to remember and reactivate what you had than learning from scratch. It's also quite convenient that the two languages are rather similar and help a ton in the vocab department. As a member of La Manada, I say have some fun with French!
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 4:22 pm

Thanks for the encouragement. In reality I am doing languages mostly for the fun, intellectual challenge, sense of accomplishment and as a way to take a mini-vacation every morning. Do I really care if my Spanish does not advance too much? Not really. There could certainly be worse things happen to me.

I feel like I have finally crossed a line where I don't really need to worry about losing my Spanish. It is just so much a part of what I do now that I don't have that fear I used to have about getting out of the routine/habit of doing a little Spanish every day.

evilado wrote:Your Spanish will suffer especially if you only read,


The more I think about it, there are so many ways that Spanish is part of my life that I really doubt I will only read. I will listen to the news every morning in the car and I'll also go to the Spanish meetup every week. I also periodically have talks with my long-standing skype partners just to catch up on things. I just don't see any of that stuff changing.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby Stelle » Sun Jan 10, 2016 6:18 pm

It's nice to have reached a place of peace with your target language! Your update was very nice to read.

I'm in a similar place, where I think I could set aside Spanish altogether for a good chunk of time without much long-term negative effect. But, like you, it's become such an ingrained part of my day-to-day life that it would be really unlikely for it to ever be pushed aside, even if I wasn't putting in much effort. I know that to really *improve* would require a lot of effort, but I'm quite happy to be moving along slowly, without stress or pressure.

Do you think you'll ever read books written originally in Spanish? Or is it more that you're reading books that you'd like to read in English anyway, so you may as well read them in spanish?
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby iguanamon » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:07 pm

James29 wrote:...I think I need to remember that I have really accomplished what I set out to do with Spanish. I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. Sure, I could definitely improve. But, I will always be able to improve. ...

I am always reluctant to say I "speak" a language at a satisfactory enough high level, even when I clearly can because, like you, I can always see how far I still have left to go. It can be hard to take a step back and see how far you've come to get to where you are now, at least for me. We all have to come to this decision on our own terms.

You won't have any trouble keeping up your Spanish. It's a habit now- a real part of your life. You can improve it any time you want and you won't fall back to where you were before. Your plan for French, is reasonable for your purposes, in my opinion. I think you will be able to activate it fairly quickly, listening and speaking, you know you can do that.

James29 wrote:...I have a very stressful job and I am busier than I have ever been in the past 10+ years. My Spanish time is satisfying and really brings me peace of mind. I don't want to lose that. Every morning when I finish my Spanish I still say to myself "I really like learning Spanish." Then I am ready to conquer the day. ...

Yep, that's why I enjoy language-learning so much! It's a wonderful feeling. I want others to be able to have that same joy. In this crazy life we are in where we have little control over what may come our way (except our reaction to it), language-learning is something I can control to a large extent and I enjoy the fruits of my accomplishment every day. I enjoy the process , even when I am struggling in it, because I know where it will lead me.

James29 wrote:...Now I am thinking that I could pretty easily maintain my Spanish level while also getting that same satisfaction out of learning French. I think that is what I want to do. Getting past the beginner stage in French will be the hardest part.

The beginning stage is a necessary evil :). This time though, you have more than a few advantages that you didn't have when you started learning Spanish. With reading, you are jump-starting your learning. You'll do fine. Looking forward to following your voyage avec la langue française. ¡Mucha suerte, esta vez, James!
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 10, 2016 8:50 pm

Thanks, guys. It's nice to see people who understand what I am talking about and have the same feelings/interests in learning a language. My wife is quite supportive, but looks at me like I have three heads sometimes. She just does not understand. The cool thing is that I can definitely say I conquered Spanish (although, Iguanamon is right, there is definitely much more I could do) and I know I could learn French also. If French lags behind and or crashes that is fine with me. This is going to be fun. Thinking about going to the French Caribbean really got me motivated.

Stelle wrote:Do you think you'll ever read books written originally in Spanish? Or is it more that you're reading books that you'd like to read in English anyway, so you may as well read them in spanish?


I have nothing against books written in Spanish. In fact, if there was a good series I'd definitely do it. My issue is more that I never read novels in English and generally I don't like reading fiction. There are very few fiction books that I actually enjoy reading. I just want to be sure I'll like whatever I read and there a few things I know I'll like (like John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Ayn Rand, etc). I know that I will probably always enjoy a Grisham or Connelly book enough to finish them so that's why I read them.

The first book I ever read in Spanish was an auto biography written by a Mexican... Cajas de Carton. It was wonderful (there was one part that actually brought a tear to my eye).

I do like reading non-fiction... especially economics text books, business strategy and investing. One thing that is getting me motivated to read in French is reading Bastiat in his original French. That will be cool... and is actually not that far away... I can decipher it reasonably ok already.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby garyb » Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:00 am

I agree that knowing that you have conquered one language is a great source of motivation for approaching another, because you know you can do it even if it'll take time. I've certainly noticed that I've had a more relaxed attitude towards learning my second and third foreign languages because I'm more confident that I'll get there sooner or later as long as I keep up the work. Just try to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that you'll reach a good level quickly because it's a "similar" language; it's still a whole new one and the boost mostly just applies to the beginner stage. But it seems like you already have a very realistic perspective from what you've written.
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 17, 2016 12:41 pm

garyb wrote:I agree that knowing that you have conquered one language is a great source of motivation for approaching another, because you know you can do it even if it'll take time. I've certainly noticed that I've had a more relaxed attitude towards learning my second and third foreign languages because I'm more confident that I'll get there sooner or later as long as I keep up the work. Just try to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that you'll reach a good level quickly because it's a "similar" language; it's still a whole new one and the boost mostly just applies to the beginner stage. But it seems like you already have a very realistic perspective from what you've written.


One cool thing about this website is posts like this. People have been through something similar and post their perspective. Then, I've just learned to trust the consensus to some degree even when my instinct says otherwise. I am starting to see that you are exactly right, Gary. I was a Spanish machine. I was so disciplined and serious. With French, I know I can do it and there is not as much of a "challenge" aspect to it. It is just a matter of time. I'm also seeing that I get an initial huge boost from Spanish, but that will only take me so far.

So, my Spanish boost has apparently taken me to chapter 10 of French for Reading. Then, I hit the wall again. I don't really feel like struggling through the rest of the book at this point until I have a better grounding in French. This book really is amazing, but I can see how for a new learner it could get quite discouraging. This week I made it through chapter 10 and that is about it. I think I'll struggle through chapters 11-13 and then put the book aside for a while. I'll probably do something like Assimil and then come back to the book when it seems a little easier.

I ordered a new Assimil from Schoenhof's. It is kind of funny that I have now purchased three Assimil French books. I gave one away and one got lost. I treasured my Spanish Assimil like it was gold.

I think Assimil could really be good for me with my French. Spending 15-20 minutes a day and learning through "osmosis" is probably going to be what I need. I am thinking that I will review lessons 1-21 which I have already done and then do through lesson 49. Then I'll figure out if I want to continue or do something else. French is a long term project now and all I need to do is have slow progress... one small step at a time.

I finished the Connelly book. I like his books. They all are fairly easy to follow and they all seem to have a cool twist at the end where you say "wow" that's cool. I'm glad I found the Bosch series as I like his character. I will keep reading the books as long as I like them. They are just "comfort" reading. I'm now trying to figure out what I want to read next.

I was extremely busy again this week and was out of town for a few days so I did not really do too much. I did at least listen to the news in Spanish every day.

I had a short skype talk with someone new. When I speak with natives one on one I can really dominate the language. I speak so much better than in a meetup type setting.

Anyway, here is to next week. I'll get back on track.
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