James29's Spanish and French Log

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BOLIO
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby BOLIO » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:31 am

James,

I have read every post you made at the other site. It was wonderful. But this log is invaluable. Your journey is about four years ahead of mine. Thank you for the great example. You and Iguanamon have both been a very big influence on my language learning.

Thank you very much.

BOLIO
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Reminder to myself: Perfection is useless and harmful. Just keep moving forward.

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reineke
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby reineke » Wed Jan 20, 2016 6:52 am

Hi James

Metaphors aside, I enjoyed reading your log. Good luck with French!
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:09 pm

BOLIO wrote:James,

I have read every post you made at the other site. It was wonderful. But this log is invaluable. Your journey is about four years ahead of mine. Thank you for the great example. You and Iguanamon have both been a very big influence on my language learning.

Thank you very much.

BOLIO


That's a ton of reading. Wow. It is amazing how much things add up when I add a weekly update. Every now and then I go back into my log to find something I was thinking about or a resource or to figure out when I first did something.

I just find the journey quite fun. I have always gotten satisfaction out of long term accomplishments. So many people think of things so short term they lose sight on underlying fundamentals. So often if we can think of productivity or accomplishments on a very long term basis there are some very basic/easy things that can be done to assure success. I'm sure you've seen that in investing (measure success/return on a trough to trough, peak to peak basis instead of yearly, etc).

I'm glad someone else other than me has gotten some use out of my log.

If you need any advice, suggestions always feel free to ask.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Wed Jan 20, 2016 12:22 pm

reineke wrote:Hi James

Metaphors aside, I enjoyed reading your log. Good luck with French!


Thank you for the comment.

I wish I had more time to think through my language learning philosophy. My mind races all day long with work related issues and my mind just constantly thinks about how to do things effectively and efficiently. I cannot help but think about language learning in the same way. Language learning, however, is my way to break away from things for 30-60 minutes a day.

I do think language learning can be much more productive if people really think about it in logical ways. People seem to debate endlessly about things where they are simply making false assumptions. What is "productive" or "effective" is always going to be different for everyone not only because everyone is different, but also because everyone has already has a different base in the language with different strengths and weaknesses.

Think about farmer A who has ten horses and no cows. He really, really wants a cow. He has a neighbor, farmer B, with ten cows and no horses. He really, really wants a horse.

It seems obvious that farmer A values his first cow MUCH more than his tenth horse. The reverse is true for farmer B, he values his first horse MUCH more than his tenth cow. It would be silliness for someone to come in to their neighborhood and tell them that they are wrong about whether horses are worth more than cows.

The same is so true for almost everything in life, including language learning. Some people are going to get so much more out of using their next hour studying grammar than if they were to spend the next hour reading a novel. Others are the reverse. It just depends on making that individual making the analysis of what is best for them under all given circumstances (including how much they have studied grammar or read in the past).

I probably overdid the grammar study at the beginning of my studies, but that was basically my plan. I was "building a bookshelf" structure of the language. Then, I really started soaking up the books and telenovelas (the books that I was able to nicely place in the well built language structure). I thought it worked well. Others might want to do things differently.

Anyway, I am burning good productive hours here this morning and I need to get to work.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 24, 2016 2:05 pm

Ok, back to business. I had a pretty good week.

French:

This week French was my "priority" and this morning I finished my second run through chapter 13 of French for Reading by Sandberg. I have now done chapters 1-13 two times. This second run through 9-13 was much easier and I got much out of it. I think I am going to set this book aside for a while. I might even set French aside entirely for a little bit and do some more Spanish. More on that later.

My French learning interests me because it is so much different than how I did Spanish. The last thing I focused on with Spanish was reading. In French I am now able to read some fairly basic things like A1 readers I see on Amazon and many of the logs in French. I would never, however, be able to produce a meaningful sentence. I would not even begin to describe how verbs are conjugated. When I see them I know what they mean, but that knowledge is only in recognition mode.

I have been thinking of doing a detailed review of French for Reading, but I have not finished it so I will hold off on that. I can say that it is extremely useful. I think an absolute beginner would not be able to do it without getting frustrated. I was basically a total beginner when I started it, but I had already learned Spanish. That helped so much. If French was my first language I would not think this would be a good way to start. If, however, someone has a very basic understanding of the broad structure of the language (perhaps doing one passive review of Assimil) then I think French for Reading would be amazing. The "problem" is that it all builds on itself and you cannot really move on unless you are coming close to mastering the chapter. If you keep pressing on having only a moderate understanding of what you have already been through you will simply crash and burn because future chapters incorporate so much of the previous portions of the book.

In a way, I am thinking of French for Reading as an FSI for reading. It is really a quite simple concept. They basically explain the grammar point at the beginning of the section and then you get a ton of short phrases (20+) in French that you are supposed to be able to read and understand. You then see the English translation so you can see if you really understood the French. Some of the translations are dated (there are many quotes from ancient French philosophers that are difficult to understand), but, for the most part, it is a really great resource.

I am amazed at how simple this concept is and that nobody has applied it to a more modern content. Anyway, French for Reading has served me well so far. If I continue with French I will definitely come back to it and finish it.

I had hoped to receive my Assimil by this weekend, but, unfortunately, I don't have it yet. I was going to dive back into that and spend about 15 minutes a day on that for a while. I think I'd still like to do that. I'll just wait until I get the book and then I'll start back into Assimil. I was quite surprised at how much I really enjoyed lessons 1-21. I think I'll enjoy it even more now that I have done so much reading training.

My basic thoughts are that if I thoroughly complete French for Reading and do two passive reviews of Assimil I'll be in a good place to start reading some fairly easy books (like the Alex Rider series). The truth of the matter is that I could already read those A1 books on Amazon (there are a few good looking ones by an author named Marc Thil and I can read the previews fairly easy), but I think I'd actually enjoy doing the Assimil lessons more. I'd like to have a good solid understanding of the basic grammar before doing a ton of reading.

Maybe I'm just being foolish, but here are my basic thoughts about my French progression: I feel like I'd first like to get my reading up to a good solid level where I can fairly easily and enjoyably read popular fiction translated into French. I feel like from there I should then be able to fairly quickly and easily pick up listening/understanding skills. Then, once I can fairly easily understand things like TV in French, I feel like I should be able to very easily do some speaking training (perhaps something like FSI) and get a fairly good level of speaking. Anyway, that is the plan and it is working so far. The first goal of the plan was simply to get me motivated enough to start and continue with French.

Spanish:

Well, I did not do a ton of Spanish this week. I still listen to the news every morning. I also had a few nice chats with some native speakers. One was on skype with a exchange partner with whom I have been talking for more than four years. My Spanish is close to "perfect" in these talks. I also had a nice long talk with a local latino friend. These types of talks are nice, but every now and then I'll try to talk about something and it is like my brain just cannot figure out how to say what I want. There will be some sort of structure or concept that I just cannot quite grasp. I can easily talk my way around the roadblock, but it does frustrate me as it is clearly something I need to improve. Most often it involves some sort of idiomatic way of saying something that I have just not mastered.

This morning, after finishing chapter 13 of French for Reading, I started in on the Spanish translation of Dan Brown's Deception Point. Wow. What a great book so far. I got going and just did not want to stop. I had planned to only read the first few chapters. I am listening to the audio book and wanted to read/listen to the first 20 minutes or so today and then re-do them tomorrow. I thought I would need some getting used to the new author/audio. Much to my surprise I was able to understand the first part of the book so well I could not bear to re-read it. In fact, I just pressed on for about two hours. I'll keep continuing with this book next week.

This marks a big distinction in my French and Spanish. I just really enjoy the time I spend with Spanish much more. It is not "work." After finishing the first couple chapters in this new book in Spanish I just really wanted to continue. I don't feel that way with French yet. French is too hard. I know those enjoyable days are not too far away.

I think I'll just continue reading in Spanish and try to read as many books as possible. I have a very long list of books I'd like to read.

General:

Things at my business are going very well and I'm starting to feel the need to take a week or so off and take a trip. I have not taken a day off since my trip to Mexico more than a year ago. I'd really like to do something different. My mouth has been watering over the cheap flights to Martinique and Guadeloupe, but, unfortunately, they stop at the end of March. I don't think I'll be able to travel until April at the earliest. Maybe I'll do a trip to somewhere in Quebec. Maybe I'll take a quick trip to one of the Spanish speaking islands in the Caribbean. Maybe I'll just do something out of the box and buy one of those super cheap flights to Norway on Norwegian Airlines. We'll see.

I've thought much about setting goals for 2016 but I just don't think I'm going to do it. I really don't need the motivation and I don't want to set myself a goal that ends up turning out to be something that is just not right for me. Frankly, I'm just not sure about French and I might just quit again. I just really do not know "why" I am learning it. I have a number of personal reasons (I have a number of French speaking relatives I'd like to speak with, - my wife is half French - and I have some business interests in French speaking countries), but there is not any real practical need for me to learn French. Portuguese would actually be much more useful than French.

My basic "goal" with French is to just do whatever the heck I feel like for each week. My basic "goal" with Spanish (for now) is going to be to read as much as possible. I'd really like to finish my telenovela, Los Miserables, eventually too.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Thu Jan 28, 2016 9:59 pm

Special thanks to forum member reineke for posting a link to an awesome website that has a ton of recorded phone calls in Spanish. I'm posting the link here simply so I don't lose it. I definitely need to use this.
https://phone.lingnet.org/default_spanish.asp
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sfuqua
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Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9248
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby sfuqua » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:10 am

I agree, great site. I'm glad you guys "took over" my log for a few posts. I'm going to use the site too. It also might be good for people working through FSI.
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"50,000 Reps: Engage in casual conversations at the speed of native speakers." :lol:

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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 12:56 pm

Yes, I'm toying around with this site too. These phone conversations would be something perfect to listen to while I am driving to work. I don't seem to be able to figure out if there is a way to set up some sort of playlist. maybe I'll just put one conversation on play and just repeat it. another cool thing would be to put these conversations on CDs and just put one in the CD player for a long drive.
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James29
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby James29 » Sun Jan 31, 2016 2:02 pm

OK, a good week for Spanish.

Spanish:

I'm reading La Conspiracion by Dan Brown (Spanish translation of Deception Point). I am really enjoying it quite a bit. This is a nice surprise. For some reason I was not expecting it to be the greatest book because it was not nearly as successful as his other books. I actually find it much more enjoyable than The da Vinci Code. It is an adventurous/political/science fiction type thriller.

I'm finding the audio book quite well done. It is a female voice which is nice for a change. She speaks at a good perfect speed. I think I'd probably prefer something a bit faster because this is a long book. The audio book is about 22 hours. I am just over half done now. I'd say my comprehension is extremely good. I'm having zero problem following the story or understanding any of the underlying plots. There are, of course, words I do not know but they have no impact on my understanding. I can almost instinctively understand the unknown words by context.

I've spent a bit of time in the evenings this week reading this book. This is a good sign because I typically do not read Spanish in the evening as I like my mind to wind down and I have a harder time focusing on Spanish in the evenings. This is somewhat relaxing and I really need no effort to comprehend the book.

I also watched one episode of my telenovela, Los Miserables. I'm still interested in it and would really like to get it done fairly soon. I'm on episode 85 out of 119 so I do not have too far to go.

I had one decent conversation with a Latino friend at the beginning of the week. I did a skype talk too, but this week it was in English with one of my old partners. I also bumped into someone from my meetup and we chatted for a while in Spanish. Other than that I did not do too much speaking.

I went to the bookstore and spent some time thumbing through some books in Spanish. There is actually a bookstore around here with a small shelf of books in Spanish!! I did not have much difficulty reading some random pages out of Follett's Fall of Giants or the Game of Thrones series. At some point I think I'd like to embark on another series of books. I really want to find something I like that has several books. Picking out a good book is so important to me (more on that later).

French:

I did nothing in French this week. I'm enjoying the book in Spanish so much that this does not bother me. I did get in touch with an old native speaking French friend this week from my childhood. That was really cool. I now have someone I will be able to practice French with on skype if I ever get to a conversational level.

The big reason I did not do any French this week was that my Assimil still has not been delivered. I ordered it quite a while ago (at least a couple weeks ago) from Schoenhof's and I am a bit perplexed why I don't have it yet. If I don't get it this week I'll have to follow up with them.

I think I'll just spend 15 minutes a day on Assimil when I get it. I found the first 21 lessons of Assimil quite enjoyable.

Other:

I'm going to offer my philosophy on making decisions in life (this has minimal relation to my language studies). Many people say not to worry about choosing things because you can always change your mind later. "Just make the best decision you can and don't worry about it because you can figure it out as you go." "You can always just quit reading a book you do not like"... or... "you can always sell a stock if it does not work out the way you thought" ... "if you don't like that new car you can always trade it in and get a different one" etc. The logic of this point of view makes sense. Why read something that you are not enjoying? Why drive a car you don't like?

Well, I have found that things often work a bit counter-intuitively on things like this. If you make yourself a good hard and fast rule that your decisions are final and you know you will stick with it (even if you regret your decision later) you will make a much better decision to begin with. So many people make haphazard decisions in life because they know they can always change their mind later. They don't mind committing large amounts of resources (mental, financial, family, etc) to something even knowing there is a good chance it is a bad decision. The bad decision gets justified to some extent because the decision maker always knows he/she can change her mind later and undo the decision if it turns out to be a bad one.

By being absolutely committed to a decision when I make it I have found that I simply make better decisions. I put more thought and mental energy in making choices. I apply this logic to much of what I do in life (but not everything). In language learning I think it means spending a bit more time selecting resources. It means when you pick out a course stick with it and finish it. When you pick out a book to read finish it. We see so many people switching between twelve different beginner courses instead of finding one good one and sticking with it.

Things don't always work out exactly as planned and the decision maker is, of course, free to do whatever he/she wants. My plan with French, for example, was to complete French for Reading and then Assimil. I was/am committed to French for Reading. It definitely proved to be the right choice for me and it is a priority for me and my French studies. However, I have set it aside for now because it simply got too hard for me. I have committed to it and I will get back to it later and get it done when my level advances a bit with some Assimil.

Anyway, for the upcoming week I am going to continue to read the Dan Brown book (and probably won't have enough time to finish it) and, if I get my Assimil, I'll start back in on French.
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reineke
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Re: James29's Spanish and French Log

Postby reineke » Sun Jan 31, 2016 9:10 pm

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Last edited by reineke on Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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