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James29's Spanish and French Log

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 11:54 am
by James29
Well, it was a pretty good week for Spanish. I did not get a chance to update my log yesterday so I'll do it now. Unfortunately, I don't have a ton of time right now so this will be brief.

I'm still reading The Fountainhead in Spanish and making a lot of progress. I read for several hours this week.

I also watched a number of episodes of the Telemundo telenovela, Los Miserables.

It is nice to really enjoy the resources I am working with. I love both of these resources and am actively trying to find time to spend with them.

As usual, I'm also listening to Spanish on the way to work and going to a weekly meetup.

That's it for now. I'll, hopefully, be able to do a more detailed post next week.

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Mon Jul 20, 2015 10:51 pm
by rdearman
Glad you're here. Love your log. :)

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 12:58 pm
by James29
OK, it is time to get back on track with my log. This was a wonderful week for Spanish. I'm loving the telenovela Los Miserables and also am loving the book, El Manantial. It was sometimes a struggle to choose which to use. Anyway, since I seem to like this site better than the previous one 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. -> Finished seven novels totaling 631,000 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; and Theodore Boone #4 with 57,000 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 70 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.


I don't think I will have any problem at all finishing off the TV shows. In fact, my goal for the year is quickly morphing into "finishing Los Miserables." (Edit: I watched episode 26 today) The writers/directors of this show are simply incredible. It is just constant, non-stop plot development. It is very easy to follow, but, at the same time somewhat complex. Sometimes I do have to think about how the characters are related because everyone is related somehow. I'm not sure the acting is really that great, but that does not matter. I still have not gotten "attached" to any of the characters. I'm really hoping that happens because I still feel like an outsider just watching the development of the show. I'd like to feel invested in someone. I was definitely invested in Cesar el Diputado, but, he is no longer in the show. I'm starting to like Pablo. It seems like he might start becoming a more major character. The women just don't cut it for me personally. None of them are too deep. Lucia, the star, has every single guy under a spell and I just don't see it. She is perfectly nice and a good actress, but I just don't bond with her yet. I am starting to like her sister, Elena, and hoping she gets back together with Pablo.

In terms of comprehension, I must say that I am pretty close to 100% now that I am used to the show and the characters. When the characters are emotional... angry, crying, intimate, etc I sometimes have a hard time understanding what they are saying, but the context is usually obvious. This telenovela watching is EXACTLY what I need to improve my comprehension. I think this sort of thing is better at this more advanced level of learning. When I watched La Reina del Sur and El Capo I was not as advanced and I can really notice it now.

I finished the first of four parts of El Manantial (The Fountainhead). I've never read this book, but it has always been on my short list of books to read. Using a kindle is amazingly helpful. If a language learner is reading books and does not have a kindle I cannot explain how much you are missing. It is just so simple to look up unknown words. It makes such a gigantic difference to really enjoy the book too. People have often commented to me that I should read books that were originally written in Spanish and get away from translations. I have not read any adult novels that were written in Spanish so I might change my mind later, but, for now, I must say that I much prefer reading something I know I will like. With El Manantial, for example, I am finding time to read that I never knew I had. I take it with me everywhere and whenever I can squeeze in an extra 20 minutes or so I do. I just WANT to read it so much it is 100% enjoyment and not at all Spanish "study." I have a general idea of what English based books I will like so I'm going to stick with that for now.

I have had a few good skype exchanges. I found a good partner who is extremely knowledgeable in the types of business marketing I need to do for my business. This has turned a bit into a trade of my English for top notch marketing advice for my business. So far we are mostly speaking in English, but we talk about my marketing plan. My business is really going well now and I only have one major stink bomb left to get rid of that was left for me by the previous owner. That might take a while to fix, but it will get fixed. When that is behind me I'll be off to the races.

This week I went to a party to celebrate the independence of Peru. There are a number of Peruvians I have gotten to know quite well through the meetup. The party was awesome. I have been totally welcomed into this community. Some of the older men made a point to do some special things for me at the party that made me feel great and very welcomed. I did not realize how many people I have gotten to know over the years. So many people were there it was great.

I am still listening to the news every morning. When I am not spacing out I'd say that my comprehension is pretty close to 100%. I heard John Kerry speaking Spanish and it really cracked me up. I must hand it to him for sticking his neck out there and trying. Now I don't even remember what he was talking about, but I think it was about re-opening relations with Cuba.

In terms of my future with Spanish... I really want to get my comprehension to the next level. I think I'll just keep it up with reading novels and watching telenovelas for a while. Comprehension is really my top priority. It will be a long slow battle, but it is really fun and enjoyable. I do want to eventually work my way through the C1/C2 Gramatica book. The B1/B2 book was so useful I just MUST do the C book in order to feel like I am doing my due diligence. My speaking skills are sufficient to do what I want. I'd say I have quite a good accent and my grammar usage is quite solid. My vocabulary could increase (especially about work related vocabulary), but that will come with time. I rarely have any problems working around things I don't know. One example of the type of difficulty I have is when I had a conversation with my skype partner about my business and various hypothetical options. There were a lot of situations where I was not too comfortable with the vocabulary, but also very tricky uses of verb tenses to get at the hypotheticals in the past and future. I could certainly struggle my way through that type of situation, but it was not pretty. I actually switched to English in order to move the conversation along.

My writing is, by far, my weakest skill. I am embarrassed to even write on this log or website. Other than emails to set up skype talks I hardly write at all. I have never really made an effort to properly use the accent marks and I regularly screw up the spelling of irregular verbs. In actuality, however, writing is really not that important. In my work, I'd like to eventually have more Spanish speaking customers, but I rarely need to write to them and, when I do, I could easily get someone to edit my work. Speaking and understanding are much more important to me.

I've been thinking more about French. My Spanish is at a point where (other than doing the C1/C2 Gramatica book) I am on auto-pilot and just enjoying the language. I like the satisfaction of accomplishments and I would LOVE to study French to the point where I could have a solid B1-type level. I'd like to be able to participate in the local breakfast meetup and also go to Quebec or the French speaking Caribbean islands and have meaningful conversations. Sooner or later I'll get to a tipping point where I just dive headfirst into French. I can tell that it will probably be coming soon.

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 3:14 pm
by Stelle
¡Hola James! You're doing really well with your Spanish! I love the idea of picking a book that I want to read in English, and reading it in Spanish instead. I almost wish I'd never read Game of Thrones - I could read it in Spanish instead, and it would probably take me all year. ;)

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:00 pm
by sfuqua
It sounds like I've got to try Los Miserables. If I can get English subtitles, I can get my wife interested and then it is much easier to get space in the "main TV playlist". Maybe after Gran Hotel, which I should finish soon.

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 4:42 pm
by iguanamon
James, as far as writing goes, I believe that writing helps to inform the other skills as well. If you use firefox as a browser, you can add a spell checker for a bunch of languages- here's how: look at the second response. Here's where to add on dictionaries and language packs It's really easy to toggle back and forth to English. This will be useful to you when you start learning French for real. I have mine set up for English, Spanish, Portuguese and even Haitian Creole. I'm sure chrome has something similar. This will take care of accents and spellings. It soon becomes second nature.

Sfuqua- generally the telenovelas on Telemundo, both cable and website, have accurate closed captions in Spanish and also have English closed captions. The DVD's are another thing entirely, check before you buy.

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 5:54 pm
by James29
Thanks everyone for stopping by. I did not realize there was so much traffic on this website on Sundays. Wow.

Stelle - you basically nailed my reading strategy. I pick a book I want to read and then find the translation in Spanish. I never really read many novels so there is not much I like. I just never found reading fiction a very productive thing to do. There are some books in other languages I want to read too... I'd like to read Los Miserable (if anyone can suggest a good translation into Spanish that would be great as the translations I've looked at are heavily criticized) and Love in the Times of Cholera. Those are on my list and I'll get to them eventually.

Steve - Los Miserables is easily the best of the three telenovelas I've watched. I should clarify my previous post... I don't really understand 100%... but It really does not feel at all like I'm having to think or exert any effort to follow along. If I don't understand something it is usually not a very important point at all. In 26 episodes there has not been a single time I "rewinded" the show to hear something again. It would be a good show to watch with your wife... there are not any women characters that are designed for the male viewers. I hope that makes sense... every other show I've ever watched there were women that I developed a crush on. I like watching on the Telemundo website. The commercials are annoying, but the site runs quite well. I hate having any subtitles, but there are subtitles for both languages.

Iguanamon - you are kind to suggest the toggling features of firefox. I do, indeed, use firefox and I really should work on my writing. I am more or less (now a little less) of a computer nincumpoop and figuring these sorts of things out is a pain. I do have the toggling feature on my phone and it is pretty cool.

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:40 pm
by arthaey
I really like how you're tracking goals for your various skills. I may have to be more specific for my own. Thanks for the inspiration!

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Jul 26, 2015 7:52 pm
by Cavesa
It's great to see you on new htlal, James29. You keep being one of my hugest inspirations when it comes to learning Spanish. Thanks!

Re: James29's Spanish Log

Posted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 12:23 pm
by James29
Well, this was a great week for Spanish. Nothing special, but I got to spend a lot of time on Spanish. In some ways when I am busier in my regular life I spend more time on Spanish. I'm not sure how that works, but sometimes it is true. I've been extraordinarily busy at work, but somehow managed to get in a gigantic Spanish week.

The motivation comes from using resources that I absolutely love. Instead of just doing a 30-60 minutes of Spanish in the mornings I am fitting in some time in the evening too. Yesterday I went to the beach and read and read from El Manantial.

I had a few 3+ hour days reading El Manantial this week. It is a book I have wanted to read for quite some time. It is very different than Atlas Shrugged. There is a lot of colorful and descriptive vocabulary in it and there are a lot of words that I'm picking up. I believe the translation comes from Argentina and I note they are using different words than I typically see. For example, they use yacer where I usually see acostar. I'm picking up a lot of that type of vocabulary. I've seen yacer plenty of times before, but would never use it actively. Now it will sneak into my regular use. The book is very long. My kindle says I still have another 30 hours left to read and I'm about 60% done. I have found the time it gives me to read each chapter is just about right on, but another 30 hours seems excessive if I'm also 60% done. I think it is somehow miscalculating how much I have read because I am still on the second of four parts. Also, I don't think I've put in more than 30 hours of reading so far. Anyway, it is definitely a long book.

I just finished episode 30 of Los Miserables. It is still a great show and is amazing how the storyline can develop. I am starting to like Elena now that she is leaving her jerk husband. The Spanish is great. They do use Mexican slang, but, for the most part, it is pretty easy to spot. I always knew what "padre" meant and one of the characters says "chula" all the time. The context makes it obvious what he means.

I'm still listening to the VOA news every morning. That is a nice habit. It is really the only source of my news nowadays. I think I said previously that I understand 100% of it. That is true if I'm referring to the broadcasters and politicians. They are simple to understand. Sometimes there will be an interview of a "person on the street" and I cannot follow it.

Meetups are cool. There are a decent number of natives now so I feel the level of Spanish is quite high. Many of the non-natives have a higher level than me so that is good too.

I spoke briefly to a Chileno who was playing his guitar and singing in Spanish. At first he thought I was a Spanish speaker here to learn English. I don't think he was screwing around with me. He seemed honest and just seemed like he could not tell what Spanish speaking country I was from. That was the first time I might have been confused with a native speaker.

I've been thinking a lot more about if I'm going to do French or not. I saw French for Reading discussed and read all the reviews on Amazon. Now I'm thinking that maybe I'll just start reading in French and see if I can get that skill up to the point where I can read the Alex Rider series or something.

My "dilemma" is that I really do want to keep pushing my Spanish level. I am simply not satisfied with where I am. Knowing myself, however, I'll never feel satisfied with my Spanish level. Also, I can honestly say that Spanish will be helpful to my business in the future. I feel that this time will eventually "pay off" to some degree. I cannot say that with French. On the positive side, I really do "want" to "know" French and be able to use it to some degree. I don't feel the need to master it. I only really want to get to a level where I can participate in everyday type conversations. Something like a B1 level would be perfect. I don't think it would take too much time to get there.

Anyway, that's it for now.