Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

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Xenops
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Xenops » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:31 am

Cavesa wrote:Guys, I have to study for an exam. But I have accidentally found something awesome on the internet! For my Spanish. Too bad there is no German version now. (There is French though)


Pray tell. :)

Since you are not a morning person, I suppose getting up a wee bit earlier to study languages would not be an option? That way the E. coli and the telomeres haven't sucked your mental abilities for the day.
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Ani » Tue Feb 13, 2018 7:54 am

Oh my gosh. This is torture. As a dedicated member of the Cavesa-stamp-of-approval fan club, I can't wait to find out what my next favorite thing ( or addiction, or time waster) is going to be.
Why not start reading Sookie Stackhouse in German translation and we can talk about how we're gonna kill Victor? (Yes I'm in book 10)
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby rdearman » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:56 am

Cavesa wrote:Guys, I have to study for an exam. But I have accidentally found something awesome on the internet! For my Spanish. Too bad there is no German version now. (There is French though)
Or perhaps it is luck in disguise and Fate trying to let me finish my degree :-D
If there were more languages, my chances would lower even more.

I'll tell you later. Need to go to school. Starting at 7am is horrible. Those are the days, when I start seing some beauty even in the fields like microbiology, pathology, genetics. Those don't do these horrible things. Microbes don't care whether it's exactly 7 or 8 am. And people usually don't hurry to a "genetic emergency", due to acute pain on their telomeres. True, I am still not miserable enough to see any beauty in the field of hygiene and epidemiology :-D

I really hate starting the day with a cliff-hanger. :(
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Cavesa » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:33 am

Xenops wrote:Since you are not a morning person, I suppose getting up a wee bit earlier to study languages would not be an option? That way the E. coli and the telomeres haven't sucked your mental abilities for the day.

Not funny. That way, I couldn't even go to sleep :-D
My mental abilities are used to sleep deprivation.

Ani wrote:Oh my gosh. This is torture. As a dedicated member of the Cavesa-stamp-of-approval fan club, I can't wait to find out what my next favorite thing ( or addiction, or time waster) is going to be.
Why not start reading Sookie Stackhouse in German translation and we can talk about how we're gonna kill Victor? (Yes I'm in book 10)

:-D Thanks for your trust. Please, don't judge my test too harshly, if you find this to not be that awesome!

And there is a good reason against Sookie Stackhouse in German: I have already started another series by the author, Aurora Teagarden. And I am less lost then I had though I would be. Well, all these tenses are wrong. I had started it some time ago (but still remember it well) and then left it open in the readlang.

rdearman wrote:I really hate starting the day with a cliff-hanger. :(

Sorry about that! I didn't think that many people would be alive at such an hour and reading my log :-D

So, what is it:
http://www.kwiziq.com
Yes, the name is horrible for typing. Especially if you are switching between the English and French keyboard at times :-D
It is website for grammar practice. It sounds like Duolingo (that's what I guess we all think of, when someone says gamification and language learning and website) but there is a lot of differences.

What it is: grammar chopped in smaller pieces, fed to you in lessons (quite well written) and tests (first multiple choice of one word in a sentence, then the sentence becomes a fill in the gap one). It has an AI trying to intelligently feed you the lessons you are likely to need. You start with a CEFR test (of course grammar focused) and then are suggested where to start from. Either you can take the recommended lessons, try a different level, or you can pick your own mix from a Brainmap (a very nice way to illustrate progress), put in in your notebook, and practice those. It assesses not just the right answers but it also counts them and puts together a % for each sentence, each theme, each level, and gives you some achievements (yes, I might be childish, but I like that. Kwiziq does it right, it serves a purpose).

The content seems to be ok, I haven't found anything weird so far and I have done a lot of the lessons (too many) already. While I was put to B1 grammar level (which actually fits my self assessment, active use of grammar is my weak point), I certainly have the skills to tell a weird looking sentence from the good ones (that's what turned me away from Lingvist). The only think that is weird is overuse of the subject personal pronouns. Real Spanish (including most courses) doesn't do that so much, at least the european variant. In general, I find the exercises appropriate. They are great for that phase of getting used to things, trying and making mistakes. The phase at which it is hard to use it all at once in normal speech or writing and correctly.

The explanations and overview are nice. Not too long but much better than those in Duolingo. You can get through the ten suggested lessons and then the exercise (in the test, you always get one sentence from each theme in your mix). Or you can just look at the lessons you need, based on the mistakes you make.

You get corrections, I have found only one issue there (I was making a different mistake than the website had been expecting), otherwise it looks fine. There is an audio for each sentence in slow Spanish. Based on your right and wrong answers, you get the %, which is not a measure of "fluency" or similar Duolingish nonsense. It is meant to reflect how sure you are about the grammar point. This is very good. It is one of my main problems, that I often tend to second guess too much, I am not sure, I make mistakes by hesitating. This algorhitm is trying to identify this.

The blog and the authors of this app are interesting. I almost felt as if was made by someone from our community, a lot of the things resonated with me, even though I do not agree with everything. This is a resource (including the blog) that I can recommend to a "newbie learner" with a clean consience.

Of course it is not a complete language course. It doesn't pretend to be! That is great. The authors have the humility to present their product, and give people links and recommendations on covering other aspects of learning. And of course it is unlikely to cover all my grammar needs. But it is another way to practice, there are explanations, and I think the learning algorhytm is very good. I mix up new stuff with the better known and progressively throw learned (diamond) grammar points out of my "notebook".

There is also some social aspect to it. Not only can people share their achievements on their social media, if they want to (I don't do that for various reasons, but if someone finds it motivating, good for them). There are leaderboards (yay! shame on Memrise for having hidden them!). And there are groups. They can be organized by a teacher for their class, or it can be any group of users, wishing to pursuit this together. The company has won some awards and been presentented somewhere among other creative people and entrepreneurs, but it doesn't have the massive marketing Duolingo has got. I wish it could push it away a bit, enough to get some light. Some of the aspects may also discourage learners with unsatisfactory experience with Duolingo and Memrise (especially the changes both companies have been doing to the products lately). The robot (which fits the kwiziq idea well and is a functional part of the whole design) may remind people of that hyperstupid childish kitsch alien Memrise has come up with. And many people think app=duolingo, so it is going to be a challenge for anyone entering the market to convince the public "yes, we are fun and colourful, but we are not crap and we are not gonna dumb it all down".

It is freemium (I hope I am using the term correctly). You get something to try out and have to pay for the full version. But what you get differs for each version. So far, there are two versions, French and Spanish, but more languages might be added in future (you can vote for them. But I am sceptical about such votes, thinking of the LT).

French is the main product it has started with. I guess it might even have the advertised C1 lessons (there are none in the Spanish Beta, I haven't tried French). It is complete and full version. You sign up, get through the initial test, and then it looks like you get 10 tests (a test=an exercise with up to 10 sentences) for free to try things out. You can stay in the free mode and get 10 free tests every month. however, it doesn't suffice at all, of course. But you can play a bit with the site with that.

The awesome thing is, that you don't have to start from the beginning. Not only it is a great advantage for all of us taking breaks, returning, and generally creating chaos in our studies. You just pick up where you left (that's why I think this could be a great tool for people returning to a language after a longer break). But it also allows you to really try the website out. I dislike always having to "try" on the greetings and similar stuff that shows me nothing.

Spanish is in beta but it is very good, I haven't encountered any technical problem. Actually, I am curious. I might even try out the French course, especially if they seem to present it as even better than the Spanish one :-D. Beta means advantages for us. Anyone signing up gets one week of all the premium functions for free. Which is great, I am enjoying it and I definitely don't think the site would be that useful with just 10 tests per month, even though it could still serve as a nice grammar reference.

The catch: the price. I find it rather elevated. But it is a very good product. They give you a lot of value for the money, it is not like Lingvist (their strategy of giving 3/4 of the content for free and just 1000 words for quite a lot of money baffles me). I think I will try to use what I can during my free week. And at some point, I could buy one month or three months. Yes, the long plans are much cheaper per month, but I cannot afford to give so much money at once and I am definitely not gonna use it for a year or two. Were I a beginner, than one year could have been a serious option to consider. But I am going through most lessons really fast (as I had already been learning almost all the content at some point, it is not new), I use them as a reminder, practice and an opportunity to clarify various things. The explanations and examples are really good.

25 euro per month, 63 per three months (=17/month), 160 per year (=11/month), 252 two years (=8.5/month), that is quite an elevated price. Well, if I am sure I can fit the rest of my course into one month, I might choose one during the summer and go for it, and invest the money in finally getting the grammar down, if I don't achieve this goal with the resources that I have already got. It is very useful in "the intesive mode" (=while procrastinating :-D ). But a beginner might want to consider a year. There is really a lot of content. So, it could complement a coursebook nicely. What I dislike: You pay each course separately, it is not one bundle. Yes, they have a "polyglot sale", you get the second course 25% cheaper. But that is still a lot. Should they make other languages, I certainly won't be able to pay for two at once. It might be a nice motivation to get one done faster :-D

What I may not have mentioned: the level. For Spanish, there are 8 A0 chapters, lots of A1, lots of A2, lots of B1 (less than A2), a few (approximately 20) B2 ones, no C1. There may be more content in future, especially for the higher levels, and that might make the price/value ratio much more interesting for me. It makes sense that lots of grammar are around A2 and B1, but is definitely not true that you have it all finished by B2 :-)

Sorry about the cliffhanger.
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby rdearman » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:41 am

Cavesa wrote:Sorry about the cliffhanger.


Don't worry. I had come across it myself but only posted in the French Study Group. When I posted I only remember seeing French, so perhaps Spanish is a recent edition.
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Cavesa » Tue Feb 13, 2018 1:22 pm

Yes, Spanish is rather recent.

I've progressed to some more difficult stuff. And I think letting the website choose lessons for me is not a good idea, I don't do well this chaos :-D I am now using a mix of A2 and B1 lessons. Most are repetition, sometimes there is a bit of something new. And sometimes the B1 ones are easier than the A2. It is great the author of this course has been keeping this on mind and hasn't made the levels clearly separate :-) B2 has some easy lessons too, and then a hell of those tenses I get confused with all the time.

There are some nice sentences there:
Vi ese programa por aburrimiento. That is a great excuse :-D
Yo no falsifiqué los documentos. A nice verb and you never know when this comes handy.
Antes de que digas nada, déjame explicarte porqué llegué tarde ayer. That would be useful. But I've found out that sometimes the explanations just make things worse. But I like the constrution.
Es impossible entender todo a la primera. That is encouraging. But in my case lately: Es impossible entender todo a la quinta. :-D
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Ani » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:17 am

Oh my gosh.. that brain map is amazing. I had to sign up for a month to try it but I'll wondering if I should cancel and buy a longer subscription. I did have this slight hope that it would say "oh look at you and your beautiful grammar, you're too good for us" lol but no.. also hopefully the ai can sort out wrong button presses and such.. I had a few dumb mistakes, fat finger button presses and some not reading carefully like selecting "au eu" instead of "ai eu" for fill in the blank. Golden trees never appealed to me but a green brain map? Yaaassss.
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Cavesa » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:02 am

A very quick update:

Yes, French is even better, at least as far as the amount of content goes. In the initial test, I got the result "C1 or higher" (ufff.... :-D ). I can't even look at an empty brainmap (haha, that sounds great, an "empty brainmap", like a new creative offense), as I don't have the premium account, but the list of grammar points per level in the library looks impressive, including a long list of C1 stuff. It is not worth the price for me at my level, otherwise I would be using it for casual review.

I made a few mistakes in the test, one or two due to reading the question wrong (happens to me a lot, when I am tired), but mostly due to an interesting spelling interference phenomenon. I really hesitate about various double consonants. Even in words I had never had any doubts about. I made a mistake in a few and hesitated about others, as double vs single consonants are an issue in all three romance languages I am using at various levels. And lately, I have been exposed the most to Italian. I need more French in my life again (and not just the medical textbooks).

The Spanish beta got a new grammar bit yesterday, unless I am not mistaken (I suddenly had a white spot on the brainmap and less than 100% of A1, and the FaQ even include a note about this), which is an excellent news. If they are still working on the content, there should be more of it soon, especially for the higher levels. And it should make it worth buying a month some time from now even more.

I agree about the difference of these maps from the duo trees. In the duo, the tree is an obsolete element and just used for marketing and boasting within the community. Most duo courses are very linear anyways, sho who cares whether there is a tree or just a number like "you've completed 15 out of 20 units". Kwiziq is not linear, so a visual representation of all the missing pieces is a welcome orientation tool. And making the map green piece by piece is a satisfactory feeling. :-D
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Elenia » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:21 am

This sounds amazing! I'll have to keep it in mind for if ever I feel like resurrecting my French (I realised this past week that I'd completely forgotten how to conjugate verbs correctly for the passé composé. I figured it out again, but it felt super unnatural).
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Re: Episode VI: A New Hope, Cavesa strikes back

Postby Cavesa » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:21 pm

A more insightful post coming a bit later today or tomorrow. For now just an overview of how far I am in Kwiziq:
A0 100%
A1 100% (btw, two new units were added here today)
A2 60.30%
B1 22.88%
B2 15.89% (this is easy for % now as there are few units. But I hope it will grow)

I really like this tool. It is gamified enough to be addictive but definitely useful and not too dumbed down.

Some of my traditional problems are improving. A few are resisting but I'll prevail :-D
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