Glossy's Log

Continue or start your personal language log here, including logs for challenge participants
User avatar
Glossy
Yellow Belt
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:38 pm
Location: New York
Languages: Russian (native), English (almost native), French (reading: fluent, listening: intermediate, speaking: none), Spanish (reading: fluent, listening: upper intermediate, speaking: none), Mandarin (reading characters: intermediate, actively learning, listening: intermediate, actively learning, speaking: none), German (reading: upper intermediate, listening: none, speaking: none)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7920
x 162

Glossy's Log

Postby Glossy » Thu Apr 05, 2018 4:10 am

Recently I've been concentrating on Mandarin listening comprehension, so this is what this log will be about, at least at first.

I've listened to all 5 levels of Pimsleur Mandarin, which was 150 lessons. Then I signed up for ChinesePod. I've listened to 4 of their Pre-intermediate lessons, then to 120 of their Intermediate lessons, which is how many they recommend in that level. Today I started my first Upper Intermediate lesson. ChinesePod recommends that you to listen to 160 Upper Intermediate, 120 Advanced and 80 Media lessons. Right now I'm planning to do all of that, though I'm no better at following my plans than the average person.

My Chinese reading ability is better than my Mandarin listening comprehension, but not by much. I rated my reading speed and comprehension in various languages here:
https://lazyglossophiliac.blogspot.com/2017/01/reading-speed.html

I've never tried to speak Chinese. I tend to follow a modular approach to learning languages: first reading, then listening, then speaking. I don't know if it's better than the integrated approach. I learn languages this way because I like reading more than watching TV and I don't like talking much. But I do plan on signing up with Italki if my Mandarin listening comprehension ever reaches a high level.

I'm liking ChinesePod more than I liked Pimsleur. The hosts sound like they're having more fun. There are more lessons and they go up to higher levels.

Each ChinesePod lesson is hosted by two people - a native Mandarin speaker and a native English speaker. After a short introduction from them there's always a dialogue, which is usually voiced by others. It goes on for a couple of minutes. A transcript of this dialogue is provided by the ChinesePod company.

Then the hosts discuss this dialogue for 10, 12, sometimes 15 minutes, mostly in Mandarin. These discussions are longer in the Upper Intermediate level, which I've just started, than in the Intermediate level. By the end of the Intermediate level I understood about half of the material in the dialogues before seeing the transcript. For the Mandarin portions of the subsequent discussions that figure is between 90% and 95%. The hosts pronounce words more carefully than the voice actors who do the dialogues.

Some ChinesePod users made their own transcriptions of some of the post-dialogue discussions: http://chinesepod.com/community/conversations/post/13480

I'm using those to check my accuracy. They aren't perfect. It felt great when I was able to spot some errors in them. There are fewer user-made transcriptions in the Upper Intermediate than in the Intermediate level, and I will run out of them pretty soon.

Whenever I encounter new words, I enter them into Anki. Here's my Anki statistics page: https://lazyglossophiliac.blogspot.com/p/anki-stats.html

I also use Pleco a lot. It's integrated into ChinesePod in a helpful way.

At the end of the Intermediate level it took me about an hour to get through each lesson. I expect this time to increase in the Upper Intermediate level.
7 x
Mandarin listening comprehension, hours: 1522 / 5000 (1,522/5,000)

User avatar
Glossy
Yellow Belt
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:38 pm
Location: New York
Languages: Russian (native), English (almost native), French (reading: fluent, listening: intermediate, speaking: none), Spanish (reading: fluent, listening: upper intermediate, speaking: none), Mandarin (reading characters: intermediate, actively learning, listening: intermediate, actively learning, speaking: none), German (reading: upper intermediate, listening: none, speaking: none)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7920
x 162

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby Glossy » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:23 pm

It took me 5 hours and 39 minutes to do my first Upper Intermediate ChinesePod lesson. When I just started the Intermediate level, each lesson took me about 3 hours. By the end of that level I was spending about an hour per lesson.

All the lessons within a particular level have about the same difficulty. So you experience a big jump in difficulty when you go from one level to the next. This is different from the Pimsleur system where the difficulty increases gradually with each lesson.

The subjective feeing of improvement is largest at the time of these jumps. I've seen people discuss the n+1 approach to learning. I sometimes wonder if I should have done all of the recommended 120 lessons of the Intermediate level. Maybe I should have gone for the current jump sooner, after 30 or 50 Intermediate lessons. Maybe most of the learning that I'll accomplish will happen during these jumps.

Here is a graph of the time I've spent improving my Mandarin listening comprehension:

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m7lydtVjrIs/WsqF-WANbfI/AAAAAAAABD8/J0BaS1nM8pU3ealHvBZebspmNXpjqxxNQCLcBGAs/s1600/ChineseHours.png

Including the period before I started tracking this info, I've spent about 430 hours on it so far.

I've noticed that I rarely pay attention to tones while trying to understand spoken Mandarin. Of course I can easily tell them apart when syllables are pronounced separately, for example when illustrating a new word. They tend to sound less distinct in running speech. I don't consciously tell myself to look for tones or for anything else while trying to decipher what I've just heard. But when I think back on what I've just been doing I notice that I rarely ask myself what tones the problem syllables had. I'm only examining the vowels and consonants, as if I was listening to a European language.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong. Or maybe that's the most efficient way to go about this, which I have stumbled upon in a natural, subconscious manner.

I've noticed that Pleco, the most popular dictionary app among the people learning Chinese, doesn't really use the tone information that you give it. For example, if I type shí (2nd tone), the first character that comes up has the pronunciation shì (4th tone). Pleco seems to expect you to type in pinyin without the tone diacritics. Actually, this is how I usually use pinyin with it. And it works!

Of course one can come up with many examples of one tone change altering the meaning of a sentence entirely. And I can give you examples of Russian words and sentences whose meaning changes if you make one hard consonant soft or vice versa. But if you completely obscured the difference between soft and hard consonants, would you still largely understand Russian speech and texts? Yes, of course.

I now suspect that Mandarin tones are kind of like that
4 x
Mandarin listening comprehension, hours: 1522 / 5000 (1,522/5,000)

User avatar
eido
Brown Belt
Posts: 1192
Joined: Tue Jan 30, 2018 8:31 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (C1)
x 2275

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby eido » Mon Apr 09, 2018 4:42 pm

I'm not learning Mandarin, but I can offer that apparently tones aren't important in Chinese songs. Or at least not as important as you'd think they'd be. I started wondering this after dabbling in the language and getting overwhelmed by the complex pronunciation. Maybe Dandelion or another native speaker of Mandarin on the forum can elucidate it for us.
1 x

User avatar
Glossy
Yellow Belt
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:38 pm
Location: New York
Languages: Russian (native), English (almost native), French (reading: fluent, listening: intermediate, speaking: none), Spanish (reading: fluent, listening: upper intermediate, speaking: none), Mandarin (reading characters: intermediate, actively learning, listening: intermediate, actively learning, speaking: none), German (reading: upper intermediate, listening: none, speaking: none)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7920
x 162

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby Glossy » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:53 pm

A few weeks ago I saw someone on this forum post their results on these vocabulary tests:

https://www.arealme.com/vocabulary-size-test/en/

Here are mine:

FFBBF826-C6BA-42D3-BD5E-B02CD1B9D81B.jpeg
FFBBF826-C6BA-42D3-BD5E-B02CD1B9D81B.jpeg (98.76 KiB) Viewed 1212 times
9CD40BA4-EEF2-43A4-9984-9CE6EBC908E4.jpeg
9CD40BA4-EEF2-43A4-9984-9CE6EBC908E4.jpeg (94.15 KiB) Viewed 1212 times
127DBEA9-5F5C-47BB-828B-B5AE5AFCF4E7.jpeg
127DBEA9-5F5C-47BB-828B-B5AE5AFCF4E7.jpeg (100.28 KiB) Viewed 1212 times
4E03A8ED-62FC-4ADE-B617-08C7DB2C2313.jpeg
4E03A8ED-62FC-4ADE-B617-08C7DB2C2313.jpeg (104.83 KiB) Viewed 1212 times
BBD0A3D5-82E9-4EDC-A1C0-DA3320444AFF.jpeg
BBD0A3D5-82E9-4EDC-A1C0-DA3320444AFF.jpeg (115.96 KiB) Viewed 1212 times


I couldn’t attach a pic for the French test, probably because there’s a limit on the total size of attachments in a single post, but the result said that I know 15,660 words, placing me in the top 22%. It’s unclear of what population.

Some of these tests were similar to each other, obviously translations of some “master” test, probably the English one. This made it easier for people who’ve taken several tests to guess the answers on the later ones. That’s the reason I didn’t do the Czech, Polish, Dutch, Swedish, etc. tests. I’ve never studied any of those languages, but if you know Russian and have some familiarity with German, you can understand various amounts of many Slavic and Germanic tongues. And it would have been fun for me to try to do that here, but by the time I was finished with the tests you see above I was already guessing some answers blindly, simply because the tests are mosly translations of a master test. That was defeating the purpuse of this exercise.

The Chinese test has nothing to do with any of the others though. I got halfway through it and then gave up. A lot of the questions were about chengyu, which are kind of like proverbs. I know very few of them. This actually made me buy a chengyu dictionary:

https://www.amazon.com/500-Common-Chinese-Idioms-Dictionary/dp/0415776821/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1530121052&sr=8-6&keywords=500+chinese

Also, I read Chinese characters slowly and with great effort. There was a lot of text to read in that Chinese test, and that gave me a headache.

Someone on this forum also mentioned the Dialang tests. They seem to be more serious than the ones I talked about above. I’ve done only a couple so far, getting C1 on the French written comprehension test and B1 on the French vocabulary test. My passive French vocabulary is pretty good. The active one is terrible. The written comprehension test had 28 passive and 2 active questions. I failed one of the active ones. That produced that C1 result. The “vocabulary” test was about 50/50 active/passive, so surprise, surpise, I got B1, which is a middling result.

I’ll probably do more Dialang tests when I have more free time.
1 x
Mandarin listening comprehension, hours: 1522 / 5000 (1,522/5,000)

User avatar
Glossy
Yellow Belt
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:38 pm
Location: New York
Languages: Russian (native), English (almost native), French (reading: fluent, listening: intermediate, speaking: none), Spanish (reading: fluent, listening: upper intermediate, speaking: none), Mandarin (reading characters: intermediate, actively learning, listening: intermediate, actively learning, speaking: none), German (reading: upper intermediate, listening: none, speaking: none)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7920
x 162

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby Glossy » Thu Mar 05, 2020 1:03 pm

Since 12/07/17 I've been maintaining a streak of at least an hour a day of Mandarin listening comprehension. I sometimes miss a day, but then I always do two hours the next day. So it's really been a streak of 409 two-day periods.

I've done 1,172 hours of Mandarin listening comprehension so far, a lot of it before this streak. I spent a lot of time learning to read characters before that, and I still read Chinese a little better than I understand it when it's spoken. In order to maintain my knowledge of characters I'm doing Anki reps. I have 28,886 cards with words from all of the languages I've studied. Most of the time is spent on Chinese cards though. Since 2008 I've done 2,555,060 reps over 6,058 hours. Recently I've been doing about 2.5 hours of Anki per day.

I've never tried to speak Mandarin. I want to start working on that after my listening comprehension gets to a high level. And I can't write characters by hand.

With listening I started with Pimsleur Chinese. I did all of its 150 lessons before the streak that I mentioned above. Then I signed up for ChinesePod. I've done 120 lessons of its Intermediate level, which is how many they recommend. Then 160 Upper Intermediate lessons, also the suggested number. I've now done 106 lessons of the Advanced level. They recommend 120 of those.

When I started with the Intermediate level, it took me about 3 hours to go through a lesson. By the end I was doing them in about an hour on average. At the start of the Upper Intermediate level it took me about 4 hours to complete a lesson. By the end I was doing them in less than 2 hours. When I began the Advanced level, a lesson took me roughly 5 hours. Now I'm spending about 2 hours per lesson.

3 x 2 x 2.5 = 15. This suggests that my listening comprehension improved by a factor of roughly 15 over 2 years and 3 months, in about 950 hours of study. This overstates the precision of the measurement, but I've definitely seen a lot of progress.

I'm very curious about how long I'll be able to maintain this streak of mine, about how far I can progress. The last level of ChinesePod, after the Advanced one, is the Media level. They recommend that people do 80 of its lessons, but there are more than twice that number on the site. I might do all of them. Or I could switch to listening to real Chinese audio. Time will tell.
4 x
Mandarin listening comprehension, hours: 1522 / 5000 (1,522/5,000)

User avatar
ロータス
Blue Belt
Posts: 704
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:33 pm
Languages: None
x 936

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby ロータス » Thu Mar 05, 2020 9:02 pm

Glossy wrote: I tend to follow a modular approach to learning languages: first reading, then listening, then speaking. I don't know if it's better than the integrated approach. I learn languages this way because I like reading more than watching TV and I don't like talking much. But I do plan on signing up with Italki if my Mandarin listening comprehension ever reaches a high level.


Do you have a blog post that shows or talks about how you begin a language? Interested in your 'modular approach'. What to you read in the beginning, textbooks or graded readers? At what reading level do you get to before working on listening? Do you continue to read after that (actual book, article) or is on reading things that help your listening?
1 x

User avatar
Glossy
Yellow Belt
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:38 pm
Location: New York
Languages: Russian (native), English (almost native), French (reading: fluent, listening: intermediate, speaking: none), Spanish (reading: fluent, listening: upper intermediate, speaking: none), Mandarin (reading characters: intermediate, actively learning, listening: intermediate, actively learning, speaking: none), German (reading: upper intermediate, listening: none, speaking: none)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7920
x 162

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby Glossy » Thu Mar 05, 2020 10:37 pm

ロータス wrote:
Do you have a blog post that shows or talks about how you begin a language? Interested in your 'modular approach'. What to you read in the beginning, textbooks or graded readers? At what reading level do you get to before working on listening? Do you continue to read after that (actual book, article) or is on reading things that help your listening?


With European languages I usually started by trying to read something that was interesting to me. News articles, books. Not textbooks or graded readers. In the old days I looked up words in paper dictionaries, later online.

I couldn’t do this with Chinese because it’s not related to any of the languages I was familiar with. Looking up every word would have felt silly. It was a much higher fence, so it seemed like I did need a ladder.

I started with John DeFrancis’s readers, Beginning, Intermediate, then Advanced. Abandoned that in the middle of the last volume because I became aware of Rick Harbaugh’s dictionary of character “etymologies“, and that seemed more interesting to me. Went through that book quite a few times, then put all of its characters into Anki. I’ve been reviewing them ever since.

Then I spent some time trying to read Chinese news articles online. Then I started listening to audio lessons, as I described above.

I’m opposed to studying grammar explicitly. I know it’s possible to get grammar subconsciously and intuitively while consuming lots of native materials. And I think that’s a better way than memorizing declension tables, etc.

For example, I’ve never taken any Spanish lessons or read any textbooks for it, yet I read Spanish easily, and understand spoken Spanish pretty well. I just got books and a dictionary. I already knew English, which has tons of Latinate words. As I progressed, I had to look up fewer and fewer words. After I got to a good reading level I started watching Spanish-language TV. About a year into it, maybe a couple of hours per day, I understood the vast majority of what was said.

I’ve never learned to speak Spanish. If I were to try, I’d start by writing diary entries, then comparing them to Google Translate output. Then iTalki or something similar.

I think if you understand 97%-98% of the words in native materials, that’s a good point to start listening.
Last edited by Glossy on Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
2 x
Mandarin listening comprehension, hours: 1522 / 5000 (1,522/5,000)

User avatar
ロータス
Blue Belt
Posts: 704
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:33 pm
Languages: None
x 936

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby ロータス » Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:31 am

Glossy wrote:I think if you understand 97%-98% of the words in native materials, that’s a good point to start listening.


Thanks for the quick reply. Last questions, looking at your 'Hobby Time' post from a year ago, it seems anki and listening (no reading) take up the most of your time. Is that still the same today? Have you seen a drop in your reading ability in your languages bc of the no reading or have you found that listening seems to prevent that? I ask because, of the people I follow that do similar methods (reading & listening only), they usually do a balancing act of R & L a day. I see with Chinese you have Anki to take the place of reading but what about your other languages?

Oh and have you ever played around on LingQ, Readlang or Learning with Text?

[ Great job tracking your hobby time for so long. Very interesting to see the listening time grow while the reading time get smaller and smaller. ]
1 x

User avatar
Glossy
Yellow Belt
Posts: 84
Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2018 11:38 pm
Location: New York
Languages: Russian (native), English (almost native), French (reading: fluent, listening: intermediate, speaking: none), Spanish (reading: fluent, listening: upper intermediate, speaking: none), Mandarin (reading characters: intermediate, actively learning, listening: intermediate, actively learning, speaking: none), German (reading: upper intermediate, listening: none, speaking: none)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=7920
x 162

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby Glossy » Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:44 am

ロータス wrote:
Glossy wrote:I think if you understand 97%-98% of the words in native materials, that’s a good point to start listening.


Thanks for the quick reply. Last questions, looking at your 'Hobby Time' post from a year ago, it seems anki and listening (no reading) take up the most of your time. Is that still the same today? Have you seen a drop in your reading ability in your languages bc of the no reading or have you found that listening seems to prevent that? I ask because, of the people I follow that do similar methods (reading & listening only), they usually do a balancing act of R & L a day. I see with Chinese you have Anki to take the place of reading but what about your other languages?

Oh and have you ever played around on LingQ, Readlang or Learning with Text?

[ Great job tracking your hobby time for so long. Very interesting to see the listening time grow while the reading time get smaller and smaller. ]


I have words in Anki from all the languages I can read. About 4,000 French ones, more than 2,500 German ones, etc. I haven’t updated these stats in a long time, and they only show my main deck. There’s a smaller one besides it. But it gives an idea:

https://lazyglossophiliac.blogspot.com/ ... stats.html

Right now almost all of my language study is divided between Anki and ChinesePod. I haven’t noticed any decrease in my reading ability though. When I try to read something in French, Spanish, etc., it works.

I still keep track of the time I spend on my hobbies in a spreadsheet. But I haven’t updated the Hobby Time graph in a long time.

I’ve taken online tests, for fun, which I think were from LingQ. There were little mascots there that grew as I progressed through the levels. The French one had a Napoleonic triangular hat. I haven’t done anything else there. I’m completely unfamiliar with Readlang and Learning with Text.
1 x
Mandarin listening comprehension, hours: 1522 / 5000 (1,522/5,000)

User avatar
ロータス
Blue Belt
Posts: 704
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2016 2:33 pm
Languages: None
x 936

Re: Glossy's Log

Postby ロータス » Fri Mar 06, 2020 2:17 am

Glossy wrote:
I have words in Anki from all the languages I can read. About 4,000 French ones, more than 2,500 German ones, etc. I haven’t updated these stats in a long time, and they only show my main deck. There’s a smaller one besides it. But it gives an idea:

https://lazyglossophiliac.blogspot.com/ ... stats.html


Ah sorry. When I looked at that page before, I only focused on the first image and assumed most of the 23k cards were hanzi cards you got from that character book you mentioned. Completely scrolled passed the second image after seeing so many lines lol x.x

Readlang and Learning with Text are the current tools people use to make reading in a new language easier by adding or creating a pop-up dictionary for any text that you have.
1 x


Return to “Language logs”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: WilliamYiffBuckley and 2 guests