neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

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blaurebell
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby blaurebell » Sun Feb 05, 2017 10:25 am

I enjoyed having a look at your log, very interesting to see how you're progressing. As for extensive vs intensive reading: I found that after doing a Super Challenge of intensive reading in French I could easily read extensively with sufficient precision and enjoyment. I only read extensively in Spanish on the other hand and there I still feel as if I'm missing "literary" stuff despite having read a lot as well, maybe even the same amount as in French. So, reading 5000 pages intensively seems to be the trick to get up to speed. I tend to start with translations too, because they're easier normally. In French it was all of Harry Potter + a few crime novels and for Russian I found some David Eddings translations that should amount to a good few thousand pages. I also found that all the vocabulary I picked up from intensive reading helped me a lot with listening comprehension. The more I read the easier I found it to follow French series and movies. I also did the listening part of the Super Challenge by watching dubbed series and that worked really well. The first season I watched with subtitles, the rest without. When I now walk about town I always understand what the French tourists are saying, although I'm not making an effort to listen to them. Just like your experience in the train station. For Russian I'll just follow the same strategy and hope it works just as well.
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neofight78
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Fri Feb 17, 2017 3:03 pm

Thanks blaurebell always great to hear some feedback :D Yes, I guess I need to carry on with the intensive reading until I hit some kind of lift off moment where extensive reading becomes more comfortable for me. Although it has to be said that 5000 is a lot of pages!

As time goes on, the university lessons just irritate me more and more. That's not to say that they are without value, it's just that I'm certain those 12hrs plus travelling time would be much more effectively spent on self-study. Unfortunately a student visa remains the easiest way to stay in Russia for more than 3 months...

As usual I try to add more to my schedule than I can manage. I've managed to start chipping away at the vocab backlog but my grammar deck remains untouched. I probably need to do some rebalancing and get on to the grammar.

I mentioned before that I've been concentrating on the technical language. It now seems to be paying off, I managed to explain the code for one of my programs fairly fluently on Thursday without too may pauses or mistakes. So I may slow the pace on this slightly, as I'm on track or even ahead of where I want to be. I've been to two Go meetups now. I have to say that it can be hardwork talking to programmers sometimes, even more so in a different language. Generating and maintaining conversation can be hard, I almost feel like I'm in the role of a language tutor, except my pupil is talking in their native language :lol:

Anyhow, all things told I'm feeling quite happy about my progress at the moment... :D
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:38 pm

I'm currently pondering how I maybe able to make extensive reading more attainable, in particular learning some vocabulary up front. So being a programmer I've started work on a little tool to help me (at least it will in theory).

I've got something basic working, but I'll need to see how useful it is in practice. The basic idea is to identify all keywords in a text (I'll define what I mean by keyword more precisely in a moment). Then out of all those keywords pick those most frequently used in the text. I'm not sure how long to make the final vocabulary list, but I'm currently working with a minimum size of 10 (for short texts), or enough words to cover 5% of the whole text (for longer texts).

Keywords are selected by comparing the frequency of each word in the text with it's frequency in general usage (i.e. in some big corpus). Words that are used more frequently in the text than they are in general are considered keywords. This seems to work quite well, in that common words get filtered out and important words are included. Here's some example output from running "The Color of Magic" through the program.

Code: Select all

волшебник - expected occurances: 0.5666302 acutal occurences: 233 rank: 8568
дракон - expected occurances: 0.9312932 acutal occurences: 172 rank: 5930
сундук - expected occurances: 0.701275 acutal occurences: 94 rank: 7382
меч - expected occurances: 1.8681966 acutal occurences: 66 rank: 3391
тролль - expected occurances: 0.0729326 acutal occurences: 63 rank: 31521
диск - expected occurances: 1.4754826 acutal occurences: 62 rank: 4156
магия - expected occurances: 0.5946812 acutal occurences: 59 rank: 8294
турист - expected occurances: 1.514754 acutal occurences: 58 rank: 4085
магический - expected occurances: 0.8022586 acutal occurences: 51 rank: 6682
заклинание - expected occurances: 0.6900546 acutal occurences: 47 rank: 7451


I'm pretty pleased with the result, the list is looking fairly plausible. This is just the top ten words of course. The program lists 154 keywords in order to get to 5% coverage of the book, which is not bad considering the book consists of 56102 words in total.

Of course now I need to test it somehow in terms of how effective it is in terms of learning and enabling more extensive reading...
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby blaurebell » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:29 pm

Way to combine your abilities :D Learning vocabulary upfront is definitely a different approach from mine, I just read intensively so that I don't have to learn any vocabulary at all! I totally hate flashcards and they don't seem to work for me anyway. Any word I'm supposed to know from doing flashcards only registers as "ah damn, I should know this ..." I can easily spend several hours with a good book and a dictionary, but will run screaming from 5min of anki because I find it utterly painful and ultimately ineffective. Basically, intensive reading is like SRS on steroids for me because of all the context and repeated words. Only problem is that I always need a dictionary. Have you tried Learning with Texts for intensive reading? I'm a big fan of that one. I find once I hit about 30,000-35,000 known word forms in LWT (depending on language, Russian probably more towards the upper end of the spectrum) with a ratio of 85%-90% known vs unknown vocabulary in the database, I can read extensively even for new and totally unrelated texts. I'm currently reading a physical book about cave paintings in French which has nothing to do with what I was reading before. There are obvious gaps with something this specific, but I can definitely follow well enough to enjoy it. Of course some things just get classified as "some kind of rock" or "bear stuff", but it's usually vocabulary I wouldn't even know in any more specific way in German or English. I was mainly reading adventure stuff before.

By the way, I'm reading the Belgariad Saga in Russian now. Still early days, but after 70 pages I'm at just 3000 known words in LWT and I'm scraping along at 46% known versus unknown. With French I had 60-70% known vs unknown right from the start due to cognates. Definitely tough going with Russian, but I'm enjoying it anyway! That said, I'm not sure my 5000 pages estimate will hold for Russian, seems to be a bit slower for me. Unless I experience some sort of miraculous unexpected comprehension jump along the way - quite possible - I'd guess more like 10,000 to feel as comfortable as I feel with French. As always Russian resists :roll:
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: 14325 / 35000 LWT Known

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: 100 / 116 GdUdE B
: 8 / 72 Duolingo reverse Spanish -> German

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neofight78
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sat Mar 11, 2017 5:27 pm

blaurebell wrote:Learning vocabulary upfront is definitely a different approach from mine, I just read intensively so that I don't have to learn any vocabulary at all! I totally hate flashcards and they don't seem to work for me anyway.
..
I can easily spend several hours with a good book and a dictionary, but will run screaming from 5min of anki because I find it utterly painful and ultimately ineffective.


I am the opposite, too much dictionary work and I lose interest. Of course as always it's horses for courses, each person has to find what works for them and even then it may change over time. I'm trying to mix approaches a little to see if I can ease myself into extensive reading, starting with something which perhaps sits between intensive and extensive.

I'm starting my experiment with the book "Голова профессора Доуеля":

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I've read the first three chapters, reading a chapter every other day. I'm running each chapter through my program and learning most of the keywords up front. Currently, it's going well and it's keeping my attention. Of course how much of that is down to the book and how much is down to my learning approach is hard to say.

I've modified the algorithm a little. Keywords are identified in the same way as before. Any words that I already know are removed from the list, this is possible thanks to the fact all my vocab (well, most of it) is in an Anki deck. The length of the list is now all keywords that appear in the text more than once, or enough words to take word coverage up to 90%, which ever comes sooner. Here's a little screenshot after analysing the upcoming chapter four:

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I've also download the audio book and after reading a chapter I try to listen to the audio whilst following along in the book. I'm aiming to read a chapter every couple of days, so I should finish the book in about two months.

I'm doing the reading on my kindle, and I've extended my app to extract looked up words and highlighted phrases. I'm thinking of taking some of these sentences and making cards out of them, but I'm not sure yet what the most effective card format might be. I'd be keen to hear suggestions from other people.

Also this evening I've started watching "Семнадцать мгновений весны" and I've manage to find a version with English Subtitles. I enjoyed the first episode and I'm looking forward to watching the rest of this classic.

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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:11 am

blaurebell wrote:Have you tried Learning with Texts for intensive reading? I'm a big fan of that one. I find once I hit about 30,000-35,000 known word forms in LWT (depending on language, Russian probably more towards the upper end of the spectrum) with a ratio of 85%-90% known vs unknown vocabulary in the database, I can read extensively even for new and totally unrelated texts.


To answer your question, no I haven't. I did take a look, but I didn't fancy trying to set it up. I use LingQ instead, which I use for more intensive reading, and I really like the iOS app. To be honest I would lean towards using Readlang for extensive reading, it feels a lot faster and less cumbersome. At the moment I'm using my kindle, it's easier on the eyes for longer periods of reading and there are less distractions there than on my laptop. :lol:
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 11:33 am

Finally got caught up on all my flashcards after an extended Christmas break, with over 6000 vocabulary cards overdue it's taken while! I've started adding some grammar cards again, and will continue to push the grammar forward.

As mentioned previously I've begun to slow down the studying of technical material. There are still plenty of gaps, but I can discuss most things with some level of fluency and given that most Russian programmers know English it won't be hard to fill those gaps whilst I'm literally on the job. In short I have a pretty decent foundation to build on. The bonus is that I can spend that time on something else, which I'm currently planning to spend on interesting bits of grammar, phrases, collocations etc that I run into during my reading.

Голова профессора Доуэля is going well. I've stuck to my planned schedule and my kindle tells me I'm 48% of the way through the book. I'm pretty chuffed that I've finally started reading in an at least semi-extensive way. Hopefully, I can build from here after I finish the book. I can't say for sure what benefit I'm getting if any, but judging by other peoples accounts that could be a few books away yet, we'll see.

A quarter of the way through the year and I've finally cracked open Окно в Россию. I have set myself the ambitious target of doing something with it when I have time. There certainly is some useful stuff in there, but I have to be realistic about my schedule.

I'm continuing to watch Семнадцать мгновений весны at a rate of 2 - 3 episodes a week. It's quite good although the number of new characters introduced at once and the plot and get confusing at times. Although I guess given the topic is spy games, it's part and parcel of the genre. In terms of the visuals the moody close up of the hero is used too often, but that's a minor complaint.

Weather wise we have now entered what is, if I correctly recall the official meteorological term, the manky time of year. The snow is beginning to melt and everything is dirty rather than a pristine white. I can't wait until the weather is good enough to resume running in the forest though.

Onwards and upwards! Best wishes and encouragement to all those battling with this crazy language!
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Wed Mar 29, 2017 4:42 pm

A little amusement for those of you who have endured Russian lessons....

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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:41 pm

The fluctuations in the number of mature cards that always occur after the clearing of a big backlog have calmed down and the numbers are now steadily ticking upwards. Hopefully within a month I should clock up 7000 words of vocabulary (according to Anki), this means I'm entering into C1 territory. Of course there is a lot more to Russian than vocab, but this is an encouraging milestone on the way.

Grammar at this stage is a bit more tricky in that it means getting a grip on stuff that isn't used all that often. That is if you compare it to cases and the most common constructions. Potentially, I'll need to up the amount of grammar drilling to compensate for it's relatively infrequent use in the language at large.

I'm using the book "Изучаем глагольные приставки" to do a little targeted study of prefixes (how they came up with such an exciting title I do not know). I don't intend to go through the whole thing, I'm just making flashcards out of the example sentences for each section, I shan't bother with any of the exercises etc. This should help flesh out my knowledge of prefixes a bit more. Up to now I've just naturally noticed patterns in the verbs I've learned without any specific study on the subject, so there are some gaps that can be filled in.

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I'm now 84% of the way though Голова профессора Доуэля. It's definitely a lot easier to read now than when I started, it's obvious that the accumulation of vocabulary through the book pays off more and more as you get further into the book. Now I need to starting thinking about what I might read next.

I've done a tiny bit more on Окно в Россию. I expect progress to be slow here for a while, whose silly idea was it to limit a day to just 24 hours?!

I've dropped off watching Семнадцать мгновений весны. I'm not sure why, I think it was while I was recently ill with bronchitis. Reduced mental energy got the better of me. However having said that I've watched a bunch of Russian films recently, some with English Subtitles and some without:

  • 12 - A Russian version of 12 Angry Men. A good film well worth watching, being sufficiently different from the original to be interesting.
  • Викинг - A recent Russian blockbuster that was being heaving advertised when I was in Moscow. Reasonable entertainment but nothing too cerebral.
  • Солнечный удар - Somewhat self-indulgent in places and I suspect for many too slow moving, but I quite enjoyed it.
  • 28 панфиловцев - War film. Russians whoop the Nazis. If you like a good old battle scene this will be up your street, otherwise you may want to skip it. No knowledge of Russian required.

In terms being out in the big Russian world, I'm getting more confident. I've been to the doctors a few times with no problems. Certainly immersion means you pick up stuff that you'd be unlikely to learn otherwise. Only thanks to having had a blood test do I know what "Работать кулаком" means. On Easter Saturday I went to confession for the first time here in Russia. It was rather nerve-wracking, in that I was worried that I wouldn't be able to express my thoughts or understand what the Priest said, what with religious language being a whole big chunk of specialist vocabulary. Thankfully it went well, so there's another confidence barrier broken through.
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Re: neofight78's Wayward Ramble to Russian Fluency Продолжается!

Postby neofight78 » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:12 pm

I've passed a couple of milestones this week. I've finished my first book in Russian, Голова профессора Доуэля! This is definitely good news, mainly because it means I can now read a second, and then a third.... I had a bit of a browse through a bookshop this week and flicked through a few books. I've still got to be careful which books I choose, I'm a long way off being able to pick up any book. I think I'm going to read more Беляев before moving on to other authors. As such my next book is going to be Человек-амфибия

25294522.cover_330.jpg
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The other milestone is that I've passed the halfway mark through "A Book of Russian Idioms Illustrated" after about 18 months. I guess it'll be another 18 months more to finish. Correctly using idioms always seems to delight my Russian interlocutors. I'm also well set up for the phraseology part of the C1 exam if I at some point decide to sit it. To be honest a lack of knowledge about idioms is probably not my weakest point, but I'm sure it will pay off in time as make progress in other areas.

My prediction of hitting a total vocabulary of 7000 words within a month seems to be correct, I should pass that mark in a few days (38 words to go). However I can't quite claim that milestone yet.

Having finally got into more extensive reading, and having read some of the recent threads here. There's a few things I'm inspired to do:

  • Read a lot more to get the benefits of extensive reading
  • Work with a TV series in order to boost my listening comprehension (not just watching but working with a transcript)
  • Start writing regularly, getting corrections and working with the feedback.
  • Work on corrections to my speech (e.g. on Verbling)

Of course, as always my study routine is fairly full. So I'm repeating my favourite dilemma of deciding what to prioritise. I shall ponder some more and see what changes I make, if any!
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