rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

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rpg
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rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:27 am

After lurking on these forums for a long time I thought I'd start posting some, so welcome to my log!

About me: I'm a young (mid-20s) American guy. I grew up in a monolingual English household, but I was always interested in languages growing up. I took a couple years of Spanish in school, like probably most Americans, and like most Americans I didn't learn a ton as our classes weren't very good-- though I did learn more my peers, I think. I continued doing Spanish on and off in my free time in college and afterwards until late last year, when I did three months of intensive study in South America, taking 4-6 hours a day of classes, mostly private, in language schools. I went in with probably some kind of B1 level and left at B2 or maybe B2+.

Now that my Spanish is pretty decent, I'm ready to start another language, something I had hitherto disciplined myself away from doing-- I much prefer having a good/useful level of fewer languages to having a shallow but less useful level of more. I picked French, since I think it's got about the highest level of cultural material that I'm interested in, is widely spoken, and should be aided by my Spanish knowledge. I've thus just started learning.

Speaking of cultural activities, my high level goals and motivations are largely around media: movies, TV, and especially literature. I'm a big opera fan which isn't really relevant to Spanish but is for French (though Italian is really the most important language here, and some of my favorite opera is German, so go figure). I like traveling a good bit, and it's definitely partly a motivator, but I feel like the ROI isn't good enough for me to justify learning a language for travel alone.

In the medium term, I expect to be focusing mostly on French and focusing on maintaining and perhaps slowly improving my Spanish. I'd like to hit C1 in Spanish eventually, but I'm in no rush. My grammar knowledge of Spanish is pretty good and probably already C1-level or close to it, so I mostly plan on consuming a lot of native materials for now as my main method of making progress: watching TV and especially reading Spanish-language literature. I'm a big believer in the value and power of reading.

For French, I've got the first half of French in Action and I started it a couple days ago. We'll see how well I manage to stick with it, since there's a ton of stuff here. I did realize to my displeasure that I bought some 2nd edition materials when there's a 3rd edition available; I have the 2nd edition textbook and study guide and 3rd edition workbook. I only bought part 1 so at least I'll be able to get the 3rd ed for part 2.

I think that covers all the basics for now! Going forward I hope to update this log with info on how I'm getting along and other language-related thoughts, so stay tuned!
Last edited by rpg on Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:39 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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rpg
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Re: rpg learns Spanish and French

Postby rpg » Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:51 am

Well, after creating this, I promptly dropped off for three months. Actually I made this right when I was started a new job, and I spent the last couple months mostly focused on another hobby of mine. But it's time to come back to language learning before I let my Spanish decay too badly...

On the French front, when I left off I was partway through French in Action leçon 2. Over the last week I refreshed that (amazingly I still remembered basically everything-- so far FiA really seems to do a good job of making me internalize the content) and am most of the way through leçon 3. I figure roughly one lesson in a week or less should be a decent pace, even though it means up to a year for the whole thing; I want to keep it sustainable so I make it a habit and don't burn out. I'm doing the whole thing: the videos, the audio, and all the workbook exercises, so one lesson actually takes quite a bit of time (there are over 50 exercises for lesson 3, for example).

Regarding the language itself, while it's mostly been smooth sailing thanks to Spanish, there have been a couple small surprises already. One of the exercises has a sentence that's something like "je vais te raconter une histoire" which was rather shocking to my Spanish-accustomed self, where it'd be "te voy a contar una historia" with the object pronoun before the first verb. Putting it in between the "to go" and the infinitive just looks so wrong!

Speaking of this example, it was a listening exercise where you had to fill in "je ___ te ___ ___ histoire" spoken at a normal (ie fast for a learner) speaking pace and I had a devil of a time with "raconter". Probably in part it's because it's an unfamiliar word (I don't think it appeared in the course until then unless it was in some throwaway line or such), but also because I'm still trying to muddle through the French pronunciation, which seems daunting. My English-speaking brain just loves mucking around when I'm speaking to thwart my best attempts at getting the right vowels, and of course it doesn't help that French vowels are so different, with front and nasal vowels that we don't have. In the lesson 3 video there's a part where you're asked to repeat "des jeunes gens" at some speed, which was a real trip trying not to screw up, with jeunes having the /œ/ and gens the /ɑ̃/. The r is giving me some trouble too, where half the time it comes out sounding like garbage or slowing down my speech too much to produce. Hopefully this will improve with more conscious practice.

One final surprise to record for posterity: the sentence "Espérons que ça va être amusant!". In Spanish I would expect a subjunctive here: "esperemos que sea divertido" (assuming espérons is an imperative in Fr.). But hey, it'd be boring if the grammars of the two languages were too similar, eh?
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Querneus
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Re: rpg learns Spanish and French

Postby Querneus » Sat Sep 22, 2018 2:00 pm

rpg wrote:Regarding the language itself, while it's mostly been smooth sailing thanks to Spanish, there have been a couple small surprises already. One of the exercises has a sentence that's something like "je vais te raconter une histoire" which was rather shocking to my Spanish-accustomed self, where it'd be "te voy a contar una historia" with the object pronoun before the first verb. Putting it in between the "to go" and the infinitive just looks so wrong!

Also applies to le participe présent compared to el gerundio: le disant vite ~ diciéndolo rápido.

One final surprise to record for posterity: the sentence "Espérons que ça va être amusant!". In Spanish I would expect a subjunctive here: "esperemos que sea divertido" (assuming espérons is an imperative in Fr.). But hey, it'd be boring if the grammars of the two languages were too similar, eh?

The use of the future after quand where Spanish uses the present subjunctive is another good one:

    Lo haré cuando llegue la hora de hacerlo.
    Je le ferai quand l'heure sera venue de le faire.
    'I'll do it when the time comes to do it.'

Or the imperfect indicative after si for present unreal conditions, where Spanish uses the imperfect subjunctive:

    Si fueras rico, ¿qué harías?
    Si tu étais riche, qu'est-ce que tu ferais?
    'If you were rich, what would you do?'

The imperfect subjunctive exists in French but is not used much anymore, being superseded by the imperfect indicative in conditions, and by the present subjunctive elsewhere, which might seem jarring at first when it appears along with a past verb!

    Yo quería que lo hicieras antes de salir.
    Je voulais que tu le fasses avant de sortir.
    'I wanted you to do it before going out.'
    (fasses = hagas)
Last edited by Querneus on Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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rpg
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Re: rpg learns Spanish and French

Postby rpg » Mon Sep 24, 2018 9:19 am

Ser wrote:
rpg wrote:Regarding the language itself, while it's mostly been smooth sailing thanks to Spanish, there have been a couple small surprises already. One of the exercises has a sentence that's something like "je vais te raconter une histoire" which was rather shocking to my Spanish-accustomed self, where it'd be "te voy a contar una historia" with the object pronoun before the first verb. Putting it in between the "to go" and the infinitive just looks so wrong!

Also applies to le participe présent compared to el gerundio: le disant vite ~ diciéndolo rápido.

One final surprise to record for posterity: the sentence "Espérons que ça va être amusant!". In Spanish I would expect a subjunctive here: "esperemos que sea divertido" (assuming espérons is an imperative in Fr.). But hey, it'd be boring if the grammars of the two languages were too similar, eh?

The use of the future after quand where Spanish uses the present subjunctive is another good one:

    Lo haré cuando llegue la hora de hacerlo.
    Je le ferai quand l'heure sera venu de le faire.
    'I'll do it when the time comes to do it.'

Or the imperfect indicative after si for present unreal conditions, where Spanish uses the imperfect subjunctive:

    Si fueras rico, ¿qué harías?
    Si tu étais riche, qu'est-ce que tu ferais?
    'If you were rich, what would you do?'

The imperfect subjunctive exists in French but is not used much anymore, being superseded by the imperfect indicative in conditions, and by the present subjunctive elsewhere, which might seem jarring at first when it appears along with a past verb!

    Yo quería que lo hicieras antes de salir.
    Je voulais que tu le fasses avant de sortir.
    'I wanted you to do it before going out.'
    (fasses = hagas)


¡Qué raro! The conditional one I can probably get used to, since English is also losing the subjunctive there. The other two will be harder to adjust to, especially the example with the future. It really calls attention to how I've internalized the logic of the Spanish usage, which feels very intuitive to me most of the time now (as do many other aspects of the language). It'll be interesting to see how my French intuition develops and how my brain compartmentalizes them... but that's still a ways away.

Speaking of Spanish, I haven't written anything about it yet. I've been watching La Casa de las Flores on Netflix lately, and it's pretty solid. I've only got three episodes left before I'll finish and move on to another series-- probably the rest of season 3 of Las Chicas del Cable, which I'm a few episodes into, though this show seems like it may have jumped the shark. I also need to get around to watching more of El Ministerio del Tiempo (only 1.5 seasons in) and then there's still a bunch of stuff on my watchlist to start, including Fariña, Gran Hotel, and Vis a Vis, so I hope that keeps me busy for a while.

I'm conflicted on the best way to watch: with or without subtitles (Spanish ones, of course). With subs off I generally understand what people say and what's going on, but I miss words or phrases with some frequency, particularly due to unknown words. I've gone back and forth with La Casa de las Flores but mostly watch with subtitles on, since it lets me look up vocab easily, and because I figure listening while I'm reading the subs should hopefully still improve my listening comprehension as I correlate the two. But I'm not totally confident in it.

On the subject of vocabulary learned from TV, I encountered a nice phrase I didn't know in my last episode: in fraganti, meaning red-handed. Apparently this is a corruption of medieval Latin "in flagrante" and seems to exist in a number of different languages in some form, including English as the unmodified "in flagrante", which I don't think I knew. I assume the Spanish one is more common (I know Spanish also has "con las manos en la masa" for the same idea).

Besides TV, my other main Spanish activity is reading, though of late I haven't been doing all that much of it. I started Crónica de una muerte anunciada back in March or so and ended up putting it down, but recently I've resumed reading it before sleeping. Since I've been staying up too late recently, I only end up reading a rather small amount before going to sleep, so I'm not actually making that quick progress through it (I'm about 60% through, says the Kindle, mostly from reading in the spring and because the book is short), though I'd like to finish it up in the near future once I get around to actually making time for it. With literature I'm again unsure of what precisely the best way to proceed is: looking up every word I don't know or no? The kindle makes it pretty easy to look things up, but I'm never quite sure how much I retain since the whole thing is so quick and low-effort. I can muddle through without the dictionary if necessary, but it's much harder than it is watching TV (unsurprisingly) and I can get totally lost in sentences with multiple unknown words. I don't think my vocabulary is good enough yet to read extensively (aren't you supposed to know something like 98% of the words you're encountering? I'm definitely not there yet when it comes to literary works) so for now I'm (ab?)using the dictionary.

My main productive activity is talking to myself every now and then in the shower or the mirror or something, which I know sounds silly, but I live alone so there's nobody to judge me for it. I live in a Hispanic neighborhood but I'm never quite sure if I should talk to store owners and such in Spanish or not, so it's basically entirely English for me. Store owners or employees generally seem to speak passable (often good) English and the transactions generally go perfectly fine in English so I worry about the etiquette around me using Spanish, especially as a white guy gentrifying this neighborhood.

For speaking practice I might work up the patience to take more italki lessons, though if I have to have another shallow conversation answering for the thousandth time "¿Por qué aprendiste español?" "¿Qué te gusta hacer en tu tiempo libre?" "¿Tienes hermanos?" and so on I might go crazy.

Finally, for a quick update on French, I finished lesson 3 of FiA (though I half-assed the final writing exercises since without being able to say very much they're horribly boring) and started lesson 4 this evening, and it certainly feels like it's getting a bit harder-- the text workup has fewer repetitions and longer phrases and I'm clearly going to need to work a little bit on this one after more or less breezing through the previous ones.
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rpg
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Re: rpg learns Spanish and French

Postby rpg » Sun Oct 07, 2018 7:53 am

French

Well, I finally finished FiA lesson 4 this evening. It took me nearly two weeks since I was a bit busy lately, but I made sure to try to do at least something most days. It's pretty cool just how much I feel like I'm learning over the course of a single lesson. I'm very curious to see how far I can get just through FiA alone if I manage to stick with it. On to lesson 5 tomorrow!

Spanish

I've done what I consider to be a respectable amount of Spanish: I listened to/watched two episodes of the Spanish radio show Nadie sabe nada (which I came across on someone else's log, but I forgot who-- thank you, whoever it was!). I don't get all the jokes, sometimes from missing cultural context and sometimes from just not understanding what they're saying well enough, but I can still generally follow along and enjoy it.

In addition, I finished La casa de las flores which was great through the end. I'm only a little sad that all the Spanish shows on my watchlist now are 40+ minute episode ones, but no matter. I think next up for me is to finish season 2 of El ministerio del tiempo since that show is really excellent.

Finally, I still need to read more... I bought a copy of the poems of Alejandra Pizarnik, who I first heard about in a Cualca video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N6326I35Dg I've only read a bit of it so far but I'm enjoying it more than I've enjoyed reading Neruda, who for the most part doesn't do much for me
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Lawyer&Mom
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Re: rpg learns Spanish and French

Postby Lawyer&Mom » Sun Oct 07, 2018 2:59 pm

In English, “in Flagrante” almost always means caught in a sexual activity. Given this very narrow usage you might not have come across it.

Best of luck with FIA. I love it, but only made it to chapter 7. I’m not great with book work!
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Re: rpg learns Romance

Postby rpg » Tue Apr 02, 2019 8:50 am

Well I just spent like an hour writing a long update to this only to find that I had been logged out while I was writing and subsequently lost the entire post... ugh. Feeling too demoralized to rewrite it so I'll just put some high level bullet points:

  • Paused French in Action shortly after my last post because I started a relationship.
  • Am picking it back up together with my SO and waiting for her to catch up to where I was so we can do it together.
  • While I wait for her to catch up I impulse bought the old Assimil Italian with Ease as well as Assimil Hungarian (?!?!?!)
  • I've started the Assimil Italian and plan on going through that 1 lesson/day for the next few months since it seems relatively easy given my Spanish.
  • I have no good reason to learn Hungarian and it's probably too many languages and probably something like Turkish would check similar boxes while being more useful, but I might dabble with it a little bit in my leftover time.
  • It would be good to do some more speaking with Spanish... maybe iTalki but I haven't figured out yet how to have interesting conversations there beyond the boring biographical topics (any advice?).
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Re: rpg learns Romance

Postby golyplot » Tue Apr 02, 2019 2:10 pm

Have you tried the FSI French Phonology course? I'm going through it now and have found it to be very helpful.

Here's the site I'm using. https://www.livelingua.com/french/cours ... Phonology/
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Re: rpg learns Romance

Postby Iversen » Wed Apr 03, 2019 5:49 am

rpg wrote:Well I just spent like an hour writing a long update to this only to find that I had been logged out while I was writing and subsequently lost the entire post... ugh.


If this happens again then fill out the login information and go backwards with ALT + arrow left until you see the original page. You may have also to press F5 to refresh the page, but then your message should be onscreen again, ready to be submitted. At least these keystrokes function on my old Win7 machine - you may have to use other sequences with Win10 or on a Mac, but this is the general method no. 1. Method no. 2 is to press ALT A, ALT C to put the whole messsage into the clipboard before you press Submit. That saves me from having to revert - I can just reinsert the whole message in one fell swoop - but sometimes I forget it or I think it can't have happened so quickly, and yet it has - I have been locked out.

I experience this phenomenon again and again because I also write fairly long messages, which sometimes makes supplementary side studies necessary before I can submit them.

PS: It happened once again right now...
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rpg
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Re: rpg learns Romance

Postby rpg » Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:34 am

Iversen wrote:
rpg wrote:Well I just spent like an hour writing a long update to this only to find that I had been logged out while I was writing and subsequently lost the entire post... ugh.


If this happens again then fill out the login information and go backwards with ALT + arrow left until you see the original page. You may have also to press F5 to refresh the page, but then your message should be onscreen again, ready to be submitted. At least these keystrokes function on my old Win7 machine - you may have to use other sequences with Win10 or on a Mac, but this is the general method no. 1. Method no. 2 is to press ALT A, ALT C to put the whole messsage into the clipboard before you press Submit. That saves me from having to revert - I can just reinsert the whole message in one fell swoop - but sometimes I forget it or I think it can't have happened so quickly, and yet it has - I have been locked out.

I experience this phenomenon again and again because I also write fairly long messages, which sometimes makes supplementary side studies necessary before I can submit them.

PS: It happened once again right now...


Cheers. I used to do this (copy my post before posting) on some forums, I may just have to start doing it here too.

golyplot wrote:Have you tried the FSI French Phonology course? I'm going through it now and have found it to be very helpful.

Here's the site I'm using. https://www.livelingua.com/french/cours ... Phonology/


I downloaded it a while ago but I haven't gone through it. That probably would be a great way to work on French without getting ahead of my SO. On the other hand, maybe I should try to get her to do it with me, since I think she could really use some help with the pronunciation. Since this is my second foreign language and I have a passing interest in phonology, I'm used to paying close attention to the sounds I'm hearing and producing, but she doesn't have much experience with this.

She's on FiA lesson 4 this week, and I stopped in the middle of lesson 5, so we should be starting to do it together from next week. The plan is roughly 1 lesson/week. I've been watching the videos with her (but not the exercises) and I'd forgotten how much I like FiA. If only it existed in every language...

Assimil Italian is going well. I've been on a 1 lesson/day schedule with Lesson 12 coming up this evening. The similarities to Spanish are enough to make it pretty easy going. I was worried that this might be too relaxed so I also started with Glossika Italian on my way to work. Since Italian is still a secondary language for me I'm hesitant to set any concrete goals but it'd be nice to break out of the beginner stages in a couple months.

I do still have a little work to do with Italian phonology. I haven't quite figured out the gli sound yet, and the synalepha (merging of syllables when one word ends with a vowel and the next starts with one) is also very vexing. Particularly vexing is how Glossika has IPA for every sentence that doesn't even take this into account! What's the point of having the IPA, then? For example, Glossika sentence 15 "Oggi fa caldo e c'è il sole" the "c'è il" part seems to my ear to get merged into one syllable instead of the dandy little IPA they have with two full length vowels. Or "io ho", you're not gonna try telling me that that's two syllables. I get the sense that the IPA was generated in some lazy automated way but it's very irritating.

As for Hungarian... ho boy. Assimil Hungarian is hard. I can't do 1 lesson a day here, so I only finished lesson 5 yesterday. Unlike in Italian, where almost all the vocab so far has immediately obvious meanings, virtually none of the Hungarian words do, and just learning all this vocab is really quite an effort. Trying to do this at a 1 lesson/30 min/day tempo like Assimil claims is a bit of a joke of a suggestion imo. I'm considering supplementing this with another Hungarian resource or two, though once I get back into the French routine next week I don't know if I'll have much time for Hungarian so maybe not.

And even though the spelling is phonetic, I haven't nailed many of the sounds yet. And the vowel length distinction... I feel like talking to a native speaker purely about pronunciation would probably be pretty helpful so I might try an iTalki session at some point.

Finally, in my neglected Spanish, I watched a couple episodes of this Argentine show Millenials on Netflix, which is okay but not great. And I watched Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios which was pretty good. Even though I spent a few months doing Spanish full-time in Latin America my listening comprehension still needs work; I missed various bits of dialogue. I do a good amount of my Spanish TV watching with Spanish subs and maybe that's inhibiting the development of my listening skills, not sure. But on the flip side I think a lot of my listening "misses" probably come from unfamiliar words or expressions and in that sense seeing them written out in the subtitles is probably helpful...

A funny note about this movie-- it was only near the end that I realized that "estocolmo" is Stockholm, and only afterwards did I learn that "chiita" was Shiite-- two plot-critical words!

I was thinking today about Spanish and my vocabulary, which still needs a lot of work. The goalposts admittedly keep shifting, but I think I'd like to reach a C1 at some point and right now my vocab just isn't quite big enough. I know reading is probably the best way to work on it, but the kind of books I enjoy reading (capital-L Literature) usually have a pretty wide range of vocab so I get stuck looking up words all the time which turns the whole thing into a chore. I might look into a B2 or C1 level graded reader or something that I can read extensively. Alternatively I might try to just stop being lazy and make myself sit down and read more literature, vocab be damned...
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