rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

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rpg
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Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Tue Dec 22, 2020 7:16 am

My last log entry was in July right after I got home from Paris. My language learning has unfortunately stalled since then. I spent a couple more months focusing my energy towards my chess hobby and then turned my attention back towards my career, which I have been neglecting for a while. I did a lot of career-related learning and projects and went through a drawn-out job search. I've finally just started a new job, and while I'll miss all the free time I had over the last year, I'm happy to begin advancing in my career and to have an income and health insurance again. My job is with a large multinational so I think I'll have the opportunity to transfer abroad, should I so desire, although I would need to take a pay cut. Still I may end up doing that, at least for a period, as I think this will be the easiest time in my career to do it--not many employers out there in my industry that can support this kind of international mobility.

Now that my job search is concluded and I've started work, I'm starting to look back towards what I'll be spending my time on outside of work, and I would like to resume my language learning efforts. I finished my whole living-in-Paris project and I don't have a clear vision of what's next. Some options:

  • Focus on Spanish and/or French. They both need work but especially French. I don't have a clear idea of how I'm going to progress yet.
  • Return to Mandarin. Relearn everything I've forgotten and wipe off all the dust. Perhaps attempt to enroll in a spring semester college course--with learning happening online right now, it should be uniquely easy to do that.
  • Add a new language, probably German. I'm thinking about enrolling in a Lingoda Super Sprint for the next three months, perhaps supplementing with a little Assimil. I could probably reach A2 in 2021 but I doubt I'd get higher as I'm still trying to focus on my career.

The Lingoda German option appeals to me right now but ultimately I'm not sure. I'll have to decide in the coming days, though.

I signed up for a Super Challenge in Spanish and in French. Given how little language learning I've done the last six months that doesn't look like it's going to be happening. I have however one small piece of good news on this front: I learned a few days ago that Gran Hotel is leaving Netflix at the end of the year and I've been binge watching Season 2 (on Netflix, which includes some of the original Season 3) the last few days-- I think I've watched at least 10h in the last week. Really addictive stuff and I'm really enjoying it. I'm going to keep watching as much as I can before it leaves Netflix and might seek it out on my own after it leaves. I think Seasons 2 + 3 are around 40 hours in total so that would at least get me on track for one of the four components.

Finally the last thing to report is that even though I've resisted Anki so insistently to date in my language learning, I've started to experiment with it for vocabulary. But I'm trying it out in an unusual way: I'm putting the front of the card as a sentence containing the vocabulary word, and the back the definition of the word in the TL. The thesis is that I simply want repeated exposure of the word in context (vs training myself to associate the isolated word with its English-language definition), trying to solve the problem of looking up words and then not encountering them again before I forget them. Whether or not this is going to be at all effective remains to be seen.
2 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
Yellow Belt
Posts: 90
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Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Tue Dec 29, 2020 8:43 am

I've been binging Gran Hotel like a maniac-- using the Netflix episodes (different boundaries from the original broadcast) I've watched all 28 of Season 2 and have watched 10 or 11 out of 24 of Season 3. I have only three more days to finish the show before the New Year and since I'm going to be reasonably busy on NYE I'm not sure I'll manage, but maybe I will! Normally I don't like binging TV this much/this quickly (I find that it makes it hard to remember later) but it's certainly been interesting; the show is plenty entertaining and filled with so many twists and turns it could make your head spin.

I've been looking up maybe 5-10 words per episode and afterwards making Anki flashcards for them. We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and I listened to a Radio Ambulante episode over Christmas about the "American Beetles" (a band from Miami that got booked for a huge gig in Argentina under the mistaken impression that they were the real Beatles) which was pretty fun.

Speaking of vocabulary, I did the vocab test here a few times and got around 33% known with zero false positives. A good goal for me for this year might be to get that number up, let's say to around 40%+. I also did a similar test here for my native English and got 70% on a first pass and 89% on a (more aggressive) second pass, so clearly my Spanish results have a ways to go :)

Other than that I'm not sure what my language plans are for the future or for the year. I've registered for a full Lingoda sprint for German but I may yet back out of it. I think I do want to bring another language up to an intermediate level this year but I'm vacillating between starting German versus trying to get back into Mandarin (recall that I was supposed to spend this past summer in Beijing until covid happened).

I'm not sure what I would do for Mandarin: I much prefer structured learning but I'm not sure what the best way of doing it would be. I could try to join a college course for the spring semester (which would start soon) but I don't know if that would leave enough time to recover the Mandarin I lost over the last year and a half (geez, has it been that long already?). I could try to do a summer program again but I don't know whether or not I'll be able to dedicate the required time this summer: on the one hand everything will be online (job and program) which will recover a lot of time for me, but on the other hand my work+study last year was brutally intense and interfered with both my health and my job performance, and I don't think I want to make a similar level of sacrifice right now. Unfortunately the job offer I took was the one with the worst PTO policy; with a different job I could have taken a few weeks off during the summer to make it work (giving me some breaks and time to catch up) but I don't think something like that will work with this job.

Unfortunately things like Chatterbug and Lingoda are only for a few European languages, though I think there might be some equivalent type things for Mandarin (googling brings up Touch Chinese and GoEast Mandarin). I could try putting something together myself on iTalki but I think the scale of what I want is like 1h/day or so of structured person-to-person instruction and I don't know if iTalki is great for that: it'd be hard to synchronize across multiple totally independent tutors and I think tutors are more used to working once/week vs once/day, not to mention the PITA of scheduling. But maybe.

Finally, besides the German vs Chinese dilemma, I'm realizing I really need to focus more on French. While my Spanish has proven to be fairly durable towards long periods of inactivity, I think if I spend the next year without doing much of anything with French, my level is going to regress a lot. I went from a very low level to a pretty solid intermediate in the span of some months of intensive study/in-country immersion, and I think things that are learned quickly are forgotten just as quickly. After I finish Gran Hotel I want to watch some French TV, and I need to find some French to read (maybe Le Petit Prince or something) that isn't too painful.

My Gran Hotel experience is reminding me that one of the most important things in language learning is making sure you are motivated to do the things you're doing and that they are enjoyable as much as possible. Watching this show doesn't feel like work because I don't have trouble understanding it. I need to get to this level of comfort/enjoyment with my other language learning efforts.
5 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
Yellow Belt
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Fri Jan 01, 2021 1:23 am

A quick EOY update: I fell just a few episodes short of finishing Gran Hotel (watched through E19 of Season 3 out of 24 total) before it left Netflix US. I'll find another way to finish it off after the New Year. I added the 47 episodes I've watched in the last couple weeks (geez...) to my Super Challenge tracking spreadsheet and updated my signature. Unfortunately having not done much language stuff the last many months I'm wildly behind in every aspect but there's not much I can do about that now.

I'm taking another stab at reading the Spanish novel Patria. I've been reading a chapter at a time underlining unknown words and at the end of the chapter going back and looking up the underlined words and adding flashcards for most of them. The chapters are very short (a few pages each) so they make for quick bite-sized sessions. I want to read more/faster but I've been making so many flashcards for vocab from Gran Hotel as it is that I'm trying to slow down a little and not let my pool of unseen cards get too big. Already have noticed some words from the flashcards appearing again so that's nice.

Not sure what my plan is with French. After I finish Gran Hotel I think I will try watching a French show (though not with the same several-hours-a-day intensity) and perhaps I can alternate between the two languages. Not sure what French TV show(s) will be next--currently watching Dix pour cent, and afterwards perhaps Engrenages if I can figure out how to watch it with French subs (which I think I will need).

Still vacillating about German vs Mandarin vs focus on French/Spanish.
1 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
Yellow Belt
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:22 am

Well, inertia and inaction mean that I'm doing the Lingoda German Super Sprint for real. I just booked my first week's worth of classes today. I started (re)Assimil German yesterday (I did like 10 lessons in it early this year and dropped it) to supplement. By the end of the sprint I should be a comfortable A1; not planning on doing much German outside the daily class and Assimil.

I've been working on a personal project that will continue through next weekend so not too much language learning in the interim. I'm working through the backlog of Spanish vocab flashcards that I added in Anki. For French, I bought a couple CLE books (Phonetique, Communication, Comprehension Orale). I just bought a printer+copier recently, so that makes it much easier to actually go through books like this and the Gramática de uso del español series (I don't really like writing in the exercise books), along with relenting on Anki and trying to incorporate it into my routine. Probably will start trying to work through them when I have more time.

For my Spanish TV queue, I'm adding Los simuladores and Aquí no hay quien viva. I might start watching the latter after I finish Gran Hotel since they're both on atresplayer.
2 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

DaveAgain
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby DaveAgain » Fri Jan 08, 2021 7:07 am

rpg wrote:
Not sure what my plan is with French. After I finish Gran Hotel I think I will try watching a French show (though not with the same several-hours-a-day intensity) and perhaps I can alternate between the two languages. Not sure what French TV show(s) will be next--currently watching Dix pour cent, and afterwards perhaps Engrenages if I can figure out how to watch it with French subs (which I think I will need).
Kaamelott on YouTube has subtitles, or Invitation au Voyage on Arte.tv.
2 x

rpg
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Tue Jan 19, 2021 1:09 am

DaveAgain wrote:
rpg wrote:
Not sure what my plan is with French. After I finish Gran Hotel I think I will try watching a French show (though not with the same several-hours-a-day intensity) and perhaps I can alternate between the two languages. Not sure what French TV show(s) will be next--currently watching Dix pour cent, and afterwards perhaps Engrenages if I can figure out how to watch it with French subs (which I think I will need).
Kaamelott on YouTube has subtitles, or Invitation au Voyage on Arte.tv.


Thanks! This is super useful, I had Kaamelott on my to-watch list but didn't realize it was available with subs (!!!) on YouTube. I tried watching a little bit although it was pretty challenging depending on the episode. I'll give it another go but may have to put it aside until my French is better.

I mentioned in my last post that I'd be busy through this weekend and indeed I only got about 14 hours of sleep or so combined the last three days. But that's over now and I'm looking forward to resuming working on my hobbies. I did find time for the start of my Lingoda German Super Sprint. I'm four classes in right now and so far I actually really like it. My expectations weren't very high going into this but at least for my level (absolute beginner) I've thought that the classes have been going well and that the teachers have all been fairly good and professional. I'm looking forward to continuing and to enjoying those nice beginner gains.

Beyond that not much to report given how busy I've been--I could write a list of plans but I think it's better to spend less time talking and more time doing. Onwards!
1 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
Yellow Belt
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Jan 25, 2021 4:32 am

I watched the last episode of Gran Hotel this evening on ATRESplayer. Overall a really enjoyable show and one I'd probably recommend regardless of language.

For my next language-focused TV watching, I think I'm going to split between trying out Aquí no hay quien viva and finishing Dix pour cent.

The Lingoda German Super Sprint is going well so far; I'm now 10 days in. Feels like I'm making good progress (not hard to do when you're a beginner!). I have had a wide range of teachers so far and one of them I was really not a fan of, but I'm just avoiding their classes going forward and that's that. I also had my class on Friday cancelled; fortunately it was just a review session anyway, and fortunately I've read through all the refund conditions a number of times to know not to try to rebook a class for that day or to use the credit that they refunded me. Overall I'm really liking this language-learning model so far though (daily classes with a teacher + a very detailed, modular curriculum).
1 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
Yellow Belt
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Feb 01, 2021 5:44 am

Spanish:

I started watching Aqui no hay quien viva but got kind of turned off by the low production value so I haven't finished the first episode yet (though I am still planning on continuing). Instead I rewatched the rest of Elite season 1 with the intention of watching seasons 2 and 3 for the first time. I find this show challenging because it's absolutely loaded with Spain slang, but I've been making flashcards of words as they appear and have been learning a lot.

Speaking of flashcards, I had fallen behind on my newly-created Spanish deck but a couple days ago I finally finished catching back up and I'm back on the wagon. I've learned about 350 cards so far.

French:

Began working with a couple of the CLE books I ordered a few weeks ago for an hour or so. Discovered that I needed to buy separate answer books. Sigh. Placed an order on their website (which seems easier and cheaper than ordering on Amazon, though shipping is probably slower) and while I wait for those to arrive I'll continue working through these every now and then. Besides that I watched most of an episode of Dix pour cent but was interrupted before I finished. French currently feels like a third priority behind German and Spanish though as long as I can maintain my level I think that's ok; it's high time my Spanish got some more attention.

German:

Seven more Lingoda lessons down. Not feeling as gushing about Lingoda as I was last week but overall I'm still pretty satisfied. I'm not spending any time on German outside of the class hours but I'm still doing well in the classes. I've had some strange experiences though, like one lesson finishing the curriculum after 30m and spending the other 30m waffling around. I also wish I could restrict to teachers who spoke more or less Standard German; I had a teacher for two classes who pronounced word-final -e as [e] instead of the standard [ə], which really threw me; I had to start checking the IPA for new words as they appeared during class. Googling now I see this is a dialectical feature of Southern Germany (where she was from) and Austria. I guess it's not a big deal but as a total beginner I'm modeling my pronunciation on the tutors' and it's confusing to have different accents all the time.

I don't think the Lingoda German A1.1 curriculum is very satisfying, at least at first, either, though they are about to change that so I guess there's no point complaining. It's frustrating not knowing how to pluralize nouns though. Noun inflection more generally is frustrating since we haven't introduced the cases yet but I'm still asked in class to produce sentences with eg haben which needs the accusative. Ultimately this isn't a big deal either though & I have classes on this stuff this week to look forward to.




A year or two ago I posted a wishlist of long-term goal languages. It had four Romance languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese), German, Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese, for eight total. At the time it felt crazy to write but now that I've started German (and vastly improved my French since then) it feels less so. I'm not expecting more than A2 or maybe B1 (if I give it more time than I'm anticipating) German by the end of this year, but next year I could see B2 being a viable target. And at this point I'm confident in my ability to learn the other Romance languages-- of course they will take time but it feels absolutely doable. That just leaves Russian, Mandarin, and Japanese as the three big question marks to figure out. All three would require quite a lot of effort but I guess I feel like I'm still so young that I should be able to make the time for them eventually.
5 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
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Posts: 90
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Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Tue Feb 09, 2021 4:13 am

Another week of German classes has gone by. Lingoda released a new curriculum for German A1.1 at the start of the month. I haven't had any new classes in the new curriculum yet but the rollout has been absolutely terrible; they converted your progress by just mapping lesson #X in the old list to lesson #X in the new list, regardless of the lesson content, so some lessons I've already done are coming up and some content I don't know is marked as being complete. And they didn't convert A1.2 yet so the two halves don't fit together well (they moved some content between A1.1 and A1.2). Very unimpressed.

In other German news I bought the Dino lernt Deutsch readers yesterday to get some content to read/listen to. They seem pretty solid.

In Spanish I watched the first two episodes of Aqui no hay quien viva (slowly getting into it though I find this style of sitcom pretty dated now) and the first three episodes of Elite season 2. I've also been very slowly reading Patria (though I haven't been tracking the pages in my sig). For both activities I'm making a lot of vocabulary flashcards as I go which makes the reading pretty slow and a bit of a chore. But I'm getting some small but noticeable results already from my vocab flashcards so I'll keep at it for now.

In French my SO has banned me from continuing to watch Dix pour cent because she wants to watch it with me ( :roll: ) so I watched an episode of Au service de la France, which seems like a pretty good show. Since the episodes are only 20-something minutes I should probably be doing more than one a week though. I've just been feeling a lot more motivated by Spanish lately.
3 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150

rpg
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Posts: 90
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Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
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Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Tue Feb 16, 2021 1:49 am

Finished another week of Lingoda German. I'm now one month in out of the three for the sprint, and I just booked my remaining classes for A1.1 (the first half of A1). As far as I know I'm still eligible for the refund so fingers crossed. Haven't been doing much German outside of these classes but that's fine by me for now.

Been keeping up the Spanish contact this past week: I watched two more episodes of Elite and three more of Aqui no hay quien viva. I've continued with my Anki deck (crossed 500 words learned) and have been feeling positive about my vocab progress. I've read a little more of Patria but since I've been looking up unknown words and making flashcards for them reading is still going very slowly & a bit of a chore. I'm slowly catching up the lost ground on my Spanish SC for the film component though the rest remains a disaster.

No progress at all in other languages.

Separately I've been reading a number of writings by Paul Nation this week--while I've known the name for quite a while and had read a little of his research before, I hadn't gone into it in that much depth. A few nuggets that caught my eye: that native speakers learn roughly 1000 word families a year from birth to age 20 and that he believes flashcards are a definitively good component of a vocabulary learning program in conjunction with other activities/input. I've been very satisfied with the ROI of my Spanish flashcards over the last 1-2 months and I'm finding the combination of some time listening and reading along with concurrently learning mined words/phrases to be effective. If I could continue like this for the whole year I'd probably end up with 4000 or so additional word families in my Spanish (passive) vocabulary which would be a big jump and a great success. Realistically though I probably won't persevere the whole year but we'll see how far we get.

I may also try to take the DELE C1 test at the end of the year; I've never taken an official CEFR test and this could be a good time to do so. I think passing the C1 is well within my grasp especially if I continue like this all year, and the test might provide a good amount of motivation as well.
5 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 88 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 8 / 150       Spanish movies: 58 / 150


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