malach's log - Bengali and German

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malach
Yellow Belt
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
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Studying: Bengali and German
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Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Fri May 31, 2019 9:22 am

Bengali

My enthusiasm for Bengali is currently at a height. I think the tutoring sessions have a role to play in this, as it's great having someone knowledgeable to talk to just about the language. There's a little siren in my head that makes me want to learn more about the history/culture than just sitting down and studying, but I'm fighting that as best I can! For example, I've just ordered Hanne-Ruth Thompson's Comprehensive Grammar, which I'll probably use as much for random browsing as targetted learning. I also grabbed a couple of articles on Bengali literature and its history. But on top of this, I've been doing quite a bit of work in using the language.

I want to crack my speaking fluency finally. Apparently my pronunciation is now not too bad, although I'm lazy by habit and have to work to concentrate properly on each syllable. Where I get stuck is trying to say something, even when knowing what the next word is, but my mouth seems to balk at getting to the right shape and making the sound.

I have been reading aloud from a book, but this has not been intense enough I think. I've now put a hundred or so sentences into a special Anki deck, along with the sound recordings, and I'm working on these - I guess I'm 'shadowing' the audio by saying each sentence a dozen or so times, and trying to speak along with the recording. I am not moving on unless I get the audio more-or-less fluent.

I'm doing the 'weekly writing challenge'. It's helpful to have a topic to write to. But I wish I were better disciplined to write something each day. I intend to, but it seems to be the most likely to slip.

My 'favourite' learning activity is simply to pick up a book and read/study it at random moments/chairs in the day! I have a book of paired english-bengali words, with a vocab of 800 words, and a book with german-bengali paired phrases, and from these I've been learning quite a lot.

German

I am slowly working away at German. I have four weeks exactly to my A2 test, which sometimes I feel should be simple so long as I check out a few phrases for the spoken section, but then sometimes I think will be impossible due to my slipshod grammar. Tomorrow I plan to sit down and get a plan organised for the test. I doubt I need more than a targetting of the speech component and some care with the writing process. The whole point of taking the test is to keep a balanced level of achievement, so I should put in the effort.

I've worked through much of the A2 word list the institute provides, and I have not had to look up too many of the words, thankfully. They have the list with the word and then example sentences, all in German, and in most cases I understand the sentences. Of course, reading and understanding is one thing, but I wouldn't be able to actively use all these words.

For listening, I'm still hearing a certain amount of German. This week I went through the Lord of the Rings trilogy in German.

Ramble

I don't know why, I have this notion bugging me in my head that French is something I should know. This is in part because I'm very pleased with how German has developed over the last year. But it just irks me that this school-level subject is something I remember next to nothing of. So, in the same vein as German, I would like, in a theoretical sense, to have the knowledge 'restored' somehow. Apart from that sense of atrophied knowledge, I don't have any particular desire to learn French, but it bugs me...

If I were to learn by "need" I should be learning Hindi. It's the one language I can guarantee would be needed at least once a year in practical settings. I'm forever getting stuck in Delhi not able to communicate/understand in a daily setting. And there's always the "why don't you understand Hindi yet?" comment I get when some film comes on the TV! Even my Bengali tutor assumed I must be knowing some Hindi as he used a Hindi phrase to clarify the different grammar used in Bengali...

So, I have these three sirens in my head. I'm trying to control each one. For the French and Hindi, I've allowed myself to open the Duolingo course on each, and spend 10 minutes or so a day on them in place of late night random internet/youtube browsing.

Bengali is, and I think will remain, my number one language. It's the one my heart is really in. I seem to like all aspects of it: the language itself, its culture, history etc. I want to get some kind of spoken fluency this summer and then be able to move forward to more advanced material. The other languages - German, Hindi, French - are less exciting for me. I mostly want to learn them to fit some travel need. My first post for this page started with this frustration with German after last year's trip to Europe! But German I can see myself trying to keep some momentum with.

Anyhow, I will get this A2 test over and then think what to do for the rest of summer. I could make a push to either:

  • take German further, to B1
  • learn French to a similar A2 level
  • learn Hindi to an equivalent level
  • forget everything except for Bengali ...
Well, that's the "brain dump" over. Hopefully I can stop thinking about these things now and focus on the learning again!
5 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

Morgana
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Postby Morgana » Fri May 31, 2019 10:13 pm

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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malach
Yellow Belt
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
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Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:23 pm

Morgana wrote:That post was really relatable. I like your choice to call them “sirens” - these possibly “false” desires that threaten to take us off our original or “true” desired path, if I’ve understood your meaning correctly. I think it could be nice to throw yourself into Bengali for the summer, since that seems to be where your heart lies. Though, sometimes going down one of the side paths helps you get clearer about it being a side path and not the path you prefer to be on. Or sometimes it surprises you because you end up enjoying it.

Thanks, yes that's right. I've had to forgive myself many such diversions in the past. My various 'sirens' are why my TY Bengali text book was bought in about 1995 and I only now seem to have got enough consistency behind me to feel like I'm cracking this language!

But two things happened yesterday which might tip the balance finally.

First, the Comprehensive Grammar book arrived. This I think I'm going to enjoy. Some technical breakdown of the language, and many examples of how everything is used, should make it great for browsing and learning more about how the language is put together. But at 770 pages, it's a lot of material! (The author, Hanna-Ruth Thompson, herself came to the language as an adult: http://www.world-citizen-trail.net/the-honorary-bengali-in-freetown/. She's quoted as saying: "For someone as spellbound by a language as I am by Bangla, it is advisable to couch that state of affairs in terms of a well-defined academic interest, in order to be taken seriously. Being in love with a language would, to many Europeans, appear eccentric.")

Second, I noticed someone on this forum mentioning glossika, so I looked it up. And there I find a Bengali course! I've signed up for the free trial, but I already think I might be staying with the place a while. I mentioned I was starting to 'shadow' sentences on Anki in an effort to get my speech flowing - here we have a full set of sentences and audio already set up for doing just that...
1 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
Yellow Belt
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
x 119

Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Sat Jun 08, 2019 11:26 pm

Bengali

Glossika has immediately become a firm favourite, and is now part of my daily study routine. I started Bengali at the beginning, as I thought simple sentences would help me train my tongue. So far, the sentences are quite understandable, with just a few new words for me. The grammar is not always simple though. And there are some rough edges - I've had to report some wrong words and mis-spellings. I paid for a month for now, and will see how I feel about it at the end of that time.

I've done much more writing this month: 7 out of 8 days, and nearly 900 words in total.

I ordered a box-load of ex-library Bengali books from e-bay. I want something to read between children's tales and news / high literature, and I'm hoping this will be it in the form of some popular novels. There should be 50 books altogether, which will make for a lot of input.

German - three weeks until the A2 test!

Well, for some reason I finished up the Duolingo German tree. I was curious what was there, and the descriptions of some of the grammatical features are both a useful reminder of what I've looked at before, and also a peek at verb tenses my books have not covered so far. Apparently I must be familiar with 2800 words! Actually, there were a good number of words I had not seen before, so it was a little boost to the vocabulary. I also feel, given my level, these exercises remain useful, to drill in the basic grammatical forms.

Glossika has become a daily fixture for German too. I have now done a week's worth of German, along with the Bengali above. I've started German at the A2 level.

Again, as with the Bengali, I've made a more conscious effort to write each day, and I have 880 words written in the past week. I'm also trying to expand my range of topics, beyond simple diary entries. I need to cover the likely exam topics/vocabulary.

I'm still going through the A2 word list - I should make more of an effort with this. I probably need more of these words under 'active' control than there are at the moment.

Other

As I wrote before, I started the Duolingo courses for French and Hindi. The early parts of the French are not too hard, and I recall much of the vocab so far. The Hindi script I have a hang of now - I've had some familiarity with it from travel, from reading city/street names. There's not a lot to the Hindi course, but it is supposed to have around 600 words in it. I'll definitely try to finish it in July, and learn what is there properly. I may be going to India later in summer, so it may come in useful quite quickly.
2 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
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Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
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Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Mon Jun 10, 2019 8:40 pm

Bengali

malach wrote:I ordered a box-load of ex-library Bengali books from e-bay. I want something to read between children's tales and news / high literature, and I'm hoping this will be it in the form of some popular novels. There should be 50 books altogether, which will make for a lot of input.

These arrived today! I'm not sure what I had imagined 50 books to look like, but somehow the size of the box was a shock...

So far, I'm pleased with what has come - it was a 'lucky dip' kind of purchase. Unexpected is the "Life in the UK" book for new residents. This is parallel text and looks like an accessible and educative read, covering UK politics, history, locations, sport etc etc. There are some cooking books, a how-to on using Microsoft Word, and a book on cosmetics.

Around 40 books appear to be fiction, novels or short-stories. At least some are at an accessible level for me and just the kind of material I was looking for. I've already picked out a volume of short stories to attempt first, as I can make sense of some paragraphs with just a little dictionary work.

This is going to keep me busy for a while, and I think a valuable jolt of input.
4 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
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Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
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Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Fri Jun 21, 2019 7:12 pm

Bengali

I've made a plan to substantially lift my reading ability in Bengali this summer. This will mostly be through intensive reading, working with new vocabulary/grammar, and re-reading to reinforce what I have learnt. I will try to keep a balanced routine though, as I need to work on my spoken Bengali. The three main pillars of my routine will be:

  • Glossika - I'm quite enjoying this, and it ensures I practise speaking full sentences
  • Writing - already a regular routine, but I'll work harder to expand the topics I cover
  • Reading - I now have a lot of material to select from
For reading, I want to (a) retain a good proportion of the new words and (b) bring a significant amount into active use.

I'm planning a strategy like this:

  1. Read a passage, writing out sentences with unknown words and marking the unknown words
  2. Work through the unknown words, writing out their meaning/explanation
  3. Reread the passage, with the aim of now mostly understanding it.
That will probably take place over three days. For reinforcement, I will reread the passages at intervals, say "later in the week", "after 2 weeks", "after 3 months".

I do not want to lose these hard-earned words. I plan to (a) incorporate them in my regular writing, either by writing a summary of the passage or making up arbitrary sentences using them, and (b) writing them into another book and using the Gold List method for review.

Why Gold List? Mostly because it is the least 'work like' method of vocabulary review I'm aware of. The intention is not to add too much effort to the reading/re-reading process, which is where I want to see the main gains. But learning vocabulary is usually like eating soup with a fork, and I want to keep the words I'm learning pinned down in a book somewhere. The review/distill process is light-weight enough that I'm likely to do it, and it won't matter if I forget.

German - one week until the A2 test!

The test will hopefully see me where I wanted to reach last August. I'm currently reviewing what is necessary for the exam. I may forget how to make sentences in the spoken part, and which of der/die/das goes with Haus during the writing, so there's lots to be wary of!

I'll have to think then what I do with the language after next week, especially in view of the above plan. But no backsliding! It's been hard work to get to here, whereever 'here' now is.
2 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
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Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
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Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Sat Jul 06, 2019 12:20 pm

Bengali

I've settled in to the routine I described above, involving Glossika and Reading, with some Writing.

  • Glossika - now up to 6500 repetitions, and 80% through the A1 low section
  • Listening - some videos in Bengali, teaching programming languages
  • Reading - 11 pages read intensively from school-directed material
  • Writing - less done recently
The intensive reading has revealed some good points and the expected bad. The "good" is that, when I realise what I'm looking at, I can understand the grammar/sentence structure of most of what I'm reading. I keep looking back at Radice's book for revision, but increasingly there's little new for me to find. And certain kinds of sentence structure are now more apparent through repetition.

The "bad" is that my vocabulary needs to expand, a lot. This was expected! From the 11 pages, I have extracted around 250 words - this is about 10% of the total. However, the total includes repetitions where the extracted words are counted once, so the proportion of unknown words on a page is larger - 75-80% perhaps. On the positive side, I'm finding some of the words I looked up in the earlier material already appearing in the later.

I think I can keep to this routine through July, and by the end of the month, at this pace, I should have examined at least 1000 new words. I will also have done a few repetitions of the earlier materials, to see how well I'm remembering the new words.

I also found some video courses on Youtube, teaching programming languages in Bengali. This is "real" Bengali - the speaker is very fast and, this being programming, there are many English words present. Given the content, I can fill in the meaning of the Bengali, and work on 'getting my ear in'. He has a lot of short (5-15 minute) videos to listen to. (Although I hear the universe laughing at me, as learning natural languages was supposed to distract me from learning about random programming languages!)
5 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
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Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
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Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:49 am

Well, it's been a while. Last summer took a bad turn, needing the NHS to get me back on my feet. After that, all I wanted was some 'less demanding' activities to fill my spare time.

What's brought me back was a recent trip to India and spending some time in Bengali-speaking households. And realising that, despite everything, I have somehow acquired a reasonable listening ability in the language. I could follow a few kinds of conversation without much difficulty - about families, the household and things to do. Unless the speech went particularly quick, I could parse the words out, even if I couldn't understand them. (In one family, the husband kept trying to move the conversations to English for my benefit, but I was actually happier to listen to the continuing Bengali speech.) Sometimes my brain had to click through a few deductions before I could understand what was said, and I'm still too slow in constructing more than the simplest sentences for people to have patience with.

So, let's see. I'll get back to carrying one of my Bengali books to work to read at lunch. And perhaps get back to writing.
0 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
Yellow Belt
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
x 119

Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Tue Feb 04, 2020 1:19 pm

Bengali

I'm trying to ease myself back into Bengali. I am sometimes surprised what I do know and recognise, but there's a lot to pick up still:

  • Reading dual-language UK Citizenship book. This has a walk through of UK history which is interesting enough to go through. Much of the sentence structure is difficult, and there are many new words. But I'm simply reading and using the English version to get the idea of how each sentence works and its vocabulary. I am already noticing a few common patterns.
  • Dipping into the Comprehensive Grammar book. Mainly looking at the example sentences, and seeing what I can make of the simpler ones.
  • Starting writing again, just a little each day.

German

I'm not doing anything with German, except some opportunistic practice: I follow someone on a social-media feed who posts short descriptions, in German, of what appears to be things happening on their street. Sometimes I can read these without the dictionary, which is fun.
1 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German

malach
Yellow Belt
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:52 am
Languages: English (N)
Studying: Bengali and German
x 119

Re: malach's log - Bengali and German

Postby malach » Mon Feb 24, 2020 10:51 am

Bengali

I had a return to the hospital, which turned out to be fortuitous for my Bengali. I took the book Beginner's Bengali by Thompson with me. I had recently ordered this to have the audio CD to hear in the car.

I was able to put in some uninterrupted time on the units and exercises in the book - 20-25 hours before I left. I managed to finish 9 of the 14 units in that time. The book has a selection of graded reading, which was easy enough to read whilst also giving some more vocabulary. And the grammar descriptions give a different perspective on what I have already studied, which is refreshing.

Most useful were the English->Bengali translation exercises, which I worked through a couple of times. It's quite encouraging to see the range of sentence types I can write - when I write myself, I don't 'stretch' myself enough in that respect.

There's still a few units and grammar descriptions left. The later grammar sections cover more complex kinds of sentences, which I'm not so comfortable with (correlatives, for example, or the use of compound verbs). So I'll continue and finish the book in due time.
3 x
"strange accents do not mar fair speech" - Beregond, Return of the King.
Log: Bengali and German


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