jonm's occasional log

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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby jonm » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:33 am

Two main developments since my last post: I visited friends in Berlin, and my language lineup has gone through some changes.

The two are kind of intertwined, but I'll start with the lineup. I'm still committed to Spanish, French, and German. And I've added Latin and Sanskrit, setting aside for now the languages I was dabbling in: Catalan, Italian, Persian, and Hindi.

That's the short version. The slightly longer version is that for a while there, I was trying to juggle all of the above, plus Icelandic and Modern and Ancient Greek.

As I think you can tell from that lineup, I'm drawn to related languages and their shared ancestors. I just like how everywhere you look, you see how language evolves, see the connections and also the variety.

But I was spread so thin that I wasn't making much progress in any of these languages except for German, which I'd been prioritizing somewhat since I thought I might be visiting my friends in Berlin.

German

Once I'd booked my flight to Berlin and was definitely going, I felt like "shit just got real," and I decided to prioritize German even more. I got up to speed in the German Assimil course, doing a new lesson and an active phase revisit of an earlier lesson almost every day. I did big batches of Anki dictation cards of Assimil sentences as they came due. I finished the Dino lernt Deutsch series. And I watched lots of Easy German videos, which gave me good listening practice and also a sense of Berlin and the people there.

Incidentally, I highly recommend all of those resources. I find they share a certain liveliness. The dialogues in Maria Roemer's Assimil German course, for example, are consistently entertaining, with excellent voice acting. My favorite so far (no real spoilers, but skip if you don't want to know anything about the dialogues) features two aging burglars discussing breaking into one last mansion. There are also a couple of charming Brothers Grimm adaptations.

And my favorite Dino book is the ninth, Digital in Dresden, which (again, no real spoilers, but skip if you don't want to know anything) finds Dino working as a paid Internet troll. Exciting to get a peek into that world, and I think it's consistent with Dino's character that he might naively take that job without really thinking about the consequences. I find it uncommonly interesting material for a beginner reader, and that goes for the whole series.

While I was concentrating on German leading up to the trip, I kept up with my Anki reviews for other languages but refrained from doing anything new. And I found I liked putting most of my energy into just one language and seeing steady progress. I started thinking about what to do when I got back from the trip. I knew I wouldn't keep limiting myself to just German, but focusing on a few languages that were most important to me and having more time to spend on them seemed really appealing.

But first, the trip itself...

Despite using the upcoming trip as motivation, I didn't really expect to have much occasion to speak German in Berlin. I knew I'd be speaking English with my friends, and I knew many Germans I might interact with would speak English better than I could speak German.

And that's basically how it happened. A few brief, basic exchanges, mainly when I was ordering something or paying for something, which are hardly worth reporting, but here goes: I successfully ordered coffee, tea, and ice cream in a very pleasant parkside cafe (got really lucky with the weather). I asked a couple questions about a potential gift for my nieces in a children's bookshop before switching to English. I asked a fellow shopper in a supermarket if something was vegetarian, though I think I mussed up the grammar a bit. In a cocktail bar, feeling the heady combination of a good drink and an absorbing conversation in English, I was slow to switch to German when asking for the bill and resorted to gesture. But the good thing about the exchanges where I didn't exactly nail it is that, for a while after, my brain rehearsed what I should have said, so I'll be prepared next time.

While my friend and I were walking around the city, we stopped and regarded a brick church that had the "der die das" table spray-painted on it (not my photo, just the only one I turned up online). That gave me a chance to talk about how the noun paradigm could be harder and how at earlier points in the language's lineage there were more noun cases and (going pretty far back, I guess) dual number.

So that about covers the language side of the Berlin trip. I didn't speak a lot of German, but I had a great time and hope to go back.

And I'll say more about the lineup changes and what I've been doing since getting back in another post.
Last edited by jonm on Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Sahmilat
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Languages: English (n); German (B2?), French (A2?), Latin (Advanced), Ancient Greek (Intermediate), Sanskrit (Beginner)
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby Sahmilat » Tue Apr 23, 2019 3:50 pm

Hey, we have a couple of languages in common! If you want any suggestions for German or especially Latin materials, let me know!

It's cool that you got to go to Berlin. I went to Berlin once and went on an awesome bike tour of the city. Everyone there spoke English though so I didn't get much chance to use or even hear much German.
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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby jonm » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:47 pm

Sahmilat wrote:Hey, we have a couple of languages in common! If you want any suggestions for German or especially Latin materials, let me know!

It's cool that you got to go to Berlin. I went to Berlin once and went on an awesome bike tour of the city. Everyone there spoke English though so I didn't get much chance to use or even hear much German.

Hi Sahmilat, thanks for stopping by! That bike tour of Berlin sounds really cool. I wish I could have stayed longer and explored more, and I'm hoping I can go again someday. (I see the Easy German folks have run a Berlin summer program in years past, which I would be interested in doing, as they seem like really cool people. They're not offering it this year, but maybe in the future.)

Would definitely be interested in suggestions and recommendations! I discovered your log a couple days ago and have really enjoyed reading it. A lot of the material you mentioned there sounds really interesting, and I made a note of some titles for when I'm more advanced.

Was there anything you read in Latin as a beginner that you particularly enjoyed? Here's what I've been doing so far...

Latin

My main resource has been Ørberg's Lingua Latina per se illustrata, which I love. I'm a fan of the Nature Method books in general, but this one is really the gold standard. Great story, great organization and progression... I just finished chapter 8 of Familia Romana, and I'm reading some of the supplementary material too, such as Colloquia Personarum. And I know there's other Ørberg material to look forward to.

And I've got the new edition of the Desessard Assimil course due to arrive any day now. I'm planning to make my usual Anki cards, and I'm doing that for Ørberg too.

And then it would be great to combine that with some extensive pleasure reading...

I've started this edition of Epitome Historiae Sacrae, which consists of Bible stories in simplified Latin with a "phrasal interlinear" translation. It's designed to be accessible to complete beginners, and I'd say it is. Really enjoying it.

I see there are lots of public domain beginner readers out there, but I don't know if any of them tell as interesting a tale as Familia Romana.

And then I'm very tempted by Pugio Bruti. It's a crime story set in Ancient Rome by the folks behind the Latinitium podcast and the new edition of Nutting's Ad Alpes, which I'd also like to read later on. Sahmilat, I saw on your log that you read Ad Alpes, and it sounds like you enjoyed it? Daniel Pettersson, who I think does the narration for all of these, has what seems to me to be excellent pronunciation, so I'd probably listen as well as read. I do wish they would offer these as ebooks or, even better, modestly priced ebook-audiobook bundles like the ones in the Dino lernt Deutsch series (which I guess have spoiled me).
Last edited by jonm on Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby jonm » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:41 am

Wanted to say a bit more about how I came to decide to focus on fewer languages and how I chose which languages to focus on.

(It's sometimes hard to imagine this kind of thing will be interesting to others, but I enjoy reading log entries where people talk about how they choose their languages and about changes of plan, so for anyone else who feels that way, here goes...)

I've mentioned that what got me thinking about "cutting down" on languages is that I liked focusing almost exclusively on German leading up to the Berlin trip.

What clinched it is that since getting back from Berlin, I'm eager to practice productive skills, and that has me spending more time on my stronger languages, leaving less time for the ones I was dabbling in.

In German, and also in French but at a somewhat higher level, I can understand a lot more than I can come up with. I'd like to have more language at my disposal that I can call upon.

I should, of course, seek out actual conversation, but I also want to practice production in my daily routine, and until recently I wasn't doing that. The Anki dictation cards that I use are great for listening and understanding, and also pronunciation and spelling, which are kind of the "last" part of saying or writing something. But figuring out what to say or write just isn't something that the dictation cards train.

There are basic things that the cards don't force me to learn, for example the gender of German nouns. It's not that I don't notice gender when doing the dictation cards—I very often do—but I usually don't have to notice to get the card right, so it doesn't get as ingrained as I'd like.

I started thinking about Assimil's active wave and how I had been implementing it in my Assimil German course (the only one of my Assimil courses where I've gotten that far). I had been looking at the translation in the book and trying to come up with the original (in my head or out loud) and then checking. I would notice any errors I had made, but I wouldn't come back to them enough to lock in the correct version. And even for the stuff I was getting right, one active wave revisit per lesson just wasn't enough to make the language automatic and ready to go when I needed it.

So I've started doing active wave Anki cards. I see the translation of a sentence and try to come up with the original, typing it and also saying it. Then I flip to the back, which shows me the original text and any mistakes I might have made and also plays the audio, which I repeat a few more times. What makes this different from what I was doing before is the spaced repetition. If I can't produce a sentence, Anki will keep showing me that card until I can. (And I'll see cards that I consistently get right quite a few times too before they really become rare.)

Again, this is no substitute for actual conversation, but I do think it's helping a lot.

So now I'm eager to reach the active phase in my other Assimil courses, including the courses for French and Spanish. I had been doing those at a relaxed pace, because a passive wave lesson in French or Spanish usually reinforced things I already knew and filled in gaps in my knowledge, whereas a passive wave lesson in a language I was dabbling in was full of completely new discoveries. But having the active phase to look forward to makes me want to spend more time on those courses and progress faster.

And refocusing on my core languages means less time for dabbling.
Last edited by jonm on Sat Apr 27, 2019 7:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
Advanced: Spanish
Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby jonm » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:47 am

Now for the fun part. Here's the situation...

Spanish, French, and German are safe.

That leaves Icelandic, Catalan, Italian, Latin, Modern Greek, Ancient Greek, Persian, Hindi, and Sanskrit.

I can keep one or at most two. The others I'll never be able to study for the rest of my life.

I kid, I can always pick them back up, and probably will. (I've done that before with some of these, and I've found that all I have to do is get the Anki deck out of mothballs, and it's pretty easy to pick up right where I left off.)

But I do wonder if anyone else chooses their languages that way. I think my core languages reflect my answers to the question, "If you could only keep x languages, which would you keep?" If I could only keep one, it would be Spanish. Two would be Spanish and French. Three would be Spanish, French, and German.

And four would be Spanish, French, German, and...

Latin

(I think.)

Why Latin? It's really a gestalt, but here are some aspects that appeal to me...

Ørberg's Lingua Latina per se illustrata is a joy, maybe my favorite course ever.

Latin fits so nicely with my first three languages. Obviously with Spanish and French, but also with German. Of course, German isn't descended from Latin, but there are still parallels, for example with the cases.

The sequence for learning the Romance languages that Professor Arguelles recommends here (a few posts from the top) makes a lot of sense to me. To be clear, I think if someone has a desire to learn a particular language, then a sequence like that goes right out the window. But in my case with Catalan, Italian, and Latin, if I'm interested in all three, and if I don't have much occasion to use one of the modern languages at the moment, there are probably benefits to starting with the ancestral language. If my situation changed, like if a travel opportunity arose, I could always put Latin on hold and give myself a crash course in the language I needed.

Speaking of ancestral languages, I'm interested in Proto-Indo-European, which I can learn about but can't really learn, and I feel like Latin might be a nice way to move in that direction, starting from languages I already know.

And lastly, I just find Latin really beautiful, elegant, satisfying. I've heard it described as compact, and that seems true too, with so much information encoded in each word.

So Latin takes the fourth spot in the lineup. And I'll do Sanskrit in another post.
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Sahmilat
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Languages: English (n); German (B2?), French (A2?), Latin (Advanced), Ancient Greek (Intermediate), Sanskrit (Beginner)
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby Sahmilat » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:36 pm

As a beginner I was in high school and we used Cambridge Latin Course, but it sounds like you are absolutely on the right track with LLPSI. I'm thinking of picking up Assimil too to help me develop my speaking skills, but I haven't been able to find a relatively inexpensive copy of the German edition.

Some people think it's better to just read and reread to get vocabulary with a resource like LLPSI rather than use Anki cards, but I think it's probably personal preference. Make sure to check out Scorpio Martianus's readings of the Familia Romana and Colloquia Personarum, and stop by the Latin Discord for discussion of all things Latin and Orberg (and maybe even some Sanskrit!)

I haven't checked out Pugio Bruti yet, but I probably will this summer. The original version Ad Alpes is available as a pdf online if you want it as an ebook. I don't personally have the physical copy. For more beginner/intermediate readers to do with/after Familia Romana, check out the relevant section on this extremely large document of Latin resources.

I've looked a little bit at Sanskrit myself, as you've probably seen in my log, and while the resources available in English (and other European languages) for Sanskrit aren't great, I found this video very helpful for evaluating the existing courses. There are also things on youtube and elsewhere for trying to teach Sanskrit actively, but I'm not as familiar with them.

Yes, this post was an excuse for me to avoid my actual work.
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Latin Pages: 27 / 5000 | Greek pages: 19 / 2500

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jonm
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Posts: 168
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2018 10:06 pm
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
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Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Spanish, French, German, Latin, Sanskrit

Postby jonm » Tue Oct 29, 2019 3:19 pm

I'm at the airport, heading to Myanmar for a month. So naturally, I've spent the last few months studying Latin. And the other languages on my list, plus a couple new ones, but not much Burmese.

I did take a crack at it. I looked at John Okell's Burmese by Ear and Burmese Script in Eight Days (which I think I got here), and also Gene Mesher's Burmese for Beginners.

All of these are quality resources, but I didn't really get into them. I suspect that having figured out what materials and approaches I really enjoy, I've become somewhat set in my ways. I'm pretty sure I would have eaten up an Assimil Burmese course if one existed.

It's possible that I just don't have a strong affinity for the language, but it's also possible that I'll feel differently once I get there. If so, I could take classes. There's a school I have my eye on, the Moe Myanmar Language Centre. I like that they emphasize pronunciation early on.

I regret that I log so infrequently, but updates on my other languages will have to wait a little longer, as my flight is boarding...
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jonm
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Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Currently in Myanmar

Postby jonm » Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:17 am

I did decide to take Burmese classes while I'm here in Yangon. It's a two-week beginner course (two hours five mornings a week) at the school I mentioned earlier, Moe Myanmar Language Centre. I had my first class yesterday, and it was great. Our teacher is very good, and I like the way the first class was structured. We spent the first hour practicing sounds: first consonants, then vowels, then vowels with different tones. Then we learned some survival phrases, and finally we learned how to ask and answer basic yes/no questions. I'm a big believer in starting with pronunciation, and I like that we could do that and also learn some simple phrases and sentences that we can go out and use right away.

I enjoyed chatting with Moe, the director of the school, who I believe designed the program and the materials we're using. Incidentally, she described John Okell, whose name is probably familiar to those who've studied Burmese, as her mentor, and mentioned that he's working on an update to Burmese by Ear.

Speaking of Burmese by Ear, I wrote in my last post that I hadn't gotten very far with it despite considering it a good course. Well, two days ago I walked from my friend's neighborhood into downtown Yangon, which took about an hour on a hot day along busy streets. When I got downtown, looking like someone who had just walked for an hour on a hot day along busy streets, there was a fresh coconut water stand: a cart full of green coconuts, a man with a machete, and several other men gathered around chewing betel, one of whom pantomimed by holding his arms up like a bodybuilder that the coconut water would give me strength. I eagerly accepted, and while I was drinking from the coconut through a straw and wishing I could say more, I realized that the very first sentences in Burmese by Ear were perfect for the occasion: "It's hot, isn't it?" and "It's good." Both got a good response from everyone.
Last edited by jonm on Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jonm
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Location: Massachusetts, USA
Languages: Native: English
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Intermediate: French, Portuguese
Beginner: Italian, German, Latin, Greek
Dabbling: Sanskrit, Persian, Japanese
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9402
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Re: jonm's occasional log: Currently in Myanmar

Postby jonm » Sat Nov 23, 2019 11:23 am

My time in Myanmar is winding down. My beginner Burmese course finished earlier this week. I'm pleased with what we were able to cover in a short amount of time (eleven two-hour classes over two-and-a-half weeks). I'd say I have a pretty good handle on pronunciation for a beginner (having studied phonetics helps), and I know some basic vocabulary (numbers, food, directions, etc.) and structures (yes/no and wh- questions and answers in the present and future).

Since I'm not likely to stick with Burmese when I get home, I'll probably forget most of what I learned. Was it worth building a (rudimentary) sand castle only to see it wash away?

For me, on this trip at least, the answer is yes. I've had dozens of brief, limited, but fun and memorable exchanges with people who spoke little or no English. For example, I'm staying with a friend in Yangon, and a few days ago I was on the corner of his street, about to hail a taxi to the bus station, and I got to talking with a neighbor, a middle-aged woman, while other neighbors looked on. The actual information communicated was pretty minimal—that I was headed to Bagan for around three days—but there was a lot of good-natured laughing, culminating in a "Look how different our heights are" photo together. I'm writing this from Bagan and hoping for another such "conversation" on my return to Yangon.

Some of these exchanges might still have happened if I hadn't taken classes. Here in Bagan, I was touring a temple, and a young boy was encouraged by his family to greet me with "Mingalaba." I reciprocated, and we ended up repeating the greeting several times with more and more gusto, to the amusement of the boy's family. Then we took a photo, and older relatives warmly shook hands with me. No classes necessary for that particular exchange, since "Mingalaba" is the first thing every traveler here learns. But interactions only have to get a shade more complex than that before language from class starts coming in handy. And sometimes an interlocutor will know a little but not a lot of English, and it feels good that I can meet them somewhere in the middle, each of us making an effort with the other's language.

Taking classes also gave my time in Myanmar some structure that I could organize other activities around. I left my friend's place each morning earlier than I otherwise would have and took a taxi (often "chatting" with the driver) to a charming neighborhood with quiet but active streets that I probably wouldn't have discovered otherwise. By midday, I had learned some new language I could go try out, and I was across town, with lots of options for gradually making my way back to my friend's place (or else meeting up with him elsewhere, as when I played badminton with him and his girlfriend and kept score in Burmese, which helped reinforce the word for "zero," since I got absolutely creamed :lol:).

Finally, as a phonetics buff and as an English teacher, I'm interested in getting acquainted with the sounds and sound patterns of many different languages. Even if I forget most of the Burmese I learned, I'll still have some sense of that aspect of the language.
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lichtrausch
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Re: jonm's occasional log: German, Spanish, French, Italian, Latin, Sanskrit, Arabic, Japanese

Postby lichtrausch » Sun Dec 08, 2019 11:49 pm

Do you find yourself warming up to tonal languages thanks to Burmese?
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