Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

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Mista
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Mista » Sat Oct 12, 2019 7:55 pm

StringerBell wrote:I believe that extensive reading is important (so I hope no one thinks that I'm saying it's pointless), and I'm planning to do it for both Italian and Polish, but I'm not expecting it to be a magic bullet for improving my vocabulary. I have a feeling that the strength of extensive reading is in reinforcing what someone already knows to some degree.


Yes, absolutely. I read a lot and rarely look up words, and one of the things I noticed when I started doing this, when I was attending a German course and reading extensively on the side, was that whatever I was learning in the course had a tendency to pop up in my reading as well. If you read at least half an hour a day, that's almost bound to happen, and you learn a lot from the new contexts you meet the words and grammatical structures in. Another thing I noticed was that some unknown words would be repeated so often in the text that they would start popping up in my head at other times too. When that happened, and I had a dictionary available, I would look it up, and I would never forget the meaning of that word again. A much more pleasant way to learn new vocabulary than anki!

One of the problems of looking up words while reading is that you lose the flow of the reading, and that you get too conscious of what you are doing. One of the secrets to language learning is that you have to deal with the language in an automated and subconcious way, and that's what you lose if you only read intensively and not extensively.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby mentecuerpo » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:46 pm

Mista wrote:Yes, absolutely. I read a lot and rarely look up words, and one of the things I noticed when I started doing this, when I was attending a German course and reading extensively on the side, was that whatever I was learning in the course had a tendency to pop up in my reading as well. If you read at least half an hour a day, that's almost bound to happen, and you learn a lot from the new contexts you meet the words and grammatical structures in. Another thing I noticed was that some unknown words would be repeated so often in the text that they would start popping up in my head at other times too. When that happened, and I had a dictionary available, I would look it up, and I would never forget the meaning of that word again. A much more pleasant way to learn new vocabulary than anki!

One of the problems of looking up words while reading is that you lose the flow of the reading, and that you get too conscious of what you are doing. One of the secrets to language learning is that you have to deal with the language in an automated and subconcious way, and that's what you lose if you only read intensively and not extensively.


Nicely said Mista.
I like what you wrote about the automated and subconscious mind.

These words get stored who knows where, I would say, if you read in the visual center of the brain, but because you use your inner voice when you read silently in your mind, it also goes into the speech center of your brain. Maybe reading quietly with your mental voice activates the same brain area as when you hear the words filtering your brain sensorium. It is not very important how it happens; brain physiologists can elucidate this better, but for the rest of us, what counts is that the magic takes place, learning the sounds and the written words.

As you keep finding these words, they get consolidated in memory by a natural space repetition provided by the daily reading. I think something similar happens when you listen to audiobooks, the hearing language center gets stimulated and begins to store the sounds of words. Beautiful, therefore I like to do a combination of audiobooks and eBooks. Usually as separate activities. I think together will work too, maybe better because multiple areas of the brain work in sync.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Morgana » Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:02 am

StringerBell wrote:After a post in Morgana's log about Tadoku, I started reading about it. It seems to me to be almost the same thing as extensive reading (aka Superchallenge) with the only difference maybe being that you are encouraged to start off with the easiest books possible. I like that idea a lot but I think it's wildly impractical; it would require spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on simple children's books, so unless a person is living abroad and/or has access to a great public library where these kinds of resources in a foreign language are free, I'm not sure how one would go about getting ahold of hundreds of very simple graded readers/early childhood books that progressively get more difficult. Maybe I'm missing some obvious fix for this?
You are not wrong! MorkTheFiddle kindly gave more details of what Tadoku is in my log, and it sure does require consuming a very large volume of material that is highly tailored to the learner's needs over time, which is basically impossible for an independent learner to structure themselves.

About extensive reading, I consider it to be an activity to make me more and more comfortable with the language. Your brain gets to process it more quickly and smoothly over time as you keep going with this activity. Mista mentioned flow, which is not only important in the context of learning as she described, but also it's just more enjoyable to let yourself keep moving with the story instead of interrupting your enjoyment to look up the unknown word.

Vocabulary acquisition does happen via extensive reading, but it is indeed slower and less active (probably - I'm not worried about being able to produce anything so I don't know how I'd do in that situation). You and I have different goals with our languages so I guess it comes down to managing those goals while maximizing our enjoyment along the way. Sometimes a compromise is preferable because the benefits of a "lazier" approach aren't always as obvious as the ones we can measure like Anki reps or accurately producing a complex grammatical structure in an LE.

There was also something else about Mista's point about flow and language learning, it seemed familiar to me and I think it's a concept they employ heavily in ALG but my memory is a bit fuzzy on the details there.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby StringerBell » Wed Oct 16, 2019 5:19 pm

Wow, so many great responses, I really appreciate all of them.

I'm still gathering resources for my Polish/Italian SC in January, and I've decided that it will start out with a bombardment of parallel texts (going between Italian/Polish novels and English novels) and reading while listening to audiobooks as a way to give me a boost so that I can get to where I need to be to just read extensively for pleasure. Even if I did understand 95% of words on a page, it wouldn't be enough for me to enjoy reading; I simply can't enjoy reading if I feeling like I'm guessing and ignoring too much, and not knowing 15 words per page is too much. (I checked: in Dolores Claiborne there are ~300 words per page). I am capable of ignoring what I don't know (or guessing) but not knowing 15 words per page very quickly makes me hate reading. So I'm going to try to support myself using parallel texts until my receptive vocabulary is decent enough that I can enjoy the process without crutches. I'll write more about my reading experiences when I get started.

ITALIAN:
I finished transcribing episode 6 of Lucifer. This episode took a little longer than I was hoping, but it's finally done. My husband offered to watch the remaining episodes with me in Italian and help me as I'm transcribing to make it go faster, but I turned down the offer because I think struggling with it is part of what makes it effective; I have to relisten to lines multiple times, mostly because I can't keep more than a few words in my head at a time, but sometimes it's to dissect what's being said and what makes sense vs. what I'm hearing. I wish the process were easier, but I think the difficulty is something I have to embrace if I want to benefit from this.

Still keeping up with Anki reviews. I find that the cards I have the most trouble recalling are those with only one card per expression/word. If I see that I'm struggling to remember a particular word, I make a few additional cards with samples sentences containing the word and it seems to help.

English:
Ha, it seems ridiculous to write about anything in my native language, but I wanted to mention that in the past few months I've resumed reading in English (something I'd mostly stopped a few years ago). I've mainly been reading a few pages in bed before falling asleep. At first it seemed almost pointless to read such tiny amounts each day, but those tiny amounts have been adding up. I recently finished reading, just because I wanted to, The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwarz (which I recommend).

Now I'm ~1/4 through Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder. Both Antifragile and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (which I'll read next) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb are available as Italian translated audiobooks, so I'm reading them in English first to see if I'd want to read either in translation.

It's been nice to see how much reading progress is possible with even tiny amounts daily, so I'm planning to keep doing this even after I'm done assessing books for reading in translation potential. It feels good to be reading books I actually want to read, instead of just reading for the sake of improving a language.

rant about native English speakers:
I'm by no means a grammar nazi. I would be very happy to see the subjunctive in English disappear totally (since very few people use it correctly anyway, I doubt more than a few would even notice). But the number of times I hear even highly educated and well-read people saying, "try and" is making me lose my mind. It doesn't even make any sense. Example: "I'm going to try and finish it." So you're doing 2 things: (1) Trying [something], and (2) finishing it? What are you trying? Is is really that difficult to say, "I'm going to try to finish it."? I'm all for playing around with language and creating new sayings but this feels lazy and sloppy rather than creative.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby cjareck » Wed Oct 16, 2019 6:46 pm

StringerBell wrote:The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (which I'll read next) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb are available as Italian translated audiobooks, so I'm reading them in English first to see if I'd want to read either in translation.

I the main idea of that book is explained by a friend of mine here

It seems extremely interesting but unfortunately, I don't have time for reading more than student's papers.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby StringerBell » Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:51 am

Thanks for the link to that video - I really like the way he talks, it's very relaxing! I didn't watch the whole thing, but I plan to.

********

ITALIAN:

I've done a few more chapters in the Practice Makes Perfect book, so currently I'm almost done with chapter 14 (out of 20). I've been putting sample sentences and conjugations into Anki as a way to practice grammar points and verb tenses, since I really hate doing the exercises and don't feel like they help me at all. In fact, doing exercises in grammar books actually feels counterproductive. Practicing with flashcards seems to be working well. I'm starting to get a handle on using congiuntivo (subjunctive). I'm also getting much better at using imperfetto correctly.

I like the PMP book, but one criticism is that is really bugs me how it uses English names for all the verb tenses. I know most of them in Italian, so when I read the names in English, my first thought is that it's some brand new tense I have to deal with until I eventually realize it's something I already know. The one that really threw me for a loop was the tense called "The Past Absolute" until I realized that this was just some bizarre English title for passato remoto. Since this verb tense doesn't even exist in English, I don't get why they didn't just call it "The Remote Past" which would have made so much more sense.

My Anki time has been increasing to the point where I'm probably spending ~1 hr/day on it. I'm not too happy about it, but I'm not fed up with it yet either, so I'm holding on for now. My hope is that I'll soon be able to delete a few decks (especially the grammar ones).

My current favorite Italian expression is farla franca = to get away with it.
Non riuscirai mai a farla franca! You'll never get away with it!

LATIN:
I'm 1/2 way through Stage 11. Stage 12 is the last chapter in the Cambridge book, so I'm almost done. I'm excited to finish the book but simultaneously a little sad at moving on because I'm in a good groove with it. I think I'll continue doing Scriptorium with the next book because that seems to be helping a lot.

Knowing Italian continues to help with understanding Latin. The other day I learned "mihi placet" (it's pleasing to me, aka: I like it) which is the same construction as Italian (mi piace = it's pleasing to me, aka: I like it). Understanding this construction in Italian took me a really long time, because it was really hard to shift my thinking from "I like it" where I am the subject who is doing the action to "the object is pleasing to me" where the the verb is conjugated based on the item or person causing the pleasure while I'm just a passive recipient. It took forever for that to click for me, but when I came across the same construction in Latin, it was no big deal; I immediately recognized what was going on and it didn't seem confusing at all.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Elsa Maria » Thu Oct 24, 2019 1:43 pm

Do you know yet what your next Latin book will be? I remember that you were considering Lingua Latina. Or will you continue with Cambridge?

My class switched out from Cambridge to a different textbook, but we are using Cambridge 2 as a "reader."
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby StringerBell » Thu Oct 24, 2019 8:09 pm

I didn't even realize there was another Cambridge book! If I had the next Cambridge book on hand, I'd be happy to continue with that, but since I already have the Lingua Latina on my book shelf, I'm planning to switch over to that. For some reason, I'm expecting Lingua Latina to be too difficult for me; if that's the case, then I will seek out the next Cambridge book.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby cjareck » Fri Oct 25, 2019 6:49 am

StringerBell wrote:Thanks for the link to that video - I really like the way he talks, it's very relaxing! I didn't watch the whole thing, but I plan to.

Yes he speaks very fluently. I spoke with him many times and I watched a lot of videos with him. He doesn't use "aaaa" or "yyy" what is unrecheable for me.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby garyb » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:59 am

I also started reading Antifragile recently; it had been on my list for years. I might check out the Italian audiobook afterwards! I'm enjoying the book so far, even if just because it's helping me understand that life is very complex so there's no point in trying to control everything, stressing out too much over decisions, or regretting past choices. The ideas could also be interesting from a career and business point of view.
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