What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

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einzelne
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby einzelne » Tue Mar 16, 2021 7:32 pm

rdearman wrote:Again, I've probably read well over 200 books in French or Italian, and I don't mean "the little prince". I'm currently reading a 350-page science fiction book in French and a 3000-page history of Alexander the Great in Italian (I've been at this one awhile). I've read 3-4 Stephen King books in French and tons of other stuff. I don't read classic literature simply because I prefer modern writing. But I have read a lot of Jules Verne in French. Looking at a couple of pages of my French SciFi book (I underline words I don't know) it looks like I have about a 3.39% unknown word per page rate. I only sampled 4-5 pages though of one book. The Italian book is worse, but that is because of terms like phalanx, chariot, trireme (ships), javelin, swords, spears, clubs, maces, axes, catapults, siege towers, and battering ram, etc


I haven't read this message before posting my reply above. While my advice would basically remain the same (even more time and patience, actually!), I think, it is worth checking the following statistics, if you haven't seen it yet. It's a rough amateur estimation, still it's quite telling. As you can see, in order to go from 95% known words to 98%, you need to learn almost as much words as before (14k vs 27k). In order to get to 99,5% you need to get another 15k. To make things worse, these are low frequency words, so extensive reading would be of little help.

Now, there are all sorts of problems with such quantitative estimations and I don't want to go into that here. But they give you some vague sense of how challenging it is to master the last 3-4%. From the practical point of view, it basically means two things. You can simply relax and don't be too harsh on yourself. Yet, as your OP seems to suggest, that is not an option. In that case you need to incorporate some form of vocabulary review if you want to increase it (it will very slow, you will start to appreciate after a year of extensive reading, I think). I believe your reviewing should be easy, so Anki (unless you tinker with its default settings) would be an overkill. Definitely you need to practice passive recognition only. In my case, I either write translations on the margin or make a list of new expressions and review them in a very chilly mode for several days. I don't expect 100% retention. Then, if you meet this word in 6 months or even a year, your chances to recognize this word would be much higher.

In case of other skills, I think, the situation is pretty much the same. The problem is that at such an advanced stage (and after 200 books you cannot be intermediate, at least in your passive skills) the progress is basically imperceptible. Actually, I never used flashcards and any other form of vocabulary review before advanced stages. Psychologically, it was very hard for me to realize that, in order to progress at the advanced stage, I need to incorporate some techniques which are usually recommended for beginners (vocabulary review? pfff, I can easily read a hundred pages a day, so why would I need it?). So, it's more about learner's psychology. And patience, as always.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby risbolle » Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:16 pm

Immersion.

Not very useful, I know. I suspect though that this question goes beyond the issue of language proper and reaches in part into that of the cultural context.

There are divides of the sort you mention that hinder understanding even within a single linguistic domain (these could be geographic, generational, social class-related, ideological, etc.: "Are you septic?").

To look at this from another angle, face-to-face human communication is (in a certain sense) predominantly non-verbal. I suspect that even non-interactive communication can be supported to a large extent by non-linguistic channels.

As for reading: as much as I love reading (I do), learning to communicate in another language by reading books is a bit like learning to swim by doing breathing and strengthening exercises - not strictly necessary, it just helps. The important thing is to keep on swimming.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby rdearman » Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:37 pm

mokibao wrote:
rdearman wrote:snip


Pour être honnête tu me parais à un niveau très avancé, c'est normal que tu aies l'impression de progresser lentement voire pas du tout vu qu'il ne reste plus tant de progrès à accomplir. Si tu as des soucis pour comprendre quand les gens parlent rapidement, sache qu'il n'y a pas que toi et que les gens de langue maternelle française ont aussi ce problème (dans une certaine mesure, évidemment). C'est que c'est grand, la francophonie, mine de rien, beaucoup plus grand que la France. Et il y a évidemment tous les sociolectes, chronolectes, etc. On ne peut pas demander à un apprenant de tout savoir, vu que même un natif qui a grandi dans un certain milieu et une certaine génération sera désorienté s'il est plongé dans un environnement qui lui est complètement étranger.

Il y a aussi l'aspect culturel qui entre en ligne de compte, tu peux très bien comprendre nominalement ce que quelqu'un dit à l'écran ou dans une conversation de groupe sans saisir la référence cachée et avoir l'impression que tes compétences linguistiques te trahissent alors que tu n'as juste pas vu tel ou tel film en grandissant. D'expérience, ça arrive très très souvent. Là encore ce n'est pas bien grave, les francophones eux-mêmes n'ont pas tous les mêmes références.

Si tu as l'impression de toujours faire des erreurs de base, je te recommande d'utiliser Grammalecte (au moins pour ta production écrite), qui est une extension pour ton navigateur, ton client mail, ton traitement de texte, etc. https://grammalecte.net/ Sans être une solution miracle c'est ce qu'il y a de mieux en matière de correction grammaticale et orthographique sans devoir payer, il t'explique toutes tes erreurs en rappelant la règle correspondante. Rien qu'avec ça tu peux commencer à écrire des pages entières et regarder s'il y trouve des choses à redire.

Non posso dir niente sull'italiano, ovviamente sei a un livello molto più alto di me, però non sarei sorpreso se fossero problemi dello stesso genere.

As the administrator, I'm compelled to tell you that you can only post non-english to either the Multi-lingual room, the Logs area, or spanish only, without providing a complete translation or at least a summary of what you said. (I'll get someone reporting the thread so I'm pointing this out before someone else mentions it). The reason why some threads are English only is so people who don't know a language can follow the thread. :D

I'll try the site you linked to, although I don't really do any form of written output. Perhaps I should do more of that.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby mokibao » Tue Mar 16, 2021 9:05 pm

Ooops sorry, didn't know. Well I wanted to do a summary but it kinda grew into a wall of text lol, I guess anyone who really cares to read it can just put it through deepL or something.

I'll try the site you linked to, although I don't really do any form of written output. Perhaps I should do more of that.


It's not an online tool, you're supposed to download it as an addon to whatever software you use to write text (i.e. mail client, browser, office suite) and it works offline, the entire dictionary and grammar corrector is embedded into the program. As for writing output, there's a polyglot user on this forum who posts snippets and poems in like 10+ languages on her blog, forgot who that is. Maybe you can follow her example.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby kanewai » Tue Mar 16, 2021 11:20 pm

In general, I suppose that the "one thing" that would help the most would vary greatly, depending on one's strengths or weaknesses.

For myself, when I'm finally ready to level up, I plan on working my way through the intermediate-to-advanced level grammar books that are patiently waiting for me on my bookshelf. Specifically, these are:

Italian: Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana
French: Grammaire progressive du français
Spanish: Gramática de uso del español

There are dozens of other activities I would do alongside these, but I suspect good old-fashioned studying will be the most effective. And if I had to choose one thing, it would be to hit the books.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby rdearman » Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:02 am

kanewai wrote:Italian: Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana

I have that one too. :)
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby lusan » Wed Mar 17, 2021 2:08 pm

einzelne wrote:I'm afraid my answer will be a disappointment since it's TWO things and NONE of them are in your list: time + patience.

(It's only when I started to read at least 3 hours a day in German + 1 hour of audio when I finally cut the mustard. In my case, it took me around 6 months to get from intermediate to advanced, before that I was reading for about 2 years, but there were no consistency because of life circumstances. I don't know what are your goals and how much background you have in your target language. My personal experience tells me that you need to invest at least 3h a day, if you want to get to the advanced level. For how long? It's hard to generalize.)


I am starting to come to the same realization. I just began to dedicate several hours to French and I see how the brain began to adapt to this linguistic reality: TV news and books are opening up as flower that were closed. Currently, I watch TV 2+ hr and read 1+ hr. I hear only French pop music; Spanish and English are banned. I suspect that this is the way to brake the wall. Of course, then.... what do I do with Italian? THE SAME! Though, I hope it will be faster since I am native Spanish.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby einzelne » Wed Mar 17, 2021 5:57 pm

lusan wrote:I am starting to come to the same realization.


Some limited cases are quite illuminating from that perspective. I happed to watch a lecture on the weaknesses of Nabokov's own translation of Lolita. He made it in 1965 and you can definitely see how his mastery of Russian deteriorated by that time, especially if you compare it to the Russian version Speak Memory written in 1955 — 14 years in the States but still a firm grasp of Russian. He was bilingual, yet years and years of writing in English gradually started to affect his Russian.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby garyb » Wed Mar 17, 2021 6:44 pm

My "generic advice" would be lots of listening, lots of reading, and some speaking. But I've followed your log for years (although more skimming than reading in detail, so I'm being careful with my words and apologise if I'm misremebering or misinterpreting anything!) and seen the amounts of TV watching, reading, and language exchanges you've done, seen some of your French writing (a couple of years ago, so I can't speak for your progress since then), and read this thread so far, and don't think generic advice is appropriate.

I think Deinonysus has hit it on the head. The typical advice to get more input and speak more is aimed at "traditional" language learners who tend to focus too much on grammar and exercises and not enough on real language exposure and usage, but this seems like the opposite case, more typical of immigrants and especially ESL learners.

I've met lots of people like Deinonysus's colleague here in the UK, who have lived here for years or decades and hear and use the language every day and might even have a native-speaker partner yet make quite elementary mistakes in almost every sentence and don't improve because they don't need to: their English lets them do what they need, so why make the effort especially if they're busy and get a much bigger payoff by focusing their attention on other things like their studies or career? (I'd actually imagine that better English would still be a big advantage, especially since many of the ones I know are PhD students or researchers so writing is an important part of their work, but I'm not in their shoes so don't have their perspective). Although in your case you do at least have the desire to improve, which is a big start!

I agree on the advice about specific work on grammar (and Michel Thomas's classic point that it's easier to understand how other languages work if you understand your own one better comes to mind here) and would also just suggest a general attention to detail: instead of just understanding what you hear or read, pay attention to how the language is used and constructed, and think about it.
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Re: What ONE thing could help me learn the most.

Postby smallwhite » Wed Mar 17, 2021 7:01 pm

rdearman wrote:What one thing could help me the most to improve?

Locate weakness, work on weakness.
rdearman wrote:Or go into the advanced level.

To do = advanced level - current level
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