500 hrs by May

Continue or start your personal language log here, including logs for challenge participants
bombobuffoon
Yellow Belt
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2024 10:33 am
Languages: English N-C1
Finnish A0-A1
x 160

500 hrs by May

Postby bombobuffoon » Sat Mar 02, 2024 10:59 am

After 3 years Finnish, no time tracking, I want more accountability for my failures. So I am using a time tracking app.
I estimate over 3 years I have put in at least 1000 hours. But no way to tell.
I am unhappy with my progress so far, as I have zero real life functional skills. I cannot handle any real life situations.
My lack of competence is starting to impact my life as I cannot apply for other work requiring language skills. So this is not purely for fun.
(I may have to wind up just faking language skills which seems to be how everyone else does it here, i.e. learning some pre-scripted framework of sentences, and then hope to get very simple answers).
The goal is to be able to watch TV shows and understand 90%. Films also. My reasoning is that if I can understand TV shows (like reality TV) then I should be good enough to begin to converse.

Hence I started doing 100 hrs a month starting on Jan 2nd and tracking every activity that involves dedicated attention.

Tracked: watching a tv show, podcast on a walk, sit down book study.
Not tracked: background tv, walking and not giving full attention to audio.

Aiming for 90% of activities to be comprehensible input.
I am not evaluating myself in the middle of a month, only at the end of each month.

Mostly I watch police reality tv shows, and a couple TV series.
I watch some travel bloggers, I try to get more rounded material on other topics but its hard to find interesting stuff.
I have a really good couple text books as well.
I bought a language course that promised to get me to a B2 after completion (approx 800 hours study over 3 hours of content). I now conclude this promise is utter BS.
Also using Language Reactor YT plugin, which is great.

I am currently probably an advanced A1, e.g. Peppa Pig is pretty easy.
Coming up to the mid way mark. Progress? Yes I am sure. Is it noticeable? Nope.
I understand at most 5% of a film. About the same as my wife who does not study at all :lol: .
So already I am forming the opinion that 500 hours is not enough. More like...4000 hours?
9 x

User avatar
tastyonions
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1610
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 5:39 pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Languages: EN (N), FR, ES, DE, IT, PT, NL, EL
x 4005

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby tastyonions » Sat Mar 02, 2024 11:56 am

It sounds like you’re spending your time very inefficiently. 1000 hours should be enough to make significant progress in any language with reasonably good resources. Reality TV sounds like it’s far beyond your level if you’re truly still at the “Peppa Pig” stage.
9 x

User avatar
Henkkles
Green Belt
Posts: 277
Joined: Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:13 pm
Languages: N FI | A EN SV | I EE RU | B FR LN
x 797

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby Henkkles » Sat Mar 02, 2024 12:03 pm

You might need more active study as opposed to passive study. Especially for comprehension I recommend transcribing audio, first textbook chapters and then other stuff as well. I feel like Youtube polyglots have made people a bit too enamoured with comprehensible input. It's great and easy BUT few things beat actual ACTIVE study methods, transcribing, journalling, pronunciation practice (Kjellinic chorusing) and whatever you can think of!
7 x

User avatar
emk
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1697
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:07 pm
Location: Vermont, USA
Languages: English (N), French (B2+)
Badly neglected "just for fun" languages: Middle Egyptian, Spanish.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=723
x 6664
Contact:

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby emk » Sat Mar 02, 2024 12:25 pm

Weclome to the forum! I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with Finnish and feeling frustrated.

Lots of other people here can give you Finnish-specific advice. I can only offer more generic advice, so please take it with a grain of salt, and listen to the people who know a lot more!

bombobuffoon wrote:After 3 years Finnish, no time tracking, I want more accountability for my failures. So I am using a time tracking app.
I estimate over 3 years I have put in at least 1000 hours. But no way to tell.

So first, I want to be realistic that Finish might require a lot of work to get good. The FSI considers Finnish a Category IV language, requiring 1,100 intensive classroom hours to reach their equivalent of B2/C1:

Category IV – Students usually need around 44 weeks or 1100 class hours to reach S-3/R-3. This is the largest group and contains a wide variety of languages, including Russian, Hindi, Tamil, Thai, Vietnamese, Turkish, Finnish and many more. They are described as “hard languages”.

But that underestimates the time for several reasons. For example, according to FSI students who've blogged about the experience, the students are expected to spend 4 hours doing homework for every 5 hours of classes, so Finnish would be expected to take a total of 1,980 hours of study to reach that level. And FSI courses can be tough—I've heard of some students breaking down in tears almost every single day. So you should be looking at close to 2,000 hours of actual work, where you're consciously engaged with the language.

bombobuffoon wrote:I am unhappy with my progress so far, as I have zero real life functional skills. I cannot handle any real life situations.
My lack of competence is starting to impact my life as I cannot apply for other work requiring language skills. So this is not purely for fun.
...
The goal is to be able to watch TV shows and understand 90%. Films also. My reasoning is that if I can understand TV shows (like reality TV) then I should be good enough to begin to converse.
...
Aiming for 90% of activities to be comprehensible input.
...
I understand at most 5% of a film. About the same as my wife who does not study at all :lol:

I think you might be tackling things in a difficult order, but it's hard to tell. It sounds like you want to be able to interact with people, and that you've been relying heavily on input. Now don't get wrong; I love comprehensible input. But it sounds like you might want to mix things up a bit. And it sounds like you're living in Finland, and have lots of expose to Finnish?

In that case, I would propose you aim for a slightly different goal: Aim for B1 in reading, listening, writing and speaking. B1 is the lowest level where you can function semi-independently—you need a lot of willing cooperation from natives, but you can navigate around town, and carry on basic conversations with patient people. And you can usually start to tackle easy books and very clearly enunciated TV, though both will be a struggle for a while.

So here are some things you can try:

  1. Reading:Get familiar with a tool like LingQ, LWT, LUTE or Readlang (does it exist these days? the site is up). These allow you take a web page or text file, and read through them with a pop-up dictionary, and often some kind of flash card integration. Try to read one short and easy news article or web page per day. Try to work with text where you can understand at least 6 sentences out of every 10 without needing to look stuff up. If no such text exists, also consider looking for easy bilingual readers. (If you had at least B2 French, Assimil has an "e-methode" that might be worth asking people about. But I don't see any version with an English base.)
  2. Listening: Try to find something you understand at least 40% of. You can understand Peppa Pig and you like Language Reactor. Start there, and work your way up. (Also, if you have a TV series with accurate Finnish subs, and if you're really good with technology, consider looking into Subs2SRS and Anki. Subs2SRS is giant pain, but it does work with audio 2 or 3 CEFR levels above what you should be able to understand.)
  3. Writing: See if you can consistently write 50 words/day and get them corrected. Start with basic navigation around town and polite greetings, and work up to things you'd like to be able say in real life.
  4. Speaking: This is hard in a country where lots of people speak English. (Ask me about Montreal, sigh. It was near impossible to get people to speak to me in French for a long time.) You might need to find a tutor or a reliable language exhange partner. The latter can be rarer than unicorns, so if you find one, value them. If you can't handle even very basic conversation, then look for a way to practice translating English text into spoken Finnish.
These are just suggestions. And you may need to adapt your strategy to handle the special challenges of Finnish. But the idea is to tackle all four skills directly, and to try to get them all up to the level where you can "muddle through" with cooperative people and easy materials.

You don't need to understand reality shows and cop dramas. I can use French for almost any reasonable purpose—professional work, advanced online statistics classes, navigating an emergency room, actually convincing Montrealers to speak French with someone from the US, and even talking to a severely drunken member of the International Monetary Fund (that was a weird experience). And I still can't reliably understand 100% of reality TV. Instead, you should focus on understanding people who are trying to make themselves understood; that's much easier.

And like I said, Finnish poses special challenges, and lots of people here can give you much better advice than I can on those challenges in particular, and on useful courses and resources.
12 x

galaxyrocker
Brown Belt
Posts: 1125
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:44 am
Languages: English (N), Irish (Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge B2), French, dabbling elsewhere sometimes
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=757
x 3364

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby galaxyrocker » Sat Mar 02, 2024 1:11 pm

Henkkles wrote:You might need more active study as opposed to passive study. Especially for comprehension I recommend transcribing audio, first textbook chapters and then other stuff as well. I feel like Youtube polyglots have made people a bit too enamoured with comprehensible input. It's great and easy BUT few things beat actual ACTIVE study methods, transcribing, journalling, pronunciation practice (Kjellinic chorusing) and whatever you can think of!


I 100% agree with this, especially for comprehension. It was boring, but transcribing audio did more for my listening comprehension than perhaps anything else, especially time-wise. Same with intensive reading too.
9 x

bombobuffoon
Yellow Belt
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2024 10:33 am
Languages: English N-C1
Finnish A0-A1
x 160

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby bombobuffoon » Sat Mar 02, 2024 6:16 pm

Henkkles wrote:You might need more active study as opposed to passive study. Especially for comprehension I recommend transcribing audio, first textbook chapters and then other stuff as well. I feel like Youtube polyglots have made people a bit too enamoured with comprehensible input. It's great and easy BUT few things beat actual ACTIVE study methods, transcribing, journalling, pronunciation practice (Kjellinic chorusing) and whatever you can think of!


Ah yes I forgot to mention I actually already do transcription. I actually use language reactor for that purpose (I sort of classify this as CI, maybe that's wrong IDK).

Yet with that said the real challenge is finding engaging material at the right level.

The other piece of puzzle that's missing is finding a way to use the language. A practical engagement, perhaps taking a short course.

But yes 100% agree I need to do more active study, and find ways to use the language in real life somehow. Its not as easy as it seems, due to a combination of the cultural makeup here, and virtually everyone (I think 80% are fluent and the rest can handle the basics) is able to speak English. Its generally why I don't seek advice on language learning from people learning other languages, as its not usually filled with well meaning and not useful tips like "just start talking to people".

I'm suspecting if I don't get some improvement soon I will be like everyone else I know who has been learning it 10-15 years and is still an A1-A2. Scary stuff.
3 x

Sprachprofi
Orange Belt
Posts: 116
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2022 7:35 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Languages: German (N), English (C2+), Esperanto (C2), French (C2), Modern Greek (C2), Latin (teaching), Chinese (rusty C1), Italian (rusty C1), Dutch (B2), Spanish (B2), Serbocroatian (B1/B2), very rusty Japanese, Swahili, Indonesian, Hebrew, Arabic...
x 472
Contact:

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby Sprachprofi » Sun Mar 03, 2024 8:36 am

bombobuffoon wrote:(I may have to wind up just faking language skills which seems to be how everyone else does it here, i.e. learning some pre-scripted framework of sentences, and then hope to get very simple answers).
The goal is to be able to watch TV shows and understand 90%. Films also. My reasoning is that if I can understand TV shows (like reality TV) then I should be good enough to begin to converse.


Learning scripts is actually one of the ways to build real fluency, and TV show comprehension will do barely anything for it. Let me explain.

The human brain would be unable to speak any language fluently if it had to retrieve each word, apply the grammar, and then send it to the mouth. Neuron speeds simply aren't fast enough, at least not for regular conversational speed. So how do we do it? Through the magic of chunking. Chunking means storing several words and grammar as one item. For example, the phrase "I'd like a chicken sandwich please" probably consists of three chunks: "I'd like", "a chicken sandwich" and "please". 3 chunks can be retrieved vastly faster than the 6 words of this sentence, not to mention applying the conditional tense to "like", minding the shortening of "I would" to "I'd" and so on.

Chunking does not happen when watching TV. It does happen when memorising sentences or when speaking. After the brain has laboriously retrieved words often enough, it will develop these shortcuts (chunks). There is no way to develop these shortcuts without having the brain laboriously retrieve words often enough.

Imagine being a new piano player. At the beginning you have to look for each key and then place a finger on it and press it. After only a few hours of practice, you know the location of the keys by heart, so the process of playing a single note speeds up. After some more time, your brain has "chunked" notes together that often appear together, so that you can play transitions of 2, 3, 4 notes pretty fluently. This is what active practice does. By contrast, watching concert pianists or piano classes on Youtube will not help with this at all.

If your goal is to achieve conversational fluency, 60 hours of active practice will do more than 1000 hours of listening. Just look for the "Add1Challenge" or "Fi3M Challenge" (= Fluent in 3 Months Challenge) videos on Youtube. These are people, many of them monolinguals, who wind up being able to have okayish 15-minute conversations, including in non-European languages, after studying 45-60 minutes per day for 90 days. This Youtube list includes my challenge videos for Hebrew, Russian, Croatian, Japanese, Vietnamese. I usually put in 45-60 hours in 90 days (starting from zero) to achieve those and those hours include zero TV, only vocabulary study, some initial textbook study, and a lot of 1:1 conversation practice with tutors. A lecture in which I explain more of my fast-track approach.

Concrete plan:
1. Use italki to find Finnish tutors and tell them you want conversation practice only and that they should write down every word you don't know in the textchat. Start every sentence in Finnish, even if it's just "I am". Then use an English word whenever you don't know the Finnish equivalent - continue conversing in Finnish. Meanwhile the teacher will write the Finnish word in the textchat. Try to include it in your conversation.
2. Make Anki cards for all words and set expressions that came up this way. Study Anki for 10-20 minutes every morning.
3. When you don't have time for a session with a tutor, imagine conversations in your head, or write down scripts of how you might talk about things that usually come up (your situation in life, how and why you are learning Finnish, the weather, your family, particular anecdotes you often tell...). Practice telling these scripts, don't aim for 100% memorisation but aim for being able to have a short, fluent monologue about these topics without searching for words. This is what Boris Shekhtman calls Language Islands. (Read his book "How to improve your foreign language immediately" for more tips; he ran successful bootcamps to improve people's fluency in just one weekend.)

Don't take my word for it. Try at least 3 different italki tutors to find one that you have good chemistry with, then take just 10 hours of conversational classes with them, and see if you aren't vastly closer to your goal of being able to talk to Finnish people. If so, continue for the full 60 hours.
15 x

bombobuffoon
Yellow Belt
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2024 10:33 am
Languages: English N-C1
Finnish A0-A1
x 160

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby bombobuffoon » Sun Mar 03, 2024 9:39 am

Sprachprofi wrote:
bombobuffoon wrote:(I may have to wind up just faking language skills which seems to be how everyone else does it here, i.e. learning some pre-scripted framework of sentences, and then hope to get very simple answers).
The goal is to be able to watch TV shows and understand 90%. Films also. My reasoning is that if I can understand TV shows (like reality TV) then I should be good enough to begin to converse.


Learning scripts is actually one of the ways to build real fluency, and TV show comprehension will do barely anything for it. Let me explain.

The human brain would be unable to speak any language fluently if it had to retrieve each word, apply the grammar, and then send it to the mouth. Neuron speeds simply aren't fast enough, at least not for regular conversational speed. So how do we do it? Through the magic of chunking. Chunking means storing several words and grammar as one item. For example, the phrase "I'd like a chicken sandwich please" probably consists of three chunks: "I'd like", "a chicken sandwich" and "please". 3 chunks can be retrieved vastly faster than the 6 words of this sentence, not to mention applying the conditional tense to "like", minding the shortening of "I would" to "I'd" and so on.

Chunking does not happen when watching TV. It does happen when memorising sentences or when speaking. After the brain has laboriously retrieved words often enough, it will develop these shortcuts (chunks). There is no way to develop these shortcuts without having the brain laboriously retrieve words often enough.

Imagine being a new piano player. At the beginning you have to look for each key and then place a finger on it and press it. After only a few hours of practice, you know the location of the keys by heart, so the process of playing a single note speeds up. After some more time, your brain has "chunked" notes together that often appear together, so that you can play transitions of 2, 3, 4 notes pretty fluently. This is what active practice does. By contrast, watching concert pianists or piano classes on Youtube will not help with this at all.

If your goal is to achieve conversational fluency, 60 hours of active practice will do more than 1000 hours of listening. Just look for the "Add1Challenge" or "Fi3M Challenge" (= Fluent in 3 Months Challenge) videos on Youtube. These are people, many of them monolinguals, who wind up being able to have okayish 15-minute conversations, including in non-European languages, after studying 45-60 minutes per day for 90 days. This Youtube list includes my challenge videos for Hebrew, Russian, Croatian, Japanese, Vietnamese. I usually put in 45-60 hours in 90 days (starting from zero) to achieve those and those hours include zero TV, only vocabulary study, some initial textbook study, and a lot of 1:1 conversation practice with tutors. A lecture in which I explain more of my fast-track approach.

Concrete plan:
1. Use italki to find Finnish tutors and tell them you want conversation practice only and that they should write down every word you don't know in the textchat. Start every sentence in Finnish, even if it's just "I am". Then use an English word whenever you don't know the Finnish equivalent - continue conversing in Finnish. Meanwhile the teacher will write the Finnish word in the textchat. Try to include it in your conversation.
2. Make Anki cards for all words and set expressions that came up this way. Study Anki for 10-20 minutes every morning.
3. When you don't have time for a session with a tutor, imagine conversations in your head, or write down scripts of how you might talk about things that usually come up (your situation in life, how and why you are learning Finnish, the weather, your family, particular anecdotes you often tell...). Practice telling these scripts, don't aim for 100% memorisation but aim for being able to have a short, fluent monologue about these topics without searching for words. This is what Boris Shekhtman calls Language Islands. (Read his book "How to improve your foreign language immediately" for more tips; he ran successful bootcamps to improve people's fluency in just one weekend.)

Don't take my word for it. Try at least 3 different italki tutors to find one that you have good chemistry with, then take just 10 hours of conversational classes with them, and see if you aren't vastly closer to your goal of being able to talk to Finnish people. If so, continue for the full 60 hours.


I want to stop this one dead in its tracks. I already have a lot of knowledge about Finnish, 3 years of it. I have a grasp of the grammar and I have a feel for when I am producing incorrect language. I did not mean to give the impression I know nothing, I am an advanced A1 and can understand even some cartoons. Given enough time and a dictionary I can produce awkward yet understandable sentences of low complexity.

Also I can have "conversations" with teachers and understand teachers quite well. In fact I have had italki teachers. I can also follow language bloggers and so on. This has zero carry over to the real world and is not the way forward.

Getting out of the classroom mode and understanding real life or native content (which is not on a trivial topic) has been a problem. Hence my focus on absorbing real world content. Its one of those kinds of languages which quite difficult to scale up. English is simply the better alternative for handling anything complex. I need to find some context to use the language for real, perhaps an evening adult course on carpentry for example.

Learning prescripts does not seem an ideal way forward either and I think it will be difficult to break out of A1-A2 using that approach. However this seems to be method for teaching immigrants here, where they learn a lot of vocabulary around that one topic e.g nursing. I suppose its effective enough for competency of some kinds of jobs.

As you suggested producing monologues. I really like this idea and in fact have tried it. I actually a while back had tried this for a period of 8 months producing at least one sentence everyday. I had a teacher who would check my output. We tried "natural method" it just went nowhere. I got maybe 2 or 3 correct out of what 1000!?

So I ditched that guy and started learning grammar. That led to leap forward. I found some other natives to work with who run a discord channel and they will correct any written sentences in minutes. Virtually everything I have learned I owe to them actually and I do write sentences in there.

The next step is to go from sentences to some essays or monologues, I had actually taken some A1-A2 graded English texts and tried to translate them but its not so easy. :lol: .
3 x

User avatar
emk
Black Belt - 1st Dan
Posts: 1697
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 12:07 pm
Location: Vermont, USA
Languages: English (N), French (B2+)
Badly neglected "just for fun" languages: Middle Egyptian, Spanish.
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=723
x 6664
Contact:

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby emk » Sun Mar 03, 2024 1:27 pm

bombobuffoon wrote:I want to stop this one dead in its tracks. I already have a lot of knowledge about Finnish, 3 years of it. I have a grasp of the grammar and I have a feel for when I am producing incorrect language. I did not mean to give the impression I know nothing, I am an advanced A1 and can understand even some cartoons. Given enough time and a dictionary I can produce awkward yet understandable sentences of low complexity.

First, I would recommend not rejecting Sprachprofi's advice out of hand. She is very good at this, and she has learned some very difficult languages impressively rapidly. When I was starting Spanish, I tried replicating how she learned to watch Japanese TV, and it worked extremely well.

Second, I feel like you're using the CEFR scale in a very weird way. You can't understand cartoons at A1. That's usually a skill that starts coming in around B1. Similarly, conversations at A1 are basically just repeating textbook phrases like "My name is Sam. I am from the United Kingdom. What is your name? Where do you live? Where is the bus stop? Please, I don't understand, say that again slowly." Here's the official description:

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic
phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce
him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal
details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she
has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

If you'd like more accurate advice, please take a look at the CEFR self-assessment grid and try to estimate your levels in all four skills.

bombobuffoon wrote:Its one of those kinds of languages which quite difficult to scale up. English is simply the better alternative for handling anything complex. I need to find some context to use the language for real, perhaps an evening adult course on carpentry for example.

The most analogous problem for students of French would trying to practice French in Montreal. Many people have thick accents. Half the people you speak to speak English at native or near-native levels. At the slightest difficulty, people will switch to English. And I don't blame them, because many of them speak English as well as I do. And there's a notion of, oh, let's call it "linguistic courtesy" in Montreal—once you have established that you're willing to try French, many people strongly prefer to be welcoming (and to show off their effortless bilingualism).

So how do you practice your language skills in that environment? Here are some of my old tricks:

  • Wear a T-shirt with something genuinely clever written in your target language. Not just a couple of words, but something witty that will make people laugh and want to comment.
  • Carry a newspaper in your target language. Bonus points if it's not an easy newspaper.
  • Fix your accent so you don't sound like an English speaker. You can get away with a bad accent, but it needs to be mysterious. :lol: So train yourself hard to flawlessly nail phonemes that almost all English speakers get wrong. You'll know you're doing it right the first time someone gets frustrated and asks you, "Where are you from?" I once kept someone speaking French for 20 minutes while he tried to place my accent.
In order to mostly get away with this, you'll need at least B1 skills across the board. And you're right, it will get dramatically easier to keep people from switching to English once you have C1 listening skills. But that's a long road.

But you will definitely get more useful advice if you can assess yourself as accurately as possible using the CEFR grid. There are plenty of people here who study hard languages and who can give you excellent advice, but you need to give them a detailed idea of your current skills.
16 x

Greasaias
Yellow Belt
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2023 8:53 pm
Languages: Polish(N)
Learning: Japanese, Latin, Irish
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 15&t=19259
x 186

Re: 500 hrs by May

Postby Greasaias » Sun Mar 03, 2024 6:27 pm

Personally, I recommend that you read Paul Nation's "What do you need to know to learn a foreign language?".

Tattoo Principle 2 from the Book on your forearm - as I did - or just keep it in mind very firmly:

"Balancing learning is probably the most important principle, but it does require some skill and effort in applying it.

The principle of the four strands says that if you want to have a well-balanced language course, you need to spend equal amounts of time on
1. learning from meaning-focused input (listening and reading)
2. learning from meaning-focused output (speaking and writing)
3. language-focused learning (studying pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar etc)
4. fluency development (getting good at using what you already know).

All four strands are important and they need roughly equal amounts of time."
7 x
Read aloud - and don't forget to think!


Return to “Language logs”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests