Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Ongoing language-learning challenges, and team challenge logs (but not individual logs)
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Kerrie
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby Kerrie » Thu May 12, 2016 7:18 pm

alexraasch wrote:How do you go about the challenge for languages that you are an absolute beginner in?


You don't.

You work your way through other sources to get the basics first. You will not be able to read 100 books in Chinese in the next 20 months if you are an absolute beginner. You are much better spending your time with other sources.

Sorry for the harsh truth.
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby alexraasch » Thu May 12, 2016 7:41 pm

No need to apologize. ;)

I have noticed some people registered for the challenge starting from <A2 levels. So I was wondering how exactly they were planning to do it. I think I can learn somewhere between 1000 and 2000 vocabulary in 20 months, so if I stick to simple material such as childrens books, I'm sure I'll still get a lot out of the challenge, even if I don't finish it. I'm also working on grammar books in addition. After all, it is a challenge, no wait, super challenge. :D
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby rdearman » Thu May 12, 2016 7:49 pm

alexraasch wrote:I just joined the Super Challenge for Mandarin and Spanish but I'm not quite sure how to go about Mandarin. As I only started this language 3 weeks ago, I understand almost nothing when watching movies for instance. What I do is that I very often pause, go back, and look up things in the dictionary. I haven't started a book yet but the same will be true here. So, the time it takes to finish a movie or book will be considerably longer.

How do you go about the challenge for languages that you are an absolute beginner in? Do you just watch movies from start to end no matter how much you pick up?

Well, the original intention was for intermediate for the challenge. But I am sort of in the same boat with Mandarin. So I have been watching a Taiwanese cooking show. I have a list of words which I try to pick out when she says them. Like: chop, boil, cut, fry, bake, oven, knife, etc. It helps me define word boundaries and gives me a purpose when I watch, rather than just a flood of noise over me. And I add words to the list all the time.
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby Kerrie » Thu May 12, 2016 7:50 pm

alexraasch wrote:I have noticed some people registered for the challenge starting from <A2 levels. So I was wondering how exactly they were planning to do it.


I think if you are working on a related language to something you know (Romance or Germanic for most of us, Polish for a Russian speaker, etc), it is certainly possible. I am planning to do something similar with Portuguese, for example.

I will probably run through the Michel Thomas Portuguese course, flip through a grammar book, and then do a lot of listening-reading with Harry Potter. I already know the story, and I understand Spanish with no problem, so it will be an experiment of sorts (for me) to see what I can get from massive input. It has to be comprehensible input, though. If it's not, your time is really better spent on other materials.

With a language more distant from (my native English), I wouldn't attempt that kind of approach, though. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby LunaMoonsilver » Thu May 12, 2016 9:10 pm

alexraasch wrote:I just joined the Super Challenge for Mandarin and Spanish but I'm not quite sure how to go about Mandarin. As I only started this language 3 weeks ago, I understand almost nothing when watching movies for instance. What I do is that I very often pause, go back, and look up things in the dictionary. I haven't started a book yet but the same will be true here. So, the time it takes to finish a movie or book will be considerably longer.

How do you go about the challenge for languages that you are an absolute beginner in? Do you just watch movies from start to end no matter how much you pick up?


I mean, for films you can watch with your native language subtitles if you want, so you can definitely get through that part. One of the things I like about Mandarin too is that usually (with TV shows anyway) you get subtitles in Mandarin as it is and then you can have native lang subtitles on top of that, so it can be a little easier (and fun) to match up the words you know - and to pick out words you've maybe seen but not memorised, or new words you think are important and want to learn. So I think that the films part is achievable.

Books may be a little more difficult, but you are allowed to repeat books and use whatever level of books you like - so honestly, with enough time and determination, I think you could do that too. It's all about how you're willing to use the challenge to help yourself, in my opinion.**

**Note: I say this as someone who has never completed a Super Challenge for Mandarin but who is determined to work really hard this time. ;)
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby geoffw » Fri May 13, 2016 12:43 am

druckfehler wrote: I wouldn't have been able to pull it off if I hadn't been at or near B2 level when I started.
I'm thinking about joining in with Persian this time, but I'm not sure how much I'd be able to accomplish from starting from current ~A2.

Kerrie wrote:I think if you are working on a related language to something you know (Romance or Germanic for most of us, Polish for a Russian speaker, etc), it is certainly possible. I am planning to do something similar with Portuguese, for example.

Kerrie wrote:
alexraasch wrote:How do you go about the challenge for languages that you are an absolute beginner in?

You don't.

You work your way through other sources to get the basics first. You will not be able to read 100 books in Chinese in the next 20 months if you are an absolute beginner. You are much better spending your time with other sources.

Sorry for the harsh truth.


This is what I have come to suspect: the smaller the gap between your current level and the level of the material you use, the more effective the SC approach can be. My successes with Dutch and French were starting as a beginner, but as a native speaker of English with good comprehension of German. In the second SC, I tried doing Russian, and it was much less effective at getting me to a high level. It still helped, but extensive input simply throws too many words and phrases away in such a case, because there's not a good way to learn them from context.

For comparison, I just started with Swedish, but I was able to follow some children's literature relatively well (and learn from context) immediately due to my background in several closely related languages. As with Dutch, simply doing the SC is probably enough for me to get to a respectable level in Swedish. Irish, on the other hand, will probably require a lot more direct vocabulary work and textbook work to get similar results.
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby jeffers » Fri May 13, 2016 1:11 am

I don't think there's any reason not to participate in the Super Challenge as a beginner. Completing the challenge might be too hard for a beginner, but this is more of a challenge for participating than for winning.

I agree that the input we use for the SC should be comprehensible if we expect to learn from it, but that doesn't mean 100% comprehensible. I like the approach rdearman is taking with cooking shows in Mandarin. He won't learn everything they talk about, but he will develop his listening skills and get a solid grasp on a specific set of vocabulary. However, if you can find more comprehensible input, I think you'll gain more from it.

My approach for German is to begin with a reader designed for absolute beginners, which for me is just about 100% comprehensible (I'd be a high A1 or low A2). It comes with audio, so I can use that (separately) for the film half as well. It's a bit repetitive and boring, but the text is quite substantial (55 pages of German all using only the 500 most common words). I feel like it's working: I'm getting used to reading in German and I'm already getting a better grasp on common vocabulary and structures. Once I've worked through it a few times, I'll move up to the next book in the series.

In a nutshell, I think if you're a beginner you can benefit from the Super Challenge even if you don't complete it. My advice would be to find some easy material and approach it like you would an Assimil lesson. Read, listen, read and listen again. Do it over and over again so that you assimilate the structures. Hopefully as you progress in the 20 months you can move closer and closer to actual native language material.

EDIT: besides reading, of course there's the film half, and that's something I think a beginner should be working on a lot from the beginning. French in Action takes the approach of having brand new learners seeing conversations in essentially full-speed Parisian French right from the beginning. There is a lot to be gained from taking on a lot of watching and listening right from the beginning. I'm too tired find it right now, but Iversen has written about listening tenatiously as a beginner, not because you understand all or even half of the words, but to get a sense for the rhythm and structure of the spoken language, to develop an ear for word boundaries, etc.
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby lingua » Fri May 13, 2016 3:32 am

The method rdearman is taking with Mandarin cooking shows is how I was planning to tackle my Thai Half SC. My intent is to start learning the cooking and food terminology a couple of months before I start watching the shows so that watching cooking shows and reading cookbooks will hopefully be a little easier.

So I think if a beginner took a similar path of choosing something that they were passionate about and concentrated on that area they can still be successful. If nothing else they will develop a core vocabulary in a favorite subject.
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby Mista » Fri May 13, 2016 10:38 am

How do I register on the twitter bot? In the registration thread, it just says "link will be provided later"...
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Re: Super Challenge 2016-17 DISCUSSION THREAD

Postby Sage » Fri May 13, 2016 1:19 pm

Mista wrote:How do I register on the twitter bot? In the registration thread, it just says "link will be provided later"...


This is the website which has information about the bot, how to sign up and tweet and tracks everyone's process.

http://sc2016-17.language-learners.org/
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