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

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

Postby Morgana » Thu Jul 04, 2019 9:23 pm

StringerBell wrote:While working on dopełniarz/genitive case this morning, I got hit by a very big "OMG that's it, I can NOT learnt these f*!&ing case endings, I give up!" Had I attempted to start out with grammar in the beginning, I would be 100% giving up right now. But having invested so much time and energy into this language, I don't want to give up that easily. I can deal with biernik/accusative and narzędnik/instrumental, but dopełniarz/genitive just might just be the nail in the coffin.

...

For anyone reading this, what was the most frustrating/difficult/impossible grammar concept you had to learn in a foreign language and how did you deal with it?
I think you are trying to force something that isn't ready to happen yet. It's reminding me of some recent posts in Bex's log (starting here) on difficult grammar areas and leaving them alone for a while when they seem too challenging. Sometimes leaving the tricky bit alone while you continue to work with the language in other ways lets the trouble area loosen up a bit and you're able to make noticeable dents in it at a later time.

I would suspect some more exposure (reading/listening) while trying to "notice" the genitive might help the problem get easier, too. Although you've had a lot of exposure already, you haven't had it while equipped with deeper grammar knowledge at the same time.

As for your final question, not just in languages but in any subject area in university or anywhere, when I hit upon a really tricky part that my brain was just not able to solve, I'd get frustrated, feel stupid, but then move on to the next question or reading or subject and come back to the problem the next day or the next (depending on what kind of deadlines I had) or I'd ask people who knew more than I did about it in the hope that they could explain it in a way that would make sense. Sometimes none of that helped, but it usually did. In the cases where it didn't help... leaving it alone for even longer eventually got the problem to seemingly work itself out.

One example with languages that I can think of are possessive pronouns in Swedish: they use a different pronoun in the third person for "his/her" depending on whether the thing that is his or hers is part of the subject or not. If I say, "She and her sister went to the aquarium on Friday" I'd use one pronoun for "her," but if I say "She went to the aquarium with her sister on Friday" now it's a different pronoun for "her." And for the longest time it was like chance whether I'd get it right in my grammar exercises. I was like "...ok :? " but I moved on to the next lesson and eventually another course and months later when I revisited the topic, it had more or less resolved on its own. I just understood it at that point. And it wasn't about the pronouns: it was about understanding sentence structure, subclauses, subject vs. object, etc. that I'm convinced I could only acquire via more exposure, more work on the language overall.

I guarantee you're going to understand this genitive business at some point, but it'll probably largely happen while you're not explicitly working on it.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Radioclare » Thu Jul 04, 2019 10:29 pm

I really struggled with case endings when I started learning Croatian (and I'm struggling with some of them in Russian too). I think they're a really challenging part of learning Slavic languages because it's virtually impossible to say anything without them and it sometimes feels like even the simplest of phrases are fraught with difficulties. I got really stressed out before my Russian trip when I realised there were five of us going. Nouns following five require genitive plural (which is my weakest case) so even trying to say something like "five tickets please" felt like a huge challenge.

The things which helped me in Croatian were not trying to learn them all at once (i.e. accepting that this was a huge thing to master and breaking it down to small chunks, like just practising genitive endings for feminine nouns, for example) and using different resources. There are only a handful of Croatian textbooks for English speakers, but I basically bought all of them and when I felt like I was hitting a mental block with one of them, I'd just abandon in and start using a different one. Sometimes just having a case explained by a different author or presented in a different way with different examples was enough for it to click with me.

The thing I absolutely struggled with the most was case endings after numerals and I think this reduced me to tears on one occasion. I don't like learning grammar (in fact I don't really enjoy learning languages :lol: ) so I can only do it in small doses. With numerals, I eventually found one textbook which explained it really well and kept making myself read it. I mean, not continually, but I'd read it one week and then come back to it the next weekend and read it again etc. There was too much to absorb in one go, but each time I read it I got something new from it. If I take that textbook off my shelf now it would automatically spring open at that page :D So I think revisiting material, but taking breaks in between, is really useful.

I haven't found extensive reading or listening has helped me much with cases at all. It's definitely helped me with other aspects of the language but I find that if I'm engrossed in a plot, rather than thinking "ooh that's interesting, that noun is ending in -a - does that mean it's a genitive?" I automatically zone out all the case endings and just focus on the sense of the words to enjoy the story. This is definitely a personal thing; my boyfriend is the exact opposite.

What I did find really useful was trying to write sentences myself and getting them corrected (on Lang8 or similar). I had a phase a few years ago of trying to write 150 words in Croatian every day and getting them corrected. Sometimes it was soul destroying, because I literally couldn't write a sentence without a mistake in a case, but ultimately I learned a lot from it. I think I learned more from making the mistake and being corrected/having it explained to me where I'd gone wrong than I would have done from hours of staring at the declension tables at the back of my textbooks.

As far as speaking Croatian goes, I make mistakes with cases all the time but I try not to stress about it. To be honest, I think when you're speaking the most important thing is to get the first part of the word right; I'm not sure about the case ending I just mumble/swallow it and hope for the best. If you speak quickly enough, my theory is that no one can really tell whether you put an -e or an -a on the end of your noun :lol:

Anyway, don't give up! Polish isn't easy and you've obviously come a long way with it already. Maybe take a break if it's really frustrating you right now, but come back to it and keep trying :)

And thank you for sharing your struggles here; it always feels weird to "like" posts where people are talking about things they find difficult, but I think honest posts like this are some of the most valuable on the forum because sometimes it's easy to feel like you're the only person who has days like this and everyone else is effortlessly learning five languages at once :lol:
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Brun Ugle » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:11 am

You’ve already gotten tons of great advice, but I thought I’d add mine anyway. You said you can deal with the accusative and instrumental cases (and I assume nominative as well, since that’s usually the dictionary form). What I would do, would be to spend some time, maybe a few days or a few weeks, working on only those cases. If you can find exercises on them, do them. If not, trying writing your own sentences using those cases and get them corrected. The idea is to get so good at them that you’d know them in your sleep. If someone woke you up in the middle of the night and demanded that you say something using the accusative or instrumental case, you should be able to do it correctly. Basically, over-learn them. Then start working on the genitive. If it’s hard, don’t even bother learning the entire genitive at once. Start with one gender in the singular, then move on to the plural or to another gender, until eventually you can do all the genders in both singular and plural. I like over-learning things like this because I find that I’ll otherwise “forget” the things I already know when I start adding in new things. I’ll mess up cases or verb forms I know because I’m too busy concentrating on getting the new one right. But that happens a bit less if you know them better.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Polish Paralysis » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:59 am

Great advice from everyone so far. I would simply emphasise the value of correction as far as cases go, whether that be written correction (as Radioclare mentioned) or verbal. Producing the language in whatever form helped me to get a handle on the majority of the cases in a matter of weeks, although I do still make the odd mistake. I would also argue that you should learn all the more common ones first as those are the ones you have to use. For example, when I have to say something using the dative plural such as I gave it to the nurses, I struggle a lot more than pretty much every other case. It's simply a matter of the dative case showing up less commonly in spoken language. I guess this is simply a product of my having learnt cases through usage.

A grammar book approach might work for some people but I think a combination of production and induction is definitely more useful for me. To be perfectly honest cases are difficult but I will have long learnt the cases by the time I have learnt enough vocabulary to have a decent conversation. Cases are an annoyance and make Polish look very complicated at a superficial level but for me the much greater problems are understanding verb aspects and simply garnering a sufficient amount of vocabulary in a language with very few English cognates.

Edited: spelling correction
Last edited by Polish Paralysis on Fri Jul 05, 2019 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby rfnsoares » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:26 am

The genitive and the locative cases in Polish are really difficult. I know it because I studied Polish about two years ago. You might know this youtube channel: "Polski z Anią // Polish with Ania". It is the best for grammar explanations. Besides, I like to practice writing down declensions for the 100 most common nouns. That helped me.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby Daniel N. » Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:29 pm

I suggest you not to attempt to learn the genitive case all at once. Learn only the genitive singular first, and only for one group of nouns (say, nouns in -a). That's how you can split a big task into smaller and more palatable ones...

In the long run, verbs will be the hardest thing, you are right.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby ILikeKarkówka » Sat Jul 06, 2019 9:45 pm

StringerBell wrote:While working on dopełniarz/genitive case this morning, I got hit by a very big "OMG that's it, I can NOT learnt these f*!&ing case endings, I give up!" Had I attempted to start out with grammar in the beginning, I would be 100% giving up right now. But having invested so much time and energy into this language, I don't want to give up that easily. I can deal with biernik/accusative and narzędnik/instrumental, but dopełniarz/genitive just might just be the nail in the coffin.

So, I'm questioning what I want to do about Polish. Originally, I wanted to just be able to read/listen, and for those things I don't have to be able to apply any case endings. But then at some point, I decided that I'd at least like to be able to communicate at a basic level (basic meaning simple, not basic meaning riddled with errors). It's possible that I'm overreacting, but it's equally possible that I will actually never be able to produce relatively simple sentences correctly. Do I keep trying? Do I just content myself with understanding and give up on ever actually speaking without a ton of mistakes? Should I give up all together? <<<probably won't do that last one, but it's on the table.

I'm not going to make any decision while I'm in such a bad mood, so I'm going to just try to keep going and see how I feel a little later. I'm hoping I'll feel more positive about Polish grammar in a few days.

For anyone reading this, what was the most frustrating/difficult/impossible grammar concept you had to learn in a foreign language and how did you deal with it?


Out of interest what exactly does your work in this area involve?

And also out of interest - what is it about the instrumental case that makes you feel that it is ok to deal with but not the genitive? I also find the instrumental case a lot easier to get my head around and the endings are more uniform however in my mind it has the same basic "ingredients" as other cases.

I do personally think that some painful time spent on this is very useful and also rewarding in the long run however it shouldn't get to the point where it is putting you off the language. If it is reaching that point then another approach may need to be looked at.

rfnsoares wrote:The genitive and the locative cases in Polish are really difficult. I know it because I studied Polish about two years ago. You might know this youtube channel: "Polski z Anią // Polish with Ania". It is the best for grammar explanations. Besides, I like to practice writing down declensions for the 100 most common nouns. That helped me.


I second watching this series. I have watched most of it mostly because it is in Polish (with the very occasional English word) and it is one of the video series on YouTube that has subtitles in Polish which helps me absorb content better. So I don't watch it for the grammar necessarily as I class it is as part of the native materials I watch however I do think her explanations are generally very good.

It is interesting you say the Locative case is really difficult, in my opinion it's the easiest to get my head around. Is there a particular reason why you say it is really difficult?

The reason why I think it is more straightforward is that there are 2 questions that I need to overcome to be get comfortable with using a case 1) When do I use the case and 2) What is the required transformation of the noun (and agreeing adjective if relevant). For the Locative Case I think both of these are easier to answer than for others. That is just my way of thinking though.

Daniel N. wrote:I suggest you not to attempt to learn the genitive case all at once. Learn only the genitive singular first, and only for one group of nouns (say, nouns in -a). That's how you can split a big task into smaller and more palatable ones...

In the long run, verbs will be the hardest thing, you are right.


I also suggest this is a good approach.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby StringerBell » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:52 pm

Thanks for all the responses and suggestions.

POLISH:

I'm not sure exactly what is going on with Polish at the moment. I think we are having a lovers' spat. :lol: I've been feeling really mad at the language and I'm not sure if I will continue with it. I can now see that being able to speak simply (though grammatically correct) is not possible for me. So, I'm trying to decide if I can be satisfied with any of these options:
1) give up totally on speaking and just focus on improving listening/reading.
2) continue speaking in a way that is riddled with tons of mistakes forever.
3) accept that even though I love this language and gave it my best, it just isn't for me.

One of my major obstacles is that I don't improve AT ALL if I'm corrected during conversation. This has been a major hinderance for me with Italian. Even my husband (who is a big believer that to get better at speaking, a person has to do it a lot and get corrected) has told me that he no longer believes that speaking a lot is the way for me to make improvements, because he's seen first hand that I don't remember or incorporate corrections. They are a total waste of time for me in a conversation. If I'm corrected while I'm talking, the other person might as well not say anything at all. With Italian, even if he's corrected me on something 10x in a day, I will continue making that mistake until I sit down and fill up page(s) with written reinforcement of the correct way. My auditory memory seems to be non-existent. This is the reason I stopped my Italian speaking challenge last year and switched to more reading and writing, which made a difference for me. But I'm already doing A TON of reading and scriptorium writing in Polish, and there's only so much I can do before my hand falls off.

So, I will not get better by having my mistakes corrected by a native speaker because (1) I don't learn that way, and (2) I am making a huge amount of mistakes, and (3) if I don't even understand why the correction is being made it's extra meaningless to me. I started writing out corrected sentences multiple times, but the minute I stopped doing it, I forgot all the corrections, and I'm confident that I wouldn't be able to say/write most of those same sentences correctly anymore.

Grammar rant: don't read this if you're not in the mood for a bunch of whining and complaining
I was hoping that after tons and tons of exposure (I'm up to 1,500 hours) a lot of grammar would be obvious and I'd have a good enough feel for what sounded right that learning the rules and applying them wouldn't be too big of a deal. This is not what's happened, unfortunately. There are a few cases that I do have a feel for and can apply, but it's really a tiny percentage.

I'm feeling particularly angry because I'm realizing that in some instances, the case ending thing is pointless; in Biernik/Accusative, neuter words and masculine inanimate word don't change the ending at all (and neither do the plurals regardless of gender) which tells me that these case endings aren't actually necessary for understanding the meaning of the sentence. This makes me feel extremely resentful. I can accept the idea of case endings if they are actually necessary for understanding but if a ton of words don't change at all, then what's the point of changing the others?

Then there's the fact that a lot of case endings overlap, which makes them extra confusing, or that masculine words sometimes take on endings that make them look like they're feminine, or that in dopełniarz/genitive there's a list of 423,000 nouns that are masculine inanimate that take a particular ending but 715,000 masculine inanimate nouns that take a different ending... I better not get started on dopełniarz/genitive, I could write a novel just ranting about how ridiculously convoluted that case is. I can't deal with the frustrating level of complexity that's involved in identifying the case and figuring out what the ending should be based on whether the word is masculine animate, masculine inanimate, feminine, neuter. And the whole masculine animate/masculine inanimate thing makes me especially angry. Fruit and vegetables and names of cars are animate????

I know that every language has a ton of nonsense that you just have to accept, but I don't know if I have it in me to deal with this particular level of nonsense. It's too much, man! (<<<BoJack reference). Breaking it down and just focusing on one tiny part of one case doesn't work for me. Doing hours and hours of grammar exercises don't work for me because I can't apply any of those exercises to real life speaking...and I hate doing hours and hours and hours of grammar exercises. I hate it.

My understanding still feel light years away from where I can enjoy native materials; I think it will be years before I can understand the majority of what people say in a TV show or to even be able to read Young Adult books without a parallel text and that's making me feel particularly demotivated. I know that comprehension takes time, but after 1,500 hours I still feel like a beginner who can't say the most basic sentences correctly (like anything that's negative or involves a plural) and that's not a good feeling. In fact, it's making me questioning what I accomplished during all those hours.

So, I think I will take a break from Polish and see how I feel about it in a little while. Maybe once my frustration dissipates I'll decide to return to Polish, or maybe I'll decide that I've reached my limits and it's time to focus my energy elsewhere.
Last edited by StringerBell on Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:58 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby StringerBell » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:53 pm

ITALIAN:

-I'm currently working on transcribing episode 2 of Lucifer.

-I'm in Chapter 10 of Practice Makes Perfect and I just hit the Congiuntivo/Subjunctive part, which is something that I never studied and am both looking forward to finally learning while simultaneously dreading it. I already can tell about 70% of the time when congiuntivo is required (though I rarely know how to conjugate it when needed) so this is definitely a huge black hole for me.

-I finished 14/20 podcast episodes of La Società dei Ghetti. Even though I can understand the vast majority of what's being said in the moment, I often find that when I get to the end of the podcast I don't remember it well enough to be able to summarize it. I'm not sure if this is just due to my auditory memory sucking or if it's because I'm understanding less than I think I am (or if my attention is just drifting a lot, which tends to happen with auditory-only input). This has been frustrating, but I decided to listen to all 20 episodes anyway and maybe return to it in the future.

-I decided to revisit the huge master list of new words/expressions I made when I was doing my 500 Italian articles challenge last year. I chose one expression and filled up a page with scriptorium practice. The expression I did yesterday was "Essere a corto di..." (to run out of something). So I wrote a lot of sentences like:

"Sono a corto di soldi" (I ran out of money)
"Siamo a corto d'idee" (We ran out of ideas)
"Siete a corto di libri da leggere" (You ran out of books to read)
"Sei a corto di energia?" (Did you run out of energy?)
"Lei è a corto di pazienza" (She ran out of patience)

After writing a full page of stuff like that, I had the expression swirling around my mind all evening, (I even used it a couple of times spontaneously when talking to my husband) and had no trouble remembering it today.

In addition to the expression, I also chose a phrase that uses congiuntivo and wrote that out a bunch of times. I chose: Nel caso in cui non lo sapessi (In case you don't know). I'd like to make a bunch of these phrases more automatic.

Almost forgot to mention: My long-time LEP just reappeared spontaneously, which I'm pretty stoked about. I think he had a major life crisis...he apologized and promised to explain the disappearance. I'm really looking forward to resuming our chats again.

LATIN:

Still chugging along, a little bit every day (~20 min). After reaching the halfway point in the Cambridge book, I returned to (almost) the beginning to do scriptorium with all of the short stories/sentences. I decided to do this because even though I could read the stories with some dictionary look ups, I was struggling with sentences that were just a little too complex for me and I didn't feel like it made sense to keep moving on to new things while I was feeling shaky. Having now redone almost everything I'd done originally, I feel like I have a much better command of the vocabulary and all the stories/sentences. My only criticism about this book so far is that I'm not crazy about the way it introduced the past perfect and the past imperfect at the same time - I'm having some trouble keeping them straight.
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Re: Polski & Italiano (+ Latin) Episode II: StringerBell Strikes Back

Postby lusan » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:37 am

StringerBell wrote:Thanks for all the responses and suggestions.

POLISH:

Grammar rant: don't read this if you're not in the mood for a bunch of whining and complaining
I was hoping that after tons and tons of exposure (I'm up to 1,500 hours) a lot of grammar would be obvious and I'd have a good enough feel for what sounded right that learning the rules and applying them wouldn't be too big of a deal. This is not what's happened, unfortunately. There are a few cases that I do have a feel for and can apply, but it's really a tiny percentage.

I'm feeling particularly angry because I'm realizing that in some instances, the case ending thing is pointless; in Biernik/Accusative, neuter words and masculine inanimate word don't change the ending at all (and neither do the plurals regardless of gender) which tells me that these case endings aren't actually necessary for understanding the meaning of the sentence. This makes me feel extremely resentful. I can accept the idea of case endings if they are actually necessary for understanding but if a ton of words don't change at all, then what's the point of changing the others?

Then there's the fact that a lot of case endings overlap, which makes them extra confusing, or that masculine words sometimes take on endings that make them look like they're feminine, or that in dopełniarz/genitive there's a list of 423,000 nouns that are masculine inanimate that take a particular ending but 715,000 masculine inanimate nouns that take a different ending... I better not get started on dopełniarz/genitive, I could write a novel just ranting about how ridiculously convoluted that case is. I can't deal with the frustrating level of complexity that's involved in identifying the case and figuring out what the ending should be based on whether the word is masculine animate, masculine inanimate, feminine, neuter. And the whole masculine animate/masculine inanimate thing makes me especially angry. Fruit and vegetables and names of cars are animate????

I know that every language has a ton of nonsense that you just have to accept, but I don't know if I have it in me to deal with this particular level of nonsense. It's too much, man! (<<<BoJack reference). Breaking it down and just focusing on one tiny part of one case doesn't work for me. Doing hours and hours of grammar exercises don't work for me because I can't apply any of those exercises to real life speaking...and I hate doing hours and hours and hours of grammar exercises. I hate it.

My understanding still feel light years away from where I can enjoy native materials; I think it will be years before I can understand the majority of what people say in a TV show or to even be able to read Young Adult books without a parallel text and that's making me feel particularly demotivated. I know that comprehension takes time, but after 1,500 hours I still feel like a beginner who can't say the most basic sentences correctly (like anything that's negative or involves a plural) and that's not a good feeling. In fact, it's making me questioning what I accomplished during all those hours.

So, I think I will take a break from Polish and see how I feel about it in a little while. Maybe once my frustration dissipates I'll decide to return to Polish, or maybe I'll decide that I've reached my limits and it's time to focus my energy elsewhere.


I agree 100 % with you. I have a similar problems after 5 year with Polish. So I decided that path to reach B2 path for me, living outiside Poland and quickly aging -I am 65- is just too long and probably unnecessarily; after all, I am not planning ever to move there. As a Spanish and English speaker I have nothing to hold, every polish word is a black hole full of end changes, etc. It is very frustrating. So I decided to take it easy. I plan to just keep reading books and listen to TED talks in Youtubes (No subtitles!) for a while and see what happen. Of course, I will keep doing my Anki cards. Can you imagine I have more than 16000 cards and still the darn words look differents as well and more words coming? The cases do not bother me at all. I found that speaking at a A2 level is sufficient but listening to the news that is beyond my hands.... My wife says that what I know is enough to deal with the family... so I am moving to French. An easier journey... Keep it up and refocus.... My concern is that stopping will trash thousand of work hours... so I will just maintain the language.

By the way, I gave up on grammar exercises. Now I make Anki cards for listening practice. What is the sense of knowing the cases when most of them are just accusatives, instrumentals or genitives and the context will give us the rest? But the speed of the language really kills. Understanding most be automatic. Listening is the solution but I estimate hese are another thousands of listening hours. And I wonder if it is really worthy without planning to move permanently to Poland. I am not willing to expend those hours of polish listening while I can use the time to listen to beautiful songs in French. It is a pragmatic matter. Pa.
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