rpg learns Spanish, French, German

Continue or start your personal language log here, including logs for challenge participants
rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:21 am

Funny thing that happened last night: last night I learned the (very vulgar) Peninsular expression me la suda. I was reading some forum posts talking about the precise meaning and origin of the phrase. Some of the posts were extremely funny (whether intentionally or not) so I shared one with my SO. I read it out--it was in English--and in the middle it had a Spanish phrase. After I read the phrase, I continued reading the English post, but for some reason my brain decided to continue in Spanish and what actually started coming out was a Spanish translation of what I was reading (but with English phonology). I was totally shocked, stopped reading, and had to take a few moments to wipe the serious "wtf" look from my face.
5 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Feb 22, 2021 6:19 am

Another week's update:

In Spanish I finished season 2 of Elite (pretty solid overall) and watched the start of season 3, and I watched another couple episodes of Aqui no hay quien viva. I also paused my slow reading of Patria to restart (for the nth time) reading Corazón tan blanco, inspired by a conversation in kelvin921019's log. I'm still making tons of vocabulary flashcards while also limiting myself so that the flashcard backlog doesn't grow too large (don't want to be learning cards weeks after I make them or else I'm not going to remember how they got into the deck to begin with). I'm up over 600 cards learned now and counting. Still very pleased with the combined effect of flashcards + input.

It's funny how everything I'm doing with Spanish right now comes from Spain, incidentally. I've been learning an absolute ton of Peninsular colloquialisms.

I also did one of the fill-in-the-blank exercises on a DELE C1 paper. I believe I got 10 or 11 correct out of 14. Not bad but definitely still tons of room for improvement.

In German I finished another week of Lingoda classes. I believe I'm making steady progress. Haven't decided yet what I'm going to do after the Lingoda sprint finishes. I like having daily language classes a lot and I'd like to continue with that, but should it be for German? Mandarin? Alternating between them?

Nothing substantial to report for French. I watched a couple YouTube videos, I think. I usually don't bother recording them here.
4 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Tue Feb 23, 2021 5:09 am

On the subject of learning vocabulary, I feel like there are certain islands of things I think of as almost "pure vocabulary": categories of many different nouns that exist in some kind of taxonomy. Each individual item is low-frequency, but the category as a whole is still not unimportant. Things like:

  • Food (you could break this down further: fruits and vegetables, spices, sauces, dishes, etc etc)
  • Plants and animals (this breaks down further as well)
  • Places (countries, cities)

All together these things add up to an absolute ton of words, yet for the most part they're pretty standalone. I don't think any of these are really that fundamental to the language. They feel like almost trivia, in a way. Within each category some items are still high frequency or mid frequency, but there's also a long tail of low frequency words.

In my past couple Lingoda classes we've been learning food words. I find it a frustratingly bad use of time. At A1, I don't need to be learning how to say cauliflower and watermelon in German. I need to be learning the basic building blocks of the language, the ultra high frequency words. There's no point trying to teach low frequency words right now; they just ain't gonna stick. My brain's too busy processing all the high frequency stuff it hasn't learned yet.

Language learning materials in general often seem to be obsessed with thematic vocabulary. What a terrible conception, honestly. To boot, I saw some SLA research that it was less effective learning related words at the same time, since it was more likely to cause confusion. Blech.

Probably like many language learners, I've thought about creating my own language learning tool/platform/resource a number of times, and the idea is still warming on the back burners of my mind. I don't know what it would look like, but I *do* know that vocabulary would absolutely be taught by frequency. And that there would be tons of input!
5 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Mar 01, 2021 3:54 am

This week:

In German I finished another week of classes. I alluded to my unhappiness with the A1 curriculum earlier. Today's lesson was also a bit much: learning things like "renter's insurance" and other nonsense. This is the problem with curricula designed too heavily around specific skills/tasks: your curriculum designer thinks up a bunch of survival scenarios for someone who is in the country where the language has spoken (ask for directions! Buy groceries! Fill out government forms!) and builds a curriculum around combining those clusters of vocabulary with a fairly fixed grammar progression.

Personally I absolutely hate the phrasebook-on-steroids approach. It doesn't fit in with my language goals at all. Plus in practice I find that it's horribly ineffective anyway. My grocery store interactions aren't "where are the vegetables?". They're "do you have a loyalty card? Do you want a bag? By cash or by card?". I don't need to ask directions to a restaurant--this is the era of Google maps. I do need to be able to say "We have a reservation for XX" or "Could we get some tap water please" when I get there.

Anyway... in Spanish I'm past 700 flashcards. I had been accumulating a backlog of unseen cards, which I don't like--I think it's very valuable to learn the flashcard while you still remember learning the underlying material. In part because of that I didn't consume as much Spanish this week: two episodes of Elite and one of ANHQV. I only have four episodes left of Elite so I'll probably finish it within the next two weeks.

I also did the reading comprehension of a past B2 DELE exam on my phone before going to sleep. I got 34/36 correct which I can be pretty satisfied with. I feel like my Spanish these days is closer to C1 than to B2 and as I said a couple weeks ago I've been thinking about taking the DELE C1 at the end of this year.

Nothing else to report...been thinking about my language learning plan for the rest of the year but no decisions yet.
2 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

User avatar
MorkTheFiddle
Brown Belt
Posts: 1294
Joined: Sat Jul 18, 2015 8:59 pm
Location: usa
Languages: English (N). Read (only) French and Spanish. Studying Ancient Greek, aiming for mastery by 2424. Studying a bit of Latin and Japanese. Once studied Old Norse. Dabbled in Catalan, Provençal and Italian.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... 11#p133911
x 2423

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Mon Mar 01, 2021 6:35 pm

rpg wrote:Personally I absolutely hate the phrasebook-on-steroids approach. It doesn't fit in with my language goals at all. Plus in practice I find that it's horribly ineffective anyway. My grocery store interactions aren't "where are the vegetables?". They're "do you have a loyalty card? Do you want a bag? By cash or by card?". I don't need to ask directions to a restaurant--this is the era of Google maps. I do need to be able to say "We have a reservation for XX" or "Could we get some tap water please" when I get there.

100% agreed! Google Maps tell me where to go, my cell phone tells me when the train leaves for Lisbon and what time it is right now. Do our language guides suffer from being copied from other guides rather than being written from scratch about things relevant this year? :)
1 x
Tu sabes cuando sales pero no sabes cuando regresas.

User avatar
chove
Green Belt
Posts: 316
Joined: Sun Jul 19, 2015 10:42 pm
Location: Scotland
Languages: English (N), Spanish (intermediate), German (intermediate), Polish (very very low intermediate?), French (just started). I dabble sometimes but rarely commit.
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=9355
x 670
Contact:

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby chove » Mon Mar 01, 2021 9:09 pm

rpg wrote:Personally I absolutely hate the phrasebook-on-steroids approach. It doesn't fit in with my language goals at all. Plus in practice I find that it's horribly ineffective anyway.


My first year (university) courses in Spanish and German were very much like that, presumably because it was aimed at the learner taking one beginner's course to learn things they might use on holiday. But it was boring and useless for me - I wasn't planning on going anywhere - and I was relieved to move on to learning things I could use to read texts that interested me. I've got a Polish textbook (Teach Yourself, I think) that tells the story of researching someone's family history in Poland, so it was teaching me to talk about having contacts at the archive, which is something I've never even said in English.
4 x

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:04 am

MorkTheFiddle wrote:
rpg wrote:Personally I absolutely hate the phrasebook-on-steroids approach. It doesn't fit in with my language goals at all. Plus in practice I find that it's horribly ineffective anyway. My grocery store interactions aren't "where are the vegetables?". They're "do you have a loyalty card? Do you want a bag? By cash or by card?". I don't need to ask directions to a restaurant--this is the era of Google maps. I do need to be able to say "We have a reservation for XX" or "Could we get some tap water please" when I get there.

100% agreed! Google Maps tell me where to go, my cell phone tells me when the train leaves for Lisbon and what time it is right now. Do our language guides suffer from being copied from other guides rather than being written from scratch about things relevant this year? :)


For sure. I think there's some blame to be laid on the CEFR itself too since it's a scale heavily focused towards can-do communicative competencies. Reminds me of Goodhart's law: when a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure. Measuring language competency by what you can do in a language is a very reasonable idea, but when that becomes "try to train people to memorize specific interactions" vs "try to raise people's general language level, which will produce the effect that they will do a better job of handling various interactions" that's where they lose me. This reminds me of test prep as a kid too--a large industry based on trying to teach people tricks to manipulate the tests instead of just having them better understand the thing they are being tested on.

chove wrote:
rpg wrote:Personally I absolutely hate the phrasebook-on-steroids approach. It doesn't fit in with my language goals at all. Plus in practice I find that it's horribly ineffective anyway.


My first year (university) courses in Spanish and German were very much like that, presumably because it was aimed at the learner taking one beginner's course to learn things they might use on holiday. But it was boring and useless for me - I wasn't planning on going anywhere - and I was relieved to move on to learning things I could use to read texts that interested me. I've got a Polish textbook (Teach Yourself, I think) that tells the story of researching someone's family history in Poland, so it was teaching me to talk about having contacts at the archive, which is something I've never even said in English.


It's a good point about the target audience for these topics. It's very possible that the wishes of "casual" learners (by which I just mean people who are not trying to reach an advanced level or learn the language long-term, but who are just interested in learning some basics) are different from those of more "long-term" learners too. That's another issue with education in general--whether to cater towards what people say they want, vs what you as the educator believe will be the most effective.
2 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Mar 08, 2021 12:31 am

It's Sunday so it's time for another week's update.

In German I finished the A1.1 section in my Lingoda Sprint and am now working through A1.2. I'm back to the old-style curriculum and I have to say that it's a very welcome change to be once more focusing on simply learning some general vocabulary. At the same time there's all kinds of things that can be frustrating during the classes. I was really tearing my hair out during today's class when I had a couple classmates that were just not getting the drills at all. It's not their fault, but it does slow the class down for me.

I also realized today that English him and her have the same endings as the German dative (eg ihm and ihr), so that's pretty cool.

In Spanish I watched the second half of Elite season 3, bringing me up to date, and another two episodes of ANHQV. Haven't decided what to replace Elite with. I also got through another 100 new flashcards, bringing me up to 800. I'm slowly making progress in my nth attempt at Corazón tan blanco as well, but again as I'm mining vocab for flashcards reading is laborious.

In French I finally have something to update...I watched the first three episodes of H, a medical sitcom that's on Netflix. It's hardly the greatest show ever or anything, but since my French is still pretty mediocre I like having something a bit trashy I can watch and focus on the language for now. I don't know what my plan is for working on my French vocab exactly but I'm tempted to try to figure out some kind of Anki workflow here as well.
3 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Mar 15, 2021 1:25 am

Another Sunday, another log entry. Some personal stuff's been going on this week which initially messed up my plans, but I took a few days off work and ended up watching more TV as a result, so it balances out.

In German I did another week of Lingoda. We're now 2/3 of the way through the sprint. I think it's going ok--I only knew a couple words when I started (bitte, danke, etc) and obviously I've made a lot of progress. Still, language learning takes a lot of time and I've still only just scratched the surface. I also worked for half an hour or so with HP1 ch1 (German audiobook, English text). Why am I spending time with this, which is super hard for me, instead of with the carefully designed graded readers I bought a few weeks ago? Good question...

I've gotten a lot of complements these past two months (and again this week) from the teachers about my pronunciation--I think it's pretty good for someone in a beginner class. But of course this isn't my first rodeo--I've learned that you can get pretty far just by learning the phonemes of a language and then noticing which ones are used when.

In Spanish I jumped around a lot this week after having finished Elite last week. I've now settled on one TV show for each of my devices, as ridiculous as that sounds. On my laptop it's El ministerio del tiempo where I rewatched the first 3 episodes. I'd watched this show up through somewhere in season 2 a few years ago but as I've forgotten a lot of what was going on I decided to restart it. On the TV I started Vis a vis on Netflix, watching 1 episode. This show's been on my radar for ages but I only learned recently that it was on Netflix (I think it used to be on Prime Video only?). And on my phone I have Aqui no hay quien viva where I watched another episode this week. It's a good mix of content, I think, though it might behoove me to focus on one show or another more...

I've also continued my slow re-re-reattempt at reading Corazón tan blanco. I'm at a chapter boundary now, somewhere around page 65 or so. Anki-wise I'm at around 875 learned cards; my schedule got a little disrupted so I didn't add as many as normal this week.

Finally in French I had my most productive period in quite a while: I watched 8 episodes of H and the Alain Resnais film Mon oncle d'Amérique. Hard to find two more diametrically opposed things to watch: H is a mildly trashy sitcom, while the film is heady and unconventional. I've seen Hiroshima mon amour before (before I started learning French) and I hope to watch Resnais' other big movies at some point as well.

I may try to watch at least one actual French film a week or so. I brought back a ton of them from Paris but I've barely worked through them yet. Lotta classic movies I have yet to see.
3 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150

rpg
Orange Belt
Posts: 102
Joined: Fri Jul 21, 2017 2:21 pm
Languages: English (N), Spanish (B2), French (B1)
Language Log: https://forum.language-learners.org/vie ... =15&t=8368
x 261

Re: rpg learns Spanish, French, German, Mandarin

Postby rpg » Mon Mar 22, 2021 3:01 am

I've been thinking lately about reading. I signed up for the Super Challenge in two languages and that makes 10,000 pages of reading. That's really a lot. Even aside from the big break I took in the second half of last year, I don't think I'm really prepared for this quantity of reading, in terms of the pace of what's fun and sustainable for me.

In terms of what percentage of vocabulary you need to know, I've seen 98% cited a lot as a percentage for reading for pleasure. But for me that vocabulary level is still pretty uncomfortable at 6-7 unknown words per page. It's enough to follow what's going on, yes; those 6-7 unknown words will occasionally be obstacles to understanding some sentences, but overall you can still follow the text. But I have a hard time not looking the words up, and looking up 6-7 words per page makes reading pretty laborious unless you're doing it on a Kindle or similar.

I feel like the true comfort zone for vocabulary is higher than 98%--at least 99% and perhaps 99.5% or even more. Something like 0-2 words per page or so. I don't know. Viewed another way I think about how Paul Nation has said that native speakers learn word families at roughly 1,000 words/year until adulthood. If we say that a C1 speaker has maybe 8,000 words (I think this is in the right ballpark at least, 8,000 words is a very healthy number for a learner) that maps back to an 8 year old. Then I think about the kinds of things I read when I was 8 years old (children's books; I read like 30 Hardy Boys books somewhere around this age, I believe) and compare to the kinds of things I try reading in foreign languages (capital-l Literature) and see that there's a pretty big disconnect, and it makes me pause and take stock of what I'm doing. Should I be reading more children's books? The thing with children's books is that they have two simplifications going on at once: one a linguistic simplification (very useful and relevant for a learner), the other a subject matter simplification (a negative for an adult learner). But children's books can be entertaining in their own way, and even in English a lot of adults read YA fiction these days anyway.

The upshot is I'm going to experiment with reading children's books in French and see how that affects my reading quantity and motivation. I bought Le Petit Nicolas a few days ago and have read 7 out of the 19 stories so far. It's pretty fast, easy reading, but the stories are still amusing, and I'm still learning some vocab here and there. My current thinking is that I'll go through all the Petit Nicolas books and then move on to more children's lit in French.

On the listening side in French, I watched the film Mouchette (my third Bresson film--not a huge fan tbh), three episodes of H, and one of Au service de la France.

In Spanish I watched four episodes of Vis a vis this week. This show is really gripping and really good so far; I can't believe it took me this long to get to it. As far as my Anki deck goes, I'm approaching 1000 cards learned and will cross that in a few days. If I continue learning around 1000 words/phrases every quarter I'll be at +4000 for the year which would be a very satisfactory result. We'll see.

In German I did another week of Lingoda classes. It's funny, at times these classes feel like they're moving really quickly, but I'm still in the middle of the A1 level and I'm doing better than many (most?) of the other students in my classes, so I can't be doing too badly. I'm thinking at this point that I may try continuing daily German classes for the whole year or close to it. If I did that following Lingoda's curriculum that would take me to around the end of their B1 curriculum. Then next year I could continue pushing to at least B2 and get to the fun stuff. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself too much. Anyway I'm pretty sure I'm going to continue with Lingoda after the sprint, was the point, and I just haven't decided yet what frequency to do it at.
6 x
Super challenge 2020/21
French reading: 342 / 5000      Spanish reading: 81 / 5000
French movies: 24 / 150       Spanish movies: 86 / 150


Return to “Language logs”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: pnzpctsxrknvhumify and 0 guests