Polyclod's Maintenance Log (Français/Deutsch)

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Polyclod
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Polyclod's Maintenance Log (Français/Deutsch)

Postby Polyclod » Thu Jul 30, 2015 11:33 am

So I guess first a little obligatory background:

I have studied Spanish since I was around nine or ten years old. It was a compulsory subject for me beginning in the fifth grade, and continued to be compulsory up until the end of high school. I also studied it briefly in college, only to fulfill my foreign language requirements.

Like most subjects which were 1.) poorly taught and 2.) obligatory, I absolutely hated Spanish. And my hatred showed, because I was terrible at it. That is until I reached my sophomore year of high school, when I had for the first (and so far only) time an excellent language teacher, who was both passionate about Spanish and about teaching. I honestly credit him with helping build the foundation for whatever success I've had in the language up until now...my rather nebulous understanding of the language began to solidify, and by the end of the year I had a decent intermediate level in the language (except for speaking, which I'll touch on later).

Sadly, several factors conspired against my following up with my Spanish studies and really getting great at the language. First, the teachers I had for the rest of high school and college were awful...either incompetent themselves in the language, or incompetent as teachers. But most importantly, my latent passion for languages began to manifest itself around the time I was 14 or 15. And unfortunately, my passion wasn't for Spanish. Rather, it was scattered all over the place, and I dabbled in pretty much everything but the one language I could have mastered. C'est la vie.

Fate intervened again, this time in the form of a native speaker who I wound up marrying. Although the marriage didn't work out, I was left with an excellent passive understanding of the language, whether it was from listening to my Mexican in-laws or watching Spanish-language TV, the language went from sounding “too fast to understand” to ''comprehensible input'', and it has remained so ever since.

Being married and, later, having a child meant my priorities switched, and for a good part of my twenties I lost my interest in learning languages. Actually, “lost” is probably a poor choice of words, but it retreated into my subconscious for the time being. I also made the mistake of not getting enough active speaking practice in, something that I've regretted and have been trying to correct ever since.

At any rate, it wasn't until I was around 28 or 29 that my desire to learn many languages finally overwhelmed me and I set out on the path that I am currently on. Over the past two years I have worked on improving my Spanish, and I also taught myself French and German to an intermediate(ish) level, at least to a level where I can read and understand the spoken language with ease. I attribute almost all of my success to Assimil, which I plan on using for any other languages I may tackle in the future (Russian, Japanese, etc.).

But before I start any new projects, I'd really like to improve these three languages. My main frustration is my inability to produce the language as well as I can understand it passively. I realize that this takes time and practice. The only two languages I really get to speak regularly are Spanish and French, which is sort of a shame, because German is my one true language love. It's the only one I really, really want to master.


So I've decided to go back and review my study materials systematically, starting with Spanish, and then French, and then German. Right now I'm finishing up my review with FSI Spanish Basic Course. I'm mainly using it to drill grammar points I'm weak on (tenses, moods, etc.). I've made myself a syllabus of sorts, where I review a grammar point during each study session. I've also found the Schaum's Grammar Outline series to be very useful, so I'm using it in conjunction with FSI. I'm also making an effort to speak the language as much as possible, which isn't really that difficult since I interact with native speakers pretty much every day.

I can definitely see progress, I don't stutter or halt as much, or search for vocabulary, and grammatical constructions that I used to have to stop and form in my mind seem to come much more quickly. I'd like to at least take the practice B2 test for the DELE when I'm done with my review work, I'm pretty sure I can pass it but it'd be nice to self-assess myself so see how far my “method” has taken me. And of course at some point I'd like to take the DELE in person.

So basically that's my plan for Spanish, and it's the same for French and German, although for those two languages I will also be reviewing my Assimil courses. I've been meaning to do it for a long time, I really think these courses are quite dense and are worthy of repeated study. I've never used the Shadowing method with these courses before, so right now I'm re-working my way through New French With Ease using the Shadowing method. My main frustration with French is my pronunciation, so hopefully this can help a little bit in that regard. I also need to schedule more time to speak via Skype with my French tutor/friend. Once I'm done with FSI Spanish, I'll move on to FSI French and tackle it in the same way, using it to drill grammar points.

I work full-time, so I have to prioritize my study schedules. I do my Assimil Shadowing every day, and try to work on FSI Spanish daily as well although I may cut that down since I have other (career related) studying I need to do. I also try to maintain all three languages throughout the day, whether through reading or watching TV. Right now I'm reading Der Untergang der islamischen Welt by Hamed Abdel-Samad (German), Zazie dans le métro by Raymond Queneau (French), and Dios no es bueno by Christopher Hitchens (Spanish). I'm also trying to watch as many films and TV shows as possible, both dubbed (South Park in German is the only way to watch it!) and original foreign films. My greatest tool here is my Kindle, which after Assimil has probably been the biggest boon to my learning. I make Anki decks out of the unknown vocabulary I find while reading, and I need to get better about reviewing it!

Well, that's probably more than enough for now. If by the end of this year I could be at a higher level in these three languages, I'd be happy. It's tough having this love of languages...that damn Assimil Russian course taunts me every time I walk past my bookshelf, and I have to really use all of my willpower not to wander. We'll see how far I get!
Last edited by Polyclod on Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Polyclod » Thu Jul 30, 2015 9:54 pm

Spanish

I worked on FSI Spanish Basic Course for about two hours today. I'm systematically going over points of grammar, and right now I'm finishing up the present subjunctive. Tomorrow I'll start reviewing the past and past perfect subjunctive. One thing that's funny is that when you drill the subjunctive long enough and then hear spoken Spanish "in the field", you realize how common it is. It's definitely something I need to practice more.

Got some speaking practice in at work and texting my ex. Also listened to my morning Spanish podcast.

French

I shadowed Assimil for about thirty minutes. And I'll probably watch Le retour du Roi tonight, or at least the first half. Also texted back and forth with my French teacher.

German

Still reading Der Untergang der islamischen Welt, and been watching a lot of German TV. I finally found another band I like, this one is called Madsen, and they're very similar to my favorite German band, Montreal.
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Rob Tickner » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:13 am

Very interesting background, thanks for sharing. I'm really looking forward to reading your log as you maintain and expand on the same three languages I hold dear (though in the reverse order - DE/FR/ES). Hitting the grammar and drills, good call. Tried and true. I'll have to check out those bands, I've not heard of either of them. Not sure what kind of music you're into, in my German playlist at the moment are Die Ärtze, Sportfreunde Stiller, Bosse, Jupiter Jones, Captain Planet, Marathonmann, Wir sind Helden, Juli, Silbermond, Kettcar, Philipp Poisel. Bit of a strange mix.

When you say you are making Anki cards from your Kindle reading, is this automated, or are you entering them manually?
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Polyclod » Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:56 am

Rob Tickner wrote:Very interesting background, thanks for sharing. I'm really looking forward to reading your log as you maintain and expand on the same three languages I hold dear (though in the reverse order - DE/FR/ES). Hitting the grammar and drills, good call. Tried and true. I'll have to check out those bands, I've not heard of either of them. Not sure what kind of music you're into, in my German playlist at the moment are Die Ärtze, Sportfreunde Stiller, Bosse, Jupiter Jones, Captain Planet, Marathonmann, Wir sind Helden, Juli, Silbermond, Kettcar, Philipp Poisel. Bit of a strange mix.

When you say you are making Anki cards from your Kindle reading, is this automated, or are you entering them manually?


Thanks for the encouragement. I'm entering them manually, I usually take the word and one or two definitions from the Kindle's Vocabulary Trainer and plug it into Anki. I'm sure there's a more efficient way of doing this but I'm a slow learner.

German is definitely my love and I'd marry it if I could, but right now I've got to go in the order of least resistance. It really shouldn't take me too long to get Spanish and French to a high B2/very low C1 level (at least Spanish, B2 would be more than enough for French). I'm willing to let my abilities in these two languages develop slowly over time, since there aren't really any shortcuts. Plus, I'm not entirely convinced that an average language learner with limited amounts of time like myself can really even get to the C levels without some extended immersion stays in a country where the language is spoken, and while I'd love to travel it's not really realistic right now. At least I live in an area where pseudo immersion in Spanish is doable.

Spanish

Right now I'm reviewing the formal/informal command forms (FSI Units 27 and 28). I'm not going to spend too much time on this, because it's not all that difficult for me, I just want to make my speaking a bit more automatic. I also have the tendency to tratar de tú everyone, including strangers. No one really complains about it, but honestly most Latin Americans are too polite to say anything. It's just one of those things I've noticed that I'd like to improve on...especially since most Mexicans (even those older than me, or with higher social status, etc.) address me with usted. I really don't want to come off malcriado.

After reviewing command forms I'm going to go back to the present tense and have a look at the second person plural (vosotros, FSI Unit 53) and el voseo(Unit 54). I have hardly ever used them, but who knows, they may prove useful. Plus my Mexican ex-wife hates it when people use el voseo, so I figure I might be able to have a little fun. :evil:

I've been trying to diversify my podcast listening habits, and I found a really neat show called Da Destino Arrakis, where they touch on lots of nerdy sci-fi topics. Right now I'm listening to an episode about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Each podcast is about 3-4 hours long, which is perfect for me since I like to listen while doing other chores around the house, exercising, driving, etc. Plus the speakers are all from Spain, so I get to learn some fun slang terms that I don't hear in real life.

I've been trying to sing along to some of my favorite Spanish rock songs. I'm a guitarist first and foremost, and never feel comfortable singing, but I really want to get the lyrics down to the songs I especially enjoy. Here are part of the lyrics for one song I really like by the band Ska-P, it's called Ni fu ni fa:

Más debates y aburridos mitines sin credibilidad
tras esa careta angelical se refugia la mezquindad
Ya he votado y todo ha terminado, te he dejado de interesar
tu mirada ha dejado de brillar, ¡hasta la próxima, chaval!

NI FU NI FA
DEMOCRACIA QUE SE CONVIERTE EN BANALIDAD
PUEDES ELEGIR SIN DIVERSIDAD
SI NO ESTÁS CON LOS GIGANTES TE APLASTARAN
TOMA VOTO INUTIL


French

Plugging along with my review of Assimil. It's been almost two years since I first worked through this course, and every day I realize how awesome it really is. I really hope they don't re-tool it too much in the future...Assimil, if you're reading, you can update the vocabulary, BUT PLEASE DON'T SCREW UP THIS BOOK!!!! IT'S PERFECT! It converted me from someone who couldn't stand the sound of French to a francophone.

Today my Shadowing schedule went like this:

Lesson 24 type out and correct
Lesson 25 texts, notes and exercises
Lesson 26 Shadowing + read L2
Lesson 27 thumbs L2
Lesson 29 thumbs L1
Lesson 30 shadowing + L1
Lessons 31,32,33,34,36,37,38,39 blind Shadowing

I haven't been able to get into contact with my friend in France, she's busy with work and whatnot, but I'd like to schedule more regular study sessions. I've also been reading Zazie dans le métro, and I can't recommend this book enough. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious! If you haven't read it, READ IT. You won't regret it.

German

I finished Der Untergang der islamischen Welt, it was good but a little too short. I'm probably going to try to finish up Star Trek Widerstand, and then from there maybe check out some of the cool history or science books I've found. I love astronomy and have a few books on the subject.

Besides reading and listening to music, I've been watching a bit of German TV...reruns of Full House (man does that take me back). It's always funny to hear Stephanie Tanner say Wie unhöflich!I also watched Nirgendwo in Afrika, it's a really good film, and while I understood almost all of the German, I was pleasantly surprised that a lot of the dialogue was actually in Swahili, really cool! Makes me wish my interests weren't so wide-ranging so I could make time for all of these beautiful languages, but hey that's life.

That's it for now, I'll update when I can.
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Spoonary » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:12 pm

Polyclod wrote:Spanish
I've been trying to sing along to some of my favorite Spanish rock songs. I'm a guitarist first and foremost, and never feel comfortable singing, but I really want to get the lyrics down to the songs I especially enjoy. Here are part of the lyrics for one song I really like by the band Ska-P, it's called Ni fu ni fa:


Oooh I LOVE Ska-P. I find they have a lot of very catchy songs with great choruses that I love "singing" along with. They're lyrics are also really well-crafted, full of metaphor and clever remarks - brilliant. I can't quite believe that I only found out about them earlier this year. Boy had I been missing out!

Before I discovered Ska-P, I listened to a lot of Gatillazo (formerly La Polla Records). They're more punk than ska but they're a special kind of punk - the kind I love. If you haven't heard anything by them, I would definitely recommend listening to their most recent album 'Siglo XXI' or watching their "live studio thingy" 'Sex Pastels' which can be found on youtube.
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Polyclod » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:26 am

Spoonary wrote:
Polyclod wrote:Spanish
I've been trying to sing along to some of my favorite Spanish rock songs. I'm a guitarist first and foremost, and never feel comfortable singing, but I really want to get the lyrics down to the songs I especially enjoy. Here are part of the lyrics for one song I really like by the band Ska-P, it's called Ni fu ni fa:


Oooh I LOVE Ska-P. I find they have a lot of very catchy songs with great choruses that I love "singing" along with. They're lyrics are also really well-crafted, full of metaphor and clever remarks - brilliant. I can't quite believe that I only found out about them earlier this year. Boy had I been missing out!

Before I discovered Ska-P, I listened to a lot of Gatillazo (formerly La Polla Records). They're more punk than ska but they're a special kind of punk - the kind I love. If you haven't heard anything by them, I would definitely recommend listening to their most recent album 'Siglo XXI' or watching their "live studio thingy" 'Sex Pastels' which can be found on youtube.


¡Un millión de gracias por la sugerencia!

Yeah, I had pretty much given up on Spanish rock until I heard them, I remember I couldn't stand any of the music my ex-wife listened too, no matter the genre of rock it just all seemed to suck. Acidez isn't too bad either, and during their ''indefinite hiatus'' Ricardo Delgado from Ska-P is performing with a similar band, The Locos.

Ska-P really reminds me of NOFX...biting social commentary and politics but delivered in a very clever, sarcastic way. You laugh at what they say, but only because you realize it's (usually) true. "Gasta Claus" may be one of the funniest songs I've ever heard, while "Los Hijos Bastardos de la Globalización" is usually too depressingly accurate for me to listen to. It's a shame they're on a "parón indefinido'', I would have loved to see them on their South American tour.

There's one really good single called "Canto a la rebelión" (it's on Spotify) where they have some fun singing in Mexican Spanish (Órale, órale, órale, estos pinches pendejos and Mirales, mirales, mirales, se ríen del pueblo). Hearing a Spaniard say ''órale" and "mirales'' made my day, and my Mexican ex really likes them now :lol: .
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Spoonary » Wed Aug 05, 2015 10:40 am

Polyclod wrote:¡Un millión de gracias por la sugerencia!

Yeah, I had pretty much given up on Spanish rock until I heard them, I remember I couldn't stand any of the music my ex-wife listened too, no matter the genre of rock it just all seemed to suck. Acidez isn't too bad either, and during their ''indefinite hiatus'' Ricardo Delgado from Ska-P is performing with a similar band, The Locos.

Ska-P really reminds me of NOFX...biting social commentary and politics but delivered in a very clever, sarcastic way. You laugh at what they say, but only because you realize it's (usually) true. "Gasta Claus" may be one of the funniest songs I've ever heard, while "Los Hijos Bastardos de la Globalización" is usually too depressingly accurate for me to listen to. It's a shame they're on a "parón indefinido'', I would have loved to see them on their South American tour.

There's one really good single called "Canto a la rebelión" (it's on Spotify) where they have some fun singing in Mexican Spanish (Órale, órale, órale, estos pinches pendejos and Mirales, mirales, mirales, se ríen del pueblo). Hearing a Spaniard say ''órale" and "mirales'' made my day, and my Mexican ex really likes them now :lol: .


¡De nada!
I'm not usually the kind of person who listens to a lot of different bands or artists. It's bands like Ska-P that make me think "Why look for anything else? I could just listen to this all the time" but I'll check out your other recommendations anyway, thanks :)

Sarcastic social commentary is right: Vergüenza, Tio Sam, Consumo Gusto... the list is endless. Every time I really listen to the lyrics in another one of their songs, I smile and realise just how clever it is. Yeah, it really is a shame. I would have loved to see them too (probably in Spain though as it's a tad bit closer to where I live :P).

YES! I know the song you mean. It's a good one! :D
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Polyclod » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:15 am

Okay so so far the past couple of days I've done the following:

Spanish

1. Statement intonation patterns – Normal and contrastive statements (FSI 12.21.4)
2. Second person plural (vosotros) forms (FSI Unit 53.21.3)
3. El voseo (FSI Unit 54.21.3)
4. Ser and estar (FSI Unit 7.24, Schaum's pgs. 150-156)

El voseo is what really messed with my head, I don't know why but it was so weird to see stuff like Y vos, te quejás demasiado. First of all the fact that vos uses the same clitic as , and second of all because the stress for the vos forms just sounds "wrong". I know it's not, but I keep wanting to pronounce them the way you would for .

As you can possibly tell, I'm running out of stuff to review with FSI, I'd say I have a couple of weeks left before I put it aside for the time being. I'm not going to shelve it for forever mind you, I'm sure I'll be using it sporadically for a long time, but I got what I wanted out of these past few months and now I want to focus on output. Mainly speaking, since it's as a spoken language that Spanish serves me the best. Writing comes in second, but that's important too. Plus, when I finish reviewing Assimil New French With Ease in a couple of months I'd like to use FSI French to go over some grammar as well.

My life is also most likely going to get much busier, which means I may only have time for my Assimil Shadowing and maintenance work like TV and books for my languages. I recently closed on a condominium, so in about a month I'll be moving. It's my first time owning a home, so it'll take some getting used to. It's closer to the school I want to send my daughter to, which hopefully means she'll be staying with me more often. I also need to find a better-paying job. Or who knows, even a second part-time job. But hopefully I can still squeeze in time for languages. Where there's a will, there's a way.

In a perverse way I'm kind of excited for these changes, because honestly I feel like rather than learning language after language I should slow down and focus on what I already have. The ''ADD'' part of me can't wait to dive into Russian or whatever, but the grown-up inside me says "Hey there will be time later, why don't you tidy up these three languages and maybe work on your other passions. Find your dream job, practice guitar more, etc."

French

My Assimil shadowing for this morning:

Lesson 26 type out and correct
Lesson 27 texts, notes, and exercises
Lesson 29 Shadowing + read L2
Lesson 30 thumbs L2
Lesson 31 thumbs L1
Lessons 32 shadowing + L2
Lessons 33,34,36,37,38,39,40,41 blind Shadowing

No big plans here, just keep plodding along. It's good to see things I'd forgotten though. I need to schedule more time with my French teacher on Skype once I'm settled in to my new place.

I've been watching dubs of shows like Les Simpson, Dexter, etc. And I'm still reading Zazie dans le métro, simply an amazing book. The word play is genius. And if I ever watch the movie, I'll finally be able to say "Hey I read the book first!''

German

Not much aside from TV, movies, music and light reading. I watched [i]Das Mädchen am Ende der Straße[/i]. I always thought Jodie Foster was a great actress, but in this one she's amazing, especially given her age. Really, really unsettling film, definitely worth a rewatch. I also watched Jurassic Park in German, and now I kind of want to read the German translation of the book.
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby Cavesa » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:33 pm

Polyclod wrote:German is definitely my love and I'd marry it if I could,

Thanks for making me laugh, I needed it today!

Plus, I'm not entirely convinced that an average language learner with limited amounts of time like myself can really even get to the C levels without some extended immersion stays in a country where the language is spoken, and while I'd love to travel it's not really realistic right now. At least I live in an area where pseudo immersion in Spanish is doable.


Yes, we can ;-) At least when it comes to romance languages.
It takes time, it takes lots of native input, lots of tv to create a kind of "immersion" but we certainly can. Passive C level skills are just a matter of time, active ones follow and may need some more practice, I'd say. But those tons of input will help immensely with the active skills too, no matter what most people say.

Polyclod wrote:I also have the tendency to tratar de tú everyone, including strangers. No one really complains about it, but honestly most Latin Americans are too polite to say anything. It's just one of those things I've noticed that I'd like to improve on...especially since most Mexicans (even those older than me, or with higher social status, etc.) address me with usted. I really don't want to come off malcriado.

THanks for sharing experience with lationamericans. I've been very surprised to witness "tu" everywhere in Spain, even in most situations where vy/vous/Sie is required in my other languages. From you last sentence, I guess this could be one of the cases where the New World is more traditional than the Old Continent. I will certainly be more careful next time around lationamericans :-)

Polyclod wrote:After reviewing command forms I'm going to go back to the present tense and have a look at the second person plural (vosotros, FSI Unit 53) and el voseo(Unit 54). I have hardly ever used them, but who knows, they may prove useful. Plus my Mexican ex-wife hates it when people use el voseo, so I figure I might be able to have a little fun. :evil:

If you ever travel to Spain, vosotros will be handy to know :-)

Polyclod wrote:...Da Destino Arrakis, where they touch on lots of nerdy sci-fi topics.

Thanks! I need something like this!

Polyclod wrote:Ska-P,

Actually, that was one of the small drawbacks of learning Spanish. I stopped liking this group once I understood their lyrics. I know the leftist parties and ideologies are more popular in Spain and Latin America, due to different historical experience, but I still cannot listen to some of the thoughts included.

What other groups do you like? Perhaps we could share, I have some favourites as well, I can recommend for exemple La 5a estación, Nena Daconte, Zenttric, Despistaos and tons of more pop/salsa/bachata things I don't know whether you would like.

Polyclod wrote:I finished Der Untergang der islamischen Welt, it was good but a little too short. I'm probably going to try to finish up Star Trek Widerstand, and then from there maybe check out some of the cool history or science books I've found. I love astronomy and have a few books on the subject.

Would you have tips on some popular science books and websites? And perhaps science fiction? To the last point, I would be excited both about books and movies/tv series, either original or with high quality dubbing.
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Re: Polyclod's Maintenance Log (ES/FR/DE)

Postby sctroyenne » Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:03 pm

Polyclod wrote:My life is also most likely going to get much busier, which means I may only have time for my Assimil Shadowing and maintenance work like TV and books for my languages. I recently closed on a condominium, so in about a month I'll be moving. It's my first time owning a home, so it'll take some getting used to. It's closer to the school I want to send my daughter to, which hopefully means she'll be staying with me more often. I also need to find a better-paying job. Or who knows, even a second part-time job. But hopefully I can still squeeze in time for languages. Where there's a will, there's a way.


Well you could kill two birds and get a part-time job that will also get you a lot of Spanish speaking practice with coworkers. I've actually thought of doing that myself.

It's probably about time that I start going through FSI Spanish again. It's probably exactly what I need at this point with my comprehension and my production being so lopsided. I really need some drill.

Oh, and I'll keep on eye on this thread for some good rock en español suggestions. I have my own Spotify playlist that I've started but I'm sure there's a lot more I can add.
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