tangleweeds garden path log [GA, JP, NO]

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tangleweeds
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tangleweeds garden path log [GA, JP, NO]

Postby tangleweeds » Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:32 am

This garden path log so named because I'm keep being surprised by what's around the next bend. I haven't done well at Total Annihilation or time tracking, but I've been pretty consistent about enjoying myself with interesting foreign language materials. Mostly these were in Irish, which I began studying in February 2015.

My Irish adventure began when Duolingo Irish came out of beta early this year, and I gave it a try. But there wasn't enough grammar to keep me happy, so I soon augmented with Amazon's suggestions of Teach Yourself:Complete Irish, and Spoken World: Irish from Living Language, which turned out to be good choices for grammatical explanations. I also fired up old friends Audacity and Anki, and started making sentence cards with audio. In this initial phase, I focused hard on my ability to speak and recognize unfamiliar phonemes, and catch the rhythm of the language. Learning how to speak my new vocabulary in the context of sentences and phrases lets me practice patterns of intonation, inflection, etc. at the same time. And since I'm the kind of person who will look up and puzzle out the form, function, and meaning of every individual word in any sentence I learn, I made no cards for individual words, which is now a decision I'm reconsidering.

A couple of chapters in to these courses, I felt like I don't have much personal use for how modern courses adhere to the (very sensible) CEFR A1 curriculum. Unfortunately I have no realistic plan to get to Ireland any time soon (but if anyone offers to take me there, I'll get right back on that curriculum ;-) ). On the other hand, I have first-hand memories of stone walls and luminous green fields from a childhood visit to the village my great-grandmother emigrated from, so the old-fashioned content of Learning Irish triggers vivid memories. Another big plus for Learning Irish was that I enjoy the grammar exercises in Nancy Stenson's freeware workbook to go with LI; the main minus was that I never felt like LI had enough full-sentence audio,. The final downside was that a few months in, my life unexpectedly became way more complicated and stressful, and I had a hard time sticking to this more rigorous program, particularly entering data into Anki. My final progress in LI was getting chapters 1 & 2 down cold, ch. 3 pretty well covered, and ch. 4 familiar but with gaps.

What I enjoyed enough to stick with when life got rough was Buntús Cainte. The way it demonstrates several variations on the new material works very well for me. I'm solid on chapter 8 and everything before, and currently working on chapters 9 - 14, with the predictable spectrum of ch. 9 being pretty steady and ch. 14 being pretty shaky. Because listening is my worst skill, I call a chapter "cooked" when I hear its audio and automatically visualize the situation it refers to in real time; the funny little drawings help with this. I'm pretty skilled at going directly from TL to mental image without passing through English on the way, having discovered the magic of thinking in my TL during secondary school.

Buntús Cainte also has a great Memrise course, and that's where my SRS habit migrated when life started getting stressful, and I didn't have energy to keep up with all the audio editing and input that Anki needed. Aside from Buntús Cainte, I also completed the Basic Irish course and got halfway through Basic Irish 2 before life got even more complicated. Basic Irish 2 was fiendishly hard to find; Memrise's weighted search wouldn't spit it out. I had to locate it via Basic Irish's creator Baas' personal pages.

Then life got way too complex, and I wasn't able to get much done at all, though I rarely went more than a couple of days without casually browsing through some kind of Irish language materials when I had time and energy to spare. Though I was frustrated at the time about not having energy to get much Irish study done, in retrospect I'm pretty happy about how I kept the flame burning through that difficult period.

Things have started to come together again in my life, making room for more Irish, and I've been browsing around trying to put together my plan for renewed effort that direction. I definitely learned more when I was using SRS regularly, so I want to get Anki fired up again, but perhaps with a different configuration of cards. One thing I noticed during Memrise courses was that I had more stamina when it was asking me a variety of different types of questions, and I want to harness that.
Last edited by tangleweeds on Tue Jul 07, 2020 7:53 am, edited 10 times in total.
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galaxyrocker
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby galaxyrocker » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:53 am

Hey, man. So, I'm learning Irish as well (tested at B2 earlier this year), and just wanted to give you some resources. Odds are if you've checked Duolingo's forums, you've seen me there.

First off, if you want to learn a dialect, there's a great free resource online, teaching the West Cork dialect, with great audio. All for free or out of copyright. It's on the Irish Language Forum (another great website) here. There's also a Memrise course for it, created by this user. Also, I hope you also know about Gramadach na Gaeilge. It's as good as some of the best grammar books I've read, and accounts for dialectal differences among things.

Also, be careful with the voice on Duolingo and mimicking her; clearly not a native speaker, and makes plenty of 'learner' mistakes.

And, I know you said you didn't really care for LI, but I love it. It's the best book for starting the Connemara dialect, which is the most spoken one, and it's really in depth, though sometimes he does fluctuate between dialectal orthography and standard orthography, which is a little weird.

There's several great Facebook groups for Irish, including a Duolingo one, one for finding Skype partners, and one (maybe more) for specific location(s) in the US, all of which contain great details about immersion events and new resources/questions. And then there's one that's just straight-up Irish only (Gaeilge amháin) and often features a lot of dialectal stuff, which is neat to see. I also know of a beginner's Skype group, and can give you the contact of the admin of that. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask me.
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tangleweeds
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby tangleweeds » Mon Jul 20, 2015 4:13 am

Hi galaxyrocker, thanks for stopping by with the links and suggestions, plus, congratulations on your B2! I recognize you from the Irish Language Forum, where I'm user feadógaí (because the tin whistle was the catalyst for my getting re-involved with Irish culture as an adult).

I actually do like Learning Irish. It reminds me of Latin books I studied from back in the 1970's, and I enjoyed Latin. My main problem with LI is that it requires more focus from the learner than I was able to summon when life got crazy. It's very concentrated information-wise, which I appreciate when I'm in a good place to study, but when I was all stressed out I couldn't hack it. I do wish it had more audio, but that's true of many courses, and for something its age, it has a lot. I'm looking forward to getting back to work on it soon, now that life has settled down again.

I will contact you about that beginners' Skype group (via one of these forums!), but for now my output is mostly imitation of native speaker recordings, lacking the vocab to say for myself yet. I'm not a big talker, even in English, so I expect the majority of my early output will be written, or else read aloud. I'm working on the finances to get a tutor to correct me on both of those. I can't imagine there are many Skype-equipped Irish speakers who need an English language conversation partner (though I'd love to be told otherwise). At the Irish language workshop I attended a few months ago, I got a recommendation for Skype tutor in Galway, but I'm open to suggestions on this too.
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Gaedheal92
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby Gaedheal92 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:45 am

Galaxyrocker has some very good advice here, that old Teach Yourself book is renowned amongst Irish learners as an absolute gem! Perhaps a bit dry, but you seem to have the motivation to get over that.

Lars' Irish Grammar has been bookmarked on my computer for years, as GR says it's very handy when I come across a piece of strange grammar different from my own dialect.

If you want more audio in the Connemara dialect, have a look at https://www.dias.ie/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4777:caint-ros-muc&catid=27&Itemid=225&lang=en#caint1 . You can buy the accompanying book on the same site. It's over ten hours of native speakers talking, not a course but certainly pure native input!
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby Gaedheal92 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:56 am

Also, the program Cómhra is good for simple conversation.

[url]https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=comhr%C3%A1&page=1/url]

Not all guests will be native speakers, though the host Máirtín Tom Sheáinín is from Connamara and is a good speaker to imitate.


p.s. if you wish to post texts for correction in the future I'd be happy to give them a look!
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tangleweeds
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby tangleweeds » Mon Jul 20, 2015 6:38 pm

Thanks, Gaedheal92. I agree that Gramadach na Gaeilge is awesome. Being a grammar geek, I keep getting sucked into reading about stuff I don't need to worry about yet. Comhrá is new to me, as is Caint Ros Muc. I really want to make some kind of database to keep all these resources straight in my mind. There's so much great stuff out there, but it can be tricky to locate without hints from previous explorers.
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I had downloaded and perused the old Teach Yourself coursebook and audio a while back, and found the course appealing, in a similar old-school style to LI. But to keep myself from getting distracted and confused with too many options, I've leaned toward the Connemara dialect to begin with. But on the other hand, I do find that Cork dialect speakers seem to enunciate more clearly (to my ears at least) than Connemara speakers do, so I was thinking of revisiting this one. I guess I shouldn't complain about having to many good options, but it reminds me of the feeling I get when perusing my yarn and pattern stash (needlework equivalent to the language learning bookshelf), and want to knit ALL of it simultaneously, right NOW!
p.s. if you wish to post texts for correction in the future I'd be happy to give them a look!

Now that inspires me to get to work on some output! Thanks so much!
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Gaedheal92
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby Gaedheal92 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:23 pm

Well, the Connemara dialect is a good one to pick as it has a lot of native speakers, is central, and doesn't differ TOO drastically from standard Irish. However, they are known for being hard to understand for beginners, it has to do with the amount of schwas they use in their speech. Certainly Cork speakers seem to speak slowly and use a broader range of vowels.

If I were to learn the Munster dialect, I'd start with the TY book and then move on to resources focusing on West Kerry Irish. Why? Simply because it ha a larger number of native speakers than Cork, and is more present in the media.

If I were to learn a Connacht dialect (there's more than Connemara (!), which itself is split up into sub dialects), I'd start with LI and then move onto recordings of native speakers in order to familiarise myself with the intonation and speed.
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby tangleweeds » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:37 pm

Oops, looks like my geography and dialect nomenclature need cleaning up. Inside my beginner-mind the regions/dialects are labeled simply "bottom of map, middle of map, top of map". That should be Munster, Connacht, and... Donegal? for the three dialects? And Connemara and Cork are cities, right?
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Gaedheal92
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby Gaedheal92 » Mon Jul 20, 2015 7:43 pm

Yep! Well, we like to use Ulster rather than Donegal to incorporate the now extinct dialects of mid and east Ulster.
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Re: tangleweeds garden path log (mostly Irish)

Postby tangleweeds » Fri Jul 31, 2015 6:46 am

My project over the summer has been to order some graded Irish language readers for elementary school children from Litriocht.com in Ireland. I encountered one series at the weekend Irish language workshop I attended a few months ago, but it took some trial and error to order the correct grade level for my stage of beginner-ness. While I was waiting for packages to arrive, web searches of schoolbook lists for Irish elementary school children revealed another competing series of readers to investigate as well. I got all of these from Litriocht.com, in increments as the budget allowed. Litriocht had to order most of them in from the schoolbook distributor, as these don't seem to usually stock children's textbooks in their warehouse. So all of my orders took a few days longer than usual, but still less than 2 weeks to get here to the West coast of the US.

Am Don Léamh (Time to Read) was the series I saw at the workshop. I got the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade readers. These are slender books, about 50 pages. They appear to have the students study one single-page, illustrated story per week, then answer the questions on the facing page. There is no English in these textbooks. Here are their covers, and a sample story spread from the beginning of the Third grade reader.
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The second series I found is Léigh sa Bhaile (Read at Home), and is meant for children to read a single page story at home each weekday evening (Monday - Thursday), with seasonal stories to cover the school year. I'm not quite sure what to say about the covers, but these are larger, thicker, glossier books, which also have web-based audio files to check your pronunciation with. The stories in these books are shorter and simpler, with only a few questions, and they include small print definitions of new vocabulary in English, down in one corner. Here are their covers, and sample stories from the First and Third grade readers.
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The one page "stories" (they're too simple to have a plot, more like illustrated situations) in this series, Léigh sa Bhaile, are great for desultory browsing, because the pictures clearly illustrate what's being discussed. I have a very visual memory, so the pictures stick in my head quite nicely, plus, I'm one of those who can't learn new linguistic material without seeing it writing first, so the combo of illustrations and written words works well for me.

I want to use the other, first series I discovered, Am Don Léamh, which has more complex stories with a full page of questions, to read aloud and talk about with my tutor, and perhaps write a similar/related story as well. As I mentioned before, I'm no chatterbox even in English, so getting pronunciation practice via reading, and having a simple predetermined topic to discuss, sounds much more do-able to me than anything more open ended.

So I must admit I haven't been doing very much focused study, but I've been enjoying having light hearted, comfortable reading material to browse when I find time to relax. It took going back to the first volume of Léigh sa Bhaile to get what truly feels like comprehensible n+1 input, but now I've found it, it's lots of fun.
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