Steve's language log

Discussion in 'Language Learning Logs & Super Challenges' started by sfuqua, Jul 26, 2014.

  1. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    Hi, I'm Steve, a 61 year old language learner. I had success learning languages when I was in my 20's, and 30's learning Samoan and Tagalog, and I started learning Spanish a couple of years ago for fun. My wife is a Filipina and I speak Tagalog regularly. I study Spanish daily.
  2. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    Hi Steve :) I've been here in Cebu for 4 years now. I've got a bit of Filipino under my belt, but it's not useable yet. Good luck.
  3. Peregrinus

    Peregrinus Active Member

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    Welcome to polydog Steve. I have read your blog on HTLAL in the past, but think I remember you stopped writing in it. What materials are you using now for Spanish?
  4. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    I was tested as a C2 (FSI 4+) in Samoan; I'm probably a B1 in Tagalog active skills. Although I've fossilized at low levels in Tagalog, I watch hours of TV in it daily. Maybe I'm a C1 in passive skills. I'm not actively studying Tagalog, even though I live in a fairly close to Tagalog immersion environment. I hope some to improve my Tagalog some before I go back for a visit to the Philippines next summer.
    My Spanish is probably at about an A2 in active skills, and around B1/B2 passive skills.
    My next goal for Spanish is to push myself up to C1 in passive skills and activate my passive knowledge to improve my productive skills.
    I have recently had a bad case of wanderlust in learning methods. I started the Super challenge, then quit because I got annoyed at the competitive nature of it, and the constant discussion of what counts. It's not my challenge, so it''s up to me to either conform with it or leave. I left. I have spent too much time looking at other people's methods and stories. There comes a time when you've just got do it your own way.
    One thing I've learned from my Spanish study is that it is more important to use a method and schedule that you like than a method that works well. Nobody is paying me to study; if it isn't fun, I won't do it.

    Since I've been learning Spanish I've enjoyed three things a lot. I've enjoyed doing Assimil; I like to short little passages, going from quite limited to fairly complete understanding in just a few minutes. I enjoyed shadowing, both with and without the native language text. Going over overlapping sections of text day after day until it rings in the ear was fun. I also enjoy using SRS, with cards from books, the web, and Assimil. I have over 4000 sentence cards in anki, and I plan to keep on until I hit at least 10000.

    As part of the super challenge, I gathered about 50 books in Spanish in electronic form. For my next method of study, I ran the novels through a readability formula, and arranged the books in order of difficulty. I took excerpts from each of the books and put them into a file in order. I added the subtitles from some of the top movies on the screenwriter's guild of America's top 100 screenplays list to the front of the file. Next I ran the file through google translate and made bilingual parallel text of it. I divided the file into 200 word segments and then ran it through a Ivona tts software, to produce mp3 files of the entire 600 page file of screenplays(subtitles) and novel excerpts.

    Thus I have what I need to do Listening Reading and Shadowing. I think that the IVONA voices, the have male and female voices from España and América, and they suffer mostly from monotonous intonation. The file I made has 19879 different words in it, which includes proper names, and different forms of the same word. I think it is a pretty good idea that if I can get to the point where I can read and shadow the whole file I would be able to read and understand most similar books with a fairly a good level of understanding.

    I plan to work through the file covering overlapping sections each day. I will continue my anki sentence work at the same time, and keep up my usual listening to the radio.

    I'll start off with a schedule like this using mp3 file numbers and reading from the bilingual parallel text:
    25 L-R listening L2, reading L1
    24 L-R listening L2, reading L2
    21,22,23 L-R listening L2, reading L1
    11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20 shadowing L2 without reading (blind shadowing)
    1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 shadowing L2 while reading L2
    I'll shift one file ahead each day. If I can find time, I'll do add in a final step of reading aloud 10 files.

    I like the feeling of Spanish "ringing in the ears" that L-R and shadowing. I am not sure, but I suspect that this is indicative of learning. I'm going to do it for a few months, and if I like the results, I may even work through the whole file.

    edited to fix a mistake
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2014
  5. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    If I had my own language site I would put that on the home page in large font.
  6. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    Boy did I write a long post about what I'm doing these days!
    I should have said: I like to do L-R, shadowing, and SRS(anki), so I'm going to do L-R and shadowing on a bunch of excerpts from Spanish novels and screenplays(subtitles). I'm also going to use the these novels and screenplays as a source of sentences for sentence cards in my anki deck. I plan to eventually work through a 10000 card anki deck and I also plan to eventually L-R, shadow, read my way through 10000 pages of Spanish novels.

    I am certain this will help me learn more Spanish, but the main reason I'm doing it is because I think I will enjoy it. I hope I can eventually do something like this with Tagalog also, but I need to gather materials.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  7. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    Bob, oh to be in Cebu! I lived in Bataan for 8 years back in the '80s, and left shortly after Pinatubo erupted. I would live in the Philippines today if I could figure out how to make a living, and I certainly intend to retire there.
    My wife, Ping, is a native speaker of the Southern Leyte version of Cebuano, but she has never been to Cebu. We hope to go there to visit on our next trip "home."
    Ping is a completely different sort of language learner from me. She is a native speaker of Cebuano, and a near native speaker of Tagalog and English. She studied the latter two languages in school, but never really used them to communicate until she moved to Manila at 16. She never did one drop of studying of either language again until she had to do English courses at university here in the United States.
    So her language history in English went: A1/A2 level classroom instruction --> hanging out with English speakers and reading Stephen King--> C2 level university work.

    Like many people around the world, she doesn't think learning a new language is such a big deal.

    I think she is a better language learner than me :)

    Steve
    edited to fix my usual typos
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2014
  8. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    As I expected, I changed my way of handling files a bit. I was spending too much time doing L-R to learn the meanings of the words, when a couple of times through would do it. I think I'm going to try just treating my new page with my favorite version of the passive wave, read each sentence, check that I know what each word means, then read it again. When the passage is finished, read the whole thing again. Then I'll just shadow my series of files until I get to the new file. I'll blind shadow if I can, and use the L2 text if needed. I plan to spend the next few months shadowing at least 45 minutes a day, in addition to my SRS training. I need to get some reading added to the mix soon.

    I sure can speak Spanish better after an hour of shadowing; the words just pour out of my mouth :)

    Steve
  9. hrhenry

    hrhenry Member VIP member

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    I've only participated in a couple of HTLAL's challenges (not the Super challenge, though). And even so, only one really netted me some good improvement (a 6WC). I think the reason I gained so much during that 6WC was because I ignored the competitive nature of it and focused only on my own goals. If anything, that particular 6WC taught me how to set realistic goals, and more importantly, not to exceed them. So in that sense, I was never in it to win it, but I won a lot personally.

    R.
    ==
  10. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    No criticism of the challenge or of any of the nice people in it was intended; I should have stopped reading the posts in the discussion thread. I found that instead of being a source of support, the super challenge was adding frustration. I can read 10000 pages and listen to 10000 minutes of audio books better without the challenge.
    Big_Dog likes this.
  11. Bjorn

    Bjorn Active Member VIP member

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    Welcome to the forum !
  12. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    Hi, I've continued on with shadowing a bunch of screenplays and novels.
    I've shadowed and read aloud at least 10 pages every day. Recently I've been reading 10-20 pages out loud then going back and blind shadowing the same 10-15 pages. I shift one page ahead each day, so by the end of two weeks, I've gone through the last page in the section 15 times.

    It's very repetitive, but it seems to be impacting my accent in a good way.

    I've recently been very distracted by Latin. I studied it in high school, and I learned as little as most kids who half heartedly study a language. But it sounds so cool. I remember the few minutes where I actually was able to read that voice from 2000 years ago, Caesar. There seem to be a couple of decent oral courses on line, including one based on Assimil.

    I'm going to try to concentrate on Spanish for a few more months before I get distracted.

    I'm having fun, and if I fool around with Latin some, it might be fun...
  13. sfuqua

    sfuqua New Member

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    I started doing FSI Basic Spanish. I have tried a couple of times to go through this course, and have stopped. I think I used poor techniques and was in too big a hurry to get through it. I'm going to go slowly and just repeat each lesson a certain number of times, and then move ahead whether I'm perfect or not.
    I'm not sure how many times I should repeat each lesson. Some suggest one time, repeating the whole course several times, others suggest seven times, moving on to a new unit each week. Others say just move ahead when you're ready, which puts me back in the position of second guessing myself about when I'm ready. I could count errors, but if I say that I will move ahead when I make, say, 20 or fewer errors in the, that leaves me debating whether a certain sort of error should really count, or whether I should really move ahead when I made 21 errors, the last one of which is because I got distracted for a minute and missed a prompt. I'm sorry, but I obsess over things sometimes. I remember that the course is based on overlearning, which means that getting everything right does not mean that you are finished with a lesson completely.
    There is little in FSI that I do not know and cannot read, but there is plenty that I cannot produce fast enough to keep up with the lesson.

    I'm continuing with my 10000 sentences deck, but I deleted all of my L1->L2 cards. There were taking up too much time.
  14. Stelle

    Stelle Active Member VIP member

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    7 times? Oh dear. I'd gauge my eyes out with a pen.

    I went through each lesson once, and based moving on or not on how I felt in general. Easy? Move on to the next lesson. So-so? Repeat once and then reevaluate. Brain-meltingly hard? Go back a lesson or two and work my way back up. But I don't think I ever did any single lesson more than 3 times (and even that was unusual). Twice was pretty common for me.
  15. Bob

    Bob Active Member VIP member

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    I remember there being an extra dialog at the end. I never tried to sit and figure the thing out, but when I understood it, I moved on. I think I would try to cram a lesson a day, and when I felt a block, I would go back through the tapes again. It doesn't take all that long in review.

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