7 votes

Language learning thread: Issue #2 - Share your progress, tips and questions

As I couldn't decide whether these types of threads should be monthly or semiweekly, I today cut the baby in two by posting this one three weeks after the first issue.

13 comments

  1. [3]
    Adys
    Link
    My own progress in Russian is going quite nicely. Here's a few interesting tidbits I wanted to share. The Good I am now on 100% Russian text chat basis with my ex's sister. This is actually super...

    My own progress in Russian is going quite nicely. Here's a few interesting tidbits I wanted to share.

    The Good

    I am now on 100% Russian text chat basis with my ex's sister. This is actually super satisfying. We don't speak super often though, so I am not getting as much practice from that as I would like.

    I've noticed the level of my auto-learning itself has evolved. I am now picking up on more subtleties, learning idioms and colloquialisms. But again, even though this is all very much active learning, I am not memorizing anything, just looking things up less and less as I encounter them.

    The fluency camp I mentioned before has started. It's a lot less input based as I'd hoped - It's really just one task a day, though the tasks are interesting but the structure of the camp itself doesn't lend itself well to my own approach, IMO. That's not to say it wouldn't work for someone else; I think the given structure is actually quite good and motivating for someone who isn't as actively taking care of their learning process as I am.
    I also had the first call with the native Russian coach. He was quite impressed by my level for an intermediate with only a few weeks under my belt; I don't think he was just being polite so this was genuinely quite encouraging.

    I have started doing language exchange. Last week I found a native Russian there and set up the first Russian-speaking table at the event in ages. That was fun. A group of polyglots heard us and joined us, they spoke 6-8 languages each, including for all of them at least a bit of Russian. One of them volunteers at Ukrainian organizations here as an interpret. I fucking love Brussels.
    This week, my girlfriend joined us there. She liked it a lot; and since she's learning French I even pushed her a bit and we used both French and Russian at the table. One of the native speakers there is also learning French so, it works! We have a group on Telegram now. Super fun.

    I've continued cursive handwriting exercises. I might be at the level where I can start using actual handwriting to learn the language / memorize words. I'm really enjoying writing well, so this is a good opportunity to use that to trick myself into memory exercises.

    Finally, I want to share my current comprehension level: This video is a walking tour of a St. Petersburg neighbourhood. I understand .. about 80 percent of it (with RU subtitles of course; much lower without but that's a non-issue for now). It's not super complex language but I think it's actually decently advanced? I dunno. Either way, it's been encouraging to realize how much I understand from it vs before.

    The Bad

    Overall progress has slowed down. This is unsurprising really, as I was putting on a LOT of time and very early progress is more noticeable than later progress. I also get to get annoyed at more mistakes I make. I have noticed that, quite counter-intuitively, the more I progress in the language, the more hesitant I am at speaking because I am more "afraid" of making mistakes. I think this is a manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger effect!

    Oh yeah. So, my typing is still very much lacking. I haven't gotten a Russian keyboard, and I just ... I think I have a mental block on this because PC keyboard layouts are kinda sacred to me. That said, I have started typing more (as opposed to using voice input) on the phone and I have found that the layout isn't that horrible to learn after all, and I'm already getting a bit used to it. Maybe it's not that bad. I'll give it more time.

    I checked out Babbel and found out that it has zero lessons that are my level. Well, that sucks, given that I have a lifetime account with it. I might still do a few of the advanced lessons purely to review and improve my grammar though, as I am feeling the lack of grammar training quite a lot and need to course-correct a tiny bit.

    The Ugly

    Reading the short stories book is going terribly. I am utterly unmotivated to read books. A large part of my motivation came from being surprised at how every re-read I would understand more and more, but I am just.. not really interested in the story being told, and I just am not used to consuming books as media.

    I haven't started any TV shows or proper movies yet, but I have saved up a solid collection of links.

    My Tandem profile is basically dead, I think I'm going to uninstall the app.

    I've pretty much stopped using Drops. I feel it has not been helping lately; I mentioned I capped out on how much it can help. I might yet come back to it with a different strategy, but so far, it's been really making me want to develop my own flashcard-like game really.

    2 votes
    1. Adys
      Link Parent
      Just to showcase one example that came up right now. Russian has multiple words for "hotel" and I'm finding myself googling things on Russian internet to figure out these details. I'll let you...

      I've noticed the level of my auto-learning itself has evolved.

      Just to showcase one example that came up right now. Russian has multiple words for "hotel" and I'm finding myself googling things on Russian internet to figure out these details. I'll let you Google translate the page, it's kind of funny without context.

      https://mira-hotel.ru/blog/gostinitsa-ili-otel-v-chem-raznitsa/

      1 vote
    2. Adys
      Link Parent
      Separately -- One of the recommended resources by the course is 3Ears.com. I LOVE the concept, it's a really well made.. prototype. But it's really just a prototype, because unfortunately a site...

      Separately -- One of the recommended resources by the course is 3Ears.com. I LOVE the concept, it's a really well made.. prototype. But it's really just a prototype, because unfortunately a site like this needs to have good quality content and this looks like a mostly uncurated dry mess of videos.

      And it's only got Russian language for content. They clearly are trying to prepare this for more languages in the future but then starting with Russian is probably the wrong approach? I dunno. Anyone know similar resources for other languages?

  2. [7]
    psi
    Link
    I moved to Germany a week ago, so I've sort of forced myself into a situation where it would greatly behoove me to learn the language. Fortunately I'm not starting from naught (I took a few years...

    I moved to Germany a week ago, so I've sort of forced myself into a situation where it would greatly behoove me to learn the language. Fortunately I'm not starting from naught (I took a few years of German in school), but my conversational skills are definitely lacking (also true for English, but perhaps for different reasons).

    Currently I'm practicing my German by reading (and rereading) short stories per @Adys's suggestion in the previous thread. I've been reading Cafe in Berlin by André Klein, which is the first book in a series aimed at beginners. The difficulty seems about right, but the subject matter is fairly dull. I have also purchased my first manga -- a German copy of the first volume of Konosuba! -- but unfortunately the level seems slightly too advanced for me. I think I'll force myself through the first few books of Klein's series before giving Konosuba! another shot.

    I plan to also take a language classes from the university, but I might need to wait a few months before they're available.

    1 vote
    1. [6]
      Adys
      Link Parent
      This is really the problem I’m facing as well with my books. What helps is reading it with a native since they’re motivated to see you learn and so it’s rewarding to read together. Do you have...

      The difficulty seems about right, but the subject matter is fairly dull.

      This is really the problem I’m facing as well with my books. What helps is reading it with a native since they’re motivated to see you learn and so it’s rewarding to read together. Do you have that option?

      2 votes
      1. [5]
        psi
        Link Parent
        Not at the moment, unfortunately. I have a friend who lives in Germany, but he's a 4+ hour train ride away. Honestly, I wouldn't have thought to ask a native speaker to read with me, but just the...

        Not at the moment, unfortunately. I have a friend who lives in Germany, but he's a 4+ hour train ride away.
        Honestly, I wouldn't have thought to ask a native speaker to read with me, but just the thought makes me anxious -- I'm too shy and introverted, and I don't like burdening other people with my problems.

        Luckily I have my wife to practice with (and she's equally motivated to learn), but she has even less experience with the language than I do.

        2 votes
        1. Adys
          Link Parent
          It might be worth trying to make it an exercise with your wife then. One of the two reads, and the other tries to understand, or even re-write it down, and you discuss it afterwards.

          It might be worth trying to make it an exercise with your wife then. One of the two reads, and the other tries to understand, or even re-write it down, and you discuss it afterwards.

          2 votes
        2. [3]
          Adys
          Link Parent
          Hey, check this out, you might be interested: https://interlinearbooks.com/german/ I might give the russian ones a try; they're a bit too far above my level I think but I'll check them out.

          Hey, check this out, you might be interested: https://interlinearbooks.com/german/

          I might give the russian ones a try; they're a bit too far above my level I think but I'll check them out.

          1 vote
          1. [2]
            psi
            (edited )
            Link Parent
            Will definitely try this, thanks! The book's actually pretty similar to an app concept I was searching for but couldn't quite find. Ideally, I'd like to have a eBook app with built-in translation...

            Will definitely try this, thanks!

            The book's actually pretty similar to an app concept I was searching for but couldn't quite find. Ideally, I'd like to have a eBook app with built-in translation support (such that you could click a word to get translations). It is technically possible to do this with the native iOS eBook app, but there's a frustrating amount of friction (carefully select word-> scroll to see more options (because German word are long) -> select Übersetzen -> wait for translation & pray it doesn't time out). I managed to find one app that could do something like this ("Translation Books" on iOS), but the app is pretty janky and unreliable.

            Edit: it would also be nice if such an app could also automatically catalogue the translated words and allow you to review them using spaced repetition. Alas, 'tis but a dream.

            1 vote
            1. Adys
              Link Parent
              I believe recent Kindles can do that, but you have to set them up with a bilingual dictionary beforehand.

              I believe recent Kindles can do that, but you have to set them up with a bilingual dictionary beforehand.

              2 votes
  3. [2]
    Eabryt
    Link
    Still attempting to learn Hungarian. I can mostly understand the basic sentences that Duolingo gives me, but get totally lost when I meander over to /r/hungary. I feel like I need to start adding...

    Still attempting to learn Hungarian. I can mostly understand the basic sentences that Duolingo gives me, but get totally lost when I meander over to /r/hungary.

    I feel like I need to start adding more resources than just Duolingo if I want to make progress, but I'm not sure where to start, so if anyone has any suggestions I'm open.

    1 vote
    1. Adys
      Link Parent
      The general rule of input-based learning is "Read at one level above your current level", which isn't strictly defined but it generally means "You can mostly understand, but you're missing some...

      The general rule of input-based learning is "Read at one level above your current level", which isn't strictly defined but it generally means "You can mostly understand, but you're missing some things sometimes".

      Reading Reddit can be a good idea (and can familiarize you with very colloquial language), but if you're "totally lost" it might still be too difficult. You maybe need material that is between that and your current level.

      Beginner books? Maybe some material aimed at 8-12 year old Hungarian children, and go from there?

      2 votes
  4. userexec
    Link
    I've made a ton of progress lately in reading Japanese with Lingo Mastery's Japanese Short Stories for Beginners. I only know about 2000 vocabulary and 250 kanji, but that's sufficient to read the...

    I've made a ton of progress lately in reading Japanese with Lingo Mastery's Japanese Short Stories for Beginners. I only know about 2000 vocabulary and 250 kanji, but that's sufficient to read the stories with a bit of challenge involved, and it's very satisfying to reread the stories again every few days and feel it become just a little easier each time.

    I also found a huge collection of novellas for grade schoolers, the Kodansha Blue Bird books. You can get them through Kinokuniya. I expect these will take about double my vocabulary/kanji to really be able to enjoy, but I'm pretty excited to get started on them. I remember my English skills vastly improved from reading grade school novellas like Goosebumps and The Hardy Boys, so I'm hoping something similar can happen here.

    1 vote