Archive for October, 2006

Slowly, oh so Slowly

October 31, 2006

I have been slowly working my way through the Michel Thomas Italian Basic course, and I find that I really like his way of teaching. Granted, you have to go through each CD multiple times, if you were not familiar with the information in the first place; but it gives a pretty thorough examination of basic grammar and gets you relatively comfortable speaking the language. It’s nice to be able to put phrases together to create lengthy sentences.

I am finding MT’s accent a little bit odd. I started out listening to Pimsleur, which gave me a good idea of how the language sounds; but I quickly got bored with it. Since I already know quite a bit of Spanish, the grammar concepts – and much of the vocabulary – are relatively familiar, which is why I am enjoying the MT course. But his French accent bothers me a little bit. How is one supposed to START learning a language with hearing French ‘r’s in Italian? I also find it interesting that he’s teaching an American with (at least some) Spanish background, and a British with (at least some) French background. I don’t know why I find it so interesting. Maybe I just have too much time on my hands, if I’m noticing these things. Maybe I need to get a life. =)

Anyways, I am plowing my way through the first 8 CDs of his program, working on 5 & 6 right now. I’m going through each one until I’m relatively comfortabl (read: bored) with the lessons. I don’t have alot of time to devote to my language learning, at least not as much as I’d like, but I always have MT on in the car. It amazes me that within the last two weeks, since I’ve started listening to his program, that I can understand and form 5 or 6 verb tenses. The vocabulary is still somewhat limited, but I will begin to supplement with those when I feel I have a decent grasp on the grammar.

Once I get through the MT Italian course (the first 8CDs), I will continue on to the Language Builder; but I am also thinking that MT Spanish would be a good review of an old language for me. I can flip through Spanish books, look at the papers online, or listen to the radio or the news, and understand most of the vocabulary – except the verb tenses, which I somehow always get lost on. So perhaps MT will bring those back into my head. I know that they are in there somewhere, but I must not have done enough drills on those in high school!

On another note, I’m anxiously awaiting some language programs I purchased on eBay from Teach Me Visually. They have home-made DVD programs, made by language teachers, which use songs and cartoons as a memory aid. I ordered products in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Russian. They should be here in a day or two, and I will be giving them a full review as time permits.

Hey, if anyone is actually reading this, say “hi” and intrduce yourself – I’d love to meet you!


Too Many Languages, Too Many Programs, Not Enough Time!

October 14, 2006

Hello, and welcome to my little language blog. I like languages, and I wish I could learn them all. Well, maybe not ALL of them, but at least 20-30 of them, to start out with! Let’s see – I know some Spanish, from long ago when I was in high school (and college). But it’s been 8-10 years since I’ve used it to any degree, so maybe I should start near the beginning to remember everything.

After I re-learn my Spanish, and get to a semi-proficient level, I’d like to learn Italian. And French and Portuguese. After that, I’d like to learn Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and maybe German. (Actually, I have no real desire to learn German, other than it is the most spoken Germanic language (other than English). From the year in high school I spent learning it – of which I retained next to nothing – I got the impression it is NOT a language I would want to spend my time in. However, there would be many advantages to learning German, and it would probably be less difficult if I already had a handle on Swedish, Norwegian and Danish. We’ll see, if (no – WHEN) I get to that point.

I would also really like to learn Russian (which would be a good jumping point to learn any and all Slavic languages). Japanese, for sure, is in my top 5 (after Spanish and French, along with Russian and Mandarin Chinese. It would be nice to learn Hindustani, Bengali, and a half dozen dialects of Arabic. Then I’d be able to talk to just about anyone in the world.

Realistically, at this point, I don’t have the time or energy to focus on a dozen different languages. Right now, I want to focus on improving my Spanish, and getting a basic, working knowledge of Italian. There will probably be a point where I start blogging in Spanish, but not for awhile yet.

My goals for the time being are this: 25 Spanish words per day (which adds up to more than 9k words in a year’s time) and half an hour of Italian. Right now, I’m working through Pimsleur, but it is becoming boring pretty fast. I am looking at Michal Thomas, Linguaphone, and Learn in Your Car programs. I wish I could get my hands on Assimil, but my local library does not have those programs (bittorrents, anyone?).

As a single mom (my fiance passed away in January 2006), I cannot afford to purchase many of the pricey programs out there. I’d rather spend what little money I have to take care of my twin four-year old daughters. (Who, right now, are in desperate need of some socks and some warm shirts – none of which I can afford at the moment.)

My pitiful financial situation aside, my love of languages, and the goal of being fluent in a few of them within the next few years, gives me something to do with what little spare time that I can find. So off I go on my journey to become near-fluent in Spanish, and to gain a basic understand of the Italian language. I think within the next month or two, I will add some Japanese to my schedule. Perhaps, with my limited study time, I will just work on a katakana or hiragana every day, or work on a handful of them over the weekend. That way, when I am ready and able to put the time into it, there will be one less mystery.