Archive for the ‘German’ Category

Reinvigorated

April 18, 2007

Wow, it’s been awhile.  My interest has not really waned much, but my motivation and attention span have been horrible the past few months, mostly due to personal issues I won’t get into.

Last week, Simon (over on the omniglot blog) mentioned something about the “six week challenge” over at how-to-learn-any-language(dot)com.  I often read over on that forum, although my time spent varies greatly, depending on what else is going on in life.

So, I went to check it out.  The idea, I believe, was to have a whole bunch of people working on new-to-them,  “simple” languages – a number of people doing the same language, for six weeks, with different methods, to see what methods are better than others.    [Of course, the fact that we all learn differently, at different speeds, and have different language backgrounds would interfere with that being a legitimate & accurate results.

However, it seems to have turned into a free-for-all, “how much can I learn of a new language in six weeks” challenge.   I think it’s a great idea, and I jumped right in.  Something fairly simple, I was thinking.  Something I don’t know much about.  Something Germanic (as English is my native language), other than German – which I took in high school a LONG time ago, and have played around with a little bit recently.  So I grabbed Danish, and ran with it.

My plan was to do the first ten lessons of Pimsleur, to get a decent handle on the pronunciation, then work my way through Colloquial Danish.  And perhaps using VocabuLearn as an additional tool, since I know that vocabulary is my weakest point (at least in Spanish).  I got through the first 2-3  lessons of Pimsleur, and poked my nose around the Teach Yourself Danish (which I had borrowed from the library, while waiting for my Colloquial Danish to show up in my mailbox).

Then I started looking at what I was doing.  I don’t want to start a new language.  I want to work on the ones I already know.  I want to get my ass back on track with Spanish, first of all.  As much as I talk about doing it, and think about it, I am not DOing it.  So how about let’s switch tracks, and get back on the RIGHT track.   So tonight, I am going to work out a plan to work on my Spanish vocabulary.

First of all, I have two books, plus the three sets of VocabuLearn.  Alot of them I know, or did know at one point.  I am going to work out a flash card system, and decide how many words I can realistically re/learn each day.  This is going to be MY six-week challenge.

So, thank you to Simon and Sprachprofi for getting me going again.  I’m guess I’m officially “out” of the challenge, but now I have my own.  Six weeks of nothing but vocabulary focus.  The rest of April, and May.

Perhaps, I will start doing a different “focus” each month.  I’d like to work on my German and Russian, and get my feet wet with French and Japanese.  Maybe I will pick one of those for my “June” focus.  Right now, it is Spanish vocabulary.

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Quick Update

January 21, 2007

For those of you who occasionally check in to see what’s going on in my wonderful world of languages, I wanted to give a short update.   I have been dealing with alot of things (mostly grief issues, as the first “anniversary” of my beloved Chris’s death is next week 1/28), and have not had as much time to blog.

However, I am continuing with my Spanish in full force, and dabbling with German.  Adding a little of everything else was way too much for me, and I think I was manic when I wrote my previous “goals for 2007” speech a few weeks ago!  I picked a more reasonable book to read – Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” (or “Forastera” in Spanish), and am working through it as my study time permits.  There are tons of vocabulary that I can understand because of the context (and knowing the storyline), which I am adding to my to-learn list.  I am finding that I have a huge passive vocabulary, and I am working towards transferring much of that to my active vocabulary.

I am also dabbling a little bit with German, with the intention of that being my secondary language.  I find that I don’t have that much time for it, and so it gets left by the wayside.  I usually put one lesson of German in with my Spanish (3-s, 1-G)  on my mp3 player for the time when I’m at work, so I still am getting a taste for it, but it’s not a priority in any way.

I’ve also gotten in the habit of watching Stargate SG-1 in Spanish.  It’s one of my favorite TV shows, and when I want to escape or relax, I usually will put those DVDs on before anything else.  The only problem is that only the first season has a Spanish language track, so I will have to break out some other DVDs soon!  The more I watch it in Spanish, the more I understand.

Language Weekends

January 5, 2007

I was contemplating how much I could get done in the span of a weekend, with no distractions and a lot of hard study. If I spent Friday after work until Sunday evening with no obligations other than improving my target language, I feel like I could get alot accomplished.

I was thinking about this, largely in response to listening to German Pimsleur lessons at work today. (I work in a factory, and I have a lot of time where my hands are working but my mind is free – which is why I often have time to listen/think at work.) I took a year of German when I was in high school (12 or 13 years ago), and although I remember a few things, most of it is gone. I think I would be able to pick it up very easily if I had the time to spend on it – alot of the vocabulary and basic grammar is somewhere in the back of my head, and it’s just a matter of getting back into it. If I had a weekend that I could completely devote to it, I think I would be beginner-intermediate level very quickly.

I think I might be able to get rid of my kids next weekend. (I use that term lovingly – my babysitter would love to keep them over the weekend, and the kids would have a lot of fun, too.) I may decide to try it out. If I make 20-30 hours of hard study throughout the weekend, I could get a lot accomplished.

If this works as well as I think it could, I might make a habit of doing it once a month (if my babysitter is willing, anyways!), and change up the language each time. It would also be a good way to get better acquainted with Lithuanian, and get alot further with Spanish. Has anyone tried anything like this, kind of a mini-immersion program with self-teaching? I’d be curious to see what kind of results others would have with a similar plan, and how specifically you would go about doing something like this.

New Year’s Language Resolutions

December 30, 2006

I hadn’t realized it’s been so long since I’ve posted.    Life has been busy, the Christmas season is finally over, and the New Year is nearly upon us.

I recently decided that it was a mistake trying to learn Italian, before I had mastered Spanish.  I was having a lot of trouble remembering Italian vocabulary without constantly comparing to Spanish, and the Spanish would continually pop into my head before the Italian would.  It’s been about 10 years since I’ve studied my Spanish in any depth, and it has fallen into disuse.  I had thought it would be smarter to gear away from the Spanish because of how much I did not remember, but I realized awhile ago that this is not really the case.

So I have decided to go back to my Spanish, to review and improve that before I move onto any other languages.  That being said, I also do not want to get bored with it (and I know I will), so I have decided on Japanese as a secondary language.  I spent alot of time debating between Chinese and Japanese, but I think Japanese is more doable at this point.    Perhaps choosing to spread myself between two languages is a mistake, but I think it will help fill those points where you don’t feel like you’re advancing in the language you are focusing on.

I don’t like making specific goals, since I have no idea how much time I will have to devote to my language learning, nor how quickly I will progress with what time I do have.  So to make it simple:

1.  Spanish:  My goal will be to learn 15 new words per day.  That should give me a (new) vocabulary of about 5500 words at the end of the year.  I will continue to listen to radio, podcasts, watch movies, and work through grammar and reading books, but those are things that are much harder to quantify.  I’d like to be back to intermediate/advanced speaking proficiency by the end of 2007.

2.  Japanese:  My reading/writing goal will be to learn the 2 kana syllabaries, and begin learning the kanji, well enough to read through some basic Japanese texts.  Three words per day for vocabulary, and working through grammar as time permits.

3.  Other:  I’ve kind of become fascinated with Lithuanian, and have a few books (with audio) on it.  I also feel that I could learn a fair amount of another language or two (I’m thinking Russian and German, two languages completely different from the others I am focusing on) over time, if I commit myself to learning 3 words a day in each of them.

I think the important thing, dealing with the “other” languages, that if I decide to do that, I’m ONLY learning vocabulary.    The only reason I would do this would be so that when I decide to focus on these languages, I will already have amassed a decent amount of vocabulary and it will (hopefully) be quite a bit easier to get further faster.

It seems like alot of words, all in all, but if I decide it’s too much, I may decide to forgo the German and Russian.  With Spanish, that is my primary learning objective, to gain vocabulary. so I don’t think it’s really that big of a task.  We shall see.

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.