Learning and Maintaining 10+ Languages

Posts204Likes82Joined5/6/2018LocationLapu-lapu / PH
Native
Cebuano, Tagalog
Other English

Beautiful pic Leo.  

Charlyn Amoin

Posted 
2
#21
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I started this project today to help me stabilize these 10 languages. From the video description "This is the first of what I hope will be many log entries. The final goal is to speak all my languages "well", and to be able to switch between them somewhat seamlessly. I also hope these will help get me over my camera shyness. These are unplanned, unrehearsed, one take...you get the picture. I want to be spontaneous, so this is the best way imo. Anyway, this is the first one so I struggled. I got stopped cold when I tried to switch to Russian, so I only spoke Korean, Japanese, Mandarin, Thai, Spanish, French and English. This video gives me lots of room to improve, haha."





I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
2
#22
Posts230Likes122Joined16/9/2018Location
Native
Spanish
Other English, Italian

Your Spanish sounds really good. Just wow!!!!!

-Ari-

Posted 
1
#23
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Ari wrote:
Your Spanish sounds really good. Just wow!!!!!

Thank you!  

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#24
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

leosmith"s 112618 log

"Ok, today I started out with Swahili and Russian so I wouldn't forget them. I spoke all 10 languages, but my Swahili was almost non-existent, and my Tagalog was really weak. The other thing that I need to improve on is content. I kept repeating the same simple, boring stuff. But it was a good effort over all :)"



I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
1
#25
Posts204Likes82Joined5/6/2018LocationLapu-lapu / PH
Native
Cebuano, Tagalog
Other English

Wow! Superb!

Charlyn Amoin

Posted 
1
#26
Posts204Likes82Joined5/6/2018LocationLapu-lapu / PH
Native
Cebuano, Tagalog
Other English

Wag kang makalimot sa Tagalog Leo! lol  

Charlyn Amoin

Posted 
0
#27
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Charlyn wrote:
Wag kang makalimot sa Tagalog Leo! lol :smile:

I promise not to. I will study it for 3 months in Thailand, then spend 2 month in the Philippines. After that I should be in really good shape.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
1
#28
Posts204Likes82Joined5/6/2018LocationLapu-lapu / PH
Native
Cebuano, Tagalog
Other English

Ok Leo. I believe you will be too!  

Charlyn Amoin

Posted 
1
#29
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

OMG - I forgot Japanese today  


(edit - I mean I accidentally omitted it; I didn't get tongue-tied when trying to speak it or something.)

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
1
#30
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

"I used a list to remember my languages, so I got all 10, but I think I'm going to stop doing Swahili. I clearly can't speak the language, so it's a waste of time to try to recall it on video. I'll add it back after I start studying it again (May-ish)."

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
1
#31
Posts68Likes37Joined6/10/2018LocationJonestown / US
Native
English
Learning Italian, Spanish

This is amazibg and inspiring. That is a lot to learn and keep up with. I commend you on your dedication. Learning one language is hard enough let alone 10. Kudos to you!

Taylor Fabio

Posted 
1
#32
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

TaylorFabio wrote:
This is amazibg and inspiring. That is a lot to learn and keep up with. I commend you on your dedication. Learning one language is hard enough let alone 10. Kudos to you!

Thanks  

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#33
Posts536Likes334Joined8/7/2018LocationAlmeria / ES
Native
English
Other Arabic - Egyptian, French, German, Spanish

Maintaining conversational level on 3 makes my brain hurt 

Posted 
1
#34
Posts119Likes39Joined10/12/2018Location
Native
German
Learning Afrikaans, Arabic - Standard, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Toki Pona
Other Polish, Russian, Sinhala, Tagalog

Stabilizing your ten languages?

I just might return to your log every now and then.

Someone else also is doing something to stabilize some languages.

His approach differs from yours. Because you decided to stick to exactly ten of them, at least for now.

But the underlying principle doesn't differ that much. He also aims to strenghten the Language Brain Pathways.

______________________________

SGP = _____ _____ ____ (currently remixing my nickname)

My Youtube channel (EN, DE, ...)

Alpha Centauri Style Music (on Soundcloud)

Posted 
0
#35
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

SGP wrote:
Someone else also is doing something to stabilize some languages.

You've got me curious now. Does this person's avatar remind one of the Count of Monte Cristo before the prison escape?

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#36
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Wow - it’s been 2 years since I’ve written an entry, so here’s an update. Although I didn’t follow all the way through with my original plan above of doing spurts of several months in each languages, I was able to partially reach my goal. The good news is that I now speak all my languages at a level that I’m happy with, and I’m able to use them instantly on demand. The bad news is that I’m still studying them more frequently than I’d like to. 

If you’ll recall, I want to be able to maintain the level that I now enjoy by studying a single language every other day. I study 9 languages, so the period between languages would be 9 X 2 = 18 days. I have been experimenting with the period as mentioned this post of mine in language-learners:

wrote:
I'm maintaining 9 languages, all of which I believe are B2/C1. Some are better than others, and thus require less maintenance. I study Spanish/Thai once every 24 days, Japanese/Mandarin/Russian/French 12 days, Korean/Swahili 6 days, and Tagalog once every 2 days (mainly because I'm also writing a textbook for that language tbh).

Because of my time consuming writing activities, I'm not "learning" any new languages, so I'm experimenting with the optimal period for each language. How do I know when the period is too short? I struggle having an impromptu conversation in that language, and sometimes experience interference.

I'll relate an experience I had with Swahili. I learned the language 20 years ago to a B1 level, then dropped it completely for 17 years. Last December I relearned it for 3 months, with techniques I'd acquired since dropping it, to prepare for a trip to Tanzania, and reached a low B2 level. Tagalog, my newest language, suffered really bad in the mean time; terrible interferrence from Swahili. After coming home from Tanzania, I put Tagalog on a 2 day schedule and Swahili on a 12 day schedule. Tagalog recovered in about a month. 6 months later, Swahili was in pretty bad shape, so I switched it with Tagalog. After only 2 sessions, Swahili was fine again and started to interfere with my Tagalog once more. So I put Swahili on 6 days, and Tagalog 2. I'm fortunate enough to have the flexibility of changing my schedule to optimize these right now.

What do I do in my maintenance sessions? Conversation, reading some text that also has audio, watching part of a movie/TV show. I write (scriptorium) in my languages that have different scripts. With my weaker languages I may also study grammar, write an essay, etc. I typically spend 2-3 hours total.



The chart shows the current period vs the goal. Although it doesn’t look too bad, my goal is to study 3.5 times/week, but the current periods above require me to study 9 times/week! On the plus side, I’m doing it and it’s working fine because I’m stuck at home now. Also, as those who follow me know, the total hours I spend studying per week, 18 to 27, is a light load for me. I still have a goal, though, of studying only 10 hrs/week, because I will be able to maintain that even during my most extensive travels. Reaching that goal will ensure that I have all 10 languages where I want them to be for the rest of my life. It’s my dream.

And there’s more good news. I have messed around with the learning periods to ensure that no language deteriorates, and the combination above works really well for me. But actually, I feel there is a very gradual improvement going on in most if not all of my languages. The most noticeable of these has been French. Here is a note that I sent to a friend last week:

wrote:
I told my last French teacher that my French sucks because I stopped studying it daily only one year after starting it. I've been saying this out of habit and realized that it wasn't true as soon as it escaped my mouth. This was at the beginning of our conversation, and she said "No way. Your French is great. It's at least C1 if not C2 up to this point." I said that's because we hadn't talked for long, and we continued to talk. At the end of the lesson she told me she thought my level was at a very minimum B2 but probably better. Now I'm regretting not having started my remaining European languages earlier, since they take so little effort to improve in.

The remaining European languages that I’m talking about are Portuguese, German and Italian. I am very tempted to start Portuguese now, because I have the time. But I will likely wait until I have finished the final re-write of Tagalog Lite (my Tagalog Grammar book). Here is a note I wrote to my proofreader about the book:


wrote:
I finished the first re-write, but decided to create a word frequency list for colloquial Tagalog using the 110 six-minute conversations I have on this site and do a final rewrite based on it. The list is back from my freelancer and being tweaked by me now, so I should start the final rewrite shortly.

I spent a huge amount of time on the first rewrite (500+). I’m guessing the final rewrite will take at least 300hrs, and then it will be time to go through review/editing, do all the new audio recordings, flashcards, etc., which will probably double that time. It’s a big job, and if I don’t do it now it may escape from me.

However, I may compromise. After getting into a rhythm writing the book, I may feel that I can afford spending 2-3hrs a day studying Portuguese. I may need to reduce the maintenance on my other languages to pull it off; that remains to be seen.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
1
#37
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’ve gained a few pounds lately, which have made my pants a bit tight, so I’ve decided to get proactive and do a fast today. I realize that’s tmi, but it’s a segue to me deciding to do an entry since I cleared my schedule for the fast and don’t know what else to do with myself.


I’ve made an adjustment to the time between study sessions for Tagalog and Korean. I’m setting them both to three days. This is a minor relaxation for Tagalog, which I am doing very well in, but a big tightening for Korean. I’m not getting worse in Korean, but my desire to improve more quickly in this language has increased recently.


I’ve noticed that, in my weaker languages especially, how satisfied I am with the conversation is very dependent on the teacher. For most languages, less than 10% of my tutors just don’t get the relaxed conversation sessions I like to have. This is for many reasons – they want to use their teaching skills; they don’t want to hear their language butchered; they like to lecture; etc. But for Korean, my dissatisfaction rate is much higher (maybe 1 in 3), and the teachers are fine. The problem is clearly mine, and as usual, it’s mostly me not remembering or recognizing vocabulary. When I’m doing an intense study spurt, I remember the words, but they have been slipping away more than I’d like when I’m on a relaxed schedule.


The other problem is my Korean listening. Unlike all my other languages except for Mandarin, having years of experience with the language in and of itself doesn’t appear to improve my listening by much, if any. So the dissatisfying conversations and poor listening skills have prompted this change.


Three days is the shortest period I can afford to give it at this point. This is because I am still rewriting Tagalog Lite, and I feel I need to keep a high awareness in that language. So I am only willing to increase Tagalog to three days, which allows me to go to three for Korean.


Regarding Tagalog Lite – I finished thoroughly reviewing the frequency list, and realized that it will take more than the 300 hrs I estimated. I’m thinking 500+. But it’s ok, because I’m planning to do my traveling in November this year, covid restrictions permitting, which gives me plenty of time to finish.  

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
1
#38
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I've been very busy with the changes to the site and the 3rd draft of Tagalog Lite lately, so I haven't been in the mood to update this log. But all is well. 


To facilitate getting the book done, I changed to a schedule of language learning every morning for 24 days, then 7 days off. So roughly one week off per month. This worked really well for me. The one week off did not seem to damage my progress, but in fact allowed my brain to consolidate that 24 day spurt. In addition, after 3 cycles I finished the draft. Now the book is in editing.


So I have a lot of time on my hands. After climbing the walls and even toying with the idea of trying to travel during the pandemic for something to do, I finally decided to start Portuguese. So I needed resources.


If you will recall, I always start a language with learning the alphabet and pronunciation together. Unfortunately, I could not find exactly what I need to do this. But the good news is, I have decided to create a Portuguese pronunciation tool, and share it with everyone. It will be in the same format of the one I did for Tagalog, have text similar to this one, with Brazilian Portuguese, Sao Paulo accent, TTS.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#39
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’ve been studying Portuguese for three weeks already. I just completed lesson 20 of Pimsleur today. Here are the resources I’ve settled on using so far.

Things are going smoothly, at least compared to other languages. The first item on the list, the pronunciation guide, I mentioned in the previous post, and after several trial-and-errors, finally put it together.


Normally I go through all three levels of Pimsleur. There are actually five available for Brazilian, but I’m seriously thinking about stopping after level 1 (30 lessons). Pimsleur is much cheaper these days ($20/month), and it’s great for pronunciation and getting a foothold in a language. But they always simplify things and often talk in ways that are different from the way I ultimately end up talking. Imo, it’s definitely worth doing for a truly difficult language, but this will probably end up being the easiest language I ever learn (unless I decide to learn Esperanto in the future).


So what am I going to do instead of Pimsleur? Start conversation really early. Tomorrow,  after only three weeks of study, I will have my first conversation lesson. I have already scheduled one lesson a day for a whole week. After that, I plan on taking them two of every three days. I’ll do what I always do – try to converse, write down the stuff I don’t know how to say, and the stuff I hear but don’t understand, try to memorize it before the next lesson, and load it in Anki.  


I just finished reading the first LC Brazilian conversation, a series which I am still having created, but should finish with in less than a month. It was really easy for a first passage – I knew 85% of the words. But I forced myself to read it slowly and pronounce everything correctly out loud. Getting used to the pronunciation is going to take time, but now is the time to do it. It took me about an hour to read a six minute conversation; I could probably read it in less than 15 minutes if I wasn’t worried about pronunciation.

I will probably import the subs for the Easy Languages Brazilian Portuguese Interviews into the reading tool after that. I think they are a little easier and a less dense than LC Conversations, but they are natural conversations, and there are over 50 of them, so it seems like a good next step.


I will try to quickly complete the Teach Yourself course, as a way to quickly get my arms around the grammar. Unfortunately, there is no Michel Thomas for Brazilian, only European.


The Modern Brazilian Portuguese Grammar is a hard core, serious grammar. I plan to continue using it as a reference; it really isn’t designed as a course. I probably won’t ever work my way through it, for example.


The other resources, Netflix, Youtube, Anki and dictionaries are self explanatory. The internet is very convenient for learning languages.

 

 

 

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#40
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

My first conversation class went really well yesterday. Obviously, I didn’t speak very well, since it was my first time. But even though I had less preparation than any of my previous languages, this was the best first conversation ever. I entered a lot of items in anki – 38. That may be the most ever, and it’s a rate I can’t maintain for long. That number needs to drop below 20. Maybe by the end on the week...


Also, after the lesson I immediately decided to stop Pimsleur. No need to even finish the first level – my time is better spent doing other activities now. In the past, I would have bought CDs for all three levels, total cost of over $300. This time, because of the subscription format and fewer lessons, I only spent $20!


Today, my second class also went well; 31 new items in anki. The teacher was not as good at conversation; I had to drive it most of the time, which is hard for a beginner. Some teachers just know how to do random conversations, and some don’t.


Understanding the language is the least of my challenges – I probably understood 90% of what she said today. But I yearn for the days when I will be able to speak comfortably, without wondering if I can just use a Spanish word for the Portuguese. I’m thinking about visiting Brazil a couple months from now. If I can get 50 hours of conversation under my belt by then, I should be fairly comfortable. I plan on just staying in one city, meeting language exchange partners and doing day trips for 1 month.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#41
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I hit a landmark a few days ago; I passed the 10 hours of conversation mark, so I decided to make a new entry here. This is usually the point where I feel comfortable saying I’m A1 (Beginner). However, I believe I’m already A2 (pre-intermediate). It was my 7th lesson where I first felt this way, and I have not fallen back to a lower level since then, which sometimes happens in the early stages of conversing. In fact, I seem to notice some improvement every time. I feel like I’m trying to “catch up” to my true level in the language. This is a good thing – whenever I feel this way, I tend to make steady progress at a decent rate.


It is possible that I’ll reach a level that I feel is roughly B1 (lower intermediate) before going to Brazil; I’m sure going to try to make that happen. Previously, I stated that I wanted to complete 50 hours of conversation before going there, which would require me to wait until late November to go. I may decide to go as soon as early November though, because that is my traditional time for heading out on my annual travels. So 40 may be more realistic.


Another clear sign of progress is that the number of items to put in Anki after my conversation has dropped dramatically. These are the numbers for all 12 classes I’ve had so far, in chronological order: 38, 31, 23, 24, 21, 16, 26, 13, 13, 11, 10, 14. Ime, when these numbers are under 20, my Anki work does not overwhelm me, so there is no need to delete or limit anything.


Reading has been going well. I continue to read half a passage from LC Conversations per day. Although the percentage of known words has been consistent (85-90), I am reading faster, and I am finally confident enough in my pronunciation now to read without playing back every single sentence to make sure I didn’t mess up. Apparently the early pronunciation work, including the guide I put together, paid off. Also, although they talk quite fast and colloquially, I am definitely understanding more than I did before. I will soon ramp up to one passage per day.


I type a few lines every day that I study, and post it in LC Write and Correct. This process has helped me figure out the correct way of saying certain things that I was wondering about. I also do 5 lines of hand written scriptorium, which I think gives my brain yet another way to connect with the language.


The biggest challenge in language learning is getting to the point where you can understand movies, TV, natives talking to each other, etc. This is a level of listening skill that is far above merely holding a one-on-one conversation. I am still far from understand at this level. After Brazil, I hope that I will understand over 50%, on a sentence level, of most series that I watch. I haven’t really checked my level, but I’m probably 10-20% right now. Lots of work to do!

 

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#42
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Today I completed Teach Yourself Brazilian Portuguese. I say “completed”, but I mean passively. I worked through it quickly, making sure I read and understood everything. Tomorrow I will start it again, but this time I will work through it actively. I will make sure I can translate from English to Portuguese, memorize all the vocabulary and grammar points. This will take a while. Ime, the vocabulary sticks really well when I do this, but grammar just so-so. It is still worth the effort though.


Today I also completed my 20th hour of conversation. I had a teacher cancel at the last minute, but found a replacement – the first man I talked to. He started out talking very colloquially, which threw me a bit. For example, he said tá instead of está. I commented on this, and he stopped doing it, which is sort of a shame. I need to eventually be able to understand natives speaking colloquially like this. My reading is all colloquial, which is good, but I need to get there in all skills.


I continue to be amazed at my progress in this language. I started less that 2 months ago, and feel like I’m close to B1. In most of my previous languages, I wasn’t even A1 after 2 months. I have been telling my teachers that I started 3 months ago, and they are amazed. I decided to do this for simplicity sake – I can say “3 months” up until I’m in Brazil, and it will still be sort of accurate. Everyone is telling me my Portuguese is amazing, especially considering the time I’ve put into it. These types of complements are really common though; I will try not to get a big head, lol.


I think I can now safely claim that the shortcuts I decided to take with this language made sense. I’m talking about stopping Pimsleur after only 20 lessons, and starting conversation after only 3 weeks of preparation. Another shortcut, which I haven’t talked about, is limiting my “explicit” vocabulary studies. I still put items from my conversations into anki, but not every little thing as I did with previous languages. And I haven’t loaded anything from my textbook, reading, etc. I feel that the vocabulary is soaking in at a much greater rate than with previous languages. I almost feel like one of those people who can get by without doing any explicit vocabulary study. Most of those people are students of European languages, and now I believe it can work in that case. Actually, I have stated this before, but I repeat it now. I firmly believe that we assimilate most of our vocabulary through exposure and practice regardless of whether we explicitly study it or not. Massive exposure and practice are mandatory. Explicit study isn’t, but it increases our efficiency, especially when it comes to dissimilar languages. Portuguese is about as similar as they get, so explicit study is less of an aid.


Anyway, things are very encouraging! I look forward to my trip to Brazil next month.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#43
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’m happy today because my tutor said “Why does your profile still say you are A1? Your level is B1!” That was good enough for me. Right after our class, I updated my level. I started studying on August 16, and it is now October 15, so approximately 2 months. Very cool.


I have been reading posts about how people are learning Portuguese. So many are using inferior methods, it was shocking at first. But now I understand that just about anything works for this language. Now I better understand why people push these methods, and think they are “good” in general. They do not realize how weak they are and that they fail miserably for languages that are not similar to their L1s.


Anyway, I will continue to use my hard core method that works for all languages. Today was my 29th 1hr conversation. I have 14 more scheduled before my trip. That makes a total of 43 hrs of conversation before arriving in Rio. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like very much. But when I first went to Russia, although it was after 6 months of study, I only had 30 hours of conversation in. Also, my level was only A2. So I feel I am better prepared. My new goal is to reach B2 by the end of my trip. That’s about 2 months from now, so I think it’s possible. Actually, regardless what my level is, if I can review it only once a week without a big drop in skill level at that time, I will be happy.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#44
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’m happy today because my tutor said “Why does your profile still say you are A1? Your level is B1!” That was good enough for me. Right after our class, I updated my level. I started studying on August 16, and it is now October 15, so approximately 2 months. Very cool.

I have been reading posts about how people are learning Portuguese. So many are using inferior methods, it was shocking at first. But now I understand that just about anything works for this language. Now I better understand why people push these methods, and think they are “good” in general. They do not realize how weak they are and that they fail miserably for languages that are not similar to their L1s.

Anyway, I will continue to use my hard core method that works for all languages. Today was my 29th 1hr conversation. I have 14 more scheduled before my trip. That makes a total of 43 hrs of conversation before arriving in Rio. At first glance, that doesn’t seem like very much. But when I first went to Russia, although it was after 6 months of study, I only had 30 hours of conversation in. Also, my level was only A2. So I feel I am better prepared. My new goal is to reach B2 by the end of my trip. That’s about 2 months from now, so I think it’s possible. Actually, regardless what my level is, if I can review it only once a week without a big drop in skill level at that time, I will be happy.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#45
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I just wanted to post a quick log entry to close out this Portuguese spurt. At the end of November, while still in Rio, one of my teachers implied that I was no longer lower-intermediate. I interpreted that to mean I am now upper intermediate, or B2. And I’ve improved since then, so I feel good about saying that I made it! From zero to B2 in 4 months.


That’s really about it. I finished up my month in Rio, and now I’m relaxing in Medellin Colombia. I’m not really doing anything special language-wise, except try to re-capture my French level, which has suffered dearly due to interference from Portuguese. I’m not sure whether I’m going to Thailand or Cambodia next. If it’s Cambodia, I might actually start that language. If it’s 3 months in Thailand, I’ll probably get back to revising Tagalog Lite.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#46
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

It’s been 8 months since the last post; about time for an update. I finished the 4th draft of Tagalog Lite last month. Although it was a major change from the 3rd one, it only took 2 months to complete; far less that I expected. I don’t expect nearly as many corrections in editing this time.


I went to hand it off to the editor, and was told that he would not be available until September. So I decided to write a set of drills for each lesson. This was always part of the plan, although I intended to do it after editing. They consist of simple sentences that focus only on the specific lesson. They differ from the existing sample sentences, which try to maintain grammar from all lessons. These drills were requested by several reviewers after the 1st draft was posted online.


I finished writing the drills yesterday, still 2 weeks before the editor becomes available. Due to the increased size of the book, I predict it will take him a month to edit. So conservatively, I have a month and a half before I need to do anything else regarding the book.


So what to do now? I definitely want to do some language learning, and here are some ideas.

1)  Start a new language from my hitlist. The possibilities are German, Italian, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Malay, Cambodian, Cebuano, Arabic, Hindi.

2)  Improve existing languages.

a)   Improve conversation in all languages by doing 3 lessons per day and using my conversation improvement technique for all of them.

b)  Work on my biggest weakness – reading Chinese characters. Specifically, improve Mandarin and Japanese reading by reading a ton and memorizing definitions and pronunciations of unknown characters and compounds.

3)  Start a YouTube channel for answering common questions about language learning that come up frequently.

I could add more to the list, but I think that is enough to think about. I’ll try to make a decision today.


In closing, I want to share a positive experience that I had last night. After a long bicycle ride with a friend, I convinced him that we should watch “Beck”, a Japanese movie about a new band competing in a battle of the bands. He is a guitarist, and open minded about different cultures, so I thought he would like it. The sad thing about Beck is that it keeps getting taken down from YouTube. We found a version, but it was only dubbed in Portuguese, no English. He only speaks English, so he asked if I could translate, and I did. Half the time I was translating from Japanese, and half the time from Portuguese. But I did that simultaneous translating for the entire movie, and he said he understood it. It’s nice to feel my studies have value.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#47
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I decided to go with 2) b above. According to the stats in the reading tool, here are my approximate average percentages of unknown unique words after I finish reading a passage:

Spanish 5%

French 5%

Portuguese 7%

Tagalog 10%

Swahili 15%

Russian 15%

Thai 15%

Korean 15%

Japanese 25%

Mandarin 35%

Keep in mind that these stats would look much better if they were for non-unique words. That is because a few hundred very common words, which I already know, make up a majority of the words in a passage, and are repeated many times. But the numbers above clearly show the problem I have with Japanese and Mandarin reading. To make it worse, without tools, it is often impossible to even pronounce an unknown word in those languages, since Chinese characters may give no clues.


So I am working on my greatest weakness – reading Mandarin. I’ve decided to focus on simplified characters, since that is the most common. I will need to do traditional later. I will also need to do Japanese eventually. My goal is to get the unknown words under 10%. I don’t know how long this will take, but I will dedicate at least an hour a day to this until it gets resolved.


My first day at it was yesterday. I read some of passage 1 in Mandarin Conversations. I read until I saw that I had accumulated too many unknown words, and stopped. Then I put the words into a word list and memorized them. L2 to L1, then L1 to L2. Finally, I put them in Anki. Today I did the Anki reviews, then I reread yesterday’s reading. It was much easier. Next, I continued reading until I had about 20 unknown words, and repeated yesterday’s exercise. I think I’ll limit it to about 20 words per day. I hope that after a few weeks I’ll be able to read a whole passage before I hit 20 unknown words. (I am listening to the passages too – I didn’t add that here to avoid cluttering up the reading exercise)

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#48
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

It took me 5 days to get through the first 6-minute conversation. Number of new words were as follows:

day 1 = 26

day 2 = 20

day 3 = 20

day 4 = 17

day 5 = 12

I started the second conversation today, and added 21 new words. I wanted to get past 1/4th of the way through the passage, and I did. I expect this passage will take no more than 4 days, the next one 3 days, and the next one 2 days. I also expect to be reading whole passages before I finish 10 total, and I plan to only read one a day from then until I finish them. Anki reviews are building up, but not bad so far; maybe 10 minutes. I’m going to document my procedure here, for possible future use:


1)  do Anki reviews

2)  listen to audio for yesterday and today’s reading, reading along casually

3)  read yesterday and today’s reading

4)  memorize the unknown vocabulary, whether it is truly unknown or I merely couldn’t read it, and put in Anki

5)  listen to today’s reading, reading along casually

6)  read today’s reading

7)  listen to today’s reading without looking at text, trying hard to pick up everything


I’m not saying this is the right way to do it, but it seems to be working quite well so far, so I’ll stick with it.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#49
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’m about to start my travels again. To make a long story short, there was extensive water damage to my condo and it will take weeks to properly repair, so I decided to avoid the demolition/construction. I will go the Philippines first because I’m finishing up the book (still in editing) and I want a nice, low-pressure place to stay for a couple months to continue with this Chinese reading exercise in the afternoons. China and Taiwan are still closed due to the pandemic. I would have liked to have gone to Brazil for a month to practice my Portuguese, but that would mean I’d be doing spurts in two languages at once, which can be stressful.


I leave in a three days, I just finished the last day (day 20) of this exercise before travelling, and wanted to report on it. It may take longer that I thought. I’m on the fifth conversation, and it will probably wind up being a 5 day passage. I thought I’d be down to 3 or even 2 days per passage by now. I was hoping that by the end of the first month I’d be doing 1 passage per day.

conversation 1: 5 days   

conversation 2: 4 days   

conversation 3: 4 days   

conversation 4: 4 days 

 

There is some good news though. First, unknown (unique) words is in the mid 20’s for these passages. It was in the mid 30’s when I started doing this, which may have been because I was looking at harder materials. But regardless, it’s nice to know that it’s in the same difficulty range as Japanese.


The other good news is that my Anki reps aren’t spinning out of control. I’ve done 20 days in a row, except for one day off, and my reps are taking about 40 min/day. I wanted it be below 1 hr/day by the time I finished 1 month, and it looks like that would have happened even without this forced break coming up due to travel. I’ll be working on this for 2 months in the Philippines, then 2.5 months in Thailand, so hopefully that will be enough to finish it.  

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
0
#50
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I have a confession to make – I was wrong about something that I’ve believed for a long time. I believed that if you are going to systematically memorize and review vocabulary and grammar from content that you consume, it is always better to do L1 to L2 reviews. Actually, I have always done both L1 to L2 and L2 to L1 reviews just to be safe, but I believed that L2 to L1 were not very important, and the ability to understand the L2 items would happen naturally, provided I did L1 to L2. In my defense, if you are only interested in conversation and writing, I still believe this is correct.


But I consider myself to be a well-rounded language learner, and it turns out that L2 to L1 reviews are very important for reading. You might be thinking “so what – you are doing both anyway, so you are covered”. Reviewing both ways isn’t necessarily a bad idea, unless you are trying to learn to read as quickly as possible. L1 to L2 reviews require much greater recall effort than L2 to L1, imo at least twice as much, so doing reviews both ways takes at least 3 times as much time as just L2 to L1. And this hardcore recall work is something that you should limit when you study – doing too much makes people want to quit.


I may have never figured this out, since most languages have not required me to do intensive reading. With most languages, I was able to just read extensively in the reading tool, noting pop-up definitions of unknown words, and became comfortable reading in a few dozen hours. But recently I decided to fix the biggest hole in my proficiency of all 10 foreign languages. I decided to keep reading Mandarin intensively until I know more than 90% of new texts at first glance. When I started, I was at an appalling 65%, so extensive reading by itself was not cutting it.


When I started this exercise, I decided to try to memorize/review every new word that I came across, since I was using a very trustworthy source. Mandarin Conversations are 100% natural conversations, with very little if any strange vocabulary/grammar, so I am not concerned about usefulness. I tried to do 20 new words per day, both L1 to L2 and L2 to L1, and it very quickly became hard to stay on top of.


I have read many posts of learners disregarding L1 to L2 reviews when learning to read, but never believed it would work for me. Seeing over a month of my precious time slip away with very slow progress, I decided to make the leap and give it a try. I ditched the L1 to L2 reviews, and increased the load to 40 words per day. Surprisingly, even after doubling the word count, after a couple weeks of this, review time is significantly less than the previous method, and it feels less intense.


Bottom line, if you are just trying to improve you reading in a language that uses Chinese characters, doing L2 to L1 reviews only is an efficient way to maximize the number of new words you can assimilate per day.  


So why does this make me feel so good? Shouldn’t I be embarrassed about telling people to never skip L1 to L2 reviews? Sure, but it’s not worth dwelling on such things, and the big picture reveals something much more important. My poor reading skills in Mandarin and Japanese were the main reasons why I thought I’d never be able to reach advanced levels in all my languages simultaneously. I thought it would take thousands of hours, and wasn’t willing to sacrifice that time. Now I’m looking at a few hundred hours, so the dream of C1+ in all my languages is alive again!  

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Edited 
1
#51
Posts1500Likes1001Joined18/3/2018LocationPattaya / TH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin
Other French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Time for an update. I have been in Thailand now for two weeks. I had a terrible case of amoebas (something I ate probably) the last couple weeks in the Philippines, and the swimming pool pump broke, which closed it down. After being sick and without exercise for two weeks, I was quite happy to leave Manila.

Although my goal was to finish it in Manila, the editor of Tagalog Lite was so busy that he couldn’t check it consistently during that time. But he has scheduled some time for it each week, and we are about halfway through the final check. It’s really looking good. He has now figured out a lot of complicated grammar issues that neither of us could explain very well before. When I say complicated, I mean it’s hard to explain, but still very high frequency.

I reached a bit of a milestone in my Mandarin reading spurt. I’m spending 2-3 hours a day on it, including reviews. Up until a week ago I was adding exactly 40 words per day, and only reading up to that point (plus re-reading the previous day’s segment). I would start in one passage, and finish in another. But a week ago I noticed the unknown words had dropped, and I made the decision to read a complete new passage every day, regardless of the unknown words. The first day was under 40, then I had 3 days over 40 (one was a whopping 54), so I wondered if I’d made the right decision. However, the last 4 passages were under 40, so I’m now sure things have settled down. My routine has simplified. Every day I do my anki reviews, read the previous day’s passage, read the new passage, memorize the new words and export them to anki.

Today was day 75 (not counting skipped days), and I finished passage 40. There are 100 passages total, so I will finish in 60 days at this pace. My reading has improved dramatically. My goal is to get the unknown words below 10%. I started in the mid 30’s, now I’m in the low 20’s.

I’ve also become interested in reading speed. In a Chinese Forums post, I saw people comparing reading speeds. Natives speak about 250 cpm (characters per minute), and this matches our Chinese Conversations. So in addition the 10% unknown words, I’m setting a goal of half native speed. Passages are 6 minutes long, so my goal is 12 min, first read. I tested it a while back, and I did 18 min, but that was my third read. I will do more testing as I go along.

I'm reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen.

Posted 
0
#52
    Feedback