Learning and Maintaining 10+ Languages

Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#41
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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!

 

Learning Italian every day!

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#42
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#43
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#44
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#45
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#46
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#47
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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)

Learning Italian every day!

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#48
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#49
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.  

Learning Italian every day!

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#50
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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!  

Learning Italian every day!

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#51
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, 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.

Learning Italian every day!

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#52
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Here's an update, because my italki Korean teacher decided to record our lesson. It was kind of a nice surprise – I don’t know why she did it, but I saw she was recording it and asked if I could have a copy. It turns out that videos are downloadable by all on Skype, so I downloaded it, cut out a 5 min chunk that wasn’t 100% about languages, and posted it for fun. I’m speaking quite slowly these days it seems. To summarize, I studied Korean really hard for 1 year, spent 1 month in Seoul, the following year spent 1 month in Pusan, and the third year spent one month in Seoul again. Then came the pandemic, so I missed 3 years of travel, and I only maintained it sporadically. I review it about twice per month now, and it’s my worst language. Even after all that though, I speak it at a slow intermediate level, so I won’t complain. I hope to do a spurt in it next year, and hopefully never fall down to this level again.

In other news, today was day 121 (active days), and I finished passage 85 of Mandarin reading. I have made huge improvements since the beginning, but I don’t think I’m going to hit the 10% unknown mark by passage 100, because I'm probably at around 20% now. I will probably ease off after passage 100 though, because it's been a long hard pull.

Learning Italian every day!

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#53
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Today I reached two important milestones. First, I finished passage 100 of Mandarin Conversations, officially ending this spurt. Some quick stats – 100 passages in 137 (active) days; 4017 vocabulary items; about 500 hours (including Anki reviews) total study time. My goal was to drop my Mandarin unknowns from 35% down to below 10%. I did not reach that goal. If I look at my stats, they average out in the high teens, but that’s because I haven’t gone back to change all the words I didn’t know at the beginning to “known” now. I’m guessing my true unknown level is about 15%. I’m really happy with this, and it means that I read Mandarin about as well as I read Swahili/Russian/Thai/Korean. I have mixed feelings about stopping the spurt. I figure I could reach my goal and really hit it out of the ball park in another 200 to 300 hours. And there is the fear of losing my level too. I think I’m going to take a few days off, then keep reading new passages twice a week for a while to see how that goes. I’ll keep doing all the anki reviews for the time being, but will eventually delete all cards over one month old at some point. The ultimate goal is to be able to read, consistently and comfortable, only as often as I maintain the language, meaning once every 10 or so days. But the interim plan above should safeguard my level, and give me the time I need to do the stuff required for the milestone below.


The second milestone I reached is even bigger, since it marks the beginning of the end of a 3 year project. As of today, we have finally finished going back and forth, checking and perfecting Tagalog Lite. The ball is now back in my court, and I can work on it full time. I need to update all the tables, rewrite the intro, hire a voice actress, and post the book online. I also plan on creating downloadable anki decks, so I have a busy month or so ahead of me!

Learning Italian every day!

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#54
Posts16Likes9Joined18/10/2022LocationUS
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Thai

leosmith wrote:
Today I reached two important milestones. First, I finished passage 100 of Mandarin Conversations, officially ending this spurt. Some quick stats – 100 passages in 137 (active) days; 4017 vocabulary items; about 500 hours (including Anki reviews) total study time. My goal was to drop my Mandarin unknowns from 35% down to below 10%. I did not reach that goal. If I look at my stats, they average out in the high teens, but that’s because I haven’t gone back to change all the words I didn’t know at the beginning to “known” now. I’m guessing my true unknown level is about 15%. I’m really happy with this, and it means that I read Mandarin about as well as I read Swahili/Russian/Thai/Korean. I have mixed feelings about stopping the spurt. I figure I could reach my goal and really hit it out of the ball park in another 200 to 300 hours. And there is the fear of losing my level too. I think I’m going to take a few days off, then keep reading new passages twice a week for a while to see how that goes. I’ll keep doing all the anki reviews for the time being, but will eventually delete all cards over one month old at some point. The ultimate goal is to be able to read, consistently and comfortable, only as often as I maintain the language, meaning once every 10 or so days. But the interim plan above should safeguard my level, and give me the time I need to do the stuff required for the milestone below.
The second milestone I reached is even bigger, since it marks the beginning of the end of a 3 year project. As of today, we have finally finished going back and forth, checking and perfecting Tagalog Lite. The ball is now back in my court, and I can work on it full time. I need to update all the tables, rewrite the intro, hire a voice actress, and post the book online. I also plan on creating downloadable anki decks, so I have a busy month or so ahead of me!


Congrats on all your efforts!


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#55
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Another 4 months have slipped by, so here is an update. Mandarin has now stabilized, and it’s as I suspected – about 15% unknown. I maintain it once every 10 days, like all my other languages. The only thing special I do with it now is to add unknown vocabulary to anki after reading a passage; I don’t do that to any other language I’m maintaining.


Tagalog Lite is fully loaded, and we are creating a new landing page for it now. That should be done in the near future.


I was having a hard time figuring out what to do next, but I knew that I wanted to fix my Japanese reading, the same way that I fixed my Mandarin, so I hired some native speakers to create Japanese Conversations. We only got 1 last time, then stopped. Now we are about half way done. I hope to have it finished by the end of June.


In the meantime, I got motivated about learning German after seeing and discussing this video. They are going to start learning 4 languages for 3 months over the summer. I figure if they can do that, I can at least do German. I’ve been saying that German and Italian are “the last 2 languages that I want to learn” ever since I finished Portuguese, so here goes.


I created a German pronunciation tool, very similar to my Portuguese pronunciation tool, and started using it daily 3 days ago. This is also my 3rd day on Pimsleur. Things are going smoothly so far; it’s nice to be learning a new language again! On the other hand, I have that old familiar beginner’s feeling of being really ignorant and making lots of mistakes.


After Pimsleur I’m going to do Language Transfer & Michel Thomas for grammar, start reading German Conversations, and start conversing. It’s exciting, hehe.

Learning Italian every day!

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1
#56
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Well, I’ve been at German now for nearly 2 months. After about 5 weeks, I tried to shift to my patented conversation-based learning method. One week of that was enough to show me that I didn’t have enough of a base to pull that off effectively. German is much harder than Portuguese; Portuguese really spoiled me, haha. I felt that I’d progress more quickly if I stopped conversing and built up my base for another month or two, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m thinking the end of August will be about the right time to try it again.


I’ve been thinking of what I’ll do in the long run, regarding my language learning. I really like this one-language-per-day thing, in the morning. So I’m going to keep doing it, and any new language, or any big spurt that needs to be done in a single language, will take place in the afternoon, and thus be studied less time per day than was allotted in the past. I think it’s worth it, because I want my languages to maintain, and even improve a bit, throughout the rest of my life. Since I am ultimately looking at 12 foreign languages (my current 10 languages plus German and Italian), any new language needs to be learned to the level where it can be nicely maintained while only reviewing it once every 12 days before I end the spurt.


So the question boils down to what I want to do in the afternoons from here on. Here is what I’m thinking:

2023 – German

2024 – Italian

2025 – Japanese Reading spurt

2025 will mark the 20th anniversary of when I started to feel like a polyglot. It was the year I started Japanese, and began to believe I had a chance to learn all the languages I really wanted to learn (I think my total list was 7 at that time). There have been several points along this journey where I thought “If I can just get 20 years of this under my belt, I will truly be an elder of this hobby”. I think I’ll be speaking all my languages quite well by then. What I choose to do in the afternoons at that point will depend on where my greatest weakness lies. I’ll employ a Chinese Checkers philosophy with my languages, nudging all my marbles along, little by little, rather than trying to get any single one all the way home.


At that time, I’m guessing my next move will be a Korean spurt. Compared to my other difficult languages, I have spent much less time on Korean, so it makes sense that it will continue to be my weakest language in 2025. I might be wrong though. Studying it once every 12 days, and, most likely, making 2 more one-month trips to Seoul by then, may be enough to keep it out of the lowest spot.

Until next time...back to German!  

Learning Italian every day!

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1
#57
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’m back to conversing daily again in German, and now it feels as expected. The bigger base, 3 months and probably about 250 hours, seems to have done the trick. I have 8 hours of conversation under my belt, and want to have 50 by the time I leave for Korea in November. I’ll be in Korea for 1 month, and I’ll probably drop down to 1 German lesson every 3 days. Then I’ll be in Thailand for 2 months, and back to Daily German conversation in the afternoon. When I hit 100 hours, I think that will be enough to wean it off slowly and put it on maintenance permanently. When I get back to the states in May, I should be in the clear to learn Italian for 6 months straight.   

Learning Italian every day!

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#58
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I finished my 27th German conversation today, making a total of 22 hours – the first 10 lessons were 30 min, and the rest have been 60 min. That leaves me with 28 to go to reach my goal of 50 hours before starting my travels on Nov. 1. About 10 lessons ago, I upgraded my level in italki to A2. I did this for two reasons. First, quite a few teachers won’t do conversations with learners below A2. Some have B1 cutoffs, and some even have B2 cutoffs! But those are somewhat rare. The second reason, I truly believe I’m A2. The first few hours of conversation were rough, as expected, and I thought German was going to be the only language where I never got any compliments from teachers. I’ve heard it’s a cultural thing, so I wasn’t worried. But since about the 15th hour I’ve gotten compliments in every lesson (except one, lol). The best compliment I received was that my A2 level was an underestimation and my actual level was B1. Of course I loved hearing that, but it’s not true. It give me hope though that I might actually be B1 before my travels. At this point I’ll say that it feels likely.


About that lesson where I didn’t get a compliment. It was with a teacher who talked really slowly and clearly, and corrected me brutally. It wasn’t fun, and being corrected for every little thing really slowed me down. It kept me from putting myself out there and taking risks. I decided to give it a chance because so many learners love to be corrected all the time. But I just confirmed that this really doesn’t work for me.

Learning Italian every day!

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#59
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Happily, I finished my 50th hour of German conversation two days ago. After the 49th hour, I finally toggled my level over to B1! It feels really good finally being able to think of myself as intermediate. In two days I travel to Korea. I’ll be there for 1 month, and plan to learn German once every 3 mornings. I’ll be improving my Korean every day in the afternoon and evenings. Next, it’s two months in Thailand, where I’ll switch back to German every day. I hope to be B2 by the end of that.


I really like Seoul, because there is a very active language learning community there. I’ll go to several language exchange meetings, and might be able to practice all of my languages (well, maybe not Swahili). I’ll also try to do as many 1 on 1 exchanges, make friends and hang out. I have one friend in Korea, but we haven’t seen each other for 4 years, so I’m looking forward to our reunion. She got me to speak the informal language, and showed me a lot of different kinds of food. This trip should be great!

Learning Italian every day!

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#60
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

(Edit – this is 2 days old; I just forgot to post it)

Today is my last day in Korea, and I have to admit, I didn’t achieve the things I’d planned on. I had a lot of bad luck, tbh.


1)    Kakaotalk, the Korean Whatsapp that almost everyone here uses exclusively, didn’t work for me because of new restrictions against foreigners. Some foreigners have been able to get it to work, but after a couple hours of trying stuff suggested to me online, I gave up.

2)    The sim card that I purchased in advance was unable to give/receive phone calls or messages.

3)    Creating new Kakaotalk or Line (Japanese Whatsapp used by some people) accounts was impossible, because phone message confirmation is required, and as mentioned before, I couldn’t receive them.

4)    I couldn’t find any of the big language exchange meetings, which I depend on for meeting new partners to meet one-on-one with. They used to be listed in Meetup.com. In fact, many are still listed there, but I went to 3 different meeting locations at the appropriate time and there were no meetings. So I gave up on them.

5)    The language exchange websites that I’ve used in the past are really bad now. I was using 5 of them, and sent out literally hundreds of requests for exchanges, and only wound up with 2 language partners. I also had my friend from before, so 3 total. They are good partners, but not able to do the volume of exchanges that I was hoping for. I did about 15 exchanges; normal is around 50.

6)    The computer chair in my room is quite uncomfortable, preventing me from doing too much studying.

7)    The room is a bit depressing. It’s ground floor, but it may as well be a basement, judging from how the few windows are so covered up for privacy/noise insulation. It’s a nice little room, just depressing.

8)    I got very sick one of my first nights. I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible nausea, similar to how I felt when I had amoebas in the Philippines one year ago, and spent about an hour on the bathroom floor. I recovered quickly; it clearly wasn’t amoebas, but it really scared me.


So those are my excuses. I wanted to do a hard 100hr+ spurt, but ended up doing less than 50. The good news is that my level hasn’t dropped much, if any, since the last time I was here. So even though I clearly need to do a long hard Korean spurt, I’m not going to change the order that I’ve been planning on. It will still be German, Italian, Japanese, then finally Korean. German, Italian and Japanese all have very clear, achievable goals imo. But when I get to Korean, in addition to freshening up my conversation, I’m going to really attack listening, and try some intensive listening tricks I’ve heard of.


I want to be able to watch (listen to) K-dramas effortlessly. Using some tool like Migaku or Language Reactor, I’ll watch the first episode of a drama line by line. If I don’t understand it, I’ll check the Korean subtitles, and if I still don’t understand, I’ll check the English subtitles. I may harvest unknown sentences for anki; I haven’t decided yet. I’ll do this for a fixed amount of time, or fixed amount of anki cards, every day. At the end of each episode, I’ll discuss it with a teacher who has seen it before. I’ll do this until I finish the K-drama, then start another one if necessary.


Tomorrow I go to Thailand, where I start my final German spurt. It will be warm. There will be sunlight. There will be lots of people eager to meet me. Wish me luck!

 

Learning Italian every day!

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#61
Posts48Likes24Joined4/5/2020LocationGH
Native
English
Learning Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, Swahili, Chinese - Cantonese

Terrible luck, especially the bout of ill-health. But it seems the other languages are going well, and there will be other trips to Korea. Hang in there!

???

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#62
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

After spending two months here, tomorrow is my last day in Thailand. This leg of my trip went much better than the last one. I accomplished most of what I was shooting for, spent time with old and new friends, went swimming a lot, enjoyed the local food, and had tons of fun in general.


I ended my eight month German spurt today, after my 103rd lesson. This only translates to roughly 93 hours of conversation, since about 20 of these lessons were half-hour. I was shooting for 100 hours of conversation, so I almost made it. I’m still B1ish imo, although noticeably better than I was before Thailand. I feel I’m lacking too much vocabulary to consider myself B2. And I’m still improving my word-endings; it’s been a struggle, but considering the progress I’ve been making recently, I think if I were to put in another 50 hours or so they would be quite good. The rest of my grammar is in pretty good shape. Anyway, I will put German on hold with the rest of my languages, and see how it goes. I will start out putting it in the rotation twice. In other words, there are 11 languages, but German gets put in twice, so the rotation is 12 days, every language gets reviewed once in the rotation except German, which is reviewed twice in the rotation, or once every 6 days. Final stats on the German spurt: 8 months, 750 hours, roughly B1.5.


Tomorrow night I fly to Tanzania to start my third leg of the trip. I’ll be there for one month. I’ll visit the school at least once, and travel a bit around the country. I’ll stay in Arusha the first two weeks, but have no set plan for the rest of the time. I’ll go to Zanzibar at some point, and maybe make some new friends and visit some areas where I’ve never been.


I plan on only reviewing my languages from now until I go back home at the end of April. That’s a three month rest, and my brain could sure use it. The idea of only spending a couple hours on them every morning sounds really appealing to me. I remember the old days when I used to consider an hour a day an almost insurmountable chore. My how things have changed!

Learning Italian every day!

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#63
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I am finally back home from my 6 month annual trip, and it feels good. In my last post, I talked about reviewing one language per day over the course of my 1 month in Tanzania and 2 months in the Philippines. But I only did it for 2 weeks in Tanzania, and 2 weeks in the Philippines. The rest of the time, I just did my Anki cards in the morning (about 30 min). This was due to poor internet, and me wanting a break. I feel nicely rested now, and ready to start Italian.


Here is my rough plan for Italian:

1st month

Alphabet/pronunciation

Pimsleur

Italianpod 101 (background noise only)

 

2nd - 6th months

Conversation

Read and Listen

Language Transfer Italian/Teach Yourself Italian

Watch videos/series

 

Actually, I have already started. I study/review pronunciation daily using the tool I made here. I’m on Pimsleur lesson 4, and I play italianpod101 when I walk. 


I watch some Italian Netflix too. For example, Lidia Poët, a sexy female lawyer in the days before females were allowed to do such work, who does her own detective work too. I don’t understand well without subtitles, but that’s to be expected at this point.

I’ll probably start Language Transfer early, just so I have grammar a better grammar base before beginning conversation.

This is, in theory, my last language, so it’s an exciting time!

Learning Italian every day!

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#64
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I’ve reached a bit of a milestone in Italian, so I though I’d post about it. Regarding the old list, I finished the Alphabet/pronunciation step, and continue to listen to Italianpod 101 when I do my walks, every other day. Even though it was supposed to be in the second month, I started watching videos/series already. My comprehension isn’t great, but that’s normal at this stage. I also started reading/listening. It was a rough start, but now I’m up to about 30 min/day, and it’s surprisingly smooth. More on that later.


And surprisingly enough, I got interested in grammar and finished Language Transfer already. It was only an introductory course; 45 lessons, or about 7 hours total audio. I did 5 lessons per day, so it took 9 days. It was somewhat challenging, but very well put together, so I got a lot out of it. I would listen to a lesson, answer as well as I could, and write down the things that I wanted to review later in Anki. I got most answers right, but still want to review a lot of stuff in Anki. What a superb free resource; it makes me consider creating something similar. Being an introductory course, it lacks some important stuff – like the imperative. But it’s a great start. My next step, grammar wise, will be Teach Yourself.


All this time I’ve been doing Pimsleur, but today I decided to stop for the same reason I stopped Pimsleur German. The language they use is too formal and not colloquial. They use the formal form of you (lei) 100% of the time, for example. Of course, they will eventually get to the informal (tu). But I, along with most people, will use the informal almost all the time, so I want to start with it. I’d prefer starting with tu 100% of the time, then add in lei later. I’d even accept 50/50, but 100% lei is ridiculous.


Pimsleur is great for pronunciation, chunking, and preparing one to speak, but I think I’ve gotten enough out of it. No need to learn a bunch of stuff that I will not use. I wouldn’t be wasting my time, but it wouldn’t be the best use of it either. So what will I do instead? Build islands. This is a concept explained in How to Improve your Foreign Language Immediately. Basically, I’ll write and memorize little monologues for many separate topics.


The more such monologues the speaker knows, the more such “island” are available when the need arises, the easier it is for him/her to speak/swim. In essence, even a native speaker has a number of such islands. These are the speeches in which the speaker sounds more effective and articulate than usual. These are stories which, as the result of much repetition, are more polished and impressive. These are formulas for expressing certain positions or conceptions about which the speaker has thought and spoken often. These are the speaker’s speeches, lectures, “opening lines”, and remnants from earlier training. The use of such islands helps the native speaker to express him/herself more precisely and eloquently. If islands can be so helpful to native speakers, what can we conclude about foreign speakers? For the foreign speaker, an island is salvation: it provides a chance for improving communication contact, it affords a desirable break, it attracts the attention of the native speaker. I would say that the confidence of the foreigner in speaking is directly dependent upon the number of islands he/she has in his/her command. It is not possible to overstate the communicative value or importance of islands for speech.

Actually, I’ll start out by memorizing single sentences. I’ll make a list of sentence I think I’ll use often, memorize them, and review them daily until they are automatic. I’m not going to put these in Anki – I’ll benefit by the context of leaving them in list form and reviewing them all every day. I’ll post them so native speakers can correct them. I think audio would be helpful, so I may post them as a tool on my website, since I can add audio to them there. Eventually I’ll grow these single sentences into longer monologues, or islands. It may have to wait until I start conversation though; I haven’t decided yet.


This is the new routine I’ll start tomorrow, some of which is continuation of what I’ve already been doing:

1)    Anki reviews.

2)    Write out 10 sentences that I will need for my conversation classes per day, memorize them, review the old ones. These range from really simple stuff (How do you say X in Italian, etc.) to more personalized stuff (I don’t like to dive, but I like to snorkel, etc.).

3)    Read passages that have audio for 60 min out loud, then listen to the audio while following along silently with the text. Put 20 words per day from the reading into Anki, and start reviewing them the next day. I’ve been using Learn Italian with Lucrezia for this, since it’s comprehensible and has real subtitles in YouTube (not auto-generated).


After 5 days or so, I’ll probably have enough sentences, so number 2 above will become Teach Yourself. A week or two after that, the sentences will probably be really solid, so it will be time to start conversation. I’m thinking that will be around June 1, exactly 1 month after starting. That’s early – I messed up by starting too early with German, but I don’t think that’s going to be an issue with Italian; I seem to be making pretty fast progress.

Learning Italian every day!

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#65
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

I hit another milestone, and it’s a big one – did my first conversation on italki! It went well; much better than my first German (my last language) one. I decided to do 30 min lessons for a week or so, then increase it to 60 minutes. I got 25 anki notes in that 30 min, so I’m glad it wasn’t any longer. One nice thing about Italian is that, for me, the vocabulary is familiar enough so that drilling whole sentences is sufficient. I rarely feel the need to break out single words. Anyway, I didn’t embarrass myself too bad. I only used google a few times, and I understood most of what the teacher said.


My grammar was pretty good too, and that old theory about only needing 6 of the 21 “tenses” for the majority of colloquial speech seems to be holding up. The short list I was given by a helpful native was:

Presente semplice (mangio, bevo, ecc...)

Passato prossimo (Ho mangiato, ho bevuto)

Stare + gerundio (sto mangiando, sto bevendo)

Imperativo (mangia! bevi!)

Condizionale presente (mangerei, berrei)

Imperfetto (mangiavo, bevevo)

I used the first 3 frequently. I don’t know, but didn’t need, the 3rd and 4th. I don’t know but needed the 6th, so I studied it right after the class.


About a week ago I was in somewhat of a panic over grammar. I had finished creating all my conversation-primer sentences, which turned out to be 40, and wanted to start TY. Well, TY Italian is crap – one of the worst textbooks I’ve ever used. It covered very little, had way too much English, too much formal register, lot’s of mistakes, etc. So I did some serious searching for textbooks/grammars. I read a ton of reviews on Amazon and Reddit, then checked out any free samples I could get my hands on. I eliminated all of the English based ones. There was one that sounded good, recommended by Lucrezia; GP. Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana. Livello A1-C1: Grammatica - for English Speakers. But I couldn’t take a look at it, and there is no e-book version. Other than that, the best English based one I could find was Italian made Simple. The content was really good, although quite heavy (too much vocab imo). But it’s really dense; they split the page vertically and write in two columns. There is no e-book, but I was looking at a pdf, and it moves really slowly. The other thing is that it’s from 1960. The runner up was Complete Italian Step-by-Step. Fully functional e-book, so I thought I’d struck gold, but it turns out they took an older version, chopped it up and made it into an e-book. It’s basically a very dry grammar with some exercises inserted in strategic places. It’s probably ok to function as a grammar, but I find it difficult to work through those types of text books. I checked out 5 or 6 more of the most popular English based books, but won’t bother to list them here.


Now if you’re looking for a good, free, English based Italian text book, and don’t mind that most of it’s exercises are based on audio and video (also free), then you might want to check out WellesleyX: Italian Language and Culture: Beginner (2023-2024). But I don’t want to be juggling audio and video in my text books. I get enough audio and video elsewhere; I just want good, digestible grammar.


The reason I eliminated all the English based books is that I discovered I can handle monolingual ones, and they are much better overall. I can do this because I completed Language Transfer and have done a fair amount of reading already. So I’d recommend this to others that are in the same boat. The first ones I checked out are the ones they always recommend on Reddit. Nuovissimo Progetto Italiano and Nuovo Espresso are both designed for classroom, are heavily dependent on audio/video, and don’t have normal e-books. Nuovo Espresso claims to have an e-book, but I’ve heard that it is only accessible on their site, and only for 1 month. Anyway, I want a self-study text book that doesn’t have audio/video, so I checked out some more of Lucrezia’s suggestions.


I was able to check out Parla e Scrivi, Grammatica pratica della lingua italiana and Nuova Grammatica Pratica Della Lingua Italiana. Nuova Grammatica Pratica Della Lingua Italiana looked good, but there was no e-book and the pdf I was looking at was really slow. So I had to choose between the other two, which were pretty much exactly what I was looking for. No official e-books, but the pdfs I checked out moved fast enough. I selected Parla e Scrivi, maybe because it was the first one Lucrezia recommended.


The only other thing I wanted to mention here was that my reading has improved a lot. I can now tolerate reading any subtitles I want to import from Youtube. By that I mean, I know enough of the vocabulary so it doesn’t burn me out to read it. Keep in mind that I’m using a reading tool, which gives me a great advantage. But this has made it possible to read a lot more variety; a lot more stuff that interests me. Another thing that really helps is that I can put sloppy auto-generated subs into Chat GPT and make them much more readable by adding punctuation and capitalization without changing any words.


In closing, here is my current daily routine:
1) Anki reviews.

2) 30 min conversation class (soon to increase to 60)

3) Watch Netflix series during breakfast

4) Review my 40 conversation-starter sentences (this will be dropped before the end of the month)

5) Read passages that have audio for 60 min out loud, then listen to the audio while following along silently with the text.

6) 30-60 min textbook

7) Listen to pod101 if I walk. Watch Netflix/YouTube 30-60 min.

Learning Italian every day!

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#66
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Today I broke the 10 hours of conversation barrier. My first 5 lessons were 30 min each, and today was my 8th one hour lesson, so I have a total of 10.5 hours. I rate my teachers in my own little spreadsheet, because I use a lot of them and I’d hate to lose track of the ones I like the most. I use a 3 star system. 3 stars = repeat, 2 stars = maybe, 1 star = never again. I’m finding Italian teachers to be above average for my purposes, compared to other languages. Seven 3s, five 2s and only one 1(she’s an over-corrector who has done a lot of travelling and doesn’t like developing countries).


I consider the first 10 hours to be an important milestone, because it’s the hardest period of language learning for me, and I just want to get through it. It’s such an awkward feeling sometimes. All that struggling, and long pauses. But Italian wasn’t that bad, and needless to say, I’m much better now than I was in the first lesson. After my 11th lesson, I felt like I’d leveled up, but I held off on declaring myself A1-ish until today. I feel like my true level is actually A2-ish, but I need to catch up with my conversation. I’m guessing another 20 hours or so to get there.


Textbook wise, I decided to make a switch to the nicer Una Grammatica Italiana per Tutti. It’s a great book. My only complaint is that it has some vague exercises, meaning there can be more than one answer, but only about 10% of the time, so not a show stopper. My previous choice had more issues in addition to vague exercises: it was a bit hard to look at, used more vocabulary, had more mistakes, and even introduced some grammar points in the exercises. Still a relatively good text though, which tells you something about the quality of textbooks in general. Anyway, I’m on Lesson 19 of 67 in the new textbook. It’s going to be more time consuming than I thought – probably about 1 hour per lesson. That’s the biggest change to my daily routine, which is now:

1) 30-45 min Anki reviews.

2) 30-60 min read passages that have audio out loud, then listen to the audio while following along silently with the text.

3) 60 min conversation class. Curate a list of words/sentences for the next day's Anki reviews.

(60 min listen to audio stripped from easy youtube vlogs if I walk.)

(30 min watch Netflix series during lunch.)

4) 60 min textbook.

(30 min watch Netflix/YouTube videos.)

It amounts to about 3 hrs of full concentration study, with up to an additional 2 hrs of partial attention listening/watching (in parentheses above)

 

Learning Italian every day!

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#67
Posts1663Likes1103Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Italian
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Thai

Yay, I finally received my paper textbook from Amazon – first paper book purchase of any kind in many years! I still use the pdf to study with, but I wanted to do the right thing and purchase this excellent book (no kindle version available). I haven’t been making as much progress with it as I’d hoped for, because I’ve only been doing about 30 min/day. I’m on lesson 33 of 67, and that’s after skipping 5 lessons on the future tense (I’ll learn the future in the future). I looked through the table of contents and confirmed that the six basic tenses I posted about earlier are covered, plus two additional tenses.

 

I just hit 20 hours of conversation, and I’ve decided to start considering myself to be around A2. Two of my last three teachers, without any prompting, have told me I’m at “a good intermediate level”. I don’t kid myself – I know I’m not B1 yet. But I’m confident that I’m no longer A1, which is nice because some teachers refuse to teach students below A2. Italian italki tutors aren’t as picky as German ones though; there are more Germans that wouldn’t teach below B1 than Italians that won’t teach below A2. Not sure why, but I suspect it’s based on demand.


I had an intense teacher today. Harsh corrections, even though I asked her to keep it to a minimum. I complained, and she eased off a bit. Then we got stuck on a question she asked. I said something like “I review all of my languages” and she asked “why do you say ‘my’ languages?” I asked if it was wrong, because I actually had a German teacher who said it was a bit unnatural. However she said it was correct, but she wanted to know what I meant by “my” languages. We went back and forth a couple times:

Is it wrong?

No?

Why are you asking me if it’s not wrong?

Because I don’t know what you mean.

Is it wrong?

Etc., etc.

Finally, she elaborated that by saying “my” languages, I’m implying that I’ve already studied them. And I said of course I have; I’d thought that was obvious, but I guess it wasn’t. Maybe she heard my long list of languages and assumed it was a wish list or something. Then she listed her languages, three European plus Chinese, and I said “Really – did you live in China?” She said no, she’d learned it at Uni, and I was thinking to myself “yeah, right” because I’ve heard that before. Then she said she wanted to speak a little Chinese with me. I told her I didn’t want to get confused, but she could ask me again at the end of the hour. When we finally did speak it, I was pleasantly surprised at how good she was, especially her pronunciation (she pronounced United States (mei3guo2) as mei2guo2, but that was the only obvious error). She was surprised with my level too (we are both around B2 imo), and finally looked at the levels listed on my profile and was like “wow”. So the conversation ended on a positive note.

Learning Italian every day!

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