Learning and Maintaining 10+ Languages

Posts1366Likes950Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Portuguese
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, 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.

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#41
Posts1366Likes950Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Portuguese
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, 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.

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#42
Posts1366Likes950Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Portuguese
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, 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.

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#43
Posts1366Likes950Joined18/3/2018LocationBellingham / US
Native
English
Learning Portuguese
Other Chinese - Mandarin, French, Japanese, Korean, 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.

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#44
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