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Mick’s Continuous TAC Multilingual Bliss!

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mick33
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3274 days ago

1336 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish
Studies: Thai, Polish, Afrikaans, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish

 
 Message 1 of 228
05 January 2010 at 10:00am | IP Logged 
I really like that title, as it's a very concise way of summing up my main goal; which is to become multilingual! Now that I have written that, and remembering the lessons I learned from TAC '09, the next task is to explain my plans and goals in detail.

NB: If you just want to read about my activities in 2011, they start at the bottom of page 16 with message 128
Basic Schedule:
  • Swedish & Finnish: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
  • Afrikaans & Spanish: Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday

I will study each language for about 1 hour on the days listed. I never get much studying done on Sundays, so it's better not to include that day in the schedule.
Unfortunately, I cannot find any time to study Latin until mid-June at the soonest. I spent a lot of time trying to find 3 hours a week to devote to it, but I just couldn't make that happen. Hopefully, I can learn Latin next year.

Definite Goals: These will be listed by individual language, but otherwise they may not be in any particular order. I plan to assess the progress I've made in regard to the expected outcomes by December 31, 2010 and again by December 31, 2011. My 2011 log begins on page 16.

Afrikaans:
1. Spend a half hour reading and writing, which will include scriptorium. I will use the Bible and online articles and hopefully eventually read a novel. N.B. Novel is yet to be decided.

2. Complete Teach Yourself (hereafter called TY) Afrikaans by working through a few of the chapters to make sure I plug a few embarrassing gaps in my vocabulary. Perhaps also acquire the audio for for Colloquial Afrikaans and use this along with TY. I intend to complete these courses within 2 or 3 months

3. Find people to talk to, preferably native speakers. This one may be difficult, but is important since I have no idea whether my pronunciation is any good or not. I sometimes encounter words I understand in reading but can't pronounce. I might eventually use Skype for this but I make no promises now.

4. Spend at least 1 hour a week listening to online radio broadcasts and music sung in Afrikaans; although online radio broadcasts are preferred. I will do this because I still need to make improvement in listening comprehension.

My expected (or desired) outcome is to raise my Afrikaans to what I call high intermediate level. I will give my tentative definitions for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced level language skills in one of the following paragraphs.

Spanish:
1. Same as 1st goal for Afrikaans.

2. Similar to 2nd goal for Afrikaans, but with the following differences: Continue working through the textbook from the my Spanish class. Spend a week going through the Michel Thomas course I acquired, and then supplement TY Spanish with the Living Language course I never completed last year. I expect this to take 2 or 3 months.

3. Talk with the Spanish speakers I already know and seek out native speakers to converse with. This should give me an idea of how much work I still need to do on pronunciation, listening comprehension and vocabulary.

4. Same as for Afrikaans

Spanish is a language I know I will have opportunities to speak without traveling abroad, so I hope to get to what I will call low advanced level.

Finnish:
1.Learn more vocabulary, so that I can actually have things to say and write. I hope to find native speakers to talk to by July or August, but I can't guarantee that will happen.

2. Complete TY Finnish and translate some song lyrics. I will supplement TY Finnish with a few websites. I intend to complete TY Finnish in 3 months. 2a. After completing TY Finnish, begin Linguaphone course.

3. Practice pronunciation by singing along to music and listening to radio broadcasts, podcasts etc., and perhaps some modified form of shadowing. I know my pronunciation needs improvement as I am still very self-conscious when I practice speaking.

4. Start reading online articles and by July or August use the Bible as well. Also by the end of 2010 I will actually begin reading the Kalevala* 4a. Over the summer start scriptorium work.

I made a mistake last year in studying Finnish, I spent too much time on grammar (contrary to what I wrote attempting to explain how I claim to learn languages) and often neglected things like vocabulary, reading, writing and speaking. I am not opposed to learning grammar, indeed I think it's necessary for me to do so, but I believe I am most successful when I learn grammar along with other components of a language. My expected outcome for Finnish is to be at a mid intermediate level.

Swedish:
1. Listen to music sung in Swedish and online broadcasts to get more accustomed to how Swedish should sound. After 1 month of spending at least 1 hour listening to Swedish start TY and Colloquial Swedish in April and complete them by July. I'm even more self-conscious about Swedish pronunciation than about Finnish and this has really slowed me down.

2. Start reading online articles, and perhaps the Bible by mid July. Add scriptorium also in July. Acquire and start reading one Pippi Longstocking book (in Swedish) by August.

3. Find people to talk to by September. As with Finnish and Afrikaans, I can't guarantee this will happen but there probably are a few Swedes in Washington, and I hope to meet them.

4. Learn more vocabulary (using methods already briefly mentioned for Finnish) and practice writing.

I started Swedish during the summer and because autumn 2009 was my most disorganized period for learning languages, (My struggles in chemistry class messed up everything!!) I'm not surprised I know even less Swedish than Finnish. However, Swedish vocabulary is sometimes similar to English and Afrikaans so reaching middle to high intermediate level or even low advanced level by the end of 2010 definitely seems possible, although admittedly ambitious.

My tentative definitions for language skill levels I am not a linguist, so these definitions are just a way for me to have a basic framework to use when attempting to measure my own progress. These definitions will likely be modified as I progress, so this particular section is the one that is most likely to be frequently edited.

I still don't have a definition of fluency (or perhaps I should write proficiency) that I like; so I use the following terms: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced levels. Within these levels, especially the intermediate level, I have added subcategories of low, middle and high. These are, for now, defined below:

LEVEL 1 - BEGINNER: Starts with knowing nothing. After about 3-6 months (I'm being cautious here) beginner level ends when I know how to write and say a few words, but I will only understand very little of what others say to me, and can only read and maybe understand very basic texts. Most attempts at conversation will be brief and stilted.

Low Beginner Level: I can greet people, say goodbye, and ask "How are you?","Where do you live?", and "Where are you from?" and a few more phrases. I probably pronounce nothing correctly and don't really know enough vocabulary to write or have a conversation that lasts much beyond the answers to the questions above, and I will say that people always talk too fast. Can't write or read anything anything yet.

Middle Beginner Level: I can say or write a little more than what is mentioned above but my speaking and writing definitely contain many errors most native speakers would never make. At this level I have little confidence in my ability to say or write anything that isn't total gibberish and am soon asking if the other person can speak English, and if they can speak English they will surely do so. This is the level I have reached in Finnish and Swedish.

High Beginner Level: I can keep a simple conversation going for perhaps five minutes, talk about the weather, and ask for directions. I can sometimes even understand the directions I receive. I can also order food in a restaurant but probably can't send the food back if I get something I didn't order. When I speak, my American English accent is probably very noticeable and it is very likely people will tell me this. What I say is sometimes understandable, but often not expressed the way a native speaker would and may be too colloquial, too blunt, or even unnecessarily formal. I can definitely recognize my target language when I hear it spoken or see it written down and I understand fragments, but often still answer or write in English and often ask "what does that word mean?". Conversations with native speakers are still likely to be brief, but sometimes I might notice that I am gradually improving. I can write very simple sentences, and could briefly tell people about my interests and hobbies, ask about their interests and hobbies, but the real question here would be whether or not I can understand their answers. My confidence level has slightly increased, and I am anxious for more opportunities to speak my target language. Most language courses are still quite useful at this level.

LEVEL 2 - INTERMEDIATE: This is a trickier level to define, but here I will definitely be above beginner level. Somewhere between low and middle intermediate is probably where many language learners stop for various reasons. At low intermediate level, I can still read things like "Spanish for Knuckleheads" and consider it a good review, but in the middle and high intermediate levels, such material will be a waste of time. In conversations people seem to speak at a normal speed but I'll still miss things.

Low Intermediate Level: I can talk for 5-10 minutes about a few things, such as sports, maybe a little history and politics and can accurately guess the meaning of some unfamiliar words solely based on context. I read and understand a few newspaper articles, websites, or song lyrics but will miss most cultural references. I begin to understand jokes told by others and even sometimes know when to laugh. I probably can't write quite as well as I speak but can be more descriptive when I do write, though I still rely heavily on dictionaries. I hope that I make fewer mistakes when speaking and writing and occasionally understand and use colloquial words and phrases. Regional dialects are still hard for me to understand but not entirely impenetrable. I don't lose confidence in my speaking or writing ability when my mistakes are pointed out to me, and I make less of them. My pronunciation will still show that I speak English, but hopefully will be rapidly improving. I start to think spontaneously in the language sometimes, maybe even have a dream or two in the language. I hope my abilities in Afrikaans and Spanish can be truthfully described as being at this level, but I'm not completely certain, which is to be expected at this level.

Middle Intermediate Level: Frustrating level to reach because most auto-didactic language learning materials probably stop here. If you like language classes in schools or immersion programs this could be the level where I presume you would find them very beneficial. I believe this level takes at least 1 year to get to, and it may take at least another year to progress beyond this level. I would know more vocabulary and grammar, could actually watch TV and movies or listen the radio without getting bored, though I still may understand only about half of what is being said. I start to grasp a few cultural references and can even make a few jokes. My knowledge of colloquial expressions is improving. I still make mistakes in writing and speaking but now these are getting a little rarer. I may occasionally be told that I speak "language X" pretty well, and sometimes this could be sincere praise rather than merely polite encouragement. My pronunciation has hopefully improved to the point that people still know I'm foreign, but can't quite figure out where I'm from. I find myself thinking spontaneously in the language more often, and occasionally "language X" interferes when I speak or write English. Fewer native speakers will switch to English when talking to me or tell me my speech is incomprehensible, but these things still happen at this level which is good for keeping me humble and honest about my abilities. I could take some classes at a high school, and sit for written tests, but above average grades (or marks) are unlikely. I'm not here yet in any of my target languages but want to be at this level or better by 2012.

High Intermediate Level: A more frustrating level to reach, because here is where more native speakers may say "You're too modest" if I were to say "I don't speak language X well". This level would probably take at least 2 years to get to if I were living in a country where "language X" is spoken but perhaps much longer to reach at home. I really hope (but can't say for sure) that my pronunciation is beginning to sound native now, but strangers might think I am from another region or country where their language is spoken. Thus, if I were to speak Swedish to a Swede they may ask if I'm Finnish and when speaking Spanish in Spain a Spaniard may think I'm from Mexico or Argentina. I could take classes at university level now and may even do fairly well in them. I make even less mistakes in speaking and writing and those that I do make will usually be the same mistakes native speakers might make. I can read literature and some scientific research and understand most of what is written, though not everything. If I were in an immersion environment very few people would switch to English when speaking with me at this level, and when they do my English might begin to sound foreign.

LEVEL 3 - ADVANCED: Low advanced level is my ultimate goal in all four of my target languages. If I am being very optimistic, I think this level would take no less than 2-2 and 1/2 years to reach living in a native speaking environment; but more realistically this level is probably attained in 5-20 years.

Low Advanced: I would understand almost every conversation and could read books for pleasure rather than solely for language learning. The few words I can't understand are rarely used and most native speakers won't know them either thus they may not be important. I would have a very high level of confidence in my ability to speak and write and only make minor mistakes when I'm tired, extremely nervous or really sick. Regional dialects don't usually cause serious comprehension problems for me now, and I may even be able to speak one. In an immersion environment, no native speakers would speak English with me unless other English speakers are present; because now I really would speak "language X" very well. This is the level I think I have reached in English and it has taken my whole life so far to get here.

Middle Advanced: This subcategory is where definition becomes almost impossible and this level most likely represents the very outer limits of what I can hope to achieve in proficiency or fluency even in English. At this level, I presume that I could take or even teach a university level course and do very well. I would also be told truthfully that I speak and write better than most native speakers. Maybe I could now start reading literature from the Middle Ages if I wanted to.

High Advanced: This level might be more a hypothetical level than a realistically attainable level. Then again I never know, theoretically I suppose I could get here. Reaching this level would mean that I would have mastered the language; which would mean that I know every possible word and grammatical construction and understand every possible dialect and speak them all with virtually flawless pronunciation. I would also expect to read anything I want and understand it.

This definition section will be edited frequently; but at least I completed it. The fact that it took me 3 hours is a little frustrating, but I think it was still worthwhile.

Potential Challenges Anyone who read my previous log may recall that over the summer I had many problems with my computer and even went three weeks without posting. That should not happen this year, but other issues will arise: 1. I will complete my first two years of college education sometime this year and will likely be getting a job and moving somewhere else which will cause me to lose at least a day of language study time. After I move I may not have reliable internet access immediately, and this is why I did not sign up for one of the TAC teams.

Before I go I need to add a few things:
1.My most important goal is to have fun learning languages.

2. Always remember that I'm doing this to give myself more options when communicating with others.

3. Last year I had a slightly unrelated goal of improving my typing and since my typing (even in English) still needs improvement I am keeping that goal for this year.

I promise to post once a week, but probably will post 2 or more times a week.

I wish I hadn't taken 3 days to complete this intro post, but I am glad I now have more detailed goals and a more organized schedule.

As with last year's log any comments, advice, corrections or questions are always welcome.

Mick

*EDIT 30/12/2010 : No, I did not start reading the Kalevala in 2010, and I doubt I will do it in 2011 either. The Kalevala is a treat I'll save for a later date since I would first need a bit of exposure to Karelian and Savo dialects.

Edited by mick33 on 31 March 2011 at 9:15pm

11 persons have voted this message useful



mick33
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3274 days ago

1336 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish
Studies: Thai, Polish, Afrikaans, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish

 
 Message 2 of 228
07 January 2010 at 8:04pm | IP Logged 
So far this week has been more about adjusting to a new schedule at school; this quarter I'm taking a biology class that meets on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and also has a 2 hour lab on Monday and Wednesday. However I am already seeing a benefit from my language study schedule, I don't waste time thinking about which languages to study on a given day.

For Swedish and Finnish I have been listening to online radio broadcasts at http://www.sr.se and yle radio. One strange thing I've noticed is that although neither language sounds like an indistinct jumble of sounds, I still understand very little at this point. More surprising is that I hear more familiar Finnish words. How can that be? Swedish is definitely more closely related to English and Afrikaans. I guess this explains why I'm listening to a Swedish program right now. The Swedish Radio site also has an interesting program: Finnmix. This is the first bilingual radio program I've ever heard, it sounds like one person speaks in Swedish and the second one in Meänkieli Finnish. I think they try to talk about the same things in both languages but I'm not sure, so I'll listen to that program more often.

Mick

Edited by mick33 on 31 March 2011 at 9:14pm



mick33
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3274 days ago

1336 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish
Studies: Thai, Polish, Afrikaans, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish

 
 Message 3 of 228
08 January 2010 at 8:15pm | IP Logged 
Wow! Someone voted my rambling introductory post useful. Thanks

Acabo de traducir una canción, pero tengo que ir a la clase de matemáticas ahora. Después de mi clase, voy a escribir una traducción.

¡Ay caramba! No recuerdo vocabulario. Estoy avergonzado.

Hasta luego
Mick

Edited by mick33 on 09 January 2010 at 1:18am



mick33
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3274 days ago

1336 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish
Studies: Thai, Polish, Afrikaans, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish

 
 Message 4 of 228
15 January 2010 at 11:00pm | IP Logged 
Por desgracia, he estado enfermo desde el sábado pasado. He atrasado en estudios pero no estoy preocupado. Yo necesito estudiar más ahora y terminaré y escribir las traducciónes más tarde.

This year's TAC is off to a great start for everyone else, I'm sick for a week and my log almost drops off the edge of the earth. So, obviously it's time for an update. In spite of being sick, I have been learning compound tenses in Spanish and wanted to practice writing them and I have been reviewing Afrikaans vocabulary that I forgot over Christmas break.

This post should be longer but I'm having people over for dinner tonight and need to get ready for that now.

Mick     

21/1/2010 EDIT: Rereading this today I realize that I was really sick last week, which explains the large number of typos I've had to correct in this message.

Edited by mick33 on 21 January 2010 at 9:09pm



mick33
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3274 days ago

1336 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish
Studies: Thai, Polish, Afrikaans, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish

 
 Message 5 of 228
21 January 2010 at 9:35pm | IP Logged 
I think I'm finally getting over what I hope is just a very bad cold, which explains why my log disappeared again. This is worth mentioning because it means that I have done very little studying recently; although my idea of listening to more Swedish and Finnish is slowly paying off. I still don't understand as much as I'd like to, but the sounds I hear seem natural to me now; and I recognize more words.

Mick



Edited by mick33 on 22 January 2010 at 8:57pm



mick33
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3274 days ago

1336 posts - 301 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Finnish
Studies: Thai, Polish, Afrikaans, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Spanish, Swedish

 
 Message 6 of 228
22 January 2010 at 9:48pm | IP Logged 
Ek het vanmôre soms afrikaanse musiek geluisterd, en ek sal nou 'n baie mooi volkslied
O Boereplaas vertaal. NB My vertaling is woordelik, en jy kan nie dit sing nie.

O Boereplaas
Literally O farmers farm, though I believe a better rendering may be people's land or motherland signifying an emotional connection to a plot of land, especially since in South Africa "Boer" has taken on another connotation, that of a distinct ethnic group or nationality.

O boereplaas, geboortegrond!
Jou het ek lief bo alles.
Al dwaal ek heel die wêreld rond,
waar so gelukkig, so gesond?

O motherland, birthplace ground!
You have I love above all
Although wander I whole the world around
where so fortunate, so well? (or wholesome, fit, sound, hearty]
I think this last line is asking "Where else am I so fortuante or well?"


O boereplaas, geboortegrond!
Jou het ek lief bo alles.

O motherland, birthplace ground
You have I love above all


O moederhuis, waar ooit so tuis?
Jou het ek lief bo alles.
Die wêreld, rykdom, prag en praal
kan jou verlies my nooit betaal.
O moederhuis, waar ooit so tuis?
Jou het ek lief bo alles.

O motherhouse, where ever so at home?
You have I love above all.
The world's riches, splendor and pageantry (this line may need more work)
Can your loss me never repay (or Your loss can never be repayed or maybe replaced)
O mother house, where ever so at home?
You have I love above all.


O moedertaal, o soetste taal!
Jou het ek lief bo alles.
Van al die tale wat ek hoor,
niks wat my siel ooit so bekoor.
O moedertaal, o soetste taal!
Jou het ek lief bo alles.

O mother tongue, o sweetest tongue!
You have I love above all.
Of all the tongues that I hear
nothing (else) that my soul ever so charm (or captivate)
O mother tongue, O sweetest tongue!
You have I love above all.


Ek het anders liedvertalings gemaak, maar ek sal nie nou hulle tik nie.

Lekker dag
Mick


Edited by mick33 on 02 February 2010 at 7:12pm



darkwhispersdal
Senior Member
Wales
Joined 3390 days ago

294 posts - 70 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Ancient Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, Japanese, Latin

 
 Message 7 of 228
22 January 2010 at 10:12pm | IP Logged 
mick33 wrote:
I think I'm finally getting over what I hope is just a very bad cold, which explains why my log disappeared again. This is worth mentioning because it means that I have done very little studying recently; although my idea of listening to more Swedish and Finnish is slowly paying off. I still don't understand as much as I'd like to, but the sounds I hear seem natural to me now; and I recognize more words.

Mick



I can sympathise I was ill last week and couldn't bring myself to study at all.



Sprachjunge
Diglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 4515 days ago

368 posts - 180 votes 
Speaks: English*, GermanC2
Studies: Spanish, Russian

 
 Message 8 of 228
23 January 2010 at 12:21am | IP Logged 
You do not know how gratifying it is to read a post by someone who has similarly defined levels of proficiency! Truly, this has made my day. I wish we could formalize it and call it the "Mick Scale" or something. Then, when someone on HTLAL says, "Oh, but I see you're officially C2 in German?" then I would kindly respond, "Yes, but I grade myself with the Mick Scale, where I'm a high intermediate. That's why I need to work hard."


3 persons have voted this message useful



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