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1000 hours with Czech(TAC’13 Team Kofola)

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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Theodisce
Octoglot
Senior Member
Poland
Joined 3115 days ago

127 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: Polish*, Latin, Ancient Greek, Russian, Czech, French, English, German
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Portuguese

 
 Message 1 of 24
14 June 2010 at 4:52pm | IP Logged 
OK, I finally decided to put more information into this entry.

My interest in languages started relatively late, that is, when I was 19. Earlier in my life I used to think of myself as being unable to learn a foreign language: poor results of my school-based language acquisition seemed to confirm that. At some point I became interested in reggae music and found myself in a situation in which I felt forced to read in English just to get informations about my favorite genre that were unavailable in Polish. The real milestone was a book about the Coptic Church I read in English without consulting a dictionary. I became more confident and started to widen my linguistic horizons.

Here is a list of languages I've spent some time with. I've been counting hours I spend with my languages since May 2011 and that applies to all the languages in the list.

1. English. This is the obvious number one both in terms of importance and hours of study spent. Hours spent since May 2011: 548. I don't count most of the reading I do on the internet, neither do I count my university English classes and English language songs I listen to. My goals for 2013- expand, expand, expand : )

2. Czech. This is, after English, the language I've been exploring with greatest intensity, which translates to 640 hours of study placing me somewhere between B1 and B2. If everything goes as planned, by the end of the year I will have studied Czech for 1000 hours. My 5 months long stay in Brno starting in February can only help accomplish my goal.

3. French. I've been dabbling with French for few years and even managed to achieve some results. In fact, French was the first language I learned exclusively on my own up to the point when I can read and listen to the things that interest my. I can follow a university lecture with ease, audiobooks, however, are much tougher. Hours spent since May 2011: 218.

4. Russian. Man, it was a gamble. I got some audiobooks and started to listen to them being almost completely new to the language. I was uncertain if that would be of any benefit, but yeah, it paid off well. 200 hours of exposure enable me to listen and understand a great variety of materials, mainly scholarly, but not only. I believe my Russian will enable me to detect at what stage passive competence turns into active. I would be surprised if 400 hours of study didn't do the trick, but I'm eager to see what will happen after 300 hours. Also, with Russian two or three (if you count Ukraine) neighbor countries are open for me.

5. Slovak. I started my Slavic adventure with Slovak and do not regret it. It gave me confidence I can learn languages the way I like- with little effort and much pleasure. Although my foundation in Czech is so much stronger now, I have little trouble understanding Slovak. And I'm really well pleased with all those marvelous ancient towns of northern Slovakia...

6. German. This is the language in which I used to see just an instrument of school torture. Everyone in Poland knows that the local German third language teaching system is entirely broken. But when I realized what a wonderful source of knowledge German was, I had no choice and stated exploring the language. I'm far from being fluent, but I can read a history handbook if I want to. I think I'll be perfecting my German next year.

[tbc]



[Please note that I started this log aiming at mastering Slovak. I switched to Czech after some time and now I'm going to take part in TAC 2013 as a member of the Czechoslovak team]




//Original post begins here//

As my last log proved to be a failure, I changed my approach to language learning. I still use my Latin, Greek, German, French and some other languages, but what is the main focus is Slovak. I didn't want to start from a scratch, so I've make my way through severals hours of study.

I'm using "Colloquial" Slovak which perhaps is specially beneficial for me, as I do speak a very similar language. It has 16 lessons, right now I'm in the middle of the fourth. There are about four dialogues in each lesson plus grammar explanations. I read each dialogue several times and then recreate it translating it back from an English version to Slovak. I often review the material. When I finish it, I will start a Polish-based course, longer and more advanced.

I listen to podcasts of Slovak National Radio and have no great problems understending about 95% or so.

I also use some scholarly Slovak works to improve my reading, I prefer non fiction at the moment, though I had some great encounters with classical Slovak literature. Wikipedia serves as another great place to practice.

And, last but very important, I spent some hours in Slovakia something like a month ago and have a little conversation, being perfectly understood. It's so motivating.

Edited by Theodisce on 21 January 2013 at 10:40am



lynxrunner
Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
United States
crittercryptics.com
Joined 3151 days ago

361 posts - 99 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish*, French
Studies: Russian, Swedish, Haitian Creole

 
 Message 2 of 24
14 June 2010 at 6:48pm | IP Logged 
Good luck with Slovak! Out of interest, why do you want to learn Slovak? I've heard that
it's the most "neutral" Slavic language and that once you learn Slovak, it's much easier
to read Czech.

I hope this log goes better. :)



Theodisce
Octoglot
Senior Member
Poland
Joined 3115 days ago

127 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: Polish*, Latin, Ancient Greek, Russian, Czech, French, English, German
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Portuguese

 
 Message 3 of 24
14 June 2010 at 7:51pm | IP Logged 
Thank you! I've already invested to much time in the language to stop.

Why Slovak? Well, there are several reasons. Slovak, as compared to Czech, is little explored. And my own understanding of the chic factor is: the less popular, the better. It's pretty narcissistic, but that's not all. The Slovaks are inspired by the Czechs already in the early modern period, yet they do belong to Hungary and after Hapsburg take control of remains of Hungarian kingdom, they are in effect the only part not annexed by the Ottomans. Slovakia has been a melting pot of various national, religious and cultural traditions, switching form overwhelming Protestant majority to largely Catholic land, still some of the greatest personalities from XIX century are Lutheran.

The Poles generally don't have a stereotypical image of the Slovaks. We have an idea about who Czechs are, but sadly we, as a nation, know almost nothing about the people, who are, so to say, our closest relatives. And yes, Slovak is similar to Polish, but it's a firmly established language on it's own. Plus, I live in Krakow, a city relatively close to the border. Those charming towns of northern Slovakia have a special place in my soul. Well, there could be also a kind of work opportunity for a person who speaks the language.

If Slovak is the most neutral Slavic language, I don't know, but I'm inclined to agree with you. I read Czech and listen to Czech radio from time to time, Slovak really facilitates it. I may be wrong, but there seems to be still a form of Czechoslovak sens, at least when it comes to Slovaks and Czechs reading books in corresponding languages.

Poland should seek more contact with her neighbors, especially when language barrier could be easily overcome. Gosh, I want Slovak and Czechs books to be sold in Poland on a regular basis. We concentrate to much on the world west from Elbe river, which is easy to understand if you know Polish history, but, for God's sake, we are Western Slavs...

2 persons have voted this message useful



Emme
Triglot
Senior Member
Italy
Joined 2576 days ago

980 posts - 610 votes 
Speaks: Italian*, English, German
Studies: Russian, Swedish, French

 
 Message 4 of 24
14 June 2010 at 8:01pm | IP Logged 
Good luck with your new log and your Slovak studying!
It seems many find it useful to concentrate on just one language at a time, so your new approach might be just what you need to see great results.
You sound quite passionate about Slovak: I wish you never to lose your enthusiasm!
Keep us posted on your progress.



Derian
Triglot
Senior Member
PolandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2537 days ago

227 posts - 238 votes 
Speaks: Polish*, English, German
Studies: Spanish, Czech, French, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 5 of 24
14 June 2010 at 8:26pm | IP Logged 
Theodisce wrote:
Poland should seek more contact with her neighbors, especially when language barrier could be easily overcome. Gosh, I want Slovak and Czechs books to be sold in Poland on a regular basis.
Exactly, mate!
I find it ridiculous when Poles communicate with Czechs/Slovaks in English. Whereas we could just learn some basics of the other language and be able to converse comfortably using our own language, each of us.

I live some 50km from the Czech boarder. Not long ago I went to the Czech Republic to buy something. I had prepared myself beforehand, I checked the vocabulary I needed, learned some basic phrases etc. I didn't spent more than 3 hours to learn all the necessary stuff.
Then I was able to do all the shopping, buy a bus ticket, ask for direction in Czech. I had a converstation with the lady in the pharmacy, and I was able to get my message across and also understand the instructions (regarding the medicine I was buying) that she gave me.

It was soo exciting!

Edited by Derian on 14 June 2010 at 8:35pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Theodisce
Octoglot
Senior Member
Poland
Joined 3115 days ago

127 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: Polish*, Latin, Ancient Greek, Russian, Czech, French, English, German
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Portuguese

 
 Message 6 of 24
16 June 2010 at 12:05pm | IP Logged 
Thank you all for your comments and support!

Up to this point, I have been learning Slovak for 20 hours. It's 10% of 200 hours required to make a level up, at least according to the European scale.

I have no problem with listening to the radio and in fact this makes a good deal of my language practice. And I know it actually works, I'm catching a lot of vocabulary and word formation from radio shows.

When it comes to reading, scholarly materials are quite easy for me. The time is coming to get used to fictional literature. As it is with all my languages, I lack many simple vocabulary items while knowing some academic hard stuff. If someone could suggest a good and easy to find book to start, I would be very grateful.

I created few texts in Slovak. I've decided to use the words I know and only consult a dictionary two or three times per one text. I remember also a lot of dialogues form the Colloquial Slovak quite well and my pronunciation is getting somehow better.

Most importantly I can see the results. The work is being paid with fruits and I didn't abandon the plan, so my will seems to got stronger.



Slovak_anglo
Diglot
Groupie
United States
facebook.com/deliver
Joined 2574 days ago

87 posts - 13 votes
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Italian, Slovak

 
 Message 7 of 24
16 June 2010 at 5:41pm | IP Logged 
Congrats=) hopefully one day I will be able to start learning this language full time.

Veľa Šťastia

S_A



Theodisce
Octoglot
Senior Member
Poland
Joined 3115 days ago

127 posts - 40 votes
Speaks: Polish*, Latin, Ancient Greek, Russian, Czech, French, English, German
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Portuguese

 
 Message 8 of 24
24 June 2010 at 2:51am | IP Logged 
You are keeping me even more motivated, thank you!

30 hours. Radio listening d o e s work. I don't even notice when words make their way to my head and stay there. I discover I know expressions, case endings and tense forms I didn't learn before. It's great joy, astonishingly rewarding experience. I'm having such a great time.

Concerning Colloquial series: I could use it to learn other Slavic languages, maybe even Romance. I can even imagine using my Colloquial Albanian book to teach myself enough to start reading simple texts. But the grammar notes are absolutely insufficient: when I read something like "sometimes male nouns get locative endings -ovi" I can guess what it means only because I have strong foundation in Polish and Latin case system. The basic question is: when nouns X get ending Z and when they don't? I believe Colloquial series can ease the process of mastering the grammar and give substantial vocabulary of more or less 1500 words. But it will leave you alone with your questions if you don't have already some knowledge of the studied language.

But in my case, the combination works fine. I'm doing 5th lesson in Colloquial. I realized dialogue content isn't really so poor compared to Assimil: notice that each lesson has about 4 dialogues, not to count sentences in grammar section. If we put it together, I believe it will give about 70& of Assimil content. And I must say I'm tired of Assimil. It's the best course I know, but I was using it for several languages and I get sick when I see an Assimil book. It doesn't prove anything about the series, it only proves using one method all the time may cause negative feelings.

Edited by Theodisce on 24 June 2010 at 2:52am




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