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Dreams of Valhalla, study-and-click

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Teango
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 Message 9 of 30
2010 03 October at 6:33pm | IP Logged 
"Dreams of Valhalla", Day 3
(An experiment in learning Swedish)

Study-and-click: 6 hours (18 total)
New passive words: 408 (1520 total)
Today's reading score: 81% (+7%, "Män som hatar kvinnor", Kapitel 4, 100 words)

I really wanted to curl up with a snoozy Sunday film on the sofa this afternoon, but I pushed on through and fortified my resolve with a cup of tea on the balcony instead, and then spent the rest of the afternoon rowing away until I'd put in another 6 hours. Will weekend study stints ever get any easier? Probably not for this impatient wanderling.

I later tried listening to some Swedish radio and YouTube clips for a bit, just to see how much I could understand after these last few days' study. And so far...not much really...just a few new words here and there, which is a little disappointing compared to my more promising reading progress. I guess my ears need a LOT more training and time than my eyes.
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Teango
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 Message 10 of 30
2010 04 October at 7:27pm | IP Logged 
"Dreams of Valhalla", Day 4
(An experiment in learning Swedish)

Study-and-click: 6 hours (24 total)
New passive words: 416 (1936 total)
Today's reading score: 87% (+6%, "Män som hatar kvinnor", Kapitel 5, 100 words)

I managed to fit my study around having the washing machine fixed this morning. So I've been switching back and forth between English, German and Swedish a lot today, and feel oddly pan-Germanic right at the moment.

I don't know what it is exactly about Swedish, but it seems to have a really pleasant calming effect on my overall day, and increases my confidence in speaking German too for some bizarre reason (although I did Swedish roll an 'r' by accident when I ordered a Brezel last night).

Out of sheer curiosity, I looked up a few of the texts towards the end of the Swedish Colloquial and Teach Yourself series (that have otherwise been collecting dust, so sadly left abandoned on my shelves since I bought them many years ago). I thought the longer passages would probably be out of my league, but found that I could translate these surprisingly well, meandering around specialist topic vocabulary of course, and this made me feel especially positive.
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Teango
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 Message 11 of 30
2010 05 October at 8:53pm | IP Logged 
"Dreams of Valhalla", Day 5
(An experiment in learning Swedish)

Study-and-click: 3 hours (27 total)
New passive words: 223 (2159 total)
Today's reading score: 84% (-3%, "Män som hatar kvinnor", Kapitel 6, 100 words)

With so much to sort out with work and house hunting, I only had enough time to smuggle a few hours aboard today. I felt very tempted to just take the day off from studying altogether, as I'm dog tired with all that's going on around me at the moment, but am glad I decided not to break the chain now.

I notice I occasionally struggle with similar sounding words, that ironically have completely different meanings sometimes, like "alltid" (always) and "aldrig" (never), but this thankfully gets easier with more and more exposure.

Just looking forward to hitting the hay tonight (I wonder if there's an equivalent expression for this in Swedish)...

Edited by Teango on 2010 05 October at 8:55pm

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Teango
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 Message 12 of 30
2010 06 October at 6:16pm | IP Logged 
"Dreams of Valhalla", Day 6
(An experiment in learning Swedish)

Study-and-click: 2 hours (29 total)
New passive words: 146 (2305 total)
Today's reading score: 91% (+7%, "Män som hatar kvinnor", Kapitel 7, 100 words)

Another busy morning with a light seasoning of Swedish in the afternoon. I'd put in a couple more hours, but I'm going out to a tapas bar and catching up with my Spanish tutor now (who's recently arrived back in Germany). So I'll have to knock any further study on the head tonight, but am looking forward to an interesting medley of languages, nibbles and drinks to end the day.

I set out today with no real great expectations, especially with just a couple of hours under my belt, so I'm absolutely thrilled to achieve 91% in my reading test today. Perhaps it was an easier section overall, as scores are subject to natural variance, but it's still a pleasant surprise. From 31% to 91% in under a week is much better than I ever imagined, and this means that I have already achieved (or at least am very close to achieving) my primary goal for this experiment.

Edited by Teango on 2010 20 October at 12:31am

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magister
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 Message 13 of 30
2010 06 October at 7:33pm | IP Logged 
What do you mean by "study and click"?
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M. Medialis
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 Message 14 of 30
2010 07 October at 12:54pm | IP Logged 
Teango wrote:
Just looking forward to hitting the hay tonight (I wonder if there's an equivalent expression for
this in Swedish)...


I have tried to come up with an equivalent expression but wasn't able. Here's my best shot:

If you are completely exhausted, (as in: you're so tired you could directly fall asleep without even taking your
clothes of), you can use "Stupa i säng".

"Stupa" means "Die in the battlefield"
"Säng" is bed.

Jag ser fram emot att stupa i säng. (I look forward to..)
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Teango
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Winner TAC 2010 & 2012
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teango.wordpress.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4838 days ago

2210 posts - 3734 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Russian
Studies: Hawaiian, French, Toki Pona

 
 Message 15 of 30
2010 07 October at 1:32pm | IP Logged 
Svenska:
"stupa i säng" - haha, det är exakt hur jag kände. Tack så mycket, Medialis! Jag ser fram emot att använda detta uttryck senare. :)

English:
"fall into bed" - haha, that's exactly how I felt. Thanks so much, Medialis! I look forward to using this expression later.

Edited by Teango on 2010 07 October at 1:43pm

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Teango
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teango.wordpress.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4838 days ago

2210 posts - 3734 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Russian
Studies: Hawaiian, French, Toki Pona

 
 Message 16 of 30
2010 07 October at 7:40pm | IP Logged 
magister wrote:
What do you mean by "study and click"?

After several years of playing with all sorts of methods and approaches, I've finally developed something that really works well for me. I call my method "study-and-click" because that's essentially what I do for the large part of it.

Here are my steps for a session of study-and-click (using a Swedish/English parallel text as an example):

STEP 1. I listen to Swedish and read Swedish, a line or a few words at a time, and then pause the audio. Whilst the audio is paused, I quickly look over at the aligned English text and work out the corresponding meaning of what I've just listened to and read. Then I return to the Swedish side and unpress pause to listen to the next bit of audio and follow along in the text. I continue like this until I've studied 1 page (which tends to work out at 2 minutes of audio in general). I also have a pencil handy to make a quick note in the margin of anything relating to pronunciation, morphology, grammar or vocabulary that particularly peaks my interest whilst studying. And when I get more advanced, I only hit pause when I reach a word or phrase I don't understand (this becomes more and more motivating when I don't need to press pause for several sentences or even whole paragraphs). I recommend doing this step TWICE to get the most out of the exercise.

STEP 2. I next listen to the same section of audio again whilst reading in Swedish, but keep my fingers off the pause button this time around. Instead, I click any new words that I can quickly read and understand in real-time using a simple clicker counter:



And when I say new words, I mean words that I haven't clicked before in previous sessions and that I never knew before but clearly do now. The main purpose of clicking is to actively recognise, review and retreive the meaning of new words shortly after studying, so that they have a better chance of sticking in my head. It's also very motivating to prove to myself that I know so many more words after a short session than before.

STEP 3. I round off the session by listening to the same section of audio again (for a fourth and final time during the session), but without referring to the texts at all. I click any new words that I can clearly hear and understand in real-time. This tends to result in less clicks counted than in step 2, but turns out to be excellent listening practice for recognising new words in continuous speech, and I even pick up a few extra words along the way.

This is how I log my progress:

I use a lined notebook and draw 4 columns on each page with a ruler, reserving one line for each section.

In column 1 (Study), I make a note of the section I'm currently studying (i.e. page number and section of the audio file).

In column 2 (L&R Click), I write down the number of new words I clicked whilst listening and reading during step 2.

In column 3 (L Click), I record the number of new words clicked whilst simply listening during step 3.

In column 4 (Notes), I make a short note of something interesting relating to pronunciation, morphology, grammar or vocabulary, that I queried or discovered for myself whilst studying the passage. These notes help consolidate what I've learned and can be used again as a basis for active sessions at a later stage.

After each big session (which tends to last anywhere between 1 and 2.5 hours in general), I record my subtotals under the last entry in each column for the time I spent on Swedish and how many words I clicked. In the "Notes" column, I write a short one-line summary of the section to use as a cue for later conversation and writing practice, and to remind me where I got to in the plot when I return to the novel after a break.

When I've finished studying for the day, I add up all my subtotals and put these in my notebook at the end and in my online log in the evening. As these totals visibly grow and grow, so does my self-esteem and sense of achievement in the new language.

This is how I test myself:

When I've reached a certain number of L&R clicks, I follow my studies up with a basic reading test (e.g. 300 words taken from a different chapter each time), using a separate novel for this purpose and an online dictionary or just sitting down with a native speaker. I count the number of words I recognise correctly and record the percentage in both my notebook and online log. Along with a rough idea of how passive vocabulary corresponds to reading levels, this provides me with further clues as to how well I'm progressing in reading comprehension. Here's my schedule and estimated levels for reading tests (assuming no prior knowledge of the target language or knowledge of closely related languages, and assigning "Polyjitsu" belts just for a bit of fun):

<80% (approx. A0-A2)
80% (approx. B1)
85% (approx. B1+)
90% (approx. B2)
93% (approx. B2+)
95% (approx. C1)
97% (approx. C1+)
98% (approx. C2)

A little note on timing:

I try to take a short break after every couple of sections (e.g. for no longer than 5 minutes), and a longer considered break (e.g. 20-30 minutes) around the 2 hour mark. I've found that this really helps to prevent burn-out and recharge the batteries, as well as maximise overall study. It also gives me a good excuse to get up out of my chair and grab some fresh air outside or exercise the legs a little in-between sessions. Sometimes a siesta or little cat nap in the afternoon can also work wonders for my slumping energy levels.

I suspect that there's an optimum number of hours of study-and-click required to get the best acceleration without the risk of over-training or cutting out altogether. Less than an hour and I'm simply maintaining pace; more than 8 hours in the past and I've often ended up subconsciously counterbalancing down the road with several days off. So far, I think my ideal would be about 5-6 hours a day, which is what I managed to successfully average for a couple of weeks in Spanish back in June 2010. However, when I have a lot of contract work or domestic issues on my plate, 2 hours a day is about all I can find time for on average.

I've also noticed that I tend to go through sections much much faster as my reading level improves. This is really good, as it enables me to process more text in the time given, and this in turn counteracts the fact that there are now less unknown words in general to pick up.

To help keep me motivated:

First of all, I find a great book with well-narrated audio is usually reward in itself. When I really enjoy and get absorbed in the resources I'm using, and can't wait to find out what happens next in the story, then study simply becomes a joy.

I'd also like to promote getting a good night's sleep and rest beforehand here, for which daily regular exercise, a healthy diet, and plenty of fresh air seem to be the key. This has proved itself to be a crucial factor time and time again in maintaining not only motivation, but establishing good memory recall and focus throughout my studies.

For a bit of extra fun, I reward myself for every completed section by adding another piece of Lego to whatever plastic masterpiece or monstrosity I'm currently building. At the moment, for example, I've just started working on a large digger. It may seem a little childish to some, but it's fun and simple and every brick represents another step towards completing my language learning goals:



I've also recently decided to brighten up my logs with some playful "language medals" to remind myself when I've reached a target number of study hours in each language during the year:

bronze = 50 active study hours
silver = 150 active study hours
gold = 350 active study hours

Here's a summary of the resources that I use:

- an aligned parallel novel with the original text in the target language, or where the original and translation simply match up well, with a fun and engaging story you can really get into (ideally something relatively easy in the early stages, like Harry Potter);
- a corresponding high quality unabridged audiobook, with a good clear narrator you enjoy listening to;
- a mechanical clicker counter (like the cheap ones you can buy in a sports store or simply online - see above);
- a logbook to record daily progress and make notes (I use Moleskin Volant ruled notebooks, where each colour represents a different language): I find having something tangible and simple that displays my progress really motivating;
- a separate novel or ebook at an average to moderately difficult level, to use for basic reading comprehension tests;
- access to the Internet, a native speaker, or a good dictionary, to check reading comprehension scores.

Last updated on 7th June, 2011: CEFR reading levels and Polyjitsu belts now based on real statistics.

12th March, 2011: language study medals in logs explained.
11th February, 2011: some amendments to step 1, improved reading tests, and logbook process simplified.
7th January, 2011: step 4 removed, and timing guidelines simplified.

Edited by Teango on 2012 23 December at 10:41pm



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