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An Assimil Experiment

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BartoG
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
confession
Joined 2854 days ago

292 posts - 524 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 1 of 51
09 October 2010 at 7:07pm | IP Logged 
The Experiment

On these forums, there are posts in support of Assimil and posts that are less supportive. But even the supportive posts often focus on the extra things you have to do to make use of Assimil, suggest more intensive study, recommend extensive use of outside materials, etc. However, for some languages there aren't a lot of great materials out there besides Assimil (Occitain, Alsatian, Breton, Catalan). My question then: Is it possible to learn a language with ease with Assimil?

I have here before me L'Alsacien sans peine. I purchased it some years ago when I found it for cheap on Amazon marketplace, but never actually opened it, so it gives me a program in which I can make a true fresh start. I don't have the CDs, nor a way to justify purchasing them, so I will make do with reading aloud and seeing if things things in Alsatian on the internet sound anything like what I'm coming up with.

My goal, and the heart of this experiment, is to learn with ease. Not quickly, not thoroughly, not with the dedication of someone who lives for all things Alsatian and for Alsatian alone. With ease.

Here is my daily program for the passive phase:
1) Read through the lesson aloud 2-3 times until I'm comfortable pronouncing it.
2) Work through the lesson with the translation and notes to be sure I understand.
3) Read through the lesson mentally to be sure I remember what I have understood.
4) Re-read the lesson 2-3 times while trying to feel the meaning.
5) Do the exercises.
6) Put the book down.

My terms:
1) I will put in at least 20 minutes a day. To fill the time I will if need be revise an earlier lesson or redo steps 3-5.
2) I will not put in more than 30 minutes a day.
3) If I miss a day, I will pick up where I left off, not double up.
4) While I am at liberty to look at other learning resources or at cultural material on the internet, I will not be doing so systematically. And I will not be using outside texts or professionally produced resources.

Because my core material will be written, I will use my understanding of written Alsatian to judge this experiment. Though it's a highly subjective metric, I think my ability to understand articles about familiar topics from the Alsatian version of
Wikipedia can serve as a useful indicator of whether I have learned anything at the end of the program.

I will update roughly once a week to note which lesson I am on and offer other observations should they come to mind. When I come to the active phase, I will update on my specific implementation to make sure I am still only studying 20-30 minutes a day.

Please note that I am not looking for advice on a better way to learn, better books for Alsatian, etc. This is not an effort to become fluent in Alsatian. It is a test to see whether by regular exposure with well organized material, one can really Assimilate a language with ease. Internet resources for passive cultural exposure would be of interest.
8 persons have voted this message useful



BartoG
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
confession
Joined 2854 days ago

292 posts - 524 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 2 of 51
09 October 2010 at 7:35pm | IP Logged 
First update: 9 October 2010

Lesson 4 completed

When I took German at university, I did well enough but the professor always chided me for my French accent: I mumbled, reducing vowels, softening consonants and blending distinct German words into smoothly articulated phrases with only minimal stress. Now, looking at the phonetic transcriptions for Alsatian, I'm amused to see consonants softened and vowels reduced, though individual word stress is still there. Still, in a lot of places this feels like German with a French accent. Fun.



Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 3846 days ago

4475 posts - 2382 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 3 of 51
09 October 2010 at 7:56pm | IP Logged 
Fanatic went down a somewhat similar path with Assimil German, with success.

Good luck!



Old Chemist
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2580 days ago

227 posts - 58 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German

 
 Message 4 of 51
10 October 2010 at 11:01am | IP Logged 
Yes, good luck, I am trying with Assimil, but as always my two great enemies are lack of time (or a perceived lack of time) and a disorganized approach.



BartoG
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
confession
Joined 2854 days ago

292 posts - 524 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 5 of 51
11 October 2010 at 2:04am | IP Logged 
Volte,
Thanks for the encouragement.

Old Chemist,
You might try making that perceived lack of time your friend. If you are making flashcards, updating the computer lists, studying with other textbooks, etc, you may learn more and faster - or not - at the cost of having a disorganized approach that is hard to keep track of. If you decide that you only have time to follow Assimil's simple instructions and learn at Assimil's pace, slow and steady might just win the race for you.



BartoG
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
confession
Joined 2854 days ago

292 posts - 524 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 6 of 51
16 October 2010 at 8:21pm | IP Logged 
Second update: 16 October 2010

Lesson 11 completed

I think a key feature of what I've laid out is not doubling up or making up lessons. Most days, I had to remind myself to lay aside my book after half an hour in which I first did the day's routine and then skimmed earlier lessons. But after a particularly irritating day at the office, it was good to know that if I used my brain for Alsatian for 20 minutes, I could count myself done and move on to the evening's vegetation. Had I not ruled out making up lessons, the temptation would have been to skip a night and do 40 minutes the next night. But that's how you wind up doing a week's worth of lessons every Saturday until you find yourself burned out.

With respect to the language, I'm enjoying seeing what happens when German collides with French. Most interesting to me is how "das" (that) reduces to "'s" which makes it phonetically identical to the reduced form of the French "ce" (that) as in the phrase "that is" - "'s esch" in Alsatian and "c'est" in French.
2 persons have voted this message useful



JasonUK
Triglot
Newbie
United Kingdom
learnalanguagein1yea
Joined 2663 days ago

29 posts - 9 votes
Speaks: English*, Mandarin, French
Studies: Thai, Spanish

 
 Message 7 of 51
17 October 2010 at 9:38pm | IP Logged 
A lot of my family including my dad who live or used to live near strasbourg speak Alsacien. You will probably need
tapes because even the french words are pronounced in a German way. When he speaks Alsacien it sounds like he
is speaking German. There is more German then French then there are a few other languages included and then it
has some of its own words. The number of Speakers are becoming less and less every year there fore unless you
have a family tie i don't see the use of this. If you search for Alsacien in wiki there is a good article on it there.
1 person has voted this message useful



BartoG
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
confession
Joined 2854 days ago

292 posts - 524 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 8 of 51
18 October 2010 at 6:41am | IP Logged 
JasonUK,
Thanks for the note. I keep looking at the price of the CDs and how much I can realistically spend on this venture. One day, the CDs will win out! When I read aloud, however, it is more German than French so hopefully I'm on the right track.

I also study Breton and have dabbled with Occitan. Since I studied in Rennes (Brittany) and my sister in Strassbourg, I've had an interest in regional languages, especially because it's something we don't really see in the United States. It's not a particularly useful undertaking, I know, but the Assimil courses make getting the flavor of some of these languages (while we still have them) painless enough that it's hard to pass up the chance.



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