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An Assimil Experiment

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BartoG
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 41 of 51
15 March 2011 at 5:45am | IP Logged 
Twenty-third update: 14 March 2011
Lesson 66 revised

Back off stride again - crazy times at work and much desire for sleep when I get home! However, I'm finding the Alsatian to come a bit more naturally. The little words can still be a problem and the vocabulary that doesn't come in for a lot of use doesn't spring to mind. And yet, somehow, the basic structure of Alsatian feels a little bit more like it's become a part of me. Some phrases and forms at least are popping into my head unbidden. And subordinate clauses are starting to come to me. I don't know that I'm putting them together correctly, but my brain is trying to put a bigger structure on the language.

I've been reading about memory, specifically the new book, Moonwalking with Einstein, by Joshua Foer and an older book, Memory Power, by Scott Hagwood. I don't know that they've taught me anything great about memorizing language. But there's a lot about how we take language in, and especially about loci - places - and how associating things with loci aids memory. In this regard, I notice that the Assimil scenes I can most readily visualize are the ones that stick with me. So it may be that when reading a dialog, the key is not to master the grammar and vocabulary, but to relive it in your mind as best you can so that it becomes something you've lived - another way of living language. Of course the memory people are always looking for something outrageous that you'll consciously remember. But maybe there's a way to unconsciously remember if you use your imagination not to make your language striking, but simply to make it something that feels at home in your brain.



BartoG
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 42 of 51
26 March 2011 at 7:24pm | IP Logged 
Twenty-fourth update: 26 March 2011
Lesson 71 revised, Grammar lessons through 70 revised

I see I missed my last update. My studies have been a bit adrift as well. With the end of the book coming, I saw the goal of passive knowledge for reading in sight, but found it harder and harder to come up with active use of the language with respect to certain verbs and some of the little words like adverbs of motion. So instead of marching lesson by lesson to the end, some days I've taken a word or verb that was bothering me from the previous day's lesson, and skimmed all the places (per the index) where the item appeared. It's active, rather than passive, acquisition of knowledge. But even in Assimil, there is an active wave, so why not?

I've also given up and ordered the CDs. When they come, I'll first listen extensively, just to line up my ear with this language I've mostly only heard in my head. I'll decide what comes next after seeing how that goes. There are still a handful of lessons left, so the final verdict will wait. But I imagine it's going to be something to this effect: The Assimil books teaches mostly passively, with even its active phase focused on creating language you've received, not constructed on your own, and it is excellent for passive learning. But you have to activate that learning with effort and imagination of your own. That is, you can learn with a great deal of ease, but not with no effort. Not an astonishing revelation, but a useful one all the same.



BartoG
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 Message 43 of 51
10 April 2011 at 10:36pm | IP Logged 
Twenty-fifth Update: 10 April 2011

First Assimil Experiment finished.

Around a week ago, I finished the Assimil Experiment, with my revision of lesson 79. At about the same time, the CDs came in the mail. Rather than listening systematically, I have been using them to make myself an immersive environment, playing them on shuffle on my iPod. I've been surprised and pleased to find that I understand 80-100% depending on the track and its content. And I've been over to visit the Alsatian Wikipedia. My experience suggests that while L'Alsacien sans peine did not make me fluent, or even conversational, it has made the language a part of me. And, more importantly, it's given me the background to engage Alsatian resources to go further. I've done other beginning programs in the past where when I was done, I knew the content but was hard pressed to deal with real-life resources. By contrast, with this program (and using only the book) I learned enough to understand a fair bit of the language. I've also been able to enjoy some stuff on YouTube.

Do you want to be fluent in a new language? No one book, even Assimil, is going to get you there. But if you can only set aside a limited amount of time per day to study, my experience with Assimil L'Alsacien sans peine suggests that these are good for easing into a language so that when you're done with the course there is a way forward. Very nice. The next post is what's next.
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BartoG
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 Message 44 of 51
10 April 2011 at 10:55pm | IP Logged 
The Next Assimil Experiment

While my journal entries have not been consistent, nor my studies entirely so, I've founded that keeping and updating this log has kept me on track. And then, the other day, I ran across this nice little thought:
Bernd Sebastian Kamps wrote:
on one of those birthdays
that are turning points in life, I offered myself an exclusive present most
of my busy colleagues can rarely afford: Time. I would dedicate two
consecutive years to learning my 7th language.

I'm not at one of those turning points, but doing the log with an Assimil program has given me the gift of time in another way - Assimil limits the time I have to find while keeping the log reminds me to give myself that little bit of time that Assimil requires.

I had initially intended to follow Alsatian with either German (to solidify the Germanic) or Breton (to delve into another minority language in France). But having finished the Alsatian experiment, I've realized that it afforded me an opportunity I didn't know I had, the chance to learn a language just because it's there. And so I'm going with a language I've been interested in but never seriously pursued: Turkish.

I do have some background: I did the Pimsleur Conversation course a few years ago. And I've studied a bit with Teach Yourself and Colloquial, mostly looking for explanations of what was going on in Uzbek via resources for a more widely studied Turkic language. That said, my Turkish is close to nil. If at the end of this experiment, I can pick through entries in the Turkish Wikipedia too, I'll be impressed.

This time, I have the audio. I'll be following the same program as before, starting with lesson one today.



BartoG
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 Message 45 of 51
18 April 2011 at 12:32am | IP Logged 
Turkish
Update 2: 17 April 2010
Lesson 8 completed

I'd looked at this course some years ago when I first got it. I'd skimmed a few lessons, and not got too far with it. This time, I'm learning with ease, one lesson at a time, and surprise, it's going pretty well. Of course I do have some background. And I've noticed a fair number of Uzbek words popping out at me. Funny, as I've studied Uzbek for years and been fascinated by it but never quite able to learn it. And yet, it's there, now, in words like the Turkish balik (fish), bashliyor (begin) and kiz (girl). There's even Karadeniz (Black Sea), matching up with Uzbek qara dengiz. Structures are similar as well, with -iyor- doing the same thing as the Uzbek -yap- (present progressive) and deg'il (negator) working just like the Uzbek emas (iyi deg'ilim = yakshi emasman = I am not well). Some of this I knew, some of it I've even written about on the forum. But it's fun to see it all coming back.

I have also lessoned to lesson 1 of Pismleur Turkish, and will continue listening through lesson 15. Beyond that, however, like the experiment with Alsatian, I don't intend to go much beyond the course. We'll see how it comes together.



BartoG
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Italian, Spanish, Latin, Uzbek

 
 Message 46 of 51
30 April 2011 at 11:36pm | IP Logged 
Turkish
Update 3: 30 April 2010
Lesson 19 completed

I see I missed a week again. Naturally, Turkish is more of a challenge than Alsatian in a passive phase - my German background helped a lot. But I'm finding that my experience with Uzbek is helping in terms of recognizing words and patterns.

Lesson 14 was dense - it covered more than the typical review lesson and I spent a couple days going through it and checking earlier readings. I've also been looking up the Uzbek equivalent when I see Turkish words that seem faintly familiar.

Main thought so far: Assimil is much smoother if you've got something to hook onto. So an excellent method for a language that isn't altogether foreign. We'll see as experiment 2 progresses how things are for a more unusual language.
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BartoG
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Senior Member
United States
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Joined 2854 days ago

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

 
 Message 47 of 51
23 May 2011 at 12:58am | IP Logged 
Turkish
Update 4: 22 May 2011
Lesson 21 completed

I've made a mention or two of depression here and there. And indeed, I've had a general weariness with life for the past several months which appears to relate to a severe deficiency of Vitamin D (Vit D levels in the bloodstream at about 9, vs a minimum level of 32 recommended out of 100). Therapeutic doses have improved the numbers, but I'm still not at the minimum levels yet. Pushing through this to finish the Assimil Alsatian course was a challenge, but I had a fair amount of momentum. It's been harder to find the energy to charge into Turkish.

For the last few weeks, I've listened to and skimmed the first 21 lessons to make sure what I've learned doesn't go away, but haven't really pushed forward. When I'm a bit more back in sorts, I'll pick up again.



guitarob
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 Message 48 of 51
23 May 2011 at 1:04am | IP Logged 
Glad to see you are getting better, I did not know that about depression.

I always read your log since I am really interested in Assimil logs.

Good luck and hope to hear from you soon



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