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Tarvos - TAC 2015 Pushkin/Scan

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1337 of 1511
18 January 2015 at 11:04pm | IP Logged 
yuhakko wrote:

I don't know if I'll be of any "real" help, but here are my two cents on the topic.
I've read your French texts (all impressive btw) and to the French eye, most of the
errors you are currently doing may seem like typos or masculine/feminine
form mistakes (the latter being more frequent).
For instance, in your text about Charlie Hebdo you said "des autres choses..." while
it should have been "d'autres", or said "la dimanche" while it should
have been "le dimanche".
To be honest, your French writing is much better than quite a few French people I
know. But as you said yourself, there's always room for improvement.


Ah yeah, that's common. I didn't have anyone proofread my French blog material, but
any other material I've written has always had that problem.

Quote:
The important thing now is to care about details. If you wish, I could point
out the mistakes in your article and maybe give tips for the errors I could find.
"Learning" other "versions" of French, like Quebecois, Swiss French, etc. will
probably not be of much help for your "problem", but if you're interested in
it, I'd say go for it. Just be careful though: don't mix them afterwards, grammar or
expressions can be very different with standard French.


I already use Belgian expressions in my French (I always say kot/septante/nonante for
example). But that's logical due to my experience being in Belgium (I never lived in
France). It's more to get better at listening to certain accents - I don't have much
trouble with vaudois but quebecois gives me nightmares. I'm thinking more about
understanding and also connecting to those worlds - my actual spoken French is pretty
good and my accent's only slight.



Edited by tarvos on 18 January 2015 at 11:09pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1338 of 1511
19 January 2015 at 5:43pm | IP Logged 
I tried a different Russian teacher today and she said that (at least concerning the oral
part) I would easily pass the Russian equivalent of the C1 test. If I were to set a goal,
it would be to reach C2 and I am apparently already on my way there. To do that I'd need
to work a bit on pronunciation and on reading/writing. Well, I guess that's good enough a
level for me.

Edited by tarvos on 19 January 2015 at 5:43pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1339 of 1511
22 January 2015 at 1:26pm | IP Logged 
Why Slang Matters

People tend to learn the formal register first, and there is some merit to that if
you're going to be working in financial business, but for most of us, language is a
vehicle to communicate. Today I want to explain to you why slang matters, and give a
short example of how I used slang to get people to be a little more friendly and
closer to me in Russian (a language where I actually know a bunch of slang words).

Most languages have two main registers: a more formal, written one, and a more casual
spoken one. These mix to some extent, but usually the colloquial language differs to a
certain extent from the formal one and the colloquial one is used by people on the
street to make friends and to paint the town red. To live in a country, it isn't just
the literature or your job that counts - it's a holistic process, and for that
situation, slang matters.

Because using slang gets you closer to the people and the colloquial language. You
show closeness and intimacy to them, you show you can be friendly and function as a
human being, and they will feel less distant from you. That barrier of ice you see
before you when you talk to human beings? That fear? Slang takes that away. You may
not use it all correctly, but it'll help you in social situations, and that's the
hardest for people. They'll feel like they're making a fool of themselves, but using a
bit of slang confidently and properly will help people warm up to you.

I find this especially useful in countries where people may be a bit cold at first and
there's a little dance around the moment where you get to find out what that other
person is like. Slang helps with this. I speak Russian fairly casually and
colloquially, and when I speak Russian I make sure to slip in a few casual words while
talking, signifying to them "you can talk to me, I speak your language and your
culture, I understand the rules of the game". Especially with younger people I will
use particular slang like "обалдеть, пофиг(у), нихрена, зашибись" or I may use very
colloquial expressions in my speech "крыша поехала", "чайник". In Russian I
may use diminutives instead of proper nouns to express this kind of closeness (e.g.
"кусочек", not "кусок".)

Most of the time, they look at me like "How do you know that?" and laugh. People
usually don't see slang coming from an obvious foreigner with a light accent, but they
love it. The ice is broken, and they're going to warm up to you because they realise
you made the effort to learn their rules properly. And from there on, you can make
friends.

Slang may sound like a weird thing to learn, but learn a bunch of words and their uses
and you'll find making friends is suddenly a lot easier!

Edited by tarvos on 22 January 2015 at 1:28pm

6 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1340 of 1511
23 January 2015 at 10:52am | IP Logged 
"Tread softly because you tread on my dreams"


Just a short recording of a W.B. Yeats poem.
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1341 of 1511
23 January 2015 at 9:34pm | IP Logged 
I don't know what bots visit my log, but I am over 200,000 views already and every day
I seem to get hundreds of views extra? It's certainly nice to know people read my
stuff, but I hope it's not the Chinese government or maybe the North Koreans. I am not
a spy. Well, not yet anyways.

Anyway I've been reading a lot of Olly Richards' blog and I actually find his content
quite inspiring. I only spoke to him shortly (we spoke in French and Spanish, the only
two languages we share, and my Spanish is terrible at that). But it's interesting
material and what I noticed is that he is close to Benny Lewis in mentality, but he
gives very actionable tips on speaking and listening. Considering that listening is
really my weak spot (I never do enough listening) I might have to delve deeper into
his listening methods and get something actionable out of it. And that's motivated me
to write this log post, because in this post I'm going to explain why I am actually a
terrible language learner. And I'm going to show you why taking the examples of more
recent languages, just so that it's all clear to people:

I. Am. Not. A. Magician.

People keep telling me "but you're special..." no. I had to work to get where I am,
and yes, I know a bunch of good hacks, but the only reason I got this far is dogged
determination and willingly looking like a fool in front of everyone speaking a
foreign language.

Still Not A Magician.

And still you could argue I'm getting good results. In fact, last Tuesday I was
interviewed, along with a few others, for research on how to teach immigrants Dutch
quickly. (Thanks for tipping them off, Sprachprofi! I think it was you?)

So, I present to you:

Five Reasons Why I Can Be a Better Language Learner

Five reasons. You read that right. This is me taking the scalpel and brutalizing my
own innards to show you why I can do better and faster. There are five things:

1. Make more effective use of my spoken sessions

I can make much more effective use of my spoken sessions. I have a hard time building
up vocabulary. We're going to use the example of Mandarin Chinese, where vocabulary is
a very alien beast compared to learning French. I could use SRS programmes to review
new vocabulary (I forget loads! I wish anyone who told me I had a good memory would go
back and check my spoken classes). If I were more effective by noting down the new and
useful vocabulary, then I would probably progress quicker at speaking. I still use my
Pleco app to cheat while speaking in class, and it's helped me to remember certain
vocabulary items (like "suannai" for yoghurt), but I could up the ante.

2. Evolve my social network

People forget this all the time but your social network in your life determines the
languages you are really good at. The reason my Russian is at advanced fluency is not
because I have inherent knowledge of all the grammatical rules, but because I speak to
5 different Russians daily. Even if that's just textchat, it's consistent use. It
shows in my results. I don't have a very big Chinese social network, so what I am
going to do when I am going to china is download Chinese social network apps and see
how many Chinese people want to meet up for green tea and evolve that way. I have
noticed that Romanian stays with me much less because I have less regular contact in
Romanian. I still occasionally read or use it, but I need to actively seek out and
maintain more Romanian contacts. On the other hand, Swedish is well cared-for. My
failure in language learning is thus not a linguistic one - I just don't get out
enough. So in China my goal will be to get out more.

3. I am not ruthless enough about iTalki teachers

The hallmark of a good iTalki session is 1) you learned a lot of new things and 2) you
feel drained as hell. Bad iTalki sessions are the ones where you just repeat and cover
things you already know, or study the grammar book. I like my Greek teacher, but I'm
not going to use her in the future because it's too classical a method for me (I've
learned the fundamentals of Greek grammar very well though). But I can't really speak
Greek very well and I need to fundamentally change my approach in order to speak Greek
better.

I've even switched my Russian teacher. I get on with my previous one very well, so
she's just going to be a friend from now on, but my current community tutor is much
stricter and organised with me, and the last class we had was eye-opening. I was being
drilled on Russian pronunciation (which she told me to improve if I was to sit C2),
and the first half-hour where we worked on a text about the Egyptian piramids led to
me having to pronounce the letter ы over and over again. I can pronounce that letter
now, but the consistent focus on producing connected speech and not swallowing every
other syllable (a hallmark of rapid spoken speech) was annoying. I tend to use a very
casual register and drop half my syllables. The fact that she didn't allow me to do
that made the class extremely hard. But it was worth practicing, and this means she
knows how to teach.

A good teacher coaches you to bring the best out of your skills, even if you're good.
Coaches aren't just for beginners, they are for professionals. I can use Russian on
the job if I have to translate or explain a complicated grammar point for my Russian
students when Dutch or English does not cut it. I need that perfect Russian for my
iTalki work.

Be strict about who you pick as your coach. I've wasted lots of time on the wrong
people. Sometimes, this grammar stuff is necessary (and not 100% of the class is
wasted), but I've learned my lesson - I have to shop around in order to find the right
teacher.

4. Focus more on listening

Listening is my weak spot. I've learned how to combine words and phrases rapidly, and
most grammars (except agglutinative languages because I've never tried them) don't
give me much trouble. If I work on my pronunciation a bit even being understood isn't
an issue. But there's that terrible bit when you're a beginner when you just don't
understand what they're telling you, and I don't have a foolproof way of coping with
it.

However, recently I've been suspecting it's because I don't do enough simultaneous
reading and listening. The problem with listening can be a few things:

1. I don't know the words
2. I can't distinguish connected speech
3. I can hear the words, but I don't know what they mean or I can't keep track for
long enough

1. means you need to do more vocabulary work. Get the vocabulary sorted out so you
know what you can expect as an answer and work on your listening from there. After all
you don't understand what you don't know.
2. This is the kicker for me. I tend to have a decent vocabulary but when I hear
people speak it sounds like bleeeep-word-bleep. This means you need to go out and
speak more often (so that you will learn where people put boundaries in natural
speech) and you have to do more L-R, so you can get used to how people speak in
various contexts. Audio/reading combinations are the holy grail of language learning.
I do not do enough of this in my languages and my listening suffers as a result.
3. is a result of not knowing certain idioms or maybe some obscure grammar point. If
it's an idiom, asking "what does that mean?" is good enough. If it's an obscure
grammar point, make a mental note to revisit that or ask a tutor about it. They'll
know.

5. I'm lazy and a procrastinator

I put off consciously studying way too often. I don't use a lot of textbooks very
consciously, but I could consciously do more with my Chinese input. Fortunately I am
getting better at reading the Hanzi due to a conscious effort to switch tacks with my
learning, and it's worked; I can read and derive more Hanzi now. And it's noticeable.
7 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1342 of 1511
26 January 2015 at 1:19pm | IP Logged 
Within three days, I am leaving for the Eastern Hemisphere and I am planning to learn all
about Chinese dumplings.

Everything else is secondary.
1 person has voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2815 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 1343 of 1511
29 January 2015 at 1:07pm | IP Logged 
Today, I leave for China. Wish me luck!
3 persons have voted this message useful



Ogrim
Heptaglot
Senior Member
France
Joined 2747 days ago

991 posts - 1893 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, French, Romansh, German, Italian
Studies: Russian, Catalan, Latin, Greek, Romanian

 
 Message 1344 of 1511
29 January 2015 at 1:38pm | IP Logged 
Good luck Tarvos, hope you will have a great time. Please keep us posted on your new life in the Far East.


1 person has voted this message useful



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