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emk
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 Message 561 of 1317
09 May 2013 at 7:32pm | IP Logged 
Bakunin wrote:
emk wrote:
Just the other day, I learned the following Anki card, taken from a Topito article:

Quote:
Front: Le mec qui se la pète grave avec ses abdos et son mini-slip de bain: A fuir de toute urgence. Marche le torse bombé et l’air fier.

Back: bomber le torse = Gonfler la poitrine, la mettre en avant, bomber la poitrine, bomber le thorax.

May I ask how you use those cards? I assume 'front' comes up first and you see the sentence and 'le torse bombé' in bold letters. How do you test yourself? Do you just check that you understand what you read, or do you try to recall the definition on the back?

I mark the card as "passed" if I understand the boldfaced words in context. I normally ignore the back of the card unless I'm uncertain or have forgotten the definition. But I do try to spend some time looking for other nice turns of phrase on the card. For example:

Quote:
se la pèter: An expression meaning "show off" or "to think you are hot stuff". The grammar here is really weird, because the verb has a built-in la pronoun that changes the meaning without referring to anything obvious. This is normal behavior for the pronoun se, and fairly common for en and y, but it's extremely unusual to find a feminine COD pronoun doing this.

avec ses abdos et son mini-slip de bain: "with his abs and his Speedo suit"

Le mec avec …: À fuir de toute urgence: Here, à fuir is forming a sort of passive infinitive: un mec à fuir de toute urgence = "a guy to flee urgently".

…and so on. So even though I'm not likely to forget bombé in this context, I'm reinforcing all kinds of useful passive knowledge here. If one detail of the card becomes too easy, I can always look for other details. And I find that much of this passive knowledge will rest just below my active threshold, and I can later activate it if I hear the expression in a few more contexts. This delayed activation is actually a good thing, because it gives me time to understand the connotations and social context of an expression.

This is one of my favorite card formats. It's fun, it's easy, it's very hard to fail, and it gives me very robust passive knowledge. And how can I forget the image of some dude marching around on the pool deck in a Speedo suit, puffing out his chest and showing off his abs? À fuir de toute urgence, indeed. Normally I'd have to work to create such a vivid mnemonic hook.

Maybe 20% of my cards are cloze cards. I try to avoid these unless there's a single, unambiguously correct answer. I use cloze cards mostly for gender, or for learning multi-word connector phrases. And if I ever realize that I've learned a second valid answer for a cloze card, I'm very likely to suspend it immediately.

Edited by emk on 09 May 2013 at 7:33pm

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Bakunin
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 Message 562 of 1317
09 May 2013 at 7:43pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the explanation! :)
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emk
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 Message 563 of 1317
12 May 2013 at 9:35pm | IP Logged 
Bakunin wrote:
Thanks for the explanation! :)

No problem!

Now that I'm getting back into the swing of Anki, here's a few notes on how I'm picking words from Le puits des mémoires. Because I haven't read any heroic fantasy yet in French, there's a decent variety of unfamiliar vocabulary here, including words related to horses, forests, low-tech towns, sword-fighting, and so on. I figure that looking up a small amount of this vocabulary will give me better access to other fantasy books.

When reading, I keep about 2 dozen thin Post-It strips stuck to my bookmark, and leave them next to interesting words. This means that looking up words and making Anki cards are entirely separate activities from extensive reading.

Words I may look up:

- Familiar words that I know I've seen elsewhere, but which I still can't give an approximate definition for. This is the most important category, by far.
- Words which are key to understand the plot.
- Words which occur in a really memorable context.
- Words which I'm inexplicably curious about.

Words which I probably won't look up:

- Words which I can guess from context.
- Words which I've never seen before.
- Words which I can't ever imagine using myself.
- Descriptive vocabulary that doesn't help advance the story.
- Words which I encounter after I run out of Post-It notes. This provides a built-in limit: I need to be cautious about marking words, in case I run into a good one later. And if I don't keep up with data entry, I can't mark any more words.

This seems to be a usable system. Of course, when I'm reading in more familiar genres, I rarely bother with a dictionary or with Anki. (And of course, this whole system would be 10 times nicer if I could buy ebook editions of the books I actually want to read.) And I'll probably change this system shortly in any case. But I thought it was worth writing down anyway.
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Mooby
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 Message 564 of 1317
13 May 2013 at 12:33am | IP Logged 
I agree with your point about keeping extensive reading a separate activity from vocabulary acquistion (and all that entails). There's nothing worse than allowing a nice reading rhythm get snarled up with constant pauses and checks.
My problem at the moment, is that I've acquired more new words than my current Anki routine can handle, I'm way behind! A new word put onto Anki may get its first review several weeks later, and by that time the original context runs the danger of becoming a bit hazy.
The trouble is, I'm greedy for new words - sometimes I can't resist.
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osoymar
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 Message 565 of 1317
13 May 2013 at 2:56am | IP Logged 
3M makes a great product which is like a thin post it note, but semi-transparent and with an arrow at the end. They
also last through many stickings and unstickings.

http://www.amazon.com/Assorted-Bright-Colors-Dispenser-4-Dis pensers/dp/B00006RSO4/ref=pd_sim_op_5

...And nothing I do for the rest of the day can possibly be as dorky as this.
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Bakunin
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 Message 566 of 1317
13 May 2013 at 7:02pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
When reading, I keep about 2 dozen thin Post-It strips stuck to my bookmark, and leave them next to interesting words. This means that looking up words and making Anki cards are entirely separate activities from extensive reading.

Words I may look up:

- Familiar words that I know I've seen elsewhere, but which I still can't give an approximate definition for. This is the most important category, by far.
- Words which are key to understand the plot.
- Words which occur in a really memorable context.
- Words which I'm inexplicably curious about.

Words which I probably won't look up:

- Words which I can guess from context.
- Words which I've never seen before.
- Words which I can't ever imagine using myself.
- Descriptive vocabulary that doesn't help advance the story.
- Words which I encounter after I run out of Post-It notes. This provides a built-in limit: I need to be cautious about marking words, in case I run into a good one later. And if I don't keep up with data entry, I can't mark any more words.

This seems to be a usable system. Of course, when I'm reading in more familiar genres, I rarely bother with a dictionary or with Anki. (And of course, this whole system would be 10 times nicer if I could buy ebook editions of the books I actually want to read.) And I'll probably change this system shortly in any case. But I thought it was worth writing down anyway.


Sounds like a good system. I'm tempted to get those arrow stickers... I totally agree with your selection of words to look up; a word you've never seen before is rarely important at this point in the learning process, but words you keep running into but still can't really grasp probably are.

I was wondering if Anki is integral to your approach or if looking up (in French, I assume) the words you've marked already provides most of the value? There's probably both... words that stick around in the back of your mind until you see or hear them again in a book or movie, and words that need a few rounds of well-spaced Anki reinforcement to stay comprehensible. My experience with Thai is that every feature of the language will become clear over time with enough input and conversation, but the way you do it is maybe more efficient.
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emk
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 Message 567 of 1317
13 May 2013 at 8:28pm | IP Logged 
Mooby wrote:
I agree with your point about keeping extensive reading a separate activity from vocabulary acquistion (and all that entails). There's nothing worse than allowing a nice reading rhythm get snarled up with constant pauses and checks.

I really value that nice reading rhythm in French. It's pleasant, it allows me to build up strong context for the story, and it helps me plow through lots of pages for the Super Challenge.

osoymar wrote:
3M makes a great product which is like a thin post it note, but semi-transparent and with an arrow at the end. They also last through many stickings and unstickings.

I have a few of these, and they're great. But they're often pretty expensive, and I can never remember where I put them. I find that 30 seconds, a pair of scissors, and 3 pages from one of those 2x3cm miniature Post-It pads will give me something that works nearly as well.

Bakunin wrote:
I was wondering if Anki is integral to your approach or if looking up (in French, I assume) the words you've marked already provides most of the value? There's probably both...

I've actually done thousands of pages of reading in French over the last 6 months without even bothering to use a dictionary, and my vocabulary has improved noticeably. But I've noticed that there's a small, leftover residue of words that still escape me. In some cases I'll notice a word and think, "I know I've seen tergiverser half a dozen times in the last few months, and even looked it up once, but what on earth does it mean?" I find that Anki is a devastatingly effective tool for words like this. It's actually kind of fun to hunt through a good book with my little Post-It strips, looking for words that have escaped my earlier efforts.

Super Challenge

As of this morning, Le Puits des Mémoires is done (all 400-odd pages). As expected, the ending was neither a cliff-hanger or a real resolution. There's another 800+ pages of this trilogy before all the mysteries are resolved and the story ends. I've rather enjoyed the three amnesiac protagonists and the subtle humor that runs through the story. It's also been interesting to watch the characters realize that they may not necessarily like their former selves all that much.

If you're looking for 1200 pages of epic fantasy in French, you could do a lot worse than this. If you're looking for something much shorter and illustrated, check out Siegfried.

As of today, I've read 390 out of 500 pages for the month, and it's only the 13th. I guess the Super Challenge is no longer all that "super"—all I need to do to keep up is make sure that perhaps 25% of my pleasure reading is in French. The real trick from here on in will be keeping myself supplied with worthwhile books that I actually feel motivated to read.

I have another order due to arrive from Amazon.fr soon, including a few more BDs and two detective novels by Fred Vargas, plus the first volume of Le dernier maître de l'air on DVD. I'll probably wrap up Ulysse 31 by the end of the week, I'm nearly out of BDs, and I'm running low on books that I actually want to read. You'd think that with the amount of cool stuff that I order from Amazon.fr that I'd have more of a backlog, but I don't. Oh, how I wish for a popular French library. The French Cultural Center in Boston has floors of books in French, but it's mostly curated on behalf of people who see France as a shining symbol of high culture and intellectualism. I want someplace with more BDs, cartoons, and stupid comedies like Taxi.
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emk
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 Message 568 of 1317
13 May 2013 at 11:28pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
You'd think that with the amount of cool stuff that I order from Amazon.fr that I'd have more of a backlog, but I don't.

Well, that didn't last long. :-) The package arrived from Amazon.fr this afternoon, with a bunch of cool stuff, including:

Avatar, le dernier maître de l'air - Livre 1 : L'intégrale. I just watched the first episode of this, and it's excellent. The voices are well done, and my comprehension was comfortably above 80% by the end of the first episode. Supposedly some versions have French subs and an English soundtrack, but mine doesn't. If you're looking for modern cartoons in French, this is a fine choice, and I'll be watching this as soon as I finish Ulysse 31.

Le Troisième Testament, tome 1 : Marc ou le réveil du lion (book 1 of 4). This is one of those "Church conspiracy theory" stories, set during the time of the Inquisition. It's by the same Alex Alice who did the excellent Siegfried, so you know it's good. Unfortunately, it's a little bit light on words, so you get maybe a third less text for your money than you might with the average BD. Still, it's quite well done, so if you're into this sort of thing and you can grab it from a library (or buy it at a discount), it's worth a look.

There's also some more BDs and two new Vargas novels, which I'll review when I get to them. Oh, and I'm pleased to announce that the local university library has a nice selection of Vargas novels in French, including a couple that are out of stock on Amazon.fr.

Edited by emk on 14 May 2013 at 2:25am



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