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TAC ’15 French Spanish Celtic Adv Study

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United States
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2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 313 of 336
09 November 2014 at 2:20pm | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
Just a few problems - I couldn't find an English sub track (not important for me but if I ever wanted to share it with someone with a lower level of French they'd have a lot more to look up), the conversion to text went okay but sometimes it didn't really register spaces which is a bit annoying, and the subtitles take quite a few liberties with what is actually being said.

If you follow my Subtitle Edit OCR tutorial, keep your eyes open for a way to configure the number of pixels needed for a space. And leave the spell-check option on, to clean up the worst issues. With a bit of tweaking, you can minimize the amount of manual cleanup required.

I'm going to make a list of all the good Spanish video and subtitles I've found on the wiki.
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Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 314 of 336
10 November 2014 at 9:16am | IP Logged 
Thanks! I might have to practice a few times to get the kinks out (it's a bit overwhelming at first with all the different software and whatnot). This past one is semi-usable (for me at least) which is encouraging. I'll see how my other DVDs go.

Let me share a few extracts of Le canard enchaîné, a satirical newspaper that appears every Wednesday which is great for wordplay.

First, a cartoon:

"Choper" (familiar) means to catch a disease. Beyond that word, you would need to be familiar with what has been going on in the news. De Thévenoud is a member of the Assemblée Nationale who was discovered to have gone years without paying, well, much of anything (rent, taxes, etc). He blamed it on his phobie administrative rather than admitting any wrongdoing and refused to resign his seat. The whole French press and political cast of characters vacillated between anger and incredulousness. Some time later, it was revealed (I believe by Le canard enchaîné itself - they often get scoops) that about 60 more délégués have also not been paying their bills. Here, the artist is, I believe, conflating this scandal with general Ebolaphobia/mania for comedic effect.

"Le joli coût" is a play on words with "coup" as in "réussir un joli coup" meaning to pull something off/to succeed in something. But this refers to the failure of the Ministre de l'écologie, du développement durable, et de l'énergie, Ségolène Royal to pass her écotaxe scheme after confrontations and demonstrations by truck drivers and the Bonnets rouges of Bretagne. The problem, the government had already been working with a private contractor, Ecomouv' to put in place all the toll-collecting infrastructure which now has to be an estimated cost of one billion euros. Hence the change to "coût" which makes this headline quite ironic.

In this case, it helps to have some cultural knowledge. First, the news item - LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy), the luxury goods conglomerate headed by Bernard Arnault, just opened a huge new museum designed by architect Frank Gehry in the Bois de Boulogne, west of Paris. The event has been much fêted by the French press, a fact that LCE takes issue with when it's clear that the whole thing is meant to smooth things over between the corporation and the French government and the French people and to promote its own image. "Se travestir" can mean to disguise, or more commonly, to cross dress, which makes a reference to both LVMH's attempt to use this as advertising and to boost its image, and the Bois de Boulogne's reputation for being a "maison close" for transvestite prostitutes after dark.

My Parisian host has many times wanted to teach me the word "pipeau" so I spot it a lot these days. It refers to a pipe/flute/whistle and is used to denounce something as "hot air" or rubbish or bullshit. Here, they're calling out controversial figure Eric Zemmour's new book (bestseller) Le suicide français making the claim that everything in France is a sign that French civilization is about to fall, appearing all over French media and getting paid handsomely along the way.
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Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 315 of 336
17 November 2014 at 5:57pm | IP Logged 
I passed the final checkpoint in the Duolingo Irish course. After getting through the
difficult unit on verbal nouns, I have about 14 units left before finishing the tree! I
estimate that should take me about a week or a bit longer. The iOS app release helps
with keeping up with reviews but since the app doesn't allow users to report problems,
it's not great for learning new units. The course is still in beta and not many have
made it to the later units so there are quite a few problems.

I've started reading the stack of books I brought back. I'm spotting words from my Anki
deck all over the place which makes me happy. I found that jotting down words as I read
has helped me keep my concentration as I read.

I was looking up tips for writing - something interesting I found was the suggestion to
"storyboard" the writing first, which can be done in Powerpoint. I think it's helpful -
I can jot down various points on slides, move them around, assemble minor points and
sources on the slides and start writing various sections once there seems to be enough
to go on. It might help me with my writing problems.

I'm also working on a plan to integrate vocabulary I've been working on to "activate"
it as well as using a thesaurus. I've also discovered a new "philosophy" Non-Zero Day
though I don't want to track too many "tasks" to not have zero days in at once so I'm
working on basic health stuff first.
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Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 316 of 336
04 December 2014 at 9:57pm | IP Logged 
November 2014 Summary

Total Hours: 119:28
Daily Average: 3:58:56

By week

Broken Down:

French: 87:46
Listening: 67:41
Reading: 8:42
Speaking: 1:55
Writing: 1:35
Course: 5:00
Vocab: 2:53

Irish: 25:31
Listening: 2:45
Course: 21:00
Vocab: 1:46

Spanish: 1:10
Vocab: 1:10

Meta: 5:01
(tracked forum time, Anki deck creation, Subs2SRS work, etc)

So not a record-breaking month, though I wasn't necessarily going for squeezing out every last second. My daily average this month is half what my high months were. I haven't been listening to podcasts as much at work, one of my Irish groups hasn't been meeting, one of my French writing workshops was cancelled, etc.

The high point is that I finally have something going for Spanish! Thanks to emk and hsi Subs2SRS log, I found the perfect solution for getting some work done in Spanish without throwing my other languages out of balance. It's perfect for me since I'm at the stage in Spanish where I have all the grammatical and vocabulary base I need, and I'm "just" some massive input and practice away from attaining basic proficiency (B2-ish). I ought to be able to rack up some Super Challenge time for Spanish as well. I'll go into more detail about how my deck is going so far in a later post.

Almost all of my Irish work has been Duolingo and my Anki deck. I've seen all the cards in the Anki deck so now I'm at risk of getting bored with it. I'll probably start adding vocab from the Duolingo course (which isn't great for teaching vocab) and GGS2 to rejuvinate the deck sometime soon. Though at some point I'll need to add some complexity with verb drill cards, sentence cards, etc. I'm *almost* done with the Duolingo tree (it takes a while to get through the last units as I'm also trying to keep the rest of the tree golden). It's my main commute time task at the moment so I'm looking forward to finishing up to reclaim that time for French reading and other tasks. The downside is once I'm done with that, I'll need to put in more deliberate work to continue making progress in Irish. That's the real strength of Duolingo - it's so easy to just open the app and get to work. GGS2 has some great content but I have to do most of the work to break it down and absorb it. Duolingo has been doing all that for me.

Nothing special on the French front. Obviously, my speaking time took a nosedive after returning from France. I'll never get those times in again while I'm here, unless I find a French guy to date/marry (always a possibility though...). But I could certainly make improvements. I'll be diving into my book collection soon and I'm coming up with plans to really work with them to seriously upgrade my advanced skills. I'll expand on that more as well in a later post. I have ideas for an advanced study group in case anyone's interested. I've tried to get something like that going here before but I think there are more people now with a high enough level to maybe have some success getting it started. I've also signed up for a daily writing goal on the app (which I haven't really used until now). I really want to work on my writing anxiety and procrastination problems (like I've been saying all year). This is a way to start very gently by starting a simple habit. I'm not even pressuring myself into publishing something on Lang-8 on a regular basis - just simply writing a relatively complete composition everyday to get myself comfortable doing so.

It's almost the end of the year which means a big wrap up reflecting on my progress as well as goals for this next year is due soon. Stay tuned!
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Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 317 of 336
07 December 2014 at 12:43pm | IP Logged 
Just got a shiny new trophy!

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SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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4250 posts - 5710 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
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 Message 318 of 336
08 December 2014 at 1:50am | IP Logged 
Congratulations! You got there before I did!
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Senior Member
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Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 319 of 336
14 December 2014 at 7:51pm | IP Logged 
I'm just copying this over from the TAC 2015 thread. It's what I envision for an
advanced study group and it's what I'd like to focus on for French this coming year.
Anyone interested in joining me?

I've been interested in study groups for a while now. I don't think languages should be
split by levels but I'm thinking a multilingual advanced and/or intermediate study
group can be formed as part of the TAC or separately. I see it being very active with
lots of assignments and challenges and the like. It would be focused on practicing
advanced skills typically tested on for B2-C1-C2 level tests such as reading articles
and nonfiction books, creating outlines, writing summaries/syntheses, engaging in
written and/or oral debates based on documents (we would find a proper medium for this,
such as Google Hangouts), doing oral presentations based on documents with members
questioning, doing translation and transcribing exercises and the like. This last part
may help unify people studying across languages (it would be interesting to do
exercises comparing and contrasting how something is presented in various countries'
media) otherwise there may be language "splits" though in the advanced/intermediate
tier you'll have a lot of overlap.

There are plenty of materials to design assignments and challenges around (advanced
methods, such as Alter Ego 4 and 5 for French, the TV5 Monde and RFI sites have a lot
of pedagogical guides to their content, etc).

If anyone is interested in making this a TAC group (as this is how I would work at
"annihilating" French and poses and challenge to me) then those of us interested should
form a team. Otherwise we can form a study group outside the confines of the TAC.
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Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4079 days ago

739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 Message 320 of 336
07 January 2015 at 1:38am | IP Logged 
December Summary

Total Hours: 83:47:00 Daily Average: 2:42:10

French: 57:24
Listening: 33:45
Speaking: 0:25
Writing: 5:04
Vocab: 1:15
Course: 5:08

Irish: 14:18
Listening: 1:12
Vocab: 1:01
Course: 12:05

Spanish 6:11
Listening: 4:11
Vocab: 2:00

Meta: 5:53

December was nothing to write home about sheer time-wise. But I've been backing off my
listening activities lately (preferring quiet or simple music while at work, not
watching as much foreign language TV when I get home, catching up on a couple English-
language shows). And with the holidays I've been thrown out of my normal routines
(which I have to be careful of now since my last two migraines came after weekends I
changed my normal eating/sleeping/activity patterns drastically).

The bright spot is that this is the most productive I've been in Spanish all year. I'm
sort of in limbo in Irish now that I've finished the Duolingo course so I need to come
up with a new routine. I'm okay with not putting in so many listening hours in French,
but it just highlights the need to find quality activities to compensate.

2014 Summary

The big one! This is the first year I've tried tracking, which I've done consistently
through my app all year. Let's see the results!

Total Hours: 2198:45 Daily Average: 6:01:26

French: 1656:00 (75% of total time)
Listening: 1149:38
Speaking: 90:15
Reading: 254:52
Writing: 45:27
Vocab: 38:17
Grammar: 8:24
Course: 69:07

Irish: 412:45 (18.5%)
Listening: 101:28
Speaking: 7:09
Reading: 23:21
Writing: 0:58
Vocab: 33:21
Grammar: 00:00
Course: 246:28

Spanish: 25:31 (1%)
Listening: 6:57
Speaking: 0:11
Reading: 00:00
Writing: 00:00
Vocab: 3:10
Grammar: 00:00
Course: 15:13

Meta: 104:29 (5.5%)
English Instruction: 7:16
Meta (posting, learning about learning, making Anki decks, etc): 97:13

Total language learning hours by month:

Year-end reflections

So my main goal when starting tracking was to see how I spent my time and to encourage
myself to crowd English out of my day. Balancing multiple languages and wanting to keep
improving in French means that I need to spend more time in foreign language mode than
not and I was getting genuinely worried that working in English was getting in the way.
Hence the massive amount of French listening hours - the one skill that is
"mutitaskable" for me while I'm at work. When comparing my time logs to someone else's,
the fact that this was lower quality time where I wouldn't have been paying full
attention needs to be taken into account. But I achieved my goal - I managed to crowd
out a lot of English and whenever my attention would lapse from my work, French
podcasts were right there in my ear. I got more exclusive listening time in while
walking to and from work and while doing more menial tasks (and while watching
TV/movies at home, of course). Plus I learned a lot through news stories I would have
never been exposed to otherwise!

I've calculated the percentage of time I devoted to each language (plus meta
activities). To make it a little less skewed towards low-quality passive activities in
French, I just tried seeing how it would look if I just subtracted out about half my
French listening time. That would make: French 67% Irish 25% Spanish 2% Meta learning

I initially wanted to track everything including all my time wasters. Well that got old
real fast so I just focused on my language learning activities. I created the "Meta"
category because I wanted to include any mindless language learning forum/blogosphere
browsing. Well, it turns out it's really hard to actively browse mindless time (since
by definition, once we become aware of mindless browsing, it's no longer mindless). So
it's mostly just my active posting time (like these logs), time I spend wrangling with
Anki decks and other software/whatnot, and time devoted to evaluating pedagogical
theory and techniques (which I did more of when doing my volunteer refugee ESL teaching
towards the beginning of the year).

I may move away from this tracking system just to be more task-based. But as I'm not
sure I'll be keeping it up for the time being.

The time by month graphs show a drop off after August, making it pretty apparent, I
think, that the death of my friend in a motorcycle accident at the end of August had a
sizable impact. I remember around that time I was participating in the 6 Week Challenge
but I just all of a sudden lost patience for doing Twitter bot logging for both the 6WC
and the SC. I think I stopped some of my regular after work habits and opted for more
silent/music days at work rather than racking up more listening hours. I kept going, of
course, but not at quite the same pace. Still, I think it's really vital that I kept up
most of my activity - if I had taken a full break I would have found it very difficult
to come back.

How it effects me now: she was always very adamant about seeing me live up to my
potential career-wise. The second to last time i saw her (my birthday) she was getting
on me to come up with my exit strategy from my current company so she wouldn't be happy
if I stay here too much longer. While I've made a lot of strides at my current place of
work, I will need to eventually move on and I need to get more training in the new
field I've been working in (plus I need to become an Excel master).

I've been torn for a while between language learning, which brings me great pleasure
and a sense of accomplishment, and strictly professional training which I'm not as
enthusiastic about. It's already hard juggling everything as it is. But it's something
I definitely need to do. Plus, enhancing my career skills could help me move up to the
point where it would be feasible for me to be transferred abroad or able to apply for
residency somewhere as a skilled worker.

I didn't write nearly as much as I had intended and this is still something I need to
work on. But a recent development has helped - my creative writing workshop at the
Alliance Française where I'm forced to come up with something on the spot, give it a
sense of structure with an ending AND read it aloud. This helps a lot after having a
couple drinks, I've found (it helps that they serve wine in the class). I had started a
plain old 500 words a day writing challenge. I was enjoying it because I was building a
habit and I felt no pressure to produce something ready to be posted and looked over
online or by a tutor - the point was to simply write. But I didn't follow through with
it. I think I'll try again, making sure to keep several journals - both electronic and
analogue forms so as to not miss opportunities to practice. I've also been thinking
that I'll come up with a series of prompts to get started (such as Maximes from La
Rochefoucauld and the like).

I had wanted to be finished through GGS2 (through lower intermediate level/B1) but I
haven't. But I did finish GGS1, got through about a third of GGS2, and I completed the
Duolingo tree (which counts towards making my way to lower intermediate). It's funny,
but most CEFR scales tend to put A2 at around 200 guided study hours and B1 at around
350 (though this is for the "easier" tier of Romance/Germanic languages). At 246 course
hours, between A2 and B1 is right about where I would put myself :) I've passed the
steep learning curve phase where Irish seems ridiculously hard and I'm now in
relatively normal study mode. I know my listening comprehension has gotten much better
thanks to many repeated viewings of Aifric. I found myself absorbing some of the
grammatical structures naturally through GGS which is a testament, I guess, to the
relying on repetition and the ear to develop a basic sense for grammar before digging
into the rules and details. Having finished the Duolingo course, which took a lot of
the guess work out of how to study, I have to figure out my action plan going forward.

I had come in to year 2014 having just binge-watched Por Ella Soy Eva and I was
considering a Central America trip so I anticipated it being a big year for Spanish.
But I really let Spanish down. I felt like I was on a roll with Irish and that it was a
critical time to keep on it, which I don't regret. Thanks to offers for free lodging,
my potential Central American trip turned into a France trip. But I'm glad to report
that implementing Subs2SRS in my toolkit (thanks to inspiration and much-needed
instructions from emk's log!) has given me a way to make some progress in Spanish
without having to take a lot of time away from everything else. I'm thinking of working
on some FSI this year. Other than that I should definitely try some speaking and
writing - I can already do it, for crying out loud, so might as well practice!

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