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TAC 2013 Team Romulan - TEAM THREAD

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
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United States
Joined 2819 days ago

28 posts - 30 votes
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Sign Language
Studies: Japanese

 Message 73 of 189
11 January 2013 at 9:07pm | IP Logged 
New resource for the Spanish learners:

Animated tutorials on Spanish grammar concepts. Covers everything from the basics to the
intermediate level grammar. w0/grammar_tutorials.html#

McGraw-Hill is a publisher of textbooks, including the textbook I will use for my Spanish
4 class this semester. This semester uses a completely different book, so MGH provides
these tutorials to help the students to review any grammar concepts from the first three
2 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
Joined 4429 days ago

1020 posts - 1714 votes 
Studies: French

 Message 74 of 189
14 January 2013 at 4:59am | IP Logged 
I have a few recommendations for internet-based French-language learning materials,
some of which also have Italian and Spanish components: - combination of
French/English dictionary, principal and additional uses, alternative and related words
and forum entries relating to discussions about individual words and possible uses.    

I have not taken a look at the Italian, Spanish or Portuguese components – I believe is stronger for some languages than others. Note the separate tab
for the Collins dictionary entry for each word for the French dictionary.   I consider
it time well-spent when looking up a word to work through the various example sentences
and forum entries to see exactly how it may be used, or what alternatives to using that
word may be recommended – if nothing else, I believe it helps with memorization of the


Very useful site, large number of specific articles on very wide array of aspects of
French language usage. For starting from scratch, there is a proposed syllabus for
absolute beginners
( - lesson

or otherwise just poke through the entries as may be appropriate for your interest and
need – this might be the most useful starting point after checking in on the home page
for the daily mot du jour and suggested daily or weekly article: -
general index


FSI - French page

The U.S. Foreign Service Institute’s (FSI) French language learning materials. These
materials were developed originally as a sleep-aid for diplomats. While they do remain
effective at putting people to sleep, it was found over time the materials were useful
in language learning as well.

I would recommend both the Phonology course and the two volume Basic Course. The
Preface to the Phonology Course indicates the following: “In its use at the Foreign
Service Institute it serves as the initial syllabus for beginning students, preceding
the French Basic Course. It is the exclusive syllabus for the initial three to six
weeks of full-time French instruction for beginning students.”   


Radio France International
- language learning materials

Lots of very helpful stuff, including:

Journal en français facile, which has been referred to a fair bit on this forum
in the past. The facile is not entirely supported in reality.   10 minute audio
clip of a news broadcast accompanied by a transcript of most of the 10 minute clip.    
I believe the goal of the news readers is to see how fast they can talk.   Turns out,
they can do so pretty quickly.   

There is a variety of other explicit learning materials (intermediate level I expect)
listed to the left under comprendre l'actualitié and apprendre à écouter.   

There are also beginning level French learning materials listed under the cours de
section to the left - possibly at a lower level than many or most will be
looking for, but the French audio introduced in a non-intimidating fashion (I can only
personally vouch for L’Affaire du coffret so far):

L'Affaire du coffret
Mission Europe (Paris)
Comment vont les

Le talisman brise


BBC Languages - French

A variety of beginner and some intermediate learning materials. There are also
separate similar pages for the other Romance and other languages.

I cannot access the Talk French and My French Experience videos, which sux. I have
been working through the BBC Ma France – highly recommended – transcripted French audio
with easy activities and exercises:
Ma France


Yabla - French

Video immersion with transcripts, optional “pitch-corrected” slowed-down playback,
ability and related exercises. There are also Spanish and Italian Yabla sites.   
Note that this is a pay site. I gave it a month trial some time ago and will be
returning at some point.

Edited by Spanky on 14 January 2013 at 5:15am

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Senior Member
Joined 4429 days ago

1020 posts - 1714 votes 
Studies: French

 Message 75 of 189
18 January 2013 at 3:25am | IP Logged 
Another link suitable for all the Romance languages (plus about 90 others), one that is not much mentioned in the forum AFAIKBDTMWFI.


Thousands of texts in a wide variety of languages, a number of which have audio as well. you will find a separate page for children's literature, a verb conjugator for quite a lot of verbs in quite a lot of languages, and something I have just noticed: a cool quote section across a variety of languages, including a quote of the day translated into a number of languages. The closest thing I have seen on the internet to our Iversen.

Edited by Spanky on 18 January 2013 at 3:31am

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Senior Member
Joined 4429 days ago

1020 posts - 1714 votes 
Studies: French

 Message 76 of 189
18 January 2013 at 3:35am | IP Logged 
Another link of potential interest for French and Spanish learners (and those like Brun Ugle who are nutty enough to also study Japanese):

Ilya Frank website

Something recommended to me by songlines and I believe a number of hatlers may also be using it or discussing creating more dual language material in the Ilya Frank method.

Le petit prince is available in French, and a collection of stories in Spanish (including El «Castillo de Irás y No Volverás» (The Castle ‘Go-and-never-come-back’), which makes me interested in learning Spanish at some point just so I can say 'go and never come back" in Spanish instead of just in English as I do now.
1 person has voted this message useful

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 5093 days ago

1292 posts - 1766 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 77 of 189
18 January 2013 at 12:46pm | IP Logged 
I finally got around to updated the links page. Spanky, do you know what "short description" means? I didn't feel like condensing things, so I just quoted Spanky. Maybe I'll get around to it later.

I also finally got around to stealing, I mean writing, some challenges. We could use some more though, so do give suggestions.

If it still says "Russian" or "Scandinavian" somewhere, (oops) please just substitute your preferred Romance language.

Edited by Brun Ugle on 18 January 2013 at 12:48pm

1 person has voted this message useful

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 5093 days ago

1292 posts - 1766 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 78 of 189
18 January 2013 at 12:46pm | IP Logged 
I have shamelessly stolen this list from Languagesponge and a few additions from the Vikings, and have modified it ever so slightly by changing Russian to Romance language. But we can always do with some more challenges, so if anyone has any ideas, speak up. In general beginner’s challenges only require a very few sentences, while advanced challenges require at least half a page.

Remember to post your challenges so that you may receive your title (and please keep track of how many you've done in case I lose count):

0-9 challenges – slave
10 challenges – freedman
20 challenges - proletarian
30 challenges – plebian
40 challenges – equestrian
50 challenges - senator
60 challenges – emperor
70 challenges – demi-god
80 challenges - god
90 challenges – Jupiter/Juno

Beginner’s List

1.     Write five sentences introducing yourself
2.     Write three sentences about who you have in your family
3.     Describe a friend in six sentences. What does s/he look like? What is s/he like as a person?
4.     Give a five-sentence long description of the town or city you live in.
5.     Which languages do you speak? How well do you speak them? Where did you learn them?
6.      Try to find 15 cognates between your target language and your native language (or English if the former is impossible).
7.     Where do you go on holiday? Write five sentences about your favourite destination.    
8.     Write four sentences about a holiday you enjoyed. Where did you go? What did you do? Who did you meet? What was the food like?
9.     State five things you did yesterday. What did you do? Where were you? Who were you with? Record it for your teammates to listen to.
10.     Speak for a minute describing what you have done today.
11.     Your pen friend has written to ask you what you want to do on your next visit to their country. Type a response with the main body of the note being no less than six sentences. Time yourself. How long did it take you to type your note?
12.     You are having a bad day and have decided to vent your frustration on paper. Write five sentences mentioning the absence of something you need, or what you don’t have.
13.     Write out your shopping list in your target language and use it to go shopping. Only refer to your native or preferred language if absolutely necessary.
14.     Write a short diary entry of your day in your target language. Do this for five days. No less than three sentences per day.
15.     Record yourself for as long as you need saying three to five sentences about a film you saw recently.
16.     What is your favourite time of year? Why?
17.     Talk about what you intend to do tomorrow.
18.     As a spoken activity, state your family’s birthdays and what you got them for their birthdays last year.
19.     Write a few sentences saying what you wanted to be when you grew up.
20.     If you write a “to do” list every day, write it in your target language.
21.     What was your favourite present you got for Christmas? Why? Talk about it as long as you can.
22.     Listen to something unfamiliar but appropriate for your level, but listen to it with something in the background e g the TV, people talking or a song playing.       
23.     What are your strengths and weaknesses? (Answer this like a normal person, not like you’re on a job interview.)
24.     Introduce yourself orally in target language. Try to speak for twenty seconds or longer. For every five seconds over the original thirty that you manage to keep on talking, reward yourself somehow. For example ten extra minutes studying a Wanderlust language.
25.     Talk about your family for thirty seconds. Use the same reward system as above.
26.     Describe the qualities of a good friend.
27.     Stand in front of a mirror and practise pronouncing a sound that you typically have difficulty with. Pay attention to the shape of your mouth or the position of your tongue as you pronounce said sound, as appropriate. Find five common words which contain this sound and practise saying them. Until you become comfortable with the sound, use a few minutes of dead time every day to iron the error out.       
28.     Find something you’ve written before in another of your target languages and translate it into your current target language. The idea is that you should feel out of your depth and it should force you to up your game.
29.     Next time you’re late for something, explain what has made you late in your target language.
30.     Make a vocabulary list for a special cultural time of year in your or in another country. Examples would be Christmas, the Eisteddfod, Chinese New Year, the Oktoberfest, the Carnival of Venice or even just Pillow Fight Day! Now either talk about it for a few minutes using your new words or write something down.
31.     Talk about your travel plans for 2013.
32.     Find a song sung in your target language that you like and learn the lyrics. Look up the key words, or the ones that interest you, and learn them. Try to drop them into your writing and speaking.
33.     Record yourself speaking your target language for as long as you can and play it back. Make a note of any criticisms you have and record yourself again speaking about the same topic. Were you better the second time around?   
34.     Make a request of someone in your target language – ask them for something, tell them to do something. Try these even with someone who doesn’t speak your target language – this will encourage them to pay attention to you and will give you lots of practice repeating the same thing! (Or more likely get them very annoyed with you.)
35.     As a speaking exercise, give the ages of everyone in your immediate family.
36.     As you are going about your day, say a sentence in your target language explaining either what you are doing now, just have done or are going to do soon.
37.     The next time you pick up a phone to dial a number, say the number aloud in your target language as you dial. Or if you cheat and use your phone memory, read the number out to yourself before pressing the call button.
38.     Write five sentences about what your friend or a relative does on their day off or on the weekend.
39.     You’ve just returned home after a weekend away. You left your eldest child/sibling in charge and they had a party. The house is a mess and there’s lots missing. Write about what isn’t there anymore.
40.     State the languages you are thinking of studying next year and give the reasons why.
41.     Describe a pet, an animal you like or a wild animal. Write at least 40 words.
42.     Write the titles of five topics you find difficult to talk about in your target language on little scraps of paper. Turn them over. Now close your eyes and scramble them up. Pick one and talk about it for thirty seconds. Every time you pick up a new card, increase the time you talk about the topic by ten seconds.
43.     Describe an ambition you had when you were younger. Have you achieved it yet, or did it fizzle out as time wore on?
44.     Listen to an excerpt of one of your audio courses. Use your imagination to continue the dialogue.       
45.     Find a text that you’ve written and had corrected (e.g. on lang-8). Write it out by hand. Now type it out again while timing yourself. Record your time and retry it. Are you getting faster?
46.     Find something written in your target language and read it as carefully and clearly as you can.
47.     What did you want to be when you grew up?       
48.     Imagine you found Aladdin’s cave, and are now face-to-face with the magic genie. What would you wish for? Why?
49.     For five minutes of your day today, try to express everything you think in your target language. If you can’t, make a note of the words you don’t know, look them up and learn them as best you can.
50.     Look out of the window and describe the weather. Is it raining? Snowing? Is it overcast or is the sun shining? Does it look slippery outside?
51.     What did you get for Christmas? What was your favourite Christmas present as a child? Was there something you looked forward to even more than opening presents on Christmas Day? Describe your Christmas Day.
52.     Where do you think you’ll be in five years’ time?
53.     Describe your favourite character from a TV series, film or book. Why are they your favourite character?
54.     Describe your least favourite character from a TV series, film or book. What is it about them that makes you not like them?
55.     Talk about something out of character that you did when you were younger.
56.     Why were you given your first name?
57.     Describe a difficult situation you have got into abroad
58.     Come up with a list of verbs and nouns, all of which have no more than three syllables in their base form. Now describe any situation using a minimum of ten words from each list.
59.     Talk about an unusual hobby for no less than a minute.
60.     Describe an inspirational person in your life.
61.      For the next 10 Wikipedia articles you'll read in any language, switch to your
target language and try reading the beginning of the article. (If there is no TL
version of a given article, you simply wait for the next one.)
61.     Read 1000 words in total of original 'simple' articles in your target language, with no use of
62.     Find 10 items in your room whose names you don't know in your target language,
and learn them (including the article and the plural form)
63.     Find TV news in your target language and watch 10 minutes a day, five days in a
64.     Choose a city in the TL country and do research on the Internet, using your
target language only (how many inhabitants? what history? what tourist
attractions? etc.). You may consider switching to TL Google to reduce the number of
results in other languages or use advanced search.
65.     Switch the language to your target language (on your mobile, operating system, browser, other
software and/or social network services, depending on what is possible)
66.     Choose a letter and try to write as many words beginning with it as you can in two
minutes. Do this for five letters in total
67.     Choose randomly a word from a (paper) dictionary. Pronounce the word, read the
translation/definition. Find a few examples of use on the Internet. Think of a possible
situation/context where you could hear/see the word, or use it yourself. Decide whether
you like the word and find it useful. Do it for three words..     
68.     Find 5 false friends in your target language. List an alternative word and write a
sentence using one or both words correctly.
69.     Find a bilingual text or a text you have in both languages. Without looking at the target language text, translate 5 sentences from your L1 to your L2, checking your translation with the L2 text after.

Advanced List

1.     Write a full-length introduction of no less than half a page. Try to include elements of grammar that you presently find difficult or are unsure about.
2.     Give a description of your family, writing no less than five sentences for each person mentioned.
3.     Describe a childhood friend or someone you’ve known for a long time
4.     Give a written description of your town in half a page. Do you prefer living in the country or in the city? Why?
5.     Write about the languages you speak, what drew you to them and your affinity to those languages’ cultures.
6.     Look up tongue twisters for sounds that you find difficult to pronounce. Try to say them as quickly as you can without getting tongue-tied. If you dare, record yourself for us to hear, or do it live on a Skype session.
7.     Write about your favourite holiday destinations and tell us why you enjoy said country so much. No less than half a page.
8.     Write about previous holiday abroad or in your home country. Enchant us with it for half a page saying for example where you went, what you did, who you went with, why you chose to go there and what you enjoyed about the culture.
9.     You are a fly on the wall throughout your parents’ entire wedding day. What is going through your mind?
10.     Your pen friend of five years has written to ask you what you what you want to do during your visit to their country this upcoming summer. Type a response of no less than half a page saying what you would like to do, what you think you will do and referencing what you did on your last visit. Time yourself. How long did it take you to write your letter?
11.     Describe an occasion, recorded, where you helped someone who really needed it.
12.     You’re going through an old desk drawer and find a diary from when you were a child. You open it to a random page and find an entry about a special day in your life and start to reminisce.
13.     You’re having a bad day and decide to write a diary entry about it in your target language! Write a short diary entry about what didn’t happen, what went wrong, about the absence of something you needed or something you still don’t have that you want.
14.     Write out your shopping list in your target language and use it to go shopping for real. Afterwards, cook something following a recipe written in your target language.
15.     Describe an occasion where something, or someone, surprised you.
16.     Write a short essay of no less than 200 words on a hobby or interest.
17.     Write no less than 200 words explaining what you wanted to be when you grew up. Include reasons and perhaps a distinct memory from the time.
18.     Pick an interest other than languages and write no less than 200 words about it.
19.     Brainstorm the grammatical features of your target language that you find difficult to use but of which you have some knowledge. Now write three sentences using said grammar point and read them aloud afterwards. Repeat every day until that point of grammar becomes somewhat more natural.
20.     Describe a pet or an imaginary one as if you had one. Describe what it looks like, what it likes doing, its funny habits, where it tends to hang around the house and anything descriptive you can think of.
21.     Describe the weather on a strange day. What happened? Were you expecting it? What problems did you come across?
22.     The next time you don’t know a word for something while speaking your target language, describe it instead of just asking for the word outright.
23.     Describe a trip to the hospital.
24.     Read about an aspect of the culture in your target language country that you don’t know very well. Now write a short piece about it, ideally with a view to letting us fellow nerds read it afterwards!
25.     Describe your favourite wild animal. Where does it live? What does it eat? Is it dangerous? Is it unusual? Does it have an interesting defence mechanism like the chameleon or the dormouse? Does it hibernate? What are its migrations patterns if it migrates? Describe anything else you can think of that I’ve missed. Try for a minimum of 300 words.
26.     Spend a minute day-dreaming about your ideal house. Now describe it in detail.
27.     It’s 2:30 am and you’ve had three missed phone calls from a friend. Worried, you call them back. Describe the phone conversation (orally) when your friend picks up.
28.     Think of a colour that bears a symbolic meaning in your culture – for example yellow in Russian represents madness and red in China represents good fortune. Describe what the colour means and give examples of where we might see this in a real context.
29.     Look into the customs and superstitions in target language’s country and write about one that interest you. Do you have something similar in your own culture?
30.     Describe a first time doing something – your first day of a new job, the first time you got on an aeroplane or your first day living on your own, for example.
31.     Look through an old photo album and find a picture you like. Talk about what was happening at the time the picture was taken.
32.     Talk about an occasion where you were proud of yourself.
33.     We here must all be interested in Space, or else why would we be in Team Romulan? Read about an aspect of your own or you target language country’s involvement in Space exploration.
34.     Think of a book you’ve read recently, preferably not in your target language so you don’t have the vocabulary crutch from the novel to lean on. Now write a book review, attempting to write in a more formal style.
35.     Look at the news for the day in your target language and summarise an article.
36.     Open a page in your vocabulary book or SRS deck. Close your eyes and pick out three random words. Write them down and tell a story using those three words.
37.     Arrange a Skype chat with a fellow member of Team Romulan or with a native speaker of your target language. Speak in your target language for the entire duration of the call.
38.     Find an article in your target language and read it as fast as you can. Time yourself. If you make a mistake, start again from the beginning of the sentence.
39.     When did you first become interested in languages?
40.     Talk about something ugly – war, hate, fear or cruelty for example – and find the silver lining in it.
41.     Imagine waking up in hospital after an accident. You have lost all of your long-term memories. You don’t remember how you came to be there or any of the people around you. What is going through your mind? How did you get here?
42.     Write a synopsis of an episode of one of your favourite TV programmes.
43.     Imagine you’re a TV critic. Write a review of the episode described above.
44.     You’ve been digging in your garden and you find a chest. Describe what you find inside.
45.     You are an astronaut on a space mission to explore a new planet. What can you see? Smell? Taste? Hear? Are you scared? Excited? What kind of life can you see?
46.     Write a short poem in target language.
47.     Sometimes you can hear a piece of music and be transported back to an earlier time in your mind. Think of such a song and describe where it takes you. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? What can you see, smell, hear? Why does the song mean so much to you?
48.     Record yourself retelling an occasion where you did something in a foreign language that you had not done in your native one.
49.     Read about an aspect of (target language country) history you like. Write a diary entry pretending to be someone from that time.
50.     Look into a social issue in target language’s country and comment on it.
51.     Write an academic-style essay on a topic of your choice, whether related to your target language’s country’s culture or not.
52.     Describe where you think you will be in five, ten years’ time. What will have changed in your life?
53.     Describe a memorable coincidence.
54.     If you could cook any meal for your family, what would you cook? Does it have a special meaning to you?
55.     Think back to a time where you had to be brave and recount it.
56.     Imagine you’ve been given access to one of the many fictitious time machines. What time would you go back to, what would you do and why?
57.     Make a short recording in which you talk about a time when you were afraid.
58.     Write a story of (however many letters are in your target language’s alphabet) sentences long. Each sentence must begin with a different letter of the alphabet (unless the letter is never used in the beginning of words).
59.     Tell a story about a boring day where the weather keeps you indoors. What did you occupy yourself with?
60.     Describe a memorable event and how it made you feel, but don’t name the feeling. Let the feeling become apparent through your description.
61.     Describe a memorable experience in a foreign language. How old were you? How did it make you feel? Where were you? What were you doing?
62.     What were you like at languages at school? Did you enjoy them? Were they taught well? Did your teacher have an unusual teaching method? Did you like the teacher? Were they any good? Did languages at school discourage you from studying languages later on in life? Did you get anything out of your language education at school, whether language-related or otherwise?
63.     Record yourself talking about a memorable childhood experience.
64.     Watch a film. It doesn’t have to be in your target language or have subtitles in your target language. Watch and listen to everything carefully. When you see or hear something interesting that you don’t know how to express in your target language, write it down to look up later.
65.     Watch the news for your target language country. After watching a report that interested you, tell its story in your target language and give a short commentary on it.
66.     Look at something written in another Romance language. Write down words you like the sound of and look them up. Do you know them in your target language? Are there any words in the text that you can infer from your knowledge of your target language? Look for roots in the text that you find interesting and look in your target language dictionary to see whether these roots still exist in some capacity in your target language.
67.     Find an interesting text in one of your other target languages and translate it into this target language. Alternately when studying for said other target language, you could find a text in this target language and translate it into that language.
68.     Have you ever been to your target language country? What was it like? If you haven’t, what do you imagine it to be like? Record your response so we can compare stories!
69.     If you could only live with one of the five senses, which would you choose and why? Record your answer!
70.     Satisfy your wanderlust! Read about a grammar issue of your choice in a
Romance language you don't learn.
71.     Satisfy your wanderlust again! Try reading an article in a Romance
language you don't learn.

Edited by Brun Ugle on 01 February 2013 at 6:46pm

3 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
missaoitaliano.wordpRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3702 days ago

196 posts - 292 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, EnglishC2
Studies: Italian

 Message 79 of 189
18 January 2013 at 2:58pm | IP Logged 
Awesome! Thanks for stealing and adapting that hahaha. Where do we post the challenges? Here or in our logs? Or maybe in both.
1 person has voted this message useful

Brun Ugle
Senior Member
Joined 5093 days ago

1292 posts - 1766 votes 
Speaks: English*, NorwegianC1
Studies: Japanese, Esperanto, Spanish, Finnish

 Message 80 of 189
18 January 2013 at 4:41pm | IP Logged 
FireViN wrote:
Awesome! Thanks for stealing and adapting that hahaha. Where do we post the challenges? Here or in our logs? Or maybe in both.

I figure we could post them here (and in your logs, if you'd like).

I put a link to the challenges at the bottom of the first post, so we don't lose them.

Edited by Brun Ugle on 18 January 2013 at 4:45pm

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