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Embici’s slow road to Greek

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embici
Triglot
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CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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263 posts - 370 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Greek

 
 Message 1 of 108
01 January 2013 at 1:16am | IP Logged 
Here goes... my first log here on HTLAL.

As I understand the goal of a TAC I should be trying to take as many languages as
possible to C1/2. I’m not sure I can take Greek, my target language, to that level but
I’m going to make as much progress as I possibly can in the coming year.

I will use SolfridCristin’s categories (with thanks) to explain my ambitions.

Focus Languages: Greek and ?
Upkeep Languages: Spanish and French
Dabbling Languages: Dutch, Italian, Catalan, Swahili (I hope to upgrade one of these to
a Focus language)

About me:
I am a 40-something Canadian female. I’m from a mixed francophone-anglophone family in
which English dominated. I dabbled in a few languages while in university 20 years ago
(always in a classroom environment, never on my own) and have lived a couple of years
in Latin America. For the past ten years or so, I’ve rarely spoken anything but English
but I’ve recently become interested in restarting language studies. This time I am
studying on my own. This forum gave me the inspiration to do so... I thank you all for
that!

Greek (Focus language)
Like others on Team Sparta, I developed an attachment to Greece while on a trip there.
It was over 20 years ago but the little bit of Greek I learned (the alphabet and maybe
about 50 words) really stuck with me.

Fast-forward a number of years and my partner--who happens to be Canadian-born to Greek
parents--and I are thinking of taking a trip to Greece within the next couple of years.
Just the motivation I needed to start studying the language! I would love to be able
converse in Greek by the end of the year.

I’ve been working on Greek since May 2012 with a number of different materials. So far,
I have completed Michel Thomas’ Foundation Course; Lesson 52 of Assimil (passive wave),
and I’ve just started the active wave; and Lesson 6 of Teach Yourself. In addition, I
have been listening to a host of audio materials (e.g. Language Transfer, Earworms,
Book2, HAU Podcasts, and GreekPod101) and reading Greek children’s books. For now, I
plan to continue with these resources and get help from my partner from time to time.

French (maintenance)
Using Le nouvel grec sans peine has encouraged me to revisit my French. My child also
happens to be in a French-language daycare so there is another motivation.
My French is very rusty. I studied in English-language schools and had (mostly passive)
exposure to French while growing up, in addition to what I studied in school. I haven’t
used French actively in many years. I’d never heard of the CEFR until finding this
website about a year ago so I can only guess that my level was B2/C1 some years ago,
and probably much lower now. I’d like to get it back up.

I picked up Assimil’s Using French many months ago but at first glance thought it was
too easy. After doing a bit of reading on this forum about people using it, I think I
may have to revisit as I think I could get something out of it. In addition, I will
attend a French conversation circle in January and February and I will listen to Radio-
Canada during my commutes. I used to have a subscription to Nouvel Observateur; I may
renew that.

Spanish (maintenance)
I studied Spanish in university and lived about two and a half years in various parts
of Latin America. I’d estimate my level to be C1. As with my French, I haven’t used it
much in the last 10 years so it is rusty.
Materials I will use: I have a large library of books in Spanish that has been
collecting dust, including an Elena Poniatowska novel that I need to finish. If
Almodovar releases a new film I’ll be sure to see that. :)

My methodology for studying French and Spanish will consist primarily of doing some of
the things I normally do in English, in those languages instead: i.e. read tweets, on-
line news, listen to radio, etc. In fact, I do read French and Spanish already I will
just make a conscious effort to do more.

To get the true TAC experience I can’t just focus on one language while maintaining a
couple of others, can I? The goal is to take several languages to a much higher level,
however, I’m having a hard time deciding on other languages. My plan, therefore, is to
spend the first half of the year flirting with several languages. Hopefully I’ll be
ready to commit to one by August.

For now, my plan is to give each of the following languages one month. Whichever one I
like the most, will be my focus (along with Greek) for the second half of 2013.

Dabbling
Dutch: After spending several months on Greek I crave a Germanic language, Latin script
and English cognates. On a recent (albeit brief) trip to the Netherlands I was
pleasantly surprised when I was able to understand most of a Dutch-only menu. I once
got through a few lessons of German many years ago so this probably helped.
I will use Assimil’s Dutch with Ease.

Italian: This was the first language I studied after French. I took just one year of it
in my last year of high school. I really liked it but I’ve never had a chance to
revisit it (other than during a few short trips to Italy). I later learned Spanish to a
much higher level but somehow it didn’t totally supplant the little bit of Italian
still living in my brain so I would love to get to B1/2 in that..
I will use El nuevo Italiano sin esfuerzo and el curso Pons - Italiano.

Catalan: Just curious about this language. I have no connection to Spain. I don’t
really know Catalonia, however, a language that seems closely related to French and
Spanish, but that I can’t understand easily when spoken, intrigues me. I will use El
curso Pons - Catalan.

Swahili: I went to Kenya recently and loved the experience. I would love to go back. I
will use Pimsleur, Teach Yourself Swahili and/or FSI.

This is my first TAC and I look forward to sharing this experience with my team mates.

Good luck everyone!

TL;DR My current goals for 2013 are to learn some Modern Greek (to get to B1/2) and to
dust off my Spanish and French. I will dabble in Dutch, another Romance language or
two, and maybe Swahili. I will commit to one of these by August.


TAC 2013
Team Sparta


[Edit, 2014/07/27: This was my 2013 log. I have renamed it and will continue to
update.]

Edited by embici on 27 July 2014 at 4:12pm

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Crush
Tetraglot
Senior Member
ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5028 days ago

1622 posts - 2299 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Mandarin, Esperanto
Studies: Basque

 
 Message 2 of 108
01 January 2013 at 9:33am | IP Logged 
Welcome to team Sparta! I'm currently going through the Language Transfer course (reviewing the second level). I'm curious what your thoughts are on it, how far have you gone in the course so far?

Also, if you're interested in Català, i recommend the Assimil course (i have the Spanish base, but i think there's also a French base). It really is a hidden gem.
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LanguageSponge
Triglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4929 days ago

1197 posts - 1487 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Welsh, Russian, Japanese, Slovenian, Greek, Italian

 
 Message 3 of 108
01 January 2013 at 10:05am | IP Logged 
Hi embici! Good luck with your studies this year, both within the ranks of Team Sparta and elsewhere! Your idea to spend the first half of the year finding a second focus language intrigues me. I wish I had a free slot to do that myself! It sounds as though you will be much more advanced in Greek than some of us over at Team Sparta :)

I wish you the very best of luck and I hope above all else that you enjoy your first TAC!

Jack
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embici
Triglot
Senior Member
CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3773 days ago

263 posts - 370 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Greek

 
 Message 4 of 108
01 January 2013 at 6:28pm | IP Logged 
Thank you for the welcome and good wishes.

@Crush Thanks for that tip. If I choose Catalan for my 2nd focus language in 2013 I
will definitely get my hands on the Assimil. The rave reviews that El Catalan sin
esfuerzo gets are tempting me to forget the dabbling and go straight to Catalan full
force.
I think I would have been overwhelmed by Assimil’s Greek if I didn’t already have some
familiarity with the language. Do you think knowledge of French and Spanish would
suffice for going straight into Assimil’s Catalan without any prior knowledge of
Catalan?

@LanguageSponge I'm sure you and others here will make leaps and bounds with Greek.
Your knowledge of cases will certainly be an advantage.

I thought I'd write a little bit about my early impressions of the different Greek-
learning materials I've used thus far.

Berlitz’ Earworms Rapid Greek

I had heard a lot about Pimsleur as well as Michel Thomas but I opted for a cheaper
option to start: Berlitz’ Earworms Rapid Greek. It was okay but I didn't get a lot of
satisfaction from memorizing phrases. In fact, I got discouraged by how many times I
had to listen and repeat to really remember anything. If you don’t know the method it
is all audio with a teacher and a student learning the phrases. There is background
music and the teacher and student’s dialogue is set to it rhythmically, but they aren’t
exactly singing. I found the student’s pronunciation annoying. I listened to it
sporadically for about a month, and now I listen to it occasionally for review.

Michel Thomas

In mid-June I bought Michel Thomas’ Greek Foundation course and completed it in about a
month. I loved it. It was such a confidence booster. I couldn’t believe I was actually
putting sentences together in such a short time. It wasn’t a matter of memorizing
phrases but using the tools they teach you to put sentences together. I did find it a
little slow going, especially when the teacher corrected the students’ mistakes but I
think MT was exactly what I needed to motivate me to continue. This has not been my
first attempt to learn Greek over the years but this is the first one that has lasted
for more than one lesson. Thank you, Michel Thomas!

I was so pleased with the method that when I found a store selling some of his courses
on deep discount ($13) I bought everything they had left. I’m not sure I’ll ever study
Arabic, Japanese or Chinese, but if I do, I’ll have the Michel Thomas Method to get me
started. :)

I have the Advanced Greek course, but I haven't started it yet.

Language Transfer

I then heard about the Cyprus Project at languagetransfer.org from a post on this
forum. It’s very similar to Michel Thomas (but free!). There is only one student. She
makes less mistakes than the students on the Michel Thomas CDs but her pronunciation is
odd. She pronounces the letters τ, ντ, δ and θ like θ. I’m about halfway through this
three-part program.

After MT and a bit of the Cyprus Project I thought it was about time I assessed my
goals for learning Greek. The minimum that I aspire to is to be able to understand what
is being said around me and to say a bit here and there. If I can do better than that
and read Greek newspapers or watch Greek TV that would be a bonus. Since Language
Transfer or Michel Thomas alone isn’t going to get me to my goal (they did little for
my listening comprehension or vocabulary building) I realized I needed to start
listening to the language a lot more so I turned to Teach Yourself, and then Assimil..

Teach Yourself Greek

In July I began working on Teach Yourself Greek. I like the speed of the dialogues in
TY as they sound close to natural speed (at least more than Assimil). I also like
having grammar explanations in English and the vocabulary lists are helpful. However, I
think Teach Yourself has been sloppy updating their materials as some of the exercises
involve vocabulary that doesn't come until later lessons.

Assimil Le nouveau Grec sans peine

While working with Teach Yourself I began reading rave reviews about Assimil so I
ordered Le nouveau Grec sans peine. I had hoped to be entertained by the witty
dialogues I’d heard about, but so far, I haven’t been that impressed. In fact, I find
most of the dialogues rather dull. Nevertheless, by August I had committed to putting
TY aside and focussing primarily on Assimil.
I do like the fact that Assimil’s audio is all Greek plus there is a lot more of it
with four CDs unlike the two in Teach Yourself. I have felt a little overwhelmed by the
diclension and verb tables however, and will have to find a way to learn those
eventually. For now, I’ve been putting that off until the Active Wave which I have just
started recently.

I’ve been seeking advice online about which materials to use in which order and so far
I’ve only come up with something from Moses McCormick about doing Assimil first and
then following that with the more grammar-heavy Teach Yourself. I think I’ll just
continue with Assimil for now. If I get bored and need a change of pace, I’ll revisit
Teach Yourself. What's tempting me most right now is MT Advanced and the rest of
Language Transfer. I think it would really help with all those verb tenses I've been
exposed to in Assimil but haven't yet internalized.

My question to the seasoned language learners: What do you think of this plan? What are
your opinions on my sequencing?

1 person has voted this message useful



Crush
Tetraglot
Senior Member
ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5028 days ago

1622 posts - 2299 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Mandarin, Esperanto
Studies: Basque

 
 Message 5 of 108
01 January 2013 at 8:06pm | IP Logged 
embici wrote:
Do you think knowledge of French and Spanish would
suffice for going straight into Assimil’s Catalan without any prior knowledge of
Catalan?
Definitely. I only finished about half of it before losing getting lost in other languages and am super anxious to get back to it. With my Spanish and half of the Assimil course, i've managed to read and enjoy several books in Catalan. My speaking and writing has gone to the wayside, but i'm sure it will come back quickly when i pick it up again. Also, don't be fooled by the seemingly shorter course (a meagre 70 lessons) -- the lessons get progressively longer and by the end you have just massive paragraphs that seem more like essays than your traditional 1-minute Assimil dialog.

embici wrote:
She makes less mistakes than the students on the Michel Thomas CDs but her pronunciation is odd. She pronounces the letters τ, ντ, δ and θ like θ. I’m about halfway through this three-part program.
I also found that a bit odd. She also has quite a bit of trouble with the stress in words and the intonation of questions was a bit odd. However, in most other things i found she remembered the grammar and vocabulary better than i did. Anyway, in the second course about halfway through they switch students. The new student's pronunciation of the t/d/th sounds are much clearer (and their responses are much faster). Again, they seem to have a much better memory than i do :P I haven't finished the third level yet, i found i was forgetting a lot of the vocabulary so i did level II over again. I should be finished tomorrow or the day after and then i'll start the last (for now) level.

Quote:
Since Language Transfer or Michel Thomas alone isn’t going to get me to my goal (they did little for my listening comprehension or vocabulary building) I realized I needed to start listening to the language a lot more so I turned to Teach Yourself, and then Assimil..
I've noticed this, too. I can only make sentences, not understand them :P I'll start Assimil when i finish LT, which i think will give my listening and comprehension overall a pretty nice boost. I also have the Teach Yourself course, though i'm not sure if it'd be worth my time going through or not.

I've also found the Assimil Chinois course rather dull (and it's all been review for me so far, anyway). Another option is the FSI Greek course. I skimmed through it and it seems like it follows a similar format to their wonderful Spanish course. When i get around to studying Greek full-time, i think that's what i will use. I think FSI works best when you can spend at least 2-3 hours a day on it (not always easy to do), so i'll wait until i can dedicate that amount of time to Greek. Until then, i'll be happy doing my 30 minutes a day of LT and later on Assimil and just generally enjoying playing with Greek.
1 person has voted this message useful



embici
Triglot
Senior Member
CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3773 days ago

263 posts - 370 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Greek

 
 Message 6 of 108
02 January 2013 at 7:40pm | IP Logged 
I'm not sure why all my postings have strange formating here. Maybe because I use Chrome? I will try IE this time.


There has been some discussion of false cognates between Greek and other languages, Spanish in particular.

Compared to other languages I've studied, Greek is hard! English gives you a good discount when you study French and then French gives you an even better discount when you study Italian... and then there is Spanish...

Unfortunately most days I feel like I'm paying full MSRP for Greek. I once flirted with German, but got to the cases and ran for the hills. There's no avoiding cases in Greek now that I'm committed to getting to a decent level (but more about that later).

But back to the topic of false cognates.

I feel I'm just now getting past some serious difficulties with some false cognates between Greek and Romance languages I'm familiar with. Here are the main ones I've encountered so far:

ναι - which means "yes" and is pronounced like "ne" hasn't caused me as much difficulty as you might expect. Perhaps because I have been familiar with this oddity for a long time. However, another word for "yes" has caused me some grief...

μάλιστα - For some reason I want to give it its opposite meaning. I don't know if it's because I hear "mal" and assume it must mean something bad or negative or maybe I'm thinking of "Esta mal" ("it's bad" in Spanish). Whatever the reason, it gives me pause all the time.

ή - sounds just like "y" which is Spanish for "and". In Greek it means "or."


μία - To my ears it sounds like the "mía" which is "my" in Spanish and Italian, but in Greek it is a feminine indefinite article (a/an). It is sometimes written and pronounced without the accent as μια which seems to cause me less difficulties.

του - I expect this to be the second person singular pronoun like in French, Spanish and Italian, or "your" as in "tu" in Spanish. It is actually the singular neuter genitive article.

σου - When I hear this I expect it to mean "his" or "her," not "your" as in the Spanish "su."


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embici
Triglot
Senior Member
CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3773 days ago

263 posts - 370 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, French
Studies: Greek

 
 Message 7 of 108
03 January 2013 at 5:44pm | IP Logged 
A couple of other materials I've looked at:

Spoken World Greek

I borrowed it from the library and it looked excellent. I was tempted to abandon
Assimil for it.
It's in English (a plus for someone who doesn't know grammar terms in English, let
alone French)
Lots of audio (6 CDs). I can't remember for sure, but I don't recall there be much, if
any English on the CDs.
Each lesson has vocabulary, dialogues, grammar and cultural notes (not like the hodge
podge of grammar, cultural notes, etc. in Assimil footnoes).

FSI

Books and lots of audio available for free for this one. I haven't studied it as it
uses the Kathomilumeni variety of Greek, which seems to be a transition Greek between
Katharevousa and Dimotiki. The sight of all those extra accent marks, different
spellings and an additional case (or two?) put me off. Maybe when I'm more confident in
my Greek I will take another look.

Modern Greek for Foreigners
Athan Delicostopoulos
I bought this book in Greece many years ago. Even though I bought it in the late
eighties, the book hadn't adopted the spelling reforms already in place at the time.
However, I wasn't aware of that and bought it anyway. It also claims to be using a form
or Greek that is in between formal Greek and colloquial Greek.
Again, I may come back to this at a later time when I'm not so put off by the
spellings, cases and diacritical marks.

Interestingly, some Greek-Canadians I know who learned Greek from parents and/or Greek
school (usually through the Orthodox Church) learned Katharevousa. It seems that Greek
immigrants were either oblivious or opposed to the reforms. :)
1 person has voted this message useful



Crush
Tetraglot
Senior Member
ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5028 days ago

1622 posts - 2299 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Mandarin, Esperanto
Studies: Basque

 
 Message 8 of 108
03 January 2013 at 7:02pm | IP Logged 
What about the word for "there"? I don't know how to write it but it sounds very similar to "aquí". I don't have any trouble with "ethó" but "ekí" always trips me up.

Personally as soon as i've got the time i want to give the FSI course a shot. The format just seems so similar to the Spanish course i loved. Also, i really like cases, especially how they tend to free up word order. To be honest, i was kinda bummed to find out there was no more dative! The LT course so far's covered everything but the vocative, which i'm still not quite sure what it is. Russian's got something called (maybe?) a vocative -- for example, you might say "мам" instead of "мама" talking to your mom -- but i'm not sure if that's what the vocative is (addressing someone directly). If that's what it is, it seems kinda... pointless :P

I'm still an absolute beginner, but so far Greek doesn't seem all that difficult. It could just be the course i'm doing (LT), but the sounds are generally easy and the grammar for the most part makes sense.

Also, it's interesting to hear about Greek immigrants :)


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