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PMs TAC 2015 crazy? French course mission

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PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3953 days ago

821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 169 of 451
09 August 2014 at 1:20am | IP Logged 
Well here I am again... frustrated with bloody flashcards!!!

Thing is I had a skype session this AM with a professional teacher from italki

I stumbled... a LOT

In my opinion this is due to two things:

1) Nowhere near enough actual language use!!! (I need to speak speak speak and then
some)

2) Flashcards
-----------

okay so point one above is obvious I don't speak enough and I need to rectify this (off
to a meetup this morning as well).

Point 2 is my issue for the moment... yet again

Entering flashcards is toooooooo cumbersome. I've said this already, ppl have already
made suggestions and being me I haven't changed a thing, but I guess I resolved myself
to the fact that language learning just takes time and we all learn differently......
but... i'm not convinced....

I need to reconsider my approach in relation to FC's and learning new vocabularly.

To give some background... more than a few years ago on a couple of occasions while
using only French in Action (immersion program) and programs like Hugo French in 3
Months, Colloquial French and Hugo French Advanced in which I would learn the vocab by
writing at the top of each page unknown words (very similar to current method using
FC's) I was able to converse with French speaking without stumbling much. Maybe I'm
kidding myself since these weren't professional teachers that would throw hard
questions at me, but i suspect yet again that FC's are slowing me down.

Possible solutions

* Begin entering new words without the use of English

* Enter a limited number of new words per study session

* Ditch them altogether

* Read more


Any comments welcome.

PM


A language learner who hates FC's
1 person has voted this message useful



Sizen
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2816 days ago

165 posts - 347 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Catalan, Spanish, Japanese, Ukrainian, German

 
 Message 170 of 451
09 August 2014 at 6:38am | IP Logged 
I've tried to make flashcards work for me so many times it hardly seems worth my time
anymore. The two times I've made it work over a long period of time were under
particular circumstances.

The first time was when I was taking some French classes in my college. Not only were
we studying some vocabulary and expressions in class, I also wanted to impress my
teacher, so outside of class I'd add lots of new words and review verb conjugation
cards. This worked fantastic. After the 4 months were over, however, I couldn't
motivate myself to keep up my reps or put new cards in. So I stopped.

The second time was when I was in Taiwan, had a lot of free time, and was bored. I
spent 4-8 hours daily reading French novels to fill the void. I limited myself to 10
new words with active and passive cards (so 20 cards per day) and I managed this for
about 3 months. I learned lots of new words, but I felt I needed to stop soon after I
returned to Canada.

My conclusion: for me to have success with flashcards I need to either have an
extrinsic reason or have an inordinate amount of free time. I'm starting to shy away
from forcing myself to use them in any other situation because I find it usually makes
me feel like any activity becomes work because now I have to scout out good words and
later put them into anki. What a hassle!

Now I just look up and write down fun words expressions I come across that I want to
remember. I don't review them, but some of them stick better. I find that the initial
time spent with the word can have an enormous effect on retention. If I take the time
to write it out, think about it, contemplate its spelling, pronunciation, origins,
uses, etc, I might just remember it without the need for flashcards.

This is what I'd suggest trying: use anki only when you feel motivated to do so. Maybe
you have free time, maybe you found an interesting word list you want to remember,
maybe you just want to learn words about a specific topic. Feeling sufficiently
motivated? Do as many reps as you feel comfortable. Don't want to do it anymore? Stop.
You've learned some words, maybe even a few hundred! Rejoice! Want to continue learning
words when you're not grinding flashcards? Find other, more fun ways of learning more
words in the meantime. This method shouldn't be intensive or time-effective. It should
be sustainable and fun so that it fills in the gaps between anki.

I've found I get more out of this method because I don't constantly start and stop. I'm
always doing something. Sometimes I'm casually learning new words, others I'm pushing
hard to learn as much as possible. In the end, it evens out to a nice continuous sense
of progression.

Also, just an observation. I have a Japanese dictionary that can automatically create
flashcards when I mark words as favourites. It's on my phone, which is what I primarily
use for looking up words in any language. Basically, I don't need to do anymore than I
would normally have to. I'm already looking these words up all the time. All I have to
do is click a little star next to words I want to review and BAM! New flashcards. And
yet, I still barely review them. I don't think the problem with flashcards is limited
to the card creation process. The whole process is just so boring to me.
2 persons have voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3953 days ago

821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 171 of 451
09 August 2014 at 7:04am | IP Logged 
Sizen wrote:
I've tried to make flashcards work for me so many times it hardly seems
worth my time
anymore. The two times I've made it work over a long period of time were under
particular circumstances.

The first time was when I was taking some French classes in my college. Not only were
we studying some vocabulary and expressions in class, I also wanted to impress my
teacher, so outside of class I'd add lots of new words and review verb conjugation
cards. This worked fantastic. After the 4 months were over, however, I couldn't
motivate myself to keep up my reps or put new cards in. So I stopped.

The second time was when I was in Taiwan, had a lot of free time, and was bored. I
spent 4-8 hours daily reading French novels to fill the void. I limited myself to 10
new words with active and passive cards (so 20 cards per day) and I managed this for
about 3 months. I learned lots of new words, but I felt I needed to stop soon after I
returned to Canada.

My conclusion: for me to have success with flashcards I need to either have an
extrinsic reason or have an inordinate amount of free time. I'm starting to shy away
from forcing myself to use them in any other situation because I find it usually makes
me feel like any activity becomes work because now I have to scout out good words and
later put them into anki. What a hassle!

Now I just look up and write down fun words expressions I come across that I want to
remember. I don't review them, but some of them stick better. I find that the initial
time spent with the word can have an enormous effect on retention. If I take the time
to write it out, think about it, contemplate its spelling, pronunciation, origins,
uses, etc, I might just remember it without the need for flashcards.

This is what I'd suggest trying: use anki only when you feel motivated to do so. Maybe
you have free time, maybe you found an interesting word list you want to remember,
maybe you just want to learn words about a specific topic. Feeling sufficiently
motivated? Do as many reps as you feel comfortable. Don't want to do it anymore? Stop.
You've learned some words, maybe even a few hundred! Rejoice! Want to continue learning
words when you're not grinding flashcards? Find other, more fun ways of learning more
words in the meantime. This method shouldn't be intensive or time-effective. It should
be sustainable and fun so that it fills in the gaps between anki.

I've found I get more out of this method because I don't constantly start and stop. I'm
always doing something. Sometimes I'm casually learning new words, others I'm pushing
hard to learn as much as possible. In the end, it evens out to a nice continuous sense
of progression.

Also, just an observation. I have a Japanese dictionary that can automatically create
flashcards when I mark words as favourites. It's on my phone, which is what I primarily
use for looking up words in any language. Basically, I don't need to do anymore than I
would normally have to. I'm already looking these words up all the time. All I have to
do is click a little star next to words I want to review and BAM! New flashcards. And
yet, I still barely review them. I don't think the problem with flashcards is limited
to the card creation process. The whole process is just so boring to me.


Hi Sizen,

Thanks for sharing :) I think emk kind of does a similar thing to you in that he adds
interesting phrases here and there that are, well, of interest, and doesn't force
himself to do the flashcards (like someone ahem.. cough cough.. else I know - myself).
It's so hard to sort this issue out for me, hence why it keeps coming back. It may be
something that appears i'm just too stubborn to 'convert' to other methods (or revert
back to) but my main issue in leaving flashcards behind is that I'll 'lose' so many
words.

For example I went to a meet-up this morning of supposedly advanced French. I don't
agree it was very advanced but that's another story. Oh and I certainly felt much
better about this meet-up than my italki skype session earlier this morning. I felt
like the stronger one (of the three of us students)at the meetup and was so pleased a
fellow student out of nowhere commented on my accent being very good. So I certainly
wasn't the completely stumbling one that I was during my skype session... so a bit of
confidence back there.

Anyway during the meetup a number of words phrases were new to me and thus I added to
my flashcard deck after the meetup. Had I not done this, I would never review them,
then would I ever remember them? Similarly there are SOOO many words I come across in
my audio programs, courses and books that were I to not add the majority of them i'd
feel like i'd never learn new vocab very well and when coming across them again would
once again be a bit lost. And as you mentioned Sizen, in a slightly different light,
but the act of looking these words up in the dictionary (electronic, not overly slow)
reinforces the word(s) in a way too.

One thing's certain having a flashcard 'record' of all my newly learned words/vocab
gives me a sense of progress, yet ironically I just seem to progress so bloody slowly
stopping all the time to enter words in my courses and occasionally for my reading.
It's like a catch 22 situation. I totally understand the theory behind learning words
from context too but I don't feel like I could possibly cover enough words to learn
strange vocab words from context that I've learned from entering into my flashcard deck
on one off appearances in my courses.

This is crazy!! It's like i'm having an argument with myself here, asking for help and
when I receive it I'm so reluctant to take that advice and use it because I'm not
CERTAIN of either method being better with or without FC's. Perhaps as you're pointing
out Sizen I just need to use/enter them differently. Good luck changing my in-grained
habits there!

Perhaps I just need to take the next step, which is better than nothing and start
entering definitions in French and allow myself to edit a few old cards a day changing
them from English into French as well, so that I eventually have a French only deck.

If I had more time in the day this may not be so much of an issue, as I could do more
extensive reading. Ah... time!

PM

Edit: Perhaps I'm kidding myself a bit? Maybe it's not time for me to ditch the FC's
when taking into account I'm ALWAYS coming across new words- now I know this even
happens with my native language, but by always i mean much more than my native
language. Perhaps the time will come to let go of the FC's but it's just not that time
yet, and that switching to French only may at least be a step in that direction?

Edited by PeterMollenburg on 09 August 2014 at 7:05am

1 person has voted this message useful



Sizen
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2816 days ago

165 posts - 347 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Catalan, Spanish, Japanese, Ukrainian, German

 
 Message 172 of 451
09 August 2014 at 7:36am | IP Logged 
Hahaha, you're last post sums up the internal-dialogue I've been having with myself on so many subjects for the past few years.

As someone who's most certainly younger than you, it feels odd to be saying this, but I can't help myself. I feel I can identify with a lot of your thoughts. The past 3-4 years for me have been filled with a lot of self-searching and depression caused by a lot of similar thoughts (not saying you're depressed, but be careful!).

I think that your worrying is obviously well-intentioned: you want the best for yourself when it comes to language learning. But you're finding that "the best" is this weird mix of so many factors that it's impossible to come to any solid conclusions. I'm still in the middle of this process, like you, so I don't claim to have any answers, but I'm starting to come to a point where I feel I see more clearly.

I care less now and yet I'm still making progress.

I've realized I have to make a lot of sacrifices because, while the idea of speaking a foreign language fluently is very tantalizing, accelerating the process beyond a speed that I feel comfortable with is just depressing. I start feeling bad about the language, the studies, myself and everything. I'm a human. I want to be happy and I want to enjoy the things I've convinced myself that I enjoy. And unfortunately, in my case, that means expecting less from myself and not expecting myself to be capable of everything. I can't grind Anki nonstop for years on end, I just can't. I really can't. But there are other things I can do! They may not give me as good results, but at least they push me forward, slow and steady.

As I've questioned myself on this subject, I've realized one important thing and it isn't necessarily true for you. For me, choosing between enjoying (not fretting about the things I miss) the process and striving for excellency and efficiency is the same as choosing between speaking the language and never learning it.

I think in this sense, David Mansaray has been one of the most inspiring people for my language learning. For him, it's all about well-being and personal development. I think these two ideas go hand and hand with language learning. Hey, David may never speak 20+ languages fluently because of the choices he's made, but I honestly don't think he'd feel any better or happier knowing those 20 languages. I don't think I would. I don't think I'll even feel better after having learned one language. The things that make me happy to know French have nothing to do with studying or knowing every word I come across. It's a lot more complex than that. ;)

Anyway, you've got to keep thinking about it and trying everything you can or else you'll never come to your own conclusions. Just remember to take it easy every now and then. :)
1 person has voted this message useful



PeterMollenburg
Senior Member
AustraliaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3953 days ago

821 posts - 1273 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: FrenchB1

 
 Message 173 of 451
09 August 2014 at 10:50am | IP Logged 
Sizen wrote:
Hahaha, you're last post sums up the internal-dialogue I've been having
with myself on so many subjects for the past few years.

As someone who's most certainly younger than you, it feels odd to be saying this, but I
can't help myself. I feel I can identify with a lot of your thoughts. The past 3-4
years for me have been filled with a lot of self-searching and depression caused by a
lot of similar thoughts (not saying you're depressed, but be careful!).

I think that your worrying is obviously well-intentioned: you want the best for
yourself when it comes to language learning. But you're finding that "the best" is this
weird mix of so many factors that it's impossible to come to any solid conclusions. I'm
still in the middle of this process, like you, so I don't claim to have any answers,
but I'm starting to come to a point where I feel I see more clearly.


This is a common pattern of mine. Being analytical by nature and imo being quite aware
as an individual the impact choices we make today on where we end up in future (this
extends to lifestyle choices such as health, exercise and so on) I'm always analysing
things in such a manner. When I was 22 or so I remember stressing myself out madly with
how I was going to manage to study French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Greek every day.
I wound up doing nothing for a while, despite being unemployed back then. I couldn't do
much back then consistently day in day out except exercise, and that would often wane
too. These days at least my French study is consistent, when I arrive at these
conundrums I may back off a little but I still continue, I've too much rediculous
behaviour behind me to know that stopping isn't going to help me even if my methods are
questionable (according to myself). I don't mind analysing for the purpose of long term
improvement, what is frustrating is when I can't arrive at a definitive conclusion that
i'm satisfied with.

I guess I can keep arguing with myself, change my opinion day in day out, be in
agreement with someone one day who has a plethora of good reasons why FC's don't work,
only to be in agreement with someone else the next day who has an equal amount of good
reasons why they are good for language learning -yes I found that today, here in fact:
Is Using Flashcards Bad?
genuinenly seek the advice of others on the forum, only to for equally genuine reasons
the next day/moment turn down the advice after realising that FC's aren't so bad...
this could be the reason not too many ppl have responded yet- they've already told me
what works for them with FC's. So with all this one day I'll be still arguing with
myself over FC's when all of a sudden (ok, gradually) i no longer need to argue as my
French has reached a decent enough level that I don't need FC's much anymore. Till that
day, look out! (for me arguing with myself, and supposedly dismissing good advice, not
intentionally, but for good reason I'll have myself believe).

Sizen wrote:

I care less now and yet I'm still making progress.

I've realized I have to make a lot of sacrifices because, while the idea of speaking a
foreign language fluently is very tantalizing, accelerating the process beyond a speed
that I feel comfortable with is just depressing. I start feeling bad about the
language, the studies, myself and everything. I'm a human. I want to be happy and I
want to enjoy the things I've convinced myself that I enjoy. And unfortunately, in my
case, that means expecting less from myself and not expecting myself to be capable of
everything. I can't grind Anki nonstop for years on end, I just can't. I really can't.
But there are other things I can do! They may not give me as good results, but at least
they push me forward, slow and steady.


For me I think my acceptance needs to come in the form of being patient- extra
patient!! If I want what FC's bring in my rediculous conceived manner then I just have
to bite the bullet and be patient- perhaps simply speaking more will help me.. ummm...
speak.

Sizen wrote:

As I've questioned myself on this subject, I've realized one important thing and it
isn't necessarily true for you. For me, choosing between enjoying (not fretting about
the things I miss) the process and striving for excellency and efficiency is the same
as choosing between speaking the language and never learning it.

I think in this sense, David Mansaray has been one of the most inspiring people for my
language learning. For him, it's all about well-being and personal development. I think
these two ideas go hand and hand with language learning. Hey, David may never speak 20+
languages fluently because of the choices he's made, but I honestly don't think he'd
feel any better or happier knowing those 20 languages. I don't think I would. I don't
think I'll even feel better after having learned one language. The things that make me
happy to know French have nothing to do with studying or knowing every word I come
across. It's a lot more complex than that. ;)

Anyway, you've got to keep thinking about it and trying everything you can or else
you'll never come to your own conclusions. Just remember to take it easy every now and
then. :)


Nice insights there, and thanks for your kind words Sizen. Believe it or not (perhaps
as a result of my crazy amount of procrastination up until recently) I actually made
peace with myself (did I have a choice?) in that instead of aspiring to become a
polyglot that speaks a rediculous amount of languages, i'd be content with the process,
and learning a few of my favourites, if i'm lucky perhaps a few more later on, but not
to the detriment of the first few. Still, FC's although arguable useful are nonetheless
bloody frustrating. So I've just got to keep on keeping on.

Thanks Sizen!
1 person has voted this message useful



iguanamon
Pentaglot
Senior Member
Virgin Islands
Speaks: Ladino
Joined 3739 days ago

2224 posts - 6708 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, Creole (French)

 
 Message 174 of 451
09 August 2014 at 2:29pm | IP Logged 
PM, I must be doing this all wrong because I have never used flashcards or Anki. Somehow, I've managed to learn. My multi-track method works for me because I concentrate on one language and actually want to learn to use it for reading, speaking, listening and writing. My reinforcement, my "active"and "passive" wave comes from outside sources like my twitter account where I have a constant feed of Spanish, Portuguese and to a lesser extent Haitian Creole and Ladino. It also comes from reading extensively, speaking as often as I can, watching TV and listening regularly. So, I don't use "FC's"- at all. If I need to learn a word or phrase, I may jot it down and say it out loud in a series of repetitions, but that's just every now and then and not a part of my normal routine.

I think emk's approach could be a good and efficient compromise to look to use. Whatever you do, try not to let form and process overwhelm substance. I follow zenhabits, a blog about productivity and forming habits, from a different approach. For an interesting take on how to achieve without goals have a look at the post on no goals. Of course, this seems counter-intuitive. You want to learn a language. That's a "goal" but more of a global goal. What Leo's talking about in this post is not to become so fixated on lesser goals and process that they become an end to themselves, leaving your ultimate desire behind because the process has become the focus. "Do what you love." This philosophy may not fit with your personality, but it's worth a look. You know the old saying about continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results. :).

By the way, zenhabits has loads of advice about procrastination and also here. It takes courage to change but it can be done. Even if you don't, you've still done quite well with French, so something's worked even if FC's are not making you happy. Bonne chance!

Edited by iguanamon on 10 August 2014 at 3:26am

4 persons have voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 3386 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 
 Message 175 of 451
09 August 2014 at 4:16pm | IP Logged 
PM, I think the only problem is with trying to do it all. You have recently upped your conversation time using skype, and before that upped your time watching and reading French. That means you will come across many more new words, but will have less time to study them. But many people on HTLAL have said, if a word is important enough to learn, it will come up again. So if you don't learn a word or phrase today after your meetup, it will come up in some other way later on if it is really important. If it doesn't come up again, then it's not important. The irony is when we spend more time learning something than the time we actually use it.

PeterMollenburg wrote:

Possible solutions

* Begin entering new words without the use of English

* Enter a limited number of new words per study session

* Ditch them altogether

* Read more


*I use English on my flashcards, so of course I'm not going to suggest you don't. I think the objections to it are over rated (but I've written about this previously on your log, so I won't go into it now). But if that nagging idea that there is a better way is bugging you, then try another method for a few weeks and see what happens.

*From following your log, I think the second solution relates to your real problem. You are a thorough man, and I salute you for that. But you can't do it all. Give yourself a maximum number of new cards per week and stick to it. I am currently trying to learn 100 new words per month in French.

*If you are really getting bugged by flashcards, then by all means ditch them. Or take a break. You should be enjoying your language study.

*I definitely support the idea of reading more. If this means you have less time to work on flashcards, so be it. Lots of reading is an excellent way to build vocabulary. You know about the value of extensive reading, but I'm going to advocate repeated reading. I read an article somewhere (I can't remember where, sadly) about a study of vocabulary gained by children when reading books. They found that the children who read the same book 5 times learned significantly more words than the children who read 5 different books. Remember the idea of only looking up 1 word per page? Each time you re-read a book, you can look up another new word per page. But I have found on my re-reads of Le Petit Nicolas that I no longer need to look up words I thought I needed to on my first pass.

Keep on truckin.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Elenia
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
lilyonlife.blog
Joined 2333 days ago

239 posts - 327 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: German, Swedish, Esperanto

 
 Message 176 of 451
09 August 2014 at 5:30pm | IP Logged 
I don't use anki that much at all. My decks are fairly small, and I've only recently
upped my new words to ten per day because of the six week challenge. However, I know
exactly what you mean about not wanting to delete cards. I worried about deleting cards
because I didn't want to lose vocabulary and I because I didn't know when I'd want to
use a given word or phrase. However, that just made my deck unnecessarily difficult.

I find suspending cards that are difficult or that aren't currently relevant is better
than deleting them altogether, as I can always go back and revive them if need be. This
also calms my fears about losing potentially useful cards. I also only created cards
from native content, rather than from courses, because I prefer using native content
and because it's usually much more enjoyable to read a few pages of a book than a few
pages of a text book.

I'm also planning on becoming more selective about what words I enter. I used to enter
every unknown word that I'd come across, but am now thinking about a way to only enter
the words that seem currently useful. I watch a lot of nature documentaries which
contain words that I'm not likely to need, and which I don't come across that often
even in English. Those words will now be left off my anki wordlists until a later date.

I also write words down by hand. I have pages and pages of words that may or may not
make their way onto my anki decks. They're all refill pages which can be put into a
folder, but I don't have to actively study them unless I want to. That way I don't
dread having to study them, and I don't dread losing them.

That's how I use anki (and wordlists). Hopefully there's something I do that you can
incorporate to make anki less of a time-sink.

Edited by Elenia on 09 August 2014 at 6:03pm



2 persons have voted this message useful



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