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ES. Super Challenge & JA. IT.

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Senior Member
United States
Joined 1504 days ago

111 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 1 of 32
25 July 2014 at 10:42pm | IP Logged 

iBuenas tardes! Here I will post my weekly progress with the Super Challenge in Spanish, and also my progress in
two languages that are outside of the challenge, Japanese and Italian.

Some background:

Spanish--I took three years of it in high school from excellent teachers, and an intermediate year in a community
college, the instructor of which made the language seem very boring. :( I took several years off from studying the
language, and now that I finished my science-heavy bachelors, I have time (and interest) to continue the

Japanese--I've had a fascination with the language and the culture for as long as I can remember. Finally in the
second-to-last year in university I was able to take the elementary year in Japanese. I had too many sciences the
last year, and could not continue in the courses. Now I have time to pursue it further.

Italian--absolutely no background. :) I am considering going to medical school in Italy, as they have courses in
English, and are much much MUCH cheaper than in the U.S., and I figured any Italian would be a huge help.

Since I started the Challenge in July, I try to read 10 or so pages each day, and the listening/watching varies
depending on the material that week. I try to have an average of 72 pages each week, and 130 minutes of

For more detail on reading, at this stage, I prefer bilingual books, or the Spanish and English side-by-side. I
finished "Stories from Mexico" by Genevieve Barlow and William N. Stivers, and currently am working on "La
Sombra del Viento" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, and also borrowed its English counterpart. This latter book is a wake-
up call regarding my lack of vocabulary, and how I need to use more challenging textbooks rather than review
basic minutia that I had forgotten.

For listening, I enjoy "Notes in Spanish Intermediate", and also started watching "The Princess Bride" with Spanish
dubs and subtitles. The only issue with this is that the subtitles often do not match the dub (different
translation), though sometimes I'm able to understand the audio counterpart.

I'm interested in native Spanish films, but many of the recommended ones are R rated. :( if you have
recommendations for good films that are not R rated, please comment!

For Japanese, I'm using the textbook "Genki" from college to review and strengthen my skills, and also Pimsleur
Comprehensive I and II. I find the latter useful to cement the vocabulary I ready know, and to learn details that
Genki misses. For kanji, I already know some, but for further study I decided to learn the radicals and build kanji
from there. I am anticipating "Let's Learn Kanji" in the mail soon.

For Italian, I found Assimil Italian with Ease at the library, and am trying that out, and so far I like it.

If you have questions or comments, please post! And advice! I have found advice on this forum very helpful,
thank you. :)

Edited by Xenops on 06 December 2014 at 9:53pm

Senior Member
United Kingdom
rdearman.orgRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2915 days ago

881 posts - 942 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, French, Mandarin

 Message 2 of 32
25 July 2014 at 11:05pm | IP Logged 
For Italian you should get the FSI books & Audio. They are public domain and free. You might want to check them out for Japanese & Spanish as well.

Some Italian links you might like to check out:
Italian Radio ID=38575&PN=1

Can't really help you with Japanese or Spanish.

Good luck with the challenge and I look forward to reading your log.
1 person has voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 1504 days ago

111 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 3 of 32
26 July 2014 at 10:43pm | IP Logged 
Thank you for your support, rdearman! And so many links! Thank you. I just started looking at FSI last night for Spanish, and it looks like I can use it. :) I like how it has lots of drills and answers for such.

Senior Member
United States
Joined 1504 days ago

111 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 4 of 32
04 August 2014 at 2:45am | IP Logged 
iBuenas trades! This week I have made much more progress in Japanese than in Spanish or Italian. More current concern with with Spanish is the book I chose: "La Sombra del Viento" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. While I have the Spanish novel side-by-side with the English translation, I still feel that much of the Spanish in this adult novel is way above my head. So I will put it aside for now while I seek other Spanish reading materials. For general Spanish learning, I started FSI, and am currently doing the drills for commands. I think I like it. :)

For Japanese, I got the book "Let's Learn Kanji" in the mail, and I think that I will like it. The premise is that you learn radicals, the "alphabet" of kanji, and then your learning of kanji is more about putting little symbols together rather than memorize a bunch of nonsensical strokes.

For Italian, I'm continuing with Assimil with Ease, and then after that I will do Schaum's Italian grammar or FSI. Or both.

United Kingdom
Joined 1787 days ago

29 posts - 2 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 Message 5 of 32
04 August 2014 at 4:44pm | IP Logged 
Hello Xenops

Wow, sounds like your going to be busy! I see that you found the book " La sobra del viento" too difficult at the moment, that's often the way with foreign language books! I brought some by Isabel Allende but I couldn't understand them very well until a few months ago.

Are you worried that learning Italian and Spanish together, you will start to confuse the vocabulary from both of them?

Good luck!

Senior Member
United States
Joined 1504 days ago

111 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 6 of 32
04 August 2014 at 8:29pm | IP Logged 
Hello Caymane, thanks for your post. I hope to re-attempt the book once I get more vocabulary. :)

As for mixing Italian and Spanish, I have not had an issue (yet), as I first started learning Spanish over ten years ago,
and Italian just recently. Rather than mixing the two languages, what I have experienced is trying to pronounce
Italian like I would Spanish (using "de" instead of "di", for example). But yes, learning both as brand-new languages
is inadvisable. :P

As regards to time, I think I have time to study the languages, but the current struggle is 1. time management and
2. finding a quiet space to study. I am currently living with my folks until I find a job, and the trend is to begin
studying after they go to bed. Well, that isn't a lot of time. So I need to plan ahead and study at the library or find a
quiet space in the house.

Senior Member
United States
Joined 1504 days ago

111 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 7 of 32
10 August 2014 at 10:42pm | IP Logged 
iBuenas tardes! This week I have gotten more done, but would like to do better next week. :) I confess I had lost
some motivation for a week or two for languages in general, but once I mustered the attitude of "I'm going to
beat this language", my enthusiasm has increased. Also, I took basic online proficiency tests for Spanish, and
both put me at upper basic. :( Since I tentatively want to take an intermediate proficiency test in November, I
better get going.

For minutes and pages in Spanish, this is where I am at:

minutes: 143
Pages: 99

I found basic Spanish readers on the Gutenberg project for *free*, and I'm working on this one in particular:

h.htm"> htm

Since it has page amounts :P I also ordered "Las Cronicas de Narnia", and I think it will help to have reading
material that I enjoy, rather than being stuck with folk tales, which are fine, but I would like something more. I
also have a Spanish/English Bible with NIV/NVI translation, so that will help. I find the narratives the easiest to
read, and the epistles.

For Spanish study material, I have been using FSI and this book: Spanish-Grammar-Self-Teaching-Edition/dp/0471134481/ref=sr_1 _2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407702715&sr=8-
2&keywords=advanced+spanish"> Spanish-Grammar-Self-Teaching-
Edition/dp/0471134481/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1407702715&sr=8 -2&keywords=advanced+spanish

For Japanese I have been using Genki textbook, "Japanese for Everyone", and "Let's Learn Kanji". I also watch the
2006 anime "Black Jack", since it is a slice-of-life anime set in modern times, and I have a better chance of
catching vocabulary. I was excited when I learned the "I want to do__" form, because now I hear it ALL THE TIME.
Even could understand some instances when the character with the lisp uses it.

Still using Assimil for Italian, and listening to the audio when doing yard work, and shadowing or echoing when I

For study space and time, I have a lawn chair and a little table outside in the shade. :) It's been 80 degrees F, but
cooler in the shade, and reasonable.

Senior Member
United States
Joined 1504 days ago

111 posts - 48 votes
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 8 of 32
19 August 2014 at 12:21am | IP Logged 
iBuenas trades! I got my "Las Cronicas de Narnia" volume in the mail, and I'm soo stoked! I can READ it! (mostly)
So much easier than the adult Spanish novel I attempted. I will probably still use the English editions for ease of
reading, but I am very enthused. :)

I also watched a documentary on Frida Kahlo, the artist from Mexico. I was hoping that the audio would be in
Spanish and then with English subtitles, but it was not so: no English subtitles, but there where Spanish ones. So I
read the Spanish subtitles with English audio.

For my challenge update:

Minutes: 323
Pages: 106

Clearly I need to work on reading.

Not much exciting on Japanese, except the fact that it's Japanese: just plugging away.

With Assimil Italian, I have gotten to the point that I am confused as to why they use that form of the word there
and not there, and such. So I started Schaum's Outline of Italian for grammar points, and I will look into
rdearman's links that he kindly gave me. Since I borrowed the Assimil from the library, I will have to see if I will
buy my own copy or not.

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