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Spanish: A little subs2srs experiment

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Crush
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ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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1622 posts - 2297 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Mandarin, Esperanto, Basque

 
 Message 25 of 147
02 November 2014 at 3:34pm | IP Logged 
The nice thing about Spanish is that it is spoken in so many different countries with so many different accents that getting over the major hurdles for English speakers (namely enunciating clearly the vowels and the r sounds) means you'll generally have a nice clear pronunciation. For example, i'm not sure that the [β] sound is used all throughout Mexico, in many cases you'll just hear a 'b' sound.

Also, i don't mean to derail the thread, but i'm curious what your thoughts are on Idahosa's "Flow of..:" series. I was thinking of checking out the Flow of Mandarin course before.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 26 of 147
02 November 2014 at 4:19pm | IP Logged 
Crush wrote:
The nice thing about Spanish is that it is spoken in so many different countries with so many different accents that getting over the major hurdles for English speakers (namely enunciating clearly the vowels and the r sounds) means you'll generally have a nice clear pronunciation.

Well, I already have those, so I guess I'm in luck! But more seriously, the reason I'm paying some attention to the tricky consonants is because it helps make listening comprehension easier. I'm definitely hearing most of the [β], [ʝ], [ɣ] and [x] sounds in the audio, but it's hard to sort them out, because my ear isn't trained to hear them. So a little practice with these sounds provides a nice comprehension boost.

Crush wrote:
Also, i don't mean to derail the thread, but i'm curious what your thoughts are on Idahosa's "Flow of..:" series. I was thinking of checking out the Flow of Mandarin course before.

No problem! I tried Idahosa's "Flow of French" course as a beta-tester, at a reduced price, and it was very nicely done. Idahosa is first and foremost a musician, and he takes sound seriously. His course is a weird hybrid between a regular course, and something more like a tutoring session: throughout the course, you record audio, and you get detailed feedback on individual phonemes, stuff like "This 'o' sound is too open; please see this page explaining how to make this sound correctly." Or, "You're tapping your French Rs. Here's how to do it correctly."

The course is built around music. Idahosa picks out roughly four songs, and you work up from repeating slow, individual phonemes to entire lines of full-speed music. If you ever see any written text, it's all in IPA (which he explains). The course comes with very detailed pronunciation notes for all the important sounds. His music choices are OK—not really my thing, necessarily, but they're chosen to teach the sounds efficiently.

Overall, it's a pretty cool course. The price is steep—just under $100—but it comes with a lot of personal feedback, and the feedback is better than what you'd get from most Skype tutors, even the good ones. And it's a lot cheaper than an accent coach.

Getting back on topic, it's really interesting how much subs2srs is encouraging me to focus on the sounds of Spanish, even very early on.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
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 Message 27 of 147
03 November 2014 at 1:54pm | IP Logged 
On the left, my Anki load is slowly ramping up, but it's still quite manageable. On the right, I demonstrate that, yes, I can learn to count from native input. :-) Most of the "introductory Spanish" stuff like greetings, counting, etc., shows up quite quickly in native input, too.



I also found myself walking around this morning mumbling yo quiero ser escritor "I want to be a writer." I'm not sure why this card has turned into an earworm. But this is how it starts—a phrase sticks in my head, complete with intonation, and then another¸ and then my brain starts to generalize…

Spanish resources

I found the following useful pages while looking for a subtitled series. I'm not interested in any of this right now, but maybe somebody else will be able to use it.

- List of Websites Where You Can Watch Spanish Videos with Spanish Subtitles or Transcripts Online (impressive!)
- Spanish movies/shows with subtitles (mostly stuff for students of Spanish)

Shopping!

I decided to splurge, and equip myself properly for this experiment:

- A 4-page laminated quick-reference to Spanish grammar
- Essential Spanish Grammar, which is probably way too much detail for now
- A copy of Blacksad! The French version was absolutely awesome.
- Disc 1 of Avatar The Last Airbender. Darklight1216 pointed out the original discs had a Spanish audio track which is missing on newer editions.
- Pan's Labyrinth. Everybody tells me this is awesome.

I've also found Spanish subtitles for Avatar, and verified that the subtitles for episode 2 are accurate for at least one of the Spanish dubs. So with any luck, I may be able to do some subs2srs with Avatar, which would be awesome.

Some tempting goals

Right now, it feels like some near-term goals for this experiment are shaping up:

- Be able to enjoy Blacksad.
- Be able to enjoy Avatar (assuming I can get enough accurate subs to SRS it).

These goals will probably change. But this feels like the right direction, for now: Find some really awesome intermediate media, and aim straight for it.

Oh, and once I make it through the first week or so, I intend to spend less time logging. But I wanted to record the early part of this experiment in detail so people could see I how I tackled native media from day 1. :-)
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sctroyenne
Diglot
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United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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739 posts - 1312 votes 
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Spanish, Irish

 
 Message 28 of 147
04 November 2014 at 10:01pm | IP Logged 
You know, this may be just the thing I need to make progress in Spanish without feeling
like I'm detracting from my other study time. I already have the core structure and
vocabulary (and then some) so what my Spanish really needs is exposure and practice. Plus
media-based study will allow me to make some Spanish progress in the SC.

I'm going to take a look into setting this up for myself. I remember the last time I
tried generating a Subs2SRS, I felt like throwing my computer out the window, but from
what I can recall, the language tracks weren't correctly mapped on the DVD itself which
complicated things.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
Joined 3932 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 29 of 147
05 November 2014 at 12:01am | IP Logged 
sctroyenne wrote:
I'm going to take a look into setting this up for myself. I remember the last time I
tried generating a Subs2SRS, I felt like throwing my computer out the window, but from
what I can recall, the language tracks weren't correctly mapped on the DVD itself which
complicated things.

I'm happy to say that if you use Handbrake to rip the DVDs, it's pretty easy to get MKV video with embedded subtitles. And if you use Subtitle Edit (as described in my earlier posts), it's pretty easy to get a clean OCR and convert to SRT format. Subtitle Edit also has lots of options for cleaning up subs you find online and resynchronizing them. It's definitely better than it was a couple of years ago.

Today was a bit of a slog

It didn't take any longer than usual, but today's movie scene didn't really do anything for me, and the language was rather complicated. So I suspend a bunch of cards I'd theoretically just learned. I'm still trying to figure out which cards to keep, and which to delete. The nice thing about suspending cards aggressively is that I can fine-tune things as I go. It's a self-correcting process, as long as I remember to delete.

Also, these projects have ups and downs. The important thing isn't to give up completely after the first tedious day—things usually go better soon, and it they don't, well I always remember the wise words of Rapp:

Rapp wrote:
The critical thing is to do something in Spanish frequently. But no particular "something" is important enough to suffer through. There's always a different "something" I could do that would be fun. So I just go do that instead. Easy peasy.

Grammar quick reference

My grammar quick reference arrived today! It's actually pretty nice—sort of like one of Iversen's green sheets, but with more notes, and without the benefit of making it by hand. I'll probably flip through it idly every now and then, and maybe something will stick and help with my daily decipherment.

It's hard to describe the way I approach grammar. It's a very low-stress process. I know that even with 4 double-sided pages, I have until B1 or later to internalize all this. I'm learning skills, not memorizing rules. The grammar is just a roadmap showing what skills I'll need to eventually learn. No need to stress out just because I can't understand it all at a glance.
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emk
Diglot
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United States
Joined 3932 days ago

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Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 30 of 147
05 November 2014 at 1:26pm | IP Logged 
On the left, the annoying conversation is finally beginning to "click." On the right, a great speech in a very formal register, with clear speech, which makes for an excellent source of cards:



Interestingly, the English translation on the right has nothing to do with the original Spanish, and I only noticed that just now. I'm already working directly with the native Spanish for easy cards. Sweet!

Other Anki examples: Egyptian cloze deletions

This morning, I'm going to take a brief detour away from Spanish, and look at Anki cards for two languages where I'm more advanced. This might give folks an idea of how I'll tackle problems like grammar and vocabulary later on.

First, let's look at an ancient technique known as "fill in the blank", "cloze deletion" or MCDs. Yes, your teachers knew all about this one, but it works surprisingly well with Anki. Both of the following examples are from Assimil's course.

Below, I'm working on how to negate the Egyptian subjunctive. This requires inserting an extra t in certain classes of verbs:



Note that I put almost everything on the front of the card: The French translation, and all but one tiny detail of the Egyptian. I don't even need to know what this grammatical form is called—I only need to know that there's an extra t sometimes. This is good, because trust me, Egyptian grammar books are far more terrifying than actual Egyptian could ever be.

Here's another card, this one using a scan of an Assimil lesson. Here, all I need to do is figure out what should go beneath the red square:



This is an easy card to answer, because the ist particle is already spelled out in hieroglyphs, and I also have a French translation! Basically, it's impossible to fail this card. But that's actually a good thing: it focuses my attention on an important particle, without requiring me to strain my brain. As Khatzumoto pointed out, maybe you do learn better from really hard cards—but the easy ones are very pleasant and efficient, and it's actually enjoyable to go through a huge stack.

Other Anki examples: French subs2srs and sentence cards

On the left, a subs2srs card from Amélie. This actor has a really tricky, slurred accent, and he tends to make heavy use of various idiomatic French features that annoy anglophones. Here, I already understood all the grammar and vocabulary, and I was working solely on listening comprehension.



On the right, a card captured from an ebook of Le Déchronologue and annotated using a custom tool. Here, I'm mostly interested in one key vocabulary word, used metaphorically in the text.

Balancing Anki and input

Now, of course, in French, Anki has been a relatively minor part of my studies. The vast bulk of my time has been spent either reading books, or watching movies, or speaking with my wife. And my French is vastly better for this exposure.

With Egyptian, I haven't spent very much time with native media. On top of that, I only study about an hour per week. This means that my Egyptian always feels a bit "dehydrated"—I remember stuff, and I learn a lot, but there's something missing. When I do use native materials, my Egyptian rapidly comes to life.

If I were trying to learn Spanish in a hurry, with the intent of speaking it, I would definitely get a lot of exposure to easy native input.
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emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3932 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
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 Message 31 of 147
05 November 2014 at 10:11pm | IP Logged 
Types of subtitles

I've run into several kinds of subtitles while learning French:

1. Complete, accurate bilingual subs. These work great with subs2srs.
2. Abbreviated but otherwise accurate subs. I've never tried these with subs2srs.
3. Inaccurate subtitles. These are not especially useful with subs2srs.
4. English-only subtitles. I've done this with subs2srs, and it's pretty frustrating.

My goal for now is to stick with (1).

Avatar Spanish review

Yay! I just received Avatar: The Last Airbender, book 1, volume 1. This is the old packaging, back when they still included French and Spanish on the US discs.

I haven't had a chance to investigate in detail, but here's what I've been able to verify so far:

Spanish audio: Present. Clear, well-dubbed, pleasant. Seseo/American accent?
On disc-subtitles: English closed captions.
Spanish subtitles via opensubtitles.org:
- Episode 1: Near-exact match available. Alignment not verified.
- Episode 2: Near-exact match available. Alignment not verified.
- Episode 3: No exact match available.
- Episode 4: No exact match available.

This gives me another ~45 minutes of excellent-quality subs2srs material. Unfortunately, two episodes of worth of subtitles will probably not be enough to bootstrap me up to the point where I can watch the entire series without subs. I've ordered the rest of season 1 in hopes of finding more episodes with accurate subtitles.

Also, now that I've watched Avatar once in French, I find the Spanish version totally fascinating, even without subtitles. I can already pick up snatches of dialog, the animation is lots of fun, and I can remember enough of the story for things to make sense.
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Crush
Diglot
Senior Member
ChinaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4265 days ago

1622 posts - 2297 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Mandarin, Esperanto, Basque

 
 Message 32 of 147
06 November 2014 at 2:11pm | IP Logged 
Avatar was one of the first things i watched in Spanish. I'd seen bits and pieces of the English version but didn't think anything of it. I think the Spanish (Latin American) version is really well done and i like the voice acting a lot more than the original English :P After all these years i can still hear the introduction from each episode playing in my head.

For subtitles, check out SubtitleBox. I believe they've got subtitles for all 3 seasons in Spanish. It's a bit annoying to download (3 second wait + CAPTCHA), but i checked a few different episodes throughout the series and the Spanish subtitles were indeed in Spanish (and not just mislabeled).

EDIT: Ah, i just saw that they've got those subtitles on OpenSubtitles, too, sorry about that.

Edited by Crush on 06 November 2014 at 2:14pm



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