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What Expug is doing in 2015 (TAC n more)

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Anya
Pentaglot
Senior Member
France
Joined 4428 days ago

636 posts - 708 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, FrenchC1, English, Italian, Spanish
Studies: German, Japanese, Hungarian, Sanskrit, Portuguese, Turkish, Mandarin
Studies: Ancient Greek, Hindi

 
 Message 137 of 364
24 April 2015 at 8:30pm | IP Logged 
I enjoy reading about your travels. In Germany, I already visited Frankfurt and Munich and I plan go to Heidelberg in
September for a conference. Me too, I had an exhausting experience with a night train (Paris-Madrid).
1 person has voted this message useful



Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 3801 days ago

3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 138 of 364
24 April 2015 at 11:02pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the feedback! I feel really encouraged now to keep going.


I started today's review lesson from E nagu eesti with 5 phone calls, all recorded. To think a lesson could be so interesting and useful! Besides, there are so many types of exercises including substitution of synonyms, which really help have a good grasp of the language.

I had an extra task to work on today which I had been postponing for a few weeks. It took me a couple of hours so the rest of the activities got delayed, but I went all the way to Russian reading.

Today was the day I understood and made the most sense out of what I heard at Poor Nastya. I wouldn't be able to follow along without the subtitles, but I feel I can transcribe almost all sentences.

Found time for reading the active topics. Still some logs to follow up (and I know I owe you guys the linguistic report on my trip).
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Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 3801 days ago

3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 139 of 364
28 April 2015 at 12:11am | IP Logged 
Nothing done at the weekend, except for a new meditation video in French which I didn't log in because I can't tell how much I listened to before falling asleep. At least it fulfilled its task. I'm really happy with how I can understand 100% of those meditation videos in French. Btw, I'm reading non-fiction again and I just read about a list of qualities and defects in French and I understood all of them, over 20 each. To think one of my deadliest nightmares as a language learner are vocabulary lists at early beginner resources, and today I met one of them within a native material and understood everything. My French really improved thanks to the Super Challenge. I was already at a C1ish level and I thought progress wouldn't be noticeable, but I noticed so much progress since 1 year ago that now I have a better idea of what the CEFR stages represent.

Today things were easier at 'China in klleinen Geschichten', both with Mandarin and German. It helped that the topics were somewhat familiar, like housing and language.

So, I still got busy and one of the reasons was I was trying to find an Alarm+Calendar app for Android similar to the ones in the old Nokia phones. I didn't. The closest was a calendar reminder that acesses the Android Calendar. Still not sure I can trust it though. Anyway, some minutes left and I will try to write as much as I can.

Trip to Europe: linguistic and touristic impressions

It was my second trip to Europe, the first being a 4-day one to Paris (3) and Barcelona (1) in 2012. So, much of the 'awe' of being in different countries with a long history was gone. I also planned everything beforehand, including the continuous moving from one city to another. That was one critical aspect of the trip: since I had to plan everything beforehand - where to go, how long to stay, what to visit - much of the fun of seeing new places was spoiled. For example, in order to decide whether or not to go to Salzburg I saw several pictures of the city. I still liked it a lot, but it is better when you let town surprise you. It was more critical with smaller towns: Lucca and Limburg.

Most of the time I was worried about what to do next, whether we would be able to catch a train or a bus or not and, most of all, with learning directions before going on spot so we wouldn't get lost. I am a person who enjoys walking but my wife is a typical car-person, so I tried the best to make sure we would walk the least but sometimes I didn't succeed. Besides, when arriving at a place sometimes most of the fun would be walking around for me, but then we would be already tired because in most spots we still had to walk a lot to reach the place even after coming from public transportation. This was more critical in Germany than in Italy, surprisingly (for a Brazilian at least).

The most important conclusions I took from this trip: a trip has to be significant, especially when it involves almost two months of the family's budget. Learning the language just for sightseeing and talking to waiters and ticket officers is no significant goal for me. I don't see myself getting back to any of these places I mentioned merely as a tourist who is sightseeing.
What I really hope to happen in life is to ever have to go abroad for doing something meaningful. It's not likely to happen at work, but maybe at a parallel project. I would like, for example, to visit Europe and give a lecture on something I'm experienced, or attend a course that really brings up important knowledge and which I wouldn't do just because it is in Europe (for example, I wouldn't take a management-related course in Europe when there is so much good in Brazil). Maybe even meeting friends would do. This time I've only visited acquaintances which I had previously met in Brazil and which are Brazilian, which means I didn't meet any of my online friends so far. It really is stressful and tiresome to just flip from one tram or bus to another, then take a quick look at one old building and leave. It doesn't help that neither my wife nor I am museum persons, but I still suspect the most interesting moments of the trips involved seeing some sort of exhibition in the building we visited: the castles in Salzburg and Heidelberg and the Residenz in München. On the other hand, I really missed hanging around with friends while in Germany because I was used to the streets packed with tourists in Italy.

This is not to say that stuyding on your own isn't efficient: exactly the opposite! I made good use of Italian and the German I knew. In the specific case of German, not knowing the language would have allowed for getting lost and missing some trains.

So, by studying the language on your own you can reach levels that allow you to tourist comfortably but just phrasebooking the language isn't enough for me; it feels bad not being able to 'connect' with people in the language you've studied for so long.

As for specificities of each country, once again Germany surprised me as being more learner-friendly. Italian hotel&food workers aren't that patient with the tourist. They say it (all at) once in Italian, and if you don't reply at the same speed as they do, they repeat it in English. Most of the times I understood it the second time not because it was in English, but rather because I was given more time to absorb that many information, like a whole menu recited in a couple of seconds. Standard Italian is transparent to me both written and spoken and I can get my point accross, one reason why I just added it to my 'Speaks' section. The problem is coping with the speed people talk to you in restaurants and ticket offices and the speed they expect you to reply. Even if they were speaking in Portuguese I wouldn't have processed the info rapidly enough to keep answering. People speak much slower and are much more patient in such services here in Brazil. On the other hand, the opportunities I got to actually engage in conversation where rewarding, like in the canteen with people from the North. I also got some compliments to my Italian and I was proud of being able to use some irregular verbal forms correctly ;)

In Germany I was really impressed with how much I could understand. It was not enough to understand all of the speaker's announcements at train stations, but I could read signs just find and most of the times I could say what I wanted to say. I could also understand the language well at safe conditions. If there was trouble I would just ask for repetition. I only resorted to English when I was too tired. What impressed me as well was the fact that I could have function that well in other languages I consider 'weaker', such as Norwegian and Georgian. That is to say, the amount I learned so far in Norwegian and Georgian is more than enough for working as a tourist. I could see myself saying the same things in Norwegian and Georgian and being able to do it. I realized I know much more than I though from these languages. Only Russian is still lagging behind and in the case of Mandarin I'm almost sure I can already work as a tourist, only that the more formulaic aspect of the language wouldn't allow me to do without an enhanced phrasebook. So, linguistically the trip was a success! I expect to update my profile to reflect these changes soon. I remember some interference from Norwegian like asking for a 'gaffel', but then my Norwegian is stronger indeed.

As for other languages: listening to French was almost like listening to Portuguese! French has become such a familiar language when compared to German and even Italian, that now it is no longer a language I'm 'learning to use', it's rather a safe harbor. I spoke French to the bus driver from the Munich-Frankfurt bus and in Lisbon I helped a French couple who wanted to get to Belém. I eavesdropped them wondering which bus or tram to take and it isn't like listening to a foreign language anymore.. That's one of the reasons I wrote what I did above. Regarding European Portuguese, ok, it's the same language, but now I'm more used to the differences, having flied Tap again, and I find Portuguese people are indeed nice and polite.

It was in German that I made the most important purchase of the trip: the books Lehrbuch der estnischen Sprache with audio, really good (I used the Georgian ones, this series is amazing as they have long dialogues with cultural info but also neaty grammar explanations), the Albanian one (though with audio), and I discovered that the book Erste Chinesische Lesestücke is part of a series of bilingual reader by dtv with titles in a couple of languages and, most important, Russian, Turkish, Chinese and Greek! I've bought the greek one and managed to find quite a few more and I really like its format and recommend it as a first reader in the edge of delving into native materials. Here is dtv's catalogue, Zweisprachig section.

All in all, I enjoyed the trip in spite of the stress involved but I'm also aware that sightseeing and phrasebook language usage aren't enough for me. I want my upcoming trips to be sgnificant. I want to visit China, Georgia,Russia and Central Europe (more Austria, then Czech Republic, Hungary) in the future and maybe sooner other American countries like Argentina, Chile and the US, but the most important is that I will try my best to meet friends or do some other significant activities while there.
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garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3842 days ago

1468 posts - 2412 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 140 of 364
28 April 2015 at 11:19am | IP Logged 
Interesting to read about your travels, and I can absolutely relate to your last post about tourism versus connecting to people. My most treasured memories of my trips to Italy aren't those of seeing cathedrals in Rome or art in Florence; they're those of hanging out and drinking with friends, meeting new people, and having long and deep conversations in the bars and squares of Bologna.

On my trip to France last week, it was great being able to talk to waiters and receptionists in French, but I haven't spent years learning the language just to do that; I would have enjoyed some more meaningful experiences. Like I said in my log, I did meet and connect with some people, but few of them were locals and the conversations were mostly in English (and Italian!). One of my frustrations about French is the lack of interaction with native speakers, and it's a frustration not just because it would help me learn better but also because I'm keen to connect with the culture and people - why I'm learning in the first place.

For this reason, I like to travel to places where I already have friends. You can meet other travellers quite easily by staying in hostels or hanging around touristy spots, but it's not the same experience as knowing locals who take you to less touristy places, introduce you to their social circle, and of course speak the language with you. But of course I don't exactly have friends all over the world!
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Clarity
Groupie
United States
Joined 2157 days ago

85 posts - 107 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 141 of 364
28 April 2015 at 11:46pm | IP Logged 
Hi Expug! It's interesting that you wrote about one's ability to use a language to connect with a culture and people. I've been thinking about this lately when I imagine learning another language. Right now, I live on the border so I have a lot of opportunities to interact with other Spanish speaking cultures close by. But if I were to learn another language, I would have very, very limited contact except when I'm on vacation. Your thoughts were a good insight into this.    
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Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 3801 days ago

3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 142 of 364
29 April 2015 at 12:24am | IP Logged 
@Garyb: I was supposed to write these notes a few days ago, then I read your log yesterday and I was pleased to read you thought the same. Interesting, and I couldn't agree more!

@Clarity: I live in inner Brazil and the closest border is thousands of kilometers away, and most of the neighbouring countries speak Spanish, I can relate! I'm really looking forward to making the best use of any future trips in order to really experience the culture.

-------------------------
Funny how things get better after I complain mildly. I was just saying I wasn't seeing much progress with Mandarin, and today I had the better understanding of an episode from Happy Journey Across China so far. I'm starting to get the meaning when listening to the Mandarin, i.e. before reading the English or the Chinese subtitle. I'm also understanding a lot from what I read from Dan Brown's book and I'm reading faster as well. It also got easier with China in kleinen Geschichten, so I'm even ignoring the German sometimes (which I shouldn't, because I'm counting it for the SC as well).

I'm more and more confident about understanding spoken Norwegian. I am watching a rather chaotic series without subtitles. I wonder what will happen next when I try something more enunciated.

Georgian reading is progressing smoothly. I only need to focus more on the TV series, so I can start bringing it to a level similar to the Norwegian one, close to a breakthrough. Yesterday I managed to pay full attention for quite a few minutes. The same today and I managed to understand quite a bit of some conversations!

I finished the advanced tests from Goethe-Verlag for Italians. This has two implications: a) I won't have any more contact with Italian until I resume Assimil Perfectionnement and b) I have to choose a new set of tests. From my list of studied languages only Advanced German, Advanced Russian, Advanced Estonian and Basic and Advanced Chinese are missing. So, my natural choice is Basic Chinese. At first I was put off by the fact the Chinese tests require you to fill up with 1 single character instead of a word. That was one of the reasons I postponed it, doing Estonian before, for example. Today I gave it another attempt and I realized my improvement in the past 3 or so months allows me to work more comfortably with the Chinese exercises now, being able to acknowledge how the missing character relates to the sentence including whether it constitutes a word with the preceding, the following character or is a stand-alone one. It will also help me pay more attention to the individual characters in well-know words. Needless to say I'll be using Pera-pera so I can get the pinyin as well.

I came to conclusion that watching 7 episodes of 7 minutes each (season 3 of Hero Corp) is more tiresome and troublesome than watching two episodes of 24'30" each (season 1 of Hero Corp). I have to load new files all the time and when one episode ends and I'm busy doing other things I hvave to wait till I can browse the files and open a new one, which wouldn't happen so often in the case of a long episode being played. Also, I have to watch several presentations, recalls of previous episodes and credits, which means less time with actual new content.

Turkmen and I aren't getting to terms. I have to try downloading the material from Headstart again, because it was corrupted. Basic Turkmen Textbook, on the other hand, is helpless without the supplement, even if there is some audio at the Indiana University portal. And no Assimil Italian. But I'm happy with what I've learned so far, anyway.
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osoymar
Tetraglot
Pro Member
United States
Joined 3371 days ago

190 posts - 344 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Portuguese, Japanese
Studies: Spanish, French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 143 of 364
29 April 2015 at 2:27am | IP Logged 
This comes at a great time for me as well, as I'll have a unique opportunity to travel
for a month or even slightly more this summer. I've noticed that my enjoyment of a trip
is usually directly tied to how closely I'm able to interact with locals. I hope this
will be easier with more time in country.

For better or for worse, my experience is that it's usually easier to meet locals when
traveling alone. The effect is, of course, amplified when you're traveling with someone
who doesn't speak the language(s) of your destination. I suppose the best solution is to
have friends (at least good enough of friends that they'll take you out to dinner) there-
but I haven't gotten shameless enough to start befriending people online just so I can
hang out with them.
1 person has voted this message useful



Expugnator
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 3801 days ago

3335 posts - 4349 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, Norwegian, French, English, Italian, Papiamento
Studies: Mandarin, Georgian, Russian

 
 Message 144 of 364
30 April 2015 at 12:28am | IP Logged 
@osoymar, hope you can take the most out of your upcoming trip!

Once again I spent more time than expected on Estonian. I went on OCRing the text with my smartphone, maybe too often. Today I'm supposed to work overtime, so maybe I will have time for everything and won't be too anxious about being 'set free' because I don't have a specific appointment after here. Most important: my Estonian is getting better. Now it's about catching up so other languages don't get harmed.

Norwegian reading was particularly easier today. I'm heading towards the end of that book by Harlan Coben and I think I I've breached the barrier of 90% of understood words. I decided that I'm going to save some bucks to buy a Norwegian book I'm really willing to learn regardless of language learning, one I'd feel the urge or a great interest to read. I can't guarantee now it is going to be a native Norwegian book, but I will try my best. I'm not that much into krimi, though, which makes choices tougher. Any recommendations from recent books?

I worked overtime again and my activities were already delayed. At least I watched over 40 minutes of Hero Corp episodes and I am understanding quite much.


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