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MrW’s ’15 Advanced to Beginner: es+en+...

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mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 1 of 9
09 January 2015 at 8:12pm | IP Logged 
Who am I? A 'long' time forum lurker and poster who has actually bothered to link a good deal of information about himself in the forum. If once finished with this post you feel you really want to know more about me, check my profile and my previous logs. They contain pretty much all that I consider relevant information, and they are actually not that long -- at least compared to other people's ;)

General goals
So... after years of failing at TAC (especially Team TAC), this time I'll be focusing on languages that I'm actually good at, i.e. English and Spanish. My general goal is three-fold:
1) keep improving or at the very least maintain my advanced languages.
2) Find ways to systematize or find new patterns in whatever I do with them, in the hope that my weaker languages will benefit from it as/when the right time comes.
3) With the excuse of my languages being weak out of the way, find out if there's anything else about TAC Team that doesn't work for me.

Where I am today (regarding my advanced languages):

English: C2. This is not a self-assessment, years ago I sat and passed a Cambridge CPE (C2) exam, fair and square, no 'exam preparation' whatsoever.

According to Cambridge, my weak area is written English. I generally concur with examiners rather than examinees, but I think I am right in disagreeing with them this time, for I know what I routinely do and do not do, and having being an English teacher for years, I can tell the anecdotal from what is important in language learning and examinations. I would list listening comprehension as my weakest spot, followed at a distance by spoken production, where I only have a bit of an accent to get rid of / acquire.

Edit: see English in my life -- January challenge at the Advanced English Team for more about me.

Spanish: If you think C2 is advanced, my Spanish skills run circles around my English skills in each and every way, hands down, any time of the day. I didn't get this for free, though -- being a native is one thing, but being really advanced in the language is another -- it takes the will to properly express your thoughts (which I always had) and some work to make it happen.

Before starting university I would only compare myself to my parents, so I had a somewhat skewed view of my own skills (which, to me, are still nothing special, or the bare minimum that should be expected from anybody with an 'education'). At some point, though, I realized I routinely cringe at the use of language of even trained professionals who are supposedly the most linguistically competent in their own areas, such as journalists, lawyers, doctors, or many people who once taught me. Don't get me wrong, I am not a conceited idiot, I do look up my stuff, and nine times out of every ten I am right, which must mean something. Production-wise, I am often praised for how well I express myself when I correct texts produced by my business associates and customers, again people who should know their stuff, or at the very least how to properly express themselves. I guess they never cared as much as I did about it all the time.

I still think in terms of me not being that advanced, but of everybody else being not as proficient as they should, but from a practical point of view there's not that much of a difference, really -- I use my own language way better than most of my native fellows and that's it.

I am glad to read many HTLALers find themselves in the same situation :)

Now for specific goals, and what techniques and stuff I'll be (have been, actually) using:

English:

The reason why my English skills are or have become lopsided, with listening lagging a bit behind, is obvious: I read and write English all the time while I never interacted too much with English speakers, or at all lately.

Since I don't plan to interact with live English speakers again for at least a few more months, I'll basically go for the next best -- I'll dust off all of the films, programs and series I have been stashing for years, and I guess I'll further experiment with subtitles (or closed captioning, which will largely remain essentially the same as long as I hear -- I never use L1 subtitles). It will be also a chance to watch TV again when my family are not around.

Summarizing, if I'm already at C2 level, my main goal with listening is bump it up to where I won't be easily caught off-guard by strange accents, mumbling or other stuff that make 'spontaneous' speech the hardest kind ; )

The only way to measure my advances in this area, that I can think of, is keeping a record of how much I have to pause/rewind/look stuff up while merely watching my programs, so any ideas regarding this will be more than welcome.

The other front where I can still learn a lot is vocabulary. The technique I'll be using to improve is writing new words down (drum roll, please!), and possibly adding them to my flash cards collection. The latter is a modern addition, but this writing new stuff down I've been doing all the time since I was 14, when we were forced to do it in Spanish classes at high school...

Spanish:

My teacher explained it was a vocabulary building activity, with which utility I concur up to this day. What I failed to see is, it doubled as a check that we were reading our required readings, so at some point I found myself handing in a notebook with a mostly empty vocabulary section and fearing the teacher would think I had skipped them. Fortunately, the teacher reviewed our notes during some classes at the end of the term -- after I commented why we could tell some classmates had been cheating (you shouldn't really make misspelling mistakes when copying a vocabulary list with definitions :) he became convinced I really didn't need to look up more words than I did. However, the technique came in really handy with other languages when it revealed itself as an acquired habit.

Anyway, other than chomping through dictionaries, that's the single most useful activity to compile new vocabulary I've ever found -- read whatever you want to (I was the most active reader in my whole school back then), then make sure new vocabulary is acquired. As you may imagine, being a native Spanish speaker, this is the one single area where I can really expand my skills (besides maybe lip-reading, which I have played with). The down side is, I don't think I acquired 10 useful words or expressions per year for the last five years, and most of what I'm reading nowadays is purely technical literature, which is even poorer in that regard.

However, I'm slowly building a collection of bilingual texts, most of which are truly literary works, so I'm confident this time-honoured technique will still be of some use, if only due to the sheer input volume. Given that my default reading mode for creating such texts goes all the way down to watching out for typos, it pretty much helps with every bit of language. Of course, it'll still help more with my Ln (the more the higher the n) tan L1 but hey, I have little --if any-- more ideas...

Team TAC:

... which brings me here.

My advanced languages are solid and so are my techniques (I think -- basically I'll be doing loads of attentive input and taking notes, and ruminating, which is pretty standard for hard study), so it's here where I want to take advantage of being at HTLAL, and more specifically of TACing as part of a team. No matter what, there's a limit to the number of useful ideas one can have, and being in a group of people who are at roughly the same level and share their ideas useful is practically a guarantee that somebody will eventually come up with something I didn't think of. I look forward to it ;)

So, that's pretty much it. Without further ado, my teams for 2015:

Advanced Study Group - Most recent posts - Members: Expugnator, sctroyenne, anamsc, Serpent, garyb, Cavesa, IBEP, catullus_roar, Via Diva, suzukaze, Elenia?

Advanced English Team - Most recent posts - Members: suzukaze (co-captain), Via Diva (co-captain), agta, Epeli, Expugnator, Kulelyn, Mareike

German, Russian, Japanese

Last but not least, my weaker languages (German, Japanese and Russian) will not --of course-- be forgotten. I'll simply be quietly studying them at home when/if I can. My levels are roughly the same as last year and so are my goals WRT them.

Spanish again
Oh, and I'll be keeping an eye on the TAC15 Spanish team as well to lend a hand if needed.



Edited by mrwarper on 21 February 2015 at 10:27am

1 person has voted this message useful



mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 2 of 9
09 January 2015 at 8:14pm | IP Logged 
Progress report(s) - The Terminator in action

A couple TACs ago I got the idea that it would be better to do mostly 'silent' updates to report my progress by editing this post. First, it keeps all numbers tidy in one single place for whatever use they may have in the future. Second, this way my team mates won't get emails telling them to check this out if all I have to say is something like 'downed all 418 episodes of Dallas = 300 hours, in 4 weeks' or the like. This post is intended to be a rather dry listing of stuff I do, and you'll only be alerted if I have anything else to comment regarding some of the material, in which case I'll post a regular message at the end of the thread.

English:
01/12-19: Green Wing Series 1 & 2 x 1.5
01/20: Green Wing Finale x 1.25
01/21: Man stroke woman Series 1 x 1.5
01/22: Man stroke woman Series 2 x 1.25
01/23: The Pretender Pilot x2.5
01/29-30: FAQ About Time Travel, Shaun of the Dead.
01/31: Hot Fuzz x0.5, Red Dwarf 8x8 (Only the good...) (extended version) x2.
02/10: Danger! 50,000 Volts! x1.5 + Danger! 50,000 Zombies! x1.5
02/16: Soap 2x01-02 x1.5, but not a regular viewing → Interpreting for my mom!
02/17: FAQ About Time Travel x0.5 just to test my brand new, pocket-size HD-media player (works very well!)
...
07/20+: Did 'the Moreaus' in reverse order. Wow!
Halfway through the original Battlestar Galactica, and Season 1 of the 'reimagined' version.
Through with the whole pentalogy of the Riverworld.

Spanish:
01/24: Finished proofreading "Venimos a destruir el mundo" (30 typos/scannos). Learnt the third definition of "retén" is used in Spanish Spanish too. Must tell the Academy about it ;)
01/31: Halfway through "Guerra de autómatas". For the second time in 24 years, I got a reminder that "sendos" applies to any plural number of subjects, not only two.
07/20+: Kept re-reading and proofreading the Saga of the Aznars up to ¡Ha muerto el Sol! (vol 26). Revisions between #5 and #3 depending on the novel.
08/26: Starting Universo remoto (vol 31 of the Aznars).

Edited by mrwarper on 28 August 2015 at 12:38am

1 person has voted this message useful



mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 3 of 9
09 January 2015 at 8:20pm | IP Logged 
Final (ex-)placeholder. Happy to see a whole lot of people copied this idea :-)

Apparently it is a good idea to have a 'private' place for links to resources too...

The alt.usage.english Home Page

Green Knight stuff:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Gawain_and_the_Green_Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (ed. Tolkien-Gordon, Davis 1925, 1967) - text, glosses and concordances

https://fictionandscientist.wordpress.com/2014/08/30/review- timeline-by-michael-crichton/
http://www.uni.edu/universitas/archive/spring06/lindabingham .htm


Why Zardoz Isn’t the Kitsch Disaster You Think It Is

Edited by mrwarper on 28 April 2015 at 6:05pm

1 person has voted this message useful



mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 4 of 9
16 March 2015 at 2:17pm | IP Logged 
In a parallel universe,
dampingwire wrote:
BTW: FWIW I'd write "winning combination".

mrwarper wrote:
I would too. By the time I noticed I was already too busy with attempts at writing my current HTLAL backup script [...] Anyway, thanks for the correction. We'll get back at that one because I think it has important implications on our (my) cognitive processes.

And we will get back to that, just not now.

Yesterday, I finished the stressful part of archiving the whole HTLAL locally in my computer and setting everything up to update that automatically every 24 hours, all in the middle of other demanding projects that are also boring-as-hell.

Since I spotted the infamous maintenance warning for the first time, HTLAL has been sucking up my time, and again not in a 'learning languages' way -- good reasons for it and all that, but I seemingly can't learn to ignore this recurring theme, so it doesn't help.

When I finished I felt so exhausted that I was about to stop posting. The 'funny' part is, had I said so here, I would probably feel compelled to honor my post now and stop for real, like I can't change my mind.

And now, I'm giving advice on how to raise a bilingual child -- me, who will most likely die without ever getting married.

I think I need a vacation.

On a hopefully fortunate but completely unrelated note, my parents are leaving for the coast again tomorrow. Perhaps that's enough of a change to set me back to a saner perspective on things.

Edited by mrwarper on 16 March 2015 at 2:31pm

5 persons have voted this message useful



mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 5 of 9
26 July 2015 at 5:29pm | IP Logged 
TLDR: TACing and logging mostly on hold.

The long version:

I guess the recent, ongoing crisis was the last straw -- time for a long due *visible* update (you can see above I started to compile some stuff I wanted to comment on, but maybe the time for all of that is gone too). This much I owe those who for whatever reason want to know what I think.

First, my languages are doing as fine as they can. Even in the middle of a relatively chaotic time in my life, I often find a little time for languages here and there, *and* I rarely miss those opportunities. Kind of like my swimming is seemingly neglected but I always manage to drop by the pool at least once a week or so until I can finally enrol in the next 7AM daily course. Heck, I'm even slowly going through Pimsleur Russian.

I think another reading of the above would be that I've finally switched to permanent TAC mode (going by the lax interpretation of 'do as much as you can whenever you can' rather than the harder one 'do more languages -- if that means dropping other stuff, so be it'). So TAC talk is officially out now.

Now, what was exactly the point of logging everything I have being doing? Probably to show myself that I needed not drop studies because of an apparent lack of progress, which would render me most displeased ;) I am thoroughly convinced now, so unless somebody gives me good counterarguments, logging what stuff I watch or read is out too. I'd rather comment on it, but I'm not sure this is the right place to turn into my own reading club. If you want to do it, though, I love the sound of my own voice and discussing stuff in the right company, so speak up now, or whenever :)

I still have plans regarding languages, this forum, the other one, and my own personal projects, but I'll update you on that in a couple of days.
1 person has voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3085 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 6 of 9
27 July 2015 at 4:03am | IP Logged 
I'm speaking up! I am excited about logs-personal book clubs! And we are still teammates, aren't we? ;-)

I would love to read about your uses of the small opportunities as that is something I tend to struggle with! I could do with inspiration.
1 person has voted this message useful



mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 7 of 9
29 November 2015 at 2:33pm | IP Logged 
Are we not men? Indeed we are, Cavesa :)

(BTW that's a reference to Island of the Lost Souls, so don't waste your time looking for stuff that is not there)

I really missed you and our other fellow learners -- I tried to update this a few times but always got the browser to crash before saving a draft -- I eventually went 'oh, to hell with it' and got hands-on with my other piling, pending stuff. Sorry about that :(

Regarding the 'small opportunities' (OK, I'll be updating again soon on other subjects), I have been stashing materials to help me with my learning, that went unused for ages, and I decided to put an end to it:

I guess letting this out might reveal that I have severe psychological problems, but... for those ages I mention above, the real problem was I just can't sit in front of a computer to watch films/series on it, or buy a kindle-like reader to carry it in and pop it out of my pocket whenever I have 5 spare minutes to read. It doesn't feel right.

Fortunately, now I have a smart TV and a cheap substitute media player box, both of which let me plug in a hard drive with all my films and subtitles and play them using a remote control, just the way God intended. So it was all a matter of taking the time to carefully sort my series, movies and whatnot and put them on a hard disk that is always plugged in. Now, when I am by the TV, I can't tell myself that pushing a few buttons to watch something entertaining that will also make me a better me is too much -- it wouldn't feel right ;)

And... same thing with reading -- I am an iRex man, not a "kindler", because I f***ing hate reading uncomfortably (small screens are a no-no for me). Once I worked out a reasonably easy routine for scanning books, and another one to pick the right times to do the scanning without wrecking my social life, all that was left was to again take the time to put the books in a card that I carry along with my reader at all times. Now, wherever I go that I have the chance to sit and read comfortably, well, I can... and I do!

I guess this is a stupidly long post for something that boils down to 'keep your materials with you in an accessible form at all times!' but I just wanted to take some time and enjoy writing home again -- stay tuned for more :)

Edited by mrwarper on 29 November 2015 at 6:14pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



mrwarper
Diglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
Spain
forum_posts.asp?TID=Registered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3302 days ago

1490 posts - 2500 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*, EnglishC2
Studies: German, Russian, Japanese

 
 Message 8 of 9
24 December 2015 at 7:21pm | IP Logged 
Merry XMas y'all! And of course, Happy New Year too if we don't read each other sooner than that!

A super-quick update: I just started holidays, but I've been actively teaching languages again these months, so not much real language learning has been going on on my side, but it's been interesting trying to help others do it and I am on charge of great student 'material' for a change, so I'll be updating again 'soon' on how our HTLAL stuff can be transferred / apply to / work for the general population.

Stay tuned!


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