I’m in a quandary with my Afrikaans

I’ve just been to the Balearics (and I visit frequently-ish) and the languages I heard were Spanish, Romanian, French, Catalan, Dutch, German, Italian and Polish.

The languages that I could have used in various situations if I had spoken them were Romanian, Polish, Dutch and German.

The only language I used (Spanish speaking country so not all bad) was Spanish.

And here I am learning Afrikaans.

I am in a quandary because although I’m keep talking about access to culture through reading, and that speaking isn’t always important, at the same time, there comes a point when I want to actually use a language.

The top eight most widely spoken languages (as native speakers) within the EU are more or less follow the demographics:-

Germany. 65 million

France. 60 million

UK. 60 million.

Italy. 55 million

Spain. 47 million.

Poland. 46 million

Romania. 16 million

Greece. 15 million

Netherlands. 13 million

And so what do I do? Shall I continue with Afrikaans or flit like I normally do?

My language journey (on the right) indicates a startling lack of staying power, and one of my reasons for logging it was for precisely this reason. It would or should make me think about what I’m doing – or not doing. Admittedly I’ve not up until now spent a huge amount of time on this, but I would like to make some progress.

I need to prove to myself that I can learn another language … and the two which really jump out from this list are German and Polish.

What shall I do??????

Baci,

Moonface

How to learn a language?

Sup doods?

I’ve finally got serious about learning to read/understand Afrikaans, and this is the language learning method which I am trying.

There are only three requisites:

Firstly: that you know a few hundred words of the language.

Secondly: you have a vague idea of the grammar or how the language hangs together.

Thirdly: you have a high tolerance of uncertainty.

Assuming you satisfy these  somewhat arbitrary requisites then you are ready to start.

Find a book that you want to read (in your target language), and its associated audiobook. I chose Kobra by Deon Meyer because I’ve enjoyed some of his other books in English.

Each day you listen to and read a set number of pages. The audio book that I bought is split into about sixty sections, and each day I listen to one and at the same time read the associated pages.

Naturally, I don’t understand much at the moment, and obviously if I look every word up in a dictionary the process would take forever.

So what do I do?

I’m only allowed (I treat this like a game) to look up words that I have learnt previously and then forgotten. This isn’t as stupid as it sounds.

I’m using memrise to learn words, and each day learn or begin to learn around twenty new Afrikaans words. Some of these words I remember immediately, and others not at all, but later when I see them in the book, I tend to know that I have tried to learn them previously, and then (and only then) I allow myself to look them up.

This is a surprisingly effective process. It is only when I see a word being used in a phrase that it starts to sink in, regardless as to the strength of my memory according to Memrise.

I am using the Memrise App constantly in spare moments, for example I learnt seven new words (which I have now forgotten) when eating toast (with marmalade) this morning. It is probable that I will remember one or two of them when I read tonight, and recognise one or two others.

Grammar. If you want to learn a language when reading, it is helpful  to try to recognise patterns within the language, and without a basic knowledge or outline of the grammar this is difficult. Afrikaans grammar is in general not complicated for English speakers, and understanding the structure of  Afrikaans sentences has in the main been straight-forward.

I’m just playing around with this, but if it works, and once I can read Afrikaans, I’ll return to Polish (which is unfinished business for me)  with vigour sometime later in the year.

Baci,

MoOnFaCe

 

 

Afrikaans. Other languages and Memrise

I want to be able to read Afrikaans, which means acquiring words and lots of them.

As part of this I’ve been listening to the Afrikaans sentences on Surface languages, and understanding them in groups of ten. I say understanding, as I’m only trying to read and maybe listen to the radio depending on how far I get. I’m trying to recognise, rather than reproduce the language.

As I started doing this,  it jumped out at me was that there was no way to test yourself on all the sentences  learnt. To think is to program.  I’ve now fixed this for Afrikaans and the other relevant languages.

It is now possible to learn sentences in groups of ten, and then test yourself on all the sentences learnt up until that point.

The next thing that has now jumped out at me (as it were), is that I need to improve the method of learning sentences.

Sigh.

I’ve also been using memrise to help me learn enough words to read Kobra with more success. Its handy and its free, and I have apparently learnt 370 words or thereabouts over the last week.  I have discovered that words only start to stick when I’ve also seen them in another context outside the memrise app, in this case in the book I am reading.

Besos,

MF

Learning language takes me forever.

It does. I’m not complaining, as learning languages is a fun hobby but it does.

Anyway, I stumbled across the start of a blog where Nic Elliott is going to learn 23 languages in 12 years to a B1 or B2 level which equates to a language every six months (more or less). He already knows some of the languages to varying degrees so he is not quite starting from scratch but …

… I couldn’t do it.

I’m pretty sure that there is no way that I could learn a language to B2 level (or even B1) in six months, no matter how much time I devoted to the task.

I know nothing about neurology and how new patterns are established in the brain, but have discovered from my own experience that I need time to internalise ideas and (language) structures.

An example for me is Polish, which I stopped attempting to learn a year ago, but now is finally starting to make sense to me. (I was again looking at Assimil Polish). When I return to the language, I’m convinced that my progress will be rapid(ish) as the language is now familiar, but (for me) this familiarity takes and requires time (even away from the language).

The number of words you know (and can use) is a reasonable indicator of your progress and progression through a language. Additionally and among other things, I am a programmer, and so I tend to break down tasks into chunks (and never complete them according to some), but to reach B1 level you need to know (and be able to use) around 2000 words and for B2 4000 words. This equates to learning either ten or twenty words per day.

This doesn’t sound like much, but is surprisingly difficult, for me anyway.

I’m learning Afrikaans and as part of this am using Memrise to learn 20 words of Afrikaans a day.

Now Afrikaans vocabulary is (for English speakers) relatively easy to learn as there are many similarities between the languages, but even so, I’m struggling with 20 words a day, and think that ten might be more realistic.

This would take me down to a B1 type level in terms of vocabulary over six months.

Sigh.

Anyway, good luck to him. I’m going to follow along – intrigued and slightly envious.

Baci,

MoOnFaCe

Afrikaans sentences

As I’ve become more interested in Afrikaans (comprehension mainly), I thought that it would also make sense to learn the Afrikaans sentences on SL.

In starting to do so, I discovered the sentence page didn’t work as well as I wanted on phones. Well, that is now fixed. Yippee.

I learnt Sentences 1-10 yesterday and Sentences 11-20 today. So far, so good.

But what if I now want to test myself on all the sentences that I have learnt so far?

I can’t 🙁

Rats.

I’m going to fix this over the following week(s).

Baci,

MF

Afrikaans comprehension

Sup doods?

I could just have well written Italian comprehension, Greek comprehension and so on.

Comprehension.

The elephant in the room.

The big k.

There is  often a focus on speaking within the language learning circles. But perhaps going against the flow here, I think that comprehension is a more difficult skill to master.

If  you want to start talking, start with these five hundred sentences in your preferred language, and then, well … talk.  There is no need to buy expensive courses etc, although (again swimming against the tide) I would also buy a grammar book and dictionary.

However, learning these 500 sentences won’t enable you to understand much, even though you can talk a bit about yourself. (They are based more or less on conversation topics that have come up over the years in language exchanges that I have done).

Understanding native speech takes time, and I don’t so much mean face to face conversation (where with luck your conversation partner will modify their speed if you can’t understand), but the television, a film or the radio.

I have Afrikaans radio on in the background (I can’t stand silence), and understand not a word.

My current language experiment is to slowly work my way through an Afrikaans audio book (Kobra if you must know), and at the end, see how much of say the radio, that I can understand.

It might be a crazy experiment. We will c.

Baci,

MF

 

Trying to understand Afrikaans

Well, the title says it all.  I’m either reading Kobra (the Afrikaans version) or listening to Afrikaans music in my spare time, and not understanding very much. As I have no background in Germanic languages (other than English),  this is hardly surprising but doesn’t bother me particularly. In fact, it’s probably an advantage. There is something strangely therapeutic  about slowly working through books and lyrics to unearth the hidden (to me) meaning – when there is no particular pressure or need to do so. I’m just scratching an itch really. My grandfather was an Afrikaans speaker, and somehow this has sparked my interest in the language. I’m determined to finish Kobra, and see where that takes me with the language.

Baci,

MF

 

Easy Afrikaans

I have had a website called easy afrikaans for years.

One of my grandfathers was an Afrikaner and Afrikaans was his first language.  So, I created an Afrikaans website in part because of this. I think. I’ve never changed it since. Or even looked at it.In fact it was I think the first site I ever created as you can tell from the retro look 🙂 Actually it looks kind of eighties but that seems unlikely.

Anyway, I’ve moved my Afrikaans site to a new and shiny server which is the first step in bringing it into this century.  I have the idea of update it into something like  Polish Lessons (unfinished naturally) over the coming months. Initially I’ll use the same content as I have on Surface languages but then I will get a load of new audio and so on.

PaX, besos etc

MoonfacE