I’m learning Croatian

Sup All,

Does anyone read this bog at all? Or do my words fall like leaves in the forest?

In the damp forest.

Enough of that, here is a quick update as to what I’ve been up to regarding languages, since (gulp) January.

I listened to and read a lot of German (der Prozess mainly) during the first few months of this year, and then life and work intruded.  No worries. That’s the way it goes, and I’m lucky to have a job.

And I maintained my Spanish and Italian language exchanges.

Moving on:

Ucim hrvatski jezik (I’m learning Croatian)

Yep. I’m learning Croatian. I’ve booked my first lesson on iTalki in two weeks. I hope to learn from all the mistakes I made when (attempting to learn) Polish and arrive at a B1 level by the middle of next year.

Now, based on my past performance, you may rightfully be dubious as to my chances of success, but this time something has changed in my thinking, and I am sure that I will achieve this.

I have a new method, which if it bears fruit, I will share with you, dear Croatian learning reader.

Besos and baci

MF

 

Stickiness and language learning

Sup all,

I’m writing this to remind myself as to why stickiness is important. Hence the link from my language and goals.

One of my favourite exercises is the kettlebell swing, and one of the books by Pavel Tsatsouline (Kettlebell Simple & Sinister) is essentially written describing this one exercise (and one other). It’s a great book, and if you are into exercise, I’d  advise reading it.

One of the key insights of the book, is the importance of keeping things simple, and the book describes doing 100 kettlebell swings, day in, day out, rather like brushing your teeth.

There is no waviness. All you do is 100 kettlebell swings. You don’t need to wonder what type of exercise to do, how many swings, whether you should have a rest day, number of set, reps and so on.

In other words, it is easier to stick to, than a more complicated workout schedule.

I think it is brilliant.

But, it made me think about other areas of my life, and in particular languages, which as a hobby I rather neglected last year, partly due to lack of time and also organisation.

I thought that I would try the same approach with the learning of German as I use with kettlebells, and that I have set myself a very simple task with a high stickiness factor and low waviness.

I will use Lingq for thirty minutes a day (like brushing my teeth) to improve my reading and listening German comprehension.

I will let you know, my babbers, how it works out.

I’ve also decided that for the first three months of the year, all my leisure reading will be in Spanish, which in essence, is everything that I read on my kindle.

Baci,

MF

 

Language learning goal – 2018

Sup d00ds?

A belated Happy New Year to you all.

Well, assuming that you have all been waiting with bated breath for my language learning announcement, here it is:

I want to improve my German reading and comprehension.

Essentially no talking. Only understanding.

Primarily, I’m interested in what the German speaking press have to say about Brexit. Personally I think it is a huge, huge, huge mistake for the UK diminishing us both as a country and individually.

I am going to spend 30 minutes a day listening and reading using Lingq as my primary learning source.

No days off. No excuses.

BTW. I’m not an affiliate for Lingq but think it’s worth the $10 a month for access to so much audio at different levels. Lingq is a bit like marmite (if you are from the UK, you will know where I am coming from, but for the rest of you), you will either love or hate using it. There is no middle ground.

My current German knowledge is limited to the number of Assimil lessons that I completed.

I will also learn a few dozen German phrases that I think I will have an opportunity to use. These are very specific to a situation, I occasionally find myself in.

So, my objective is SMART, Specific, Measurable, Achievable etc, and I am intrigued as to what I can achieve in this timeframe – 30mins a day for a year.

A secondary minor objective is to improve my Italian, which I will do whenever the opportunity arises.

Last year was a semi-success as I conquered my fear of speaking French and reached an (albeit low) B1 level in speaking (according to my iTalki teacher).

My French accent was and remains appalling.

Baci,

Moonface

And we approach the end of 2017

Sup all?

It’s been a while for one reason or another. Time maybe. Surface Languages is a site a run in my spare time in between my day job,  other sites and interests.

I also have to admit that my interest in languages and Surface languages has waned slightly this year, so whereas before I’d have made time for both, this year I haven’t.

SL because there are many more language related sites nowadays , such as duolingo and so on,  and it seems less relevant.

Time will tell. It is after all a hobby site.

And as to languages, my J O B has nothing to do with languages, and so I must squeeze any learning into a fairly constrained period.

And the difficulty I have found is that if I want to maintain my Spanish and Italian (and hopefully improve just a bit), I don’t have spare capacity to attempt to learn another language. It’s been hard enough maintaining my language exchanges.

This year I had grand plans to finish Assimil Romanian and German …

… which predictably have come to nought.

I also planned to focus on French. I succeeded in the sense that I reached a spoken level of around B1 (albeit with a horrendous accent), but ran out of steam when a planned trip was canned.

So, what next?

I have three possible plans for 2018.

The first is two learn to read basic German. No speaking.

The second is too learn a few words of Portuguese, before visiting Lisbon?

The third is to learn to read Romanian. No speaking.

We will see …

Besos and Baci,

MF

 

 

Rain, wet paws, chilli plants and Assimil German

Sup d00ds and d00desses,

I hope you are all keeping well on this disgustingly wet July day. It is extremely wet, and our furry monster is essentially a wet rug on legs with sponges for paws.

Sigh.

As if that wasn’t enough to worry about, I’m also concerned about what the biblical torrents of rain will do to my chilli crop.

Yes. I grow (or rather nurture) a few chilli plants. For curries, chillies and well hot foods.

I’m not much of a gardener, and I don’t know much about plantin ‘n stuff, but I’m pretty sure that these plants are not designed to be rained on by  cold, cold west country rain for 24 hours in mid summer.

There also appear to be holes in the leaves that weren’t there when it was sunny. There are in my garden nasty slimy things which come out at night. They crawl, slither, attack, munch and feast especially when it is wet. Slugs! Snails. Why???????

Interestingly, they never ever touch the chillies once they get to a certain size. Maybe slithering things don’t like hot food.

Enough said, and time to update you on my Slow Language Learning project using Assimil German, which as you may imagine or possibly remember is all about me learning German … slowly.

I last wrote about this on the 15th of June (at which point I had reached lesson 15) and now I have just completed  lesson 17. This means I am doing a lesson every two weeks, as opposed to the daily lesson recommended by Assimil. My progress is thus fourteen times slower than suggested, and the book will last me about four years (instead of three months).

The slow part of the progress is an unqualified success, and I will metaphorically pat myself on the back. It is always good to celebrate success – although not too vigorously. Moderation in all things. Etc.

But what about the learning German part of the project? I am slowly (duh!) but surely remembering words and perhaps phrases. The last time I met my German speaking victim (an event that happens infrequently), I managed to bust out “Ich gehe nach England heute Abend” (much too his amusement) and was understood.

Progress therefore is being made, as previously all I could say was “Ich lerne Deutsche” and no more.

If you are in a hurry this might not be the method for you. Natch. Obi. Like duh … undsoweiter …

Besos and baci.

Your one and only.

MoOnFaCe

 

Assimil German … again!

Sup all?

Writing a blog is like writing a diary except it is public (duh!) and there is a very effective search function.

Every know and then, I use the search function, and this demonstrates conclusively to me that I go around in circles when it comes to learning languages.

Admittedly, neither language learning nor Surface Languages is my day job (both are hobbies conducted on a sporadic basis), but it is still galling to be reminded of this so forcefully.

And so it is that I reached lesson 34 of  Assimil German and then started doing other things. The difficulty, as ever, is finding time to learn a new skill, in between everything else that I either do or have to do, both willingly and unwillingly.

And so, I have been experimenting with Slow language learning, and I am trying this with Assimil German. Instead of using Assimil as recommended (far too intense for me), I’m learning more or less all of it as I go along, but in chunks of ten words (or sentences) per day. No more. No less.

I work through each dialog, revision exercise and so on in the same way. Here is a (strange) example from the lesson I am on:

Vorsicht, das sind die Krabben. Careful, they are crabs.

I would break this down into:

Vorsicht careful

die Krabbe the crab

die Krabben the crabs

I add each word into the spaced repition app I am using, and over the day learn them. I haven’t added  sind (they are), as it has featured previously.

The above (including the entire sentence) would count as four entries. The process is slow, but I am making progress and am now on Lesson 14.

Happy days.

Pax,

MF

Well. This wasn’t part of the plan

Sup doods?

I recently moved Surface Languages onto a new server. I didn’t do this for fun, and it wasn’t.

As part of the process, I discovered that I had lost my old blog.

All gone.

WordPress has various backup, import and export options but after an hour or two or fruitless and needlessly irritating failure to re-install my previous pearls of wisdom, I thought …

… what are you doing?

What have you ever written that is so important is must be kept for ever?

It also occurred to me that having lost my old blog, I could conveniently forget about my objectives for this year.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

As this is a starting again, and a renewal of sorts, it seems apt to tell you, dear reader about what I wish to write:

languages and language learning.

the West Country (where I live).

sundry stuff and nonsense.

I will also reinvent myself as a more dynamic and driven individual and language learner;)

But then I slept on it, and realised that all I needed to do was wave a magic wand, and everything would be ok.

And, behold all my old posts have returned!!

But fear not, I will continue with the process of reinvention.

Besos and baci,

Moonface

Au revoir le français and either Guten Morgan or Bună dimineaţa

Sup doods and doodesses?

I have said au revoir but not adieu to French for the moment. My yearly goals which continue to haunt me (as usual) stated that I would improve my spoken French to a good B1 or B2 during the year (2017), but also left some wriggle room to play with Romanian or German.

I don’t normally achieve these goals for all sorts of feeble reasons.

But …

… I have reached a B1 level in spoken French according to the unfortunate individual who was giving me regular lessons.

Although, I’ve reached this level, I don’t feel particulary comfortable speaking French, and I sound terrible but  I’ve scratched that particular itch, conquered my fear of speaking, and now don’t feel any urge to continue.

This is mainly because my plans for a longish trip through France have been shelved, and I need a reason to learn a language.

And so, I must say a la prochaine  to the French language, and Guten Morgen or Bună dimineaţa to either German or Romanian.

In my goals for 2017, I decided that I would complete Assimil German and Romanian. This was a stupid thing to say, as my past experience of Assimil courses is that they are good but require a lot of time to complete, and far more than I have available. Bear that in mind if you purchase an Assimil course. The thirty minutes a day needed to complete each lesson according to the blurb at the beginning of each course is laughable – unless you are some mega genius.

Message to self. SMART objectives. The A stands for achievable, and I know that with the time available, it will be difficult for me to complete all 100 lessons. Fifty would have been more sensible.

So which will it be? Romanian or German.

Romanian speaks to my heart, and German to my head. I have a reason to learn German, and potential victims to practise on, and yet I am loathe to abandon Romanian entirely.

My compromise up until now has been to play with both, and I have now completed ten lessons of Assimil in each language, which for those who are interested explains both the Guten Morgen and Bună dimineaţa.

I know this state of affairs can’t continue, as learning a language requires time (and effort) but above all time, and much as I’d like to learn both …

… I can’t.

I have a job, family, friends, language exchanges, this website, and so on and so forth.  In short, I lack time, and am slowly leaning towards German …

Besos, baci and so on.

MF

 

How to say cheers in different languages?!?

Sup all?

I just added a new page, with a quick test (doubtless to be improved over time) to test whether you can say cheers in different languages.

All well and good, but the page is using bootstrap, a slightly different way of making sites mobile friendly, and a slightly different test system (compared to  the usual flashcards).

I’m tempted to do the sentences in the same way.

As and when. Time permitting. And so on. And so forth.

Besos and baci,

MF

Learning a language through a language you already know!

Sup?

Well, there you are speaking, Spanish (for example) and you want to maybe learn some Russian, but at the same time practice your Spanish …

or you are a native Spanish speaker wanting to learn Romanian …

or a Romanian speaker wanting to learn Bulgarian …

.. and you think what shall I do?

Well, you are in luck, I’ve started to add a language pairing page to Surface languages to let you do this, here.

It’s not quite finished, but mostly works.

I’ll complete it next week and add the link to the relevant places on Surface languages.

Thoughts welcome on this one until it is set in stone – so to speak.

Besos & baci,

MF