Three romances, one germanic and one slavic language?

Sup all?

There was a brief interlude of blue sky this morning which coincided in a lifting of my mood – also brief. Confidence or causally related? I tend towards the latter.

So, that’s me, but how are you? I’ve been busy on other projects recently, and far away (metaphorically) speaking from Surface Languages apart from adding common words in German, which is a work in progress. There is no audio currently.

Even though French is my main focus this year, I’m also hooked on German which is ironic really, as after years of not learning any languages at all, I’m now trying to learn two.

I have an admission to make. On several of my various posts about using Assimil German,  I have sworn that I would not spend more than thirty minutes a day on the language, in part to see how far I can get with using the Assimil recommended time period.

Today I will do lesson 40 of Assimil German. The increase of new words and grammatical constructions is threatening to overwhelm me. I’m not retaining the new information. It is too much for me to do in thirty minutes!

And my admission?

In addition to Assimil I’m watching episodes of the Easy German series (great fun and subtitled) when I have a spare moment.

I only understand about one word in ten, but I’m fairly sure that reading the subtitles in conjunction with the German is re-inforcing some of the new words/constructions in Assimil.

So, I am in fact, according to my rules … cheating 🙁

Three romances etc

I gave this post the title of the three romances, a germanic and one slavic language because some time back, I wondered how many languages that I could learn to speak to a reasonable standard.

My somewhat arbitrary number was five including French, Spanish, Italian, German and an as yet undecided fifth language.

I can only learn languages that I use or have opportunities to use for some reason, otherwise the motivation isn’t there for me (no matter how cool the language may be).  I have opportunities to use French, Spanish, Italian and  sometimes German.

My fifth is likely to be Russian, although I’m not entirely sure as yet.

I have no need to speak (or am ever likely to need to speak) Russian, but what I am interested in doing is reading.In particular, I’m interested in reading Russian media, especially with the political changes currently underway in both America and Europe.

I would therefore learn only to read, rather than speak and understand Russian.

We shall see.

I haven’t actually given this much thought as yet. And Romanian still appeals …




My language goals. 2017

I know it’s slightly early but being organised I’ve already decided on my language goals for 2017. As ever, these are subject to change.

Last time I wrote about my language goals, I wrote:-

I’m going to learn German and improve my French. Of course, I state this, look at my somewhat checkered past, and wonder why I bother.

The good news is that since writing that, I’ve found a French teacher on iTalki, and am now having weekly conversational French lessons, and these are going extremely well.

I’ve never actually spoken French before (apart from the occasional merci or bonjour), although I have read a lot and listened a lot to French over the years.

This is a massive step forward,  and I’m confident that by the end of 2017, my spoken French will be a high B1 or possibly B2.

I’ve also started on Assimil German and am now on lesson 18.

I’m enjoying it, and will complete the 100 lessons. This will take approximately another 132 days. (Although there are 100 lessons, due to the two phases used by Assimil it takes 150 days to finish the course).

But it is here, at day 150, that my plans will I suspect come unstuck. I know that to make progress with my German, and to activate the mainly passive knowledge that I will (hopefully) have acquired, I will need to start:-

reading, listening and having a weekly conversation exchange.

I don’t have time,  as I’m busy with French but I do have thirty minutes a day.

This is the time required by Assimil, or so the blurb says.

I’d say this was hopelessly optimistic in terms of retaining information, when learning a new language.

But what if someone (ahem me), was returning to a previously studied language, like say Polish?

And because my version of  the Assimil Polish  is only available in French, I’d also be reinforcing my French.

Win, win, win.




My language journey and general incompetence

Sup doods?

Every month I’m been setting myself some sort of language related goal, and attempting to  reach it.

I’ve also written these down (to the right somewhere).

It turns out that it is very enlightening. Partly because I don’t often  attain these goals and partly because I dither and flit with languages.

To be fair, I’m not particularly bothered with this, as playing with language is just one hobby among others, but it is slightly galling to be constantly making the same mistakes, and showing a startling lack of self-awareness.

This year I’ve dithered with French, Afrikaans and Polish, and so it should come as no surprise to anyone who reads this, that I’ve made yet another language related decision.

I’m going to learn German and improve my French. Of course, I state this, look at my somewhat checkered past, and wonder why I bother.

The thing is that I do have a reason and eventual aim, both things that have been lacking with my language learning year to date.

I’m planning (or rather the boss is planning) to spend three weeks wandering through France, Italy and Germany in roughly two years.

I don’t speak any German and would like to reach a B2 level.

I understand French well (ish) but can’t speak more than a few words, and would like to reach a B2 level as well.

Is this possible?  I’m sure it is possible for some people, but is it possible for me. Do I have the necessary mental fortitude and general stamina.

On the plus side of things, I have a time-scale and an aim. On the negative side, I have to contend with my poor organisational skills, lack of attention to detail and inability to finish what I have started.

As to Polish, I still love you all but you’re going to have to wait your turn.

Besos & Baci,


Language Goals. 2015

I, like duh, run (as and when) Surface Languages and like so many others have language aims of my own. New year is a time for reflection, resolutions and so on and so forth and I don’t want to be left out.

My language goals for 2014 were :

To improve my Italian from B1 to B2 (on the CEFR) scale.

Learn to count to twenty in Polish and say more than hello, and slimak, slimak pokaż rogi.

Did I get there?

I didn’t reach B2 in Italian orally but am closing in on this. (My comprehension is above this so that’s cool).

I can count to twenty in Polish and know more of slimak, slimak.  So a big tick there as well. Aim high that’s my motto.

My language goals for 2015 are :

To improve my Italian from B1 to B2 on the CEFR scale.  I’ll carry on improving my Italian during 2015 mainly by reading and chatting. I like to talk, and I like to read, so nothing too onerous there. I particularly like reading Italian thrillers and as I like reading crime novels all I’ve done is shifted some of my reading into Italian.

To reach B1 in Polish.  I’m going to make a real effort with Polish this year. I feel (perhaps erroneously) that I’ve reached a point where the language is starting to make sense to me. I need to find someone to talk to and will do this the second half of the year.

To reach A2 in Russian (reading) 

I also wanted to dabble with another language, and especially with the current international situation Russian is particularly interesting.

Still, I know my limits and there is no way that I will have the time (or mental strength) to start speaking the language.

My primary interest is reading. I want to be able to read Russian. I’m particularly interested in reading the news (at the moment), and although it is definitely the case that slavic languages are difficult for English speakers this seems like an achievable goal.

Russian (like Polish) is a difficult language but my goal is only to read and not to reproduce or understand the spoken language.

We will see.