Thursday, 20 March 2014

Language goals from Oct 2013 - Dec 2014

Blimey!  It's been forever since I last posted!  Anyway, here's the current status on the current set of goals.  As you can see, I've stepped up the Chinese work (mostly revision just now) and included only German, (which I don't do very often and haven't really touched since last year), as an 'extra'.  If a trip and/or a move is planned, you can expect me to step up on that instead!=)

As you can see, some have been completed already, some are in active progress - two approaching completion and four recently started, and some are stalled (i.e. part-done, but not being worked on just now)

Reading only texts (make notes from):
* Colloquial Chinese 2
* Chinese in Three Months  16/20
* Practice Makes Perfect Basic Chinese
* Chinese Demystified  Done!
* Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar  Done!
* Elementary Chinese Readers 3  Done!
* Revise Far East Everyday Chinese (RR)  Started on Chs 1&2 flashcards
* Tiantian Zhongwen: Beijing's Courtyards  1/20
* Tiantian Zhongwen: Teahouses in China
Sit down and study texts (i.e. write the answers out/check on Lang-8):
* Finish 'Schaum' Chinese grammar  11.6/15
* Basic Chinese - A Grammar and Workbook
* Learning Chinese Measure Words  0.2/143
* Fun With Chinese Characters Vol 1
* Fun With Chinese Characters Vol 2
* Elementary Chinese Readers 4  0.9/15
* Elementary Chinese Readers Supplement
* Complete Auftakt 1  20/22
* Teach Yourself Improve Your German
* Practice Makes Perfect German Verb Tenses  3.4/24
* Practice Makes Perfect German Pronouns and Prepositions  1/22
* Practice Makes Perfect German Conversation 1.4/11

I've also joined in the 'Sensible Character Learning' challenge on the Hacking Chinese blog, ('hacking' seems to be a blogging buzzword these days.....), which means setting a reasonable learning goal to be reached in 101 days, with 3 intermediary milestones along the way.  I've decided to blend that in with my revision of 'Far East Everyday Chinese 3', which I started on the flashcard set for chapters 1 and 2 yesterday with Sir, and I hope that means I'll have a thorough revision of the contents of that superb text completed by the end of June and will have refreshed my writing skills for each of the characters in the book - hopefully in both simplified and traditional characters.

Looking at the above, it's no surprise that my embroidery projects have found themselves being sidelined of late....=)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013

Friday, 28 June 2013

What's happening in my language world.

Gosh!  I haven't done an update here for over 3 months!  Well, as goals and circumstances are constantly fluctuating, I suppose it's no big surprise.  Anyway, here is the current state of play on the 2013 goals list, langauge section only - changed again, (fancy that, eh?)  French and Italian have been shelved for now and Spanish is back.  Chinese and German are fixed in that they'll always be on the list, but the third language may change according to needs, interest and so on.

Languages

Not all books are to be completed, just worked through as far as possible

Finish Colloquial Chinese  Done!
* Colloquial Chinese 2
* Chinese Demystified  6.3/22
* Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar  13/13, notes made to chapter 5
Elementary Chinese Readers 1  Done!
Elementary Chinese Readers 2  Done!
* Elementary Chinese Readers 3  3.5/16
* Revise Far East Everyday Chinese
* Finish 'Schaum' Chinese grammar  11.4/15
* Complete 'Sequenzen' German grammar  30.5/38
* Revise GCSE German book
* Complete Auftakt 1  20/22
* Auftakt 2
* Teach Yourself Improve Your German
* Practice Makes Perfect German Sentence Builder
* Practice Makes Perfect German Verb Tenses  2.3/24
* Practice Makes Perfect German Pronouns and Prepositions  1/22
* Practice Makes Perfect German Conversation
* Practice Makes Perfect German Problem Solver
* Practice Makes Perfect Basic Spanish   0/60
* Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Vocabulary
* Practice Makes Perfect Spanish Verb Tenses - chapters 1-12, 17 & 19
* Prisma de Ejercicioas - to chapter 12  1.5/12
* Hugo Spanish in Three Months -  to chapter 6  1/6
* Teach Yourself Spanish - intro to chapter 14 4/15
* Hugo Spanish for Business - to chapter 5

Four of the above titles (all PMPs) haven't arrived yet - they're on the way from Amazon UK and I'll do a post on them when they come.

There are 26 books here (3 already completed) and, looking realistically at the list, I can hope to complete 12 altogether this year.  Of course, many, PMPs in particular, I'm not aiming to complete so soon, just to press on working through and, where the PMP intermediate German books are concerned, I may well decide to focus on one at a time and leave the other two for later, esp. as they cover a lot of the same ground.  I don't mind that, as I think constant reminder and practice is a must, esp. when you rarely use a language, so I plan to do them in order, although I can't decide which until the 'Conversation' and 'Problem Solver' ones arrive.  I have the 'Intermediate German Grammar' one on my wishlist too (publishing August 2013), and that, again, covers many of the same areas, so that may well appear on my list next year.=)

As far as Spanish goes, I want to get a good grip on the basics including plenty of vocab and cover present tense stuff well as well as working through the perfect tense.  As I've played with Spanish on and off for the past nearly 25 years and know most of the needed grammar already (in theory at least) and the vocab is often so very close to English and/or French that it will take little memorisation, I don't fear that this is an unattainable goal.  There are plenty of practice materials for this stage too.  The next stage strikes me as being a little lacking in that regard, but I'll concern myself with that when the times comes.  The other concern is no-one to practice with, other than diary writing/correction on Lang-8.  Still, I know where I can get a lot of listening and reading materials, so that's a good help.

Los geht's....
Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013

Friday, 1 March 2013

February 2013 Progress Report

Here's what I hoped to do and what I actually did...

* Finish Schaum Chinese grammar  - nothing like!  I did part of the next chapter, but I didn't finish the book.
* Finish Colloquial Chinese  - yes, this one I managed to do, hurrah!
* Start Colloquial Chinese 2 and do 3 chapters  - didn't get to this one
* Start Elementary Chinese Readers 1 and do at least half of it  - yup, I did this.
* Continue with Chinese Demystified and do another 4 chapters (alongside my student)  No, didn't really do this at all.
* Finish Auftakt 1  - I did another chapter and some neglected video stuff from earlier in the book, but still have the two revision chapters to do.  I find this course hard...
* Get to chapter 4 of both German Verb Tenses and Pronouns and Preps  Not started
* Finish Talk Italian - don't want to have to renew it again  I got through the first 4 chapters and first revision section.  Yes, I renewed it again!!  Also watched the corresponding on-line video materials.
* Progress in Italian Verb Drills  No, didn't do any of this.
* Post progress on 1 March and also at least one more post during the month.  - half!  I'm updating now, but I didn't do another post.

I also watched 11 of the 12 episodes of the BBC video course 'La Mappa Misteriosa', but wasn't allowed to see episode 12 until I'd completed all the activities for 1-11!  So, I made a start and did the first episode's worth.


So, that's it!  I won't be setting goals for this month as I need a lot of rest after multiple heavy colds etc, and I can do without the stress of feeling I 'must' do something to meet a published goal!  However, I still want to get stuff learned....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013

Friday, 1 February 2013

January 2013 Progress Report

Here's a repost of my list from the beginning of the year with the progress I've made on it since added in as well as a few other amendments:

Languages

* Finish Colloquial Chinese  13/15 - from 11/15
* Colloquial Chinese 2
* Chinese Demystified  2/22  - new start
* Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar
* Elementary Chinese Readers 1
* Elementary Chinese Readers 2
* Elementary Chinese Readers 3
* Revise Far East Everyday Chinese
* Finish 'Schaum' Chinese grammar  11/14  - from 10.5/14
* Complete 'Sequenzen' German grammar  30.5/38
* Revise GCSE German book
* Complete Auftakt 1  20/22
* Auftakt 2
* Auftakt 3
* Teach Yourself Improve Your German
* Practice Makes Perfect German Sentence Builder
* Practice Makes Perfect German Verb Tenses  1/24  - new start
* Practice Makes Perfect German Pronouns and Prepositions  1/22  - I did this years ago, but only recently marked it!!
* Complete GCSE French revision guide  p14/92
* Complete BBC 'Ma France' on-line course  8/24
* Study old 'Teach Yourself French'
* Study 'French in Three Months'
* Talk Italian (from library) plus on-line materials  2/13  - new start
* BBC Il Mappa Misteriosa BBC on-line course
* Practice Makes Perfect Basic Italian (to chapter 31 (+6 rev chaps)  5/37  - new purchase and new start
* Italian Verb Drills (chapters 1, 2 3a and 5a-d) 0.2/4  - new re-start (I did some years ago)
* Teach Yourself Beginners Italian  5/20  - covered a couple of years ago
* Teach Yourself Italian (to chapter 18)

So, I've done some, but not a great deal.  Illness is mostly to blame, but so is messing around on my laptop at times....

Goals for February include:

* Finish Schaum Chinese grammar
* Finish Colloquial Chinese
* Start Colloquial Chinese 2 and do 3 chapters
* Start Elementary Chinese Readers 1 and do at least half of it
* Continue with Chinese Demystified and do another 4 chapters (alongside my student)
* Finish Auftakt 1
* Get to chapter 4 of both German Verb Tenses and Pronouns and Preps
* Finish Talk Italian - don't want to have to renew it again
* Progress in Italian Verb Drills
* Post progress on 1 March and also at least one more post during the month.

How have you been getting along this last month??

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Looking Back on 2012 and Forward to 2013

Yup Miranda, you're absolutely right - long time no post!  My main 'post to' blog is really my textiles one, so although I have been doing some work on my languages of late, I haven't been posting that much.  The less time I mess about on-line, the more actually useful stuff I get done!!!  I daresay quite a number of people find themselves in a similar position, no?

So, this first list, starting at 36 and going through to 53, is a section of the list I had on my Fluffy Little Idiot blog for goals to complete during 2011 and 2012 - the language related section.  I didn't get that much of this part done as, sadly, poor health gets in the way a lot more than it has any business doing, but I did complete some of the tasks and made some decent progress on others:

*36 Complete 'Schaum Outline of Chinese Grammar'  11a/14 
*37 Revise whole of 'Far East Everyday Chinese Vol 3' flashcards re-sorted, on chapter 1/12
*38 Go through and get all new material from 'Teach Yourself Beginners Chinese'  Done!
*39 Ditto 'Colloquial Chinese'  11/15
*40 Study 'Colloquial Chinese 2'
*41 Complete 'Teach Yourself German'  Done!
*42 Complete 'Sequenzen Übungsgrammatik'  31a/38
*43 Re-study OU 'Auftakt 1'  20a/22
*44 Re-study OU 'Auftakt 2'
*45 Work through GCSE French Revision Guide  14/92 pages
*46 Work BBC's on-line 'Ma France' French refresher course  8/24
*47 Study 'Teach Yourself Spanish', intro chapter to chapter 14  5/15
*48 Work 'BBC Talk Spanish' including on-line material  Done!
*49 Work BBC on-line 'Mi Vida Loca' course  Done!
*50 Study first 6 chapters of 'Spanish in Three Months', also referring to Latin American edition. 1/6
*51 Work 'Practice Makes Perfect - Basic Spanish'  3/62
*52 OU U210 'English: History, Diversity and Change'  Done!
*53 'Using English: From Conversation to Canon'  intro/8

On of the major challenges to getting somewhere is that my interests, and even my priorities to some extent, change when it comes to which languages to learn and which of those to put the most time in on.  French, Italian and Spanish have been on and off this list over the 21 months it was in existance!

This is the section from the 2013 list.  I haven't numbered them this time, but the progress so far (on things that have been carried over for completion this year) has been re-entered.

Languages

* Finish Colloquial Chinese  11/15
* Colloquial Chinese 2
* Chinese Demystified
* Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar
* Elementary Chinese Readers 1
* Elementary Chinese Readers 2
* Elementary Chinese Readers 3
* Revise Far East Everyday Chinese
* Finish 'Schaum' Chinese grammar  10.5/15
* Complete 'Sequenzen' German grammar  30.5/38
* Talk German 2 (from library)  ordered
* Revise GCSE German book
* Complete Auftakt 1  19.5/22
* Auftakt 2
* Auftakt 3
* Teach Yourself Improve Your German
* Practice Makes Perfect German Sentence Builder
* Practice Makes Perfect German Verb Tenses - relevant sections
* Practice Makes Perfect German Pronouns and Prepositions
* Complete GCSE French revision guide  p14/92
* Complete BBC 'Ma France' on-line course  8/24
* Study old 'Teach Yourself French'
* Study 'French in Three Months'
* Talk Italian (from library) plus on-line materials
* BBC Il Mappa Misteriosa BBC on-line course

Let's see how it goes!  I found out during the last month of the old goals challenge period that I can get a lot more done if I don't put the computer on in the morning and mess around on that, but go into my room instead and make a start on a little bit of each of the textbooks on my desk.=)

Incidentally, someone who knows me may wonder if, when I already B2/C1 level of Chinese (an ab initio degree level), why I go through lower level textbooks so much as well as intermediate and more advanced stuff?  There are a few reasons:
1) It's a waste having these resources and never using them.
2) I have in mind beginning learners' needs as I teach one and also recommend resources to others.
3) It helps prevent one falling into bad habits if one is constantly reminded of grammar and sentence patterns.
4) There is something new in every textbook, no matter how basic.

For the other languages, I'm trying to do a thorough revision of my approx B1 level German and then move it forward to a higher standard.  The idea is same with my A2 French.  I got a good GCSE 25 years ago and have used it here and there since, but I need to dust it off, so to speak.  Italian I just like.  I know Spanish is more useful and so I tried to work on that last year, but Italian pulls me more, so I'm going to let it win.=)

Will that do for you, Miranda??=)  Yes, I think I'll try and post at least a monthly update this year.  That seems like an achievable goal for this blog at least.  There may be some new acquisitions soon too as Blackwells, the academic booksellers, usually have a sale at this time of year and I've been able to pick up all manner of great language resources for £1 or £2 each instead of the cover price of, sometimes, well over £20!  Hope there's some intermediate French, German and beginning and intermediate Italian this time!  There's never any Chinese, but I could hardly be described as needing any...

And there are four more that I got since this photo and yet more in my room.....

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2013

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Yet More New Books

Contributing to a forum thread called 'You know you're a language nerd when...' I put: 'you're generally trying to reduce your book collection, but the number of language books keeps growing exponentially.'  Well, here's some more evidence of that!


Two of these - the two 'Sentence Builder' titles were bought for half of my anniversary present this month.  I haven't started either as yet, but I hope to soon.  The trouble is, although I'm itching to get at new materials, if I don't finish what's already in progress, then the whole process will just become too bitty to be of any real use.  So, I need to wait a little while!

The Spanish book was one I picked up in Blackwells Leeds for only £2.  It's a level C1 book and I'm only revising A1 standard stuff, so it was a case of thinking well ahead, but I couldn't resist a bargain like that and my goal is C1 level in the next 5 years or so.

I've started looking through the 'Basic Patterns of Chinese Grammar' one already.  It's just a reference book and has no exercises, but it's interesting to me to see someone else's collection of commonly made errors as that's the type of book I'm toying with the idea of writing myself.

The final title, 'How to Improve Your Foreign Language Immediately', I'm looking forward to once I've finished 'The Third Ear' from the last showcase.  I'm expecting it to be about getting the most mileage out of what you do know, rather than expecting anyone to absorb high levels of new material in five seconds flat.  More on that one later...

Monday, 4 June 2012

Recent Acquisitions

I'm trying to generally reduce the number of books I own, especially as we are thinking of moving to a more convenient location soon, but I have to confess that my language book collection is growing again!  Here are the most recent additions:


So, here we have, on the far right, two more 'how to learn' books.  I don't think I need too much help in this regard, but I'm always interested in this type of book (esp. in writing one myself one day - one that is fairly brief and just packed with tips rather than theories and explanations.  After all, the person who most needs help probably doesn't want to spend his/her time reading this kind of book, but in learning the language!).  I find them quite motivating and there are always some new ideas to pick up and try.

The 'professional level' book is not quite what it seems (although I did know that when I bought it - and didn't mind).  It's not about taking your own language level into the dizzying heights of the C1 and C2 levels, but on teaching others in that position.  Having been a teacher and also been on one of the programmes mentioned in here, it's interesting anyway and tips can be picked up.  Funny thing about it is that it's a Cambridge University Press book, so British, but is entirely American content and context!!=)  It seems that you can major in a foreign language in US universities having done only a minimal amount of pre-study in high school, so it's relatively rare for them to get beyond B2 level.  For UK universities, most language students enter with B2 level as they have to have a good A-Level in the language.  Of course, ab initio degree programmes do exist - I did one myself, but they are the exception rather than the rule.  So, it's odd that a book published here in the UK should be so irrelevant to the home market.

The two Chinese books came a couple of months ago.  The grammar book is a good reference and is in two sections.  The first is the usual grammar sort of material, but the second is more language usage and contains a real treasure trove of expressions for all occasions.  My only gripe with it thus far is that it says that there are no other greetings specific to time of day than one expression for 'good morning'.  However, Taiwan at least has a few version of this greeting as well as 'good afternoon' and 'good evening'.  The latter you can say in two ways, one of which means more 'goodnight' in mainland Chinese, but the other does exist as 'good evening' there too.  So, it's not a faultless book (which one is??), but it's good.  I read that the accompanying exercise book is not so good though and appears to have been rushed off, so I haven't bought that.  Looking that the Amazon preview, I don't think it looks quite my thing anyway - each section is too brief with insufficient exercises.

'Chinese Demystified' is another good book.  I will work through it, although my main reason for buying it was a sort of collection of this type of book as I plan to try and write my own one day soon.  The content is good and is aimed at fairly early level learners - so most people, really.  My only complaint with this, as with many self study books - there simply aren't enough exercises.  There are only three to five in most sections and that's enough only to get to grips with understanding/recognising the pattern, not really to develop full competence in using it.

The Schaum French grammar was an e-bay buy a fortnight ago and I'm looking forward to starting on that one over the next year.  I'm a major big fan of this type of book and have several of them already - as well as the McGraw Hill Practice Makes Perfect and Drills series.  Most of these do actually contain enough exercises and they are of really high value.  I just wish they were available in more languages!  McGraw Hill seems to focus only on French, German, Spanish and Italian (with one or two also in English and I think there's a Hindi title in the Drills series), and Schaum has added Grammars and Vocabularies in Chinese, Japanese, Latin and Russian.  I vote for Portuguese.  Anyone??

The Spanish Prisma A1-A2 book is full of grammar and reading exercises and, although it's designed to go along with their main textbooks, you can also use it alone as it doesn't absolutely require reference to their own series.  I've already made a start on it and completed the first chapter and a half of the 19.  I may have to jump around a bit in it as I won't be learning things in exactly the same order, but I think it will be a great resource up until about GCSE level.  It even goes up to the present subjunctive, so there's quite a lot in it!

There are probably another four more to come over the next week or so too as I've ordered another two from the Book Depository and I'm hoping Sir will get me two of the top titles on my Amazon Wishlist...  I'm just doomed to horde language books, I think!!