Update on the Reading Challenge – more than just reading

Whilst I haven’t posted on my weekly progress during the reading, looking back over the last month I’ve certainly seen an improvement. This is not so much about how much reading I’m doing – I was already making that a regular part of my day – but the kind of reading I am doing. In short I’ve strived to read things I have to or are at my level and balanced this with reading things I enjoy and are at the next level. I think this has really helped to maintain my enthusiasm for each of the languages I am studying but also useful in proving a support structure to build on my knowledge.

During this last month I’ve tried to keep a balance with reading manga and also newspaper reports. I’m a big fan of LingQ and this month it has been invaluable in my understanding the articles I’ve been following. It’s been great to keep up to date with events in Japan and also to develop my vocabulary list too. Manga has been fun and I’m currently reading them with a Japanese friend who is helping me grasp the informality and Kanji.
I’ve set myself a goal here to work through Assimil using Luca’s method of reading, listening and translating back and forth. I’m still focused here on lots of listening – I really need to secure my pronunciation – and reading. It’s going well and certainly I’m trying to consolidate the experience with my own practice sentences.

9 comments on “Update on the Reading Challenge – more than just reading

  1. Hi Yotsuba, I’m Dario from LingQ and in this message I’m trying to respond to your previous questions. First, I want to congratulate with you for your progress in very difficult languages like Japanese and Chinese. Then, I read your blog and I found some similarities about the method that you use in your studies, like the use of Assimil and the Luca’s method, and what I’m trying to do. Writing in foreign languages is a difficult task for all of us and as I said to you, a necessary condition is to practice a lot. But I also think that is necessary to respect ourselves without exaggerations (this is also a Luca’s advice). So, take your time and be happy. That said, as you have the necessity to practice writing so I am. To satisfy such necessity in this last period I found two tools very interesting: Duolingo a Lang-8.

    They are totally free and their communities are amazing. Using Duolingo’s method you can learn how to correctly place pronouns, adverbs, articles and so on, through the analysis of very simple phrases (you can avoid to translate the web! At same time I use Assimil for some useful tips). Using Lang -8 (quoted by Luca) you can post whenever you want your texts and always to find a good correction by some expert mother-tongue. Moreover there are a lot of Chinese and Japanese people that study at Lang-8. It is a Language Exchange Platform that lets you learn from your peers. You have to correct what other people send to you and that’s all. And what about the LingQ communities? In my personal opinion is a perfect place where to study, good people and good language philosophy. The unique thing that I dislike is that you have to pay for everything and this could be pollute relationships. In conclusion, whatever you will choose, you could send me your texts at Lang-8 (search Dario.et) and I will happy to correct them without charge. Turning on your grammatical questions:

    A: Cosa fai nel tempo libero?
    B: Tutti i fine settimana studio giapponese, cinese ed italiano. E a te cosa piace fare? Cosa fa la tua famiglia nel tempo libero?
    A: Sabato io faccio la spesa al mercato. Domenica vado al cinema.Mia madre e mio padre fanno una passeggiata. E tu?
    B: Dunque, domenica vado in palestra dove quasi sempre faccio yoga.
    A: Non mi piace lo yoga. Non vado mai in palestra ma mi piace andare in bicicletta.

    (1) Dario, so I can’t say ‘I like my bike’ I have to say ‘I like riding my bike’?

    If you say ‘mi piace la mia bicicletta’ I interpred this utterance like ‘my bike is very good, I love it!’ because for me you like the thing and not the action.
    So you have to specify: ‘mi piace andare in bicicletta’

    (2) Cosa si dici ‘Dunque’?

    In the privious context is used as interjection, to take time and think about what you are going to say.
    You could also say ‘Allora, domenica vado in …’

    “Dunque” and “allora” in such context play the same role of ‘well’ in English.

    • Thank you Dario for taking the time to write such a long reply to my post 🙂 But more so thank you for your help with my Italian sentences 🙂 Like yourself I love Duolingo – I’m currently on day 61! I really enjoy using the sentences in my own writing but also adding something extra as well. I don’t mind getting things wrong because I can learn by my mistakes.

      I do enjoy studying languages – I have to have a balance of the grammar/vocabulary activities with reading newspapers/books to make sure it doesn’t become clinical and dull. Yet I don’t really have a great deal of free time. I probably have about 3-4 hours on a weekday to study. I know Steve at Ling mentioned that he would have a few days off from studying if it wasn’t for the LingQ challenge. Yet I always do something everyday even if it’s only 20mins. That said, I was wondering about the importance of down-time in language learning. What do you think? Should we stop and stare at the scenery more often that focus on the final destination? That said, I’m not even sure what my final destination is 🙂

  2. Hi Anne, sorry but I haven’t had much time to translate my responses. Therefore, they are written in my native language, the Italian. 🙂

    I also think that could be useful for you to import such a confused thoughts, in LingQ. If you want, I can record a lecture of mine tomorrow and I will make an English translation (Stop with “cammelli”, “banane”, and “faccia e pancia riposano”!)

    Ciao Anne, mi poni delle domande complicate. Da parte mia, in passato,
    non ho mai vissuto lo studio delle lingue come una missione.
    Anzi l’ho sempre trascurato. Non so’ se a causa dei miei studi scientifici (sono un matematico), per l’ambiente da cui provengo (non sono un aristocratico)
    o se perchè sentivo che in fondo c’era qualcosa di più importante da fare.
    Ho sempre avuto una passione per la mia lingua, l’italiano, perchè amavo leggere e anche scrivere e sentivo che il migliorarne la conoscenza mi avrebbe a sua volta migliorato. E così è stato.

    Poi negli anni il mondo è cambiato, è diventato più piccolo e il parlare altre lingue è diventato necessario. Nel lavoro, mi sono trovato in difficoltà dovendo avere a che fare con un ambiente internazionale, e non avere l’abilità di saper esprimermi adeguatamente mi ha creato parecchi problemi. Così ho avuto un MOTIVO (un po’ come il cane di Pavlov) per intraprendere in modo più serio questo tipo di studio.

    Dopo questo shock iniziale, il successivo è stato andare a vivere per più di un anno a Parigi. E lì credo di aver iniziato a capire che cosa vuole dire imparare una lingua straniera.

    Premetto che ero fornito di un pessimo francese scolastico (sette anni di “studio” con esiti molto modesti), mooolto arrugginito e di un pessimo inglese scientifico. Posso dire di non aver aperto mai un libro di grammatica in quel periodo, leggevo fumetti d’autore (molti francesi come me ne sono appassionati), guardavo la televisione (i telefilm francesi sono pessimi), me ne andavo in giro e parlavo con le persone. I primi 4 mesi sono stato fisicamente debilitato, ricordo che senza fare niente di speciale la sera, niente vita bohémien, in ufficio verso le quattro del pomeriggio mi addormentavo da solo davanti al computer (come Bilbo Beggins a Gran Burrone). Senza delle potentissime sveglie potevo anche dormire 14 ore di seguito, ero lento (un ritardato!) e proprio quando avrei dovuto mostrare il meglio di me.

    Mesi difficili, ma poi è accaduto il miracolo, verso il sesto mese capivo tutto quello che mi serviva capire in tempo reale, permettendomi così di interagire in modo opportuno. <>
    La cosa bella è che ogni parola che ho imparato la associo alle persone che me l’hanno insegnata, alle situazioni e sarà difficile dimenticarsele.
    Purtroppo, un simile miracolo non ha avuto corso nel migliorare la relazione con il mio capo di allora, che chiamerò la Potentowska, e ho dovuto rinunciare ad una posizione prestigiosa e molto ben renumerata. Pazienza, meglio così, in fondo quell’ambiente non faceva per me.

    Dopo questa breve storiella edificante, torniamo alla tua domanda:

    I was wondering about the importance of down-time in language learning.
    What do you think? Should we stop and stare at the scenery more often that focus on the final destination?

    Si senza dubbio se inizi a soffrirne, come regola di massima: “mai stare sotto, sempre stare sopra”. E poi che sarebbe questa final destination?
    Non puoi iniziare a goderti quello che hai già ottenuto?
    Perchè pensare sempre a quello che si otterrà?
    Con quello che già sai inizia a fare quello che pensi che potrai fare in un futuro non meglio specificato e vedrai che le cose diventeranno molto più divertenti.

    Le lingue sono solo uno strumento che ti permette di conoscere altre persone di altre culture, niente di più, niente di meno.

    • Grazie for writing such a long reply when you’re so busy:) I’m happy that you’ve written in Italian – I will now go and study your comments through LingQ and reply soon 🙂 Grazie

      • Thanks to you too, and in the meantime (I feel myself a little geek in what follows) I’m going to import some parts of your blog in my LWT. See you after the homeworks .-)

    • Can I just check that I’ve translated (though not word for word) your reply correctly My reply begins with —

      In the beginning you never really focused on learning languages but rather applied yourself to science and maths. That there was always something else that was important to accomplish. Yet you always had a passion for your own language because you loved reading and writing and you wanted the time to devote to those activities.

      — I never really considered learning languages. When I was at school I often felt stupid in language classes – everyone can always ‘hear’ when you struggle or get things completely wrong. Didn’t do a lot for my confidence. When I started learning Japanese about five years ago I kept that a secret for probably about eight months The reason I started with Japanese was because I loved the films, history and literature. No other reason. Just purely so I could enjoy those same things in the original language. I have done the JLPT tests (N5 and N4) but stopped because I don’t need the pressure of exams; I’m not learning the language for any kind of qualification but because I enjoy it. I think my fascination with Italian has similar connections. About a couple of months ago I started reading about Caravaggio and Titian again; things I’d studied as part of my first year at University many years ago. Yet now I wanted to read more about this in Italian. Whilst I want to read writers such as Calvino in the original, it would be great to talk about such artists and writers in Italian. Recently my Italian tutor on Italki has given me beginner extracts on Leonardo – this has really kindled my interest even more.

      — Io non copisco – Dopo questo shock iniziale, il successivo è stato andare a vivere per più di un anno a Parigi.

      — Can you explain ‘un po’ il cane di Pavlov. Io so ‘Pavolv’, Is that in language learning some show an automatic response due to a specific stimuli; a response which lacks understanding and is purely involuntary?

      Thank you again, Dario, for your reply.

  3. Hi Anne, I finished to read thoroughly the whole your blog (about 1000 words), and I like very much your style. It is always accurate and interesting. In your last post, you put in a lot of interesting topics and it is very difficult to respond to all of them, I mean, not at one time. What I understand about you is that you like write (and so I do). Therefore, (it’s a joke!) I’m figuring out a new method in the learning language! We could name it, the “Penpal Method” 🙂 We can write on topics of interest, for example in our native language, and discuss various aspects on our writing, like the grammar, the meaning and so on. I think as well that your blog could be not the appropriate place to practice the PM (do you think so?) and I’m giving you my email address (ubaldod@gmail.com). Ok, now I’m going to respond about your last questions:

    (1) Dopo questo shock iniziale (after that initial shock, that is “the necessity to speak English at work”), il successivo è stato andare a vivere per più di un anno a Parigi (the next shock was going to live for more than one years in Paris).

    (2) “un po’ come il cane di Pavlov ” . I imagine the scene: an unfortunate dog struggling with the large electrodes!

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