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Learning Foreign Languages Thread - October


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8 minutes ago, Animula V. Blandula said:

I haven't really played with Duolingo much, so not sure what level these stories are, but for intro-level stories in Chinese aimed at CSL learners, I have really liked:

  • Mandarin Companion. The break-through level uses only about 150 unique characters. They also have accompanying audio!
  • Terry Waltz readers: "Susan you mafan" and similar, several books of increasing difficulty. Written using a few hundred vocabulary items unique Aimed at American middle schoolers, very humorous. The author is an expert in the comprehensible input method of language acquisition, and the books reflect that.
  • Text adventure games (espace room, murder mysteries, etc) at WordSwing Chinese, written at about the HSK3 level. 

All of the above are available in both simplified and traditional.

Thank you!  I bet it will be a little while before I parse enough characters to get to that level, but I'd like to!  Are these print materials, or online?

For writing practice, when I get to it, I have a book called 'The First 100 Chinese Characters' which has stroke order and grids to practice in.  I'm going for simplified, as that's what most of the Chinese-speaking world uses now, and I already know I am never getting to the level of reading classical Chinese lit!  I also have Tuttle's Learning Chinese Characters, which is not a workbook, but also has stroke order shown, as well as tells you what pictograms the characters are made up of to help you remember their meaning.  I have another book that explains the pictographic origin of all the radicals, which I found fun and very helpful the last time I dipped my toe into learning some Chinese.  These books all have the traditional characters shown for the ones that have been simplified.

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I have noted the "circles" on the duo app - have fewer "levels" than the website.   re: 2 levels/4 levels vs 5 levels on the website.  (so - 2 'levels' of four lessons vs 5 levels of four lessons for each circle.)

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3 minutes ago, gardenmom5 said:

I have noted the "circles" on the duo app - have fewer "levels" than the website.   re: 2 levels/4 levels vs 5 levels on the website.  (so - 2 'levels' of four lessons vs 5 levels of four lessons for each circle.)

That's weird.  So far Chinese and Portuguese are lining up, same number of levels per circle (5 levels per circle everywhere).  It updates correctly from app to website as I go back and forth.

I notice Portuguese has 11 'checkpoints' (the castles) to finish the course - Chinese only has 6!  I kinda don't think that will get me that far, lol.  Good thing I'm getting recommendations for print materials - I think I'll need them!

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Ok, I think I am ready to say I’m doing this. I’m getting used to this-season-of-life schedule and my teen has insisted on communicating only in Spanish at dinner time, so I need to swim, not sink. 
 

I haven’t read all the replies yet, I’ll go back and start from the top but want to drop my two questions here first. I am proceeding with Spanish like a rank beginner, but do have knowledge of Portuguese, French, and years-old Latin. My goal is conversation, I may do a proper grammar study down the road. So...

Babbel,Duolingo, or something else?

Best time of day to study - in the morning when I’m fresh, or before bedtime when it can sit on my brain all night?
 

 

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33 minutes ago, Little Green Leaves said:

I'm in awe of those of you studying Chinese! it's really interesting seeing these snippets of information : ) 

I don't know if this question is too vague to answer but -- what does it mean that Chinese has a very rich vocabulary? Do you mean that the sheer number of words is greater? If the grammar is almost non-existent, does that mean that you can't transform a noun into an adjective (like beauty and beautiful) and you just have to learn a totally separate word for each? 

 

I'm not advanced enough to know if a character that means 'beauty' can be used as both a noun and an adjective, but my guess is that it could.  But the pronunciation and character would remain identical for adjective or noun.  No adjective or adverb endings to indicate the changed part of speech.

The issue is that each character represents one syllable, which is usually one word (sometimes two go together to make a new concept, like 'hello' is the characters 'you' and 'good' together, but the pronunciation for each doesn't change - you literally say 'you good' for 'hello'.  "how are you" is basically 'you good /question particle/')  The character for, say, the pronouns, never changes to subject or object or possessive.  There's first person, second person, third person, singular and plural.  In the spoken language, third person isn't even differentiated by gender (there is a gender marker in the written character, though).  Verbs never conjugate.  I think there are time markers added to the sentence to indicate past or present.  No perfect tenses or subjunctive or any other moods or such - those ideas I'm guessing are indicated by adding new words.

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4 minutes ago, Seasider too said:

Ok, I think I am ready to say I’m doing this. I’m getting used to this-season-of-life schedule and my teen has insisted on communicating only in Spanish at dinner time, so I need to swim, not sink. 
 

I haven’t read all the replies yet, I’ll go back and start from the top but want to drop my two questions here first. I am proceeding with Spanish like a rank beginner, but do have knowledge of Portuguese, French, and years-old Latin. My goal is conversation, I may do a proper grammar study down the road. So...

Babbel,Duolingo, or something else?

Best time of day to study - in the morning when I’m fresh, or before bedtime when it can sit on my brain all night?

Duolingo is far from perfect, but if you are motivated, it's a nice place to start and to get a refresher.  If you speak other Latin languages, you can go fairly fast, I'd guess.  That's where the leveling up is helpful (so for that, desktop version).  For Portuguese right now, I'm going through the first level one lesson at a time, then testing up a level for 2-5 because I just need to grok the differences between Portuguese and Spanish for output - input is super-easy, especially at the beginner level.  Need to figure out the differences in some words and grammar, and I can move on.  I may slow down at higher levels, but being able to accelerate is good.  

Do read the "tips" before starting on a new topic/circle.  There's actually a lot of grammar explanation/teaching in there.  You can forge ahead with just guessing what it's getting at, but it's way more efficient to read the grammar lesson - in the 'tips' there are verb charts, how to form things like plurals, possessives and adjectives from nouns and all that kind of thing, including irregular patterns and other pitfalls to watch out for.  The tips are what, imho, make it a more complete program than just a language toy.  I think a lot of people playing around with it skip them.  Don't.

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1 hour ago, Matryoshka said:

What did Duolingo do to remind you to practice before the broken circles?

To the best of our recollection I think the "leaves" (there was more of a tree motif back then) would un-gold, sort of like moving you down a level in the current version. That was a long time ago, though.

I really like Duo for the rote practice it provides. For instance, it has been helpful in getting me smoother with German adjective endings. That has taken a lot of repetition, more than I could find in a workbook and more than any human tutor could give me without strangling me. 😄

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2 minutes ago, SusanC said:

To the best of our recollection I think the "leaves" (there was more of a tree motif back then) would un-gold, sort of like moving you down a level in the current version. That was a long time ago, though.

I really like Duo for the rote practice it provides. For instance, it has been helpful in getting me smoother with German adjective endings. That has taken a lot of repetition, more than I could find in a workbook and more than any human tutor could give me without strangling me. 😄

Word.  Stupid German adjective endings!  I've actually got the endings down-pat and can use them in context, what trips me up is remembering (especially when speaking quickly) what gender the stupid noun is so I use the right ending (for non-German speakers, no there's pretty much no rhyme or reason to which gender a German noun is..).  Sure, it's a dative ending, but for which gender??!!  Fortunately when speaking it's easy to gloss over the adjective endings, lol.

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Just now, Matryoshka said:

Fortunately when speaking it's easy to gloss over the adjective endings, lol.

That is what I secretly keep telling myself! "Well, I'll just mumble a bit here and they will probably get it." It's not like anyone is going to think for a second that I'm a native speaker. In fact, they will probably switch to English before I even open my mouth. 😁

I'm surprised that you, me and @gardenmom5
all sound like we are talking about different versions of Doulingo. Perhaps naively I assumed that everybody had the same thing plus or minus an update. Of course we are talking about app, computer and different languages, so maybe it isn't that strange after all.

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On 10/2/2020 at 11:39 AM, wintermom said:

My old brain doesn't work the same as those young brains, though. 😉  Language acquisition for the 12 and under set is in it's own category.

Sure, I struggle away and 'figure it out,' however would a more focused approach be better than a smattering of 2 different foreign languages with neither being part of an immersion situation. That's what I'm trying to decide. I'd love to use my time before my move wisely. 

 

Ah.I hear you on the old brains. My brain has swiss cheese qualities as well as it seems to have developed holes that keep dropping my acquired knowledge of languages while another part insists I know more than I really do 🙄. But I determinedly plod on. 

What I have found through accident is learning two similar languages with same roots helps. So I would not work on Spanish and Urdu for instance if I did not know French and Hindi. My knowledge of French was quite little, but it did surprisingly help me a lot in Spanish. For instance, you are not slammed with the idea of conjugation because you have encountered that thing in French. 

Urdu has Hindi roots, so I have always understood it. But the scripting part very different and looks more like Persian and Arabic and is written right to left. So I have always understood it spoken mostly, but I am finding the scripting part quite difficult to learn because it is my first right to left language. 

So I will say, two languages with similar roots and studying it will be easier than two languages with vastly different roots.

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4 minutes ago, SusanC said:

That is what I secretly keep telling myself! "Well, I'll just mumble a bit here and they will probably get it." It's not like anyone is going to think for a second that I'm a native speaker. In fact, they will probably switch to English before I even open my mouth. 😁

 

I will reassure you that I am always mistaken for a native speaker, in spite of my mumbling of the adjective endings!  (This is why I say focus on good pronunciation!)  I secretly believe a lot of Germans are mumbling them too...  I mean who can really randomly memorize the gender of every.single.noun in the whole language.  i do have to say that the past couple of years reading so much more in German has been helpful, in the absence of being able to have any other regular practice.

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I'm surprised that you, me and @gardenmom5
all sound like we are talking about different versions of Doulingo. Perhaps naively I assumed that everybody had the same thing plus or minus an update. Of course we are talking about app, computer and different languages, so maybe it isn't that strange after all.

Yeah, the app and the desktop version have very different features, although it seems I can switch back and forth with no trouble (that's good!)  And the more popular languages (or at least the ones that have been there the longest) definitely have more bells and whistles.

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I am trying really, really hard to stay off my French tree.

It's easy for me to start something new and not so easy for me to complete what I've started.

I have committed myself to completing my "testing out" on the Spanish Reverse tree before I go work on my French tree.  I have about 35 bubbles to go, so I should be finished by the end of October.

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1 hour ago, Matryoshka said:

I'm not advanced enough to know if a character that means 'beauty' can be used as both a noun and an adjective, but my guess is that it could.  But the pronunciation and character would remain identical for adjective or noun.  No adjective or adverb endings to indicate the changed part of speech.

The issue is that each character represents one syllable, which is usually one word (sometimes two go together to make a new concept, like 'hello' is the characters 'you' and 'good' together, but the pronunciation for each doesn't change - you literally say 'you good' for 'hello'.  "how are you" is basically 'you good /question particle/')  The character for, say, the pronouns, never changes to subject or object or possessive.  There's first person, second person, third person, singular and plural.  In the spoken language, third person isn't even differentiated by gender (there is a gender marker in the written character, though).  Verbs never conjugate.  I think there are time markers added to the sentence to indicate past or present.  No perfect tenses or subjunctive or any other moods or such - those ideas I'm guessing are indicated by adding new words.

This is so fascinating; thank you for explaining!,

I remember working with Chinese speakers who were learning English; they had a lot of trouble with verb tense, with -ed and -ing endings, and with articles and prepositions. Now I can see why 🙂

I didn't know that each character represented a syllable; I thought it was always a whole word. I had read somewhere that the character system made it possible for Cantonese and Mandarin speakers to use the same written language -- I guess that means that both languages combine syllables similarly into new concepts.

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1 minute ago, Little Green Leaves said:

This is so fascinating; thank you for explaining!,

I remember working with Chinese speakers who were learning English; they had a lot of trouble with verb tense, with -ed and -ing endings, and with articles and prepositions. Now I can see why 🙂

I didn't know that each character represented a syllable; I thought it was always a whole word. I had read somewhere that the character system made it possible for Cantonese and Mandarin speakers to use the same written language -- I guess that means that both languages combine syllables similarly into new concepts.

Well, almost all Chinese words are just one syllable, and one word = one character.  This is why they need tones.  Like with 'hello' you can combine words/characters to make more complex ones/express more complex ideas, which then are words unto themselves, but the pronunciation of each character/syllable doesn't change.  So, like schoolbus.  The old Latinization system (Wade-Giles) would maintain the syllable for each character separately (school bus) but pinyin smooshes them (schoolbus).  This is why it changed from Mao Tse-tung to Mao Zedong.

And yes, the characters are pictographic, so it's entirely possible to read Chinese for meaning without actually knowing any Chinese at all, if you know the meaning of all those characters.  Of course, most people who don't speak a word of Chinese have obviously not memorized enough characters to read anything, but it would be technically possible, I'm saying.

And yeah, different dialects can write the same way, but read it out loud quite differently. 

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It's too bad there aren't points for not being observant. LOL. I just now noticed the little key that shows up in the corner of the mini lesson which allows me to take a test and if I pass it with less than four errors, I get to skip a level.  I think someone might have mentioned this upthread but I was thinking you meant the larger levels, not the mini levels.  I think I could have saved time doing this before since so much was review.  

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12 minutes ago, cintinative said:

It's too bad there aren't points for not being observant. LOL. I just now noticed the little key that shows up in the corner of the mini lesson which allows me to take a test and if I pass it with less than four errors, I get to skip a level.  I think someone might have mentioned this upthread but I was thinking you meant the larger levels, not the mini levels.  I think I could have saved time doing this before since so much was review.  

Lol, yes, that little key is how I'm testing out of levels (only one at a time, so still have to do a few to get to level 5). It would be too frustratingly slow for me otherwise!  Taking it slower in Chinese; there I only tested up in the very first unit,  which was pretty much learning three or so basic characters I'd already been familiar with.

I don't think I mentioned how to do it (I should have!), so good observation - and that will help others! 

You can also test at the checkpoints to open higher level skills, but that still won't level you up in any of the lower level skills, it seems.

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On 10/1/2020 at 5:31 PM, cintinative said:

For mine, it was under account settings. I had to turn it on for each computer.   This was the list, and I had to turn on "speaking exercises." When I moved from my laptop to my desktop, I had to turn the speaking exercises on the desktop.

Sound effects  
Motivational messages  
Speaking exercises  
Listening exercises

Thank you. I thought maybe I had to get farther in on my lessons before it gave me speaking exercises but after reading your post I checked my settings. I now have speaking exercises turned on. I'm using my laptop. I do have the app and might use it occasionally but for now I find using my computer more convenient. 

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On 10/1/2020 at 11:49 AM, Matryoshka said:

 

And, anyone wanna be my friend on Duolingo? 😁

Who are you there and how do I send a friend request? Do you have any idea how many duolingo members use some version of Matryoshka? I would never have thought there's be so many. 😂 I think I'm just floridamom there. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a bunch of people with that username too. 

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30 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

Who are you there and how do I send a friend request? Do you have any idea how many duolingo members use some version of Matryoshka? I would never have thought there's be so many. 😂 I think I'm just floridamom there. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a bunch of people with that username too. 

Sending you a pm! 😄 

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@Matryoshka do you know what the deal is with los Estados Unidos?  

Avancemos (and Duolingo) say that you should say "John es de Estados Unidos"  NOT "John es de los Estados Unidos."  Duolingo actually marks it wrong if you put the article in. I swear I learned that this is los Estados Unidos because we are "the" United States, not just United States.  We would not say in English, "He is from United States." We would say, "He is from the United States."   The only thing I can tell is that it appears you only use the article when Estados Unidos is the subject of the sentence (and I suppose, predicate nominative?). 

Do you know if there is some recent change with this?  My friend who teaches Spanish said she has seen a change in the past few years but she doesn't know why it has changed. 

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5 minutes ago, cintinative said:

@Matryoshka do you know what the deal is with los Estados Unidos?  

Avancemos (and Duolingo) say that you should say "John es de Estados Unidos"  NOT "John es de los Estados Unidos."  Duolingo actually marks it wrong if you put the article in. I swear I learned that this is los Estados Unidos because we are "the" United States, not just United States.  We would not say in English, "He is from United States." We would say, "He is from the United States."   The only thing I can tell is that it appears you only use the article when Estados Unidos is the subject of the sentence (and I suppose, predicate nominative?). 

Do you know if there is some recent change with this?  My friend who teaches Spanish said she has seen a change in the past few years but she doesn't know why it has changed. 

Yeah, who knows with that.  My guess is it's not necessarily the same from one Spanish-speaking country to another, and/or it's just been shortened because the whole thing is such a mouthful already.  You know people in Latin America pretty much universally refuse to call the country "America" like we and most of the rest of the world shorten it to, so they've got to go the long route - seems like they might have just started thinking of us as United States - there's also 'person from the US' as estadounidense, which is basically USian rather than American.

Most of my Spanish listening these days is TV shows from Spain, where this phrase virtually never comes up...

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Hey, thought I'd pop this thread back to the top, since it's been dead for over a week!

How's everyone's language learning going?  I've been moving along with Chinese and Portuguese.  I've started using the Chinese/English dictionary I bought ages ago in the anticipation that I'd get back to learning it someday!  I've been sometimes a bit frustrated that I don't always know the exact meaning of individual characters when they're introduced as parts of larger words, but I've also been surprised how well learning in context with phrases is sticking better than learning characters in isolation, so maybe that's a stupid gripe!  I'm almost to the second checkpoint in Chinese and the third in Portuguese.  I'm thinking soon I'll break out my First 100 Characters book (this has been a longtime goal, that I never seemed to get to...) Penguin, this is all your fault! 😂

I'm thinking at some point it would be good to get some conversational practice.  I know there are online forums to connect with native speakers - italki, and one that's something like byuub or something weird?  Has anyone farther along in their studies used one of those or others like it and have any suggestion as to which platform would be good to try out?  I'm most concerned here with Chinese.  I need waaaay more practice stringing words together and getting feedback on correct pronuncation/tones.  I'm a good parrot, but I need more than an App to parrot...

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Thanks for bumping this thread.  I was planning to go looking for it tonight anyway.

I did quite a bit of Duolingo today and was able to get to the bottom of the Reverse Spanish tree.  Now I need to go back up to the top to turn everything golden.  

For the first time through the tree, I simply tested out of each bubble as far as I could.  This is how many bubbles I ended up with of each color.

Gold: 75

Orange: 11

Red: 2

Green: 52

 

I realized that on the Reverse Tree, the red level was actually the hardest in most cases, which is why so many of my bubbles only got to the green level before I failed to test out.  On the Reverse Tree, since the official goal is to learn English, the "hardest" levels are actually usually the easiest.  So if I got past that red level I was almost always able to take it the whole way to the gold level.

I think I'm going to go back up to the top and test through again, without worrying about getting everything to the gold level.  Then on a third pass through I will work toward gold on all of the bubbles.

My kids are already asking which trees (yes, plural) I'm going to do next. 😉 So my planned progression is this:

French from English

English from French

French from Spanish

Spanish from French

I figure this will probably take me a couple of years and I should have a pretty good grasp of both Spanish and French when I'm done.

Then my kids asked what I was going to do after that. 😉

I don't know yet, but probably Portuguese.

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Wow, Junie, that's amazing!!

I have been doing Duolingo every day for Spanish. My goal is usually around 120 points.  I am in the second level (I guess?).  I feel like I am making progress. If I had more time, I could go through it faster, but this works for now.  

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9 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

Hey, thought I'd pop this thread back to the top, since it's been dead for over a week!

How's everyone's language learning going?  I've been moving along with Chinese and Portuguese.  I've started using the Chinese/English dictionary I bought ages ago in the anticipation that I'd get back to learning it someday!  I've been sometimes a bit frustrated that I don't always know the exact meaning of individual characters when they're introduced as parts of larger words, but I've also been surprised how well learning in context with phrases is sticking better than learning characters in isolation, so maybe that's a stupid gripe!  I'm almost to the second checkpoint in Chinese and the third in Portuguese.  I'm thinking soon I'll break out my First 100 Characters book (this has been a longtime goal, that I never seemed to get to...) Penguin, this is all your fault! 😂

I'm thinking at some point it would be good to get some conversational practice.  I know there are online forums to connect with native speakers - italki, and one that's something like byuub or something weird?  Has anyone farther along in their studies used one of those or others like it and have any suggestion as to which platform would be good to try out?  I'm most concerned here with Chinese.  I need waaaay more practice stringing words together and getting feedback on correct pronuncation/tones.  I'm a good parrot, but I need more than an App to parrot...

Busuu is more simple but has you record or write your thoughts or answers on various things and then native speakers can correct them and you can do corrections in your own language.  

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Working on Duo most days.  I’m working through Italian, refreshing Hebrew and playing round with some very beginner level French and German.  I’m trying to read a fairly easy Italian novel in Libby.  Some bits are hard but I think I’m getting the idea of the story so far.  Maybe.

Does anyone here use LingQ?  Steve the vagabond recommended it recently and it looks pretty good.  It’s $20 per month though and I think everyone in the family would need individual accounts to make it work.   I really like the dictionary being right there and how it keeps count of your known words though.  Once we get through this tight stage I might subscribe.

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I'm still working on German in Duolingo. I've reached the halfway point, getting every lesson to gold as I move along. I've also reached a point of despair, "WHY am I doing this? I will NEVER learn this language! Boo hoo hoo!" I will keep going, though, because dd needs a language learning partner at least through the end of the year. It would be motivating if there was a chance of traveling to Germany at some point in the foreseeable future, but at the moment there isn't.

I keep updating my Lupa App which I've had downloaded on my phone for close to a year even though I don't have time to actively work on Spanish, and haven't since I downloaded it. Hope springs eternal. I do still listen to El Hilo and Radio Ambulante podcasts, but I would be hard pressed to have an intelligent conversation about the stories in any language.

Well, aren't I full of doom and gloom on a Tuesday morning! 😄

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I'll jump in here too. I've been relearning Spanish on Duolingo - my boyfriend is learning Spanish too. I had went through much of it a long time ago, and took Spanish in high school, but am trying to be more consistent, just passed the 30 day streak mark.  

I'm also taking a paleography course and we're doing Latin exercises. I know Latin already, but these exercises are super compact and the author throws so much in one chapter - it's really a speed course to learn how to translate documents, not understand the complete grammar. 

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12 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

Hey, thought I'd pop this thread back to the top, since it's been dead for over a week!

How's everyone's language learning going?  I've been moving along with Chinese and Portuguese.  I've started using the Chinese/English dictionary I bought ages ago in the anticipation that I'd get back to learning it someday!  I've been sometimes a bit frustrated that I don't always know the exact meaning of individual characters when they're introduced as parts of larger words, but I've also been surprised how well learning in context with phrases is sticking better than learning characters in isolation, so maybe that's a stupid gripe!  I'm almost to the second checkpoint in Chinese and the third in Portuguese.  I'm thinking soon I'll break out my First 100 Characters book (this has been a longtime goal, that I never seemed to get to...) Penguin, this is all your fault! 😂

I'm thinking at some point it would be good to get some conversational practice.  I know there are online forums to connect with native speakers - italki, and one that's something like byuub or something weird?  Has anyone farther along in their studies used one of those or others like it and have any suggestion as to which platform would be good to try out?  I'm most concerned here with Chinese.  I need waaaay more practice stringing words together and getting feedback on correct pronuncation/tones.  I'm a good parrot, but I need more than an App to parrot...

I have a new idea for free conversation practice to share. Take a look at Meetup. Now that nearly everything is virtual everywhere, Meetups are no longer limited to our location. I belong to a Scandinavian Language Meetup group that went dormant when the pandemic hit, but we just had our first virtual meeting and we went into breakout rooms (Danish, Norwegian, etc.). @wintermom PM me if you want the info.

I have a different group that I want to try out for Dutch but have not yet been able to participate. They say they host 20+ languages. Both Chinese ( Mandarin and Cantonese) and Portuguese are on the list. Whether or not every language happens every week must surely depend on who shows up. Search Meetup for World Languages Cafe with Washington DC as the location.

The way these things work is there is normally one native speaker plus the learners. 

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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Working on Duo most days.  I’m working through Italian, refreshing Hebrew and playing round with some very beginner level French and German.  I’m trying to read a fairly easy Italian novel in Libby.  Some bits are hard but I think I’m getting the idea of the story so far.  Maybe.

Does anyone here use LingQ?  Steve the vagabond recommended it recently and it looks pretty good.  It’s $20 per month though and I think everyone in the family would need individual accounts to make it work.   I really like the dictionary being right there and how it keeps count of your known words though.  Once we get through this tight stage I might subscribe.

LingQ seems to have a free version - would it make sense to try that first?  $20/month is a lot (seems like it's less/month if you sign up for a full year).   Still seems like it would be worth trying out the free version first to see if the content is something that works for you.  Seems like the paid version gives you unlimited "LingQs" whatever those are - some kind of point system? - and the ability to print/edit lessons and work offline.  And you can 'import' more lessons - import from where?  Somewhere else?  I'm confused.  Maybe I'll sign up for free and poke around to at least get a sense of what the heck they're talking about...

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19 minutes ago, Penguin said:

I have a new idea for free conversation practice to share. Take a look at Meetup. Now that nearly everything is virtual everywhere, Meetups are no longer limited to our location. I belong to a Scandinavian Language Meetup group that went dormant when the pandemic hit, but we just had our first virtual meeting and we went into breakout rooms (Danish, Norwegian, etc.). @wintermom PM me if you want the info.

I have a different group that I want to try out for Dutch but have not yet been able to participate. They say they host 20+ languages. Both Chinese ( Mandarin and Cantonese) and Portuguese are on the list. Whether or not every language happens every week must surely depend on who shows up. Search Meetup for World Languages Cafe with Washington DC as the location.

The way these things work is there is normally one native speaker plus the learners. 

I know we're close to the same age, Penguin, but I feel like an old luddite when I admit I've heard tell of Meetup but never figured out where it is or how to use it.  I'm guessing it's really simple - you're right this may be the time to explore!

For something like Chinese I'd love 1:1 rather than a group.  I'd be happy to offer English (or Spanish or German for that matter) in exchange.  Is that the kind of thing italki does, does anyone know?  @Ausmumof3, thanks for the reminder of the name of Busuu - it's been ages since I was there.  I thought there was some part that fixed you up with native speakers, but that's just writing?  Any other sites that offer something like this?

For Spanish I've been trying for years to set up a bookish Spanish conversation group - originally I thought we'd read a particular book like regular book clubs, but it's hard to get enough copies of a Spanish book for a group without us all spending $$$.  I joined a local Spanish conversation group for a while, but I very selfishly want a group that's pretty much all fluent members, so having books as the topic both gives a starting point for conversations and ensures the level of Spanish is at least high enough to read original novels.  I actually have a bunch of local friends who fit the bill and have expressed interest, but it seems everyone else's lives are too busy to ever commit to anything. 😒  Some are homeschooling, others working full time.   Maybe I should try using Meetup to find people with more time!

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What I really want is someone to correct my Danish writing. I have no trouble finding people to talk with, but even paid tutors for writing are hard to come by.

Saying this out loud to hold myself accountable: I am very embarrassed by my level of Danish writing. I have plenty of ideas how to improve it, but never follow through.

And why do I have this mental block? As a lover of the written word, I detest appearing illiterate, and feel ashamed. With speaking, my mistakes disappear into the ether. And Danish is so famously mumbly that it is easy for me to just shrug off verbal mistakes. Written ones not so much. 

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42 minutes ago, Penguin said:

What I really want is someone to correct my Danish writing. I have no trouble finding people to talk with, but even paid tutors for writing are hard to come by.

Have you ever tried Lang-8?

My son uses it for Spanish.  He writes all sorts of different things in Spanish and native speakers correct and critique his writing. To "pay it forward" and keep his entries near the front of the queue, he spend a little time each week correcting ESL writing submitted by others.

At a glance, there do appear to be some active Dutch users. 

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1 minute ago, wendyroo said:

Have you ever tried Lang-8?

My son uses it for Spanish.  He writes all sorts of different things in Spanish and native speakers correct and critique his writing. To "pay it forward" and keep his entries near the front of the queue, he spend a little time each week correcting ESL writing submitted by others.

At a glance, there do appear to be some active Dutch users. 

I’ve not been there for ages. They had shut down at one point, if I recall correctly. I’ll have to give it a revisit -thanks.

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4 hours ago, Penguin said:

What I really want is someone to correct my Danish writing. I have no trouble finding people to talk with, but even paid tutors for writing are hard to come by.

Saying this out loud to hold myself accountable: I am very embarrassed by my level of Danish writing. I have plenty of ideas how to improve it, but never follow through.

Don't ever feel embarrassed. Just jump in, write your ideas in the written language you are most comfortable in and then attempt translating. It will come naturally slowly and with practice. Attempting to translate while having good ideas and lacking vocabulary or grammar is frustrating.

4 hours ago, Penguin said:

And why do I have this mental block? As a lover of the written word, I detest appearing illiterate, and feel ashamed.

No, no, no. You are learning a new language, Your brain is creating neural pathways. No time for shame or guilt or negative self talk. 

4 hours ago, Penguin said:

With speaking, my mistakes disappear into the ether. And Danish is so famously mumbly that it is easy for me to just shrug off verbal mistakes. Written ones not so much. 

When I first learned Hindi as a child, I could read and write fairly well. But I could never speak because I had no exposure or barely understand. I had to really work hard on it. Language learning is not the same for even each language. Sometimes the speaking part comes easier. Written is always the hardest, mostly.

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I did French "immersion" by watching Emily in Paris on Netflix. I turned English subtitles on and had dialog in French. I could understand the non-native French speakers better because they speak slower which was oddly reiterating as I have had consistent issues with that. Reading Le Monde newspaper (well try to) twice a week. 

Reading the Bible in both English-French Bible and English-Spanish Bible which is slightly better this month. Listening to the news in Spanish most days. Speaking part could use a lot of work, any gains I made was lost due to COVID I think because I have not spoken consistently and I lack the vocabulary to commiserate or complain in Spanish about current events when we do speak. 🙄

Urdu, baby, tiny steps. This month goal is learning alphabets and identifying them. It's a very different kind of scripting than I am used to, more curves and most of all, right to left which I consistently forget. I shall get there someday. 

Usual maintenance work in Hindi and my native tongue.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

I know we're close to the same age, Penguin, but I feel like an old luddite when I admit I've heard tell of Meetup but never figured out where it is or how to use it.  I'm guessing it's really simple - you're right this may be the time to explore!

For something like Chinese I'd love 1:1 rather than a group.  I'd be happy to offer English (or Spanish or German for that matter) in exchange.  Is that the kind of thing italki does, does anyone know?  @Ausmumof3, thanks for the reminder of the name of Busuu - it's been ages since I was there.  I thought there was some part that fixed you up with native speakers, but that's just writing?  Any other sites that offer something like this?

For Spanish I've been trying for years to set up a bookish Spanish conversation group - originally I thought we'd read a particular book like regular book clubs, but it's hard to get enough copies of a Spanish book for a group without us all spending $$$.  I joined a local Spanish conversation group for a while, but I very selfishly want a group that's pretty much all fluent members, so having books as the topic both gives a starting point for conversations and ensures the level of Spanish is at least high enough to read original novels.  I actually have a bunch of local friends who fit the bill and have expressed interest, but it seems everyone else's lives are too busy to ever commit to anything. 😒  Some are homeschooling, others working full time.   Maybe I should try using Meetup to find people with more time!

LingQ forum has a section for people to find and chat with others from different countries.  Busuu does have a speaking correction it as well at least on the phone app.  You record on your microphone.  It’s probably not as helpful as talking to someone live though.

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6 hours ago, Matryoshka said:

LingQ seems to have a free version - would it make sense to try that first?  $20/month is a lot (seems like it's less/month if you sign up for a full year).   Still seems like it would be worth trying out the free version first to see if the content is something that works for you.  Seems like the paid version gives you unlimited "LingQs" whatever those are - some kind of point system? - and the ability to print/edit lessons and work offline.  And you can 'import' more lessons - import from where?  Somewhere else?  I'm confused.  Maybe I'll sign up for free and poke around to at least get a sense of what the heck they're talking about...

Yes I did the free trial but you run out of words to add to your review list really quickly so it’s probably not really helpful.

so basically the system is you can download news articles, stories and conversations.  Im not sure where they source them but there’s plenty of variety.  As you read them you click on any words that you don’t know or you had to think about for a while and it adds it to your review words.  Then each day you spent time reviewing those words via flash cards, fill in the blanks etc.  It adds any words you know to your “known words” list so you get a count of your known vocabulary in that language as well.   It probably makes more sense if you use the free version for a bit.  Yes $20 month is a bit of a barrier.  I do have a duo subscription at the moment because the whole fam use it on my account and we would always run out of lives etc and not be able to progress.  So I could drop that and switch but I don’t think LingQ would work as well for my kids and the known and unknown words thing won’t work well across multiple users.

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16 minutes ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Yes I did the free trial but you run out of words to add to your review list really quickly so it’s probably not really helpful.

so basically the system is you can download news articles, stories and conversations.  Im not sure where they source them but there’s plenty of variety.  As you read them you click on any words that you don’t know or you had to think about for a while and it adds it to your review words.  Then each day you spent time reviewing those words via flash cards, fill in the blanks etc.  It adds any words you know to your “known words” list so you get a count of your known vocabulary in that language as well.   It probably makes more sense if you use the free version for a bit.  Yes $20 month is a bit of a barrier.  I do have a duo subscription at the moment because the whole fam use it on my account and we would always run out of lives etc and not be able to progress.  So I could drop that and switch but I don’t think LingQ would work as well for my kids and the known and unknown words thing won’t work well across multiple users.

With Duo, you don't ever run out of lives as long as you do it in the browser - either on your phone or on the computer.  When I run out of lives for the day in my phone app, I just go and continue on my laptop.  You can switch back and forth from phone App to desktop over and over; all your progress is automatically tracked.

I did try the free LingQ this morning, yeah, I ran out of vocab in like 5 minutes.  But no way am I paying $20/mo (which I also have to do, I think plus an hourly charge if I want to chat with someone).  I might try it in, say, Portuguese instead, where I would have much less vocab - as it is I understand almost everything passively, it's output that's more of an issue.  With Chinese, if I haven't seen a character, there's really no way to get it easily.  The system with Duolingo where they add a few characters at a time and then I practice in context, both output and input, has been remarkably effective for me, so I think I'll continue with that for now.  Something like LingQ would be much more effective when I've got a larger base vocabulary.  I think I may start writing practice in Chinese too, which should be another way to internalize the characters and their meanings - and also pay attention to the tiny differences which radically change the meaning!  

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5 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

With Duo, you don't ever run out of lives as long as you do it in the browser - either on your phone or on the computer.  When I run out of lives for the day in my phone app, I just go and continue on my laptop.  You can switch back and forth from phone App to desktop over and over; all your progress is automatically tracked.

I did try the free LingQ this morning, yeah, I ran out of vocab in like 5 minutes.  But no way am I paying $20/mo (which I also have to do, I think plus an hourly charge if I want to chat with someone).  I might try it in, say, Portuguese instead, where I would have much less vocab - as it is I understand almost everything passively, it's output that's more of an issue.  With Chinese, if I haven't seen a character, there's really no way to get it easily.  The system with Duolingo where they add a few characters at a time and then I practice in context, both output and input, has been remarkably effective for me, so I think I'll continue with that for now.  Something like LingQ would be much more effective when I've got a larger base vocabulary.  I think I may start writing practice in Chinese too, which should be another way to internalize the characters and their meanings - and also pay attention to the tiny differences which radically change the meaning!  

Yes I’m sure that where you at makes a difference.  I think I am getting closer to the end of Italian duo and starting to think about what next.  Does anyone know if any of the normal book apps (kindle, iBooks etc) have an inbuilt dictionary that you can look words up on as you read?  Maybe I just need to buy myself an Italian dictionary.

and thank you I had no idea you could even use DUO in a browser.  I’ve only ever had the app.  This will make things a lot easier, and cheaper!  When I started with duo it was fine but they changed it and I could never get through more than a lesson a day without the unlimited lives.

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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Yes I’m sure that where you at makes a difference.  I think I am getting closer to the end of Italian duo and starting to think about what next.  Does anyone know if any of the normal book apps (kindle, iBooks etc) have an inbuilt dictionary that you can look words up on as you read?  Maybe I just need to buy myself an Italian dictionary.

and thank you I had no idea you could even use DUO in a browser.  I’ve only ever had the app.  This will make things a lot easier, and cheaper!  When I started with duo it was fine but they changed it and I could never get through more than a lesson a day without the unlimited lives.

Oh, man, if I had to deal with the lives thing in the app, I'd never get anywhere!

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I'm doing Duolingo Spanish most days. I'm not interested in the rewards they offer, I just want to do the lessons. I considered adding either French or German but decided my old brain should just stick to one for now. I might add another down the road.

I'm still shocked at how much I remember from the three years of high school Spanish I took in the 1970s! The accents and a few of the articles are tripping me up but the words are easily coming back to me. I'm not far enough along to be dealing with grammar so we'll see what happens then. 

 

22 hours ago, Junie said:

Thanks for bumping this thread.  I was planning to go looking for it tonight anyway.

I did quite a bit of Duolingo today and was able to get to the bottom of the Reverse Spanish tree.  Now I need to go back up to the top to turn everything golden.  

For the first time through the tree, I simply tested out of each bubble as far as I could.  This is how many bubbles I ended up with of each color.

Gold: 75

Orange: 11

Red: 2

Green: 52

 

 

I'm still learning all things Duolingo and the above sounds, well, foreign to me lol. 😄 I don't know how trees work or what a reverse tree is or lingots vs. crowns and what that flame thingie is. I'm just plodding along. 

5 hours ago, Dreamergal said:

I did French "immersion" by watching Emily in Paris on Netflix. I turned English subtitles on and had dialog in French. I could understand the non-native French speakers better because they speak slower which was oddly reiterating as I have had consistent issues with that. Reading Le Monde newspaper (well try to) twice a week. 

 

 

 

At some point I'm planning to watch some Spanish language shows on Netflix. I've seen it recommended that I should start out with English subtitles, then move to Spanish subtitles, and eventually no subtitles. Anyone have any good Spanish language series to recommend on Netflix? Movies are fine too but I'd rather watch a series because that means I'll keep coming back to it.

ETA: I'm mostly doing Duo on my laptop. I've heard people talk about the differences between the app and desktop versions but have only used the app once or twice so I haven't paid much attention to how different it is.

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4 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Yes I’m sure that where you at makes a difference.  I think I am getting closer to the end of Italian duo and starting to think about what next.  Does anyone know if any of the normal book apps (kindle, iBooks etc) have an inbuilt dictionary that you can look words up on as you read?  Maybe I just need to buy myself an Italian dictionary.

Google translate stinks for translating sentences or texts, but is actually pretty good for individual words.  For Spanish they've added a Spanish/Spanish dictionary, which is much more accurate sometimes than the one-word translation given, with multiple meanings and nuance.  Not sure how many other languages they've added it for.  It's much handier than having to look stuff up in print dictionaries, especially since any word I need to look up in, say, German or Spanish will only be in huge dictionaries that are a pain to haul around (the irony being that the more of a language you know, the larger the dictionary, since they don't leave out the easy words...).   Having a dictionary on my phone is so handy!

I am, however, already using the Chinese dictionary I bought years ago in the hopes of needing it some day, and it is indeed coming in very useful.  I'm not sure how I'd even use Google to look up the translation of a character, though...

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32 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

I'm doing Duolingo Spanish most days. I'm not interested in the rewards they offer, I just want to do the lessons. I considered adding either French or German but decided my old brain should just stick to one for now. I might add another down the road.

Wait, what rewards?  The only ones I can think of are on the App where it gives you Gems and those are very handy as I can use them to refill the stupid hearts/lives when I'm too lazy to switch to my laptop...   The lingots used on the desktop/browser version, however, I have not found any use for...  I am not 'paying' to have my Owl dressed up in outfits... 🙄

 

Quote

At some point I'm planning to watch some Spanish language shows on Netflix. I've seen it recommended that I should start out with English subtitles, then move to Spanish subtitles, and eventually no subtitles. Anyone have any good Spanish language series to recommend on Netflix? Movies are fine too but I'd rather watch a series because that means I'll keep coming back to it.

Yes, that is good advice (English subtitles, then Spanish, then try without).  Just a note when using Spanish subtitles, they are often abbreviated/paraphrased and are not actually verbatim what the characters are saying (like saldré instead of voy a salir - mean the same thing, less text), so work towards not reading them unless you've missed something. 

Lots of good series on Netflix these days.  For some unknown reason even though they're in Spanish Netflix lists the titles in English (it's in Spanish in the credits, but if you're searching for it, it's English).

The Time in Between - set a Spanish colony in North Africa during the Spanish Civil War.  So good.

The Grand Hotel (the Spanish original, not any of the 5? remakes, one of which is Mexican and also in Spanish, but I don't think it's on Netflix...)  Tons and tons of episodes, totally guilty-pleasure addictive.  Set in a fancy, family-run hotel on the north coast of Spain in the early 1900s, intrigue, romance, and murder mysteries with a Poirot-esque detective.  Tons and tons of episodes - yay!

High Seas - from the makers of The Grand Hotel, a very similar tone (intrigue, romance, murder mysteries), but set on an ocean liner in the 1940s, taking people fleeing Franco's facist regime to Rio de Janeiro.  My current guilty pleasure.

Those are my favorites so far, but I have a bunch more flagged to try out, if you want even more ideas that aren't as prewatched...

And yes, these are all Spanish Spanish from Spain so brush up on your vosotros.  But I find most stuff from Mexico so full of soap and cheese and over the top as to be unwatchable. Like apparently they had to remake The Grand Hotel, which was already in Spanish to make it more... something?  Those later two Spanish ones are frothy, but for me, at least, are fun and not cringy.  There's a series from Colombia, I think, about a girl who was kidnapped by guerillas and forced to fight for them who is later freed and is learning to reintegrate into society, but I've only watched a couple of episodes.  It looked promising, but the others are shinier right now...  Spain's putting out a lot of good TV.

 

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48 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

 

I'm still learning all things Duolingo and the above sounds, well, foreign to me lol. 😄 I don't know how trees work or what a reverse tree is or lingots vs. crowns and what that flame thingie is. I'm just plodding along. 

 

The tree is just what the series of "bubbles" is called.  So you are working on the Spanish tree.

A reverse tree is what I'm working on now.  I already finished the Spanish tree (which is actually the English to Spanish tree), so now I am working on the Spanish to English (reverse) tree.  You can set up duolingo so that your starting language is Spanish or whatever and you set it up to "learn" English.  It's just a way of extending the language learning.

Lingots are the fairly useless red jewels that you get for completing a lesson.  Crowns are what you getting a "bubble" to the next level.

Oh, and the flame just tells you how many days in a row you have completed a lesson.

Hope this helps.  Or, just don't worry about any of it and keep plodding along. :)  

 

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31 minutes ago, Matryoshka said:

Wait, what rewards?  The only ones I can think of are on the App where it gives you Gems and those are very handy as I can use them to refill the stupid hearts/lives when I'm too lazy to switch to my laptop...   The lingots used on the desktop/browser version, however, I have not found any use for...  I am not 'paying' to have my Owl dressed up in outfits... 🙄

The Time in Between - set a Spanish colony in North Africa during the Spanish Civil War.  So good.

The Grand Hotel (the Spanish original, not any of the 5? remakes, one of which is Mexican and also in Spanish, but I don't think it's on Netflix...)  Tons and tons of episodes, totally guilty-pleasure addictive.  Set in a fancy, family-run hotel on the north coast of Spain in the early 1900s, intrigue, romance, and murder mysteries with a Poirot-esque detective.  Tons and tons of episodes - yay!

High Seas - from the makers of The Grand Hotel, a very similar tone (intrigue, romance, murder mysteries), but set on an ocean liner in the 1940s, taking people fleeing Franco's facist regime to Rio de Janeiro.  My current guilty pleasure.

Those are my favorites so far, but I have a bunch more flagged to try out, if you want even more ideas that aren't as prewatched...

 

I used my lingots to buy some lessons on Spanish idioms. They also had one on flirting but I don't think I need that. Or maybe I should try flirting with dh in Spanish and see what happens.🤣🤣🤣

I don't think I saw anything else I'd want so I probably spent all I'm going to.

I loved The Time in Between. Maybe I should rewatch it since I already know what happens and can just concentrate on trying to understand the words. I'll give the others a try too.

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20 minutes ago, Lady Florida. said:

I used my lingots to buy some lessons on Spanish idioms. They also had one on flirting but I don't think I need that. Or maybe I should try flirting with dh in Spanish and see what happens.🤣🤣🤣

I don't think I saw anything else I'd want so I probably spent all I'm going to.

I loved The Time in Between. Maybe I should rewatch it since I already know what happens and can just concentrate on trying to understand the words. I'll give the others a try too.

LOL, I saw I could buy flirting lessons in Portuguese, but as little interest in that as Owl clothes... 🤣

I think a rewatch of The Time in Between is a great idea, but a heads up that the female lead speaks 100mph and can slur words together (enough that they carry over into the subtitles - it's supposed to show her working class background, I think).  So, definitely subtitles (Spanish or English, you choose 😉  )

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17 hours ago, Lady Florida. said:

At some point I'm planning to watch some Spanish language shows on Netflix. I've seen it recommended that I should start out with English subtitles, then move to Spanish subtitles, and eventually no subtitles. Anyone have any good Spanish language series to recommend on Netflix? Movies are fine too but I'd rather watch a series because that means I'll keep coming back to it.

 

Narcos the first 3 seasons is what I will recommend with major caveats about nudity, violence and swearing. But it was so well acted especially Brazilian actor Wagner Moura as Pablo. The thing about him is he did not know Spanish, he moved to Colombia to immerse himself and learn Spanish I think 6 months. He is an amazing actor and I have since watched more of his work. It is Bilingual actually as there are characters who switch back and forth between Spanish and English, English only and Spanish only.

Narcos Mexico was not that good acting wise and story line in my opinion. But a very good watch. Again I would classify it as bilingual. 

Velvet a romance series about a fashion designer's son and a seamstress set in Spain.

Cable Girls 

Movies

Roma

Palm Trees in the Snow 

 

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Two unique ways to learn a language that are totally out of the box:

Tim Ferris (podcaster) at age 15 visited Japan for a year thinking he'd be in a lot of Japanese language classes -- instead he was plunked into regular high school classes all in Japanese!!

So he toughed it out for six months, said he failed miserably and was ready to fly home when he happened to stumble on a poster that had the 500 most common words in Japanese. He inhaled the poster and went on to ace classes.

He's in his early 40's and still has the poster.

Other cool idea: he bought Dilbert books -- I'd do Calvin & Hobbes -- in various languages that he wanted to learn, and did by reading Dilbert.

Don't ask me why, but the poster and another cool language hack are in his book: The 4-Hour Chef by Timothy Ferris. Just order from the library, no need to buy unless you really want to learn about cooking, but page 48 has another awesome language idea. (It's a little too long to describe here.)

Okay, you guys have talked me into it: I'm learning Spanish based on Tim's ideas here.

W.

 

 

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