A new day of immersing myself into the languages I want to learn! After some second level owling in Catalan about my elephant eats apples and third or fourth level Swedish girls asking him for his phone number, in my third Duolingo lesson at beginner level Russian I came across meals such as завтрак, breakfast. I thought breaking up the word. I thought that I was being smart separating the Russian equivalent like the English breakfast itself, i.e. a break from fasting, hence a pause from not eating, in other words: a moment to eat. Pretty cool right? Yeah, that’s from the books of Game of Thrones. Not that I read them, but my boyfriend told me. However, breaking up the Russian breakfast got me something really different.
So there goes my theory. For this word. Cause I’m still committed to showing you other examples that compound words can help you to better understand, remember and enjoy new words in your target language(s).
Typing in other alphabets and scripts.
I prefer to write in my new target languages right from the beginning. When learning Greek in the second grade back at high school it amazed me how strange a different alphabet appeared to me at first and how fast I learned to use all but three letters by simply practicing. Cyrillic letters, though many originated from Greek or with similar roots are more difficult to me as a Dutchie, also cause of a few unknown sounds. So it takes me more time than a Hellenic afternoon when I was 14, but I think it also adds tremendously to the experience of ‘knowing’ a language. Arabic is much harder, of course, but really doable and the more fun once you recognize it. When learning Japanese you’ll not only need to learn Hiragana and Katagana but also Kanji, the characters imported from China. And although many of the language schools and program providers I worked for offer pinyin writing to their Western clients learning Mandarin at first, I prefer to at least recognize Chinese characters. For time constraints during those younger years, I’ll skip the beautiful calligraphy, realizing that I won’t reach the higher levels of Culture leaving it perhaps finding the pen and ease of mind at a more senior age.
Doing this Russian exercise, I realized it could be helpful for other language learners to know what tool I’m using to write Cyrillic letters. As I also use it for Arabic, Hebrew and Greek alphabets, I decided to write a separate blog post about how to write these languages as well as how to write in Chinese and Japanese, the latter using Hiragana, Katagana and Kanji.
Read more on how to write different alphabets and scripts on Duolingo, in Word and anywhere else using your current keyboard. Another blog post that I used as a reason to do exercises for above six languages. Throughout the day, I listened to radio Calella via radio.garden to further practice listening to news, interviews and songs in Catalan at normal speed.
Last night, 8 minutes before the day officially ended, the little green owl praised me for my late night work, I finished an exercise without mistakes, I reached my daily goal on Duolingo and leveled up the Scholar achievement (learned 2000 new words in a single course, in that case being Chinese). So this morning, 9 am. I’m ready for more, starting the learning day with some Polish. You can tell I hadn’t been doing that for a while:
I usually prefer to decided what grammar or word categories I start with, but on Duolingo you need to complete the basic levels for all categories before being able to move on to the next lessons. So not all sentences are just as relevant for my trips to Poland.
Continuing Chinese on Duolingo
Some sentences contain three new words and make me feel helpless that I’ll never master common characters and words. Then one later I feel pretty awesome again when I understand a sentence completely.
In Chinese characters: 那是 我 们 的 西 班 牙 语 老 师。
Romanized to pniyin Nàshì wǒ men de xī bān yá yǔ lǎo shī.
Literal character meaning That (to be) I [plur] [poss] See-ban-ya (language) teacher.
Correct translation: That is [ our ] [ Spanish ] teacher.
This is what I love again about the Chinese (or any new) language. It’s so cool to see the structure!
With that necessary confidence I also try to approach another sentence with many new words for me:
Although Duolingo just asks me to translate it, I try to write each character using the pinyin keyboard input.
In Chinese characters: 明 年 三 月 我 们 会 去 印 度 旅 游。
Romanized to pniyin Míng nián sān yuè wǒ men huì qù yìn dù lǚ yóu.
Literal character meaning New year 3 month I [plur] [fut] (go)to [phon Yindu] [ travel ].
Correct translation: Next year [ March ] [ we ] will travel to India.
Cool, right? BTW, to learn and recognize characters better on Duolingo, it can be helpful to zoom in for some exercises and zoom back out when you need to see the whole screen. When selecting the right semantic meaning from all phonetic options from the deck that the pinyin keyboard option provides, I’d like to do the same, but unfortunately those characters sty small, which makes it difficult for me as a beginner to recognize the one I need.
Do you want to write Chinese characters in Duolingo using your own keyboard?
Finishing that exercise got me to level 1 from that category Hobbies. That unlocked the checkpoint 3, which I passed. Although Duolingo is extremely good at giving you a satisfied feeling about it, I could have never passed it, if it wasn’t for the (deliberate?) mistake of not differentiating between a test and a normal exercise: hovering over any word in a given sentence still gave you the pronunciation and meaning. Also, given characters plus pronunciation weren’t extremely difficult to select the pinyin equivalent from the multiple (3) choice option. But hey, it’s not a state exam at Beijing Uni and it makes me feel good like I reached a next level of Chinese today and it makes me want to return to the course tomorrow. For now, I’ll move on with Swedish or something.
Swedish became Esperanto on Duolingo again
And yes, it keeps on telling you that you’re great. I start to realize the true reason why apps and users need one another. Something about time spent on the app versus having a good feeling. And great if you actually get the marketed benefit along the way.
I was going to switch to Romanian, until I realized I might confuse that with my last language from a minute ago and end up speaking Esperanto in Romania or Romanian in Esperantoland. The latter is probably not that bad, as in my case the only people I know who speak Esperanto are multilinguals from the Polyglot Gathering 2020 who often speak 3-5 Romance languages anyway. Hearing them converse pretty fluent in this constructed language in various chat rooms that weekend inspired me to start learning this language in the first place.
If not this, then what?
If not Romanian, than what? Arabic of course! But dear lord (or Allah), what to do with these numbers in this first exercise? Besides, to answer below question correctly, it should have a fourth answer none, because theaudio doesn’t play (except for the first word).
Rebut tut gut
a respected, intelligent German former colleague of mine. Or former respected, intelligent German colleague of mine? Ahh, I ♥ order and semantics.
I’ll always remember that advise from a co-worker back a technical service desk. I don’t know if rebooting Windows or just the Chrome browser enabled me to hear the audio from the Duolingo exercises, but it did the job. Now that the audio works, I only have trouble recognizing those Arabic letters that are romanized as 2 and 3. After some continued struggles in the Arab speaking deserts, which I deserted with a lovely dessert, I boarded my vessel and navigated towards the Eastern Aegean where I landed on some isles with another xenophonic tongue and came across the following writing, which actually is related to both Arabic and of course Latin letters.
Useful orations in Greek
From linguistic struggles in the Middle-East and North Africa, I now struggle to see the relevance of above utterance. I find it hard to picture myself in Athens using this phrase, but hey, I recognize a Greek word from other European languages and that’s worth something. After the question about that musical instrument followed who’s bear that is. Yes, 🐻 not 🍻.
As it appeared that my last lesson from yesterday was gone, or actually not saved cause the dishwasher started to spit out foam, I felt bad that I had to redo it. But with didactics in mind, I now embrace the possibility to recap it [insert vomit emoji here]. So I copied some of Day 1’s posted sentences on here again. In order to add yet another writing exercise, I rewrite both the sentence in Esperanto as well as English in this post. This time, I’ll also leave director’s comments below with my impression about the languages I’m learning.
Jen la mapo de Kandao. = Here is the map of Canada.
Multaj Usoanoj loĝas en Germanio. = Many Americans live in Germany.
Kiu kontinento estas pli granda ol Eŭropo? = Which continent is larger than Europe?
Kiu kontinento estast pli granda ol Europo?
Mi vojaĝas al Aŭstralio por viziti miajn gepatrojn. = I travel to Australia to visit my grandparents.
Observing the prefix ge- in last example sentence, I thought it would add something to parents, so the first thing I thought of was grand. But romantic (or Romance) as I am, I guess my reasoning that patro means father doesn’t make the pluralized patrojparents yet. That may apply to the following where alpha and high-level beta meet in the following daddy plus mommy makes parents equations:
North of the Pyrenees
PC emojis on PC etc
father + mother = parents in Romance languages
Conclusion: Pyrenees crossing North makes you a little less patriarchal (at least when looking at those words)!
This is an overview of the target languages Duolingo offers from instruction language English. The marked ones are the ones I’m taking. I’m also following Catalan through Spanish and prefer to learn (Brazilian) Portuguese with the same Iberic neighbouring perspective to see the resemblances and differences.
Even though I believe Duolingo is pretty good at integrating gamification and makes me want to complete all wizard levels cause I added an image, become a new gemstone I never even heard of in my native Dutch and follow someone from the other side of the world who’s nearly outowling me in Klingon, I will switch to other apps to keep my comparing looks on self-study apps and platforms as fresh as a sprouting spring upon the hills.
Chinese on Mondly
I used Mondly before for other languages, such as Hebrew and Japanese, which I also reviewed.
Mondly now offers 8 new languages: Bengali, Catalan, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Slovak, Tagalog and Urdu. Probably feeding Covid-19 conspirators, it announced the inclusion to its now 41 languages to the Mondly family in February 2020. What a welcoming news for those bored linguofiles in quarantine. More details on this Mondly page.
At first I thought I could no longer fly a new Mondly balloon lesson as I kept hearing the Mario coin level sound each time I clicked a new lesson for Chinese. But it appears that I just have to follow the intended lesson structure.
When using different apps, platforms and methods for the same language, you can’t avoid repeating known language. As mentioned earlier, that actually helps you memorize better and feel more certain. Besides, it might give you another approach of the new language as well as learn a few new words, that you thought you knew already.
As always, Mondly starts any beginner lesson with these kinship terms, in all languages that I tried at least.
It may be confusing that Duolingo and Mondly both use different terms for the same family terms. But in reality, they both have a different formality (dad(dy)/mom(my) vs. father/mother) and age (younger and older brother/sister). And kinship terms don’t always have a one-on-one equivalent in different languages, and especially in different language families.
I can also recommend any autodidact to perceive any such language learning app, platform – or any method for that matter – as useful in some way. Though given language can sometimes confuse you at some point, just realize that not one language method can be complete, especially not at beginner level. That means that for those who detect a critical view and perfectionist behaviour within themselves when approaching a new language (course), my advise would be to use it as a useful tool to give you a better understanding of the language, not a complete overview. And since language learning nowadays is not really dependent on what a monk teaches you, just perform a quick search online. It doesn’t only give you a broader scope on things, but also a more independent and therefore self-certain feeling perhaps. Speaking of self-awareness, I’m going to change languages and learning method again, because Margret and Zwanovski here have so out-ballooned me after this Chinese on Mondly lesson here that it doesn’t really encourage me to compete with such frequent Mondliers.
Learning Portuguese (or any language) listening to radio.garden
While writing this post -except when listening to the Esperanto and Chinese audio of course- I’m listening to radio stations from Spain and Portugal on radio.garden. Interviews, songs and news bulletins are amusing to listen to while practicing my listening skills during work. I now happen to have selected Spanish and Portuguese stations, because of my little Iberian Immersion, but you can easily jump to any place on on the world map and listen to connected stations in your target language, from any country that you can’t physically be in now due to Covid-19, travel budget, flygskam or work and family matters. Speaking of flygskam, I’m going to learn some Swedish!
Learning intermediate Swedish with a Babbel lesson
This first lesson from the intermediary course (you can select this level yourself) starts with an introduction of some words of time, before you are asked to fill in the blanks of a typical convo, which I think is very useful.
Just as useful are the grammar lessons after the dialogue of the lesson, the former as an essential though not boring explanation, the latter as a founding body of the lesson:
And like Duolingo, Mondly and most language learning apps, Mondly also finishes with some words of appraisal. Even though I think I made more than one mistake, especially those that were counted as typos. In reality were my errors choosing the other preposition from what that specific lesson was about, but well. I did learn from that lesson and I was made aware of my mistakes -ideally I’d be able to enter the correct version afterwards myself but well, c’est ça- ou la la, voici, polyglot. 😂 Anyway, I think that positiveness does want me to continue.
Deciphering my first Chinese message on Tandem
I just found dozens of messages in my inbox on Tandem, a worldwide community of language learners who help each other by offering their native (and other high-level) languages while practicing their own target language(s) and yes, for free. One should always realize with any language exchange (often referred to as tandem) partner that your free exercise is paid for by additional time for the other person. So in a one-on-one exchange I could speak one hour of my target language Portuguese and after I should ‘teach’ or at least dedicate another hour of my native Dutch or fluent English to my tandem partner. On Tandem.net it’s not that transactional. And though you’d be a good community member contributing with your own time, any user can hit up any other user based on the languages you can/want to speak.
the language learning app where millions of people teach each other.
Tandem described by Tandem
I got this feeling that my lengthy nights with the little green owl being my only companion finally started to pay off. Apart from four awkward attempts in Chinese shops and restaurants in Spain, pretending that my Duolingo efforts would enable me to apply Mandarin as a lingua franca in order to greet, thank and ask the lady behind the counter if she was Chinese and that I am Dutch, I had never brought theory into practice. And here I found two lines of characters in my inbox from a real person. Probably someone who wants to help me. Who understands the difficulty of being a language learner. Who knows how vulnerable I became as I added Chinese as learning language on my Tandem profile. And here I found her initial message: 你好呀. 你会的语言好多啊 你是为什么想学习中文呢？Yes, my first thought was if Tandem has an auto-translate button somewhere, like Hello Talk has. Ah, wait, Hello Talk, so I did have a chat in Chinese before. Alright, well, forget about Google Translate and what more, I’m going to see which characters I know for sure, which I recognize and then try to guess the general context. Well, I’ll take you along in my per-character deciphering experience, to show which hopefully encourages you to dive into the same (or another) deep yourself. I was happy to be sure about the first two already!
你好 = Hello (so far, so good. and understood for a 100%!) What’s that third character? 呀 OK, maybe I just understood that first sentence for 66.66%. If that would be the case when following a debate with President Xi (if there were any at all), I’d be extremely proud if that would be my rate of understanding. OK, I guess I don’t need to understand her full greeting at this point. I do recognize the mouth radical in that third character, but that could be a phonetic indication rather than signifying something semantic. 好 (Good), let’s move on!
你会的语言好多啊 你是为什么想学习中文呢？I’ve learned most characters and I think that line can be split up in two parts. I think the second part 你是为什么想学习中文呢 is her asking me why I would like to learn Chinese.
The first part你会的语言好多啊 I’d guess -but again, this is based on static Duolingo sentences mostly- either means that I speak the language very well or is part of her longer question asking me if I can speak the language. At this stage, only you and I know that I hardly speak Chinese. And whether I’d tell her that in correct Chinese phrasing or not, either way she’ll understand that I don’t. 好! Now that that’s solved, I allow myself to check the actual meaning on Google Translate. While philosophizing about this, I hope my sender has found a recipient who doesn’t need to blog about it and replies within a shorter period than five months, poor girl.
Ah yeah, stupid me. Of course she referred to languages, in general: Hello. You can speak many languages. But I was right about the second part! Woohoo! Now I’m going to have to be honest with her that I don’t really speak Chinese (yet), without losing this great opportunity to actually try writing a sentence to a real person! And I guess that’s how I’d like to encourage any language learner: see and present yourself as someone who speaks the language a little bit, even if it’s just one sentence. That will help you cross one of the biggest hurdles: the fear of speaking! So I’m going to change my keyboard settings to Mandarin input and try to reply to her.
Exciting! So of course I checked my sentence in Google Translate; we wouldn’t want to insult anyone. I said I like to learn Chinese on Duolingo whereas I intended to say I learn Chinese on Duolingo. But I decided to leave my mistake as it was and send it, cause otherwise she’d get a better impression about my Chinese than it actually is and then you’ll see that the next thing that she’ll expect me to do is discuss political differences between the Ming dynasty and the following. Besides, Tandem does have a built-in functionality to correct your partner’s sentences! If she takes a little less time to reply than me, I’ll keep you posted while I’m going to answer some other messages on Tandem! This next and last screenshot for today shows the drama I have caused by telling a new sender that I didn’t have time due to many messages and I wasn’t able to answer his at that moment. So bear in mind that you can’t please everyone. 🐻
The first language on my list of high-quality translations, a tricky one for me in itself to kick-off with. I could assess from most words what they meant, since I know the source text pretty well, it being my own introduction. ☺
Germano vizitas usonanon en Usono. – A German visists an American in the US.
Homoj tra la lando parolas Esperanton – People across the country speak Esperanto.
Hodiaŭ mi vizitas Nordamerikon. – Today a North-American visits me. Today I’m visiting North-America.
Ĉu vi estas en Nordameriko? – Are you in North-America?
Eŭropanoj ŝatas Italion. – Europeans like Italians. Italy.
Then I spoke Spanish like a local
Being a guiri in Málaga, I was looking for a gym. That brought along quite some talking to find, compare and arrange a contract. I also had various convos with people working and visiting the gym that allowed me to practice Spanish at a higher (or at least more speedy) level. So staying here for a longer period now definitely contributed to my experience being immersed in Spanish language and culture.
Yesterday I listened to my introductory phrases in over 10 languages again, on the new app I’m making.
To practice my languages, I watch and read the news from various countries today.
Comencé el día viendo rtve con una entrevista del filósofo Darío Sztajnszrajber. Me pregunté de donde viene su appelido, que del escrito de dos veces sz se parece polaco. En su página en wikipedia encontré que es un nombre judío. Buscando al significado del nombre ‘escritor en pierna’ que es muy interesante (para un filósofo) me víno un momento Eureka que tiene que ser Yiddish, así que se parece al alemán Stein (piedra) y Schreiber (escritor). Que guay, no? Luego seguí las noticias de España sobre un otro muerte afroamericano a manos de un policía en los EEUU.
Hearing that horrible news about another police killing of an unarmed black man Rayshard Brooks in the US, I switched to American news channels to see such as CNN. NBC (below) and Fox News would report about the shooting, the removal of the police officer, the involved officer, heavy protests in Atlanta, its mayor’s reaction, police chief resignation, who from his work.
Sedan tittade jag Nyheter på lätt svenska på att lära mig lite svenska för att lära känna de viktigaste inhemska nyheterna. Det tycktes vara återöppningen av Norges och Finlands gränser för utlänningar utom för grannländerna i Sverige.
China schien die Corona-Pandemie überwunden zu haben. Doch jetzt sorgen neue Infektionen in Peking für Unruhe, Absperrungen und Schulschließungen. Diese und weitere Nachrichten des Tages in den ZDFheute-Nachrichten um 19 Uhr. Das zweite Nachricht über Brasilien hat mich an den brasilianischen Nachrichten weitergeleitet.
Brazilian news in Portuguese
O Ministério da Saúde atualizou para oito o número dos casos suspeitos no Brasil. Em Anápolis, em Goiás, os brasileiros que estão em isolamento continuam sem apresentar sintomas.
That’s it for me today. I’m already thinking about integrating items like these in another polyglot news edition.
Only Dutch speakers can understand this blog title, when translating each of the four components back to Dutch individually. I’ll help out the other 99.69% of world citizens who don’t speak Dutch as a native (24 million speakers) or second (5 mln) language. The word little dear lord animal literally translates to Dutch lieveheersbeestje. And that correctly translates to a super friendly ladybug. 🐞
Yesterday and today I’ve continued testing the written and spoken texts for my language learning app. I decided to read translations into 32 languages and listened to 24 audio recordings of them. This was merely to test how the sentences were built up, pronounced and displayed in the app. I read my personal introductions in 20 languages today and listened to 7 audio recordings. I focused on transliterating hebrew letters when reading Yiddish. Knowing German that’s a much language to be introduced to the alphabet rather than Ivrit, for now. ☺
Other than that I taught Dutch to students yesterday and will continue to do so again today. So that’s enough L2 for now!
Why was I blogging again? Ah, yeah, right: language learning!
I sometimes forget to post on here. I started to use my google sheet again and pieces of paper that are floating around the house, until I realized why I started these blog posts: to help me learn languages and keep track of them, while reaching out to other learners online! Those go hand in hand: when I keep track of my language learning efforts somewhere visible and in a structured way, I’m more inclined to continue the learning process every day so I can reach my goals. And blogging on here helps me because it is visible for others too. Of course I know it’s tricking myself, but if I share my commitment with others, I sort of feel a stronger driving force to follow-up on it.
The past years I’ve been using Google sheets to keep a structured log track of my daily practice in various languages. It served its purpose for many days throughout a long period of time. And I enjoyed adding new entries each time after listening to French radio, Spanish news on the background or when actively reading an article in Italian or doing a Duolingo Swedish exercise. I kept track of all my language learning and practicing. I tried many methods, from apps to books, teachers, following media, (video) chatting, meetups. Really, anything!
But I’m going to share with you the biggest secret in successful language learning. Topping the purpose-of-life-question in my mind is the question ‘What is the best way to learn a language?’ And after trying every possible way for over 10 languages for over 30 years I can only say: the one that works for you, that best connects your heart and mind.
What is the best way to learn a language?
answer to trick(y) question: the one that you maintain.
The sheet helps me, but I always need a new challenge and some external force, so I started to blog on here since 3 weeks and started with this app last weekend. While testing the first phrases in 24 of the app languages, I am learning more about the structure of those languages. I already played back the pronunciation in 13 of those languages, ranging from once or twice for new languages, like Indonesian or Polish, in which it’s too difficult at this point to understand much, until six times for Swedish or Portuguese, that I’ve already listened to a lot. On the app screenshot on the left you can see how I added the voice clip on top of the Swedish phrase page. This way I can listen to the correct pronunciation, read along with the text while practicing my personal introduction.
Next, I’m going to repeat the same introductory phrases from yesterday to move things into long-term memory. After, I’m going to write a second personal phrase text about languages. Then I’ll have it translated to all languages and integrate them into the app, so when they’re ready, I’ll be able to listen to those too in all my target languages. While I’m finishing today’s post, I’m accompanied by a flying visitor who thinks this is a bee hotel and I’m thinking why are those things actually called a bee hotel and not an AirBeeAndBee?
The past few days I continued my daily ‘efforts’ listening to the news in French, Spanish, German, Italian and Swedish, while practicing a few sentences in those languages with people I met during the Polyglot Gathering 2020. Further on, I mostly worked on a new language learning app, that I will share more about in a bit (cliffhanger!) I started today, like many others, on this multilingual multi-screen page, I’m listening to the Spanish news about the demonstrations in relation to the tragic death of George Floyd and of course, the continuous reopening of everything worldwide after national lockdowns. As I need some active practice, I decided to write this in the target language.
40 May Learning Spanish while listening to the Spanish news and weather
El hombre del tiempo he escuchado mencionar 40 de mayo. No entendí bien la frase, entonces lo busqué.
Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo.
refranero español para designar una fecha avanzada de la primavera en la que hace buen tiempo. Se refiere al 9 de junio.
Tal y como se hace referencia en la época en que desaparece completamente el tiempo invernal por el más cercano al veraniego, se apunta también acerca de la necesidad de prevenir los constipados por desabrigo. Igualmente es una frase periodística relacionada con la meteorología usada en medios de comunicación escrita, al igual que televisivos.
“Y si eres de Albacete, hasta el 47”
Se suele contestar de manera jocosa al refrán con esta frase. En alusión a las bajas temperaturas que se alcanzan en esta ciudad.
Learning Catalan listening to the news on TV – an interesting bilingual moment
Després d’haver escoltat les notícies sobre Tapero, La fiscalia, el jutge i el rei, pause l’emissió de tve a la mateixa pàgina, i sigué amb Canal 324 per escoltar les notícies en català. El que em va agradar era un interviu meitat espanyol, meitat català. L’escriptor i periodista argentina es resideix a Espanya i treballa al Diari Ara i a El País i és col·laborador assidu a ràdio i televisió. Crec que són molt interessants els emissions bilingües.
Learning Swedish listening to the news – false friend parliament sounds like minority
Längst ner på samma sida flerspråkig nyhetssida Jag klickade på länken till Nyheter Direkt eftersom jag lär mig svenska ett tag nu. Jag behövde leta upp detta ord folkhälsomyndigheten. Jag hade förstått från sitt sammanhang att det betraktade det svenska parlamentet, men förstod inte den del myndighet som för mig att vara holländare lät som en minoritet, något oväntat i en sådan mening.
Googling av den etymologiska konstruktionen av ordet, wikipedia på franska om det svenska och norska kognat myndig berättade för mig att det betyder majeur från latin major, vilket är intressant som i holländska minder– (heden) är faktiskt en minoritet, istället för en majoritet. Så detta är definitivt en falsk vän för mig!
I går kväll såg jag ett annat avsnitt av Bron med min pojkvän. Serien har dialoger på både svenska och danska.
I also want to learn Polish, Portuguese and Chinese. We need a serious approach.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you can tell that I’m following a somewhat different approach when it comes to learning languages. Not only am I heavily dependent on an auto-didactic method, I’m also eager to learn multiple languages during this period (and ever after, if you listen to my heart). So a serious plan is needed. That’s why I have been thinking of a new language learning method for a while now, trying out various tools.
This back-end translation tool that I am using for the app source text has been built by a developer. Being an AI graduate, specialized in NLP (Natural Language Processing) we have observed the recent developments in machine translation and followed various products of different quality. The algorithm and data set behind the tool that we’re using delivers the highest possible machine translations, definitely a few levels up from the current Google Translate quality, based on our own findings and what I’m getting back from tests with native speakers so far. Therefore the use of this tool that can translate to over a hundred languages can be a great base for this language learning app.
So not only do I intend to use it to help me learn all my current and future target languages, I am creating an app for other learners too. The didactic value is based on a higher relevance of sentences than the typical Duolingo exercises are known for, as I’m using phrases to introduce myself and as I’m creating some fun stories and other texts using the 1,000 most common words in any language. It will have an audio component as well which allows users to listen to the text while reading along. From the sound one can hear that it’s a machine, like from any NLP product so far, but at least the pronunciation is correct.
I’ll give you a peek backstage, or really at the back-end translation tool, so this is what it looks for me as admin. This is the text that is then copied as a source text for the learning app.
It’s using the highest possible quality machine translations that from tests so far show a natural syntax and word use. Sometimes, it’s not as good with punctuation and accenting, but I am looking at ways to work with that. I’m now running more tests with two example texts that I’ve written to further determine the possible didactic value while at the same time improving the design.
These and follow-up texts are of two kinds: in the form of a typical introduction/presentation and others in story shape. The former (shown above) consist of lines that I’d be using in a typical dialogue, in this first example an introductory meeting, the latter (screenshots below) comprise of useful wording to describe the world around us. I was fed up with unnatural, boring lines without context in language learning apps such as The chair is next to the yellow table followed by It’s raining in the United States. My stories should be fun to read, while users learn at the same time. A future vocabulary builder will introduce possible new words, while formerly introduced words will be repeated in the story at the necessary pace to memorize them.
Both the useful phrases as well as the stories that I’m currently filling the app with are written in normal, natural language, though taking into account the beginner’s level. This doesn’t just make sense as a natural starting point start for many language learners who want to read the stories and learn from the phrases. It’s also the level that I personally would like to reach for multiple languages. Listen to the spoken language from the first story in Dutch.
The other icons at the bottom are currently just there for design purposes and don’t have a functionality behind it yet. But possibly I’ll include nice music, interesting podcasts, useful study material and up-to-date news sources in later versions to practice listening and/while reading. Other future uses could be user interaction about the text, audio and video sources and lessons, to also practice writing and potentially even speaking in order to practice the active components of their target language(s). I love working on this app because of the machine translation technique behind it, the design, the creation of stories and phrases in a didactic way, as well as the linguistic diversity and possible future tasks. But above all, I love being able to just open that app on my phone whenever and wherever I am to read and listen to those phrases and stories in my target languages. So that’s what I’ll be doing next!
Last night I watched this Danish documentary on youtube with both Danish and English subtitles. This morning I watched the news in English and Dutch only, cause I didn’t want to bore my boyfriend with Spanish again. I went to the language school, where I taught Dutch during a private session. We set some learning goals for her. After my lesson, I decided to equally set some clear language learning goals for myself too.
I also created an account on Tandem, an app for language exchanges. I tried out some German, Swedish, Portuguese and Chinese. Today I decided to download the app, so I can have video calls and record audio too.
I am writing in German to and reading messages from a guy I met there. This afternoon I did my second of the 30 day daily challenge to learn, writing Swedish text and recording audio in the whatsapp group that I made after the polyglot conference.☺ I also listened to ten versions of the Russian song Ochi chernye.
After, I watched a few songs to learn basic Chinese for kids or adults that feel like kids to say hi and how are you. I became a huge fan right away. They’re hilarious, give it a shot if you’re a complete beginner and want to sing or laugh. Then I used this Chrome browser plugin to learn languages watching Netflix. I tried it on for the Russian movie Sparta. The add on also shows you a catalogue of productions in your target language and area. Very useful! I’ll review the plugin thoroughly one day. Tomorrow I want to create my own useful phrases for all my target languages.