Sunday, October 23, 2011

I like this time in blogging...

You know when you start blogging and not many have found your blog...
I feel like I could still change everything, make the posts better, arrange them better, make them more clear and such things. I don't think I will, though, because this is what it is. This is what I have written. I am a bit overwhelming with all the information and jumping from one thing to another...


I need to get this 52 in 52 in better shape. When it comes to such vigorous challenges, it is better to be better prepared, to have a plan, a structure, everything ready. It is sort of like running a marathon. You better not do it cold turkey.

I am lucky because I'm sick. It gives me a lot of time to study what ever I want.

I am wondering if mind mapping and sentence mining would help me in this... does it speed up learning of languages?

Anki doesn't. I wonder if that is because I decided it won't... I don't think so... They say it's the SRS (space repetition system)  is what makes Anki so good, but I have that with my flashcards.

Okay, this is how I do flashcards

I take a piece of ordinary printer paper and fold it in two and rip, fold in two and rip, over and over again, until I have divided the paper into 16 small pieces. This can be done with anything, my paper guillotine isn't very good, though, so I get different sizes of papers and that is a bit annoying.
I could do only 8 pieces, and just fold them in two, not rip, to have more space for things like sample sentences, pronunciation or other information I think is necessary. I am lazily planning on using this to declination/conjugation.

I write the word - in the form it is in a dictionary - on one side of the paper, flip it over and write the translation in the form that benefits me most on one side. It can be in a language that helps me make the association so that I understand the word, it can be a combination of words, a picture, what ever works. Usually I try to keep them clean and tidy, and just write the dictionary definition of the word or expression.

I write words, expressions, phrases, idioms, what ever. I try to break up the latter into words.
For example "il y a" = il - the subject "it"; y - the adverbial pronoun "there" and a - the third person singular present tense of avoir - "to have"
I would also add flashcards for
the Finnish demonstrative pronouns; "tämä, tuo, se, nämä, nuo, ne"
personal pronouns in the way they are declined, usually following the Finnish "minä, sinä, hän, me, te, he" - in French it would be "je, tu, il/elle/on, nous, vous, ils/ons" (because "on, ons" is a sort of personal pronoun that declines as il and elle. In German the last word on the list would be Sie, because it declines like they.)
and the word pair "here - there", which in Finnish are ordinary cases of words "tämä" and "tuo". Then I would add the declination of "avoir" in "minä, sinä, hän..." in present tense.
I would also add the other such pronouns as the language had them.
So you could end up with a pile of some 15 cards, just with "il y a".

I would like to mark the cards with the language so that I will remember in the future which language it is - because I am not very organized, so I end up having a box of flashcards that all look the same. I usually just throw them away, but that's not a good thing to do, because the flashcards can be used as a dictionary, and they are some sort of measurement of my vocabulary. Of course, when I get to the point where I need to check about a word on every page I won't be using flashcards anymore, so I wouldn't ever end up with like tens of thousands of flashcards. :-D
Mark the language on both sides (because I write the "translation" in Finnish, Swedish, English, French or Germans, and sometimes even other languages.)
I don't usually do this, because it takes too much time and stops the flow if you need to scribble three letters in the lower corner of the card... stupid, huh? :-D

Nothing fancy, weird or amazing so far :-D Not going to come either. It's just that there are actually people who don't know how to use flashcards. So, tallyho!

I end up with a pile of about 50-200 flashcards. This is how I use them:

I have this pile of flashcards (or papers) in a small pouch in my pocket or bag all the time. Every time I get time, like when waiting for a bus or train, sitting in the bus or train, waiting in slow lines, you know, every moment you can't do anything but wait, I get the pouch up and start going through the cards.

I keep the cards in my hand, and read one side. I try to remember, guess, know, what on the other side. If I am 100% certain, if I was correct, I put the card between my index and middle finger of the same hand that's holding the cards. If I was not, I put it last in the pile. I go through the cards, one by one, and end up with two piles.
(If I am interrupted, I put the cards in my pouch cross-wise, so that they won't get mixed. The pouch is just big enough to have the cards in both directions.)
When I'm done, I put the pile I knew back in the pouch, and repeat this with the other pile, as many times as necessary for me to know the words. (This is where the SRS comes in to play. I get the repetition within the exercise, and the harder the word, the more repetition I get. Simple.)

When there's only about 10 cards in the pile, I start using mnemonic techniques actively.

Before that I was using them unconsciously.
For example; don't change the order of the cards... your mind doesn't mind what it uses to hang the memory on. It doesn't matter that you hang on the word "chapeau" on "chat", because those two followed each other in your flashcard pile. At this moment it's okay to remember cat in hat and both words when you need only one of them. You will probably do it the rest of your life, but believe me, when you actually KNOW the words, it won't slow you down, as some people are saying. It is okay to remember the Albanian word for "day before yesterday" (pardje) together with yesterday (dje), and "day after tomorrow" (pasnesër) with "tomorrow" (nesër). (You will also learn "par" - before, "pas" - after).
(Today is 'sot' - soot in Swedish, fool in both English and French... not to be mixed with sod, which is a little different kind of an idiot, except in Breton. ;-) In Finnish "war" is "sota, in Estonian "sõda", and "sota" in Spanish is supposed to be the jack of cards (or 'insolent woman') coming from the same word as French 'sous' and Italian 'sotto' - sub, below, under... Hmm... Black soldier playing Black Jack with a chimney sweep... "I can't today, I'm having a Black Jack night" (and I wrote that 'knight' LOL)
You see how my mind works?
I also hang the words 'mungojnë' (missing, absent) to St. Mungo's hospital from Harry Potter, and 'mundohem' (try, toil, agonize) to Mundo Cani dog from the Book of the Dun Cow.

When I remember all the cards, I go through the whole pile a couple more times. There will be a couple of words I have forgotten, but that's just "SRS" :-D

Then I turn the pile around and do the same, this time from start language to target language.

After that I repeat the whole procedure a couple of days, then once a week, then perhaps once a month.

Now, learning vocabulary is not the end in itself. Words are tools, and collecting tools just to have them in a toolbox and never use them, is rather stupid, even for an Aspie like me.
You see, words are living creatures, and you feed them by using them. If you don't feed them they die. You will forget them. Of course it might be easier to relearn something you have forgotten than something you have never known, but you have to work on it anyway. If you use them, you will remember them without any difficulties and be able to use to hang more memories on... So even if you "just" collect words, use them, or you will lose them... and what is a collector with an empty collection?

So I haven't been just working with Estonian this week. (I haven't been working much with Estonian either...)
I have been thinking about Albanian as well. Repeating numbers, making some sentences, looking at some recipes and so on.

I have noticed that I need to look up the basic word; infinitive of the verb or nominative of the noun. I need to look at the word families. I really need to pick the idioms and phrases in pieces. I need to know Estonian "palun" (please, you're welcome) means "I beg". I need to understand the language to be able to learn it.
"Interestingly, palun itself has grammaticalized into a pragmatic particle from a verb form 'I beg' and it also occurs as a question preface, as in palun kuhu te elistate 'please/excuse me, where are you calling?'"
- Ritva Laury, Ryoko Suzuki; Subordination in conversation: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective

Repeating phrases, learning things by heart like your line in a play, seeing language studies like acting works for some people, and really wonderfully. (There is a Finnish actor, Heikki Kinnunen, who starred a Russian language course for Finnish television. He said he doesn't know a word of Russian, he just learned his lines by heart and repeated them. I don't think that's quite true... you can't much do things like that without SOMETHING fastening. But - I believe that can be very useful. I do speak with Scottish accent after watching Gargoyles :-D

BTW, this woman is "not black". She's Hispanic and speaks Spanish... they say. Not only blind, but deaf and dumb too, those people :-)
just a note here... This is Leila Lopes, she is Angolan, and her skin color is obvious to anyone with eyes. Her parents might have been Cuban, but there are black people in Cuba as well. On the video she speaks Portuguese, not Spanish.

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