Sunday, January 25, 2015

Learning Spanish - week 8

This week was mostly spent on learning through reading news. Main purpose was acquiring new words. I found two good news portals and read 2-3 articles every day on various topics.
For this I used a program Foreign Language Text Reader (FLTR) (the screenshot if from it). It is very similar to LWT, which I described ~a year ago. For me this program is even better than LWT; of course there are some disadvantages, but they aren't really important for me:

  • Though it is local (now web) I can use it from several computers by placing the program in Dropbox;
  • No audio support - don't care, can use my local media player;
  • Little statistics, just word count - anyway I don't use it;
  • Can't test words in the program - don't care as I use Anki;
  • And for for benefits. It is fast, free and supports all languages;
  • Flexible template customizing, which allows to export data in a file, which can be imported to Anki;
  • Easy to manage data - texts and words;

The only problem of all these programs is word forms: different forms of a word are analyzed as different words.
It is understandable - each language has it's own rules of words' changing. It would be necessary to program separate logic for each language. And even in that case there will be problems - in many languages one word can belong to one of several parts of speech depending on context (for example, "I filed the cards in alphabetical order" and "I order new clothes every year").
I almost accepted this inconvenience, but by chance I found an elegant solution... for Japanese. You input a verb and the program generates all its forms. The result can be exported to FLTR. This way all the verb forms will be marked and translated.
I wondered how was it done - maybe the program uses functionality from some website and shows the result. Maybe I could use it for Spanish. So I looked into the code - it wasn't what I expected. The author just described grammar rules with code: he coded the rules of verbs' conjugation for each possible case. No luck for me.

So now I just make notes for new words and don't spend time on making cards for different forms of known words.

So two months of studying Spanish passed.
During these days I was able to build a good foundation for studying Spanish language. I know enough grammar and words to read news on random topics with a moderate comprehension. Now only more immersion and practice is necessary. Several next weeks will be spent on reading news and articles. Then I'll read more books. And on one of my bookshelves "Cien años de soledad" is waiting. The journey to the depths of Spanish language is only beginning...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Learning Spanish - week 7

Finished this book. It was really interesting: intricate story, memorable characters, nice ending and so on.
Listening to the Spanish audio book while reading English text is really useful. I learned a lot of new words and phrases. Also i was able to notice flaws in translation: errors in certain phrases, missing sentences, misinterpretations and others mistakes. I hope one day to read this novel again and in Spanish.
In the following week I am going to try read newspapers. I have already tried it - rather difficult, but definitely not impossible.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Learning Spanish - week 6

This week I also practiced Spanish mostly by reading parallel texts while listening to audio.
I found a good site with several ready to use parallel texts with audio. It's a pity that only beginner and intermediate texts have audio. Nevertheless they are quite useful.
Also after acquiring some foundation and immersion I decided to try something more challenging. So I found the Spanish text of "La sombra del viento" and it's English translation (The Shadow of the Wind) as well as Spanish audio-book. This novel is a worldwide bestseller. It's quite big for a language learner - ~300 paged and 19+ hours of audio. But the more the better :)
As of now I went through the first third of the book. Naturally at first it was quite difficult, but the process is becoming more smooth and now I'm beginning to enjoy the book. This way of learning is quite fun.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Learning Spanish - week 5

During this week I tried to immense in Spanish more. Again method Listening-Reading was used.
I decided to try Harry Potter again as this book can be easily found in many languages. So English and Spanish ebooks and Spanish audio book (this was tricky to find, but i succeeded in the end). I have listened to this audiobook while reading the English version. Sometimes I have read Spanish version to check whether I have heard certain words correctly.
This was really effective so I'm going to continue using this method for some time.