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...

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