A Few Things

A few things that I’d like to update about:

German at college

I dropped the German class at college which I posted about previously. The professor finally added the textbook he wants to use at the online bookstore, and he ended up choosing an awful one. I checked out reviews at amazon.com, and both teachers and students hated it. The idea of slogging through a beginner’s German class with a bunch of students who hate what they’re working with… well, that doesn’t sound like much fun. The book also costs $130, which is outrageous. I’ve found excellent language learning texts for $12-$15. $130 is highway robbery.

Assimil French

I’m still slowly working through Assimil’s French course, and am up to lesson 92 in the passive wave. I’ve not been skipping days, but rather, spending more time on these last few lessons; the language in them is much more complicated than earlier lessons, and while I can understand it if I read it while listening, I’m still not able to catch everything by listening alone.

Using a digital voice recorder for language learning

I read an interesting idea yesterday about using a digital voice recorder for learning foreign languages (among other things). The original author puts it quite well, so I’ll let him speak for himself:

As I’ve mentioned in previous podcasts, I’m learning and practicing a bunch of foreign languages, so I’m using this minutes scale audiodidact to help with that by alternating the language I use every day for my 7 minute recording. Although I might lose a little in terms of profundity of thought in a foreign language, it’s a great way to actually practice speaking the language. And you have this record of your progress (at least hopefully there’s progress). My dream is that years from now I’ll be able to listen to some of my earliest recordings of me speaking Hebrew or french, contrast them with my latest, and be amazed at the progress I’ve made. We’ll see. My foreign language topics tend to be a little more mundane than my English language ones. I might just describe what I’m seeing around me in the room I’m in. I might just do a common scenario, like an introduction, talking about myself, my wife, my kid, my cats, etc. And when I listen to it I can hear what I need to work on most.

I thought this sounded like a really neat idea. Much more natural than writing out what you’d say, and, as he mentions, you have a record of what you said and how you said it. If you don’t know a word, you can just drop the English (or your native language) word in, and then look up the word later, when reviewing your recordings.

He also points out that when you’re speaking to a digital recorder, it doesn’t feel quite so weird as standing alone in your bedroom, talking to yourself. You have an audience – even if it is a piece of machinery.

I’m definitely going to give this a try.

By |2008-08-07T06:54:19+00:00August 7th, 2008|All Entries, Language Journal, Language Learning|3 Comments


  1. Ramses August 7, 2008 at 8:24 am - Reply

    If I were you, I wouldn’t worry too much about dropping your German class. Although I’m majoring Spanish in college, I don’t like all of my classes (best part of it is that I get some quality time speaking to a native an being corrected, the explanations just suck most of the time (other than the corrections, those are nice to have).

    About the recording: it’s a great thing to do. I’m actually always talking to myself when no one’s around (No, I’m not schizophrenic or something, hehe, it’s just something I do), and from time to time I record myself with Audacity to check my progress. Keeping those files and listening to them later can be a big motivator, especially when you feel down and you’re at a point in your study that you feel worthless about your progress.

  2. Ben August 7, 2008 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Hi Steve,

    My name is Ben Valembois. I wanted to let you know that our website, http://www.lexiophiles.com, has complied a ranking of the best 100 language blogs, and your blog in number 10 in our list!
    We have joined a brief description of your blog to the entry on our list, and we would like to invite you to visit the web page and check that this description is accurate. If it is not, please tell us, and we will modify it. Feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

  3. Josh August 7, 2008 at 12:22 pm - Reply


    Yeah, I’m not worried at all about the class, actually. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn’t crazy about attending to begin with!

    Thanks for the input about the recording.

    Ben: Thanks! I’m honored. My name’s Josh, though, not Steve. 🙂

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