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.
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.