Language Learning Update: French and German

I’ve not posted lately, so I figured I’d write a short entry to document where I’m at learning wise:

French

I’m now on lesson 88 of Assimil’s New French with Ease. If you remember my last post about this, it’s clear I’m not doing the recommended one lesson per day. I know, I know – I’m supposed to. But in these later lessons, I’ve found that I prefer to spend more time with them, as what’s being covered in lesson 85, for example, is much more complicated than what was covered in lesson 30. I’ve also been going back and doing the active wave, mostly as the program recommends.

For the active wave, I first listen to the audio two or three times. I then read the French text as I listen to it again. Then I cover up the French and try to translate from the English back to the target language. When I stumble during this step (and I almost always do), I refer to the text again. I then recite the sentence without looking at the text. After I’ve done this with all of the lesson, I sometimes will translate from English to French again, but instead of speaking it, I’ll write it out and then check my translation against the French in the book.

This obviously takes a bit longer than what Assimil recommends for the active wave, but I’ve found that by really engaging myself with the material, rather than just doing a cursory run-by, I learn far more. I noted that in lesson 50, when the course instructed me to begin the active wave, it was stated that the active wave would “only add about 5 minutes to my daily studying.” My way takes more like 15 or 20, but, like I said – it seems more effective.

When I’m done with French with Ease, I have Using French on my shelf, waiting for me. Once I finish with French with Ease, though, I’m also going to start systematically enlarging my vocabulary. Perhaps I’ll check out Using French Vocabulary, the sister title to Using German Vocabulary, which I’ve been using for a while now.

German

There’s not a great deal to report in regards to my German learning. I’m still plugging away at Using German Vocabulary. I’m still using Anki, but I’ve also started experimenting with Iversen’s word list method. When I first read about the method in the How To Learn Any Language forums, I thought it sounded pretty awful. But after trying it, I must say – it seems to work. I’ve talked with Iversen via the forum, and I think he’s right – waiting until you “know” 5-7 words before you write the translations seems more effective than learning 1 word, writing it, learning another word, etc. I may start learning words initially with the word list method to get them into my memory, and then move them over to Anki.

I’ve largely seen success in adding word pairs to Anki, minus a few cards here and there, most of which I get wrong because they’re so similar. I’ve added context to troublesome cards, which amounts to maybe 15 or 20 cards. Considering I’ve added close to 1500 words from Using German Vocabulary, 15 or 20 troublemakers doesn’t seem too bad. 🙂