What am I doing, language-wise?

I’ve not posted about how my language learning is going for a while now, so here’s the obligatory update.

My German is going extremely well. It’s mostly just an activity of vocabulary acquisition at this point. I’m familiar with all of the grammar, and can read most things with a bit of help from a dictionary. I’m still working on my listening comprehension, by regularly listening to German podcasts and audiobooks. I’m slowly chipping away at the German version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, Harry Potter und der Stein der Weisen.

I’ve shuffled my learning plan around some in regards to Russian. I was initially just working with the texts I have, Russian for Beginners (Duff) and New Penguin Russian Course (Brown). While I was making so-so progress with them, I felt like I wasn’t really learning how to say anything. So, I’ve added in a final element, which comes with a huge amount of audio: the Princeton Russian course. I posted about this previously, and sadly, it appears Princeton has taken the course material down. However, I downloaded it all when it was available. I’m listening to one dialogue a day, repeatedly, until I understand it in full. I’ve already found that I was overpronouncing a lot of things, in particular, the y soft sound on е, ё, etc. Despite my efforts, I’m still finding that my progress with Russian is much, much slower than my progress was when I started learning German. However, I think from listening to the dialogues regularly from the Princeton course, I’m starting to get a better feel for the language.

Finally, I’ve decided to throw another language onto my list: French. I’m using the Assimil course, New French with Ease, and am loving every minute of it. For those not familiar with Assimil, the setup of the course is thus:

You have the audio portion, and the book. The audio is all in the target language. In the book, you have a transcript of each lesson on one side of the page, and the translation on the opposite page. There are also grammar and vocabulary notes for each lesson, but these are generally kept relatively short. You go at the material in two waves: the first passive, the second active. You do the first 50 or so lessons passively, simply listening and repeateding the audio, and making sure you understand all of it. Once you’ve reached lesson 50 or thereabouts, you go back to the beginning of the book, and go through the lessons “actively”, doing the exercises and translating from English to French. While doing this, you obviously continue on with the passive phase until you reach the end of the course. I’m about 10 lessons into the course now, and I really like it. I wish I’d started learning German with the Assimil course. I’d nab the Russian course, but they don’t offer a new version, at least not with English as the base version. I guess there’s not much market right now for English-speaking people wanting to learn Russian.

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