Reader questions, part three! Here we talk about the later stages of the language learning process - what C1 fluency means, some of the pros and cons of immersion programs, how to teach using these methods, etc.
Q: How long does it take to reach C1 traditionally (in school)? Did you reach C1 before or after immersion at Middlebury? A: No idea! I took 5 years of Russian in school and maybe reached A2. I think most people have the same experience. At the Austrian school I teach at, students have half of their classes taught in English for 8 years, and at the end of it, some of them are near C1.
This might be for a somewhat small audience, but if you have a jailbroken iPhone, there’s a great $2 app in the Cydia store that lets you customize a 5-row, 41 character keyboard (and if you really want to go nuts with it, you can set it up with 82 characters, taking advantage of the shift key).
This tutorial will explain how to set this keyboard up to make a Russian Phonetic keyboard layout, which doesn’t seem to exist on the iPhone at all.
Part two in Reader Q&A, we’ll talk about the order that you should learn things.
Q: I got one of the Pronounce it Perfectly Books. How do I use it with your approach? Should I learn the base vocabulary concurrently? A: I’d follow the book and put the spelling rules into my Anki deck (so words ending in ‘ou’ are pronounced /u/, and words ending in û are pronounced /y/, for example). At the point where you can easily hear the differences between words (between roux and rue, for example), and you know what to expect from a given spelling, then start adding words to your Anki deck in a hurry. At that point, you’ll know how to say 95% of the words you encounter, and if you look a word up in a dictionary and discover that it has an irregular pronunciation, then you can add that pronunciation to your Anki deck.
I’ve been getting some really great questions via the contact form, and I thought some of the answers might be helpful for others, so I’m taking some of the questions and answers and putting them here! Today we’ll cover a few questions regarding grammar.
Q: How do you use Anki to work on grammar?
A: Most of the time, I use fill-in-the-blank style cards - the sort of stuff you’d see in any grammar workbook (in fact, I usually just copy a few examples from whatever grammar workbook I end up buying):
Front: Right now, he (to walk) to school. Back: Right now, he is walking to school.
Front: Right now, he is walking ___ school. Back: Right now, he is walking to school.
Q: What about verb conjugations? Do you do conjugation tables?
I wrote an article for Benny at Fluentin3Months.com about the opera singer perspective and what it has to offer to the language learning community. Check it out!
Dropping Barriers: What opera singers study, and how it can help you learn languages easier
There’s another guest post in the works, and I’ll post a link here as soon as it’s up!
Other updates: • Small addition to the Other Languages section - added a wonderful Portuguese frequency list for the first 350 words, with numerous example sentences.
• Added links to Forvo and Rhinospike as pronunciation resources.
• Added links to Linguee for English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. It’s a really neat dictionary service that provides tons of example sentences and tells you about a given word’s frequency. I wish it was available for Russian! (Anyone have any good Russian dictionaries, especially monolingual ones? When a word’s not well described in Wiktionary, I’m kind of out of options)
• Fixed the email subscription widget - anyone who subscribed prior to today isn’t on the email list; sorry! Please subscribe again - it’s working now.
Video News: The last English Pronunciation and International Phonetic Alphabet video is done! Check it out here (or directly on YouTube). Future videos plans in the short term include: French/German/Italian Pronunciation. Medium term: Russian Pronunciation. Longer term: Who knows!
Pronunciation Help: Once you’ve seen the vowel video, you can use these charts to compare your target language’s vowels to your own vowels.
Book News: We’re represented! The wonderful Lisa DiMona at Lark Productions is representing the book, and the final final proposal is just about ready!
Site Updates: A few minor repairs, corrections and organizational fixes. Added StumbleUpon buttons (go click them! Yay!). A reader found a nice concise Spanish pronunciation guide that I’ve added to the Spanish section. I’ve found some neat Chinese resources (for learning tones and entering characters), and I’ve put them up on the Learn Mandarin Chinese page.