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German: massive input in Berlin

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Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3308 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 217 of 295
04 December 2014 at 7:31pm | IP Logged 
It is not a question of scale. Everything is unfortunatelly being dubbed here as well and
there used to be good quality dubbing (the Red Dwarf dubbed in the 90's is just as fun as
the original, just one exemple of many). But the conditions (especially the time spent on
each dubbing) have worsened so much during the last years even the dubbing actors are
complaining.

It is sad there are no good German tv shows. The native ones are always more demanding
than dubbings and they are good motivation. There are awesome French and Spanish ones, I
am a little bit disappointed German popular culture is falling behind in this aspect.
Scandinavia has a much smaller tv market yet you say their tv series are better and more
popular than the original German ones. That is a little bit of a paradox.
1 person has voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 218 of 295
04 December 2014 at 9:00pm | IP Logged 
The next 7000 words

At this point my best guesstimate is that I know about 7500 words of German, enough to read about 98% of an average book.

This is obviously great, but there are still lots and lots of words I don't know, which creates stumbling blocks as I read. One of my main goals at this point is to get my reading up to around 99%, which unfortunately means learning another 6000-7000 words. I am confident that by simply extensively reading a lot I would achieve this over the course of a few years.

However, I want to try to speed things up a little by using Anki.

When I first used Anki I created lots of word and sentence cards, with both L1 > L2 as well as L2 > L1 variants. To make things harder the L2 cards contained both gender and plural forms of the words, which I needed to get correct if I was to pass a card, and because I thought every word must be learnt I basically set the Leech threshold at infinity. And because I didn't have any automatic way of generating SRS cards I typed out or cut-and-pasted sentences out of the Kindle or from the web - which probably meant that about half the time I spent on Anki was from generating cards, not from practising them.

What finally killed Anki for me was the shear volume of new words I was experiencing as I started reading. I could learn perhaps 20-30 cards a day, but I was seeing perhaps 200 new words/day. When I realised that one week's worth of reading created more than three months worth of Anki cards I decided to stop using Anki and just rely on reading to pick-up new vocabulary. This has been surprisingly effective, but now that I am getting more and more into low-frequency word territory it's getting harder and harder to see the words sufficiently often to learn them quickly.

Passive not Active learning

Previously, what I think I wanted with Anki was to learn a whole lot of words that I could be able to use actively in speech and writing. My aim now is much more modest I want to simply learn lots of words passively, so I can understand words in context as I read. Once I am at this passive stage of reading, simply continuing to read will bootstrap my knowledge of words into an active level over time.

So there is no need to generate L1 > L2 cards, and there is no need for the L2 cards to test for gender or for the plural form of the word. All I need are cards where the question is the sentence, with the relevant word to be learnt highlighted, and the answer is the translated word.

Lots of cards, lots of suspension/deletions

I also don't need to learn all these words at once - I just need to learn lots of words. So getting rid of the hard words quickly is fine as I can deal with them later, especially if this means I can learn lots of easy words in the meantime.

To this end I have set the leech threshold on Anki at 4. I've also sent the initial time interval at 7 days, rather than the default 1 day, and the minimum time between cards as 3 days, rather than the default 1 day. The longer delays basically act as additional filters to get rid of harder cards more quickly, while at the same time reinforcing easier cards; since longer delays between recalls produce stronger memory traces.

Automate the process

To make the generation of Anki cards much quicker I am now using two pieces of software:

(1) Firelang is an open-source extension for Firefox that offers a nice pop-up dictionary as you read the web - and allows you to import the original word, the translation, plus the context sentence into Anki. I am now using this whenever I read the web, and in particular to read articles in online newspapers, such as die Zeit.

(2) Readlang is free (20 euros/year for full service), which reads and imports ebooks in EPUB format. The interface is very clean. You simply click on words or word-phrases you don't know as you read and you'll get a Google translation of the word. If you are not happy with the translation, the word is also looked up automatically in Leo which appears in a sidebar next to the text. Readlang offers various options for exporting text to Anki (including Cloze deletion cards), but like with Firelang I am happy with just the German word, the English translation, and context sentence.

Firelang

The Microsoft translation that Firelang uses seems to be able to deal much better with the compound words that are common in German, than my PONS dictionary that I have on the Kindle, which allows me to read newspapers fairly easily. However, as I only have one translation, I get a native speaker very couple of weeks to quickly check through a list of translations before I import these into Anki to make sure everything is reasonably accurate. A typical card looks like this:

------
Q: der Demokratiebefürworter

Bislang konnten die Demokratiebefürworter keines ihrer Ziele durchsetzen. (in smaller font)

--------------------

A: the Democracy Activist
------

If I know the word without looking at the context it's marked as easy; if I know the word with context I mark it as hard; if I don't recognise the word even with context the card is marked as wrong. With this sort of set-up I can deal with 25 new cards a day, which takes me about 30 minutes. After a few weeks I feed back the suspended cards into the deck, at the rate one new suspended card every 1-2 days.

Readlang

I am using Readlang to take a brute force approach to learning words from books as I read. I find the interface nice to read from on my laptop, though my preference would be to read with the Kindle (or even a paper book!). I find about 2/3 of the translations from Google useful. One nice feature is you can translate phrases as well as individual words. As I may come across a particular unknown word multiple times while reading, I can potentially end up with multiple cards - one for each occurrence. Readlang stores all the cards from a particular book separately, and I end up with a typical card something like this:

------
Q: Trinkgelder, drückte jedem, der ihm über den Weg lief, einen Extraschein in die Hand; dann aber kam er zu der Überzeugung, dass man ihn übervorteilte, dass man ihn vielleicht sogar auslachte, und daher gibt er jetzt überhaupt kein Trinkgeld mehr.

--------------------

A: fleeced
------

There cards are even easier. I just have to read the sentence, and try to understand the highlighted word. Because the cards are easier I can do about twice as many, about 50/day, which take about 30 minutes to practice.

The first book I read using this method produced about 2400 cards out of 190000 words, which is about 1.25% of the words in the book. At my current rate it will take about 48 days to do an initial pass through a deck, which is too slow, so I am quite happily deleting any cards I don't like speed things up. I would be quite happy if I eventually end up with a deck of about 1000 cards.

So far, so good

I have only been doing this for the last month, but I already noticing some of the words I am learning in daily use, which is quite pleasing. It will be interesting to see how this progresses over the next few months.

Edited by patrickwilken on 07 December 2014 at 8:44pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 219 of 295
04 December 2014 at 9:15pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
It is not a question of scale. Everything is unfortunatelly being dubbed here as well and
there used to be good quality dubbing (the Red Dwarf dubbed in the 90's is just as fun as
the original, just one exemple of many). But the conditions (especially the time spent on
each dubbing) have worsened so much during the last years even the dubbing actors are
complaining.


I was thinking that the market, and so the amount of money being earned by the dubbing industry would be a lot higher in Germany. There must be a lot more money to be made with a German-dubbed film of Interstellar (say), than the Czech-dubbed film.

Are most films dubbed in Czech too? It's actually hard to find non-dubbed versions of films, especially if you live in smaller cities. A friend of mine, who lives in Leipzig, told that there were no cinemas that showed original language films at all in the city.

Cavesa wrote:

It is sad there are no good German tv shows. The native ones are always more demanding
than dubbings and they are good motivation. There are awesome French and Spanish ones, I
am a little bit disappointed German popular culture is falling behind in this aspect.
Scandinavia has a much smaller tv market yet you say their tv series are better and more
popular than the original German ones. That is a little bit of a paradox.


I have no real idea why that is. A total guess is that it has something to do with the federal/state structure in Germany. I recently found out that the radio station Deutschlandfunk (worth checking out for lots and lots of clear German) is actually a foreign news service, because under German law only the states are allowed to produce radio (no idea why). I suspect something similar happens for TV - so there is no BBC equivalent here. That plus the fact that people are totally used to US style programming has probably killed the TV industry here for the foreseeable future.

One of the joys of Tatort is that it is filmed and produced all over Germany by local TV stations, with lots of different styles and cultural attitudes/worries.

If you want native materials though there are lots of interesting German films to check out, beyond the usual suspects like Goodbye Lenin or Run Lola Run.

EDIT: What I said above re: German TV is false. ARD is the BBC equivalent. Have a look here for an interesting history of TV/radio in post-war Germany.

Edited by patrickwilken on 07 December 2014 at 2:26pm

1 person has voted this message useful



ijsn
Diglot
Newbie
Brazil
Joined 2043 days ago

12 posts - 19 votes
Speaks: Portuguese*, English
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 220 of 295
07 December 2014 at 4:44pm | IP Logged 
Patrick, I noticed that even though you are an advanced learner, you still use German-english dictionaries. What are your thoughts on German-german dictionaries? Many people recommend them over bilingual ones.
1 person has voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 221 of 295
07 December 2014 at 5:09pm | IP Logged 
ijsn wrote:
Patrick, I noticed that even though you are an advanced learner, you still use German-english dictionaries. What are your thoughts on German-german dictionaries? Many people recommend them over bilingual ones.


I bought the paperback version of the Langenscheidt Großwörterbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache shortly after I started learning German. It's really quite a beautiful monolingual dictionary, designed specifically for German learners.

Until you are in the B2 range monolingual dictionaries are not so accessible. I am at a point where I can read the Langenscheidt dictionary simply for pleasure, but I don't use it very much as I mostly reading either with a Kindle with pop-up dictionary, or Firelang (when browsing the web), or Readlang (Google) when reading books online.

There are unfortunately no good Deutsch als Fremdsprache dictionaries available at the moment (at least that I know of). I tried out the e-version of the Langenscheidt dictionary, but it was very badly designed for e-viewing. The Kindle comes with a free version of the Duden German monolingual dictionary, but again this is not so well designed as a pop-up dictionary, and as it's also not designed for learners.

Sometimes a straight translation is fine anyway: Knowing that "Forelle" is a "Trout", for instance (a word I learnt in the last week), is quick and not something I really need a long German explanation for. Lots of other explanations are more opaque, but I only use dictionaries to give me a quicker and better idea at the general meaning of a word than I would get from simply guessing from context. The richer meaning of words can't come from dictionaries, but from learning from context. Say I had a word like "joyful" and I got the translation "very happy" - that's sort of correct, but 'joyful' has a richer more specific connotation that that - and I think the only way you can get that is by input, but having a rough idea that "joy" is sort of "very happy" helps me learn the word in context faster. When I see the "joy of christmas" I then sort of know what it means, but obviously I need to see it in different contexts to really understand it.

If there were a good electronic Deutsch als Fremdsprache dictionary out there I would use it, but there doesn't seem to be one available yet. At some point I guess I'll move over to the monolingual dictionary like the Duden, but my German vocabulary is still not strong enough.

Edited by patrickwilken on 07 December 2014 at 5:19pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 222 of 295
09 December 2014 at 12:47pm | IP Logged 
I bought a radio yesterday for the kitchen, so now I can hear spoken German whenever I am making a coffee or cooking or doing the dishes. I find radio the hardest thing to follow now - no pop-up dictionaries, no images to help, the vocabulary can be quite low frequency. I find it can be very helpful if to get my head back into German after having to do English for a while.



Edited by patrickwilken on 09 December 2014 at 12:47pm

1 person has voted this message useful



patrickwilken
Senior Member
Germany
radiant-flux.net
Joined 2832 days ago

1546 posts - 3200 votes 
Studies: German

 
 Message 223 of 295
10 December 2014 at 4:57pm | IP Logged 
Gemuse wrote:
The 10 inch eink Onyx BOOX M96 Universe tablet is looking very tempting.


I was in an electronics store yesterday and checking out the various ebook readers, including the Onyx. I have to say that none of the latest batch seemed great from language learning. You want a reader that will quickly look up words, and touch screens are just slow and not very accurate.

I am tempted to buy a second 6 inch Kindle with cursor from Ebay while they are still about.

Edited by patrickwilken on 10 December 2014 at 5:01pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Gemuse
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 2381 days ago

818 posts - 1189 votes 
Speaks: English
Studies: German

 
 Message 224 of 295
10 December 2014 at 8:49pm | IP Logged 
Darn, I thought the Onyx HAD a cursor.

Would an external mouse work with an ebook reader?

Edited by Gemuse on 10 December 2014 at 9:10pm



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