Learning Log : July 28, 2015

  • Completed 2 Turkish Review Lessons on Duolingo.
    • O kim? – Who is that?
    • Tuvalette örümcek var.  –  There is a spider in the toilet
    • Hangi kadın gazeteyi okur?  –  Which woman reads the newspaper?
    • Senin sorunun bir cevabı yok.  – Your question does not have an answer
    • Şarkıcı sıcak su içer.  – The singer drinks hot water
  • Total Duolingo points : 20 XP
  • I also leisurely listened to the first two Lower Beginner Turkish Lessons on TurkishClass101.com, listening to each lesson two times. I really love the company Innovative Language, and I thought I would give their Turkish website a try. Some commonly used vocab words learned include arkadaş, (friend) peki, (okay) and simit (bagel-like circular Turkish bread)
  • Studied Japanese Kanji in compound words from JLPT N1 Textbook (日本語能力試験N1漢字版)
    • 掲載(けいさい)- publication
    • 記載(きさい)- mention
    • 壮大な(そうだい) – magnificent
    • 別荘(べっそう) – a cottage
    • 卑怯(ひきょう) – dirty
    • 枠組み(わくぐみ)- a frame

More to come this week 🙂

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Weekend Post : Simple Blog Layout

Even though I’ve rarely been posting as much as I should this summer, I figure that I would wrap up this weekend with a weekend post anyway, as this is a topic that has been on my mind lately.

Anyone that reads my blog on my actual wordpress site will notice that the layout for my blog is very boring, just black text on a white background with an occasional picture or two. Sometimes when I look at other fancy blogs I want to spend a whole day just making my blog look pretty and captivating to new viewers.

But I’ve realized that maybe, for my ideal image of this blog, I should stay with this  bare-bones setup I have now.

The most important part of my blog is the information that I record, the material I study, the opinions I form, etc. I like that my blog looks like the page of a book, with minimal distractions to stray from the point of my writing.

I also like that using this layout is like writing in a notebook, where all of my study materials are neatly listed for records and later use. The appeal of writing in a notebook is the feeling that I’m studying and putting in time to improve my knowledge and my skills, and that’s what I want to be reflected in this blog as well.

In fact, I mostly started this blog for my own purposes, but I imagine most viewers found me from the tags I use to label my posts by subjects. I’m extremely happy to even get one or two views on a post.

It might take a little more dedication to actually read an entire wall of text on a blank page, but I feel that this is the best theme for a genuine presentation of my words, as I hope to make genuine and meaningful connections through this blog.

I’m planning on writing up a learning blog tomorrow for material that I studied this weekend.

What does your blog layout say about you? Do you think I’m just being lazy? 😉

Learning Log : July 17, 2015

  • Completed Turkish Duolingo Review Exercise
    • O nasıl – How is she?
    • O ne – What is it?
    • Ben yargıç değilim. – I am not a judge.
    • Mimarlık çok kolay.  – Architecture is very easy
    • Avukatlar çok çay içer – Lawyers drink a lot of tea
    • Total Daily Duolingo Points: 10 XP
  • Read a Chapter of Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg.

This is all I have to make up for the lost time this week! I promise I haven’t been doing nothing, I’ve been uploading to 2 YouTube channels and 1 Vine account as side projects which I hope I can start incorporating into this blog where it fits.

This kind of goes against the “Just do it!” spirit I had in mind when I started this blog, but I may be taking it slow for some or the remainder of the summer. Hopefully that means steady updates, but perhaps not necessarily full of material as they were for the first month of this blog. I know I will be able to go full-steam-ahead with studying in the fall, just by knowing how my mind works throughout the year. At the same time, I shouldn’t make excuses, so please feel free to tell me to just study already! Or share your stories about procrastination / summer laziness & soul-searching below 🙂

I’ve also decided that I would make a couple of mid-year resolutions to work on for the second half of 2015. It’s still a work in progress, but so far I have this :

  • Continue studying Russian everyday (This year I have gone from Lesson 1 – 31, putting in about 40+ hours of Russian learning!)
  • Start seriously learning Programming / Code languages. (I have a couple of textbooks and the determination to finally get started!)
  • Be more active in social media / YouTube! (This year I started 2 YouTube channels, a Vine account, a second Twitter account, and this blog. Even with the little progress I have achieved it is very fulfilling to do the things that I love and share them online.)

I will keep you all updated on this! Have you ever made mid-year resolutions? Do you think that I’m crazy?

Thanks for reading as always, I’ll write again soon!

Learning Log : July 13, 2015

  • Listened to Russian World 2 Lesson 30 on YouTube for the third time as review.
    • Practiced telling time using minutes
    • Reviewed how to say “the whole ___” with agreement depending on gender and number of nouns :
      • весь журнал –  the whole magazine
      • вся книга –  the whole book
      • всё письмо –  the whole letter
      • все вещи  –  all of these things
    • Reviewed how to say “this ___” with agreement depending on gender and number of nouns :
      • Этот журнал  –  this newspaper
      • Эта газета  –  this newspaper
      • Это письмо  –  this letter
      • Эти вещи  –  these things

I casually listened to this just to get back in the mindset for Russian. I might listen to it again, or move on. Just hearing a lot of the material was good review for me. I don’t think I need to review any prior lessons, as each new lesson so far has had a bit of review already in the lesson.

  • Completed Turkish Review on Duolingo :

    • On dokuz  –  Nineteen
    • Yirmi sekiz tane ev var  –  There are twenty eight houses
    • Benim şapkalarım var  –  I have hats
    • Denizde kaplumbağa yok  –  There is no turtle in the sea
    • Kahvaltıda domates yerim  –  I eat tomatoes at breakfast
  • Total Duolingo Points : 10 XP

This exercise took me so long to complete, as I kept making mistakes, but it was so satisfying once I got it done. I’m going to try to get a couple of these done a day so I can get back into Turkish.

  • Read a chapter of Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg.

I promise I will finish this book.

  • Learned the basic uses for different types of Programming Languages (i.e. Ruby, Python, Java, C, C#, C++, etc.) I received some textbooks for Java and C++ that I think I will start looking at. I will keep you all updated on this progress, and perhaps I can start adding coding materials to these Learning Logs.

Learning Code / Programming has been something I’ve put off for a while, but I definitely want to get more serious about for the rest of this year. This could be a great skill for me combined with my knowledge of languages, and lately I’ve been really interested in how technology works in general. I will keep you all updated with my progress in this new area of study.

Weekend Post : Forgetting Languages

We all know what it’s like to forget a foreign language from a lack of study or use. If you haven’t seen or heard a language in a month or two, you start to become less confident in your abilities, and maybe have trouble recalling certain words. A lot of foreign language education companies try to capitalize on our human tendency to forget. But I think we could all use a reminder about how natural it is to forget, and how maybe it isn’t as bad for our progress as we think it is.

As you know I’ve been on hiatus for about a month now, mostly due to laziness (which I’m mysteriously prone to during the summer), and I’ve begun to notice that I am forgetting some of the material that I learned and posted in this blog. My initial reaction was to panic, and my mind filled with dread at the prospect of reviewing lessons to make sure I hadn’t forgotten them. It can be so easy to feel like giving up when you’ve forgotten what you’ve studied so hard to learn.

But an interesting thought came to me lately that I thought was worth sharing. If one day you listen to a new song only once and decide that you love it, it’s not uncommon to wake up the next day and completely forget how the song goes. Sometimes, even if I remember the lyrics of a catchy song I’ve only heard once, I still can’t manage to recall the melody. Even though I feel such a strong emotional connection while I’m listening to it the first time, my mind somehow manages to forget. Then, after I search for the song and listen to the first few seconds, my memory comes rushing back to me, and I remember the melody again.

Language learning can be like this also. We might simply need a refresher now and again. When I get frustrated at how easily I can forget, I try to think of how natural it is to forget things, even the things we try the hardest to remember, and realize that it’s natural to forget things. Just like when we hear the opening to a song and remember the rest of it, sometimes all we need is a short review of past material before our brain gets back up to speed, and our language abilities become more fluid again.

But perhaps the greatest feeling, however, is the moment before you’re about the hear the new song for the second time. Even though you’ve forgotten how the song goes, you know you’re about to hear something you love, and you’re filled with anticipation and excitement. I realized this is how we should treat languages too. Even though I’ve forgotten some material, just the prospect of starting to think in another language and culture and learn things I’ve never known before is such a joyous experience. We should savor the moments when we forget, because it only means learning something you love for a second time.

With that said, I’m going to enjoy starting my studies again very soon after being away. Looking back I’m satisfied with my progress, and I’m excited to start making more. The best thing is that since I’ve started this blog, all the things I need to review are right here on my site. This has been great for keeping me organized, so I’m going to continue keeping track of what I learn here.

I’ll start writing up Learning Logs once again in the coming week! If anyone forgets any material during the long summer, my advice would be not to worry 🙂

Learning Log : June 16, 2015

  • Listened to Russian World 2 Lesson 31 on YouTube for the first time.
    • Reviewed Grammar patterns for Agreement of Modifiers
      • этот молодой человек говорит по французски  –  This young man speaks French
      • эта девушка хорошо играет в теннис  – This young lady plays tennis well
    • Learned the Agreement of modifiers with number and gender of nouns in the accusative case:
      • мы знаем этого инженера  –  We know this engineer
      • мы знаем эту девушку – We know this young lady
      • Я читаю эти книги и журналы – I read these books and magazines
      • подождите одну минуту  – Please wait a minute
  • Read Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg. I realized that I thought I was on the last section of the book, but I was not. I am now on Part II of “The Sea,” Chapter 2. I can’t imagine how the story is going to wrap up as the number of remaining pages gets smaller and smaller.

In addition to this sparse post being a day late, I didn’t write up a weekend post for the past week. I don’t feel too bad though, because I’m starting to notice that perhaps with the nicer weather coming about, a lot of the other blogs I follow aren’t posting as much all of a sudden. School is coming to a close for kids, and with the change of seasons becoming more noticeable, I’ve been doing a bit more reflecting than studying lately.

I’ve been working on a couple of creative projects, so I’ve been writing and drawing in notebooks more than usual recently, and I enjoy it a lot. People say with creative things that the only way to get better is to do a lot of something, which is comforting to hear when I manage put in the time. I’m also continuing to help with my dad’s business selling (mostly antique) books, which is a slow but fulfilling process.

I’ll try not to slack off too much this week, but no promises!

Learning Log : June 11, 2015

I did something a bit different yesterday. Instead of watching Russian World 2 on YouTube, I decided to do some much needed review in Mandarin Chinese. I saw that the same YouTube account, Dallas ISD, also uploaded free Chinese lesson videos.

  • Watched Chinese I – A Journey to China Lesson 10 on YouTube.
    • Reviewed age, tone of numbers, standard phrases, etc.

The pace of this lesson was very slow and easy for me, but I wanted to slowly start to get my mind back into learning Chinese. I’ve forgotten a lot of Chinese from when I took it in university, and I want to get back to being able to think more clearly in Chinese, as well as having a better memorization of the tones for commonly used words. In the coming days I’ll skip around the lessons and see which is a comfortable fit for me, with enough new material as well as material to review.

  • Completed Turkish Lessons on Duolingo:
    • Completed remainder of 2 part lesson on Clothing in Turkish:
      • pantolon – pants
      • Benim giysilerim – My clothes
      • Benim gözlüklerim – My glasses
      • şapka – hat
    • Completed Review of previously learned Turkish words and phrases:
      • Biz yaşlıyız ama yakışıklıyız – We are old but handsome.
      • eski personel – the old staff
      • Müdür değilim ama mutluyum. –  I am not a director but I am happy
    • Total Daily Duolingo Points : 20XP
  • Japanese : Learned about Manyou Gana (万葉仮名), the ancient Japanese writing system that employs Chinese characters to represent the Japanese language, and the influence that it had on creating the Katakana alphabet. I had never known that many Katakana were partly abbreviated Manyou Gana, and how this is evident in the name Katakana (片仮名), where Kata (片) means a piece. In the picture below, the sound indicated by Hiragana is shown with its equivalent in Manyou Gana. The modern Katakana symbols are not pictured in the graph, but if you know them, you can easily make out some of the basic shapes of Katakana characters inside the Manyou Gana characters.

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  • Read a chapter of Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg, which brings me to Chapter 7 of the final part of the book.
  • Read “Checkouts,” a short story by Cynthia Rylant, from one of my old English textbooks from high school. As a former cashier, the story resonated greatly with my own experiences of instantly becoming obsessed with customers. I was also excited to find out that she is also the author of the Henry and Mudge children’s book series, which I recall reading in elementary school. The goofy illustrations of the dog always made me laugh as a child.

This was definitely not as structured of a day as usual, but I enjoyed learning and reading things outside of my normal study regimen.