Archive for the ‘2010’ Category

With just a few days left till Christmas, it’s time to try and sum up what I’ve been up to with languages this year. Glancing back over my posts, I’ve drawn up an overview of the hours I logged and the resources I used for each language in 2010 (which include German, Spanish, Swedish, Russian, Japanese, Turkish, Ancient Egyptian and British Sign Language):

[Abbreviations: s=study, c=study-and-click, l=listen, r=read, lr=listen-read, f=film, t=tv, w=website, d=dubbing, u=subtitles, *=unfinished]

GERMAN (140h active, 200h+ passive, lots of immersion whilst living in Germany, rose from B1 to B2 (C1 in reading skills))

– Berlitz Deutsch – Stufe 3-8 [s]*
– Upgrade your German [s]*

– Bernhard Schlink, Der Vorleser [lr]
– Franz Kafka, Die Verwandlung [lr]*
– Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha [lr]
– Patrick Süskind, Das Parfüm [lr]*
– Stephen King, Qual [r]*
– Thomas Mann, Der Tod in Venedig [lr]*

– Schlaflos in München [w,l]*

– Southpark [t,d]*
– Stromberg – seasons 1-2 [t]

– Alfie [f,d]
– Center Stage [f,d]
– Constantine [f,d]
– Der Untergang [f]
– Die Fetten Jahre sind vorbei [f]
– Footloose [f,d]
– French Kiss [f,d]
– Good Bye Lenin [f]
– Im Juli [f]
– Interview with the Vampire [f,d]
– Mondscheintarif [f]*
– Scrooged [f,d]
– The Secret of My Success [f,d]
– Watchmen [f,d]
– Young Sherlock Holmes [f,d]
– Zoolander [f,d]
– Zulu [f,d]

SPANISH (185h active, 50h passive, 1 week in Barcelona, from total beginner to B1 (B2 in reading skills))

– Antoine De Saint-Exupery, El Principito [lr,c,l]
– J K Rowling, Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal [c]*
– Juan Ramon Jimenez, Platero y Yo [lr]*

– ¡Búscalo! [s]*

– El Internado – season 1 [t]
– Yabla, LoMásTv [w,s,lr,l]*

– One-to-one home tuition [8 hours]

SWEDISH (55h active, from total beginner to C1 in reading skills)

– J K Rowling, Harry Potter och de vises sten [c,lr]*

– Sällskapsresan eller Finns det svenskt kaffe på grisfesten [f,u]
– Snowroller – Sällskapsresan II [f,u]
– Såsom i en spegel [f,u]
– Det sjunde inseglet [f,u]

RUSSIAN (34h active, 8h passive, still hovering somewhere around A2)

– Princeton Russian course [c,lr]*

– Mikhail Bulgakov, Мастер и Маргарита [c,lr]*
– Yevgeny Zamyatin, Мы [c,lr]*

JAPANESE (200 kanji + ongoing review)

– Heisig, Remembering the Kanji I [s]*
– Reviewing the Kanji website, along with kanji wallposter [w,s]*

TURKISH (7h study, and a little immersion whilst in Germany)

– Linguaphone PDQ Turkish [s]*
– Pimsleur introductory course – 10 lessons [s]

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN (80+ hieroglyphs)

– Collier & Manley, How to Read Egyptian Hieroglyphs [s]*
– Hieroglyphs Hierowriter [w,s]*


– Communication Link – third edition [s]*
– Signed music videos by lovesbth [lr]*


There are so many temptations on my shelves and littered elsewhere about the house, that it’s going to be near impossible to stay away from them all in 2011. Every year that passes is a year further away from level-headed linguistic redemption…lol 😉


снежный человек” (aka in Tibetan: yeti; American Indian (Salish): Sasquatch; also big foot, the Abominable Snowman) – that’s what someone said my footprints through the snow in the back garden reminded them of this week (oh no – finally, I’ve been discovered!).


Whoosh, whoosh…that was the sound of my life spinning round and round in a chilling whirlwind of domestic issues last month; slurp, gulp, mm-ahhhhhhh…that’s the wonderful warm homely sound of a guy who’s now settled back in proverbial Kansas and has finally set up his cosy language den with a hot cocoa to accompany him on a snowy winter’s day. 🙂

It’s been a real roller-coaster of a year, that’s for sure, but looking back over all the posts and bizarre little language projects, I hope I’ve finally taken some positive steps in the right direction on the long road to polyglottery. Experimenting with and refining various approaches, alongside finally putting self-baked theories into practice, has helped set me on a more confident footing with future language study, and has brought order to what was just years of unproductive pottering up till now.

The helpful advice and wealth of experience of people on the HTLAL forum has been a constant source of inspiration and very encouraging. I’d particularly like to give a special big shout-out to my amazing teammate M. Medialis, who not only achieved so much this year in his own studies (especially Japanese), but who made the experience thoroughly fun and enjoyable and never failed to motivate or make me smile with his energetic and imaginative posts. I’d also like to thank the other members of Team K, Aloysius and Papillon, for their initial support and to wish them the very best in their goals for 2011.

As for the rest of the year, I think I’m just going to finish up with a bit of Russian study and Zamyatin around Christmas, and then…unable to suppress the excitement any longer…start thinking seriously about next year’s challenge. And not unlike a naughty child who roots around in his parent’s closet for unwrapped pressies before the big day, I’m heading off to set down some initial goals or ideas for my team log in next year’s TAC after this post.

So as this probably wraps it up for my year’s log, there’s not much left to do but to belatedly wish you all a wonderful Christmas and many more enjoyable hours of language learning in 2011 and beyond! 🙂


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With all the craziness surrounding my move, I haven’t really had much time to keep track of study. Don’t fret though, I’ve been keeping the polyglot pot simmering with a seasoning of Swedish and a sprinkle of Spanish every now and again, and am excitedly poised to re-engage in Russian starting Monday.


Weeks of wandering, but little of the language kind. Some recent language wish lists did get me pleasantly daydreaming again though.


Rather than offer up a fancy foreign phrase, here’s a German weather forecast video from RTL instead…a sunny tonic on an otherwise snowbound day.


My journey back to Ol’ Blighty (small lingo-nerdy note here: “Blighty” turns out to be an Anglo-Indian alteration of the Urdu word bilāyatī, ironically meaning “foreign”) didn’t quite end at the airport and line of fuming black cabs. No indeed, this seems to have only marked the beginning of a whole new chapter of trials to secure a house and home, leaving me to hop between temporary apartments like a nomadic winter flea whilst I sort everything out.

In the meanwhile, I’ve learned to read a bit of Swedish, touched base with Spanish on the road, and for some bizarre reason, I’ve been dreaming a lot in German lately too (must be the pilsner withdrawal).

Now I’m locked and ready to reload in Russian, and am looking forward to continuing from where I left off in my log “Rushing Russian” back in the hazy, crazy but not so lazy days of July (with the appropriate name change: “Russian Reloaded”). These final weeks of the year’s Challenge are likely to be tough, especially with moving into my new home next week and Christmas fast-approaching, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll turn out to be some of the most rewarding and enlightening so far.

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Active study over the last week: 5 hours’ study-and-click.
Total study for Swedish so far: 55 hours.


I was toying with the idea of learning Vietnamese last week, simply in order to send some friends a postcard and keep in touch, but soon woke up and smelt the coffee after I realised how much Russian study I’ve got left ahead of me this year.


Swedish: “klumpeduns” (clodhopper, klutz, Klumpe-Dumpe) – this word aptly describes how I felt after knocking over a pitcher of water at a restaurant whilst craning to listen to the people on the table next to me speaking Polish.


What a week I’ve had! One moment I’m sipping Hefeweizen outside the local Ratskeller discussing Jugendstil; the next, I’m watching swans sweep under weeping willows on an English lock, indulging in a magnificent cream tea and contemplating a new chapter in both my life and “Harry Potter och de vises sten”…

The most amazing language learning thing that happened to me this this week is that I managed to hit 95% reading scores within 19 days of study (that’s just 55 hours, averaging 2-3 hours a day overall) for my little Swedish experiment “Dreams of Valhalla“. And all this whilst packing up my bags, refurbishing a flat, and relocating lock, stock and barrel to another country.

I’m still a bit in shock over how well it’s all worked out so far! And as the study-and-click method has proved so efficient and intuitive for me, I’ve decided to continue using it until I’ve clicked 8000 words over the coming weeks and built up a really comfortable passive base for vocabulary.

Following this, the aim will be to continue listening and reading (with some repeating and natural listening too) into next year until I reach 1,000,000 words of new Swedish material, and work on leveling up my listening and pronunciation skills, reading fluency, and ability to “deal with missing data given context”.

I’ll post weekly updates for Swedish here from now on, and have Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy in my sights once I’ve finished Harry Potter.

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Active study over the last week: 10 hours’ study-and-click.
Total study for Swedish so far: 50 hours.


Just runaway thoughts about learning Greek or Hungarian, little more.


Swedish: “Har du din padda [i]kvar[/i]?” (Still got your toad?) – a bizarre example taken from Harry Potter (no surprises there), but what I liked about this sentence is that “kva-kva” is also ironically the noise for toads in Russian.

German: “gehoppt wie gedoppt” (kommt aufs gleiche raus; it’s all the same to me/I have no preference) – a little phrase I picked up in a café this week. And for those interested in some more local phrases from this area of Germany, here’s a Hessisch – English – Deutsch dictionary I found on the Web along the way.


This week has flown by and proved to be one of my busiest this year. I still managed to get some Swedish done, but not nearly enough to push beyond an average hour or two basic maintenance per day.

On a more positive note, I did several reading tests for German, just out of interest, and consistently scored in the 95-98% range. This is exactly where I’d like to be with Swedish.

However, it’s not just a matter of how many words and phrases I know, but more importantly, how well rooted these are in my mind to render reading more or less comfortable and effortless. This, I guess, really just takes time and plenty of exposure.

These extra few per cent may be a sheer devil to climb, but I’m resolutely focused on the summit, and it’s only been a couple of weeks so far. Onward and upward!

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Active study over the last 10 days: 40 hours’ study-and-click


Not much time for anything but relocating and learning Swedish at the moment. So I’ve been exceptionally well-behaved this week. 😉


“Allhelgona helgen” (Halloween, Samhain) – it’s almost time to start elbowing your way to the plumpest pumpkins and get ready for the usual ghoulishness on the streets after pub hours on Miggy Night. What I like most about this word in Swedish, however, is that although it simply means something like “all hallows weekend”, it also ironically manages to conjure up the idea of “all Hell going to Hell” during this mischievous Celtic celebration. Swedish just rocks! }:-)>


My Swedish project “Dreams of Valhalla” is going really well, and I’ve already completed my primary goal of reaching 90% reading scores for 3 consecutive days. In just a week, I’ve gone from knowing almost zip to being able to understand most of what I read, and I also find that I’m picking up so much more when I listen to a bit of Swedish TV or random clips on YouTube for fun.

Next week is going to be crazy busy, as I’m moving out of my flat and into a hotel on Friday, with a view to hopefully relocating back to England within the next 10 days. So as you can imagine, there’s a lot that needs doing before I get on that plane and start dreaming of bacon sarnies and roast dinners again.

However, I’ll try my best to fit in as many hours of Swedish as I realistically can, and strive for my secondary goal of reaching 95% in reading scores over the next couple of weeks. So far, I’m really happy with my study-and-click method, and uncharacteristically, haven’t made any amendments or started experimenting either.

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Just a brief note to everyone following my Russian log that I’ll be back on it later this year! After some shore leave, my first ports of call will be to relocate to UK and learn a bit of Swedish, and then get the rest of my other languages (i.e. German and Spanish) back up to scratch. Once this is done, however, I aim to return to this log and finish what I started in Russian, with a view to going full-immersion for a while at home too. So spasibo for sticking with me so far, steady your sea legs, and keep a weather eye out for many more interesting developments later on… 😉

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Just a brief update today to let you know everything’s on track so far. Since returning to Germany last weekend, I’ve been thoroughly preoccupied with making arrangements to move lock, stock and barrel back to England. I’ve also started putting together the materials I’ll need for my Swedish log that starts tomorrow, and have enough now to at least get started. It’s going to be strange hitting the language learning trail again after such a considerable absence, but I’m sure I’ll get back into the swing of things soon enough.

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