Friday, August 31, 2012


Another chapter learnt, another chapter input.

Now up to chapter 5.

I don't feel like I've learnt that much but I do already speak a fair bit of a couple of other Slavic languages so everything seems pretty familiar already.

I need to learn some particularly Croatian words before I'll feel that I'm learning much new.

There just doesn't seem to be enough new vocab each chapter.  But perhaps I'm just not noticing it because of what I already know.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


For Bulgarian I'm also using Assimil.  Again, I've got other courses that I've bought in the past but the simplicity of Assimil means that it's a lot easier to write the lessons up for learning with my spaced repetition program.

I've finished the first two lessons.  Written up and learnt.

There doesn't seem to be a huge amount of content in any one lesson but it does seem pretty useful vocab.

I wonder how many people that start an Assimil course actually finish it... (this is something to wonder about any language course of course)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


I've just made a start with Icelandic.  I've got a few books on Icelandic but I recently noticed that I have the Linguaphone Icelandic course.  In the past I've done the Norwegian Linguaphone course and it seemed pretty comprehensive so I think Linguaphone will also be good for Icelandic.

The 3 books I've already got lump a lot of the noun declensions together so seem pretty daunting.  Linguaphone has lots of audio and every word introduced is done so in the context of a sentence  so I think new vocab and grammar are easier to deal with.  I suppose Assimil does a similar thing, the main difference though is that Assimil has much shorter dialogues and they (unfortunately) don't provide a vocab list for each new lesson. (Oh, I should point out that Assimil doesn't have an Icelandic course.)

Anyway, I've written up the first chapter, audio, text, new vocab and grammar.  I've made a start learning the first ten items from the audio.  So far so good.  I'm sure that as I work through it I'll be able to understand each text.  The question is, will I be able to produce my own sentences.

We'll see.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mandarin (update)

I've got sick of New Practical Chinese reader.  They even seem to have a sixth volume so they no doubt take the reader up to a very high level.

But in the meantime I've become too discouraged at having so much trouble with spoken Mandarin that I've decided to concentrate on real texts with real audio.

For this reason I'm now using mainly 慢速中文, a free blog that comes with transcription and audio.

I'm also using  They have superb dialogues with great voice actors.  This also comes with transcriptions and on top of it all the dialogues are invariably funny.

With both of these I've decided to extract all new vocab and learn it.  It's quite possible that the trouble I'm having with spoken Mandarin is because my vocabulary simply isn't big enough.

Latin - Lingva Romana + Assimil

I've now given up on Ecce Romani. I found some of the sentences rather strange.

First I switched to the new Assimil.  Nice binding to the book but the audio is bizarre.  I thought the English version of Latin pronunciation was a bit off but the French pronunciation is even weirder.  They seem to have decided to elide some of the final vowels and on top of that they seem to think that if they mumble this will make the language sound more like a living spoken language.

Why do they have people speaking clearly in all the other languages but for Latin, right from the start, it's pretty hard to make out many of the words.

I've reached about chapter nine so I'll keep at it.  In the meantime I've decided to give Lingva Romana a try.  Apparently it just uses Latin and you're supposed to work out the grammar for yourself - if that's possible.

The great thing is that it has audio and all the sentences appear in the audio.  There's heaps of repetition in the text so it's a great way to get a feel for a difficult language that one normally only gets to read rather than hear.  And probably it's hearing a language that's essential for getting a feel for it.

Croatian - Assimil

I've given up on the other courses... they weren't necessarily bad but I like the idea of working right through an Assimil course. Plus the Assimil comes with heaps of audio.

This is the brand-new course that's only been released within the last few months.

I'd made a start on the previous Assimil but it seems to me that it was actually Serbian.

I'm up to about chapter 3. So far so good.  The way they deal with imperfective and perfective verbs will be the big test though.


While playing table tennis in China I came across someone from Madagascar so I've decided to give Malagasy a go.

I wouldn't have bothered but Assimil has a new course out.  I've had it for a few weeks and have finally made a start.  Lesson one's pretty straight-forward of course but the spelling is really weird.  Half of the letters seem to be elided.  This makes it difficult to know how the words are pronounced in isolation.

Looks to be a pretty interesting language with verb object subject word order. I'm in no hurry with this language so I'll keep at the first lesson for a while.