Saturday, April 1, 2017

Latin Resources (Purchase)

See also Online Latin Resources:


  • OLD (Oxford Latin Dictionary)
    • Very expensive
    • Very extensive
    • Only covers classical period
  • John Traupman's English<->Latin Dictionary
    • Classical plus lots of neo/living Latin (See Traupman's Conversational Latin below)

Courses (workbooks etc):
  • Orberg's LLPSI Series
  • Conversational Latin for Oral Proficiency (John Traupman)
    • Fantastic little book with real conversations you can use to practice conversing in living Latin now!  Each chapter is is dedicated to a particular topic, and has three levels.  If you are still at the beginner level, you can skip around from chapter to chapter, only reading level 1.  Later, you can return to level 2 and 3.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Romanian Mission - Week 1 day 3

I am liking Romanian so far.  It seems rather easy, being that I already know or partly know Latin, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Latin.  There are also some Slavic words and syntactical features popping up.

The Assimil 'Le Roumain sans peine' was written before the spelling reform of 1993, so there are some words that I try to lookup on or that don't come up, although a few of them will redirect to the current standard spelling.

I have decided to take my 'detailed' approach to learning this language, which consists of typing all of the L1 and L2 into a spreadsheet, extracting each new word and phrase into separate columns, looking up interesting related items (like singular form of plural nouns) and putting all of that into anki. My stats as of right now, having done new items and just entered lesson 3 are:

Mature: 0
Unseen: 82
Young+learn: 70
Suspended+Buried: 68

Total cards: 220
Total notes: 110

Listening to the lessons, it definitely feels closest to Italian; especially when you hear the phrase:
'La revedere'.

 And on that note, la revedere!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

5 week Romanian mission

My friend Alexander has decided to learn Romanian.  You can read his various reasons here: .

I am always looking for excuses to pick up another one of my Assimil books to use it well.

I will try to post progress here.  I have transcribed the first lesson into a spreadsheet, extracted all new words and grammatical features (41 in total for lesson 1) and put them into anki.  After having listened to the lesson at least 15 times and doing the aforementioned transcription, I went through all the anki cards in a 4 minutes :-D.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five Accomplished Polyglots Every Language Geek Should Know About

I found this on the Language subreddit, and while it's short and not necessarily useful, the polyglots referenced within are actually very interesting to read about.  Specifically, Kató Lomb has written two books specifically about languages.  Highly recommended reads.

I stand corrected.  She has actually written four books.  Here are direct PDF links to her two books that I was aware of:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Using Assimil

I now use Assimil so differently.  I will later post a more detailed description of what I am doing, and why I think it's successful.  Here is a summary:

  • Read and listen to lessons until I recognize the foreign text without referring to the English (or French or whatever).  
  • Go back, 7 lessons at a time, and produce the text from English (or French or whatever) to the target language, noting differences and mistakes in my production.  Another chance to listen to the native audio. 
That's about it. I have two bookmarks in my assimil books: one for recognize mode and one for produce mode. The produce bookmark is always behind the recognize mark. 


Sunday, May 27, 2012

How I'm learning Russian

  • First things first, I'll list the materials/resources I have assembled to provide the input.  I have
  • 1. Assimil Russian 2008
    • This course consists of 100 "short" lessons, followed by exercises to see what you've just learned in different context.  I have the accompanying audio loaded on my mp3 player to listen to at will.  Here is a breakdown of how I study using this book:
      • 1.  3-5x Listen to the lesson.  This means putting the book down at first and just listening.  Try shadowing what you hear (i.e. repeating what's being said as it's said, a sort of parroting of the audio.)  Also, try to guess the meaning of anything you're hearing/saying based on your own knowledge.  If this is the first lesson, you may not know a single word. 
      • 2. 3-5x Continue listening to audio while following along in Russian (the left hand side of the page). This allows you to fill in the gaps of what you thought you were saying before, but were actually mispronouncing.  
      • 3. 3-5x Continue listening to audio while following along in English (the right hand side of the page).  You will finally get the meaning of what you've been listening to.  
      • 4. 1x Read through each Russian sentence and identify how each word corresponds to the English side.  If you can't figure it out from the italicized notes, consult a dictionary or the morphological dictionary.  If those fail, google it and see what comes up.  You can also try  Once I've gotten to lesson 8, I will also take key words from the lesson I'm learning and enter their dictionary forms into Anki.  Please see the anki section below for more details. 
      • 5. 1-10x Listen to the audio again, this time with your book in hand but not looking at it. Only look at it to fill in a portion of the Russian text that you still can't pronounce by just hearing it, or to peak at the English side to remind you of the meaning.  The goal here is to eventually listen to each sentence and be able to 
        • 1. understand everything you hear
        • 2. shadow each and every sentence, making your pronunciation more and more like the native speaker's.  
      • 6. Review.  After I feel comfortable with step 5, I consider the lesson initially mastered.  Once I reach the 7th lesson, (every 7 lessons is a review lesson, reviewing the grammar of what you have been learning) I go back and read over the past 7 lessons in succession, trying simply to read the Russian conversations and understand.  I will also put 7 lessons at a time into a playlist on my mp3 player and just have them playing to shadow with.  This works perfectly in the car, where you can't have the book in front of you.  
    • 2. 32,000 words in order of frequency with Anki
      • About Anki:
        • Anki is a spectacular language learning tool.  When used correctly, I believe it can be the perfect supplement to one's language learning arsenal.  When used incorrectly, however, it can become this dreaded thing that stores all the language pieces that you wish you had learned, but aren't really remembering.  
        • Anki is a flashcard program that takes two sides (or more) of input for a "note" and makes a flashcard out of that information.  When in study mode, it quizzes you on the cards that you have made and asks you to rate how well you knew them:          1-wrong, 2-barely got it, 3-knew it fairly well, 4-too easy.      The magic of this programs comes next, with its intelligent spaced intervals for each card.  Based on how well you rate a card, there will be some amount of time added to the card's delay.  This hides the card from another review until the amount of time has passed.  Each time you get a card right, the time goes up (e.g. I have cards in my new Russian deck already at 1+ months until next review.  In my old japanese deck, it's several years).  When you get a card wrong, it brings it back down to another review for today and starts the intervals over at a day or so.  This is amazingly effective at converting information from your short term to long term memory.  Eventually, you get to a point to where you simply don't forget the information. 
        • A word of caution should be mentioned at this point.  Anki is not the end all of memorization of vocabulary.  You will notice that if you try to simply memorize a whole bunch of random information in Anki, that you won't really remember that much.  That's because it helps you recall the information to get it into your long term memory.  While you're learning the new information, however, you must make a concerted effort to initially memorize the new information.  The best way I have found to do that is to use Harry Loraine's memory magic method (which I first read about years ago in Barry Farber's "How To Learn Any Language").  The method involves associating some part of the new vocabulary word with something that you're already familiar with.  For example, the Russian word сторона means side.  It is pronounced "star-on-ah".  I imagine looking at the side of a railing and seeing a star on it.  "Hey, there's a star on a side of this railing."  Then, I notice that there are stars on the side of just about everything in Russia.  star-on-a, сторона = side.  The more words you know in the target language, the more references you'll have to create stories to help anchor these new words deeply into your memory.  Eventually, you'll forget the little stories and the words will just become second nature.  
        • There are several ways to use Anki.  They have a desktop client, which is most efficient for entering new material.  They also have mobile apps for Android, iPhone etc.  They also have a basic mobile site that should work in any mobile phone's browser.  I always try to have enough new data entered by day'd end, so that I can wake up and start reviewing, and hopefully finish my reviews by the time I get home from work.  Having Anki on your phone is great, because you can "take back" extra seconds by doing a review or two when you're standing in line, waiting for someone to get you something, dialing a phone number and waiting for them to answer, etc.  
      • So, I have my list of 32,000 Russian vocabulary words, ordered by their frequency in the language.  I have read that an educated Adult must have around an active vocabulary of around 10,000 words, with another 10,000 words in their passive vocabulary.  Truly educated adults will often have much more than this, often times due to their specialty field, but it's a pretty good reference I have found.  The 32,000 words in this list actually covers every word that occurred at least once per million words in Russian.  
        • The first thing I do with the list is copy the entire thing into a Google spreadsheet. This allows the entire thing to be online and easily accessible to study from.  Google won't let you paste such a gargantuan size of text directly, so you'll have to use a desktop based program such as libreoffice or Microsoft excel to paste the information into.  Then, simply import the newly created document into google docs.  
        • I then create new tabs, each numbered 100, 200 etc.  I cut and paste 100 entries from the main tab into the corresponding newly created tabs (i.e. vocab 1-100 into tab 100).  
        • I go through each word, one by one, striking through words that I either already knwo or have entered into Anki.  For nouns, I look up the meaning of the word, and verify if the primary meaning translates back into Russian the same.  E.g. I look up the word вода, its first meaning is water.  I then look up water, whose primary translation is вода.  If the translation back and forth isn't so obvious, then I look at example sentences and copy the sentence/part of sentence that appears the most.  
    • I have not yet begun to utilize many of the other resources.  One thing I have been doing is picking wikipedia articles at random, and just reading until I find something I don't fully understand.  I take that word and analyze it, and put the dictionary form into Anki.  I intend to  soon do the same thing with a real book.  I want to get something interesting, like some linguistic history book, or maybe harry potter.