Friday, August 3, 2007

Still comfy

Since my posting, I've done 12 lessons of Russian - 2 a day which is not recommended for a new language, but do-able for a "remembering" language. Here's what I'm noticing:

1) While I am remembering some things, I cannot say there's been a cascade of unlocked memories of the language: When a word is introduced, I can say "oh yes I remember that", but integrated into the lesson, it's just as hard to remember as the words that are NEW to me (and yes, there are quite a few: College Russian and Conversational Russian are two different beasts I think). So I'm unlocking one word at a time... we'll see how this goes.

2) But one thing that has STUCK: I totally remember how to read Cyrillic: Looking at flashcards, I can read them almost as fast as English. I'm pretty amazed at how that sticks... but then I had to write all of my homework for two years in cursive cyrillic - that's not easy.

On a different note: I'm noticing who around me I can try to talk to: One of the doctors in my department is Japanese... and there's a restaurant nearby with good cheap sushi run by a whole Japanese family who bicker in their native tongue... I am working on refreshing some language to try with them. There are a lot of Russians wandering around the hospital I work at, so I'm thinking about dropping in there... Also, I really should be trying my Spanish with the many latinos I see every day in the hospital... it would be so easy...

But in a way I get terrible performance anxiety with languages: I get tongue tied and shy when confronted with an actual opportunity to use it. Which is RIDICULOUS. I get ready with my intro, and then imagine them coming back at me with something I can't respond to.... It's irrational and I need to work on that. One way I can hopefully help is to work on translations of actual conversational bits I might use: So that I have some key words that describe me and my life fresh in the mind.

I did that prior to my big Spanish dinner months back - I wrote out 3 pages of conversational ideas, and when the time came, I didn't so much try to remember the exact words, but rather I had got used to thinking in different languages.

Finally, I read a good idea for reminding your fluency: Go to La Prensa, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Pravda, etc websites, load an article, print it. Then read the first paragraph with a highlighter, lighting the words you don't know. Stop, look them up, add them to flash cards. Then read the second paragraph, do the same. Keep going through the article, and notice that the highlighting gets less and less - that's learning!!!

Anyway, back to work for me! I have my nightly half hour with Deutche Welle online learning!

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