My daily Portuguese routine

I’m almost 5 weeks into my Brazilian Portuguese learning adventure for 2016 and I thought I would put together a post outlining my daily routine for learning the language.

At the moment I have two ‘Must Dos‘ for each day: 

  • Complete my Anki revisions (20-30 minutes).
    • Read aloud.
  • Study at least one Assimil lesson. (20-30 minutes).
    • Listen without looking at the text. Repeat aloud.
    • Listen only looking at the text in Portuguese. Repeat aloud.
    • Listen with both Portuguese and French text visible. Repeat aloud
    • Write out all of the text’s sentences by hand 10 times.
    • Enter any sentences with words I want to practice into Anki.

I think it’s important to have an easy to accomplish daily ‘Must Do‘ task or set of tasks that can be achieved even on your busiest of days. Wherever you set the bar the most important thing is that it’s such a level that you can accomplish it every day and maintain consistency.

On the days that I have more spare time to spend on Portuguese, or when I’m feeling more motivated than usual, which at the moment tends to be every day.

Activities on top of this include:

  • Slowly working through all the exercises in the Practice Makes Perfect Basic Portuguese book.
    • Enter every exercise into Anki.
  • Listening to episodes of the Brazilian Podclass podcast when I walk anywhere (free on iTunes).
    • Repeat aloud.
  • Speaking with friends as much as possible, whether in person or online.

I’m hoping to continue with this routine for a few more months until I have a really solid base vocabulary wise and grammar wise. I’ll start trying to read more simple books and watch TV shows, etc. but only really stick with these once I am at a level of 80%+ comprehension. I call this ‘Riding the wave of comprehension‘, see point 10. in my post 12 things I learnt from 12 months of French where I go into it more.

What do you think of my daily routine? How could I improve it? And what are you doing on a daily basis to learn your target language?

Meu plano para aprender várias línguas simultaneamente

Passei todo o ano de 2015 aprendendo francês sem ir a um país francófono. Também sem ir às aulas, nem ter um tutor particular. Um parte da razão para isto era que não tinha muito dinheiro nem muito tempo livre enquanto terminava o meu PhD, e também não quis gastar $100s ou mesmo potencialmente $1000s para assistir às aulas. Soube que na era da Internet devia haver alguma maneira de aprender francês fluentemente, no prazo de um ano, sem ir ao país e sem esvaziar a minha conta bancária.

Pouco depois eu comecei a ganhar terreno na aprendizagem das línguas, dum nível iniciante a um nível avançado, enquanto aprender minha primeira língua estrangeira ficou um pouco mais ambicioso. Nesta altura, eu já tinha visto os vídeos de poliglotas, no YouTube e em blogs, que me impressionam muito. Os poliglotas mais humildes e terra-a-terra garantiram-nos que não são sábios. Eles só são pessoas normais com uma paixão pelas línguas que não têm medo de trabalhar muito duro e colocar o seu tempo nisso. Então eu decidi que se eles podem fazer isso talvez eu possa fazer também, embora em menor grau mais modesto. Eu pensei em um objetivo pessoal realista que foi alcançar fluência em cinco línguas em cinco anos.

Eu percebi rapidamente que precisaria de algum plano a fim de simplificar o processo de aquisição destas línguas. Não ter um plano seria como tropeçar no escuro sem luz, uma maneira muito ineficiente para aprender línguas. Por ter experiência em pesquisa cientifica sabia que teria de experimentar o maior número possível de recursos e métodos quando aprendi francês. Isso me ajudaria a desenvolver um plano básico para as quatro línguas que iria aprender no futuro. Então 2015 foi um ano no tem da citação de Bruce Lee “Absorva o que for útil, rejeito o que for inútil. Acrescente o que é especificamente seu.” Enquanto passei o ano testando recursos e m´todos, e desenvolvendo como eu aprendo melhor.

No início, eu só planejei aprender só uma língua de cada vez por ano. Depois percebi que meus interesses sempre continuam mudando e meu nível de motivação tende a variar ao longo do tempo. Por exemplo, assim que eu cheguei a um nível intermediário de francês, percebi quanto sinto falta dos estágios iniciais da aprendizagem da gramática, pronúncia e cultura, etc. Para não mencionar as melhorias iniciais e como rapidamente eles vêm. Depois de seis meses da aprendizagem de francês fiquei um pouco impaciente e comecei aprender português usando o Duolingo mas só fazendo o mínimo.

Neste ano, 2016, comecei a focar principalmente na aprendizagem de português para falar fluentemente, e focar menos em francês, enquanto quero também aprender os básicos do sueco. Agora que estou aprendendo várias línguas ao mesmo tempo, cada uma delas num estágio diferente, a diversão realmente começou. Então meu plano para aprender várias línguas simultaneamente inclui três fases que comparo a andar de bicicleta.

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Fase 1. “A Primeira Passagem”:

Aprender a andar de bicicleta. Esta fase é a primeira exposição à língua que você quer aprender fluentemente no futuro. É também uma boa oportunidade de ter um primeiro gostinho desta língua e decidir se é algo que você deseja mesmo continuar a longo prazo. Nesta fase o meu objetivo é melhorar a língua a um nível de iniciante avançado. Eu uso os Apps simples como o Duolingo ou o Memrise para obter um exposição superficial ao básico da língua. Eles me proporcionam familiaridade com as 2000 palavras mais comuns, assim como a sua gramática e pronúncia mais básicas, etc. Isto ocupa por volta de 10% do meu tempo total de aprendizagem de línguas.

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Fase 2. “O Foco Principal”:

Escalar a montanha. Esta fase exige um esforço mais intensivo com o objetivo de melhorar uma língua do nível iniciante ao nível avançado básico, isto é a fluência básica. Pessoalmente, enquanto não puder aprender a língua em um ambiente de imersão completa, isto é aprender francês na França, passar 6-12 meses me focando numa língua nesta fase até penso ter atingido o nível de fluência básica. Obviamente depende muito da língua, e outros fatores na vida. Nesta fase eu me foco na aprendizagem da gramática básica, na aquisição de vocabulário e falando a língua. Uso os numerosos recursos como os livros de gramática e de exercícios, os podcasts, os programas SRS (por exemplo Anki), assim como falar com a maior frequência possível com os falantes nativos no Skype ou pessoalmente. Esta fase ocupa 70-80% do meu tempo total de aprendizagem de línguas.

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Fase 3. “Manutenção+”.

Andar de bicicleta em ladeira, mas pode ser perigoso. Nesta fase o objetivo é manter o nível para o qual progredi: de intermediário para avançado. O ideal é manter o ritmo para melhorar a minha proficiência de forma progressiva. Penso que neste estágio se exige menos foco. Em seu lugar aprenderia a usar o idioma: ouvindo, falando, lendo e escrevendo. Neste fase não passo muito tempo preocupado com a gramática ou em adquirir novas palavras do vocabulário se comparado com a Fase 2.

iterationa

A imagem acima mostra como nós podemos conceituar uma forma de mover-se através destas três fases. Uma iteração inclui 6-12 meses focando numa única língua depois que se move da Fase 1 à Fase 2. Quando estiver pronto para mover-se para Fase 3 e uma nova língua é adicionada à Fase 1, a próxima iteração começa. Iteração 1 na imagem acima representa onde as minhas línguas estão atualmente, com sueco na Fase 1: ‘A Primeira Passagem’, português do Brasil na Fase 2: ‘O Foco Principal’, e francês na Fase 3: ‘Manutenção+’. Finalmente, o objetivo é mover todas as minhas línguas para a Fase 3, onde posso melhorar devagar as suas proficiências, ou pelo menos mantê-las.

Então, este é o ponto. Este é o meu plano: aprender várias línguas simultaneamente. É uma meta que eu, definitivamente, espero que possa melhorar. Com isso, usando este método, ganho mais experiência. Vou escrever, em três etapas, detalhando as características do que eu faço para progredir no aprendizado.

Boa sorte,

Pete.

Week 4 of Portuguese 2016

I decided that it’d be better to do monthly updates instead of weekly ones. So here is week 4 of Portuguese 2016. I feel like I’m slowly improving and expanding my vocabulary. Here are the previous weeks’ videos: week 3, week 2, week 1.

Decidi que é melhor a fazer atualizações mensais em vez de atualizações semanal. Então, aqui é semana numero quatro de português em 2016. Sinto que estou melhorando devagar e expandindo meu vocabulário. Aqui são os vídeos das semanas anteriores: semana 3, semana 2, semana 1.

 

 

Week 2 of Portuguese 2016

Spent the week still mostly playing around with present tense and a few themes like the weather, body parts and some Brazilian Jiu-jitsu words and phases. So here’s where I am up to speaking off the cuff.

Thoughts: still tons of mistakes, big gaps in vocab and still having to search a lot for words hence the umming and ahhing. However, slowly noticing that I can recall and string together short phrases.

My Plan For Learning Multiple Languages Simultaneously

I spent all of 2015 learning French without actually going to a French speaking country, nor attending classes or getting private tuition. Part of the reason for this was that I am currently strapped for time finishing my PhD and also I just didn’t want to fork out $100s or even potentially $1000s of dollars going to classes. I knew in the age of the internet there was definitely some way I could learn French to fluency, within a year, without going to the country and without emptying my bank account.

Shortly after I started gaining ground moving from fumbling beginner to slightly competent advanced speaker when learning first foreign language I got a little more ambitious. By this point I had seen the numerous Polyglot videos on YouTube and blogs, which had blown me away. The more humble and down to earth polyglots assure us that they are no savants, just normal people with a passion for languages and no fear of putting in the time and effort required to learn them. So I decided that if they could do it maybe I could too, albeit definitely to a lesser extent. I figured a realistic personal goal would be aiming for basic fluency in five languages in five years.

I quickly realised that I would need some kind of plan in order to streamline the process of acquiring all these languages. Stumbling through each one of them in the dark with no bearing was going to be a very inefficient way of doing so. Having a background in research science I knew I needed to experiment with as many different resources and methods as possible whilst learning French. This would help me develop a basic plan for the four languages to come. So 2015 was a year in the theme of the Bruce Lee quote, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” as I spent it testing resources and methods, and discovering how best I learn.

At first I had only planned to learn a single language at once each year, but soon realised that my ever wandering interest and level of motivation for any specific thing would tend to vary over time. For instance, once French was at an intermediate level I realised just how much I missed the initially stages of learning a new language like its basic grammar, pronunciation, and cultural background, etc, not to mention the initial gains and how quickly they come. Six months into learning French I got antsy and picked up Portuguese on Duolingo doing the bare minimum each day.

This year in 2016 I began focusing primarily on learning Portuguese to fluency and away from French, whilst also aiming to learn the basics of Swedish. Now that I’m learning several languages at the same time, each of which are at different stages, the fun really begins. So my plan for learning multiple languages simultaneously comprises three phases which I compare to bike riding.

Phase 1. ‘The First Pass’:

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Learning to ride. This phase is the initial exposure to a language you want to learn to fluency in the future. It’s also a good chance to wet your toes in a language and decide whether or not it’s something you can see yourself pursuing longterm. In this phase my aim is to get the language towards upper beginner level. I use simple apps like Duolingo or Memrise to get a shallow exposure to the basics of the language. They give me a familiarity with the language’s 2000 or so most common words, as well as exposure to its more basic grammar and pronunciation, etc. It occupies ~10% of my total language learning time.

Phase 2. ‘The Main Focus’:

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Climbing the mountain. This phase requires the most intensive effort with the aim of getting a language from upper beginner level to lower advanced level, i.e. basic fluency. Personally, whilst not learning a language in a full immersion environment, i.e. learning French in France, I aim to spend 6-12 months on a language in this phase until I feel it has reached basic fluency (obviously this depends a great deal on the language, and other life factors). In this phase I focus on learning grammar, acquiring vocabulary and speaking the language. I use use numerous resources such as grammar and exercise books, podcasts, SRS programs (e.g. Anki), as well as speaking as often as possible with native speakers on Skype or in person. It occupies 70-80% of my total language learning time.

Phase 3. ‘Maintenance+’:

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Downhill, but still bumpy. This phase is where I aim to maintain a language I have gotten to an advanced level. Ideally, I would put in enough to slowly and steadily increase my proficiency. I feel that once at this stage a language requires much less intensive time spent on it as I now learn mostly through constant exposure and use of the language whether reading, speaking, listening or writing. I no longer spend a lot of time on learning grammar rules and acquiring masses of new vocabulary compared to when in Phase 2. This phase occupies 10-20% of my total language learning time.

iterationa

The image above is a way of conceptualising how languages move through the three phases. One iteration includes the 6-12 months spent on a single language after it moves from Phase 1 to Phase 2. Once it is ready to move into Phase 3 and a new language added to Phase 1 the next iteration begins. Iteration 1 in the image above is where my languages currently sit with Swedish in Phase 1: the ‘First Pass’, Brazilian Portuguese in Phase 2: the “Main Focus”, and French in Phase 3 “Maintenance+”. Ultimately, the aim is to get all my languages to Phase 3 where I slowly improve their proficiency or at least maintain them.

So there you have it. This is my plan for learning multiple languages simultaneously so far. It’s a work in progress that I definitely hope to further improve upon. As I gain more experience using this method I’ll write more posts going into more detail about the specifics of what I do in each of the three phases.

All the best,

Pete

Week 1 of Portuguese 2016

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Today is the end of week 1 of my New Years resolution to learn Portuguese to fluency this year. I’m planning to make weekly videos, hopefully 52 of them, so that myself and others can track what I am hoping will be improvement over the coming 12 months.

Firstly, I’ll outline my previous experience with Portuguese. I spent the last 6+ months using Duolingo every day to familiarise myself with the language, how it sounds, its vocabulary and spelling, as well as its basic grammar. In doing so, however, I made little to no effort to every speak the language.

Week 1 recap:

I started focusing on Portuguese intensely as my primary language on January 1st. Here’s an outline of what my last week’s looked like. To be honest I hit the ground running, probably doing between 2-4 hours of Portuguese study a day. Straight away I ditched Duolingo took up more serious resources. I’m using Practice Makes Perfect Basic Portuguese working through every single exercise while applying the German Volume Method, and putting each exercise into Anki. On top of that I’ve found some lovely native speakers from Brazil using Speaky and Hello Talk, and am speaking with them on a daily basis via messages (yet to have my first face to face discussion in Portuguese). I’ve also been writing small essays and uploading them to be corrected on Lang-8. I’m also listening to BrazilianPodClass episodes several times each daily.

I’m relatively impressed at how fast I am picking up Portuguese as my L3 compared to where I was at with French my L2 the same time last year (I was only using Duolingo this time last year for French). I feel like I’m putting together more complicated sentences quicker, and learning vocabulary a lot faster than previously. I’m putting this down to having a language learning plan to implement this year for Portuguese, whereas last year for French I didn’t know what I was doing. Furthermore, I’ve really tried to focus on covering the basics thoroughly before moving on, i.e. this week the main focus has been perfecting the present tense of all three verb types ending in -ir, -er and -ar.

I think another big reason for rapid improvement, aside from having a plan this year, is having spent a good 6+ months using Duolingo on a daily basis for familiarisation, repeatedly going over the basics.

So with no further ado here it is. Week 1 of Portuguese 2016.

Plans for 2016: Portuguese & Swedish

I put together a relatively short video to outline what I’m planning to tackle in the coming year of 2016. I’m aiming for the sky and hoping to reach the roof this year with regards to my goals. Portuguese and Swedish are going to be my main focus, with Portuguese the primary focus at least for the first 6 months. Ultimately, I am hoping to get both of these languages to basic fluency by the end of the year. It’d be nice to see if I achieve this year with two languages what I achieved last year with only one, but with the added experience of having previously learnt a language to fluency on my own. We’ll see how it goes!

So below is the video where I outline a little about my year of French, and then talk a bit about my present level in both Portuguese and Swedish to give you an idea of where I stand on day 1 of 2016.

Let’s do this!