Today, I engaged in my 15 minutes of language learning while multi-tasking. It was a lovely spring day, and I wanted to go for a run, but I also wanted to do a little language review at the same time. Since my productive French is awfully horrid, I decided to start from ground zero with numbers. While I ran, I counted in French all the way up to 500.

This not only took me a full 15 minutes (I kept transposing the quatres and the cinqs), but it really slowed down my running pace. I’ll need to revisit the SLA literature on memory, as I know there is an ongoing debate as to whether different skills pull from different memory pools or from the same pool. It seems that recall of an unfamiliar second language pulls from at least some of the same areas of memory that running does for it to have impacted my speed so much.

Perhaps a study is in order!

Also of note, since I planned to run 20 minutes and was getting a little weary of counting in French, I switched over to Japanese for the remained of my run. It seems I have better recall of Japanese numbers as i was able to get up to 200 in 5 minutes.

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It looks like the Dialang self-diagnostic language test is back online.  I’ve completed the general proficiency test of word meaning and received a score of zero, which indicated that I knew a few words but had not systematic understanding of French word formation (ouch!).

I then completed the Vocabulary portion of the diagnostic and scored an A2 on the Common European Framework, which I’m rather pleased with. I assumed I would score A1. I assumed that vocabulary would be my highest skills area and have plans to take the other skill areas little by little.

I feel like I was caught a little bit flat footed when it came to starting off on my yearlong quest to reclaim a heritage language.  Saturday was upon me, and I was without my French language materials, which I had left in my office downtown. As I’m teaching on the other campus most of this semester, I won’t actually have the chance to retrieve my dictionaries and grammar books until Thursday!

As a result, I had to improvise, so  I spent about an hour on Sunday trying to locate online talk/news radio stations in French that I could listen to.  Thus, my first real day of language learning was not until Monday, during which time  I did indeed listen to a bit of talk radio while writing down words that I “thought” I heard but didn’t understand in my French word journal. I then looked these up in an online French/English dictionary.

As a treat, I then listened to an awesome German language podcast while I washed dishes!

Keeping up with my rather unsystematic approach to language learning, today, I spent 20 minutes while soaking in the tub reading Camus’ La Peste.  On account of the whole being in the bathtub sort of thing, I did not have my laptop on hand to look up the many words I did not know/could not remember. However, I find reading French and guessing at meaning far easier than listening to French, so I was able to guess at meaning.

I think having a French novel on hand just in case might be a good way to make sure I can squeeze in my 15 minutes on those days I find myself sans dictionary and strapped for time.

A New Blog, A New Day

February 17, 2009

Though I’ve been keeping a blog for nearly four years, this is my first time using  WordPress, and I find the interface is taking some getting used to. I guess I’ve been spoiled (or tainted) by LiveJournal, which is definitely a much more commercial looking site. I am not, however, abandoning my other blogs over there, so, for a little while at least, I’ll be working to maintain three blogs. Here’s hoping I’m sufficiently reliable in all three! I think the trick will be to make this a habit and to BBB, blog before bed.  😛