Monday, December 19, 2011

Odds and ends...

This will probably be my last post for 2011, although I don't promise anything.

Now that "Yıllar Sonra" has ended, I've been looking for more things to watch on Turkish TV. It's a shame that the program ended. It was a great show.

Anyway, I've been tuning into "Yabancı Damat" on Kanal D. It's an older soap that ran in the mid-2000s. Kanal D is currently playing reruns almost nightly, so it's easy to catch. The acting is somewhat hokey, but it's still entertaining enough to hold my interest. I'm also watching another soap rerun from Kanal D, called "Asi" from the late 2000s. This soap runs almost as often as Yabancı Damat so it's been easy to catch up on the story line. I really like the story line of this show. Those two shows have kept me pretty busy, but I've also managed to fit another daily Kanal D morning show called "Günaydın". It runs every morning at 7 am Turkish time (11 pm my time), so I usually catch it before I go to bed. It comes across as really sensationalistic, but it's got one thing that I like about it - nearly every interview of every victim of every tragedy is subtitled in Turkish, so it's easy to check my comprehension level against the various accents I'm hearing. It's a marked contrast to CNNTürk's "Güne Merhaba", which I also try to catch.

I was recently reminded of the various CEFR levels on a thread over on How-to-learn-any-language. A site was mentioned that had some practice tests for a few languages, and Turkish happened to be one of the practice exam languages offered. The site is located here. I downloaded the practice exams for levels A1, A2 and B1. I easily got through levels A1 and A2. Level B1 was doable, but it was much more difficult than I had originally thought it would be. Would I be able to pass a B1 exam if I sat one today? I would probably need to do some concentrated study beforehand, but I think I could. The exam looks pretty tough. I've only ever taken CEFR exams for Spanish (C2) and Italian (C2), and I didn't do either exam until over a decade of speaking both languages. So I was pretty surprised at how advanced the lower level exams could be.

In any case, I'm setting my sights on a B2 level in Turkish for next year. I'm not a big fan of taking these types of exams, but it's a good way to objectively measure my progress.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winding down 2011

With the year winding down, I'm taking a final look at my progress throughout this year. I'm also finalizing my plans for 2012 language learning.

On the Norwegian front, I can say that I have reached a C1 level, albeit a low C1. That was my original goal, too. Looking back, I don't think I could have gotten to a C1 level without the exposure I've had this year. I had the privilege of meeting and becoming good friends with two Norwegians this year. This has given me so much practice and insight that I would otherwise have missed. I should also make note that the relationship was pretty solidly formed in Norwegian from the start. This made a huge difference.

Aside from my daily speaking, I was exposed to a lot of Norwegian cinema. This year alone I've watched a good 20 Norwegian films, from comedy to romance to horror (and let me tell you, Norwegians know how to do horror!) I've also expanded my Norwegian music knowledge a bit too. I've amassed quite a collection over this past year.

I will, of course, continue to maintain my Norwegian. I've grown quite fond of the language and my friends.

Polish has largely been a disappointment. I never got beyond an A2 level. For a variety of reasons, it was impossible for me to find a conversation partner, and this - probably more than anything else - hindered any real progress.

I also had a hard time finding decent TV and movies to watch. I don't understand why Polish TV is so under-represented on the internet, but it was very hard for me to find anything worthwhile. And movies - Every Polish movie I could find (admittedly not many, but I managed to find a few) had a really annoying tendency to keep the original language volume raised, so it ended up being very mixed into the dubbed Polish. Music, on the other hand, was quite easy to come by, and I expanded my collection by a fair bit. Polish pop is pretty easy to follow, and I enjoy a lot of it.

That said, I probably will not continue Polish studies in 2012. The frustrations were just too many, and I'm not in the right place for it right now. Maybe I'll come back to it another year, though. It's a very pretty language, and I can certainly appreciate the history and culture that goes with the language.

Finally, Turkish has sort of become my new love of the year. I've probably spent the most time on this language - more than any other language I've looked at since Italian (another great love of mine.) I've reached a B1 level, which was my goal. When I'm not working or out and about, I have something Turkish playing/going on in the background. I completed three full courses, then later in the year went back and reviewed them again. I've discovered a huge amount of music. Turkish TV has thankfully been very easy to come by on the internet. I watch two programs every single night - Burada Laf Çok and the news on CnnTürk. And I've gotten into a soap on Kanal D called Yıllar Sonra.

I also got a regular conversation partner around the middle of the year. We started out talking 2-3 times a week for very short periods of about 10 minutes and have gradually upped the time to 45 minutes to an hour each time. That has helped tremendously. Over the last half of this year the conversations have gone from me asking quite basic things to being able to have a fairly unscripted conversation. I say "fairly unscripted" because we still try to have a topic in mind beforehand, but other than the topic, it's free-flowing for the most part.

I will definitely continue my Turkish studies in 2012. I hope to get to an upper B2 level by the end of the year.

And now on to 2012.

I won't be actively studying three languages like I tried this year. I think three was too much. Two, however, is doable. So in trying to choose another language to accompany Turkish, I decided I'd try and stay within the Anatolian region, looking at the languages that border Turkey. So that gave me Greek, Bulgarian, Georgian, Armenian, Persian or some form of Arabic. Quite a diverse choice, no?

In the end I chose Georgian. My little diversion this last year to learn the Georgian alphabet was a lot of fun and really piqued my interest in not just the language, but in Georgian history. I don't plan on getting to a very high level with the language - A2, perhaps, but not higher than that. This is partly due to the amount of learning materials I can find for the language, but mainly because I really want to concentrate on getting Turkish to a higher level.

To track what I'll be doing in Georgian, I'm going to be using a goal-tracking website that I learned about on Lifehacker called I've already set up my basic goals here, although they're not scheduled to be locked into place until January 1, 2012. The list of goals is currently set at 28 and includes three courses to complete, as well as tasking me with finding music and movies. I decided to try to use the site to track my goals because it offers some social interaction, and even challenges that other users can suggest and/or join in.

So that's what my 2012 looks like.

It's been a great year overall for me, and I'm looking forward to 2012!