Monday, January 23, 2012

Using Learning With Texts

I've known about a program called Learning with Texts for a while now, but only just got around to installing it and beginning to use it. It's a great tool!

At first glance, it looks like it's a pretty involved install process. It's really not, and took me less than half an hour to get everything set up. I have a free hosted account on, so I set it up there. I can access it anywhere over the internet. But it can also be installed locally on Windows, Macs or Linux PCs. I will probably also install a local copy on my Linux/Ubuntu PC so I have a mirrored backup.

I won't go into the install details. They're explained pretty well on the Learning With Texts web site. In this post, I'll concentrate on how I'm using it.

The Main screen is simple and nicely laid out:

Everything can be initiated from this page.

I added my languages by clicking on the "My Languages" link:

Once I added my languages, it was time to add some text. I did this through the "My Text" link:

I also added Tags to easily sift through all the information as my text collection grows.

Once the text was added, I could then begin to read, edit and categorize the text, using dictionaries I'd defined in the "My Languages" set up page. There was also an option to use Google Translate for sentence translations, as opposed to single word translations.

When looking up and editing words, a value of 1-5 can be set, indicating how well you know the word. You can also choose "Well Known" or "Ignore" for words. I've been using "Ignore" for things like proper names, where a translation isn't needed. These levels are shown in different colors, according to what knowledge level you've set.

In my Georgian studies, I'm specifically using songs to learn the language. You can add audio as media too!

This makes it easy to follow the text as the song or other audio plays.

Once you've got everything entered, edited and categorized, you can check out how you're progressing through the "My Statistics" link:

From there, you can drill further down using filters based on your level (1-5), as well as tags.

I sometimes use Anki during down or wasted minutes to review words and phrases. Learning With Texts provides a way to export these filtered lists so that they can be easily imported into Anki:

I'm finding a lot of use with this software. It's going to take me a while to enter everything I want to enter, but it's a great way to visualize my progress and keep track of what exactly I'm learning.

I highly recommend it!

Monday, January 16, 2012

More TV

They've recently moved the schedule around at Kanal D, so I can no longer watch my two soaps - Asi and Yabancı Damat - at the normal time I've been watching them. Kanal D offers all Asi episodes online, so I can still watch that whenever I want, but Yabancı Damat seems to have been wiped from the site, so if I want to continue watching the show, I'll have to find other means.

Another show, "Gece Gündüz" (Night and Day), is now showing in the timeslot that Yabancı Damat used to play. I initially dismissed it. The first episode I saw prominently featured a character named "Sipsi", which was beyond over-the-top silly, but I've grown to like it. It's a standard good cop, bad cop show.

Speaking of cops shows, I'm also really getting into another show on Kanal D called "Arka Sokaklar" (Back Streets). The show initially ran in 2006. I'm liking it a lot!

And finally the last show I'm starting to watch is "Kuzey Güney" (North South). It's a fairly new soap on Kanal D that started broadcasting late last year.

I'm continuing to watch my normal news shows, Güne Merhaba and Günaydın, as well as Burada Laf Çok. There's certainly no shortage of video input for me, and it's all helping to increase my vocabulary.

Speaking of vocabulary, I've gone a couple lessons deeper into Yeni Hitit. I can't praise this course enough! While I'm not getting any new grammar (yet), I'm getting so much new vocabulary - all of it comprehensible. I run into a lot of words I don't know, but I rarely use the dictionary to figure out the meaning. There's so much included visually in the course, whether it's a photo or an illustration, that it's enough of a clue to figure out any unknown vocabulary. And that's what makes it stick for me. I wish I'd started in with this course sooner. It's that good.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Learning my first Georgian song

I mentioned in a previous post that one of my goals was to learn one popular Georgian song each month. After listening to many, many songs, I've decided on my first song to learn - it's "გაიღვიძა ბუნებამ" (Gaigviza Bunebam, meaning "Nature has awoken") by Mgzavrebi.

I chose this song for a couple reasons. Number one, it had to be singable with a memorable melody. I'm just not going to learn something that's not floating around in my head, and a memorable melody will easily stick. Second, I could find the lyrics online, written in Georgian, which is giving me some more reading practice.

The more I listen to it, the more I like it. It's got a pretty, yet easily singable and memorable melody and the song has recognizable and repeatable verses and choruses.

The Georgian music site I'd posted about earlier lets me download individual songs, so I can stick it on my mp3 player and listen to it offline.

In briefly looking at what Google Translate gives me, it looks like the song is mostly in the present tense, except for part of the refrain, so I consider that a plus for as early on as I am with the language.

Anyway, here are the full lyrics for the song. I found them here:

გაიღვიძა ბუნებამ,და გამოჩნდა ნაპირი
იმ ნაპირზე ნავია,ჩემი გამოგზავნილი,
ნავზე თეთრი თოლია,ფიქრებს გამოჰყოლია,
ჰარმონია ბუნების,სრული მელანქოლია.
მებადური ზღვაშია,მისი ბადე წყალშია,
ყურს არ უგდებს არავის,ის თავის სტიქიაშია,

გაიღვიძა ბუნებამ,და გამოჩნდა ნაპირი,
იმ ნაპირზე ნავია,ჩემი გამოგზავნილი.
მეთევზე,ნავი,ბადე,თოლი ა
ზღვა,ცა,ნაპირი ჩემი მგონია,
წუთები წამებს ვეღარ ეწევა,
ვერც დაეწევა, ასე მგონია,
ღრუბელი ღრუბელს თუ დაეჯახა,
წვიმა წამოვა, ასე მგონია,
მეთევზემ თევზი თუ დაიჭირა,
ვერც ცაც ეწეწვა,ასე მგონია,,,

გაიღვიძა ბუნებამ,და გამოჩნდა ნაპირი,
იმ ნაპირზე ნავია,ჩემი გამოგზავნილი,
გაიღვიძა ბუნებამ,და გამოჩნდა ნაპირი,
იმ ნაპირზე ნავია,ჩემი გამოგზავნილი

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yeni Hitit

My major goal with Turkish this year is to double my vocabulary. I think I've got a pretty good handle on at least the grammar basics, so vocabulary is my focus, although I'll certainly be doing review of already known grammar and hopefully taking in some new grammar too.

I've got the complete "Yeni Hitit" 3-volume course and my plan is to use volume one for grammar review and learn new vocabulary, then continue on to volumes two and three, which most likely has all new grammar material for me.

I'm only about half way through volume one and, I gotta say, it's packed with new vocabulary. I'm well over three hundred new words at this point. I'm finding I'm remembering the vocabulary really well too. The book is full of colorful illustrations and diagrams that make all this new material really comprehensible. All these visual cues help reinforce the meaning.

I'm finding that the grammar review is pretty comprehensive too. Volume one really gets into the subjunctive mood later on in the book. I had looked at the subjunctive last year, but I can already tell that I'm going to get much more exposure to it in this course. I haven't even cracked volume two or three to see what all is covered, but I can only imagine it's going to be a really complete course.

When I'm Skyping with my conversation partner, it's pretty easy to just rely on what I've already learned and not really push myself with either vocabulary or grammar. I'm hoping this, combined with all the other media I'm taking in, will help.

All in all, I'm really happy with Yeni Hitit. I think it's going to pull me out of my intermediate funk.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting into Georgian

In between all my Turkish studies and media consumption, I've begun some of my Georgian lessons. I've now completed two lessons from Dodona Kiziria's "Beginning Georgian", as well as the first three lessons in the Peace Corps Georgian language Beginner Program.

Both courses start off with the alphabet. I'm pretty comfortable with it by now. In fact, I remembered quite a bit of it from my look at it last April. I've set my laptop up to be able to use the Georgian keyboard layout, and I've also got a soft Georgian keyboard for my Android tablet. I don't really plan on doing to much handwriting, but I also have Genial Writing that I can use.

In the following two lessons of each course, they go over basic introductions, the present tense for "to be", etc. Interestingly, Georgian does not have an infinitive form for verbs, so all verbs are noted in an active form. The Kiziria book always uses the second person singular form. It'll be interesting to see how useful dictionaries are when I get to the point of needing them. I know that there are a couple dictionaries out there that list every person and conjugation of a verb. That seems like overkill to me, but when the time comes, we'll see.

One of my goals I've listed over on for Georgian this year is to learn the words to one popular song every month. I've found a pretty great Georgian music site here that I think will help a lot for that. It's going to take me a while to settle on which songs I want to learn, but the characteristics that I'm looking for are something that will aid in my pronunciation and a good, singable melody.

Speaking of, I've also joined a fairly active challenge over there to complete 8 lessons of a language course within 30 days. I'm using the Kiziria course for that.

I initially thought that it would be difficult finding resources to learn Georgian, but I'm finding plenty. Certainly enough to keep me busy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Infomercials. I generally hate them. They don't add anything positive to my life, and what they're usually peddling isn't something I would want, much less need.

So last night in between my usual Turkish shows "Yabancı Damat" and "Günaydın" on Kanal D there was about a ten minute gap that they sometimes use to show music videos or other random things. Last night it happened to be an infomercial. I've seen the infomercial before, or at least when it starts, but I usually switch away before I even know what the product is that they're selling. Out of laziness, I kept the infomercial running, figuring it would only be ten minutes before the news came on. The product they were selling was four jars of honey, and included a free sample of pollen.

I learned a couple words I had no use for before, but now I can't forget them. Why? These infomercials tend to repeat and repeat and repeat the product and testimonials. I counted ten times that the words "kavanoz" and "balı" ("jar" and "honey") were used within a ten minute period, each time clearly showing and using the product. I didn't know these words before. I do now. They were drilled into my head. Had I not already known what the testimonials were saying, I would have also learned those too (there were many, many "çok güzel"s and "süper"s).

After watching the news last night, before going to bed I thought about blogging about the infomercial right then, but decided I wanted to test how ingrained these new words were. Well, they're as fresh as when they were drilled into my brain last night.

So now I've got a new tool in my arsenal of learning materials. The next time I see an infomercial come on, I won't switch away. I'll probably learn a thing or two.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And 2012 begins...

2012 is already off to a good start!

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm going to really be concentrating on improving my Turkish. That means I need to increase my vocabulary. I'll be continuing with Turkish TV and radio, using the usual Kanal D, CNNTürk and PowerTürk, as well as anything else that I can consume.

I also managed to get my hands on the complete set of Yeni Hitit. Amazon lists the full three-volume course at $260.00 USD. I paid $20 bucks for the used set, with the accompanying CDs. Only the first volume looks like it's been used at all - and not much at that, so I got a deal! I'll probably do a light review of volume 1 (I've already begun), then start in earnest on volume 2 and work my way through volume 3. Volume 2 supposedly takes you through B1 level, which is currently where I rank myself, albeit a low B1. Volume three claims a B2/C1 level.

My vocabulary is currently at close to 3000 words, and my plan is to double that number.

And I'm going to start to learn a little Georgian. I've already gathered all the learning materials I plan to use to hopefully get to an A2 level. I've got Dodona Kiziria's "Beginning Georgian"as well as George Hewitt's "Georgian: A Learner's Grammar". I'll probably be using the Learner's Grammar as a reference, nothing more. Later on in the year, I plan on adding is some real media to the mix in the form of music, movies and broadcast TV.

I've already slowly begun a couple Georgian lessons. I'm pleasantly surprised at the number of Turkish cognates I'm running into, and expect I'll be running into them all year long.

This year I hope to keep this blog's postings better tagged. Looking back over last year's entries, they were all overlapped, most having either two or three languages tagged in each, which defeats the purpose of having tags at all. So I'll try to post separately for each language instead.

And with that, 2012 Turkish/Georgian is under way!