Monday, April 23, 2012

Georgian resources

I haven't written much about my progress with Georgian so far this year. One would think that I've dropped it, but I haven't. It's just going slow. And I really have no need for it to go any faster than it's been going. I only want to reach an A2 level, at most, in the language by the end of the year.

I've finished Dodona Kiziria's Beginner's Georgian. It's a good course, but maybe not the best "first" course I could have gone through. I'm now in the process of going through George Hewitt's Georgian: A Learner's Grammar. It's turning out to be a complicated, slow slog, but I'm getting through it.

I recently heard of a free resource over on the HTLAL forum: Peace Corps: Georgia (CAUTION! It's a zipped file that's close to 500M). It includes text and audio files, and there is a separate directory with a video podcast and accompanying book.

I have to say, I wish I'd discovered this course before I started in with Kiziria's course. It's extremely easy to follow, albeit basic. I sort of liken it to a short Pimsleur course, in that it's very audio-oriented. They do go over the alphabet and writing, but the audio's the star of the course. The video podcast section is quite nice, too. They don't throw the entire alphabet at you in one lesson. They do it over three, and use simple, useful words to reinforce what you're learning. You're reading the letters/words on-screen as the tutor says them. I thought it was very well thought out. Overall, the course doesn't cover all that much beyond survival skills: names, numbers, days, food, places, and other things you might find in a basic phrasebook. But for someone with no exposure to Georgian, I highly recommend it. And you can't beat free cost!

In other Georgian news, I'm behind in my song-learning plans. I'm a month behind, actually. So in May I'll have to find two songs to learn in order to catch up. Not a big deal, but it's something else to consider.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time for another language diversion

Yesterday was April Fool's Day, 2012. I generally hate this day, because I'm sort of a technology and gadget junkie, and most tech sites tend to go full throttle on the gags. You can also find a few gags on some of the language sites, but they're mostly immune from the silliness of April Fool's.

With that in mind, I decided to go looking for a diversion from the languages I'm studying this year - mainly Turkish and secondarily Georgian. Truth be told, I was going through some old photos of my first ski trip to the Italian Alps and was reminded of a language I heard more than once up in the mountains of Piedmont - Piemontese, or Piemontèis. Piemontese is a Gallo-Italic language, a sub-group of the Romance language classification. The experience of hearing the language for the first time was interesting; it was one of "This sounds familiar. I should understand this, but I don't." A friend that went skiing with me, an Italian from Turin, saw the look on my face and said "Don't worry about it. I've lived here all my life and don't understand a word either."

So with that memory in mind, I set out to try and find some - any - learning resources on the internet. Early on in the day I tweeted that I wasn't finding much. I did, however, find a nice 20-lesson text-only course that I went through at Associazione Culturale Nòste Rèis, and thought it was pretty decent. Then I found a decent Piemontese-Italian dictionary which helped even more. With just those two resources, I was able to glean a lot.

And here is where things opened up for me as far as resources go. Getting through that short course and using a simple dictionary was enough for me to form complete sentences in the language, which meant I could now search using Piemontese in Google. Once I had enough of a vocabulary in the language to start searching for things, I found a wealth of resources online. I found so much, in fact, that it'll be enough to thoroughly learn the language at some point. I spent the day either outright downloading web pages and converting them to PDF files that I can use on my tablet, or bookmarking them for later reference.

All this brings me to something I've decided to participate in this year over at the How To Learn Any Language web site. Four times a year, they have a Six Weeks Challenge. I've never participated in one before, but would like to this year. I'm far enough along in my Turkish that it certainly won't get derailed - I spend on average more than three hours a day with Turkish. And I only plan on reaching an A2 level at best in Georgian, which I'm well on track to accomplishing. So I think Piemontese will be a nice project for an intense six weeks. I'm still not sure if I'll participate in the May challenge or the August challenge, but it'll be one of them.

I had originally thought to look at Afrikaans for the challenge, because I wanted a language that wouldn't distract too much from my primary goals and would be familiar enough that I wouldn't lose interest at the first sign of any difficulty. After spending the day with Piemontese, I think this language fits the bill. And truthfully, I have more interest in the language due to the region itself.

So there it is.  I said I wasn't going to do three languages this year. I lied.