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How multiple projects can distract you

August 5, 2010

There are more than 2 years that I started again , more or less, seriously to study languages. Though the main motive for me to do so was  to edit and translate articles in Wikipedia. Mostly I contribute  to the Greek version, already more than 2 years and 5 months. Anyone who  reads Modern Greek can  see my contribution on my user page .

Most of the articles I created there where translations of the equivalent articles from  the English, French , Russian or Esperanto Wikipedia. The translation method, though regarded as unnatural and neglecting of speech,  can be an incentive to work on your target language.

The procedure is simple. You choose an article on a subject of your interest and start the translation process. Of course you should have   in mind the editing rules of Wikipedia and this may take some days of preparation.  But after that first step you will be able to edit relatively fast the already existing pages  and create your own.

Wikimedia Commons

After many days that I stopped editing Wikipedia articles, due to a translation job that I have to complete soon…my plans is to be back the next days on this great project and get concentrated  to the Russian-Greek translations. This is  in full accordance with my goal to write and speak  Russian fluently in the next months. But it will help obviously  more to my writing capacities  in Russian.

So , I intend  to eliminate any activity that engages the use of other foreign languages . I have to try not using English at all (but I have to write in English on this blog) or Esperanto (though I have to finish the translation of an Esperanto-Greek dictionary) , but in the same time perform everything in Russian. This may be quite confusing  in the small city that I live.

Because of that  it  is not easy to have  even a 20 minutes conversation with a native Russian speaker  in my city.  First, you can not find one easily and  when it happens  all of them  seem to be  very preoccupied. On the other hand they  trying every time to switch the conversation into Greek.  Finally,  I prefer to use Skype or even phone calls to my friends or relatives  that live in Russia, in order to practice just a little bit.

Since I will be reading , speaking and listening the Russian language for many hours of the day I hope that in the next 8 or more months I will  achieve  some serious level of fluency. Sorry that my today’s entry is not about Modern Greek …but I am a language addict myself trying to find ways to speak and read literature of  the languages that I love.

If you have yourself any useful tips that can help me to brush up my Russian in the next few months or how to stay away from multiple tasks, please share it with us.

Although I will be very unhappy to stop using English and Esperanto for the  period that I have to  be focused exclusively on  Russian, I will try at least to keep up posting regularly (on a week basis)  about Modern Greek language.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 5, 2010 9:51 am

    Δεν νομίζω ότι είναι πολύ μεγάλο πρόβλημα ότι έχεις πολλά σχέδια. Και εγώ μαθαίνω πολλές γλώσσες και πολλά αλλα πράγματα παράλληλα και αυτό είναι πολύ καλύτερο από να προσπαθώ να κάνω μονα ένα πράγμα.

    Μπορείς να μάθεις και ρωσικα, και Εσπεράντο και αγγλικά και αν θέλεις υποχρεωτικά να μάθεις ρωσικα μπορείς να πας στην Ρωσία.

    Εγώ νομίζω ότι δεν ξέρεις ποτέ τι ευκαιρίας θα έχεις και είναι σημαντικό να μάθεις πολλά πράγματα που μπορείς να βελτίωσεις όταν έχεις την ευκαιρία για αυτό. Για παράδειγμα, αν δεν έχεις την ευκαιρία να ασκείς ρωσικα, αυτό σημαίνει ότι αν θα το κανεις, οι σπουδές σου δεν θα είναι και πολύ γρήγορές και πολύ ενδιαφἐρον, και είναι καλύτερο να μάθεις πολλά πράγματα ότι να είναι πιο ενδιαφἐρον και έτσι θα μάθεις πολύ γρήγορα. Και μετά μπορείς να δράστας τις ευκαιρίας που έχεις για να μάθεις περισσότερο.

    Δεν ξέρω αν κατάλαβες κάτι. 🙂

  2. August 5, 2010 4:38 pm

    The last 2 sentences are not that clear.

    Well, I disagree with you, though I do not regret that I started learning Esperanto while I was already studying Russian. The significance and the level of difficulty of each learning object is totally different..And I do not feel that I had any progress in my Russian the last two years. I need to reverse that in a soon period of time. My goal is to speak in a very short period at least 3 major languages in the next 2 years.

    What you propose is too vague. Yes, I could learn Russian fast if I was there , but I am not sure that I want to visit Russia in the future. You can find Russian-speaking people everywhere in all the ex-Soviet countries and not only there. But I want to master the language and not just to wait when my job will give me the opportunity for a long term vacation…

  3. August 5, 2010 10:19 pm

    Right. Here’s what I think. I will try to put the staments in a logical form and provide evidence:

    1) You learn more efficiently (meaning: you learn more putting in the same amount of time) when you are enjoying the process.
    This is because you don’t get distracted as much, you are more eager to take bigger chunks of the language at a time, you dedicate more time to it and research suggest good mood helps to remember.

    2) You learn more efficiently when you can put your language to use (putting to use means speaking with a native speaker or using in some interesting way, i.e. reading something amazing, or something similar.)
    This is because you reinforce the material in your brain which is nice, also communicating gives you good feelings which again helps you remember, etc.

    I would say that the conclusion that I am trying to get to is this:
    * It is more efficient (and as a nice bonus: more enjoyable) to learn more than one language at the same time PROVIDED you feel like it.
    Which can be further warranted by the claim:
    * It is better to learn more efficiently and more enjoyably.
    Because those two are big values.

    And then the final conclusion would be:
    * We should learn more than one language at the same time (If only you feel like that).

    What I have to prove then is the following:
    * Learning more than one language at the same time (if you feel like it) is a) more enjoyable for you and b) you can put it to use more often.

    As for
    a) it is more enjoyable to you because you choose it
    what you choose is more enjoyable generally (as oppose to what you do due to other reasons)
    b) it you can put it to use more often because it is more LIKELY that you will get more opportunities to use it
    the more languages you know, the more chances you have to find native speakers or interesting content in those language; this is true because we never know what’s in store for us in life

    For example, if I had studied only French and no Italian I might have been pretty good in French but it would be of no use to me since I don’t meet any French speakers but meet Italian speakers instead. On the other hand, provided I have studied both French and Italian to some extent, I can now practice Italian because I have the opportunity to do so and I can learn it in an enjoyable way now once I have an opportunity. At the end of the day, I will speak some French and Italian which is two languages while in the other case I would have only spoken French which is one language.

    (As for Italian: I don’t actually have THAT many opportunities to use it plus I decided not to pursue it too much this time for I’m busy with Greek but that was a general example to give).

    So, I’ll put the argument together (rearranging a bit – ah, my statements are in place of my warrants, something went wrong). This will be a nice exercise:

    STATEMENT1: Learning more than one language at the same time allows you to choose which makes it possible to choose the more enjoyable outcome.
    WARRANT1: You learn more efficiently by enjoying the learning.
    CONCLUSION1: Learning more than one language at the same time is more enjoyable.

    STATEMENT2:Learning more than one language at the same time allows to put what you have learned to use.
    WARRANT1:You learn more efficiently by putting what you have learned to use.
    CONCLUSION1: Learning more than one language at the same time is more efficient.

    Let’s use that same conclusion in a statement:
    STATEMENT: Learning more than one language at the same time (provided we feel like it) is more enjoyable and more efficient.
    WARRANT: We should follow joy and efficiency.
    CONCLUSION: We should learn more than one language at the same time (provided we feel like it)!

    Well, disregard this. What I want to say is that if you learn many languages you will be more likely to be able to use them which is cooler! 😉

  4. August 6, 2010 11:48 am

    Well , I am trying to follow your logical sequence trying, but I have some objections :

    To enjoy a language means that you have reached a high level where you can use both reading and speaking skills. Doing that at the same time for 2 languages or more means that you need double or triple time to achieve your goal. This is may turn to frustration , as soon as your efforts do not have results.

    Under this perspective your conclusion that learning more languages is more enjoyable is doubtful …

    Regarding your 2ond conclusion of course there are more chances to speak with someone when you speak more, and the more languages you speak the more chances you have. But if we examine an ordinary person this doesn’t happen to be the case (I mean that it is not a common practice and still the advice that language teachers give is usually not to mix them). On the other hand the time we have to devote on these is limited…So, to my opinion , if somenone wants really to enjoy the language learning he better get focused on the his target language and achieve an advance level to it….Since he will be satisfied he can move on to his next goal…

  5. August 6, 2010 2:41 pm

    The problem with ‘advanced’ is that you are never advanced.

  6. August 6, 2010 5:48 pm

    Hmm…I guess you are never advanced before you become an expert 😀

  7. August 9, 2010 1:33 pm

    Well, in a way, you never do.

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