Many of you have probably already seen it, but my guest post was published a few days ago on Lindsay Does Languages. I wrote about incorporating novel-reading into your learning routine. And hello to my visitors from Lindsay’s blog!
So, I’ve been learning lots of new languages (although Tamil fizzled out after a couple of weeks, I’m sad to say D: It was fun while it lasted!). I wanted to write an update on what I’ve been doing, rather than simply planning out study schedules.
Because of a life-long obsession with Judaism (no, I’m not Jewish… which makes me a bit sad!), I decided to start ploughing away at Hebrew and Yiddish a couple months ago. Hebrew is the main project with Yiddish on the side.
Modern Hebrew is so fascinating, and I’m glad I decided to finally take the plunge. I’ve learned the alef-bet (both print and handwritten!), which didn’t take too long– never let a different writing system deter you!
However, after learning some basics from a Lonely Planet phrasebook, I’ve had some difficulty finding a good beginner’s resource. I started out with Esther Raizen’s textbook, but I was not happy with it. I don’t own the audio recordings, and it seems like the book is highly dependent on them. Modern Hebrew script is an abjad, meaning it is mostly consonants, and vowels are generally not included. Beginner texts are often written with vowel diacritics so that learners can pronounce new words. The vocab sections don’t include the vowel diacritics for pronunciation, or even a transliteration, so it’s hard for a beginner to figure out how to say the words.
I ended up using a shared Anki deck called 500 Basic Hebrew Words. I’ve finished going through the words, and I’ve had a lot of success with it. Each card has a recording along with a Roman alphabet transliteration.
I’m not sure where to go next with Hebrew, though. I need to hunt down a good textbook– I’m thinking Colloquial Hebrew. The Duolingo Hebrew course was recently released into beta, and I gave that a try, but a lot of the recordings are still missing so it’s not too useful as a sole resource.
I love Yiddish because of the folk songs and literature, but Yiddish is, unfortunately, a language with few available learning resources (but there are lots of Yiddish novels and stories online!). I own College Yiddish, the main Yiddish textbook out there. I have to say, it’s wonderful! It’s thorough, with lots of reading sections to provide context. It’s the kind of textbook I wish others would emulate. It’s old and a bit dry, but I can’t recommend it more.
College Yiddish only has one drawback– the reading sections are so long and thorough that it’s incredibly tiring to read! It’s all in the Yiddish alef-beis, with no transliteration (which I suppose is good– Yiddish does contain vowels). This means a lot of flipping back to the alef-beis page, as well as a lot of effort involved in finding the Yiddish words in the glossary.
Thus far, I’ve completed the first three lessons, but I’ve since put Yiddish on hold in favor of Hebrew and screwing around in other languages 🙂
I’m playing around with Welsh simply out of curiosity! I’ve picked up Welsh before in my youth, and I own a Teach Yourself Welsh textbook, so why not try it again? (I have many, many textbooks…).
I’ve mostly been doing Duolingo, which is quite fun and easy compared to the Hebrew course. I’ve also been listening to BBC Cymru, which is entertaining.
Yup! We’ll see how far this goes!
Polish and German and Icelandic
These are the lowest priority languages of the moment. I’ve played around with Polish a lot before. I even went to a Polish language church for a year! I never did get a handle on the grammar, though. I’m basically just toying around with Duolingo (sense a theme here?) and seeing what I can pick up.
Same goes with German, although I understand a lot more German, thanks to my Dutch. I’m also attempting to read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in German translation.
Icelandic needs some reviving. I learned quite a bit for my trip to Iceland last year. Once there, like any bookworm, I bought armfuls and armfuls of kids’ books, as well as a good Icelandic-English dictionary. I was hampered before by the obvious lack of resources anywhere but Iceland, but I’ve clearly solved that problem now! I think I’ll flip through either my Icelandic Harry Potter or Winnie-the-Pooh and see what I pick up.
Yeah, that’s a lot of languages, and no, I’m not focusing on all of them the same amount. I’m playing around with a lot to see what I like and what I might want to learn to a high level. We’ll see what happens!