Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sentence mining, or 10.000 sentences

Ok, so there's a bit of misunderstanding about this going on, and not a lot of information.
I suppose people need... forms or something. "Take this, put it in, do this et voilà"

10.000 sentences at Learn Any Language Wiki

Yes, it really is that simple. You take 10.000 sentences, put them on flashcards (when digital, called SRS and suddenly is not flashcards, which are stupid >:->), and learn them. How you do that is your business.
But, the mistakes a lot of people make, are
- using ANY sentence, preferably someone else's...
- using READY WRITTEN "sentence packs", not writing them themselves
- NOT UNDERSTANDING EACH WORD IN THE SENTENCES. Because you are not to learn words but sentences. (rolling eyes).

One of the "things" with this is that YOU CHOOSE THE SENTENCES.
Of course you can parrot someone else's choices, and you will learn the language, but the point with 10.000 sentences is that you remove the unnecessary junk of language learning. I mean, I have NEVER had the discussion "Hello, how are you? I'm fine, thank you, and how are you? I'm fine, too, thank you." in ANY language. 99% of Finnish courses online start with this practically useless crap, because that's what people think they need to learn.So, think of the situations you imagine you are going to experience and what you would like to be able to say and WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THE RESPONSES.
It's all fine to say "Hello, my name is Ketutar, and I am a middle-aged Finnish woman, married, with no children, no pets, blah blah blah", but... who is really interested of any of that information?
"My name is...", sure. "What is your name?". "I am Finnish, where do you come from?". "I love animals, especially cats. What is your favorite animal?". "I want to go to this address, could you help, please?" "I would like to have a cup of tea, with milk, no sugar, and something sweet to eat with it. What kind of pastries do you have?" "No onions, thank you."...
Perhaps you don't plan on traveling as your first reason to learn a language, and then learning how to ask for directions is useless information. At this point of your learning. Maybe you would like to read books in your target language? My reasons to want to learn Russian is a) books, tv series and movies in Russian. b) the huge, amazing and skillful arts and crafts community of Russia, sharing a vast treasure chest of information in Russian only. After that there's plenty of other benefits of knowing Russian, and it would be wonderful to visit Russia some time, as a tourist. But that's in the future and secondary. This means that I should choose my 10.000 sentences from the books I want to read and from the artisan blogs I want to understand, not from phrase books or language courses (either in RL or on the Internet.)

Another thing is that YOU WRITE THE SENTENCE. You, personally, write down every letter, every sign, and you read it when you write it. This would be more effective, if you did it by hand, and not by computer. Nevertheless, using someone else's work robs you of this part of learning.
One of the goals of 10.000 sentences is that you are able to write the sentences. If you just copy something on the internet someone else wrote (or copied), do you know how to write it? Can you reproduce it on a piece of paper with no access to internet?

You find out how to PROPERLY PRONOUNCE the sentence and practice as many times as it takes for you to produce as good a pronunciation as you can. Record your pronunciation and compare with original. The point with this is that every time you see the sentence, you also hear it in your head properly pronounced, and soon you won't be able to separate the two. Every time you say it, you will pronounce it properly, and EVERY TIME YOU HEAR IT, you understand it.

There is a Finnish.. anecdote or something, called "hauki on kala" (pike is a fish). A student studies for biology test by repeating mindlessly the words from the text, and then cannot make any conclusions with this information, cannot expand the sentence, wouldn't be able to say what the pike is NOT, or mention other examples of fishes.
Now, language learning doesn't quite work this way, but this is the idea behind "The sentences should be learned without rote memorization. You will end up "memorizing" the sentences merely through repetition, but your goal should be understanding, not memorization."

Now, I didn't choose my sentences. Or, let's say, I didn't choose them to best fit my intentions with language learning, but because of the "that's the way to do it". I have decided to learn the 100 most commonly used words of Russian, so that's what I'm doing, and as they gave some sample sentences, and as people say "don't learn words, learn sentences", I'm going to learn the 100 most commonly used words in sentences, and what the sentences are, I don't care.
So my first sentence  is "Я живу в Москве"
This sentence is given as a sentence where the most common word in Russian is being used.

To do sentence mining properly, now it's time to understand it and every word in it. This is one part a lot of miners do wrong - or, more precisely, don't do at all. They just learn the sentence and move on.

Now, you are not to just learn the sentence as meaning "I live in Moskva", but you are to deconstruct the sentence.
The individual bits of the sentence are "I" (Я, by the way, is the 4th most common word in Russian), "to live", жить "in", в, and "Moskva" (the native name to Moscow), and IT IS THE DIFFERENCES FROM THE BASIC FORM THAT GIVES US THE INFORMATION WE WANT. Which means that WE NEED TO KNOW THE BASIC FORM to be able to know the difference... :-D

One difference is that the verb ends with -у, and not -ть. Checking other verb endings of 1.sing. I see that they all end with -у or -ю́. (I also notice that the other forms end differently, so Russian has verb conjugation in person. Now, I could learn the inflections the same way I did in school (я живу́, ты живёшь, он живёт, она живет, мы живём, вы живёте, они живу́т), which is actually a very good way of learning them, because it works as a mnemonic device - the repetition of same pattern. It also teaches the pronouns very effectively, but that's not the Sentence Mining way. So not going there.)

The other thing I learn from this sentence is "в Москве". Ah. The only reason I notice that is that I know Moskva is written with A in neutral, basic form.This is why it's important to actually use the native names of places when studying languages. So when using в, I need to remember to change the main word as well. I'll learn how as I go, but as for now, "in" will be "в + -е", not just в.

With this it's irrelevant if you use cloze deletion with your SRS, because the idea with this is the massive exposure to the language, not memorization. You are to SEE the sentences and HEAR them in your mind, if not ears, A LOT. Not just a couple of hours a day, no, a lot. Like ALL THE TIME.
"You’ve been mining your sentences diligently, but you still have trouble even following a conversation let alone participating, right? Maybe you still can’t follow your favorite anime. Right. OK, I have a question for you. How much Japanese are you listening to? Whatever your answer is, I can guarantee you that it hasn’t been enough for long enough yet. Which is why I suggest you: Listen to 10,000 hours of Japanese over the next 18 months."
Khatzumoto at AJATT
Yeah... that's about 18 hours A DAY... He's not kidding with "ALL JAPANESE ALL THE TIME". 

6 weeks' challenge: Russian

Ok... so I'm back. For now.
I don't think I'll ever become a "superpolyglot", because I just lack the tenacity. Whatever. :-D

Anyway, Russian...
I'm trying on a new concept.

On my "6 weeks from zero to C2" plan, day one goes:
learn the alphabet
learn the numbers
deconstruct the language (apple is red)
thank you
good morning
100 most used words on flashcards
put the Omniglot phrases + vocabulary on flashcards
find a radio station of everyday music and talk and listen for 30 minutes of radio

The alphabet. Pretty straightforward. Except for и краткое, твёрдый знак and мягкий знак - short i, hard sign and soft sign. I mean, I know how they work, but remembering the names when reading out the alphabet... eh.
And the fracking esses. I have made cards to try to remember them, you know, like the classic children's alphabet pictures. Zebra, journal, Chekhov, tzar, chess and "shchuka" - the pike.
Why the pike, you might ask. Well... in my mind, the Russians used planes called "pike" during WWII against Finland. Firstly, it wasn't Russians, it was the Germans, and the planes weren't called "pike", but Stukas. The thing is that it's not even pronounced the same way,  Щ is more just another "shsh" sound, but it's SUPPOSED to be "shch" instead of "shsh". And why would the Russians - or anyone - name an airplane after a fish? Doesn't even make any sense! :-D But - mnemonic devices don't need to make any sense, they just need to work :-D I suppose flying fish fighters is a memorable picture.

The numbers are very straightforward as well.
Except for the number 40... :-D
I really like numbers. Oh, and the pronunciation... not so self-evident.

Deconstructing the language

The apple is red. => Яблоко красное.
It is John's apple. => Это яблоко Джона.
I give John the apple. => Я даю Джону яблоко.
We give him the apple. => Мы даём ему яблоко.

He gives it to John => Он даёт это Джону.
She gives it to him. => Она даёт это ему.

Is the apple red? => Яблоко красное?
The apples are red. => Яблоки красные.

I must give it to him. => Я обязан ему это дать.
I want to give it to her. => Я хочу ей это дать.
I'm going to know tomorrow. => Я узнаю завтра.
I have eaten the apple. => Я съел яблоко.
I can't eat the apple. => Я не могу есть яблоко.

useful phrases
Good morning - Доброе утро!
Thank you - Спасибо!

Top 100 Russian words
And here we went haywire... :-D

I love learning words. I love my flashcards. I love the parrot style. Yes, it works. You know, all these people who will tell you that you should absolutely not learn words because they are useless.

Sorry, bullshit.
They are not useless.
I agree in that if you ONLY have words and grammatical rules in your head, you wouldn't be able to use the language very much. The grammatical rules would be pretty... meaningless, the words... very... not fluid. :-D One would be able to make oneself understood, to some extent, get one's basic needs fulfilled, perhaps. "I thirsty".
Now, the pronunciation... with IPA it's possible one would have a pronunciation that's understandable, even when it would not be good. (Well... I actually managed to learn French pronunciation OK - some sounds are even "good". But it's just words.)
So, yes, one cannot learn a language by learning words like a parrot. BUT learning words like a parrot is not useless. That's about the way children learn languages.
All these "learn sentences, learn the words in sentences, not in itself" people forget the very important step of how kids learn languages.
How to Learn Any Language in Two Months, Part 2: SENTENCE MINING
"I put a little food on the table"
"I squeezed a little lemon on my avocado toast"
"I pooped a little on the carpet"
I need to know what is "food" and "table". I need to know what is "lemon" and "avocado toast". I need to know what is "poop" and "carpet". To be able to deduce the grammar "a little" and "on", I need to have the building blocks in between. I mean, how many kids say things like "little mouses" or "little sheeps"? If they had learned the word in context, they would use the correct plural form automatically... but they are deducting. One toy, many toys, one spoon, many spoons, one mouse, many mouses, one sheep, many sheeps...
I could be staring at a sentence in hours without it opening to me if I have NOTHING to go after. There is this story of this man who took a Portuguese book with him to a vacation, and he had basically nothing else to do but try to figure out the book. He had no dictionaries or anything else, just the text in Portuguese, a language he didn't know anything about. He managed to figure out the language well enough to be able to actually read and understand the book during his month-long vacation. Now, I believe he knew some language that is related to Portuguese, or at least some words,  to have SOMETHING to go by.
I mean, look at this and tell me what it is:

 So if you have the 1000 most common words of a language in your vocabulary, in their basic forms, suddenly the sentences make sense and it is possible for you to start deducting and associating and experimenting with sheeps and mouses, and realize that that's not right, and correct your sheep and mice, and the more you see the correct forms, the less you remember the wrong ones. You have to have SOMETHING to be able to USE the sentences.
I mean, you COULD learn to say "Как тебя зовут?" with perfect pronunciation, but if you don't know what you are saying... There is this story of a Swedish guy asking his Finnish friends how to say "I love you" in Finnish so that he can say that to girls on the ferry to Finland, and his friends tell him "minä olen hirvi". Which means "I am a moose". (Я лось in Russian, compared to я люблю тебя.)

This also goes for "don't translate" rule. A lot of people are getting their knickers in a twist because "they can't stop translating!!!". It's not a problem. You stop it when you know the language well enough. 
It's like learning to read. In the beginning we name each letter. We say it out loud. We follow the letters with our finger. Then you start reading the words as pictographs. Then you stop talking. You still say the word in your mind, but you don't say it out loud. Then you stop following the text with your finger. Then you stop voicing the text. Though I still do that. :-D Some people don't "read out loud" in their heads, I've heard. It makes them read faster. I'm OK with my reading speed :-D You start reading whole sentences instead of words, then whole pages instead of sentences, and at that point you are speed-reading. :-D 
The same thing happens with languages. In the beginning you are thinking in your mother tongue, about what you want to say. You don't do that with languages you are fluent in. You don't think what you are saying, you just say it, because you are so used to say it. Most of us aren't even aware of most of what we say. So go ahead and translate as much as you feel like. You will stop it when you are ready.

Anyway, I find SOME basic vocabulary VERY HELPFUL in learning languages, which, of course, happens in context, by using it. By memorizing words you are collecting bricks, not building houses, but you can't build houses without the bricks.

As you see they give sample sentences where the word is being used... and as so many people are talking about "don't learn words, learn sentences", I'm going to try that this time. It shouldn't take that much longer to learn sentences instead of words.
But I suspect it makes my understanding of the language worse, or slower, but, whatever. We'll get there, sooner or later.

So - putting words on flashcards and memorizing them... not going to happen. Putting sentences on flashcards and memorizing them instead. And, yes, with translation.

Finding a radio station: Russian radio stations streaming
I think Russian Hit is a good choice. Good contemporary pop music and ads and a lot of Russian.