Sunday, 23 January 2011

So many materials, where do you start?

Last time I posted a pic of my bookshelves. Well, here it is again, closer up, better lighting and with 4 new additions.

One thing that's quite good about being so low on funds is that you're really forced to stop getting new things and take a look at all the things you bought before and never really used. What better time to get my money's worth out of them? Trouble is, I've amassed so much over recent years (and, believe it or not, I had a whole load before that I gave away!), that it's hard to know where to start. If I were to start in on Finnish, it would be an easy choice given that I only have one title in that language, but for Chinese (not shown here), French, German and Italian, I have several for each language, ranging from beginners/refreshers courses through more advanced and even business texts to reference. So where do I begin?

Chinese, although I have the most resources on hand for that, oddly enough is quite easy to decide as I know I need a grammar review, so am pressing on with the Schaum Outline book. I've also started to revise the vocab for the book we did during the first half of our recent year in Taiwan. When those two are done, then I have the fun of chosing from several dozen texts of all types...

French I wasn't expecting to take up again, but I've made two French friends (mother and daughter) where we now live and the mum wants to do a language exchange with me. We start tomorrow. She'll help me with French and I'll help her with Chinese, which she's recently started to learn seriously. She's already fluent in English and Spanish at least, so she's no novice to language learning. Should be fun! I decided to review my French more or less from scratch, so will be using the old edition I have of Teach Yourself French and probably backing that up with 'Hugo's French in Three Months'. I don't know that I think you can take in so much language in a mere quarter, but it will be great for revision.

German: I started re-working my former Open University course. When I did that back in about 2004, I got around half way through the materials, but still got a distinction on the whole course!! It is good, but I guess it was mostly just making me use it, clarifying a few language functions and learning new words for me. I could have managed the level 2 course - only that's now over £1000! Anyway, I decided to go through the old Teach Yourself German I've got and do a new grammar workbook on the side instead before I look at the OU course again later on. Being married to a German gives me frequent access to native speaker expertise.=)

I just love Italian, Italy, Italian food and so on, so I just couldn't resist picking up my Italian materials again. I put quite some work into it about 6 years ago before we went to Venice for a few days and I did a night school course when I was 17/18, so some is just revision, but there's a lot of new material in there for me and I'm loving the idea of really learning something new. Chinese, French and German are just revising and developing existing knowledge. So, Teach Yourself Beginners Italian (now called Get Started in Italian) has been pressed back into service. When you compare it to one or two other titles in the same series, there seems to be quite a lot to learn in the Italian one. Once this one's complete, I'll move on to TY Italian and one of the American grammar workbook things I've got.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm not really able to get new stuff at the mo, which is owing to us being un/under-employed, but these were only £2 each, so I couldn't resist the opportunity to get my hands on some higher level materials for later on. Not surprisingly for the English speaking world, post-beginners' foreign language self-study courses are rather the exception than the norm! For Mandarin, I'm only aware of 1 course so far (Colloquial Chinese 2).

Recently I considered trying to get funding for an MA in Language Acquisition, followed by a PhD focusing on learning multiple languages. I thought about what I wanted to know and why and came to the conclusion that, I didn't really want to study polyglots, I wanted to BE one, so have dumped that idea for the time being and got the self-study guides back out.

If you're reading this actually on-blog, you can see I've updated the photos of the books I'm working on in the sidebar. There's also one on English language studies, which is another OU course and the part I'm on now is looking at the development of English from it's early beginnings to now.

1 comment:

Elindomiel said...

Couldn't agree more with the first line!