Rosetta Stone – fifth update

Really not motivated to log into Rosetta Stone again. I think I’ll borrow some films instead to listen to Swedish. Sorry, I guess the motivation was never strong enough to sustain this…cropped-daffs.jpg

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Rosetta Stone – fourth update

I have logged into Rosetta Stone this lunchtime to give it another go and see how much I remember. Turns out I recognised more than I though I would (which made me feel nice)!

I have experimented with skipping some of the units in Lessons 2 to 4, and completed the review sections. I have been able to match most pictures to vocabulary, which means that I recognised words and phrases from earlier sessions, even if I could not actively use them. Some words and phrases I could also guess (colours, sky, sunshine, I am, we are), but that’s surely no the way to do it!

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Rosetta Stone – third update

I cannot remember a lot of Swedish at all… I can remember that I have previously learnt about men, women, girls, boys and fish, and that I have learnt that they can swim, run, eat, drink and even drive cars and ride bicycles, but the only sentence I can create with any confidence is “fisken simmar” (The fish is swimming). I thought I knew how to say “the women are swimming” but I got it wrong because the plural for “women” is “kvinnor”, not “kvinnar”. You can see where this is going… and this is BEFORE logging into Rosetta Stone today.

I wonder…

Perhaps Swedish isn’t the language I should be learning at this moment in time, as I lack the passion for the language (remember: I was considering Maltese – because I like going to Malta, eat rabbit, enjoy sunshine, and am fascinated by the structure of the language). There may be other reasons why it isn’t working out; have a look at “The many reasons (32 so far) why we DON’T succeed in learning languages” by Benny Lewis for some. Hmm.

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Rosetta Stone – second update

I left a week between Rosetta Stone sessions to see how much I would remember and how easy it would be to carry on with the programme. Before today’s session I could only remember “de simmar” – they swim – and that I had been told the words for various people and activities, such as cooking, drinking and running. By the way, if you want to read more about forgetting, try:

Ridgeway, K., Mozer, Michael C, and Bowles, A. 2017. Forgetting of Foreign‐Language Skills: A Corpus‐Based Analysis of Online Tutoring Software. Cognitive Science. [Online] 41(4), pp. 924-949. [Accessed 10 April 2018]. Available from: 10.1111/cogs.12385

Anyway, I re-started in the Reading section of Lesson 1. Using the tool that lets you listen to a native speaker and shows you how your own pronunciation compares really helped to get back into the swing of things, and I could continue with the chapter quite easily. I felt like I had to shout at the microphone sometimes but that may have been because of my local audio setup.

Unit 1: Lesson 1: Writing

This section started with the same matching exercises the reading section had just finished with. At first I was a bit disappointed with this but it all became clear a few minutes later when I had to copy out the phrases that had been repeated.

I like that there is an inbuilt keyboard, or you can use the one that is attached to your computer.

I would have liked a bit more of a consolidation section before starting the next unit, but it turned out to be fine.

Unit 2: Core lesson

In this section we are introduced to vocabulary relating to food, transport modes and animals, using the words we already know from the previous sections, e.g. “the boy eats bread”. New words are introduced with  clear pictures, which is helpful, after some of the earlier picture clues were not always obvious to me.

Towards the end of this section I wondered if I had lost the necessary concentration, but persevered to get to the end of the section. Turns out I had definitely lost concentration as it became clear that the programme was teaching me to say “not”, as in “he does not sleep”. For a few minutes I had thought it might mean “afterwards” but looking back that would have been far to advanced! I should have stuck with modelling German grammar, which would state “der Junge schlaeft nicht”. So English seems to have interfered with my logic here!

During a break from the programme (but not having paused it) the microphone picked up sounds while I was talking to a colleague (in English) and I passed some tasks without actually trying. A bit unfortunate and confusing.

Learning outcome

From my point of view the key to using Rosetta Stone is patience and not trying to guess what it is teaching until it becomes really obvious. I find this difficult and would be intrigued to know if someone who has not learnt languages before would experience similar issues.

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Swap your papers now!

A bit of a random post but I have finally managed to write down what I have talked to people about for a while now…

One day I would like to attend a conference where nobody presents their own presentation but where everyone hands in a memory stick with their presentation saved on it when they arrive and later pick a memory stick from a hat. That memory stick then contains the slides they will present.

The idea behind this is PowerPoint Karaoke, an activity that invites improvisation and fun. During PowerPoint Karaoke participants deliver presentations that are timed and that they have never seen before.

This way

  • slides need to be clear and to be structured in a way that is clear to everyone, not just the person who created the slides
  • nobody is an expert and therefore some nervousness of presenting may be taken away
  • new viewpoints may be introduced

I suggest that each presentation is followed by a Q&A session that is led by the person whose presentation was shown (the “expert”). This would allow the experts to clarify anything that was missed out or was interpreted wrong.

Who’s with me?

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Rosetta Stone – first update

Unit 1: Lesson 1: Pronunciation

The first lesson was all about prounciation, as was to be expected. The software indicates how close you sound to the computer voice, via a traffic light system. This seems to work well so far. (I have also tried the pronunciation section for German, of which I am a native speaker, and the software showed that I am doing fine. You can imagine my relief.)

Unit 1: Lesson 1: Vocabulary & Grammar & Reading

After the introduction to pronuniciation, you are presented with flashcard activities, during which you have to (guess-)match pictures and words (which are written down and also spoken for you to hear).

I found the grammar parts not always logical to guess, but I managed to match most pictures up with sentences. So far I could not fully explain why they belong together, other than that I recognise them to belong together from earlier exercises. (I wonder if this is more difficult when the language you are learning is further removed than Swedish is from German and English and you cannot guess as easily.) I like that the examples used in the pronunciation section are repeated in this section, and navigation is very simple as well.

The reading section builds on the pronunciation section from earlier, repeating what I’ve been presented with so far, although I had to fight with the microphone picking up the correct noises in this section (this issue could easily be down to the fact I am using the software in a busy public space), which left me a bit frustrated and ready for the weekend.

snoring cat

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Rosetta Stone

Over the next few weeks I will to use Rosetta Stone, an immersive software for language learning, to see how it works and how effective it is for me. I can access it for free through my workplace, so I thought that I really need to give it a go.

Having read the review that Benny Lewis posted on his blog a while ago, I am definitely curious but also very aware that I may need to add other resources to the learning process to become confident in the language I am learning.

I was unsure which language to explore as my favoured choice, Maltese, was not available. I am mostly interested in seeing how the software works, so choosing a language was a bit difficult after that. Anyway, with the help of Twitter and work’s DVD collection I have decided to try my luck with Swedish. There are three levels for Swedish, offering over 30 hours of language material to work through. If you are interested in how Rosetta Stone’s levels compare to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), they’ve already done the work for you.

I will post updates on my progress as I go along.

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Saving while using the library

Have you ever thought about how much you could save by not buying all the books you read? Could you estimate it?

Well, if you had ever wondered… The American Library Association (ALA) has published a Library Value Calculator. (Here’s a link to an exchange rate calculator for US Dollars (USD) to British Pounds (GBP).) And there is also a German version from the Kompetenznetzwerk für Bibliotheken (knb): the Bibliothekswertrechner. (Here’s a link to an exchange rate calculator for Euros (EUR) to British Pounds (GBP).)

You will see that it’s worth it: use your local, public, university and all other libraries, swap books with friends and colleagues, re-read old favourites, … and explore all the other library services while you are at it! Enjoy 🙂

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I’ve had several conversations about personal budgets this year already, so here’s a template that you may find useful: BudgetTemplate.

I created this with a librarian’s wage in mind but if you don’t earn that amount, or your spending habits are different, you can adjust the figures in the template to suit your individual circumstances. The calculations should still work.

And if you don’t like my template, there are many others online, for example these “5 Household Budget Templates That Will Help If You Actually Stick With It“.

Some simple tips for sticking to a budget and saving (added after more conversations on Twitter):

  • Send your planned savings into a savings account at the beginning of the month. Only touch them in an emergency. Set a target, which will help you stay motivated.
  • Withdraw weekly budget in cash on a Monday morning. Don’t use your card unless it’s an emergency. That way you can see what you spend. And any leftover – weekend treats (or savings, if you are really good)!
  • Take your home-made lunch to work. That can save approx. £2 a day. Shop late in the day, as shops reduce food around 5.30pm. Freeze what you don’t use straight away
  • Explore free events, e.g. free concert season at music colleges, town halls, etc.
  • Use your public library.
  • Ask whether you are buying something because you need it (in which case – buy immediately) or because you want it (walk away and if you still want it the next day, consider buying it).

More tips welcome, please add yours in the comments!

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Storify – all my old ones

Here are some pdfs, in case anyone is interested in my old Storifys (but probably more for my own archive):

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