Tag Archives: language learning

Two Years of French!

I don’t know the exact date, but this June was also my two year anniversary of learning French! I shot this video on June 26th, which is approximately the two year anniversary date (I think it’s either that or the 25th – I know I started learning French a few days before starting Duolingo, and my two year Duolingo anniversary was June 28th). Unfortunately I didn’t have time that week to start working on the subtitles (then it took a really long time to subtitle the video using Movavi Video Editor, which has an autosave feature which cannot be turned off and saves after every change you make). On top of that, I realized that the default subtitles were sometimes hard to read because I wore white, so on Saturday I needed to go in and add an outline on most of them to make them easier to see (it took about 2 hours just to make that change because there’s no mass edit feature in the program)! So a week and a half after shooting it, here it is:

I stitched two recordings together for this video – the introduction, then the whole second part of the video where I talk about other things. I found I kept getting through the introduction alright, but if I tried to keep going from there I was kind of floundering to start my next topic (these videos are completely unscripted to give a better showing of how well I’m able to use the language). Stopping the recording there gave me a chance to figure out what to talk about without it being too awkward.

I was really happy with how well this video went. While I do still struggle at times with some words, I feel like my French is flowing better now, and I can jump back into French much quicker after having to slip in an English word or two. I 100% believe this is thanks to the instruction I’ve been able to get from the Novocentre, the local place I mention in the video that I was able to connect with to get help with my French. I’ve been doing one two hour lesson once a week, and the lesson is an immersive environment; I’ve noticed that my French comprehension has skyrocketed since starting with them last fall. More recently my speaking is improving, too – I’m more confident, and not as afraid to make mistakes, which is fantastic. Everyone makes mistakes when learning a new language, and it’s okay, nothing to be worried about, it’s just part of the process. 🙂

In the video, I also mention wanting to read one of the French children’s chapter books I got from the library. I ended up reading David et le Salon Funéraire by François Gravel in its entirety over the July 1st weekend. 🙂

While writing this post, I went back and watched my One Year French video. I can’t believe the difference this one year has made, and I can’t wait to see what next year will bring, too! 🙂

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Two Years of Ukrainian!

Yesterday was my two year anniversary of starting to learn Ukrainian! As promised, I shot a video of me speaking:

The video was shot on the actual anniversary (June 5th), but was uploaded earlier today (it took me a few hours to add the subtitles).

Like last year’s video, I wasn’t able to do this in one long take (I kept losing my train of thought, or babbling because I couldn’t think of what to talk about next). So I decided to stop the video, then film a second clip and stitch the two together. But unlike last year, it’s only the two clips (I don’t remember how many clips I stitched together for the One Year vid, but I know there were times where I could only get like a sentence or two out). I also feel like my speaking is a bit smoother this time around (at least once I figured out what I wanted to say!)

Moving Movavi, my video editing software, to my gaming laptop was a real lifesaver when it came to adding the subtitles! My regular computer has to think about it every time I add or move a subtitle, while the gaming one was able to make the changes pretty much immediately. It still took a few hours to add them all in, but that was okay – I would probably still be working on it for a few more days if I hadn’t made the computer switch!

So here’s where I’m currently at with Ukrainian. I will be shooting a video for French at the end of the month; if you’re interested, stay tuned for that. 🙂

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What’s Been Happening…

last picture of my car
My car before it was towed away for scrap 😦

I’ve been fairly quiet on this blog over the last several months. In truth, things haven’t been great: I had a hard time when war broke out in Ukraine (not only because I have friends there, but I also had a really hard time with the disconnect between what was happening there, how WWIII might have started, and how life was just continuing on as normal here). I hurt my back, and later aggravated the injury. And more recently, I unexpectedly had to scrap my car 😥 (which ended up all its own saga – though I am still incredibly sad about it, thankfully the saga is over now!)

So now that things are starting to feel better (my back is doing okay, I’m in a better head space, and the aforementioned car saga is over), I thought that this would be a good time to regroup, take a look at my goals for the year, and see how things are going. I know that things haven’t been great: I haven’t really accomplished much of anything that I set out to do. But I have made some progress on some goals (and have recently stepped up working on other goals). So here’s what’s happening:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books that I already own: so far this year, I have managed to read nine books that I own, but only 5 of them were books I already owned. I’ve once again started bought a few books and read those (for my mom’s birthday, she wanted to go book shopping, so I bought myself something, too!) I also had a really hard time wanting to read things when the war in Ukraine first broke out – a lot of books, both historical fiction and fantasy, seemed to revolve around wars, and I just couldn’t deal with them. So hopefully I’ll be able to read more in the coming months without problems!
  2. Continue working on my story from Script Frenzy: so far, no work has been done on this. But again, hopefully in the coming months I’ll be able to get back to it!
  3. Work on a new story, too: this actually happened, rather by accident. Over the weekend I spent almost an entire day worldbuilding and writing for something totally new. I haven’t been that inspired to work on anything in a really long time; it felt really good! I don’t plan on sharing any of that work here though. I’m treating that as fun writing to help me get back into the swing of things. 🙂 (This wasn’t the story I was thinking of back in January, but that’s okay! I am honestly just so happy to be writing again after such a long hiatus!)
  4. Language Learning Goals:
    1. Duolingo French tree – turning to gold what I had unlocked so far: I’m making slow but steady progress on this. Unfortunately I don’t think I wrote down exactly how many lesson bubbles I had to go back in January (I said I was almost at Unit 5, and wrote down the ones I’m trying to get to in Unit 7). But as of right now, I have 64 to go. I’ve turned 9 from Unit 5 to gold so far – I just finished Junk and Education, and I’m currently on Bad Day in Unit 5.
    2. Reading 101 Conversations in Intermediate French: I haven’t gotten very far in this book at all. I was on conversation 5, restarted the book, got to conversation 5 again, and stopped reading. About a week ago I decided to just continue on from conversation 5 without restarting, and am now on conversation 8. Unfortunately so far the story isn’t grabbing me, but I’ll give it a few more conversations before deciding if I need to give up on it.
    3. Reading First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners: This is another one that’s had slow but steady progress. I just finished Unit 9: Christian listens to German songs. It took a few read throughs, and I didn’t feel that I understood it quite as well as Unit 8: Liuba wants to buy a newer DVD. But I’m moving onto Unit 10 this week. And I’m getting close to the elementary course units (Unit 13 and beyond). It’s really neat reading this book though – I’m able to read and understand bigger and bigger chunks of Ukrainian!
    4. Read another book in French: have not looked at another book yet.
    5. Read another book in Ukrainian: need to get through First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners.
    6. Finish season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast: I stopped listening to Ukrainian Lessons Podcast a few months ago. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it was in part because the episodes have been getting longer and longer – I’m not able to listen to one (or most of one) on my way to work anymore. So last week I made a point of listening to a couple of episodes in the evenings (I’m currently about to start episode 69). I feel like I should almost restart season 2 as a review because it’s been so long. But I made the decision to continue from where I left off – if I need the review, I’ll go back once I finish season 2.
    7. Finish season 3 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast: I haven’t started it yet.
Duolingo 700 day streak

But in other language learning news, I am now on a 700+ day streak in Duolingo! I hit day 700 three days ago. 😀

I will also be working on videos of me speaking both Ukrainian and French over the next month. This June marks my second year of learning both languages! I’m going to move my video editing software to a different, faster computer – hopefully that will speed up the process of adding subtitles to the videos!

So that’s where I’m at thus far for 2022. I’m going to continue to plug along on my goals for the summer, and will check in with them again in the fall. At that time, I’ll reevaluate if necessary.

But how are things going for you? Have you been able to work on/accomplish any of your goals for 2022? 🙂

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Hello 2022!

Hi everyone, Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were good! While mine were once again quiet, they were great. I was able to spend some time with friends and family (albeit in smaller gatherings than in a non-pandemic year). I didn’t send Christmas cards like last year though – I don’t know what was going on, but I just felt so not-on-top of things this year, even though I was on top of all of my other holiday preparations.

I’m also very hopeful that 2022 will be a good year, and maybe even see the end of this pandemic. We shall see!

But now it’s time to reflect on my goals from last year, and set some new ones for the year ahead. For 2021, I set three goals: Read 25 Books I Own, Write a New Story, and work on some Language Learning (mostly reading various books). I’m not going to lie, I completely forgot about setting that last goal (and the whole list of books I wanted to read).

2021 list of books I read that I own
These are the books I own that I read – language books counted, too!

My book goal ended up interesting. I read more than 25 books this year (on Goodreads I read 30, although about three of those were graphic novels, so they don’t count towards my goal here). I read 16 books that I own (plus those three graphic novels). But all through the year, I found myself actually buying new books and reading those, which completely negated the point of this goal! (I think only 3 of those books were ones I’ve owned for more than one year). So I’m going to attempt to redo this goal in 2022 but without buying so many new books!

I didn’t end up writing a new story this year. 😦 I honestly wasn’t very creative at all during 2021. :/ A lot of that is because I was working on the editing project all summer, and when it paused during the fall, it took a long time before I felt even able to work on something more creative. But by the end of the year I was feeling better, and did some work on a very old story that for some reason I was feeling inspired to work on (the story I started working on during 2012’s Script Frenzy). I don’t remember where the idea came from, but I totally revamped the story (and it all clicked into place when I read the backgrounds of the original characters). I reread the original script (which I surprisingly really enjoyed, even though it was never finished), and started working on revamping the characters. As part of that, I also did some worldbuilding that I’m really happy with. I’m looking forward to continuing working on this story in the new year!

Finally, my language learning goal. I turned my Ukrainian Duolingo Tree to gold in January, so that was a very early win. 🙂 I haven’t finished the French tree yet. I actually have been going back and turning the tree to gold (I changed my thinking about turning the tree to gold – rather than quickly finishing lessons and moving on to something new, by taking the time to turn each lesson to gold, I find they’re staying with me a lot better!) I’ve almost turned everything up to checkpoint 4/the start of unit 5 gold, so that’s fantastic progress! (Before I went back to work on the tree in this way, I had made it to halfway between checkpoint 6/unit 7 and checkpoint 7, so I have about 2 full units to go until I’m back to where I was).

Of the books I wanted to read, I finished three from the list: Short Stories in French for Beginners, French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners, and 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts. I also read 101 Conversations in Simple French, which was surprisingly super fun (it was pretty much all dialogues!) I’ve attempted French Short Stories for Beginners, but for some reason it’s really hard, so I’ll have to come back to it later. And rather than read Ukrainian Language: Texts in Ukrainian, I ended up starting First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners, which I’m really liking. It starts off with super simple texts, then gradually works up to longer and longer ones. It’s making me feel confident that I CAN read in Ukrainian (I still kind of panic when I see a full page text in Ukrainian, thinking “I can’t read this!!!”) Oh, and I’ve also read three Ukrainian kids books by Chatty Parrot (the two listed in this post, and one with winter words).

Oh, and I’m still somewhere in the middle of season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast. That’s been fairly slow going because more often than not I’m listening to music in Ukrainian instead when I walk to work.

One other thing with French – I started getting two hour lessons every week thanks to a local organization. These lessons are immersive – the teacher tries to explain everything in French, and only uses English is that fails. I’ve been doing those lessons for about two months now, and I’ve noticed my French oral comprehension has been skyrocketing as a result (which is super encouraging because that was my biggest problem area)! I still struggle with speaking, but that will come in time. 🙂

Something else that happened this year too: I’m now learning a bit of American sign language. This started during the fall. My sister-in-law was learning with her sister in a really low-key way (they just look at a video every week to learn a few more signs). I’ve been interested in learning because I have a family member who is hard of hearing (and who has a hard time hearing me in particular), but they’ve never been interested before when I’ve asked. When we were all talking about it, they agreed to learn, so I said yes, too! With the caveat that it’s language #3 for me, and won’t be getting as much attention as my other two. So now I know some very basic sign language as well!

So that’s been 2021 in a nutshell. Things didn’t go at all as planned, but that’s okay! I still was able to accomplish a bunch, and even some things I hadn’t planned at all. 🙂

And now it’s time to look ahead for 2022. We’re still in the pandemic, so it’s difficult to really know what the future brings. And some things (like the editing project, which is still ongoing) are outside of my control. So with those caveats, here’s what I’m hoping to accomplish this year:

  1. Read 25 novel-length books I _already_ own – Like last year, I want to challenge myself to read the books I own right now. These books can be either physical books or eBooks (I still have a lot on my Kindle, too!)
  2. Continue working on my story from Script Frenzy – I would love to have at least a first draft of whatever form this story takes by the end of 2022 (I’m currently thinking it should be a novel, but who knows – it started life as a screen play!)
  3. Work on a new story, too – I have ideas for another story that I’d like to flesh out, even if it doesn’t become a first draft by the end of the year.
  4. Language Learning Goals:
    1. Turn my Duolingo French Tree to gold up to what I’ve unlocked so far (I’ve currently unlocked up to the bubbles “Get Well” and “In Class” in Unit 7)
    2. Finish reading 101 Conversations in Intermediate French
    3. Finish reading First Ukrainian Reader for Beginners
    4. Choose and read another book in Ukrainian
    5. Choose and read another book in French
    6. Finish season 2 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast
    7. Finish season 3 of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast

I don’t want to overwhelm myself with goals, so I’m only going to set these four. I also feel like I have a better feel for what I can accomplish in terms of language learning this year. If I have time for more French and Ukrainian books, then great, but if not, that’s okay too (especially since reading time in other languages competes with reading books in English).

So how about you? Have you set any goals for yourself this year? 🙂

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Finished 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts!

Over the weekend, I finished reading 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts! As promised, I shot a short video where I attempted to speak in Ukrainian about finishing it. I didn’t get very far (and kind of repeated myself), but I was happy to see that my Ukrainian came together a little better than in previous videos (I was able to put sentences together a little more confidently).

Here’s the video if you’d like to check it out:

I neglected to mention in this take of the video that I read all of the texts at least two times each, plus listened to the audio version of the texts twice as well, so that is partially why it took so long to get through all 100 of them! (I also forgot about the book over the summer, so that’s also why it’s taken me so long!)

Since finishing it, I’ve had the audio versions of the texts playing while I’m cleaning and whatnot. At this point, I don’t understand every word, but I’m able to follow many of the texts, so that’s encouraging! The later ones are a bit harder, so I’ll have to work on them a bit more.

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Almost Done Reading 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts!

cover of 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts

I’m really excited – I only have a few texts left to read in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts by Yulia Pozniak!

This book has been a real struggle to get through. I’d hoped to have it finished in the spring, but I lost momentum and it’s been lingering on since then. The problem is that the texts themselves aren’t super engaging. They’re almost all a paragraph made up of a few sentences (maybe about 4-6 for most of them) of just description. With the exception of text 6.8, which was a dialogue, they’re all the same, so it’s hard to read them one after the other. (I also ended up really sad after 6.8 because I thought maybe now there would be more dialogues, but that unfortunately wasn’t the case). It’s a shame, because the book is full of great vocabulary and I really like that it includes a link to the audio versions of all the texts, too. I’ve been listening to them as I read, which gives me more of a feel for how Ukrainian sounds when spoken (and has helped me with the pronunciation of different words, too).

As much as I’ve struggled with it though, I also feel like I should go back and reread it, just to help all the words stick in my head better. But I do want to move onto something else, so I’m thinking I’ll probably just keep it around and flip through it periodically (it will be good for days when my brain doesn’t want to do anything too intense, especially once my Ukrainian improves!) It’ll also be nice to focus more on the topic areas that interest me, rather than trying to read the whole book from cover to cover again (the book is made up of 10 texts in 10 different subject areas). I might also load some of the audio files onto my iPod just to see if I can follow them while I’m walking to work or doing housework. 🙂

Pozniak has a second book, Ukrainian Language Reader with Vocabulary and Audio: Pre-Intermediate Level. I wasn’t sure if I would pick it up, but found a preview that showed this book has dialogues like text 6.8 in 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts, so I decided to give it a shot, too. I’m debating between reading it next, or taking a leap into one of the Ukrainian books I’ve bought that are made for Native speakers (if I do that, it will be really slow going as I’ll probably have to look up a lot of words, particularly in the beginning). I’ll probably go with the next book by Pozniak, which will hopefully help prepare me a bit more for the native-level texts.

I’ll make another Ukrainian video when I’m done reading the book (and have hopefully decided what I’m going to read next in Ukrainian!) 🙂

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Writing Short Ukrainian Pieces

Over the weekend I had my first Ukrainian lesson in a few weeks (both me and my teacher have been busy over the last few weekends and hadn’t been able to connect). She asked me if I’d learned some vocabulary on art and theater like she had asked. Unfortunately I completely forgot! But it was okay, she said to just learn it for next time.

I struggle with learning vocabulary in Ukrainian A LOT. I find I have a hard time getting new words to stick (I think in part because they’re often so different from English, unlike French words). I tried using Anki flashcards for awhile, but I hated it. I’m pretty sure I made the flashcards wrong (I put only one word on each flashcard, rather than a phrase or sentence which would have been easier to learn). But I also felt like I was making the same mistakes with the same words day after day, which was frustrating. The flashcards I needed to review were also growing exponentially each day; after a few weeks I needed an hour + just for Anki reviews, which was completely unsustainable. And boring. I tried cutting back the new cards and reviews, but I still just hated the time I was spending with the app, so eventually I gave up with it.

So this time around, I thought, why not try writing a short story in Ukrainian incorporating the words I’m supposed to learn? My original intention was to create some sort of character and write about their adventures dealing with the art world. But when I actually sat down to write something, I found myself writing about my life. The list of words I’m supposed to learn is fairly long, so I broke it up and wrote a few short pieces on half of them (literature, music, and musical instruments – I’ll work on the other half of the list later this week). The first piece. on literature, was extremely short; it ended up being a paragraph about interviewing authors because that’s what the vocabulary seemed to most easily reflect. The second piece, which was around the same length, was a paragraph about me enjoying singing along (badly) to some songs by Скай. Then the third piece was about musical instruments. I started what I thought was going to be another short piece, but as I wrote it, it grew until it quadrupled in length (it’s still fairly short at four paragraphs, but much longer than the other pieces I wrote)! I ended up deciding to post it on Journaly, Robin McPherson’s Journaling platform for language learners (he’s a polyglot Youtuber I follow – I read his book a few months ago). I signed up for Journaly back in July, but this is the first thing I’ve posted anything on there. Hopefully I’ll get some feedback on my grammar soon (but there aren’t a lot of Ukrainian posts, so it may be a bit before anyone comments on it). 🙂

A day later I wrote another Ukrainian post on Journaly. I was working on the art and museum vocabulary from the list, so I decided to write about visiting the ROM and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. I wasn’t able to fit a couple of the words in though (specifically the words for “icon” and “guide,” as well as phrases for hiring a guide and asking how much an entrance ticket costs), so I’ll have to see if I can either learn them another way, or incorporate them into another story.

Full disclosure: to write these posts, I used Google Translate for help with some words and spelling. I also don’t have any nice pictures of musical instruments, so I snagged this one by Firmbee from Pixabay to use as the banner for the post. I do however have pictures from the ROM, so I used one of those for the second Journaly post. 🙂

While it’s only been a few days since I wrote these pieces, I’ve found that I’m able to recognize the words I set out to learn! I don’t think I can produce them yet on my own, but this is really promising! Hilariously, all of the words I am having trouble with are verbs I needed to tell the story (mainly in the longer piece about musical instruments). I’ll need to work on those as well. 🙂

I’d also like to add that this is two weeks after I was working really in-depth with Eileen’s Ukrainian cover of “The Dragonborn Comes” and I still know what the lyrics from the first two verses mean (I didn’t work on the last verse because in the original it’s in Dragon Tongue, not English). I’m even getting better at singing along with her, although I do still stumble in a few places.

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Learning Songs in Another Language

Last week, I was thinking about Rammstein. Back in high school, I loved Rammstein, and listened to them all the time. But the interesting thing is, even though I don’t know German (I wanted to learn it back then, but never actually sat down and did so), I was able to sing along to the songs (I’m a bit rusty, but still can!), and I actually understand a lot of what they’re saying.

So that got me thinking: why is this not the case with, say, the music I’m listening to in Ukrainian? I have a big playlist of songs in Ukrainian that I love and listen to quite often. I also have some specific songs I listen to more often than others. And while I can sing along (badly) to them, I don’t know what is being said, outside of a few words here and there that I know.

I will admit though, it’s been interesting seeing how periodically words I didn’t understand before are suddenly clear as day from listening to these songs over and over again while simultaneously learning more of the language.

But yes, what’s the difference between then and now, German vs Ukrainian? At first I thought, maybe I listened to the Rammstein songs a lot more than the Ukrainian ones. While that may be true, by this point I’ve listened to a few Ukrainian songs, particularly my favourite few from Скай (Skai), an awful lot, so that can’t be the reason. I even started to get a bit sad thinking that maybe it’s because I’m coming at this a little later in life (even though that doesn’t really make sense because I wasn’t actively learning German the way I’m learning Ukrainian now). But then, I remembered: I used to look up the meanings of the song lyrics all the time on one particular website (oh my gosh, I found it! It was on https://herzeleid.com/en/lyrics!) I remember spending a lot of time on that site years ago looking up the meanings of their first five albums, and even printing out my favourite songs!

With a few exceptions, I actually haven’t looked at translations on most of the Ukrainian songs I like (and I haven’t looked up translations or even just the lyrics of any of the French songs I listen to either). And the ones that I did look up, I didn’t really study them the way I did with the Rammstein songs; instead I was waiting for the meanings to become clear to me through study.

So I decided to test this out on Friday with “The Dragonborn Comes,” a short song from Skyrim that was popularized by Malukah on Youtube. Even though I’ve never played Skyrim, I used to listen to (and sing along with) this song a lot, along with a few others she did because they’re really pretty:

A few months ago, a friend sent me a video by a Ukrainian singer named Eileen who makes covers of English songs in Ukrainian. Looking at her videos, I discovered that she made a Ukrainian cover of “The Dragonborn Comes”:

I only focused on the two verses Malukah sings in English (the final verse is not English, but Eileen translated it into Ukrainian anyway). With the help of the lyrics in both versions (Eileen very helpfully posts the Ukrainian lyrics of her songs in her video descriptions), along with Google Translate to confirm certain words and phrases (they’re not word for word translations – the Ukrainian version is a little different but it conveys a similar meaning), I was able to get a fairly accurate idea of what the words in the Ukrainian version meant after just one evening. It took an hour or two and lots of repetition to get to that point though, listening to both versions of the songs while reading the lyrics (mostly listening to one language and reading the other so I could mentally map the words to each other).

But more importantly, most of the words I learned in the lyrics were still in my head the next day! Even now, a few days later, I can listen to Eileen’s version and understand what she’s saying! I can even sing along with her fairly well for most of the song (except for a couple of phrases where I’m stumbling over the pronunciation – they’re a bit hard for me to pronounce normally, never mind at this singing speed). And some of the words seem to now be in my “usable” vocabulary – those are the words you not only recognize, but can actively produce. 🙂

After my success with “The Dragonborn Comes,” I decided to give this a try with one of the songs I really like by Скай, “З Мене Досить,” (that translates to “I’ve Had Enough”), which I found the words to on pisni.org.ua. It’s going to take a bit longer because it’s a longer song than “The Dragonborn Comes,” but it helps that I looked up the chorus awhile ago so I at least have a starting point with it. There also isn’t an English version as it isn’t a cover and the English translations do not work along with the rhythm of the song because some of the phrases are shorter syllabically (yes, I was trying to make them fit but it didn’t work). Here’s that song if you’d like to check it out:


A translation of the chorus is: “I’ve had enough believe (me)/I’ve had enough, I do not want (to)/I’ve had enough, sorry/I’ve had enough, it’s better not at all.”

Surprisingly, there are a few words in these lyrics that were also in “The Dragonborn Comes!”

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My Current French Reading

As promised, today I wanted to look at the things I’m reading in French. 🙂

My French is a fair bit more advanced than my Ukrainian, so I’m able to read short stories for French learners fairly well. I’m a big fan of the books by Olly Richards (the first French book I finished was his Short Stories in French for Beginners). I’ve attempted to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery a couple of times since last summer. The first time I had a hard time with the first story, so I put it aside in favour of the Olly Richards book. I’ve since made it through the first story and have attempted the second story a couple of times, but I still can’t really follow it. So I’ve put it aside once again and gone back to books by Olly Richards.

I ordered a copy of Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners, as well as 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. 101 Conversations in Intermediate French came first, so I gave it a try. I was a little skeptical about the book because I thought the conversations were going to be just random conversations between random characters. But I was pleasantly surprised – the 101 conversations in the book are all conversations within a larger story! The book is basically a novel with all the description removed (there’s just a paragraph at the beginning of every conversation to give some context). I absolutely love it! I made it through the first three conversations with little trouble, able to follow the just of what’s going on, which was really exciting because it’s a book for intermediate learners, not beginners. I had a harder time with conversation 4 though because it deals with a lot of vocabulary I’m not familiar with (revolving around art crimes). I’ve read it a few times, and am following it a bit better, but I’ll still need to work on it a bit before moving on.

It was at this point that I decided to get the book 101 Conversations in Simple French. Some of the characters from the Intermediate book appear in the beginner book, and it sounded like conversation 4 revolves around what happened in the first book. So I decided to grab the first book on my Kindle to give it a quick read. That way I’ll know exactly what happened in the story (and hopefully pick up some of the words that are giving me trouble in the Intermediate book!) 101 Conversations in Simple French has been a super easy read for me – I’m on conversation 63 already, and have only needed to reread maybe two of the conversations so far to better understand them (everything else I just read once and moved on). It’s been a lot of fun because it really does feel like I’m just reading for pleasure and not having to work at it. 🙂

The other thing I did was purchase the audiobook versions of a lot of these books (the only one I haven’t bought is 101 Conversations in Simple French because I was planning on just reading it quickly). I’ve heard that if you read and listen at the same time, it will greatly help your listening comprehension in another language. I even bought the audiobook version of Short Stories in French for Beginners and started working my way back through that book while listening to it. I’ve made it about halfway through the book reading and listening, then started listening to some of the stories on my iPod while walking to work (I was super excited to discover that the file on my iPod had chapter selections! The file on my computer looked like one big 4 hour file with no chapter breaks). I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the audiobook version so much, so a big thank you to the narrator, Louis Bernard, for making them so engaging!

And that’s where I’m at with French. I’m hoping in the next week or two I’ll finish reading 101 Conversations in Simple French so I can get back to 101 Conversations in Intermediate French. I’ll probably work my way through that book before starting Short Stories in French for Intermediate Learners.

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My Current Ukrainian Reading

cover of Хто живе у Лісі - Who Lives in the Wood

Hey everyone, how’s it going? Today I thought I’d talk a bit about the Ukrainian books I’ve been reading lately: Хто живе у Лісі – Who Lives in the Wood? and Я Люблю Читати – Ukrainian Reading for Kids: Ukrainian–English. Both of these books are bilingual books written for kids. I found Хто живе у Лісі first and thought it was adorable, so I went looking for more books by Chatty Parrot and found Я Люблю Читати (along with another book of winter words that I haven’t really looked at yet because it’s summer).

a random page from Хто живе у Лісі
A Random Page from Хто живе у Лісі

I love how the story is laid out in Хто живе у Лісі. Every page talks about a different animal and the things they like to do; key words are in a different colour, so you can very easily understand what each word in the sentence means. I found it a great vocabulary booster for both new verbs and different animal names (I knew a few of them, like the word for “bird,” but have learned a whole bunch more thanks to this book!) Plus the pictures are just so darn cute! (And having the cute visual is helping me remember the different animals in Ukrainian!)

cover of Я Люблю Читати – Ukrainian Reading for Kids: Ukrainian–English.

Я Люблю Читати is a very generic title for a book with four bilingual fairy tales (I personally would have called the book something more like Я Люблю Казки – I Love Fairy Tales instead). The four fairy tales are the Three Little Pigs, Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, and the Ugly Duckling. So far I’ve just read the first two – I’ve read the Three Little Pigs several times, and have just read Hansel and Gretel once so far. I’m finding I’m now recognizing words better the more I read the tale. As a bonus, some of the animal words I learned in Хто живе у Лісі are in the Three Little Pigs, too!

random page from a book of Ukrainian Fairy Tales that I have
A random page from a book of Ukrainian Fairy Tales that I have

My hope is that these books, which are fairly easy, will help me build my vocabulary so I can eventually attempt to tackle another, harder book of fairy tales (I took one look at the pages of that book and felt a bit overwhelmed by it (take a look at this random page from that book, you can see it’s a *little* harder than the random page from Хто живе у Лісі). I’m also nearing the end of 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts (I think I have about 15 texts left to go), but that’s been a little slower going because the texts aren’t super engaging. They’re not really stories, but more like little passages of explanation. They’ve been helpful for vocabulary building though, and I’m really happy that the author, Yuliia Pozniak, made audio versions of all the texts so you can read and listen at the same time! But I wish they had been more like a series of dialogues rather than paragraphs of description.

Next time I’ll take a look at the French books I’m currently working with! 🙂

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