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. 🙂
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.
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!) 🙂
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.
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!”
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).
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!)
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!
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! 🙂
Hi everyone, how’s it going? I’ve been meaning to post something here for awhile, but I’ve been super busy lately with the book editing project that’s still ongoing (and that will probably be the case for quite some time). So I will post when I can!
But I definitely had to make time for a new Ukrainian video because I’ve now been learning Ukrainian for over one year! I thought the one year-mark was June 8th, but when I looked back at my notes, I realized it’s actually June 5th. So my video wasn’t made on the one year anniversary like I’d planned (and honestly, I didn’t get around to filming it until the 14th, and I put the subtitles in over the weekend when I posted it to Youtube).
So without further ado, here it is:
I didn’t realize it until writing this post, but this video was shot exactly six months after my “First Video Speaking Ukrainian,” so that ended up quite the coincidence! 🙂
I wasn’t able to do this video in one take, so I used some transitions to put the separate clips together. But I was generally able to get a sentence or two out between takes, so that was great. While this video is shorter than “First Video Speaking Ukrainian,” there’s actually a fair bit more Ukrainian in it (in that first video, I spoke a lot of English). It’s also really neat to see the difference that six months has made – while I am still struggling with finding the right words (and still need to increase my vocabulary a lot), you can see that I’m a little more confident when speaking the language. 🙂
As I mention in the video, I haven’t finished 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts yet. I will make a point of getting back to it this summer, and attempt to finish it by the fall. I’d really like to move onto reading some of the other Ukrainian books that I have!
I’ll also be putting together a “one year speaking French” video. I don’t know the exact date that I started learning French last year, but I know it’s a day or two before the 27th of June, because that’ll be my one year anniversary of starting Duolingo (and my 365 day streak!) and I started French a day or two before starting Duolingo (I zipped through the Transparent Language French quick start just before transitioning to Duo). So if you’re interested, watch for that video, which I will hopefully be making next weekend. 🙂
Over the weekend I decided to try out the iTalki French language test. It took about 30 minutes, assessing my French speaking and grammar levels. The test is an “automated adaptive language test,” which means it gives you harder questions if you get the answer right, and easier ones if you get the answer wrong. I messed up pretty badly in the speaking portion, accidentally giving an answer in English when I should have been speaking in French (I thought it was a sample question that wouldn’t count, but nope, it was a real question). Despite that, I still somehow managed to score at an intermediate level for both speaking and grammar, which was pretty exciting! My results came in a little higher than I expected. I also really liked that, at the end of the test, it gave me some suggestions on how to improve. One of those suggestions was to read more, so that’s definitely the plan!
Thinking of reading, I finally finished the collection of French Robert Munsch books I’ve had out from the library. I really enjoyed it – his stories were really silly, fun reads that were fairly easy to understand for the most part without having to look stuff up. I think next I’m going to read French Short Stories for Beginners by Lingo Mastery. That was the first French book that I bought for myself; I had to put it down though because I had a hard time understanding the first story. Hopefully things will go better now!
I’d love to try an iTalki test for Ukrainian too, just to see where I’m at, but unfortunately it’s only available in limited languages (currently English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Portuguese, and Italian). Hopefully they’ll add more languages soon!
But I did end up testing my Ukrainian this weekend too. I booked a lesson on iTalki with a new Ukrainian teacher. So far I’ve just been meeting with one teacher, but she was busy this weekend (it was the Orthodox Church’s Easter 🙂 ), so I decided to meet someone new and see how I do. I was super excited and quite nervous because I’ve only really spoken to my regular teacher and my dad (but just a tiny bit with him – instead we send each other Ukrainian letters in the mail, which is good practice for my reading and writing!) I was pleasantly surprised with how much I was able to understand and say!
So how was your weekend? Any fun plans for the coming week? 🙂
Hey everyone, how’s it going? I’m not entirely sure where the month of April has gone! I’ve been feeling super busy lately, but also feeling like I haven’t done anything, and it’s all a little overwhelming. I suspect that’s partially because after I finished Karin Dimitrova’s Reset program, I didn’t have anything else to take its place. I need to make a dedicated effort to try adding more meditation and yoga back into my days!
Otherwise, I’m still working on my language learning and on the big editing project I was contracted for. The editing project has become much bigger than expected, so it’s still going to be ongoing for awhile (quite possibly through the rest of the year).
I’ve also cut back a little bit on the language learning lately (I won’t be finishing reading 100 Ukrainian Texts by the end of the month like I had planned). 😦 In its place I’ve been trying to fit in reading for fun a little more, which I think has been a good thing. For the last few years I haven’t been reading as much as I would like to, especially since I seem to have a really hard time putting a book down once I get started. Now that I’m fitting it in a little more, I found I was able to actually stop reading at a reasonable time and get some sleep over the last few nights, so I’m quite excited about that. 🙂
In terms of language learning itself though, I’m still doing a little bit of work on each language pretty much every day. So even if it isn’t as much as before, I’m still keeping both languages fresh in my mind, and strengthening them a little bit. With French, I’ve really been focusing on earlier lessons on Duolingo, which has made me feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the basics. I’m considering booking a lesson or two on iTalki in the near future to see how well I do speaking French with a French tutor.
With Ukrainian, while it’s still somewhat slow going, I’m really finding I’m able to understand more and more now. I read a message on a Ukrainian learners group on Facebook the other day in Ukrainian and understood it completely, which was really exciting! (It was almost like I didn’t realize I was reading the message in Ukrainian, even though I knew objectively that I was reading Slavic text). I’m still working with the same teacher on iTalki, which is going really well. I’ve got some homework I need to get through over the next few weeks though, where I’ll hopefully learn some new words and phrases. Hopefully that will go well. I’m also considering booking a lesson or two with some new Ukrainian speakers on iTalki just to see how well that goes….but I’ll probably hold off on that for a bit yet (until I feel a little more confident).
So yeah, that’s what’s been happening with me lately. I’m mostly just doing my best to plug along. How about you, what’s new? How have you been through April? 🙂
Hey everyone, how’s it going? I feel like this has been a really good week for French. I finished reading French Short Stories for Beginners and Intermediate Learners: Engaging Short Stories to Learn French and Build Your Vocabulary by Language Guru (sorry, no video of me talking about it), and got through another chapter from Barron’s Painless French. The one thing I was hoping to do that I didn’t get to was pick a new French show to watch on Netflix. I was watching one a few weeks ago but lost interest in it (it really wasn’t my kind of show, but I did like that the episodes were shorter). I’ve saved a bunch of French shows on my list though, so I’ll have to pick through and find something new!
While French was good, I don’t feel like I did as well with Ukrainian this week. I did read a few stories from 100 Easy Ukrainian Texts, but not as many as I was hoping to. I also didn’t listen to any episodes of Ukrainian Lessons Podcast (but I did listen to a lot of Ukrainian music – I’m getting to the point where I can mostly sing along to my favourite Ukrainian song!)
That’s about all I’ve got to report right now. For this week I have to fit more Ukrainian reading in. I also get to start a new French book – that’s going to be French Short Stories for Beginners: 20 Captivating Short Stories to Learn French and Grow Your Vocabulary the Fun Way! by Lingo Mastery. This was the first French book of short stories that I got; I attempted to read it when I got it during the summer, but I was really struggling to understand a lot of the first story so I put it aside. Hopefully I’ll have more luck this time!