Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Adapting the Learning Process

I am getting back in the swing of things somewhat with German over the past couple of weeks.  I have been really good about doing my Michel Thomas, however I have not touched Assimil in over a month.  I think that I have subconsciously decided that I will move on to Assimil after I have finished the MT.  In truth this is probably a good thing because it will give me something to do the second half of the year in addition to LingQ.  I am currently debating whether to go back to the beginning of Assimil, or just pick up where I left off.  In my split second decision making process I just went through I will pick up where I left off.  The last two weeks have been particularly good for my LingQ work.

It never ceases to amaze me the way that we continue to adapt and evolve the longer we work on a specific task.  In the case of LingQ I have just recently modified my approach and find that I am getting a lot more out of the program this way.  Before, I went through a three step cycle which was laid out this way:

1.) Listen without reading
2.) Read without listening
3.) Listen and read simultaneously

This way served me well and I thought that this way I could train my listening separate from my reading and visa-versa.  I recently though began listening and reading all three times through a passage and have found that my comprehension overall has grown markedly.  This should not surprise me since the creator of LingQ, Steve Kaufmann, says that you should never read without listening, nor should you listen without reading in the early stages.  The more surprising thing to me is that my brain spontaneously decided to try this approach seemingly out of the blue.  I am currently creeping in on 1500 words known, which is well behind my goal, but I am still happy with progress of any kind.

Vocally, I have had a similar epiphany in the last week.  It has been about a month since my last lesson with JRL and I decided one day last week to listen to the recording of my lesson.  At first I did not really think I was going to gain much other than some reinforcement of the things I was already doing.  After going through the recording I was amazed at some of the things that I had let slip in the last month.  My practice the rest of the week was great and I felt like I made some very big steps forward, all because I listened to a recording of my lesson.  

This was a big time for me in learning how to better learn.  Sometimes progress may come in different areas than you expect, however it will ultimately lead you to your end goal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Coming in like a lion

This has been a rough month for me.  The amount of things I have to do at work, which is when I usually study, has increased considerably and taken away my time that I can work on German.  Suffice it to say that I have not been able to make much progress so far this month.  I have tried to maintain at least one aspect of my study per day though, usually Michel Thomas.  I am in the process of trying to restructure my day so that I can fit in my Assimil and LingQ work daily again.  The one positive from this month thus far is that I am at a basic conversational level in German.  I define this as being able to greet and speak candidly with others about menial, day to day things (i.e. How are you?, What are you doing this weekend?, etc.).  I am very pleased and excited about this, especially since I have not been able to put much time in as of late.  When I can get back to more regular study I anticipate being able to count this language as being fully conversational by mid-summer, which makes fluency by December 31 very attainable.

I am still in a very good place vocally as well.  Since my lesson in February I can feel my voice getting stronger every day.  My A-natural (A4) has really solidified as of late and I am now working on B-flat (Bb4) and B (B4).  Even my repertory has taken a step up as I have begun to earnestly work on "La donna e mobile" and "E la solita storia."  My hope for this session between lessons is to have a reliable B-flat and a workable B natural.  Assuming I keep up my newfound pace, I believe I will definitely be audition ready for the fall.  I have about two months until my next trip to New York City and am planning on having a lesson and at least a couple of coachings while I am down.  Until then, I have much work to do so that I can build on the momentum I have gained from my last lesson.