Polish Update

I meant to write about this weeks ago! But it slipped my mind. Anyway, I finished reading the first Harry Potter book. I didn't reach my goal of pages to translate, but that never mattered anyway. I reached page 223 and I was shooting for page 250.

I've already started reading the 2nd book, but the audio book which I ordered from Empik hasn't arrived in the mail yet and I'm worried it may have gotten lost. Usually, I buy all my Polsh books/audio-books from one of the great Polish bookstores in Chicago (Polonia, Quo Vadis), which is how I got the paper book right away. Anyway, for some reason I can't find a local bookstore that has the audiobook for the 2nd one, even though they've got the 1st, 3rd, 4th, etc... So I had to order that from Poland.

I've already read about half of the book but I think it would help immensely to be able to listen to it. I don't get very much audio content and the Harry Potter stuff would probably be 90% comprehensible. I've planned out a translating regime too, but haven't started yet. Its much less intense than last time, just doing a random chunk in the middle of the book.

After I finished the translating last time, I stopped doing flash cards for a little while but I'm back on the wagon. I just needed some time to decompress after such an intense run.

Also, a couple weeks ago I hired a Polish tutor over the internet! We talk over Skype every Saturday for an hour. She sends me materials to read and listen to which we then talk about. We're going through an audio series on Polish history from 1945 to 2005. We're only up to the eary 1950's. Each clip is on average 6.5 minutes long. It takes me an enormous amount of time to consume each one.

Here is my process:

  1. First, I just listen a bunch of times.
  2. Then, I take notes on each section, usually just the main ideas plus the minute/second the section started.
  3. I mark sections which seem to contain important bits about the topic.
  4. I listen and transcribe those sections word for word. This takes a bunch of rewinding and re-listening.
  5. I underline words in these transcription which I don't know and attempt to look them up. This can be difficult sometimes, because when I don't know a word, my phonetic transcription of it can be way off the actual spelling.
  6. Usually, I'll also search around the Polish Wikipedia and the rest of the internet to read bits of other articles on the same topic (always in Polish). This helps alot with vocabulary that I may not have totally picked up as well as fills in some of the historical context (the audio can be very terse on details, sometimes only implying and only once).
  7. If there are new words from this process I deem important, then I enter them as flash cards.
  8. When this all done, I look over the thing as a whole, and make some notes on my thoughts to discuss with Malgosia or some questions for her. I also listen to it a few more times to freshen up. Although at this point my brain is kind of numb to it.

All in all, it takes me several hours to do each episode. I haven't really timed it, but I'd guess 4 to 6 hours total.

This is another reason I really want the Harry Potter audio to arrive. ;-) It would be really nice to listen to something that is more immediately comprehensible and for which I have the text. Also, I've been reading alot of Krashen lately, and he emphasizes quantity over intensity. I could probably absorb a couple hours of Harry Potter in only so much time as it takes to listen to it.

Anyway, the Polish history is very interesting and it gives me and Malgosia something interesting to talk about. I've also noticed that it gets a little easier every time. The format of the audio series, the vocabulary, the people and context, all become more and more familiar.

In other news, I read this article by Steve Kaufmann yesterday and I may make my own version for the Polish language. Stay tuned!