Wednesday 16 April 2014

Language Freak Summer Challenge

Ekaterina at In My Book is hosting a Language Freak Summer Challenge. Since I continually profess that I am going to attempt a book in French, but as yet have had little inspiration, I thought a challenge would be a good shove forward.

How to Participate:

Read books in a foreign language this summer.  The challenge runs from May 1st to August 31st.

The Levels of the Challenge:

Beginner: read 1 book in any foreign language
Intermediate: read 2 books in any foreign language
Advanced: read 3+ books in any foreign language

The books can be in one or in several different foreign languages. You choose what you want to practice! But for really crazy linguists I have a special offer, which is called accordingly:

Crazy Linguist: read at least 1 book in EACH foreign language you know. Of course, this one is additional to the above listed three levels!

Bonus level is for films:

Subs Fan: watch any number of films in a foreign language (Why is it called so? Because subs are allowed, of course!)

After you read your book (or watch a movie), you are encouraged to post about your experience! It can be a review, or a reflection, or a rant, whatever! If the book's language affected your experience, write about it! Is it easy or difficult? Does it have crazy grammar or so many rare words that you couldn't put down your dictionary? Share!

For the hardcore language freaks I have another optional task! Try to write about the book in the language you read it in! Just a few phrases, to practice your writing! Last year native speakers were known to friendly explain the mistakes in the reviews, so don't be afraid to make them! It's all for your benefit, you know. 

Introductory Post Questions:

1.  What languages do you know?  I know basic French and Spanish (although my Spanish is very rusty), less than basic German with a smattering of Latin and ancient Greek.  

2.  What is your history with these languages?  I studied French for seven years in school but with sub-par instruction, so my French is embarrassingly weak when you consider the study time.  I studied both Spanish and German in school for one semester, but my German teacher was amazing so the German I learned in one semester was comparable to about three years of French class. Latin and Greek I've learned alongside my daughter while homeschooling her, but she has surpassed me now.  I wish I had more time to devote to learning these languages.

3.  Do you use them or are you out of practice?  I was very fortunate to be able to travel to France about 5 years ago, twice, for about 6 weeks each time.  Initially my French was woefully inadequate (I had to use Spanish to find my hotel), but gradually it came back and when I left the last time, I was able to understand conversations, although my speaking skills still needed much practice.  I've tried to keep it up since then.  My Spanish used to be pretty good, but needs a tune-up.  In German, I'd be lucky if I could read children's books ---- I need more instruction.  As for Latin & Greek, I have glorious dreams of being able to read Homer or Xenephon in Greek and the Aeneid in Latin ……… sadly I have a loooong way to go to reach that point but I can read a short story about the Gallic wars in Latin.  Such is my pitiful claim to fame. ;-)

4.  Have you read some books in these languages?  Did you like it (them)?  I've read a number of children's books in both French and Spanish.  I also started both Candide and Alice in Wonderland in French but didn't finish them.  I tried reading The Cat in the Hat in Latin but crashed and burned. 

5.  What are your plans for the challenge?  I plan to try to read either Le Petit Nicolas, Le Tour de la France par Deux Enfants or Les Malheurs de Sophie as a main book.  Otherwise I would like to read some Fables de Fontaine, a Martine book, some German fairy tales, Ferdinand in Latin and a Spanish book, perhaps Corre, Perro, Corre, or another choice.  It's nice to have four months for this challenge ~~ there are so many possibilities to explore and I will certainly have the time to investigate them!

Does it sound like fun?  Do you want to join in?  Then write an introductory post and then go to Ekaterina's blog and link it to the linky there.  Please see her blog for other details about this exciting challenge.  Thanks for hosting, Ekaterina!

What Did I Read?

  1.  Corre, Perro, Corre - P.D. Eastman (Spanish)
  2.  Im Wunderschönen Monat Mai - Heinrich Heine
  3.  Rotkäppchen (Little Red Riding Hood) - Brothers Grimm
  4.  Nuits de Juin - Victor Hugo
  5.  Desiderata (en Français) - Max Ehrmann


  1. Welcome! You have BIG plans for the challenge! And so many different languages, wow! I wish you a very good luck and I'm looking forward to read about your experience!

    1. Thanks, Ekaterina! Yes, big plans with children's books …. hee hee! :-) Nevertheless, hopefully it will jump start me to attempt something more difficult in the future. I can't wait to start.

  2. OOH this is a COOL challenge!! I have several books in foreign languages that I have been trying to read for a while, so I think I will sign up as motivation. It's nice to see another polyglot - I also speak French (poorly, but I can get by), and I have studied Russian and Dutch, and know a teeny bit of Spanish, German, Polish, Albanian, Swedish, Bosnian, and Japanese, but not enough to read a book in any of those, unfortunately. Vive les langues etrangers! :)

    1. Wow! Your languages are impressive. I know a minuscule amount of spoken Japanese from an exchange student we had live with us for a year, and a small smattering of Vietnamese words from watching Tour of Duty (an old Vietnam war series). I'd like to learn Russian, Italian and Japanese but I doubt I'll ever get around to it; I need to perfect the other languages first.

      It's nice to have this challenge for motivation, isn't it?!

  3. Forgot to add, I read a chapter of Le Petit Nicolas for the last French class I took (just a month or so ago) and it was a reasonably easy read and hilarious. I've been thinking about getting a copy of that myself for the practice.

    1. Le Petit Nicolas will probably be my first choice but Le Tour de la France has a dictionary in the back, which would make it easier to find unknown words. Perhaps I will be able to fit both in!

  4. If I read "See Spot Run" in Spanish, will that count?

    1. Certainly it would count! And after, you could perhaps graduate to "Green Eggs and Ham". ;-)

    2. Unfortunately, my Spanish so far is probably only good enough to read simple books like that. Sounds like an interesting challenge though!

    3. EVERYTHING COUNTS! :) As long as it has at least SOME words in it :)

  5. Le Petit Nicolas is really fun to read. I've read most of the series translated, but the one where he goes on holidays was one of the first French books, not counting comic books, that I picked up to read.

    1. Thanks, Hellen, that's encouraging to know. I've seen the movie but I haven't read the book in French or in English, so I'm really looking forward to it.

  6. I was sure I had commented already but looks like something went wrong (which happens a lot lately with OpenID).
    I found this challenge through you, so thank you!

    Looking forward to what you'll pick for German :)

    1. Carola, I commented on your blog too and I noticed yesterday that it didn't show up. Very frustrating! Thanks for mentioning me in your post. I'm looking forward to the challenge. I've been so busy with my daughter's sports and taxes in the last few weeks it's been challenging to comment or post, but it should slow down for me this coming week.

      If you have any German suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them!

      Thanks for stopping by!