What Makes Reading Fun?

… and if reading in a foreign language isn’t fun, how can I make it so? If you want to read in your target language, there are ways to make it possible and enjoyable.

Enjoyment of a book depends on two factors: reading speed and the amount of interesting things per 10 pages. “Interesting things” may vary depending on the type of book (surprising facts in a non-fictional book, thrilling events or funny dialog in fiction) and of course depending on the reader’s interests. However, if you read very slowly, it is so much more difficult to stay interested in a book, because you don’t hit many interesting things when you read for 10 minutes. At that point you’ll sit back and think that nothing has happened or that you haven’t learned anything new, so of course you lose interest. If you’re a quick reader, lots of books suddenly become interesting that other people find boring, because within 10 minutes you find a lot more action or amazing insights.

What this means for language learners

As someone reading in a foreign language, your reading speed will initially be abysmal. You have several options to combat this and make reading fun:

  • Do exercises to improve your reading speed. Your reading speed will naturally improve in time, but to get a quick boost, I found Tim Ferriss’ exercise invaluable.
  • Choose an easier book. You can read faster if you recognize more words, but Easy Readers also tend to be more boring than regular books, so you might not gain much.
  • Choose a thrilling book. Suspense and unexpected turns count as “more interesting things per 10 pages”, so that reading at slower speed becomes more supportable. Dan Brown for example is a great choice for this.
  • Choose a book you’re dying to read. Again, there should be more interesting things per 10 pages. Ideally, you’d browse your favorite section of a bookstore in your target country, forgetting about the language issue and just picking whatever looks fascinating.
  • Choose an “oldie but a goodie”. There are books that we like to re-read many times, delighting in discovering nuances and foreshadowing, or maybe using them as a basis for philosophizing. These books won’t be boring when read slowly either, and the foreign language will even help you see the content in a new light. “The Little Prince” is such a book for example, and also has the advantage of being easy. Among my women friends, “Pride and Prejudice” is also a popular re-read.
  • Set yourself a challenge. No matter whether the challenge is to read “around the world”, to discover logical fallacies in the book or to find all the times the author uses a particular word, you will stumble upon more interesting things that make reading more fun.

If you’re not sure where to get books in your target language, try Bookdepository; they have a great selection even for obscure languages and they offer free shipping worldwide. If you click on “Advanced Search” you can search by language. Select “paperback” in order to weed out some mismatches.

How to Memorize Chinese Characters

If not for the characters, Chinese would be one of the easiest languages in the world. Yet, I would be the last to suggest for characters to be abolished – they are what drew me to the language. As a teenager, I read this popular science book on linguistics and it had these lines from a Tang poem by Han Yu, describing the characters:

Time has not yet vanquished the beauty of these letters —
Looking like sharp daggers that pierce live crocodiles,
Like phoenix-mates dancing, like angels hovering down,
Like trees of jade and coral with interlocking branches,
Like golden cord and iron chain tied together tight,
Like incense-tripods flung in the sea, like dragons mounting heaven.

As beautiful as they are, that doesn’t make them easier to learn, it just gives you the motivation to keep going. I wasted a lot of time trying to learn characters the Asian way, by writing them over and over and over again. Writing them like that commits them to muscle memory – your hands can trace them, like your PIN at the ATM, even if your brain cannot remember their shape. However, muscle memory only works with very regular re-inforcement and I don’t intend to hand-write Chinese often enough for that to be viable, at least not beyond the most common 600 or so characters (it explains why this method works for Asians though, or used to work, getting weaker with the advent of computers and cellphones). What’s left is trying to commit the characters to your real memory, so that your brain can recall how to write them when your hands cannot. That’s where it helps to have a photographic memory, or even any kind of memory that’s good with pictures – I don’t have either, I think in abstract terms only, and yet I really wanted to learn Chinese characters!

The Solution

First, stop seeing the characters as a series of almost-random strokes. Familiarize yourself with the basic elements and their inate meaning. This will also help you distinguish 王 (king) 壬 (ancient burden) and 玉 (jade) or 土 (ground) and 士 (knight). You will notice that the vast majority of Chinese characters are not new, they consist of two or more of the basic elements. If you know the basic elements, you can then construct a mnemonic to link the elements to their meaning, a little story to help you remember or even a downright explanation. For example, the character 明 meaning “bright” consists of sun and moon – not difficult to remember, is it? The character 休 meaning “to rest” consists of a person and a tree – mentally fix the idea of an exhausted hiker resting against a tree and you’ll never forget this character again. This works for complex characters as well, and for each character you can choose into how many parts you split it, e. g. if you want to think of 偷 meaning “thief” as (person + making a canoo) or as (person + Chinese roof + moon + knife) – I went for the latter, with a story involving a thief on the roof of a house in moonlight, knife in hand, in order to climb into one of the windows and steal stuff. Stories can be colourful, absurd, racy, nonsensical even, as long as you personally find them memorable.

For the purpose of learning a large amount of characters this way (I memorized almost 2500 in one non-intensive year), it makes sense to go from basic characters to more complex ones, also so that you don’t have to memorize all possible basic elements at once. Unfortunately quite a lot of frequent words involve characters that are complex combinations of 4 or more elements. So character study has to be somewhat separate from regular textbook study at first, until you have a foundation. It is possible to go this path alone; Zhongwen.com gives you an analysis of each character’s components. But I don’t recommend it, because then you’ll encounter the issue of having one peg word corresponding to several characters, or inadvertently learning out-of-use characters, or learning complex characters before learning the parts that they’re made of.

I recommend getting a book to guide you. Depending on your background, there are three books I can recommend for learning characters:

1) Alison and Laurence Matthews’ “Learning Chinese Characters” proposes pictures and stories to go along with every character and the stories will even help you remember the pronunciation and the tone if you choose. On the down side, this book only covers about 1000 characters. They are sorted roughly in order of appearance in textbooks (!); it’s really great as a textbook companion for a beginner with little prior knowledge of characters and methods.

2) William McNaughton’s “Reading and Writing Chinese” (simplified characters or traditional) is a better choice if you have already learned more than 200 characters and taught yourself how to make mnemonics based on the character parts. This book is also guided by frequency and teaches you more than 2200 characters but doesn’t feed you the stories.

3) T.K. Ann’s “Cracking the Chinese Puzzles” is for the pros, sinologists and the like, covering almost 6000 characters, basically all that you’ll ever need, even when reading literature. The book doesn’t give stories so much as etymology – etymology with a bit of fantasy filling in the gaps – usually making characters very memorable. On the down side, you will find frequent characters mixed with infrequent ones, so getting this book only makes sense if you’re planning to learn all characters anyway, and if you have time to wait e. g. till the end of the first volume to learn some characters that will come up in the first few lessons of your Chinese textbook. T.K. Ann also provides lists of words using the characters, but again you have to be careful – some of these words are clearly literary or outdated, without being marked as such.

4) I guess I should mention James Heisig’s “Remembering the Hanzi” (with traditional or simplified characters) for completeness’ sake, but I would not recommend it except possibly if you already used Heisig to study Japanese Kanji. His book has several drawbacks. The biggest is that he doesn’t provide Pinyin (pronunciation) with the characters, even though in Chinese it makes sense to learn pronunciation at the same time (characters with the same elements usually have a very similar pronunciation and characters usually only have one possible pronunciation). Also, Heisig made the mistake of largely copying his Japanese Kanji book for this, giving little thought to how frequent/useful these characters are in Chinese, or whether a different order of introduction might make sense for Chinese.

Note that you probably won’t need to graduate e. g. from “Learning the Chinese Characters” to “Reading and Writing Chinese Characters” to “Cracking the Chinese Puzzles” when you’re ready to learn more – once you’ve learned 800+ characters this way, the method and the meaning of basic elements should be so ingrained that you can learn all future characters on your own as you encounter them. The main advantage there would be if you’re making a push to learn lots of characters BEFORE you encounter them.

Good luck with your studies!

Getting Used to Non-Vowelled Arabic

Vowelled vs. non-vowelled Arabic was actually a huge issue for me when I started out. I started on and stopped using a lot of textbooks because they did not indicate vowels in crucial places. Finally I found that “Ultimate Arabic” uses vowelled texts throughout (except in Review sections), but as a textbook it’s much worse than Teach Yourself for example. The solution came in the form of Langenscheidt Praktisches Lehrbuch Arabisch (2007 edition), which gradually makes the shift towards less vowels and I was able to follow along. The system I now use for my cards is also taken from this book:
1. assume that each Arabic consonant is followed by a short A; the only exception is if it’s the last consonant in a word (i. e. words tend to end in consonants)
2. if the vowel sound is something else, which doesn’t happen all that often, then the other vowel will be indicated with a vowel diacritic, yaa or waaw.
3. if there’s no vowel, i. e. if there’s a consonant cluster, sukoon is on the letter, as usual
4. before long vowels, it is superfluous to indicate the same vowel using a diacritic.

Essentially, it treats Arabic like Devanagari, and with very good results. Arabic texts written this way really have a minimum of diacritics, so it’s easier to get used to not having the vowels. Rule 1 in particular helped me a lot in becoming less dependent on vowellisation. It’s strange that nobody else came up with this suggestion.

Sample text (randomly taken from a children’s book) with full vowellisation:
يَزُولُ خَوْفِي حِينَ يُشْعِلُ بَابَا النُّورَ الصَّفِيرَ فِي غُرْفَتِي

Same text with this system:
يزولُ خَوْفي حينَ يُشْعِلُ بابا النّورَ الصّفيرَ في غُرْفني

Same text non-vowelled:
يزول خوفي حين يشعل بابا النّور الصّفير في غرفني

Learning Arabic Dark Consonants

I had a lot of trouble with the distinction between dark and non-dark consonants, like Saad vs. Siin. At first, I only heard the difference in the following “aah” sound and no difference at all in the consonant. I sensitized my hearing by requesting Arabic native speakers on Rhinospike.com to record minimal pairs for me: each dark consonant combined with each of the vowels, and each non-dark equivalent consonant combined with each of the vowels, allowing a direct comparison. Audio here

The remaining problem was of course how to produce this distinction myself. My textbooks were supremely unhelpful, just talking about ‘darker’, ’emphatic’ or ‘pharyngealized’ sounds without telling me how to produce this effect. Finally I came across Michel Thomas’ Arabic course and it had good advice: the distinction between non-dark and dark S is close to the difference between the S in “see” or “sorry” in English. If you keep the tongue position from “sorry” and combine it with different vowel (like “ee”), you wind up with the Arabic dark S, or something very close to it. The other dark consonants can be acquired by assuming the same unusual tongue position.

Where is Esperanto Spoken?

(A video I created)

Where is Esperanto spoken?
Short answer: All around the world. Long answer: All the countries that are in this video have a national Esperanto organization. A national organization is a hub for all local and regional groups.

Pictures licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0 from Wikimedia Commons.

All of the song excerpts are sung in Esperanto. In order of appearance:
Dolchamar (Finland) – Ĉu vi pretas?
JoMo (France) – Al la barikadoj; Marusja
Natalija Kasimova (Tajikistan) – Mia flor’
Yang Weijia (China) – Mi venas de step’
Afrika Espero (Congo) – La hom-maŝino
Merlin (Brazil) – Por la mondo

This video can be found on Youtube in my channel.

Addicted to Learning Vocabulary

Developing your foreign language vocabulary has to be the most critical part of learning any foreign language. Without vocabulary, grammar is absolutely useless, and practice impossible. Also, very often vocabulary is the biggest hurdle when trying to understand fun authentic materials in your target language, and vocabulary is the biggest issue going from intermediate to advanced level (and beyond).

Well, I’m addicted to learning vocabulary. Yes, addicted is the right word. I can’t go a day without. It’s too much fun. How? I will tell you, but I want you to first promise that you’ll give it a try. I suggested this tip to many people, and most were skeptical at first, but those who tried it still randomly come up and thank me for it. It changed the way they learn languages.

The secret is Anki. Anki is a small, unprepossessing piece of software, open-source (though maintained and continuously improved by one Damien Elmes, who also provides awesome customer support) and available for all platforms including smartphones. Anki doesn’t look as fancy as some highly-marketed commercial software like BYKI, but in functionality it’s much better. Let me go over a few things I love about Anki.

For one, there’s the algorithm, the most important part of any SRS (= spaced-repetition software). Anki’s algorithm is well-honed, only asking me words when I’m on the verge of forgetting them, easily transferring them into my extra long-term memory. It’s also possible to tune the algorithm e. g. by giving different default intervals, or by specifying that forgotten words should be asked again right away / in 10 minutes / after 8 hours or the like. This makes Anki suitable for different styles of learners, as well as different subject materials. For example, I also study Go problems on Anki and these I don’t want to see too quickly again; while for pesky Chinese characters 10 minutes or less seems to be optimal for me to make sure I learn them.

Speaking of Chinese, one of the key features of Anki for me is the ability to have unlimited “sides” to a card. For Chinese there’s the issue of learning characters, pronunciation and translation. Using actual paper cards, I never know whether to put the pronunciation on the character side or the translation side. If I put it with the characters, I don’t learn to recognize the characters. If I put it with the translation, I don’t learn to build a link between the concept and the Chinese. This problem is not exclusive to Asian languages though. For example, for European languages I like to have another field for grammar, another field for related words, another field for a sample sentence, another field for a translation of the sample sentence… and then Anki allows me to test myself in any direction, not just word to translation but also translation to word, word to grammar, sample sentence to sample sentence translation (all automatically generated based on one-time entry)… and Anki allows me to specify what I want to see when quizzed in each of these directions, e. g. when I quiz myself on Chinese characters to translation, I also want the pronunciation of the characters to show up underneath the translation. When I quiz myself on translation to Chinese characters, I want to see the pronunciation underneath the characters, plus an example sentence or two. This flexibility is awesome.

Even more awesome is that Anki does auto-completion for Chinese, so I only enter a Chinese word and Anki will already try to fill in the translation and pronunciation for me, so entering vocabulary doesn’t take so long. There are also thousands of awesome decks (for many languages) already available for free in the “Shared Decks” section (like a marketplace, but all free).

For Japanese there is also auto-completion but for other languages there is something almost as valuable: remembering keyboard layouts. So if I use a Greek keyboard layout to enter my Modern Greek vocabulary in the “Front” field, and then a German keyboard layout to enter the translation in the “Back” field, and I switch back to the front field to enter another word, my keyboard layout will automatically be set to Greek again. Same for Arabic. You can’t believe how much time this saves me!

Anki also has extensive plugin abilities. While I was studying Chinese characters last year, I really liked a plugin that told me how many characters I knew and how they compared to a) frequency lists and b) the HSK official character lists. I could e. g. see that I covered 95% of the HSK 2 list, and then click on it to see which characters I was missing. Click on any character to come up with a dictionary entry for it… awesome. Other plugins extend the kind of data Anki can handle, e. g. there’s a plugin for importing Smart.fm vocabulary, or one for viewing Go games / Go problems in .sgf format as part of the card. Anki natively already supports images, sounds (I made an Esperanto deck with every word recorded), video, HTML, LateX and clozes on cards. A good use for images is studying geography, e. g. learning to recognize countries on the map, also learning their capitals. My boyfriend is addicted to a deck like that.

Ah yes, addiction. The sense of achievement that comes from watching all those words wander into your long-term memory (hitting “Show next in 6 months” etc.), the stats underlining your progress, and also the simple, satisfying way of going over lots of cards at once in the 10-30 minutes I study an Anki deck every day. On the computer I use the numeric keypad 0-4 to rate cards, making the mouse unnecessary so I can go very quickly and lean back comfortably while doing this. Even better with the iPhone version, which I’ll use in bed, on the couch or (even better) on the subway and in the elevator, turning every moment into valuable language-learning time.

Get Anki and tell me about your experience with it!

Learning Languages Online

Are you interested in language learning? If you’re reading this site, then probably yes. However, I’m sure that you’re not aware just how much the internet can help you in learning languages. Here are my favorite resources that can be used for any language. For language-specific materials, click on the language in question on the left sidebar.

First, to get a taste of a language, I normally read its article in Wikipedia and I look over the most important phrases in this language – http://travlang.com/languages/ is a great resource for that, even though it’s full of ads, because they have resources on lots of languages and even made native-speaker recordings. There’s also a much more complete phrasebook, which is almost like a course, available from 50languages.com. For the really obscure languages, this online “language museum” can give me a first impression of the language’s sound.

The internet is good for much more than just getting a first impression though. You can also learn languages completely for free online; there are lots of free online language courses. Of course those are often not as good or not as complete as commercial courses, but there are also great and really complete courses online, for example the course in Modern Greek from Kypros.org with more than 100 lessons, the German course by Deutsche Welle, or this Korean course put online by Sogang University. (This blog post won’t try to be a comprehensive listing of available good online courses, my other site tried to do that.)

Sometimes there are even online courses that used to be (or still are) sold commercially. For example, the American Foreign Service Institute allowed many of its language courses from the 60s to be published online at this site. And there’s an awesome commercial multimedia course in Modern Greek (including video!) here, made available for free. LiveMocha is a website that offers courses for a whole bunch of languages, but they are pretty bad. The best webpages are those that only teach one language, for example Lernu for Esperanto – this has to be the most awesome most complete free language site ever! Would that more languages had sites like this! I’ve also recently come to appreciate Duolingo, which uses a unique approach to teach French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German.

Apart from complete courses, the internet also offers great tools. I shall list them according to their learning goals. If your goal is…

A bigger vocabulary: www.yourdictionary.com/languages.html lists online dictionaries for all languages. You don’t want to learn all the words of a dictionary though, so have a look at the Unilang.org basic wordlists with around 600 of the most common words for any language (select category “Unilang Basic Wordlist” and choose your target language). There are also various topical word lists. If you’re not sure how to use a word, or how to say something correctly, www.tatoeba.org is a multilingual database of phrases, in which you can search your word. For memorizing words, definitely try out the free open-source software Anki, which is much better than commercial programs. It’s cross-platform and even available for mobile phones.

Grammar: There are online grammars (for example the complete official reference grammar for Esperanto) just like there are courses, but there’s not one page good for all. Let me just mention Verbix.com, which can conjugate any verb in more than 50 languages. Also, be sure to read my blog post on how to learn grammar.

Pronunciation: if you don’t know how to pronounce a foreign word, Forvo.com has a huge database of recorded words for many languages, mostly done by native speakers. If you however need to know how to pronounce a complete phrase or even a complete text, go to Rhinospike.com instead – there you can request that someone should make a recording for you (for free).

Reading comprehension: the best way to learn how to read foreign texts is – to read them. If they are beyond your level though, for example if you try to read a Mexican newspaper after only studying Spanish for 5 hours, use a browser plugin that adds translations to all words, so that you can rapidly move your mouse over the text and start to understand it. It’s much faster than looking every word up in a dictionary. You can use these to read not just your own texts, blog posts or foreign newspapers online, but also lots of literature for example – this is a great collection of links to sites that have online literature in lots of languages, such as the Project Gutenberg. And if you prefer somewhat simplified texts, there are some websites for that as well, collected here. Also LingQ has simplified texts in a bunch of languages, and an in-built on-click translation system to boot. Parallel texts (here and here) are also very useful to beginner and intermediate students – there, one column is in the language you’re studying and another column is in your native language, but both feature the same text, so you can compare meanings and constructions across languages.

Listening Comprehension: first, there are podcasts that propose to teach you languages, such as GermanPod101, where I’m project manager, or any number of them available through a quick search on iTunes. Most of these are for beginners or lower-intermediate students. If you’re beyond that stage, there are foreign-language audiobooks (books that are read to you). Audiobooks are becoming popular now, but often they’re expensive. At Librivox.org you can find open-source free audiobooks in several languages, and there’s a more complete listing of such sites here. If your listening comprehension isn’t good enough yet though, you could try listening to an audiobook in a foreign language while reading along in your own language – a lot of words will become clear and they will enter your vocabulary with little effort. This method is called Listening-Reading (see explanations by the inventor) and some resources have been collected for it at Bilingual-texts.com, or you can mix & match your own with the literature and audiobook links above. If you’re a bit more advanced, you may also like to listen to something while reading along in the same language; for example some news sites offer recordings of the news as well as transcripts of them. Or you can watch videos in your target language with subtitles in your language – Dotsub collects subtitled videos online, or there are always DVDs. If your DVD doesn’t have the subtitles you want, you may find some at OpenSubtitles.org, and of course the internet is also your friend if you’re looking to get movies in your target language.

Writing: to get better, you should write a lot in your target language. That’s why I like the service at Lang-8.com, where native speakers correct your foreign-language texts for free. Busuu.com is similar, though it’s only good for a limited number of languages. In exchange, they offer courses and ideas what you could write about.

Speaking: even if you live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, you can speak your target language every day. How? Use italki (or one of many similar websites) to find partners who will talk with you via Skype. They will help you learn their language and you will help him learn yours. Normally you speak half an hour in one language and half an hour in the other, but this can change if your level of language knowledge is different. If you however don’t have the time to do the exchange or if you’re still unable to talk at all, you should find a paid tutor on italki as well or at Myngle. Compared to a random native speaker, who cannot explain things or empathize with your situation as a learner of his language, a tutor is often a better choice, especially if you’re not very advanced yet. The advantage of online tutoring is that you can easily find many native speakers of your target language and choose the best teacher from among them, while in your city there may only be one qualified teacher, or even none. I also like online tutoring because it saves me the time I’d otherwise spend commuting. Here’s how to use tutors to reach conversational fluency asap.

The rest: if you have a question about a language you’re learning, if you don’t understand the grammar, need help finding websites, are looking for a good textbook or don’t know how to learn efficiently, there are special forums about language-learning that will provide answers. For grammar or vocabulary questions about a particular language I typically recommend the Unilang forum because it unites native speakers and students of lots of languages, including very obscure ones. For questions about language-learning in general, new study methods or evaluations of textbooks / language programs, I recommend the how-to-learn-any-language forum.

Don’t forget to have fun learning languages!

P.S.: If you know other great free websites for or about language learning, please let me know!

12 Languages in 6 Minutes

A video of me speaking 12 languages in less than 6 minutes, without a script, without post-editing, as a way to record my current spoken language levels. Because of the constant switch in language I actually come across worse in some languages than I would in longer conversation, and my accent is stronger too, but that’s fine because the same effect should occur when I record a comparative video in the future.

This video can be found on Youtube in my channel.

Practise Esperanto Affixes!

I always notice that mastery of the affixes is essential for understanding Esperanto and for speaking it fluently. The thing is that many Esperanto speakers never have a very big vocabulary… but you don’t need one if you have fully mastered the affixes. Sometimes I even wish that German or English or other languages had a reliable affix system like this, because I start a sentence and find that I’ve temporarily forgotten a word, or it’s on the tip of my tongue and I just can’t get it out. Let’s say it’s the word “konstelacio” (= constellation). If you have trouble coming up with that word in Esperanto, you can continue speaking without a noticeable stop and people won’t even know you’ve been missing a word, because you’d say something like “stelaro” (stelo+aro = star + collection = collection of stars) and that’s a perfectly fine way of expressing yourself. In fact, it’s considered good language usage to say “stelaro” instead of “konstelacio”, because it enables beginners to understand more easily, particularly if they come from a non-Indo-European language background.

Since it’s so crucial to understand agglutinated words quickly and to be able to come up with some yourself without much thinking, I’ve decided to post some exercises here for you to improve your understanding of Esperanto affixes. These are taken from various lessons of a free German Esperanto course and translated obviously. Send your answer to an Esperanto-speaking friend or wait for me to post sample solutions. I suggest you don’t do all the exercises at once but take a break after each one and spread the whole thing out over several days.

Lesson 1 taught the different word endings, -eg- (amplifies the
meaning), -in- (for females) and -ej- (place).

Exercise 1: translate the following Esperanto words to English:
peto, amika, beli, ripeto, nei, nuno, nuna, petego, benkego, ina, knabo.

Exercise 2: translate the following words to Esperanto:
school (place of learning), super easy, the regret, linguistically
(derived from “language”), tomorrow’s (as an adjective!), duty
(derived from “must”), the farewell.

Lesson 2 taught -ul- (for a person), mal- (opposite) and ek- (start
to do), as well as the ability to use these as word roots.

Exercise 3: translate these using affixes only: person, female person,
to start, the start, the opposite, the place, opposite (adjective!),

Exercise 4: translate postmorgaŭ and antaŭhieraŭ

Lesson 3 taught compound words, and re- (again/back), -ajx- (thing),
-igx- (become), -ist- (profession), -et- (weaken the meaning).

Exercise 5: translate: tea glass, light grey, apple pie, ĉiutago,
tuttaga, ree, aĵo, eta, poŝtaĵo, enamiĝi (en-am-iĝ-i), vorteto,
elaŭtiĝi (el-aŭt-iĝ-i), laŭtiĝi, mallaŭtiĝi, reverdiĝi
(re-verd-iĝ-i), kontentiĝi.

Lesson 4 taught -il- (tool), -ant- (person currently doing sth.),
-igx- (making words intransitive)

Exercise 6: translate: brochure (inform-), sender, participant, to get
dressed, order form (mend-), to have fun (amuz-), to be interested,
questionaire, the seeing person.

Lesson 5 taught ge- (both genders), -i- (for many country names), -an- (member), -ad- (gerund, long-lasting), -ar- (collection).

Exercise 7: using the affix system, build at least one new words from
each of the following: rumano, sviso, svedo, hispano, edzo, amiko,
loĝi, kisi, gazeto, Berlino.

Exercise 8: translate plimultiĝi, plirapidiĝi, vesperiĝas, mateniĝis,
proksimiĝi, enlagiĝi, elakviĝi, multegaj, la kialo, espero, la
esperanto, pollingve (pol-lingv-e), malpli, sunbrilo, ĉiama,
remalfermo, instruado, la malkompreno, sunleviĝo, malleviĝo, studado,
gratulanto, la plimultigxo, eraro, celo, restaĵo, kundancado, domano.

Lesson 6 contains a grammar summary, nothing new there.

Exercise 9: build new words with all affixes currently known. Use the
root words kanti, juna, doni, legi, trinki, lando, skribi, botelo,
lerni, rugxa, viro, granda, and build as many words as you can. When
you’re done, make sure that you have at least one example of each of
the affixes introduced so far (yes it’s possible!). The ones
introduced so far are: ek-, ge-, mal-, re-, -ad-, -aĵ-, -an-, -ant-,
-ar-, -eg-, -et-, -ej-, -igx-, -il-, -in-, -ist- and -ul- .

Lesson 7 taught the participles and -igx- (for passive), -ig- (to
make, transitive), -id- (child), -ebl- (possibility), -ajx- (for food)

Exercise 10: translate malsatantoj, kontraŭuloj, dormanto, ĝustigo,
remalsekiĝi, malplimultigi, pendigi, pendigita, respeguliĝi,
plilarĝigebla, nepagebla, retrankviliĝinte, surteriĝi, egaligi, krome,
ebla, homaro, revulo, malordigi, ordigita.

PARTICIPLE/AFFIX EXERCISE: add the right endings
– Mi surbret____ la aĉet____ libron. – I put the bought book on the shelf.
– En la ven____ semajno ŝi edz____. – In the coming week she will
marry (= become a wife)
– Pro troa lac____ Maria liber____ hodiaŭ de sia ofico. – Because of
strong fatigue Maria took a day off work today (= freed herself…)
– Inform____ sian patrinon, Frank iris en la kinejon. – After
informing his mother, Frank went to the cinema.
– Ating____ la landlimon, ni ĝust____ niajn horloĝojn. – Before
arriving at the border, we adjusted our watches.

Lesson 8 introduced pra- (fore-), dis- (dissemble), bo- (in-law), eks-
(former), fi- (morally bad), -ind- (worthy), -estr- (boss), -op- (how
many people), -em- (likes to do or often does), -ec- (property or
character trait)

Exercise 11: using only the affixes (no other word stems!), translate
the following: ancestor, away from each other, to leave a company or
club, morally bad, to lead, the property, to be worthy, the
desire/inclination to do something.

Lesson 9 introduced the entire rest of affixes: -ism- (ideology),
-obl- (multiples), -on- (a part of a number), -um- (whenever nothing
else fits), mis- (in error), -acx- (bad appearance or in a bad way),
-end- (something still left to do), -er- (a part of something), -ing-
(retainer or support), -uj- (container or tree), -cxj- (making
nicknames for men), -nj- (making nicknames for women)

Exercise 12: translate (sometimes using more than one word): four times as much, a third, two fifth, guide incorrectly, to talk bad about somebody, a book to be read, cake crumbs, wallet (from “mono”)

Exercise 13: translate to English: ujeto, aĉaĵo, arano, disigi, eksigenda, fiega, etiĝi, estrino, ilaro.

Exercise 14: explain in Esperanto: paperujo, hundaĉo, programero, sonorilo, besteto, taskaro, saĝulo, kuracilo

The 10th lesson is just a summary with a big boring text-translation as an exam. So this is it – completing all these exercises should have given you a much better grasp of the affix system.

Hope it helped!