Teaching Yourself a Language

Rowan

The professor?
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I'd really like to learn German. I learnt it for 2 years at school, yet have forgotten most of what I learnt. Hopefully the 2 years I already did it will mean I can pick it up easier than if I was starting from scratch, but basically I'm a beginner. So any tips for teaching yourself a language? Any good apps/websites I should know about?
 

Mq

It's Megaqwer's Time!
Weird 'tip'
I'd say just start learning the different words of german, try pronouncing them, then move to writing sentences and then learn the language's grammer?
See some youtube videos on how to pronounce certain words of that langauge...

Well....it worked for me though to learn a new language.

I hope it helps u too! :)

EDIT: If you have some friend who knows german, try talking to them, they might as well rectify your mistakes :}
 

Mq

It's Megaqwer's Time!
So, you do not have the teacher?
I do but whenever he used to explain something, it was hard for me to catch it so I'd to try something (see.above post) but now I am waaayyyy better at that language
 
I'd really like to learn German. I learnt it for 2 years at school, yet have forgotten most of what I learnt. Hopefully the 2 years I already did it will mean I can pick it up easier than if I was starting from scratch, but basically I'm a beginner. So any tips for teaching yourself a language? Any good apps/websites I should know about?
If not the most rigorous treatment of grammar and vocabulary, Duolingo is useful for reviewing basic and intermediate stuff. It helped me a lot when I had to get a grasp of Esperanto in a short timespan for a school project.
 

Rare Poison

if im butter then ur a hot knife
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look up German news articles/text to read online or look up German videos to watch; the more you immerse yourself in the language, the easier it is to learn. taking a little time (like 10 min?) every day to do this helps a ton

stuff like Duolingo is great for getting the basics down but doesn't really help you to recognize certain patterns to the language to the point where you can form sentences without thinking about it, whereas reading actual text/hearing people speak it will

I hope that helps; I'm trying to do the same with Spanish :)
 
Yeah, you have to find a use for a language to acquire it. Language classes and apps like Duolingo are good, but just learning from books/classes/apps will be boring and not very productive. You have to complement them: listen to German music, read news in German, join a German website/forum, make your phone/computer's interface German, play games in German (Pokemon is great since you pick up a lot of vocabulary from attacks/abilities), etc. Find something you that enjoy and won't feel like a chore. That's how I learned English and how I'm improving my German as well (though it's nowhere near my English).
 

Alter

lab report ᐛ
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I've been studying German for the last 6 years through high school and now into my 1st year of uni. I'd recommend a website called slow german for listening practice to begin with. Slowly work your way up, and do what's fun. It's very, very easy to lose motivation learning a language. One thing I did was that I played through old GBA games with the language set to German (e.g. Zelda: Minish Cap). Best of luck!
 
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Cresselia~~

Junichi Masuda likes this!!
I self taught myself Japanese for many years after attending 6 lessons.
I'd say I'm ok at reading Japanese for a self-taught person. My Japanese comprehension and vocabulary is around N3 level.
But the tricky part is, whilst it is easy to learn reading and writing, it's difficult to self learn pronunciation and listening.
Or for some people, it may be the opposite.
Basically, it's difficult to control whether you are learning properly in all disciplines (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of the language.
My listening in Japanese is terrible. So terrible, that I can't get 100% in N5 level listening, which is awful.

Moreover, it has been over 10 years by now, but I have still not reached business level in Japanese in any discipline.
That's dreadful because averagely speaking, an average Hongkonger who attend proper Japanese lessons, should be able to reach business level Japanese within 3 years.

So, in other words, if that language is important to you, you better attend proper lessons.

Only try self teaching if it's not important and that you want it as a hobby.
 
Yeah, you have to find a use for a language to acquire it. Language classes and apps like Duolingo are good, but just learning from books/classes/apps will be boring and not very productive. You have to complement them: listen to German music, read news in German, join a German website/forum, make your phone/computer's interface German, play games in German (Pokemon is great since you pick up a lot of vocabulary from attacks/abilities), etc. Find something you that enjoy and won't feel like a chore. That's how I learned English and how I'm improving my German as well (though it's nowhere near my English).
Yeah, language is very much a use it or lose it thing. If you learn it just to learn it, you're not going to keep it up without constant practice. I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and forgot it a year or two after, and learned Japanese mostly through self-study and I haven't really dulled because I use it regularly (though it's not like I'm very good at in the first place).
 
Yeah, you have to find a use for a language to acquire it. Language classes and apps like Duolingo are good, but just learning from books/classes/apps will be boring and not very productive. You have to complement them: listen to German music, read news in German, join a German website/forum, make your phone/computer's interface German, play games in German (Pokemon is great since you pick up a lot of vocabulary from attacks/abilities), etc. Find something you that enjoy and won't feel like a chore. That's how I learned English and how I'm improving my German as well (though it's nowhere near my English).

This is a good response, and everyone talking about finding a use for the language is right. However, it's important to get a basic level first just by studying (use Duolinguo, or try to find some other online/offline course), because until you're able to read enough sentences and paragraphs, it's going to be really hard to put your knowledge into use. Also remember there are simplified books for various levels of knowledge of the language, so looking that up first instead of jumping into real books/newspapers/games is recommended.

I'm not sure about how good your German is, but I'm currently learning German myself and while knowing English helps because many words are similar, I still find it hard to read most texts.
 

Rowan

The professor?
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Yeah I'm starting off doing Duolingo. Since I did German at school, many things are coming back to me, so learning the vocab is probably a lot quicker than average, since it was buried in my brain somewhere already. The reason I wanted to learn German was mainly because I'd like to live there at some point in the future, so I'm gonna do as Dunk suggests, start off doing duolingo, and once I've got a basic level then I'll start trying to find other sources, practising in other ways, reading German website etc. My dad is fluent so hopefully I'll start talking to him in German a lot more which'll help a lot
 

Chou Toshio

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I self taught myself Japanese for many years after attending 6 lessons.
I'd say I'm ok at reading Japanese for a self-taught person. My Japanese comprehension and vocabulary is around N3 level.
But the tricky part is, whilst it is easy to learn reading and writing, it's difficult to self learn pronunciation and listening.
Or for some people, it may be the opposite.
Basically, it's difficult to control whether you are learning properly in all disciplines (reading, writing, speaking and listening) of the language.
My listening in Japanese is terrible. So terrible, that I can't get 100% in N5 level listening, which is awful.

Moreover, it has been over 10 years by now, but I have still not reached business level in Japanese in any discipline.
That's dreadful because averagely speaking, an average Hongkonger who attend proper Japanese lessons, should be able to reach business level Japanese within 3 years.

So, in other words, if that language is important to you, you better attend proper lessons.

Only try self teaching if it's not important and that you want it as a hobby.
It's funny, your description of your Japanese ability sounds just like my Mandarin one. It's amazing how much you can comprehend just by knowing the characters. Japan and China are the two biggest powerhouses in my hobby, so after a huge international convention recently, I made a whole bunch of Chinese friends. I'm sure that if we were trying to talk in person it would be terrible, but since it's mostly messaging over Facebook (quite a few VPNers) or WeChat, it actually works out with a bit of help from bing/google translate.

3 years does sound about right for a native Chinese speaker to reach Japanese N2 if they dedicate real time to study (like 1-2 hours a day every day), in a classroom setting. 2 Years probably close to doable in a real intensive program that also has private tutelage, 1 year if we going full on military-resource-immersion-program.

I have an N1, got it after studying Japanese for... 7 years I think? It's already been 11 years though... Wow, can't believe it's aready been 4 years since I got that thing... but I feel my business Japanese has only gotten really good in the last 2, living in and working in Tokyo.

There were definitely time periods when I was self-teaching myself (maybe about half that time), but I also had classroom experience and brief full-blown-intensive-immersion programs (3-5 hours a day).

Also on or off, I had the fortune of loving, and having access to Japanese media. Actually, it was one of my self-taught periods that really pushed me from a really casual learner (maybe about N4-ish) to a high-potential learner (speaking level high enough to reach N2 level overall abilities with a bit of dedicated training). Basically, I watched Lovely Complex 40 times. Yes, I watched all 24 episodes about 40 times each during one semester of College, and that basically took me over a massive breaking point in the learning curve. My interest in being able to comprehend Kansai-dialect forced me to genuinely learn good grammar structure, and honing in on the "music" of Kansai-dialect massively improved my overall intuition for the language.

Also, there are simply things that you cannot hear or understand on the 2nd or 3rd time watching something that you can on the 10th, 22nd, 34th, 50th time hearing it. There are a lot of people who like to "learn from anime", but very few enjoy anything enough to watch it so many times; which is a huge tool for me.

When I watched Ryoma-den for instance, I was already far above N2 level but I couldn't comprehend a lot of the grammar being spoken by the characters in the many different old dialects that appear in the drama. But by the 10th time watching every episode of the first 20 episodes, I was basically able to understand what all of them were saying in Tosa dialect, Choshuu dialect, Satsuma dialect (especially annoying), etc.

Media is huge imo.

The lack of Chinese media that generally interests me is probably the biggest wall to me improving there. That and being married and not having nearly as much free time for language anymore. lol
 

Ash Borer

I've heard they're short of room in hell
It's funny, your description of your Japanese ability sounds just like my Mandarin one. It's amazing how much you can comprehend just by knowing the characters. Japan and China are the two biggest powerhouses in my hobby, so after a huge international convention recently, I made a whole bunch of Chinese friends. I'm sure that if we were trying to talk in person it would be terrible, but since it's mostly messaging over Facebook (quite a few VPNers) or WeChat, it actually works out with a bit of help from bing/google translate.

3 years does sound about right for a native Chinese speaker to reach Japanese N2 if they dedicate real time to study (like 1-2 hours a day every day), in a classroom setting. 2 Years probably close to doable in a real intensive program that also has private tutelage, 1 year if we going full on military-resource-immersion-program.

I have an N1, got it after studying Japanese for... 7 years I think? It's already been 11 years though... Wow, can't believe it's aready been 4 years since I got that thing... but I feel my business Japanese has only gotten really good in the last 2, living in and working in Tokyo.

There were definitely time periods when I was self-teaching myself (maybe about half that time), but I also had classroom experience and brief full-blown-intensive-immersion programs (3-5 hours a day).

Also on or off, I had the fortune of loving, and having access to Japanese media. Actually, it was one of my self-taught periods that really pushed me from a really casual learner (maybe about N4-ish) to a high-potential learner (speaking level high enough to reach N2 level overall abilities with a bit of dedicated training). Basically, I watched Lovely Complex 40 times. Yes, I watched all 24 episodes about 40 times each during one semester of College, and that basically took me over a massive breaking point in the learning curve. My interest in being able to comprehend Kansai-dialect forced me to genuinely learn good grammar structure, and honing in on the "music" of Kansai-dialect massively improved my overall intuition for the language.

Also, there are simply things that you cannot hear or understand on the 2nd or 3rd time watching something that you can on the 10th, 22nd, 34th, 50th time hearing it. There are a lot of people who like to "learn from anime", but very few enjoy anything enough to watch it so many times; which is a huge tool for me.

When I watched Ryoma-den for instance, I was already far above N2 level but I couldn't comprehend a lot of the grammar being spoken by the characters in the many different old dialects that appear in the drama. But by the 10th time watching every episode of the first 20 episodes, I was basically able to understand what all of them were saying in Tosa dialect, Choshuu dialect, Satsuma dialect (especially annoying), etc.

Media is huge imo.

The lack of Chinese media that generally interests me is probably the biggest wall to me improving there. That and being married and not having nearly as much free time for language anymore. lol
Did watching the same thing over and over have a noticeable benefit? I bet I could watch Berserk, Cowboy Bebop or Eva 10-20 times before I got too tired of them.
 

Cresselia~~

Junichi Masuda likes this!!
It's funny, your description of your Japanese ability sounds just like my Mandarin one. It's amazing how much you can comprehend just by knowing the characters. Japan and China are the two biggest powerhouses in my hobby, so after a huge international convention recently, I made a whole bunch of Chinese friends. I'm sure that if we were trying to talk in person it would be terrible, but since it's mostly messaging over Facebook (quite a few VPNers) or WeChat, it actually works out with a bit of help from bing/google translate.

3 years does sound about right for a native Chinese speaker to reach Japanese N2 if they dedicate real time to study (like 1-2 hours a day every day), in a classroom setting. 2 Years probably close to doable in a real intensive program that also has private tutelage, 1 year if we going full on military-resource-immersion-program.

I have an N1, got it after studying Japanese for... 7 years I think? It's already been 11 years though... Wow, can't believe it's aready been 4 years since I got that thing... but I feel my business Japanese has only gotten really good in the last 2, living in and working in Tokyo.

There were definitely time periods when I was self-teaching myself (maybe about half that time), but I also had classroom experience and brief full-blown-intensive-immersion programs (3-5 hours a day).

Also on or off, I had the fortune of loving, and having access to Japanese media. Actually, it was one of my self-taught periods that really pushed me from a really casual learner (maybe about N4-ish) to a high-potential learner (speaking level high enough to reach N2 level overall abilities with a bit of dedicated training). Basically, I watched Lovely Complex 40 times. Yes, I watched all 24 episodes about 40 times each during one semester of College, and that basically took me over a massive breaking point in the learning curve. My interest in being able to comprehend Kansai-dialect forced me to genuinely learn good grammar structure, and honing in on the "music" of Kansai-dialect massively improved my overall intuition for the language.

Also, there are simply things that you cannot hear or understand on the 2nd or 3rd time watching something that you can on the 10th, 22nd, 34th, 50th time hearing it. There are a lot of people who like to "learn from anime", but very few enjoy anything enough to watch it so many times; which is a huge tool for me.

When I watched Ryoma-den for instance, I was already far above N2 level but I couldn't comprehend a lot of the grammar being spoken by the characters in the many different old dialects that appear in the drama. But by the 10th time watching every episode of the first 20 episodes, I was basically able to understand what all of them were saying in Tosa dialect, Choshuu dialect, Satsuma dialect (especially annoying), etc.

Media is huge imo.

The lack of Chinese media that generally interests me is probably the biggest wall to me improving there. That and being married and not having nearly as much free time for language anymore. lol
Listening seems to be my own problem, rather than a language problem.
It seems that I do badly in any listening tests regardless to language.

The really tricky part of Japanese proficiency test is, you can only listen to the audio once.
In some other languages, they may give you a second chance, but not Japanese.

But almost always, even for N5 level listening, I understand everything the second time, but hardly anything the first time.
 

Chou Toshio

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Did watching the same thing over and over have a noticeable benefit? I bet I could watch Berserk, Cowboy Bebop or Eva 10-20 times before I got too tired of them.
Definitely noticeable. Think about it this way-- the first time you watch it, you are probably mostly looking at the subtitles and processing the story. The second time you watch it, you already know the story, so you can listen more and pay attention to the dialogue. By the 10th time you've watched it, you pretty much have the subtitles memorized-- I mean, you know exactly what each character is going to say and when they're going to say it, so at that point you're thinking about HOW they said it. At the 20th time you've got a lot of the lines themselves memorized and know what they mean too-- so you can begin to pinpoint where there are grammar patterns that you don't understand, or vocab you don't recognize, and because of the sound not being "garble" but instead learned phrases you can pick apart, it's much easier to look up and learn the things you didn't understand. By the 40th time, you can recite/re-inact a lot of scenes as it was, and probably have the intonation/mannerism mastered too.

At least, that's how it worked for me.
 

Chou Toshio

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Listening seems to be my own problem, rather than a language problem.
It seems that I do badly in any listening tests regardless to language.

The really tricky part of Japanese proficiency test is, you can only listen to the audio once.
In some other languages, they may give you a second chance, but not Japanese.

But almost always, even for N5 level listening, I understand everything the second time, but hardly anything the first time.
Can't help you there-- as I mentioned, I learned the language almost completely through listening, and only started to teach myself the logic of the language after I had a strong sense for the music of it. To me, my listening scores were almost always close to 100, with it being a battle to see how much of the vocab, grammar, and reading-comp questions I could manage in order to fill out the score.
 
Immersion is only useful once you have a level of skill that could get you around in a country that speaks that language natively. My Spanish was advanced enough to have a proper conversation but not native. after a month or so in Spain it has gotten to near native. My Japanese could hold a basic if stuttery conversation but now that I've been attending school in Japan for a weeks my comprehension abilities have shot through the roof. I still have to conciously learn new grammar and vocabulary though. I reccomend start by listening to a lot of German media with subs and focus on pronunciation. then go into basic grammar systematically learning vocabulary along the way.

Also yeah China if you want people to learn your language can you please make some good media in it?
 

Cresselia~~

Junichi Masuda likes this!!
Also yeah China if you want people to learn your language can you please make some good media in it?
Thinking about it, most media in Hong Kong and China are shit.
So shitty that most people in Hong Kong don't watch them, and more Hong Kong people watch Japanese or Korean shows with subtitles all the time.

I think it's because we have very weak industries, and it wasn't being taken seriously. People in the industry aren't trying hard, etc.

Taiwanese media is slightly better in quality, but there are a lot of stuff in Taiwanese media that is very local, and can only be understood by locals or people who know them very well.
 

Sobi

Banned deucer.
I'm learning German at the moment too--I've been using Duolingo for a year or two now. While it's certainly helpful, it can get slightly tedious at time and it feels more like stuffing vocabulary into your head instead of gradually learning and getting used to it. You should hang out in the German room on PS!--I'm sure the auth/people there will be more than welcome to answer any questions you have and you can even speak English there :)

I'm hoping to visit Munich later this year--perhaps getting to know more about culture and having a bit of fun while learning the language might help you remember some vocabulary. Good luck!
 
I can speak Afrikaans / Smidgets of Dutch / English / Smidgets of Arabic. I find the best way to learn is to put yourself in a sink or swim situation. So basically sign up to a class that costs a fair bit of money (as an incentive to succeed). You'll have to learn pretty fast to past the tests and not waste all your cash. Its an alternative to immersion if that's a bit tough to do because of where you live etc.
 

cityscapes

Formerly Gurpreet Patel (Sent you a Friend Request
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Let me just say that as long as you know the basics of the language, playing a Pokémon game in the language is really helpful for learning it! I used a Chimecho in my Japanese playthrough of Y and learned what the move "いやしのねがい" was the hard way...
 

Chou Toshio

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Let me just say that as long as you know the basics of the language, playing a Pokémon game in the language is really helpful for learning it! I used a Chimecho in my Japanese playthrough of Y and learned what the move "いやしのねがい" was the hard way...
I really hope that wasn't a nuzlock

Lolz

Also 3 cheers for Kanji being added in BW and all games after.

I mean, as an native English speaker, I hate Chinese characters and think it's the most terrible writing system no matter how good I get at recognizing them. That doesn't change the fact that reading Japanese without them is a major eyesore. I get that DP and earlier only had hiragana/katakana because little kids can't read most kanji...

Butit'sstillabsolutelyterribletoreadjapanesewithoutkanjibecauseitfeelslikethis. Ughhhh

So props to the newer games for making Kanji and non-Kanji settings.
 

Cresselia~~

Junichi Masuda likes this!!
I really hope that wasn't a nuzlock

Lolz

Also 3 cheers for Kanji being added in BW and all games after.

I mean, as an native English speaker, I hate Chinese characters and think it's the most terrible writing system no matter how good I get at recognizing them. That doesn't change the fact that reading Japanese without them is a major eyesore. I get that DP and earlier only had hiragana/katakana because little kids can't read most kanji...

Butit'sstillabsolutelyterribletoreadjapanesewithoutkanjibecauseitfeelslikethis. Ughhhh

So props to the newer games for making Kanji and non-Kanji settings.
I hate reading Japanese without kanji too. Also, it takes time to figure out which of the many homophones the particular phrase is about.
 
I have such a love hate relationship with kanji. On one hand it definitely increases the readability of Japanese and on the other hand its such an incredibly over complicated system that was quite obviously shoehorned into Japanese rather than being made to fit it. From the small amount of Chinese I studied when I learn a symbol I feel like a LEARNT it. When it appeared again I would know its role and meaning or at the very least pronunciation. In Japanese I have to double check even for kanji that I've known for years due to the frankly retarded case by case pronunciation system.

Also not helped by the fact that I learnt spoken Japanese from 0 with only minimal exposure to kanji before I even started mass learning kanji about two years ago now? holy shit time flies. Kanji is occasionally useful to guess words that you don't know the meaning of but unlike Chinese you ALSO have to guess the pronunciation which depending on the collocation and kanji being used can range from being piss easy to requiring a dictionary. For example why the fuck is 生地 pronounced "kiji" add to that a system of consonant mutation that you just have to get a feel for when its written in kanji plus that a kanji represents the part of the word that doesn't inflect MOST of the time and you have a system that is a total pain in the ass.

I get that Japanese has a tonne of homophones and distinguishing them in writing is measurably slower without meaning pointers but come on.

Also since everyone doing the N thing I'm N2 in listening and speaking and N3-4 in writing. Hoping that by mass learning unknown kanji words that I encounter playing Japanese games I can up my kanji level but I seriously don't get how there are people that have learnt so much kanji so rapidly.
 
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Also slightly more relevant I wanted to do a post relating to language motivation. I'm currently in Japan which means I have hiatused my Chinese learning to focus solely on Japanes but in all seriousness I'm wondering if I should pick it back up in the first place. I made a motivation chart of what factors contribute to me wanting to learn languages to track why and why I wouldn't want to learn a language. eight factors contribute.

Necessity, Friends that use the language, Family that use the language. Enjoyment of art and media in that language, Interest in the language itself, interest in the country(ies) that speaks the language, Ease of learning, resources available and Usefulness of the language.

For my native language English we can make a chart like this
Necessity: Through the roof

Everything else is irrelevant, I learnt English because as a baby I had to. If I wanted anything English was how I had to communicate that. Now for Japanese and Spanish

Necessity: Pretty high (my parents talk to each other in Spanish meaning if I want to understand them...)
Family: A lot more people than English actually
Friends: No one
Enjoyment of media: ehhh occasionally
Interest in the language: Yeah but I'm nerd so the answer for this is yes always
Interest in the countries: Yep, fairly high at that
Ease of learning: Spanish is a cakewalk of toungue
Resources: Plenty
Usefulness: Not in Australia particularly but still a very widely spoken language



Necessity: none
Family: like two people? I'm only in contact with one person
Friends: a few
Enjoyment of media: Oh yes
Interest in language: yeah
Interest in country: yeah
Ease of learning: Holy fuck why
Resources: More than anyone could ever need
Usefulness: If you want to work in tech or something I guess


Now lets do Chinese
Necessity: none
Family: none
Friends: A tonne
Enjoyment of media: why is Chinese media so bad
Interest in language: yeah
Interest in countries: Yeah I like China but between the pollution and government corruption everyday I find myself wanting to visit it less and less.
Ease of learning: The grammar is definitley foreign but easy enough, pronunciation and comprehension is really difficult though. The writing system is easy but probably would take years to master.
Resources: They're there you just have to look for them
Usefulness: I'm sure it could be but the niche of knowing Chinese + another language is already filled by craptonnes of Chinese people.


By these motivation charts its pretty easy to see how my motivation for Chinese wanes so rapidly. The fact that I have a lot of Chinese friends is pretty much the only thing keeping me from quitting and I'm not sure how permanent they are going to be. I'm considering using my passion of languages and time to devote myself to learning other languages like Russian where I have friends AND family that speak it, enjoy their media occasionally and I would probably find it far easier than Chinese.

If you're having trouble learning a language make one the charts and see if the problem stems simply from a lack of reasons to learn. If so try to make a few. If you don't care enough then drop the language languages aren't like your high school history book where you just read through the whole thing and throw it away. You never stop learning a language. You just devote less time to learning new things and more time to maintaining it. If you don't have enough motivation to learn regardless of how hard you study you will never reach a high level.
 

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