How did you learn English?

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How did you learn English?

#1  Postby I'm With Stupid » Dec 12, 2011 1:36 pm

This is a question for all you people with a native language that isn't English. But it's really a series of questions, so I was hoping you wouldn't mind answering my informal survey on the subject. If you feel the need to expand on any aspect of English language learning/teaching, feel free. I'm particularly interested in the role of the students' native language in learning a new language, and whether it's a help or a hindrance. So without further ado:

1. At what age did you start to learn English?

2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?
b) At what age did you start learning?
c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?
d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?

I know by definition, I'm only going to get answers from people that had a fairly successful experience learning English, but I'm more interested in what works anyway.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#2  Postby natselrox » Dec 12, 2011 1:57 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?


About the time I started going to school, should be around the age 3-4 yrs.

2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?
b) At what age did you start learning?
c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?
d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?


a) India
b) 3-4 years. Formal English classes continued till the end of high-school, i.e. till when I was around 17.
c) Most of the teachers did. A few didn't. Usually, it was to explain stuff (sometimes the rules of grammar, meanings of words, phrases, sentences etc.) which we had difficulty understanding in English. I think it was mostly beneficial.
d) Like I said, most of the teachers only communicated in English during the formal, technical part of the lessons. So, in a class of 40 minutes, I'd say, we used to have about 25 minutes of spoken communication in English. The rest was in the native language. However, a few teachers insisted that we spoke in English throughout the class.

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.


I never did.

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?


No.

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?


Quite a lot. Communication with my friends from the other states of India is usually in English so is the communication with friends living outside India. Almost the whole of online communication is in English. So, I need to use English quite a lot these days, in spoken as well as written forms.

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?


It started with Hollywood movies and English newspapers/magazines and then came the music, books, and the rest. I usually tried to make a conscious effort to understand what was being said.

I know by definition, I'm only going to get answers from people that had a fairly successful experience learning English, but I'm more interested in what works anyway.


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Re: How did you learn English?

#3  Postby babel » Dec 12, 2011 2:11 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?
12-13

2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?
b) At what age did you start learning?
c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?
d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

a: Belgium
b: 12-13
c: The first two years, yes. Afterwards, no.
Was it beneficial: to clarify the grammatical rules, it's better not to rely on the limited vocabulary of students that are only 1-2 years into studying the language. So yes, I think it is, certainly in the beginning.
d: not enough. I'd say about 1 hour in the total of 3 hours a week, on average.

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.
No

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?
No

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?
Quite often. Have had a relationship with a girl from Glasgow for some time. The conversations ... :ask: Can't remember. :mrgreen:
Now, my conversation at work are in English, by default.

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?
Most of the media I 'consume' is English spoken. I didn't choose the media in order to learn English.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#4  Postby Scar » Dec 12, 2011 2:16 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?


Around the age of 13 I think.

I'm With Stupid wrote:2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?

Germany
I'm With Stupid wrote:
b) At what age did you start learning?

13, as I said.
I'm With Stupid wrote:
c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?

At the start, she obviously did given we were starting from scratch. It was slowly phased out, though, which was a good thing.
I'm With Stupid wrote:
d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?


Quite a bit, although how much an individual managed to do was of course dependent on how much one participated.

I'm With Stupid wrote:3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.


Nope.

I'm With Stupid wrote:4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?


Nope.

I'm With Stupid wrote:5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?


I communicated a lot in English on chats, internet forums, online games and similiar stuff. It was mostly written conversation, which is'nt all that helpful if you want to improve on your pronounciation, but generally, it was great practise and I had indeed the best English marks out of all of the students who graduated with me.

I'm With Stupid wrote:6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?

Even today, I try to get my hands on English versions of books, movies, TV shows and games whenever I can, mostly because I enjoy the language, less as some sort of study.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#5  Postby Tero » Dec 12, 2011 11:25 pm

I learned English at age 12, or just before. I had had a year of
Swedish, so prepositions were a familiar thing by then. My summer at
age 12 I was in summer school. Most of the other kids were dislexic or
had other learning difficulties. We concentrated on reading, which was
fine with me. By fall I went to school and actually skipped a grade. I
was advanced in math and they gave me some kind of IQ test. They
figured I could do it and I did, math and science was fine. I only started getting As in English
as well by high school (about 2 years English at that point), B's before that. Spelling made no sense so I
memorized the spelling of difficult words as I would pronounce them in
Finnish. Finnish spellling is phonetic, so you need to memorize the
spelling of a few odd combinations like nk and ng, the rest is
obvious. Foreigners get the double consonants messed up, though.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#6  Postby jamest » Dec 13, 2011 12:04 am

Scar wrote:
Even today, I try to get my hands on English versions of books, movies, TV shows and games whenever I can, mostly because I enjoy the language, less as some sort of study.

Hi Scar. I kinda stumbled upon this conversation and was wondering why you (or anyone) would enjoy the English language (or enjoy any other language, for that matter)? What is there to 'enjoy'?

I'm speaking as one of those people who cannot be bothered to learn another language (though I did learn French for a few years, at school). I'm just puzzled as per why one might enjoy another language, as of course that has never happened to me. Perhaps if I were to understand your experience, I might be more inclined to want to learn another language myself (certainly, I never enjoyed learning French, to be honest). I understand that learning is made easy when one enjoys doing it, so I'd really like to get into the mindset of somebody who enjoys learning another language. Thanks.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#7  Postby Viraldi » Dec 13, 2011 12:14 am

At what age did you start to learn English?

Hopefully I still qualify. I started to learn at age five and my native language was Ilokano, I spoke fluent Tagalog and Ilokano.

What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
In which country?

It was a private Catholic school in United States. After three years, it was then a public secular school.

Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?

I could not imagine that. She was a pale, beautiful lady that may have addressed me as foreign and alien. She spoke English. This was not beneficial for my native tongue as I have abandoned it in order to grasp an entirely new language. Now, I can only understand Tagalog and Ilokano to the extent of elementary vocabulary.

How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

As much as possible, unless I am at home. My parents have never stopped speaking Tagalog to me and have never bothered to reply in English voluntarily. It did not help.

Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre?

I think so, unless the Kumon method does not apply.

Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?

Yes

Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?

Every time I met a new person I figured I had to communicate in English. This was especially common online. I do remember translating for one of my cousins in Philippines what somethings in English meant.

How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?

Everyday as if I somehow thought it was the only language I could understand. Even after thirteen years, my English is horrible, along with general composition and grammar. I am considering Rosetta Stone in the near future.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#8  Postby punter18 » Dec 15, 2011 10:24 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?


When I started going to school. At the age of three-four.

I'm With Stupid wrote:2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?


India.

I'm With Stupid wrote:b) At what age did you start learning?


Like I said: around three-four.

I'm With Stupid wrote:c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?

d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?


Only when the teacher was teaching a lesson; explaining some aspects thereof in English. If at any point it became too obvious that children were getting uncomfortable with her explanations in English, she would switch to the native language, Hindi. Every query, barring those from a few students (who were considered snobbish if they did so), was made in the native language. In response, the teacher would use the mix of both languages. So, it wasn't beneficial at all, until I started taking my own interest in the language, which was not inspired by my teachers or the institute.

I'm With Stupid wrote:3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.


I didn't.

I'm With Stupid wrote:4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly


No.

I'm With Stupid wrote:5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?


In my previous workplace, it required me to talk to the clients in the English language.

Even though they all spoke fluent English, my colleagues would never talk with each other in the English language. However, I did make a conscious, albeit sloppy, effort to speak with them in English, they seldom used to reply back in English. Personally speaking, my spoken English is on a sloppy side, considering my school never encouraged it and that it was never spoken in my house.

I'm With Stupid wrote:6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?


I became seriously interested in the English language after I started reading Cricket-related magazines and few books while still in school (from grade XI, though). However, after I was introduced to the Internet, I totally got into reading and learning the English language. So my good writing skills could be totally credited to the power of the internet. :cheers:
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Re: How did you learn English?

#9  Postby trubble76 » Dec 15, 2011 10:32 am

Just popping by to compliment you on an interesting thread. :thumbup:
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Re: How did you learn English?

#10  Postby tuco » Dec 15, 2011 11:11 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?
20

2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?
b) At what age did you start learning?
c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?
d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

a: Czech Rep* Never studied English, but Russian and some German
b: 20
c: NA* No
d: NA* since my lessons were from TV, job, books, papers, flatmates I'd guess majority

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.
No

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?
Yes

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?
Since around 1995 on the Internet relatively often.

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?
At the time in question 100%, now around 50% of all media and No.


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Re: How did you learn English?

#11  Postby akigr8 » Dec 15, 2011 1:53 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?
Fourth grade, so eleven years old. Really I started learning from Super channel and Sky channel around 5-6, and learned from films as well. I had an American accent in school.
2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?
b) At what age did you start learning?
c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?
d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

a: Norway
b: 11
c: Yes, and she did it so we would think in English. I think it was beneficial.
d: Maybe half an hour out of the three we had each week.

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.
No

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?
No

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?
I used it when on holiday, but that wasn't often as we usually ended up in Denmark(no need for English there). A bit of online gaming where I learned that gay is a popular word. My English has deteriorated quite a bit over the years (don't even get me started on my German).

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?
Most of the media I consumed was English spoken. I didn't use subtitles when watching films/series, and some of the books I read was written in English. I used to be an avid reader.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#12  Postby Spearthrower » Dec 21, 2011 4:36 am

jamest wrote:
Scar wrote:
Even today, I try to get my hands on English versions of books, movies, TV shows and games whenever I can, mostly because I enjoy the language, less as some sort of study.

Hi Scar. I kinda stumbled upon this conversation and was wondering why you (or anyone) would enjoy the English language (or enjoy any other language, for that matter)? What is there to 'enjoy'?


I can't speak for myself, as I'm a native English speaker, but friends and students who have a high level of English have told me that they find it to be a very flexible tool for expressing themselves.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#13  Postby Jynnan Tonnix » Jan 09, 2012 7:28 pm

My first language was Polish, but since I was born and living in England, English sort of came by osmosis even though my parents spoke exclusively in Polish, as did virtually all their friends up until I was 4 or so when we moved to a small town without a "little Poland" concentration. I suppose my English was pretty fluent by the time I started school; at any rate, I don't remember having to actively learn it, and by the time I was about 10 (at which time we moved to the USA), English had become far more comfortable for me to speak, which did cause some friction at home. To this day (some 40 years later) my parents and I communicate with them speaking Polish to me, and me answering in English. My understanding of both languages is completely fluent, but my spoken Polish tends to limp along as I often can't dredge up the word I'm looking for. Of course, that happens more and more even in English these days!

In response to Scar/James/Spearthrower (previous post), I have always wondered why and how English became so much easier, and so much more appealing to me so rapidly when I was more or less equally exposed to both languages, and find it's hard to avoid the notion that it's simply a more attractive and more expressive language. Of course, the grammar is far simpler as well, but since I never had to "learn" Polish syntax, the argument that it was just too complicated is moot.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#14  Postby Garm » Jan 09, 2012 7:57 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:1. At what age did you start to learn English?

If I remember correctly, I was 9 years old when we were first taught English in school. However, even back then (which, for me, is now 25 years ago) Dutch tv broadcast lots of English spoken tv programs. These programs are almost always subtitled instead of dubbed, so children are confronted with the English language from a very early age.

2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?

The Netherlands.

b) At what age did you start learning?

As I stated earlier, in school at around 9 years old.

c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?

I can't really remember. I think explanation about grammar and such was in Dutch, but if I recall correctly the lessons were largely in English.

d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

We did a fair bit of conversation exercises, can't remember how much exactly.

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.

No.

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?

No.

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?

About ten years ago, I had a job at a money exchange/transfer office, where lots of customers were from another country (Surinam, Dutch Antilles, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Nigeria, Brazil...from practically everywhere, really). Most of them communicated in English. After that job, I haven't really had any chance to practice my verbal English skills, so I think they might be a bit rusty. I've frequented English-language forums and media a lot in the past ten years though, and I think it's helped maintaining my knowledge.

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?

Tv and internet, practically every day. It's never really been a conscious effort, it's just that when you read and hear the language that often, it's not difficult to speak or write it any more. I love reading fantasy books (Steven Erikson, R. Scott Bakker especially) and I always read them in English, mostly because I think so much of the atmosphere gets lots when it's translated in Dutch. I especially hate it when character names are translated, because then they always sound so uncool. From reading expat blogs I've learned that Dutch is not exactly considered a 'sexy' language abroad.

I still use online dictionaries regularly if I don't know the meaning of a certain word, though, mostly when it comes to technical terms. The last word I needed to look up was 'sophistry'. :)
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Re: How did you learn English?

#15  Postby I'm With Stupid » Jan 11, 2012 8:06 pm

Garm wrote:I especially hate it when character names are translated, because then they always sound so uncool.

Antonio Banderas = Tony Flags

Garm wrote:From reading expat blogs I've learned that Dutch is not exactly considered a 'sexy' language abroad.

Maybe, but English in a Dutch accent is very scheschy. ;)
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Re: How did you learn English?

#16  Postby Mazille » Jan 11, 2012 8:37 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:
1. At what age did you start to learn English?

When I was about eight or nine, I think. Back in "Volksschule", the part of our school system everyone has to go through from ages six to ten. (thereabouts) I don't remember a lot, really, but I think it was mainly just basic vocabulary. There wasn't a lot of formalised grammar and stuff in German either, though. Age-appropriate is what it was.
I know they changed it in the meantime, by the way. Kids start earlier now. I know my brothers did. I think they start with at least one living foreign language in the first year now. Mostly English, but sometimes others too. Mostly the languages of other, neighbouring countries.

I'm With Stupid wrote:2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?

Austria

I'm With Stupid wrote:b) At what age did you start learning?

As I said, about eight or nine. Probably closer to eight.

I'm With Stupid wrote:c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?

They certainly spoke German during Volksschule and in the first two or three years in Gymnasium. Then units were mostly held in English, although for some stuff they would switch back to German, depending on how good the class was, how complicated the matter at hand was, etc. Also, I seem to remember that for organisational matters not directly pertaining to English lessons they would mostly talk German. Hardly ever heard a German word from a teacher in class from about the age of 15 onwards, though.

I'm With Stupid wrote:d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

As above. I don't remember when that started, but in the last couple of years it was expected that we not only understood whatever the teacher had to throw at us, but that we could also formulate everything that was on our minds in English ourselves. There were conversations in German sometimes, but that hardly ever happened.

I'm With Stupid wrote:3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.

Nope.

I'm With Stupid wrote:4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?

Nope. I did have an Aussie stay with me for a couple of months when I was 15. Some student exchange programme.
Edit: Or did you include my current circumstances as well? Most of what I read or write these days is English. Talk English a lot too, for work as well as privately.

I'm With Stupid wrote:5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?

Not counting lessons? Hardly ever. I got into playing games and stuff online when I was about 15 or something, so that helped a little. As you can imagine, however, that communication hardly consisted of the most complicated topics, though and next to never required to actually form more than one half-way coherent sentence at once.

I'm With Stupid wrote:6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?

Depends. We had to read English books and watch English movies that weren't specifically tailored to young people just learning the language at a rather young age. About eleven or twelve or so, I think. Still only easy stuff, but there you go. I still remember that the first English book I consciously read in English rather than in German was the first Harry Potter book a mate of mine got me for my birthday on a trip to London when I was twelve. Since then I mostly made a point of reading stuff in the original language, if I could.
To be frank, I don't know why I can speak English the way I do. School sure didn't help me much. I was... not an easy student to teach and my teachers were either inept or assholes who didn't get along with me very well. (Not that I can blame them.) I guess it's mainly down to me reading a lot. Most of the stuff I need to read for University either isn't available in German or just a translation from English anyway, so why bother with the translation? Similarly, most, non-fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, historical novel etc. writers are writing in English as well.
Also, I suspect that my English got a lot better after I joined RDF as well. It was the first forum I really contributed to in a meaningful way, and since it was English... :dunno:
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Re: How did you learn English?

#17  Postby John P. M. » Jan 11, 2012 8:39 pm

1. At what age did you start to learn English?

Not really sure, but at school I think it started when I was about 9. I'm sure I learned a few words and phrases before that, though, outside of school.

2. What was the English teaching in your public education system like:
a) In which country?

Norway.

c) Did your teacher speak your native language during lessons? If so, what for, and do you think it was beneficial?

Can't remember, but I think it was a little of both. "Turn to page 24" etc. would probably have been in Norwegian.

d) How much spoken communication in English did you do during these lessons?

Again, sketchy memory (I'm an old geezer :mrgreen: ) but I think the teacher would ask us questions we had to answer in English, and we also had to read a few passages in English. Of course, there was a gradual increase in the level of difficulty over the years.

3. Did you supplement this with private tuition/study in a private language centre? If so, same a) b) c) & d) questions again.

No.

4. Did you ever live abroad in a situation that required you to use English regularly?

No.

5. Other than living abroad, how often did you get to communicate in English? And what form did these communications take?

Not often at all growing up. This was before the internet, so the only times I really needed to use English would be when I went abroad (outside of Scandinavia), which was very rare in my case.

6. How often did you consume English-language media, and did you do so with a conscious effort to study/understand it?

Every day in some form or other; movies and TV-series especially. Norway never dubbed foreign series/movies into Norwegian while I was growing up, thankfully (or if we do now, there is almost always the option to choose the original version instead). They were of course subtitled in Norwegian, though, but that was probably helpful. I didn't watch and read series/movies/books in English (outside of school) specifically in order to learn it per se, but I guess you could say it was a happy side effect(!).

I should add that although I'm quite fluent when writing English, I have a rather typical Norwegian accent when I speak it, much to my chagrin, because I'm a bit of a perfectionist. Perhaps that is actually why. I've always been self conscious of the accent, and therefore was embarrassed to speak English, and so that in turn probably just exacerbated the problem. I also sometimes have a lacking vocabulary, but I think that's more to do with my short term memory failing me, and it happens in my own language as well - that I totally blank out on the word I'm looking for.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#18  Postby Mazille » Jan 11, 2012 8:45 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:
Garm wrote:I especially hate it when character names are translated, because then they always sound so uncool.

Antonio Banderas = Tony Flags

Garm wrote:From reading expat blogs I've learned that Dutch is not exactly considered a 'sexy' language abroad.

Maybe, but English in a Dutch accent is very scheschy. ;)

[youtube]www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXJefJOU5OE[/youtube]

:smoke:
Fallible wrote:Oh no, I can't live without my bollocks.


Animavore wrote:I like dick too.
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Re: How did you learn English?

#19  Postby Garm » Jan 11, 2012 8:49 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote:Antonio Banderas = Tony Flags

I'm so dense I had to google Tony Flags...then I ROFL'd. :lol: :lol: :lol:
~ Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. - Will Durant ~
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Re: How did you learn English?

#20  Postby akigr8 » Jan 11, 2012 9:02 pm

Garm wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:Antonio Banderas = Tony Flags

I'm so dense I had to google Tony Flags...then I ROFL'd. :lol: :lol: :lol:

:lol:

Reminds of a joke by Victor Borge about the composer Giuseppe Verdi:

Giuseppe Verdi... Joe Green to you.
I once applied for a job as a mustard cutter.

But unfortunately I wasn’t quite good enough.
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