Learning another language. What works?

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Learning another language. What works?

#1  Postby Animavore » May 08, 2012 9:08 am

A friend of mine wants to learn Portuguese. He's going out with some Brazilian one and would like to speak her language.
Does anyone know which packs, methods work and which are gimmicky rubbish? Which/are self-teaching tapes, DVDs etc worth a bollox? Obviously he doesn't want to waste time and money.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#2  Postby chairman bill » May 08, 2012 9:59 am

I was told, if you want to learn a foreign language, find yourself a lover who's a native speaker. Seems redundant advice in this case.

I've heard good stuff about Rosetta Stone, but it isn't cheap.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#3  Postby Garm » May 08, 2012 10:40 am

Be mindful that there is a substantial difference between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese when choosing a course.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#4  Postby Regina » May 08, 2012 12:44 pm

chairman bill wrote:I was told, if you want to learn a foreign language, find yourself a lover who's a native speaker. Seems redundant advice in this case.

I've heard good stuff about Rosetta Stone, but it isn't cheap.

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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#5  Postby orpheus » May 08, 2012 1:16 pm

Apart from love, Rosetta Stone is excellent. Like any method, you have to put in consistent work. But it really is quite good.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#6  Postby don't get me started » May 15, 2012 2:16 am

I'd say to anyone thinking of learning a foreign language to consider the following points:

What do you hope to achieve? To be able to read a newspaper article or a novel, watch a movie without subtitles, engage in daily conversation with native speakers of that language, write E-mails in that language? Don't waste time. Be focused on what it is you really want. You can't do it all, and being a balanced bilingual/ achieving native-like fluency is not a realistic goal for most learners.

Be realistic about the amount of time and effort required to achieve even low level competency in a foreign language. It takes many, many hours of study and practice and interaction to reach your 'flight envelope' and enter into the language community as an active participant.

Be realistic about what skills and predilections you have. Do you learn by interacting and recycling language? Do you learn by silently completing grammar exercises in a text book? Do you learn by reading masses of material in that language? Find your own learning style and work with it. (But experiment with other types of learning as well.)

Realize that language learning can have a very strong emotional side to it. The feelings of frustration and inadequacy that you will experience can have strong negative effects on motivation. If you are accomplished in other fields, struggling to express yourself on mundane topics in a foreign language can lead to a reduced sense of worth, perceived loss of face and general feelings of inadequacy.

Realize that you will hit plateaus in your development. Sometimes it will feel like you are banging your head against a brick wall and making no progress, sometimes you will just take off and learn masses of new stuff in a short time.

Other than that...enjoy, have fun, delight in the absurdities, reflect on your own language and the world view encapsulated by it, and develop an whole new dimension to your own personality. In some sense we all become different people when we speak a foreign language.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#7  Postby Saim » May 24, 2012 7:52 pm

Are self-teaching language materials rubbish? Not really, but they are much less useful than most people imagine. They can help a bit, but ultimately 99% of your language learning has to come from other sources.

Languages work like any other skill. If you want to play basketball, what do you do? Well, you go and play basketball of course! Of course you can take classes, or maybe watch instruction videos on the internet, and that could improve your technique. But ultimately your skill is going to come from hours and hours of practice.

The same principle can be applied to languages. This may seem frustrating at first, but I always take a dictionary and just go out and translate songs and articles. Then with the songs I listen to them over and over (because I like them, not explicitly as some sort of language practice). It becomes progressively easier as you go along.

Another reason why I think using songs is a good idea is that since language learning can be so long and frustrating, you need to get some enjoyment out of the process rather than just the end result. Fall in love with the language. The hardest language for me to learn has been Urdu (and I'm still struggling), not because of any inherent qualities of the language, but just because I don't find Hindi-Urdu-speaking popular culture very interesting (Punjabi popular culture, on the other hand, is a very different story).

Also, remember to practice with speakers any chance you get. This may seem scary but it's worth it! Since he has a girlfriend who speaks the language, he'll have so many opportunities to practice! There are also other (free!) ways to practice the language, like:

http://www.livemocha.com/ - I would recommend the live chat and the written submissions, not for the courses
http://www.lang-8.com/ - Also for written submissions, which can be checked by natives
http://www.unilang.org/viewforum.php?f=43 - a good discussion forums with topics in and about Portuguese, I've used it to great effect for Dutch, Spanish and Hindi-Urdu, and I think the Portuguese subforum is active too

Written correspondence can help prepare in some sense for IRL conversation, because you can take your time and use a dictionary to understand what they're saying. However, your friend should make sure it doesn't become a crutch and use his "H.B. 2.0" resource to the best extent possible. :P

Good luck to your friend!

(EDIT: Also Rosetta Stone is ridiculously overpriced. There are much cheaper courses that are just as useful (i.e., only slightly).
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#8  Postby HughMcB » May 24, 2012 8:03 pm

Rosetta Stone but it is expensive. I'm sure there are alternative options to that though.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#9  Postby HughMcB » May 24, 2012 8:04 pm

I've tried some Catonese on it and believe it or not I took the level one Irish course to brush up on my schooling. :teef:

It was hilarious at the part where they make me do the accent and assess it, I failed so many times whilst trying to do my best Kerry twang.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#10  Postby virphen » May 24, 2012 8:08 pm

If you want the Rosetta stone, I can sell it to you cheap.
Also, I have a few bridges in stock.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#11  Postby Ironclad » Jun 21, 2012 2:30 am

virphen wrote:If you want the Rosetta stone, I can sell it to you cheap.
Also, I have a few bridges in stock.


Vir, do you have French by chance? I may need to learn the language of love, and fast.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#12  Postby virphen » Jun 21, 2012 2:41 am

Ironclad wrote:
virphen wrote:If you want the Rosetta stone, I can sell it to you cheap.
Also, I have a few bridges in stock.


Vir, do you have French by chance? I may need to learn the language of love, and fast.


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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#13  Postby Ironclad » Jun 21, 2012 3:28 am

Coptic?

:picard:
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#14  Postby mattthomas » Jun 21, 2012 8:30 am

Pimsleur are good but don't know if they do they do the language you require, also they're a US company so some of the languages they do are from an American continental view, for example the Spanish course... it's from a south american Spanish view.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#15  Postby gameswithwords » Nov 27, 2012 2:23 pm

I am a psycholinguist who has studied several languages. It turns out that I recently wrote a blog post called "Advice for how to learn foreign languages," which you might find useful. Sorry to link off-site, but it's easier than copying it all here.
http://gameswithwords.fieldofscience.com/2012/10/advice-for-how-to-learn-foreign.html
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#16  Postby Scot Dutchy » Nov 27, 2012 2:54 pm

Garm wrote:Be mindful that there is a substantial difference between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese when choosing a course.


A big difference as I understand. Same goes for Spanish. Mexican Spanish is quite different.

I never took a course to learn Dutch. Just was exposed to it.

In a relationship the first language you comunicate in will probably the one you will always communicate in.

My first wife was an English teacher so our language was up to our divorce English. I spoke to my kids in Dutch.
My second long realtionship was with my late girlfriend. I was speaking fluent Dutch by then so our relationship language was Dutch.

With my Italian girlfriend I spoke English and Dutch. We did stay together for me to learn Italian which I would have loved to do. Swearing in Italian is just amazing. :lol:
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#17  Postby Saim » Dec 01, 2012 1:35 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:
Garm wrote:Be mindful that there is a substantial difference between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese when choosing a course.


A big difference as I understand. Same goes for Spanish. Mexican Spanish is quite different.

As far as I've heard, there's a bigger difference between European and British Portuguese than between Castilian and Latin American Spanish. I originally learned Latin American Spanish, and it hasn't been very difficult to adjust, although I speak more Catalan here. Probably a fair bit less than between West Flemish or Limburgish and ABN though. :lol: My Dutch is intermediate and understand most of rap coming out of Holland, but when I listen to West Flemish music I don't understand shit.

Scot Dutchy wrote:
In a relationship the first language you comunicate in will probably the one you will always communicate in.

I can't say for romantic relationships, but with friendships there have been times when it's gone from monolingual to mixed language use. It would be weird to totally switch, but you can if you make an effort. For example, I have a Dutch friend who's learning Spanish, and we met through English, and all our shared friends are monolingual English-speakers. Now sometimes I speak to him in broken Dutch and he responds in broken Spanish. :lol: I also have a Polish friend who didn't know Serbian very well when I met him when he was on exchange over there, who I now speak to more in Serbian than English.

In terms of romantic relationships, there's this girl who I speak to in Catalan and she responds in Spanish (she's Peruvian, but has lived here a few years). That's very common in Barcelona, apparently.

So language shifts within relationships (in the broader sense) does happen. Or maybe I'm just so into languages I put in an effort to make it happen. :lol:
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#18  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 01, 2012 6:02 pm

@Saim

Well my sister noticed a great difference between Mexican Spanish (as spoken in Mexico city) and the Spanish of Madrid.
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Friendships are different than romantic relationships IMHO but that is my experience.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#19  Postby Saim » Dec 02, 2012 6:42 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:@[color=#CC0000][b]Saim[/b][/color]

Well my sister noticed a great difference between Mexican Spanish (as spoken in Mexico city) and the Spanish of Madrid.

There is, but it's not enough to cause any serious barriers to communication, except with slang words (like if you want to say words/phrases equivalent to "cute" [lindo MX vs. mono ES], "cool"[chido, chingón MX vs. guay ES] "awesome" [padre MX vs. mola ES], "I don't give a shit" [me vale madre MX vs. me la suda ES] that's very different) or if you're talking about fruit or something (food seems to vary a lot between Spanish dialects for some reason).

You can still hear Vlaams spoken in Dunkirk (Duinekerken).

Unfortunately only by the older people IIRC. The French have done a lot to eradicate minority languages (although let's not get to that topic again :P ).

West Vlanderen is wierdest dialect of Vlaams

I thought Limburgish was harder to understand? Or do you not count that as Vlaams? It has been given regional language status lately.
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Re: Learning another language. What works?

#20  Postby Scot Dutchy » Dec 03, 2012 5:26 pm

Saim wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:@[color=#CC0000][b][color=#CC0000][b]Saim[/b][/color][/b][/color]

Well my sister noticed a great difference between Mexican Spanish (as spoken in Mexico city) and the Spanish of Madrid.

There is, but it's not enough to cause any serious barriers to communication, except with slang words (like if you want to say words/phrases equivalent to "cute" [lindo MX vs. mono ES], "cool"[chido, chingón MX vs. guay ES] "awesome" [padre MX vs. mola ES], "I don't give a shit" [me vale madre MX vs. me la suda ES] that's very different) or if you're talking about fruit or something (food seems to vary a lot between Spanish dialects for some reason).

You can still hear Vlaams spoken in Dunkirk (Duinekerken).

Unfortunately only by the older people IIRC. The French have done a lot to eradicate minority languages (although let's not get to that topic again :P ).

West Vlanderen is wierdest dialect of Vlaams

I thought Limburgish was harder to understand? Or do you not count that as Vlaams? It has been given regional language status lately.


They are trying to get Limburgish the same status as Fries but the trouble Fries is a seperate language and not just a dialect which Limburgish is. Mind you I understand Fries much better than someone from Maastricht speaking full dialect. So many German words.
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