Thoughts on learning new languages

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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#21  Postby cherries » Mar 20, 2010 7:34 am

after learning some of the basics of a language it really helps to make some friends who speak that language and then hang out with them.i found reading classic english literature like austen or brontë helped,mmhh i should have tried shakespeare :smile:.cooking classes and programmes are great in the beginning too or any hobby which uses terms of the language your learning.
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#22  Postby Dalmat » Mar 20, 2010 11:12 pm

Saim wrote:
Dalmat wrote:
French movies subtitled in Czech can help, too, if you can find them (but you have to remember to listen rather than read most of the time, and check the subtitles only for corroboration).

Croatian ;) But in this case, I agree with Saim.

Zdravo! Uvek volim da upoznam drugi ljudi ko govoriju srpohrvatski. Moja mama je srpkinja (iz Novi Sad), ona je me ućila sprski, ali zato što živim u Austriliju moja gramatica nije baš dobra (uvek grešim za padeži, i razlivokanje od "č"-"ć" i "đ"-"dž"). Pored ovo, nadam se da možeš da me razumeš. :P

Naravno da mogu, svaka čast na volji i želji da učiš takav jezik. Zapravo, ovo što si napisao nije uopće jako loše. Čini se da imaš dobar vokabular, a i gramatika ti je relativno dobra. Mjesec dana u HR, RS ili BiH bi ti riješilo većinu grešaka ;)

@others: Appologies, people, just congratulating Saim on his usage of Croatian :)
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#23  Postby Dalmat » Mar 20, 2010 11:16 pm

juːtoʊpiə wrote:
katja z wrote:
Saim wrote:I found that listening to Spanish music and memorizing the lyrics while not just wasting time on the computer helped my Spanish a lot. Once I had memorized the song, then I would translate it, and would then have all the words in the song memorized.


Yep, music is a great help. When you learn lyrics, you don't only learn words but also grammar, collocations and such, and things get under your skin. Helped me a lot with my French and Portuguese.

I don't know if that's a great idea; it may only be the kind of music I listen to, but I find that it's not uncommon for lyrics to throw grammer, real words, and general coherence to the wind :?


Agree. I don't know if it's a good idea to base your studies on a pile of poetic licenses :)
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#24  Postby Saim » Mar 21, 2010 1:12 am

Dalmat wrote:
Saim wrote:
Dalmat wrote:
French movies subtitled in Czech can help, too, if you can find them (but you have to remember to listen rather than read most of the time, and check the subtitles only for corroboration).

Croatian ;) But in this case, I agree with Saim.

Zdravo! Uvek volim da upoznam drugi ljudi ko govoriju srpohrvatski. Moja mama je srpkinja (iz Novi Sad), ona je me ućila sprski, ali zato što živim u Austriliju moja gramatica nije baš dobra (uvek grešim za padeži, i razlivokanje od "č"-"ć" i "đ"-"dž"). Pored ovo, nadam se da možeš da me razumeš. :P

Naravno da mogu, svaka čast na volji i želji da učiš takav jezik. Zapravo, ovo što si napisao nije uopće jako loše. Čini se da imaš dobar vokabular, a i gramatika ti je relativno dobra.

:thumbup:

Sada vidim da sam rekao "gramatica" :lol: . Samo sam rekao tako zato što na španskom (ućim u školu) je "gramática".

Mjesec dana u HR, RS ili BiH bi ti riješilo većinu grešaka ;)

Da, naravno. Putovao sam do Srbiju puno puta, ali problema je bila da nisam održavao jezik žato što uvek govorim na engleskom. Ali, mislim da sada zato što sam stariji, održavaću još od jezik sledeći put (kada sam bio mali moja mama je morala da radi mnogo da me ući jezik, zato što nisam morao da znam jezik za generalni život). Nisam imao motivacija da ućim, ala sad imam.

For those who don't understand Serbocroatian, here's what I was trying to get across:

Yes, of course. I've traveled to Serbia many times, but the problem is that I haven't maintained the language because I'm always speaking in English. But, I think that because I'm older, I will maintain more of the language next time (when I was little my mum had to work really hard to teach me the language, because I didn't need to know it in general life). I didn't have the motivation to learn, but now I do.

(It was a response to "A month in Serbia, Bosnia or Croatia and you'll resolve most of the mistakes.")

@others: Appologies, people, just congratulating Saim on his usage of Croatian :)

Serbian. If it was Croatian I would have said "uvijek". :P
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#25  Postby I'm With Stupid » Mar 21, 2010 2:16 am

I'm wanting to teach English as a career, so I've been looking into what methods are best for learning English. As far as I can tell so far, Scandinavian countries tend to be the best apart from any other reason, because of a tendency to completely immerse themselves in the language through things like films and television. I've seen plenty of clips of Norwegian chat shows where they're interviewing someone in English and just put subtitles on. There's no way anyone would get onto a mainstream chat show in the UK or America if they weren't speaking English. In Germany, France, Spain, Italy, etc, there are enough people to make it worthwhile to dub American films, for example. In Norway, it probably wouldn't be profitable, so they just stick to the (far superior anyway) subtitles.

The other curious thing is in East Asia (and a lot of private language schools throughout the world tbf), where the emphasis is massively on having native speakers for this sort of interaction with the students. So they'll learn all of the grammar and rules at school, in their own language, and the native speaker classes are mainly for conversation practice. And to be frank, it doesn't really work. I mean obviously it's going to be more difficult for the Japanese to learn English than people with similar languages, but the standard of English over there is fairly poor. I believe a lot of it is just a marketing thing for the private companies that operate these schools though. It's well known that it's also a huge advantage to be white when going for these sorts of jobs, for example. But yeah, the countries with very high levels of English don't have this massive concern with the teachers being native English speakers.

One thing that always fascinates me is footballers interviews, because if you follow a team, you get to see someone's English skills progressing as they live in the UK. They've taken it down now, but I was going to post a video of Pablo Zabaleta's first English interview after just a year in the UK, and starting with no English at all. He's a great example of how far you can progress in that amount of time (when you're earning tens of thousands a week to spend on private tutors, presumably).

As for media, I think the consensus is that pop music isn't the best thing to listen to to pick up a language. It's without context, the grammar is often incorrect, and the emphasis with the pronunciation is determined by the music. Films and TV are better for a more natural use of language. But what people tell me is that things like cookery programmes, or anything where someone is delivering a piece to camera like that, are extremely useful. And the single best resource in the world for any English learner wanting to brush up on their listening skills is BBC Radio 4. Things like the afternoon reading, plays, documentaries, current affairs, etc. I'd also be interested to know from any English learners whether stand up comedy is a good learning tool. It seems to me like with would be, because even if you don't get all of the jokes.
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#26  Postby Dalmat » Mar 21, 2010 11:08 am

I'm With Stupid wrote:I'm wanting to teach English as a career, so I've been looking into what methods are best for learning English. As far as I can tell so far, Scandinavian countries tend to be the best apart from any other reason, because of a tendency to completely immerse themselves in the language through things like films and television. I've seen plenty of clips of Norwegian chat shows where they're interviewing someone in English and just put subtitles on. There's no way anyone would get onto a mainstream chat show in the UK or America if they weren't speaking English. In Germany, France, Spain, Italy, etc, there are enough people to make it worthwhile to dub American films, for example. In Norway, it probably wouldn't be profitable, so they just stick to the (far superior anyway) subtitles.

I agree. In my country all the foreign language shows, movies, series and anything else are generally subtitled. It's not even just about the money. For example, BBC documentaries (and similar) are subtitled in parts where a presenter is a person within the shot scene, but they are dubbed in parts where only the narrator's voice is heard. So, two different approaches in the same material. And it works great. Financially, there wouldn't be much difference to dub it all, but they don't do it because it's great to have the full emotional breadth of voice relatable to the face on the screen.

On that note, absolutely the worst way to approach the problem is what I've seen done on a Polish television. They have a guy who translates over the original sound background, using a completely flat, emotionless voice and leaving you pick up emotions from the original. It's incredibly annoying to me, just crazy.

The other curious thing is in East Asia (and a lot of private language schools throughout the world tbf), where the emphasis is massively on having native speakers for this sort of interaction with the students. So they'll learn all of the grammar and rules at school, in their own language, and the native speaker classes are mainly for conversation practice. And to be frank, it doesn't really work. I mean obviously it's going to be more difficult for the Japanese to learn English than people with similar languages, but the standard of English over there is fairly poor. I believe a lot of it is just a marketing thing for the private companies that operate these schools though. It's well known that it's also a huge advantage to be white when going for these sorts of jobs, for example. But yeah, the countries with very high levels of English don't have this massive concern with the teachers being native English speakers.

I see it happening around me too. Many private schools are advertising native speaker classes. I find it much more efficient to have Croatian teachers who understand the nuances of my language and therefore completely understand common pitfalls. If I draw a false conclusion based on Croatian language (which happens of course very often) I am much more likely to be properly instructed by a person who can follow my line of reasoning. Also, so called native speakers are often just that: speakers. They are not necessarily teachers, let alone foreign language teachers. I mean, I don't think I would be a good teacher of Croatian, no matter how fluent I am with it.

I'd also be interested to know from any English learners whether stand up comedy is a good learning tool. It seems to me like with would be, because even if you don't get all of the jokes.

I'm not sure about that.. Many jokes are very specific in terms of cultural aspect. For example, many UK jokes would not be understood even in the USA. On the other hand, the base of many jokes are language trifles which, while they are a great way to broaden your vocabulary, are present in stand up comedy in such concentration that it's very hard to follow. Especially when you think about how much effort they put in diction and clarity of voice :)
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#27  Postby I'm With Stupid » Mar 21, 2010 1:29 pm

Dalmat wrote:I see it happening around me too. Many private schools are advertising native speaker classes. I find it much more efficient to have Croatian teachers who understand the nuances of my language and therefore completely understand common pitfalls. If I draw a false conclusion based on Croatian language (which happens of course very often) I am much more likely to be properly instructed by a person who can follow my line of reasoning.

I don't think it's so much that. It doesn't take long to be working in a country to find out the common pitfalls and challenges faced by people who speak a particular language (usually a group of languages, in fact). It's more a case of being able to explain the grammatical rules for English to people who don't speak it very well. It's possible, but being able to simply tell people in their own language is far simpler. In fact, I believe in a lot of the proper schools rather than English schools, you will either be given a classroom assistant, or act as a classroom assistant to someone from that country for exactly this reason.

Oh and I agree, there are a hell of a lot of backpacker teachers, who are just teaching as a way to see another country, rather than because they're genuinely interested. That's why I was keen to do the qualifications, because I had interviews to teach in Japan, and the whole industry just seemed like a lot of bullshit and ripping people off to me.
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#28  Postby katja z » Mar 21, 2010 1:54 pm

I'm With Stupid wrote: It's more a case of being able to explain the grammatical rules for English to people who don't speak it very well. It's possible, but being able to simply tell people in their own language is far simpler.

Exactly. I'd say that this type of communication is essential for beginners. But once you've reached a certain level, a native speaker for a teacher is great (as long as they also have a clue about teaching). If all the communication in the classroom is in the foreign language, you can learn much faster. I even used to jot down the teacher's off-topic remarks or expletives - and sometimes those proved to be the most useful bits :grin:
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#29  Postby GT2211 » Mar 30, 2010 6:09 am

I have been attempting to learn Spanish. It is something I would like to be able to do, but I am unable to really motivate myself for. I am in my 3rd semester and feel like I have gotten no where. My first semester I was doing good, but it was a 10 week summer class so it was shorter than a typical college class. The 2nd semester, especially early on I felt like we spent all of our time memorizing words and none of it conversing. I managed an A, but that had more to do with my ability to cram then actually speak the language. Now my 3rd semester we are doing a lot more reading, writing, and reviewing grammar rules. It is a one day a week, four hour long class. I can read it fairly well. But my listening skills are almost non-existent. My writing skills are okay, although I usually need a dictionary because while I generally have no problem translating words when I see read, I tend to struggle remembering them off the top of my head.
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#30  Postby katja z » Mar 30, 2010 9:17 am

GT2211 wrote:I have been attempting to learn Spanish. It is something I would like to be able to do, but I am unable to really motivate myself for. I am in my 3rd semester and feel like I have gotten no where. My first semester I was doing good, but it was a 10 week summer class so it was shorter than a typical college class. The 2nd semester, especially early on I felt like we spent all of our time memorizing words and none of it conversing. I managed an A, but that had more to do with my ability to cram then actually speak the language. Now my 3rd semester we are doing a lot more reading, writing, and reviewing grammar rules. It is a one day a week, four hour long class. I can read it fairly well. But my listening skills are almost non-existent. My writing skills are okay, although I usually need a dictionary because while I generally have no problem translating words when I see read, I tend to struggle remembering them off the top of my head.

Don't worry, the listening comprehension will come in time. Spanish is usually spoken very fast, that's what makes it difficult for beginners (I had the same problem with French!). When reading, you can slow down, read a sentence over again, so it's much easier. It's also normal that you understand more than you can actually say (passive vs. active knowledge). For example, I can read Spanish fairly fluently and understand quite a lot of what people say (that's because I speak two other Romance languages), but I can only produce some very basic sentences.
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#31  Postby juːtoʊpiə » Mar 30, 2010 2:31 pm

[quote=katja z]Don't worry, the listening comprehension will come in time. Spanish is usually spoken very fast, that's what makes it difficult for beginners[/quote]
I swear that from a begginers point of view, every foreign language is spoken stupidly quickly :?
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#32  Postby katja z » Mar 30, 2010 2:35 pm

juːtoʊpiə wrote:[quote=katja z]Don't worry, the listening comprehension will come in time. Spanish is usually spoken very fast, that's what makes it difficult for beginners

I swear that from a begginers point of view, every foreign language is spoken stupidly quickly :?[/quote]
Been there, done that :grin: It tends to slow down when you get more practice ;) :drunk:
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#33  Postby Orange Proximity » Apr 28, 2010 3:20 pm

Saim wrote:
Serbian. If it was Croatian I would have said "uvijek". :P



Now I will confuse things even more... I'd say "uvijek" and it will be Serbian too :-)

Actually, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić spoke "ijekavica".

Dalmat, can probably come with "uvik" or am I mistaken there?

I am sticking to English however. It is more convenient. :-)


On the point of OP - one of my professors who taught all languages at the University, a major polyglot, used to joke that he wanted to learn a new language and had 9 days to do so, so he gave himself 5 days off before starting. I think he spoke something like 12 different languages. Bastard.

I have been speaking English for 15 years now and still struggle with articles, especially the definite article.

Learning new language is like fitness though, everyone can do it, one just has to be persistent and never, ever give up.

I'd like to learn French. Although going to France and speaking English and annoying the French is way more fun. :grin:
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#34  Postby katja z » Apr 28, 2010 3:28 pm

Orange Proximity, why not just speak Serbian in France. You're bound to find more than enough people to communicate with, why even bother with French :mrgreen:
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#35  Postby Orange Proximity » Apr 28, 2010 3:51 pm

Thats assuming that I'd want to speak with the Serbs in France :-)

No way!

I don't need more people who think they know everything. I am enough for myself. If I didn't love me so much, I'd kick myself every day... Plus is hurts too :-)

The reason I thought French is because is similar to English. My brother learned Arabic, after learning English and Russian... and now the poor bastard doesn't know any one of them.. He speaks this... THING... incoherent angry drunken sound making thing :-)

So, I thought to stick with something similar with English. There are some great podcast lessons on iTunes.
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Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#36  Postby Saim » Apr 29, 2010 7:40 am

Orange Proximity wrote:
Saim wrote:
Serbian. If it was Croatian I would have said "uvijek". :P



Now I will confuse things even more... I'd say "uvijek" and it will be Serbian too :-)

Actually, Vuk Stefanović Karadžić spoke "ijekavica".

Yeah, I realize it was a bit of a simplification. :cheers:

I have been speaking English for 15 years now and still struggle with articles, especially the definite article.

My mother's native language is Serbocroatian and she's been in Australia for 16 years now and still mixes up the articles a bit. She's gotten better though; she's also improved her constant confusion of "th" (as in thorn) and "th" (as in then) as well as "w" and "v".
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