Thoughts on learning new languages

Discuss various aspects of natural language.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Thoughts on learning new languages

#1  Postby Dalmat » Mar 05, 2010 4:33 pm

I was always fascinated by the number of languages we as a species developed and by the wealth of each individual language. There are currently some three thousand (correct me if I'm wrong) languages in the world; three thousand different ways to transfer feelings, thoughts, ideas from one individual to another, through voice or letter. It's astonishing :eh:

On the other hand, methods of learning new languages seem rather unsatisfactory. Maybe my expectations are too unrealistic, but no matter how I try to explain to my rational self that it's normal that it shouldn't be easy, my emotional inner self still remains disappointed :)


So, I would like to see your thoughts on this subject transferred into letter here on RS.org ;)
Excuse my ignorance, I wasn't on RD.net.
User avatar
Dalmat
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 209
Age: 39
Male

Croatia (hr)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#2  Postby katja z » Mar 05, 2010 5:45 pm

Why disappointed? Maybe you just need to switch your focus from the desired end result - knowing the language "completely" - to the process of exploration. I find it fascinating and from time to time I like to take up a new language just for the sheer joy that the adventure brings. :) :cheers:
User avatar
katja z
RS Donator
 
Posts: 5353
Age: 40

European Union (eur)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#3  Postby NineOneFour » Mar 06, 2010 9:18 am

I'd like any and all help in picking up foreign languages. I suck at it, seriously.
Citizen of the (future) People's Social Democratic Republic of Cascadia.
cascadianow.org

For help managing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), go here. I am able to manage it, and so can you.
User avatar
NineOneFour
 
Name: Yes, I'm an asshole.
Posts: 20906
Age: 51
Male

Country: Cascadia
Jolly Roger (arr)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#4  Postby justanillusion » Mar 06, 2010 8:25 pm

Make it fun and don't push yourself. I love languages, find them fascinating and can learn them fast (and I suck at thousands of other things, that's life :mrgreen: ) - but my bf may be an example worth quoting.

Until recently, I had to act as interpreter for him. He spoke Czech and wouldn't budge with anything else. Three years ago, though, we both signed up for Chinese. He fell in love with the language and the script. As a consequence, when we meet Chinese people now, he does all the talking. And he's good. Despite, actually, not really giving the language more time than I do.

So you just need to find the right language for yourself, or a good reason to learn the one you have to - a reason that matters to you personally. The role of emotional attachment in retaining information has been known since the rhetoric treatises of Antiquity, but I admit I am still fascinated by its effects on a man I've known for 8 years to be absolutely hopeless at languages.
<<used to be MindWarrior on RD.net>>

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
Sun Tzu
User avatar
justanillusion
 
Posts: 83
Age: 44
Female

Czech Republic (cz)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#5  Postby IsThereTruth » Mar 12, 2010 6:11 am

Dalmat wrote:On the other hand, methods of learning new languages seem rather unsatisfactory. Maybe my expectations are too unrealistic, but no matter how I try to explain to my rational self that it's normal that it shouldn't be easy, my emotional inner self still remains disappointed :)


Existing methods for learning language seem to work quite well. The problem arises when you want to learn a new language and you don't have a parent or two around to work with you 24/7.

So: get a mommy.
IsThereTruth
 
Posts: 15

Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#6  Postby Dalmat » Mar 12, 2010 8:26 am

Actually, I've started using Rosetta Stone; an interesting piece of software, easy to use, intuitive, there could be something in it. I'm using it to learn French (of which my knowledge goes no further then "au revoir"). I'll give it a month at least before reporting on my experiences.

Has anyone tried it?
Excuse my ignorance, I wasn't on RD.net.
User avatar
Dalmat
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 209
Age: 39
Male

Croatia (hr)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#7  Postby NineOneFour » Mar 12, 2010 9:39 am

Dalmat wrote:Actually, I've started using Rosetta Stone; an interesting piece of software, easy to use, intuitive, there could be something in it. I'm using it to learn French (of which my knowledge goes no further then "au revoir"). I'll give it a month at least before reporting on my experiences.

Has anyone tried it?


Yes, and I suppose it works - the problem for me is lack of time. If I had several hours per day to put into it, it would be okay.
Citizen of the (future) People's Social Democratic Republic of Cascadia.
cascadianow.org

For help managing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), go here. I am able to manage it, and so can you.
User avatar
NineOneFour
 
Name: Yes, I'm an asshole.
Posts: 20906
Age: 51
Male

Country: Cascadia
Jolly Roger (arr)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#8  Postby Dalmat » Mar 12, 2010 9:52 am

NineOneFour wrote:
Dalmat wrote:Actually, I've started using Rosetta Stone; an interesting piece of software, easy to use, intuitive, there could be something in it. I'm using it to learn French (of which my knowledge goes no further then "au revoir"). I'll give it a month at least before reporting on my experiences.

Has anyone tried it?


Yes, and I suppose it works - the problem for me is lack of time. If I had several hours per day to put into it, it would be okay.

You think that much commitment is needed? Based on what I've seen so far, an average lesson takes about half an hour to forty minutes. Taking one lesson a day seems doable. Now, the main problem for me is forcing myself not to skip days.
Excuse my ignorance, I wasn't on RD.net.
User avatar
Dalmat
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 209
Age: 39
Male

Croatia (hr)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#9  Postby Ciarin » Mar 14, 2010 11:13 am

I get rosetta stone for free. I've only used it twice, hehe. I was able to learn arabic at the Foreign Language Center Defense Language Institute in the Presidio of Monterey. Very good way to learn if you can take the load. Some people go nutty though.

The best way, imo: full immersion. Go to the place that speaks what you want to learn. You'll not only learn faster, you retain it better and you'll learn how people really talk in that language and regional dialects.

Doesn't work for dead languages though. I'm trying to learn OE. All I can do is learn from books and others who've learned.
User avatar
Ciarin
 
Posts: 567
Age: 41
Female

United States (us)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#10  Postby Dalmat » Mar 16, 2010 1:15 pm

Ciarin wrote:The best way, imo: full immersion. Go to the place that speaks what you want to learn. You'll not only learn faster, you retain it better and you'll learn how people really talk in that language and regional dialects.


No question about it, of course :) What I was interested in was more like an implicit "if you don't count going to [choose a country] for a year" type of question.
Excuse my ignorance, I wasn't on RD.net.
User avatar
Dalmat
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 209
Age: 39
Male

Croatia (hr)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#11  Postby MattHunX » Mar 16, 2010 3:25 pm

Funny, when I was about 12 (all my life really, non-religious parents and environment) I already thought the whole god thing was non-sense and the only thing that puzzled me was the Tower of Babylon story. How did languages came to be? I couldn't imagine one caveman started jabbering in Russian, the other in English, the third in Spanish. Made no sense. Then in high school the rest was washed away.

Now in just a couple of months I will have a BA in English Philology. Will look good on paper. College was really a piece of worthless excrement in all honesty, though not in its entirety. I did learn some things about how the English language in particular have developed, I understand grammatical rules, tenses better, still not completely, but I don't really need them anyway if I don't plan on teaching, rules are just their to confuse people and get in the way of learning. My teachers always told me English came instinctively to me, and indeed I didn't receive formal education in English until high school, I learned from cartoons.

College really didn't teach me all that much, some (language) history, civilization, culture. But, really, if one wants to learn about something that is interesting and good to know they won't learned it in school. They just don't teach the good stuff, either that or they don't get kids interested in them. It's better if you open a book at home.

Sorry for the rant, got carried away.
User avatar
MattHunX
 
Posts: 10947

Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#12  Postby Ash » Mar 16, 2010 4:22 pm

Dalmat wrote:
Ciarin wrote:The best way, imo: full immersion. Go to the place that speaks what you want to learn. You'll not only learn faster, you retain it better and you'll learn how people really talk in that language and regional dialects.


No question about it, of course :) What I was interested in was more like an implicit "if you don't count going to [choose a country] for a year" type of question.


If you can't/don't want to go to the country to learn, a good substitute I've found is to read books written in the language once you have a good enough grasp of it. I've been reading the original French Les Miserables. A lot of the terms used are obsolete because it's so old, but by the time I'm finished my dictionary usage will probably be at a minimum. It has helped a lot with bringing back my old French skills from school!
Profanity is the one language all programmers know best.
User avatar
Ash
 
Posts: 865
Age: 32
Female

Ireland (ie)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#13  Postby Preno » Mar 19, 2010 12:23 am

Dalmat wrote:On the other hand, methods of learning new languages seem rather unsatisfactory. Maybe my expectations are too unrealistic, but no matter how I try to explain to my rational self that it's normal that it shouldn't be easy, my emotional inner self still remains disappointed :)

Well, you have to be motivated (you should ideally be interested in the language itself, not merely from an instrumental pov) and devote time to it regularly. Other than that, I don't think it really matters which "method" you use, unless it's blatantly idiotic or one of those methods that claim to teach you the language in 4 weeks. (It goes without saying that if you want to have decent speaking and listening skills, you also have to be in regular contact with native speakers - which, however, doesn't necessarily entail full immersion.)
User avatar
Preno
 
Posts: 268
Age: 33
Male

Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#14  Postby Elena » Mar 19, 2010 1:26 am

Dalmat wrote:
Ciarin wrote:The best way, imo: full immersion. Go to the place that speaks what you want to learn. You'll not only learn faster, you retain it better and you'll learn how people really talk in that language and regional dialects.


No question about it, of course :) What I was interested in was more like an implicit "if you don't count going to [choose a country] for a year" type of question.

IMO, second best is TV. Is there any way you can view French-speaking channels? If you can, start by watching the news with captioning, so you have the correlate between the sound and the spelling.

Watching the news also in your own language will help you fill in the comprehension gaps in the new language.

You can also watch French programs or channels (Discovery, NatGeo) where narrators have good diction.

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).

Good luck :cheers:
User avatar
Elena
RS Donator
 
Posts: 727
Female

Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#15  Postby Saim » Mar 19, 2010 7:14 am

I found that listening to Spanish music and memorizing the lyrics while 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.

Elena 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).

I find that I prefer it when I watch Spanish-language movies for the subtitles to be in Spanish, then I'm not tempted to just read the English subtitles because it's easier and don't get confused by the speed at which they are speaking.

EDIT: Removed "not" from "...while not just wasting time..."
Last edited by Saim on Mar 20, 2010 3:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Saim
 
Posts: 1138
Male

Australia (au)
Print view this post

Ads by Google


Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#16  Postby Dalmat » Mar 19, 2010 9:04 am

Preno wrote:Well, you have to be motivated (you should ideally be interested in the language itself, not merely from an instrumental pov) and devote time to it regularly.

Oh, I definitely agree that regularity is the most important aspect of learning a language. A couple of years back I was learning German and now, after a pretty lengthy pause, I feel like I have forgotten 90% of what I once knew. Regularity is the key to it, no doubt.

Other than that, I don't think it really matters which "method" you use, unless it's blatantly idiotic or one of those methods that claim to teach you the language in 4 weeks.

Yeah, on that note, I had a pretty heated discussion on another forum with a person who decided to learn languages through reading the Bible :shock: His idea was that he knows more or less all the text. As far as "blatantly idiotic" methods go...

Elena wrote:IMO, second best is TV. Is there any way you can view French-speaking channels? If you can, start by watching the news with captioning, so you have the correlate between the sound and the spelling.

That's a good one, of course, but (imo) it is only usable when you already possess a relatively good knowledge of the language. I use it with Italian and German, which, although far from perfect, are the languages I know enough of to be able to understand the gist of the conversation/news/story. I also try reading news on the internet in those languages (news.google.it or .de are simple enough destinations and the articles are usually available in English too). However, when it comes to starting learning a language, it's not applicable. I can watch French TV all day long and not get more than a couple of sentences right :)

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.

Saim wrote:I find that I prefer it when I watch Spanish-language movies for the subtitles to be in Spanish, then I'm not tempted to just read the English subtitles because it's easier and don't get confused by the speed at which they are speaking.

When it comes to French I find it even worse. For example, these sentences:
Le garçon court.
Les garçons courent.

sound exactly the same to me. I can't hear the difference. In such cases captions in the same language are more helpful I think.
Last edited by Dalmat on Mar 19, 2010 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Excuse my ignorance, I wasn't on RD.net.
User avatar
Dalmat
THREAD STARTER
 
Posts: 209
Age: 39
Male

Croatia (hr)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#17  Postby katja z » Mar 19, 2010 9:08 am

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.

Books, of course, but you'd best pick contemporary ones. Just as an example why this would be a good idea, I started with Shakespeare as one of my very first authors in English and ended up using 16th-century phrases in my essays :grin: And after my teacher spotted the source of my "mistakes", I was for a long time afraid to use any expression if I wasn't exactly sure where I'd got it from, because who knows, it might be Shakespeare again :drunk:
User avatar
katja z
RS Donator
 
Posts: 5353
Age: 40

European Union (eur)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#18  Postby Saim » Mar 20, 2010 3:39 am

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

Saim wrote:I find that I prefer it when I watch Spanish-language movies for the subtitles to be in Spanish, then I'm not tempted to just read the English subtitles because it's easier and don't get confused by the speed at which they are speaking.

When it comes to French I find it even worse. For example, these sentences:
Le garçon court.
Les garçons courent.

sound exactly the same to me. I can't hear the difference. In such cases captions in the same language are more helpful I think.[/quote]
Hm... from what I remember of French (I didn't learn much of it) "court" and "courent" are meant to sound the same. Wiktionary says that "le" and "les" are different though, the first one having an "uh" sound (ə) like water in some English dialects.

Honestly, I wish I could have subtitles when speaking with Hispanophones in Spanish. They speak so quickly! :lol:
User avatar
Saim
 
Posts: 1138
Male

Australia (au)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#19  Postby crank » Mar 20, 2010 5:58 am

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

Saim wrote:I find that I prefer it when I watch Spanish-language movies for the subtitles to be in Spanish, then I'm not tempted to just read the English subtitles because it's easier and don't get confused by the speed at which they are speaking.
When it comes to French I find it even worse. For example, these sentences:
Le garçon court.
Les garçons courent.

sound exactly the same to me. I can't hear the difference. In such cases captions in the same language are more helpful I think.

Hm... from what I remember of French (I didn't learn much of it) "court" and "courent" are meant to sound the same. Wiktionary says that "le" and "les" are different though, the first one having an "uh" sound (ə) like water in some English dialects.

Honestly, I wish I could have subtitles when speaking with Hispanophones in Spanish. They speak so quickly! :lol:

Shit, I could use subtitles when talking to most people, in English, and it ain't my hearing.
Last edited by crank on Mar 20, 2010 7:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
“When you're born into this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. If you're born in America you get a front row seat.”
-George Carlin, who died 2008. Ha, now we have human centipedes running the place
User avatar
crank
RS Donator
 
Name: Sick & Tired
Posts: 10413
Age: 6
Male

Country: 2nd miasma on the left
Pitcairn (pn)
Print view this post

Re: Thoughts on learning new languages

#20  Postby juːtoʊpiə » Mar 20, 2010 6:34 am

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 :?

Books, of course, but you'd best pick contemporary ones. Just as an example why this would be a good idea, I started with Shakespeare as one of my very first authors in English and ended up using 16th-century phrases in my essays :grin: And after my teacher spotted the source of my "mistakes", I was for a long time afraid to use any expression if I wasn't exactly sure where I'd got it from, because who knows, it might be Shakespeare again :drunk:

:lol: Awesome.
Religion has no place within schools just like facts have no place within religion- Superintendent Chalmers
Homophobia is gay :lay:
Image
User avatar
juːtoʊpiə
 
Posts: 517
Age: 29
Male

United Kingdom (uk)
Print view this post

Next

Return to Linguistics

Who is online

Users viewing this topic: No registered users and 1 guest

cron